What Is Culture?

I was debating the importance of culture with friends recently. Specifically, I said it’s a big competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining top talent. A good culture can be as or more important than salary. Not just in start-ups, but all organizations. An example I gave was that star athletes will sometimes take less money to stay with or join a team with a great culture.

During this debate, one friend asked me to define “culture” in one sentence. I told him it’s how people act when nobody’s looking.

If people are doing the right thing when nobody’s looking, you’ve got a good culture. If not, you’ve got a bad and possibly toxic culture. Guess which environment talented people with good values want to be in.