How to develop a motto for your culture

Is your culture by default or by design? One of the ways you can guide culture to be successful and happy is to have a Culture Charter or Manifesto, complete with catchy mottos. It’s a powerful process to build buy-in as well as establish a blueprint for cultural norms.

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When I interviewed James Bergl of Datto, he shared that their motto is “work hard, play hard.” It sets the tone for a particular kind of culture, one where everyone is all in when it counts, and then savour the rewards of the effort.

I did some work with Rob Evans of AllBids and his crew on their culture manifesto. They have a really inclusive culture and enjoy each other’s company. They set about determining key phrases to characterize their culture and customer service ethos. One of them is “treat everybody’s goods as if they were your own.” As an online auction house, their customer service sets them apart from others.

In another culture session I facilitated, St. Vincent De Paul’s (ACT) crafted their own, “what would Frederick do?” Frederick is their founder and an example of altruistic service to others in need.

Here are some other fabulous Mottos:

  • Google is famous for one of its’ principles: “Do no evil”. 
  • The All Blacks have the “No d***heads” rule. So does Atlassian.
  • The three Musketeers: “All for one and one for all!”
  • The Navy SEALs have “Earn your Trident every day.”

One of my personal ones is “how you do one thing is how you do everything.” This is a conscientious filter for every choice, I can assure you!

Having key phrases to anchor the culture is critical for creating community and focus when it comes to how we interact with each other. It’s how we build a connected culture that is worth belonging to.

The Manifesto is the Culture Charter component of the Culture Compass I explain in my third book, Loyalty.

Here’s a quick start tip:

  • To craft your own, start with what you DON’T want in your culture. 
  • Next determine what you DO want (usually the opposite of what you don’t want).
  • Work to summarise key themes in a catchy phrase.

What motto could you have for your culture? What kind of impact would that have on your organisation and your day to day life?


Related Articles:

This people skill is your competitive edge

How to kickstart a great culture

Is your culture “blokey”?


P.S. And when you’re ready, here are three ways I can help:

1. Grab a free copy of our People Stuff Toolkit

It’s the roadmap to better teams and culture and includes an e-copy of my latest book, Loyalty, as well as checklists and templates.

2. Get equipped at our next event

Meet other adventurous leaders seeking to be, think, and do more. Leadership training and tribe meetings are listedhere.

3. Join me and other renegade pathfinders in AMPLIFIERS to get your deep work done.

AMPLIFIERS is an implementation community for big thinkers. If you’d like to amplify your message, motivation and results, send me an email with AMPLIFIERS in the subject line and let me know a little about your work and what big impact you’re striving for.


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