Porter’s Preface: The Holy Grail

December 24th, 2009 by admin

As explained in chapter 16 of Bootstrap Business, the culture of your business is as important as the legendary Holy Grail, and it’s up to you – the business owner – to create it!

Countless crusaders spent their lives in search of the Holy Grail, a mythical object of deeply spiritual significance. What came of their quest? Did they ever find the Grail? Well, no, but their lives changed, and they left a legacy—some good, some bad. Long after deals are done, contracts are completed, and companies are closed, you and your team will be bound together by the experiences you shared. For good or ill, you will remember what you learned and how it felt.

Your company culture is your Holy Grail. Establish it right from the start. Rich alluded to the function of your culture in the last chapter, but understanding why and how you are to establish your culture warrants its own space. You build your culture because it is your responsibility. You must, for the long-term success of your endeavor, establish a durable, viable culture. As you commemorate the great actions of the past, you help create a vibrant legacy that wins loyalty to your company and enhances the effectiveness of your work.

As it goes in life, so it goes in business: the most infectious method of teaching and passing on your culture is by example. You must create the culture within your company because if you do not, someone else will. That someone else could be anyone, right down to the depressing engineer whose daily complaints bring everyone down.

Influential leaders have not been influential by accident. Leaders leave legacies built on their actions and the stories that grow out of those actions. Gandhi walked across India, millions followed, and their boycott of salt brought the British government to its knees. Winston Churchill ordered that theaters remain open despite Nazi bombing. George Washington galloped into a firestorm of lead, emerging with his cape riddled with bullet holes and his person unharmed. Mother Teresa labored in Calcutta and other poverty stricken areas to minimize suffering with love and care until her own death. Great acts of leadership do not happen by accident.

While your culture is your responsibility, you have additional resources at your disposal. If your company has been around for a while, you have already created part of your legacy. Past successes fuel future achievements. If, on the other hand, you are just starting out, there are plenty of names and faces to look to. Decide on values, rules, and attitudes. Make sure you enter the business world with a boom and hire employees who match. That’s the way the masters do it, and that’s the way that Rich does it. He doesn’t just do it, though—he has fun with it!

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