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Nothing is More Important than your Culture

By Sterling Hawkins – Leading Speaker on Breakthrough Innovation, Tech Entrepreneur and Leadership Expert

Innovation Keynote Sterling Hawkins The Sweeney Agency Speakers Bureau
What Indiana Jones Teaches Us About Business

I work in innovation so the car driving analogy is an obvious one. We’ve all heard it a million times: something like, stop looking in your rear view mirror and look out the front window: look at where you’re going.

You know that. And I think that’s true.

It just leaves our focus only on getting to the destination. Therefore, we try to get better at predicting what technologies, what tools, what moments we choose to go left or right might make or break us down the line.

Spending all this time, money, effort, over analysis, worrying. And then wondering why anxiety medications are through the roof.

That prediction work is needed. Understanding your goals, your road map, working on getting where you’re going is necessary.

It’s just missing something. Something that has been at the root of governments being overthrown, industries being disrupted and companies growing exponentially.

It’s so blatantly obvious it’s easy to overlook. Yet so fundamentally important, it’s more important than the destination itself.

The car. The car you’re riding in.

Think of the car as you, and by extension, your culture — your business culture.

Culture is the set of collective beliefs, values, ethics and attitudes you have in your organization, whether you’re a sole proprietor or a Fortune 500 company. The culture is the car, or systems, that will get you anywhere.

  • How is your steering system? Is it built for tight turns? Or is it fairly loose?

  • How is the engine system? Does it get good mileage, good acceleration?

  • What about GPS, is that any good?

In business and our lives, it would be things like:

  • How do we handle dissenting opinions? Do we just go with the majority? Or harass those that think differently?

  • Or, how are our conversations? Is everyone contributing? Are people silent?

  • What do we do with failure? Or roadblocks?

As soon as we see our competition has a new technology, do we “drive” to buy, build or partner with a similar tool. But now, all you now have is that technology. A linear improvement.

It’s the culture that gives expansive growth; the technology, the tools, the processes, even the ideas are simply the result.

I’m not talking about the value statement posted up on the wall. I’m talking about the lived realities of how we interact. The invisible barriers that make it OK  to do some things and not even notice others.

Here’s the transformational part. When we start to go to work on the car, ourselves and our culture, the world starts to literally look different.

Imagine putting an off-road tire system or a wing system to fly on your car; it’s going to get you to vastly different places. Where you can “reasonably” expect to go is no longer just limited to city streets.

That would be transformational, right?!

It’s the equivalent of being a company like Kodak, inventing the first digital camera but hanging their future on print photography, at least until it’s too late, and they go out of business.

Or being a company like Amazon that has disrupted countless markets and is today one of the largest companies in the world.

It happens for people too, take Eldra Jackson III, who started out a hardened criminal, a dude as bad as you can get. Caught and sentenced to life in prison, who used some of these principles personally to transform into someone that not only was let out on parole, but now runs a company, supports non-profits and has a happy family of his own.

We’ve been looking at what there is to do almost exactly backwards. Trying to get to some innovation… let’s “go do” transformation… or try to arrive at some end result.

Transformation isn’t a destination. It’s not just one moment that matters. It’s a place to come from; it’s who we are in all those moments. Its potential is embedded in repeated moments as systems in your business culture. AGAIN, the technology, disruption, innovation, the ideas are purely the result of your culture.


About Sterling Hawkins

Sterling Hawkins is out to break the status quo to create what’s actually possible for humanity in our time. He has spent his career igniting new views and inspiring people to act on them. He is an internationally-recognized thought leader and top-rated keynote speaker on innovation, transformational leadership and exponential growth. His keynotes share meaningful strategies to drive change – delivered with the inspiration to leave attendees in action.

To Learn more about Sterling Hawkins contact [email protected]

Derek Sweeney is the Director of Speaker Ideas at The Sweeney Agency. www.thesweeneyagency.com. For 15 years Derek has been helping clients find the right Speakers for their events. Derek can be reached at 1-866-727-7555 or [email protected]