Who you are is not the values you list on the wall. It’s not what you say at an all-hands. It’s not your marketing campaign. It’s not even what you believe.

Your organization’s culture is what you do.

What you do is who you are.

Thus Ben Horowitz introduces his topic–how to develop and sustain an organization’s culture.

This is not one of those leadership books where you read the first two chapters and you have everything the author intended to say. Horowitz fleshes out the concept through a series of gripping stories exemplifying parts of the process.

His examples include:

  • The only successful slave revolt–Toussaint Louverture in Haiti
  • The way of the warrior–Bushido-the Samurai Code
  • The way of the warrior exemplified by Shaka Senghor, a prison warrior
  • Genghis Khan–the way of inclusion

Elements of a successful culture can be seen in the Eight Virtues of Samurai (successful in Japan for hundreds of years):

  • Rectitude/Justice
  • Courage
  • Honor
  • Loyalty
  • Benevolence
  • Politeness
  • Self-Control
  • Veracity/Sincerity

Here are a few concluding thoughts from the book:

The most important element of any corporate culture is that people care.

Culture begins with deciding what you value most. Then you must help everyone in your organization practice behaviors that reflect these virtues.

You have to pay close attention to your people’s behavior, but even closer attention to your own.

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