Traditions drive culture

In all the writings, speeches, and talk about company culture today, a word that you still don’t hear much in that context is “tradition.” Not sure why, but perhaps it’s because traditions last a long time because they take a long time to establish. That being said, most startups aren’t around long enough to establish long term meaningful traditions, so it’s difficult to build your company culture around traditions when things are moving so fast that a “tradition” might mean that you hit the keg on the first floor of ATV every day at 530pm.

That’s more of a habit, really. I’m referring more to annual traditions. As I’ve written many times before, my wife and I adopted our two kids from Kazakhstan, where cultural traditions are a rich and vibrant part of who the Kazakh people are. One of the most amazing and fun traditions we witnessed several times during our 56-day stretch in country to adopt was the wedding. The bride and groom would have what can only be called a “rolling party”, in which a caravan of cars full of friends and family roam around the city to all the places, locations, and venues that are a special part of the couple-to-be’s history and relationship. They have a short party at every place.

Think about your relationship. Where was your first date? Where did you get engaged? Where is your very favorite place to eat? All of those locations would go into that all day rolling party.

Today, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of our “Homecoming Day” with my kids. Yes, it’s been 10 years since we took one helluva journey from Almaty, Kazakhstan to Frankfurt to NYC to Atlanta over the course of a grueling 46 hours with two 3-year-olds who had never left their baby home. This day is one of our big family traditions. So big in fact, that since it’s our 10th celebration, it’s not “Homecoming Day”, but “Homecoming Week”. We’ll celebrate by filling the week full of fun stuff for the kids: tubing down the Chattahoochee, a Braves game, the Cyclorama, Six Flags, Stone Mountain, the Zoo…you get the picture. We’ll be exhausted, and so will the kids, and we will have cemented into their heads and hearts that June 29th is a date of gargantuan importance in our family.

What dates or events are important for your organization (business, nonprofit, family)? How do you recognize those dates? How are you using traditions to cement the culture you want into your organization?

What do you think about that?

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