• On October 1, 2014 ·

originally published in Coastal Grower Fall 2014

culture in businessOn the eve of the San Francisco Giants home opener this year, Giants President and CEO Larry Baer sent a letter to fans. He spoke about history, about what the Giants mean to him and to the community. He spoke to who the Giants are and “what it means to be a Giant.” Baer encouraged and created excitement. In a few brief words he became an example of how an organization can move mountains when it embraces culture. Within our families, our businesses, our schools and our community there is culture. Some good and some not so good. Our culture says a lot about who we are to others but more importantly our culture reminds us who we are to be when nobody is watching.
Culture wins championships, builds playgrounds and brings hope. Culture can also be destructive, generate fear and cause doubt.

Culture, as we see it, is a byproduct of leadership. The culture for any group is set by leaders, regardless of title. If we do not determine what our culture is and fully embrace what we want it to be, someone else will. When someone other than leadership defines culture we leave the direction of a company, organization or even a city to be dictated by a disgruntled few, children raised by peers, not parents – communities run by those with the biggest mouth, rather than those with the biggest heart. It is so important for all of us to be aware of the culture that we have set within our community. There will always be opportunity for us to adjust the direction that we are headed and to correct any missteps that we may come across. What we cannot do however, is succumb to the onset of attitudes and influences that do not affirm the culture we have pre-determined.

Apathy has a funny way of becoming the norm when culture is challenged. It can be very difficult to continue to care and to continue to fight for the values and culture set forth at the beginning of our journeys.

Our culture says a lot about who we are to others but more importantly our culture reminds us who we are to be when nobody is watching.

Within an organization if we do not stay vigilant and make the hard decisions to prune back branches of our organizations we allow apathy to set in to our culture. Nobody ever said being a leader is easy. Very few leaders actually ask for the position. When true leaders see change is needed – they see apathy has begun to take hold and the culture is being negatively impacted – they have no choice but to step forward and “be the spark” to create change.

Sir Isaac Newton said, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” My wife Amanda and I believe that this has happened within our community, On the heels of great community outreach and a coming together through the building of Tatum’s Garden, we now face an “opposite reaction” – increase of violence and discord. Our community showed it is willing to fight for growth and to lift up children and families to achieve greatness. But, we must be always vigilant and fight through apathy, to be the good that fights to suppress evil. Let us be proactive in our leadership,. Let us be as Larry Baer has been and remind each other about what is great within the cultures of our families, our companies and our community. When we cultivate culture from the top down, we grow a base that is wide and strong. We can then harvest tenfold our efforts. It is not easy. We must be ever vigilant but it is good and it is noble. Together we can “be the spark” that ignites change.

By Shawn Bakker, Bakker Construction