five common cultural characteristics and how they impact business

culture

The beauty of business is that it connects all four corners of the earth.

Throughout our careers, we will come across several cultures, some of whom can feel miles apart from our own.

My favourite definition of ‘culture’ is, “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively“. It follows that culture is not confined to wider society and communities but is equally prevalent in organisations.

The comforting thing to acknowledge is that typically cultures share at least five mutual characteristics. So before you’ve even started to embrace a new culture for business or personal purposes you are already familiar with at least five of their practices.

So, whether you are trying to penetrate a new market, build global contacts or you simply want to understand your playing field a bit better. here are the five common cultural characteristics that you will find in every society and organisational culture.

1. The Initiation

Cultures all tend to have a ritual for becoming a new member. A newcomer starts out as a stranger and then embarks on a rite of initiation, created by a particular culture, which marks the passage of that individual into the community. Some of these rituals may be so informal as to be hardly noticed (e.g., the first time you are invited to a coworker lunch), while others may be highly formalised (e.g., the call to the bar ceremony for Barristers). In every business, there are groups, power struggles, and unspoken ways that members earn their way from the role of a “newbie” to that of a full member.  All these challenges are to be expected in any culture.

2. Common History

Think for a moment about the history of a business like Coca Cola. Do you have an emotional response to the mental images of the red and white Coca Cola logo? Traditions form as the organization grows and expands. The history of every culture, of every corporation, influences its present state. Its history also influences where it might want to be in the future and further what is may struggle to compete with. You just have to reflect on the history of a business to understand it more.

3. Common Values and Principles

Cultures all hold values and principles that are communicated from older members to younger or newer ones. For example, time (fast customer service) and cleanliness are the two pillar values of the McDonald’s corporation. A new employee may take these for granted, while a seasoned professional who inspects restaurants and its franchises, may see the continued need to continually reinforce these core values. Without reinforcement, norms may dissolve, and if this were the case it could fundamentally change the success of a business which has been founded on its core values. This reinforcement of values is seen across every successful organisation. These businesses owe their success to certain values and they respect those values.

4. Shared Purpose

Why are we here? What is our mission? Throughout every culture, this fundamental question is asked. In business, the answer to this question can be found in the mission and vision statements of most organisations. Employees or members will be expected to acknowledge and share the company vision. The most successful organisations make sure each member is working towards the same goal in unity.

5. Common habits (Symbols, uniforms, language, and rituals)

Cultures have common symbols that mark them as a group; the knowledge of what a symbol stands for helps to reinforce who is part of the group and who is not. Cultural symbols can be seen in organisations in the form of logos however they can also include dress, such as the Western business suit and tie, the Scottish kilt, or the Islamic headscarf. Symbols also include slogans or sayings, such as “Just do it” or “because you’re worth it.” The slogan may serve a marketing purpose but may also embrace a mission or purpose within the culture.

Cultures have their own vocabulary and unique ways in which they communicate. Consider the lawyer or the accountant both have and use specialised jargon when communicating within their field. This language is learned over time and “on the job”. While a textbook can help, it can’t give you the first-hand experience of how it’s used within a particular culture. The use of this language is a defining feature of whether you are part of that culture or not.

Rituals are another core component of cultures. They can most simply be seen in company practices, for example, whether they have embraced the digital landscape or whether they exist largely on paper. Or, in how they recruit staff and so on. Rituals mean that organisations can have formalised processes which then stifle their future ability to innovate or adapt to new circumstances. This can be a real sticking point for organisations as the business world is far from stagnant and is in fact constantly shifting. However, once organisations get around any disadvantages of pre-existing rituals they can start to build practices allowing them to remain competitive.

The first step for any organisation, wishing to compete at the forefront of innovation, is to understand their deep seeded company culture. Without acknowledging it’s cultural advantages and restrictions companies cannot hope to grow.

For more information on this topic read here.

Peter Thiel and the recipe for innovation

Thiel

Peter Thiel, chess master by age 21, a doctorate in law by age 25, and founder of $1.5 billion company, PayPal at age 35 has helped to create some of the most successful businesses, in the world.

The first team Thiel created is known in Silicon Valley as the “PayPal Mafia” because the majority of his team went on to start and invest in world-dominating companies such as;

  • SpaceX
  • Tesla Motors
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Yelp
  • Yammer
  • Palantir

Today all seven of these companies are worth more than $1 billion each. Needless to say, Thiel knows a thing or two, about creating successful businesses so, it’s no surprise that his book, “Zero To One”, on how to grow a business masterpiece, is a New York Times #1 bestseller. Here are four reasons why;

1) The ultimate innovation recipe; Zero to One

Thiel argues the greatest leaps in innovation are vertical, not horizontal. Doing what we already know how to do (i.e horizontal progress) takes the world from 1 to n, you are simply adding more of something familiar. However, on the other hand, when you do something new (i.e vertical progress) you take the world from n to 1. This is the exact formula Thiel seeks to create in every new enterprise. Theil argues that the champions of tomorrow, will not win by competing in an existing marketplace. Instead, they escape competition altogether, because their business is brand new and that is the recipe for success.

2) Success comes from monopoly not competition

The problem with competition is that your own success is constantly dependant on your competitors. You have to fight hard to survive and keep up to date. If you offer affordable products, with low margins, then you probably can’t focus on properly renumerating your employees. You have to focus on every saving every efficiency. It’s a constant battle.

A monopoly like Google, for example, is different. As it doesn’t have to worry about competing with anyone, it has wider latitude to care about its workers, its products, and its wider social impact. Google is the ideal kind of business that is successful enough to take ethics seriously without jeopardizing its own existence. It’s not just great for marketing but great for all of those involved – employees and employers, alike. In business, money is either an important thing or it is everything. Monopolists can afford to think about things other than making money; non-monopolists can’t.

In Theil’s view competition forces businesses to be so focused on the present margins that it can’t possibly plan for a long-term future. The only one thing that can allow a business to transcend the daily savage struggle for survival is monopoly profits.

3) Competition closes our creativity

Theil argues that people can be so obsessed with competition, that they focus on what has worked in the past in an unhealthy manner, without searching for future opportunities. Businesses start to rely on competitors for their own advancement, meaning they lose sight of their own purpose and why the business was created in the first place.

Creative monopolists, however, never lose sight of their original business purpose. Their success is defined by the value they are constantly adding to their market. They give customers more choice by adding entirely new categories of benefits to the world. Creative monopolies aren’t just good for the rest of society; they’re powerful engines for making the world a better place.

4) Slow and steady can win the innovation race

Many think that to win at innovation you’ve got to be the first entrant to the market. this can be true in some cases, and if it’s done well you can capture significant market share while competitors scramble to get started. However, Theil argues that moving first is a tactic, not a goal. What really matters is creating consistent cash flows in the future, so being the first mover doesn’t give any benefits if someone else can come along and unseat you. It’s much better to be the last mover – that is, to make the last great development, in a specific market and enjoy years or even decades of monopoly profits – because you have done it the best way possible.

Zero to One is full of counterintuitive insights that will help your thinking and build the foundations for a world-changing enterprise. These are just the top four insights we believe to be the most monumental, however, the book has plenty more.

 

10 lessons successful people learnt in their toughest moments

successful

Dr Cloud, a clinical psychologist and author of Never Go Back: 10 Things You’ll Never Do Again, spent the last decade researching and compiling data on the certain “awakenings” that successful people have—in life and in business. He wanted to understand the significance in their awakenings and whether they could help others on their paths to success.

Although life has many lessons to teach us, Dr. Cloud observed 10 “doorways” of learning that high performers go through.

10 lessons that will make you more successful

1. They never return to what hasn’t worked

They never return to the same situation and expect different results. Whether it be a career, job or a relationship they understand that it ended for good reason and respect that lesson.

2. They never pretend to be someone else for a career

In everything they do they ask themselves. Why am I doing this? Does this require me to be someone I am not? Does it suit me? Is it sustainable?

3. They never want to change another person

They understand that they cannot change people and do not try to. When you realize you cannot force someone into doing or being something, you give them their freedom and you keep yours too.

4. Understand they cannot please everyone

They appreciate that it is impossible to please everyone. This simple fact allows them to live more purposeful lives as they only focus on pleasing those who matter.

5. They focus on the long-term

If something requires a lengthy sacrifice or uncomfortable lifestyle for a while, they’ll do it. They don’t mind taking a painful step because it will give them a long-term benefit. Dr Cloud explains that this is a defining and fundamental difference between the successful and unsuccessful.

6. They never believe something or someone is flawless

They love excellence and believe in its existence however they are unwilling to trust anything that seems too good to be true. They understand that the world is imperfect and successful people question everything.

7. They never take their eyes off the prize

They have their end goal tattoed on their brains. Their overriding objective is written at the top of their to-do lists and reflects everything they do. This allows them to streamline their tasks and time so that they only do the things that actually matter.

8. They always remember that their inner self reflects their outer success

Success often has little to do with external factors. People are most fulfilled by their internal constitution as opposed to external materials. Things like happiness and even feelings of success come from things like feeling secure, high confidence and being self-aware. Succesful people spend a lot of time and effort developing themselves from the inside to ensure they are the best versions of themselves.

9. They never play a victim role

Succesful people take responsibility for their actions and dislike apportioning blame to external factors. Excuses serve little purpose in their path to success. They always ask themselves what part have I played in this? This mindset allows them to learn from their mistakes. They do not see themselves as victims, even when they are.

10. They always perform due diligence

They question everything from investments to productivity hacks. They have a clear understanding of why they do the things they do. They take deep and honest looks at everything which allows them to always make informed decisions. This type of due diligence involves looking comprehensively at their own capabilities and understanding their own flaws. It’s no secret that the most successful people in the world have experienced business coaches behind them. If you want extra support on your journey to success then click here for more information.

Traits of millennials that can positively impact business bottom lines

millennials

Millennials are a unique generation and they are causing a big stir in the business world. They have already surpassed Generation X and the Baby Boomers to become the biggest generation in the workforce today. It’s predicted that millennials will be a huge 50% of the workforce by 2020.

So what’s the problem?

Millennial traits are largely unprecedented by previous generations. Their career needs and life goals are totally different and this gets CEO’s worried because, frankly, they don’t understand them. But, there is some good news. There are 5 millennial traits that can positively impact business bottom lines. The only thing businesses have to do is understand these traits and put them to good use.

1. Tech-savvy

Millennials are the first generation of babies to grow up exposed to technology such as the internet, computers, and web applications. It’s likely they grew up playing video games instead of board games. Whilst this might make some marked social differences managers/CEO’s find hard to understand, it has some serious business advantages. Millennials can do things faster using technology to support them. More often than not, they have found an innovative way to batch emails, manage data or even work remotely. At feedback meetings with millennials, you could probe them about tech and ask them what they think might benefit your work environment. Millennials want to feel involved in the bigger picture of a business and this type of genuine, two-way feedback can really help to satisfy their career needs. In addition to this, millennials are social media experts by birth and every business should be looking to have a digital presence in order to remain competitive. Asking millennial employees to help out on the social media front (if they would like to do so) could give them the responsibility they desire and also help your business to become more tech savvy.

2. Curious

Millennials are big into self-development. They are curious about themselves and the world around them. They want to learn new skills and will invest time in doing so. Companies that have successfully tapped into this aspect of millennial workers have created career-development programs that help millennials grow. PepsiCo, for example, recently launched a program that focused on providing employees with access to “critical experiences” rather than a simple ladder to the top. This type of self-development path is incredibly attractive to millennials and can help to recruit and retain them. Further, they are willing to learn new skills that can support your companies growth, it’s a win/win. Another incredibly effective way to encourage career development is through experienced career coaching or mentoring services. You can find highly experienced career coaches in every industry. This type of focused development is an undoubted hit with the millennial crowd who are constantly seeking answers.

3. Socially progressive

Millennials are more socially conscious than any other generation. Businesses offering millennials a compelling social advancement vision/objective will find success in recruiting and retaining this generation. Salesforce is an example of a company that has successfully tapped into millennial energy through a variety of initiatives that encourage employees to give back. Other socially conscious companies, popular with millennials, are Ben & Jerrys, Levis, and Google. Take a look here to see how these companies are marketing their social movement to millennials. Whilst being socially progressive may not seem like it will impact revenue, it actually does. It helps you to build trust with millennial consumers who are your future clients. It also helps you to give back to the world and be a good person.

4. Performance management

Millennials love feedback. A recent study found that over 40 percent of millennial employees wanted to receive weekly feedback from their managers. Millennial workers thrive on feedback even if it’s only related to improvement, instead of praise. Regular feedback sessions can be utilized by businesses, to make sure millennials are reaching goals, in the right way, from the offset. Further, it can also ensure millennial employees are satisfied in their roles, to manage and prevent any future retention issues.

5. Collaboration

Millennials want to be in an open office environment. They thrive in teams and in “work families” where groups work together toward similar goals. It’s no surprise that dominating businesses such as Facebook and Google have capitalized on the collaborative work environment to bring out the best in their millennial employees. For you to do the same, create a transparent work environment (not necessarily physically) where there are cross-team meetings and open concept meeting spaces, so employees can be aware of each others work throughout the organization.

 

The concept of allowing and how it can change your life

allowing

The concept of allowing is a powerful life philosophy, used to advance success, happiness, and self-development. Allowing is about letting go of resistance and accepting things just as they are. When you stop controlling all aspects of your life, you avoid forcing things into unnatural paths and you allow yourself to experience (and learn) what is meant for you. Allowing gives you the opportunity to see situations and people, as they truly are. Regardless of whether allowing uncovers the reality you desire, you can be assured that it reveals the truth. The concept of allowing, for many, is the understanding and acceptance that life has put them exactly where they need to be.

“If it’s meant for you, you won’t have to beg for it…You will never have to sacrifice your dignity for your destiny.”

Why is allowing relevant to success?

The concept of allowing is often incorrectly conflated with apathy or laziness. This reasoning exposes a very unhealthy attitude to our own success. It rests on an innate fear that if we slow down or stop pushing so hard every day, our goals and everything we have worked for will come crashing down. This type of thinking shows a lack of belief in our own abilities. Why not think that your goals will find you just as much as you try to find them?

Allowing is an immensely difficult concept to practice, especially for the target driven, workers of today. However, allowing is premised on the idea that, regardless of your incessant hard work– if something’s not meant for you, it just won’t happen. Think about it – is feeling as though you have to make absolutely everything happen in your life sustainable? Success, for some, starts with a lucky strike and for others, appears once they have overcome a mountain. However, once people reach their success “peak”, they describe a path opening and things just, “falling together”.

This is the concept of allowing – success is not meant to be one giant uphill struggle – if things are meant to work in your favor, trusting that they will, puts an end to unnecessary suffering. An action is important but it must be balanced with your ability to allow.

Allowing and self-confidence

You cannot successfully practice the concept of allowing without self-confidence. This is because, typically when we want to control every aspect of something, we innately believe that without our control, it would escape us. The deeper aspect of allowing has to do with trusting in yourself and believing that what you want to create will become your reality.

How to practice allowing

The best-selling author of “Bring Your Wholeself To Work” and sought-after motivational keynote speaker, Mike Robbins explains that allowing, is truly an art, which often goes against our societal grain. Instead of believing that hard-work and tunnel vision will get you to your goals, allowing is about keeping an inner state of flexibility, ensuring that you are not so tightly bound to your visions that you impede other opportunities, more suited to your life path.

Mike Robbins suggests three ways you can incorporate the concept of allowing into your life;

1.Understand your relationship with allowing

Firstly, you must understand how you feel about the idea of allowing. Are you comfortable with exercising less control in important areas of your life? Do you feel comfortable with uncertainty? Do you have strong enough self-confidence to believe that the things you desire will become your reality? Tell yourself the truth about how you relate to allowing, and you will be able to implement it successfully. It is, after all, designed to help you grow into your true self.

2. Pay attention to your actions vs allowing

Asses this point in terms of your biggest goals, dreams, and aspirations. How much of your energy is focused on actions, and how much is focused on allowing? While both action and allowing are important, it’s likely you’re putting a disproportionate amount of attention on the action. Increasing your focus on allowing can be an incredibly effective way for you to understand whether your goals are right for you. Do they fit into your life naturally? Do they bring you happiness? This is often the missing piece in ascertaining whether your goals will, in turn, bring you fulfillment.

3. Create an allowing habit

This is a simple, daily practice where you put your attention on allowing: accepting things as they are; trusting things are working out as they are meant to and really believing it. Remember to be kind to yourself – there is no smooth path to reaching goals. Allowing is a lot easier to think than to genuinely believe and routinely practice. However, the more attention you put on allowing, the easier it gets to embody into your life.

 

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