Culture: The Journey

For the better part of the past 7 months, my business partner, Daniel, and I have been infatuated with our culture. All aspects of it, what it really means, what it means to us, and more importantly, how is it defined.

I think the basis of the question has really been, who and what are we about?

I think we have always known, but we never really took the time to sit back and really capture it in a way that made sense to us, and even our own team.

Interestingly enough, what we’ve come to realize is that your culture is not really something you define, it’s something you are. I know, that’s deep!

Recognizing Your Culture

I think it was at our Quarter 3 board meeting in 2014 that we really started to capture, appreciate and recognize the culture that we had set in our business. Mind you, our business first opened it’s doors January 2010.

Like most first-time entrepreneurs though, our thoughts were nowhere around the idea of a culture as much as it was, figuring out if we really had a business.

Even when we hired our first real employee in March of 2012, the idea of culture hadn’t really crossed our lips.

Sure, it was something every one talked about. Like everyone else, we appreciated it as the latest buzzword, the next thing that we needed to know about. Honestly though, it wasn’t a matter of caring or not caring, I just don’t think it was anywhere near important enough to expend any energy on it.

I’m not saying this was right or wrong, we were just too damn focused on putting one foot in front of the other.

It was at this board meeting that Dani and I really asked ourselves, what are we about? It’s when we first defined our Vision, Mission, and Values. Granted, these three elements are not to be confused with our culture, but what we, I, realized is that it does start to show the foundation from which our culture will or is built on.

What I realized then, and now, is that what we were defining during this exercise was who and what we, Dani and I, are about. It’s not to say that we are the culture, rather that as the leaders of our company, we were setting out to build something special that represents[ed] us. These elements help us establish the critical elements, pillars, we require to build and begin to appreciate what our culture is about.

Interestingly enough, although the framework seems, and feels, to be there, the meat and potatoes still seems to be missing.

I think this is ok, right?

This however forces me to sit back and really think through this idea of culture.

There does seem to be a few common threads I continuously come back to when it comes to our own culture.

  • I don’t think company culture is anything like nationality culture (i.e., I’m cuban and so in my culture we talk loud, fast and eat a lot of rice and beans).
  • It’s ok not to know, even four years in, definitively what your culture consists of — this should not be a scary proposition.
  • A culture, even if you’re blind to it, certainly exists you just have to be willing to put your own biases aside, and have an open mind.
  • Your culture, like everything else in your business, will grow and evolve. It’s only natural this happens, you expect it of everything else. You have to be willing to identify the evolution and flow with it, guide and mold it, but let it blossom.

With that being said, I will share what I think our culture is, just to provide some context as to my cultural observations for my own company:

  • We are a company that pride ourselves in breaking the mold. We are those guys that look at things and think, there’s gotta be a better way. We are not afraid to question the status quo. We are those individuals that walk around with chips on our shoulders, but are not afraid to prove the world wrong. We see the threats and pressures of competition, and while we respect it, we don’t yield.
  • We’re humble enough to feel intimidated, to feel lost when we’re unsure, but courageous enough to forge ahead regardless. We’re united in our ambitions to make a difference and carry with us this feeling of being underdogs. We have a fire inside that is second to none, this fire that keeps us fighting and pushing when others are failing.
  • Interestingly enough, when you look across our ranks what you notice and see is something very special. Our ranks are not filled with the Ivy Leaguers, the Rockstars, the talent that everyone is supposed to hire. Instead our ranks our filled by those that amazed us with their ability to think and shared a certain level of passion.
  • I like to often think of our configuration like the money ball of website security. We don’t hire the super stars, instead we hire the ones with super star qualities that have gone overlooked for too long. We look beyond the value they define in black and white, and truly see the capability they bring to the table – perhaps something they themselves don’t realize. We find the needles in the haystack.
  • We don’t talk fancy, in many respects I imagine many laugh at our simple speech. It’s this simplicity though that allows us to continue to be different, think unencumbered.
  • We are a beautiful team of misfits. We are Sucuri.

Is this truly our culture? I’m honestly not sure, but it’s what I see when I look and admire this entity that we’ve built.

How do you define your culture?

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