September’s In Practice: Culture = Values in Action

In Practice connects the Culturati community between Summits, sharing news and information about culture. In this issue, we focus on culture is values in action.


Culture is values in action.

“Culture is values in action,” is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite CEOs. And, we witness this everywhere we look.

In the face of Hurricane Harvey destruction, residents helping neighbors (forming a human chain to rescue a man in a pickup from rising waters), moving furniture to higher ground, fellow Texans (and Cajuns) driving in with flat bottom boats and rescuing those fleeing rising waters, truck loads after truck loads of dry goods, toys, books, food and medical supplies not only to Houston but every town along the coast.

And the explosion of support for DACA immigrants — CEOs, activists, never-before-activists, politicians, college students and even high school students.

Gender discrimination, gender identity discrimination — Ellen Pao loses against Kleiner Perkins but excites Susan Fowlers’ blog post, resulting in corporate chaos including Travis Kalanick’s resignation and the loss of billions. James Damore writes a treatise losing his job and eliciting both applause and calls for the CEOs resignation. In Texas, hundreds of CEOs including not only multinational tech (though literally all of those) and startups but also the largest oil & gas companies including Exxon Mobil, British Petroleum, Chevron, Shell & Dow Chemical signed letters urging Texas’ governor, lieutenant governor, speaker and representatives not to pass a bathroom bill discriminatory against the transgender community.

It is inescapable. Increasingly our employees and customers demand we take a stand. We’ll explore this and more at our next Culturati Summit in January. Invitations go out this month — half of the limited slots have already been purchased by return attendees and sponsors. The latest on the summit at CulturatiSummit.com.

Jason Fried and Wailin Wong of Basecamp will join us.

Jason Fried has put longevity at the center of Basecamp. Founded in 1999, the company is known worldwide as an innovative testbed of culture, perennially atop Forbes’ Best Small Companies list. With only 50 employees, Basecamp has spawned the ubiquitous programming framework Ruby on Rails, half a dozen super-successful products, and three books — Getting Real, Remote, and REWORK. Perhaps most impressively the company has been profitable for 15 years. Along the way Fried has famously turned down hundreds of venture capital investments and buy-out offers.

Patty McCord will be back.

Reed Hastings convinced Patty McCord to help him launch Netflix when he promised they would do it right “this time.” Together they wrote the now famous 127 slide deck on Netflix’s culture. Patty’s gone on to coach and guide companies around the world. She’s releasing a new book, Powerful. “In her own irreverent voice, McCord promotes radical honesty at the workplace, saying good bye if they don’t fit the emerging needs of a company, and motivating employees with challenging work, not promises, crazy perks and, bonus plans. McCord argues that the old standbys of corporate HR departments — annual performance reviews, retention plans, employee empowerment and engagement programs — often end up being a colossal waste of time and resources.”

We haven’t invited David Simas to join us because he was a political brain in Obama’s White House.

We haven’t invited David Simas to join us because he was a political brain in Obama’s White House. We’ve invited him to join us because when President Obama sought the right leader to help him launch his next career (“I’m only 55 years old, being president can’t be the peak of my career”), who does he appoint as CEO to help him change the world? David. David’s job is now identifying, training and connecting the next generation of civic leaders throughout the country first and then around the world. We’re pairing David with another corporate cultural icon, to be announced soon.

We have one more keynote track to fill, and we are close. We’ll announce this soon too. Then, the attention focuses on the breakout sessions, several of which are in formation and will be announced in November and December.

How fitting that tonight (Tuesday, September 6) launches our fall round of Culturati dinners for early registrants and sponsors at the homes and offices of 6 Austin CEOs. In October, we’re hosting Culturati Connect in New York at the offices of Indeed. Josh Jones Dilworth and I have been traveling, recently visiting with new members from New York, Columbus, Minneapolis, Boston, San Francisco and London.

The first year, we launched Culturati Summit with mostly friends and family; we expanded but kept it close to home this past year (our second). We’re excited to introduce Culturati to CEOs, entrepreneurs, investors and other c-suite leaders from across the country with the help of our national advisory board and several new sponsors. We’ll still be intimate.

We spend as much time curating the invitation list as we do the programming. We just want to bring really great leaders who care about culture together, so we can learn from each other.

“Getting at truth, how to get to truth, making truth a habit, making truth no matter how inconvenient part of what you do everyday,” says our co-founder, Josh Jones-Dilworth.

Eugene Sepulveda, Founder, Culturati

By the way, “Culture is values in action,” belongs to WP Engine CEO, Heather Brunner.