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Can Business Succeed Without Culture?


What is the importance of “culture” in the business world? Does it really make a difference? You better believe it does! Organizing the goals of a business around solid, positive, core values and then proceeding to cultivate them on a daily basis inspires and motivates the members of the organization. This mindset also encourages your team to reach out and share the culture with those around them. However you define fulfillment, I believe we will all agree that it is created by our daily surroundings–the culture we experience as we participate in the workplace environment of our choice.

Much has been said about the KW culture, both positive and negative. The truth is, those of us that have the same values and focus on culture in business are perfect business partners. We are so thankful to have found a business that thinks like we do-where our beliefs are fostered in a positive and powerful way!

In today’s world, where uncertainty seems to reign, our life journeys are often extremely challenging ones. I believe we are here to help one another, to walk beside one another and share life’s difficulties as well as its celebrations. I have seen this spirit come alive first-hand as Keller Williams agents embrace the values of respect, acceptance of diversity, positive cooperation and enthusiastic support within a business family. Working together in unity to achieve a common business goal while reaching out to serve and improve the lives of others in our individual communities is an incredible win-win for everyone involved.

To me, culture is spirit, passion, compassion and the active, selfless involvement in helping someone else achieve their goals. These simple things help put a smile on our face as we rise for work in the morning; it encourages us to do our best; it influences our actions and reactions with customers, clients and fellow team members; it brings joy into our lives. Every day, I challenge you to hold true to your values, share a caring culture and count your abundant blessings!

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22 comments on “Can Business Succeed Without Culture?
  1. Michelle Fry says:

    NO. Absolutely, a business CANNOT survive without culture. All successful businesses that last, have a common denominator…. the employees (or contributors) have PRIDE in what they do. It is not about the money, because at each individuals heart, they know that they must do what they love and the money will follow. Unless there is pride for the organization that you are affiliated with, there is no excitement to get up in the morning and do what is necessary to accomplish a goal. Enthusiasm comes from pride. Many successful businesses have failed over time when they did something that changed the “culture”. The airline industry is a good example. KW needs to invest in those with a “heart” and not just those that have a “high D” and no heart. Culture will always float to the top.

  2. Our language is the road map of our culture. It tells us where our people come from and where they are going. It is the true point of seperation in our industry.

  3. Joe Charters says:

    From Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish –
    “Having a few rules, repeating yourself a lot, and acting in ways that are consistent with the rules – these are the 3 keys whether you’re poviding your children with a good moral foundation or providing a company with a strong cultural foundation. And the evidence is irrefutable that a strong culture leads to superior performance, higher employee retention , and a better-aligned organization. Equally important, a strong culture driven by a handulf of rules (core values) makes leading people much easier, reduces the need for stacks of policies and procedures, gives everyone a foundation from which to make tough decisions, and generally brings simplicity and clarity to many of these “people” systems within the firm”.
    Sound familiar?? In other words – NO – you can’t succeed at a high level without a strong culture!

  4. As a witness in our Market Center from launch to achievement, it is easily observable that those who are in culture are thriving in today’s marketplace. Without sounding judgmental, the agents who struggle with culture seem to have their focus distracted by problems, gossip, negativity or trouble. They usually end up leaving the Market Center if their core values are drastically different from the group.

    I believe our OP’s presence and commitment to high standards keeps our Market Center in balance

  5. I have experienced Keller Williams culture, and only 1 person who was out of culture all the time. My belief is that the ones who are out of culture do get lonely, and will eventually get in culture or move on to an enviornment better suited for them! The culture remains, and will not leave the KW office or company. There are too many people who love this company and what it stands for to let a few bad seeds destroy the crop!
    Anyone who has not experienced working with Keller Williams is missing a great opportunity, for friendship, encouragement, training, and most of all THE CULTURE that remains day in and day out! I am proud to say I work with Keller Williams!

  6. Fran Johnson says:

    So well said and I could not agree more! Culture sets the foundation for long term success of any organization. Talent for the job is very important and talent that has not just a passion for culture but a willingness to demonstrate it in their own walk even when no one is looking is a necessicity. Without that respect, pride, and passion are eventually lost. And wherever the culture is lost in the organizational chain is where the weakest link is and the higher up the chain that it is lost, the more vulnerable is the organization. The hardest part of recruiting anyone from another company is leaving the great people with whom they now work. It’s not the money. Also, if culture does not float to the top, culture will float out of the door! That makes recruiting really GREAT people and retaining them very hard. Sometimes I believe people are confused about what culture is or is not. Culture is not about not having disagreements and even passionately debating issues. Jim Collins says in his new book “How the Mighty Fall” that in Stage 3 of a declining company “there is an erosion of healty team dynamics that shows a marked decline in the quality and amount of dialogue and debate; there is a shift toward either consensus or dictatorial management rather than a process of argument and disagreement followed by unified commitment to execute decisions.”

  7. Never before has culture been so very obvious to me. For all of my career, seeking something, but not knowing what it was. Perhaps this void was always the motive for moving on. Creating the company that no agent would ever want or need to leave is so very refreshing. The power knowing that if I succeed, it is up to me…with a whole lot of support from KW people! Our market center embraces this concept from OP and MCA right on down to the newest rookie. The agents at Brand X just don’t know what they’re missing!

  8. Recently when one of our agents had the opportunity to fight for a higher commission where the bank reduced the commission of a short sale and the other agent didn’t protect herself in the MLS with the appropriate 50/50 commission split, the agent was conflicted. Should he take the 3.5% commission and leave .5 to the listing agent? They both worked hard for months but he was entitled to the posted commission. As his coach, he asked me what I would do. I asked him to look into his own heart and do what was right for him. I didn’t tell him what to do and was deeply moved when he remembered that one of the reasons he came to KW was for our W4C2Ts. He let it go, split the 4% with the listing agent and two days later went into another escrow. I too, joined KW because of win-win, do the right thing and I celebrate that I rub elbows everyday with like minded people. Business more than succeeds with culture.. it thrives.

  9. Our culture is the Golden Rule (do unto other as you would have them do unto you) and so much more…it’s really going outside yourself and looking for opportunities to make a difference.
    Look at the list Kay Evans compiled in “What Is Culture”
    *Complimenting others regularly
    *Smiling at others in the Market Center regularly
    *Staying home if you’re having a bad day attitudinally
    *Speaking without profanity
    *Committing a random act of kindness every day
    *Giving seven hugs a day
    *Being considerate of the staff
    These are just seven of the 31 examples Kay gave us. It’s not only doing unto others, it’s being proactively and on purpose in our thoughts, actions, and feelings.
    Ashley Wrobel’s story brings tears to my eyes. I know that on the surface it looks like the agent’s decision cost him money, but we all know that it comes back ten-fold in other ways.
    Culture is an environment where we can all thrive.

  10. John Pohly says:

    You got to have culture! It is the glue that keeps the whole thing together. Helping other achieve their goals is the Keller Williams way!

  11. Phil Raices says:

    As the owner of several small businesses (and as a real estate broker), I know first-hand the benefits of promoting a sense of camaraderie and a culture in my small business. I believe that to have been an essential element in the success of my businesses.

  12. Jo Ferguson says:

    My Mom passed away Oct. 20th and the team leaders have been so kind to me at Keller Williams Preston. They are a positive culture.
    Jo Ferguson

  13. Daniel Gomez says:

    No a company cannot survive without having values!!
    I believe that if you are going to talk the talk then you MUST walk the walk. It is easy for us in the market centers to practice culture because it comes from the top down.
    When working at other brokerages and different companies in my past, I always had to practice my own desire to work out of integrity and trust because it was never like it is now for me here at Keller Williams. When the owner of the company I work for is allowing me to have Faith and work out of that Faith it is so easy to work out of and in the spirit of our culture…So to that I say “hats off to you”!!!!
    Daniel Gomez.

  14. Nancy Farber says:

    “Culture” such and intangible thing. Something that is hard to explain yet easy to feel.

    To answer the question “Can business succeed without Culture?” I suppose it could but I don’t think the business would be very rewarding or much fun. I have been selling real estate for 23 year and have been with 4 other companies. The difference I feel at KW is being part of something big through the sharing, caring, and wanting everyone to succeed.

    When I get asked what my license plate means (KW4EVER), I just smile and say it means I am lucky to work with a company that I consider to be my family. KW ROCKS! See ya in New Orleans!
    Nancy Farber
    Canton Ohio (home of the Pro-football hall of fame)

  15. Dan Gervais says:

    Every company has a culture…not every company have a culture that they can be proud of. KW has a very solid business model that is the best in the business and we could survive on that business model alone. Our real success will be because of our culture. More than anything else, culture is what sets us apart from any competitor in the marketplace. World class training, state of the art technology and tools for the agents, combined with a culture of sharing and caring make KW an amazing opportunity. Why settle for surviving when you can succeed! KW ROCKS!!!

  16. Paul Dake says:

    As a new ALC member, I was asked what committee I’d like to be on. Immediately, I said “Culture” because it was the KW culture that made my move to KW almost two years ago a no-brainer. Then, when asked what subject I would like to teach in our office, the answer was MINDSET! I feel so strongly about these two areas as being integral to our daily life and business success, and am excited to take on the privilege of being an ALC member. And where did I go first to seek training materials? Mo’s videos, of course!

  17. Anita Rich says:

    I had worked for a Corporate Well known Real estate company in upper management for over 20 years… The only reason I left was because they did not even remotely understand “Culture”.. I was not sure what was missing until I went to Austin, met Kathy Neu and Mo Anderson and from that day on, it was so very clear. For years I listened to the rumors about KW and the Cool-Ade jokes… and I could not be happier..I was fortunate to be asked to Start a new office for KW and had a lot of learning opportunities . While I was not able to build the office to the level needed at the time , I was very successful at setting the culture… After 9 months as a team leader I had 78 agents in one of the worst down markets in years and in an undesirable office setting.. Yet the weekly meetings had 70% attendance and the “family” unity and desire to be of service was evident. I can not thank Mo enough for being the amazing example that she is.. Clearly this is something that speaks to how Mo lives her life… day in and day out.. You can not get better than to be around people who truly “walk the talk.” Thank you KW…

  18. Joanne Owens says:

    KW culture has changed my life and the lives of those around me. I have the honor of being an OP in a market center that we launched. We went from nothing to being #3 in our County – you don’t do that is this market without a strong culture! BTW we opened in 2006 in Florida – I know we all have great stories like this share – let’s keep doing so.

  19. Dawn Dodson says:

    I have experienced first hand what the lack of a cultured business owner can do to a company. While they may still be in business they are definately not thriving, they are merely surviving. I am so blessed to be involved with a company that holds culture as the maintay of our existance. There is nothing more powerful than the simple belief that doing the RIGHT thing is alwas the best thing.

  20. John Youker says:

    All business have culture, however, some are just not “good” culture! I came from a company that had a “bad” culture, and to say the least, it was not a fun place to work. One of the things I, as a TL, together with my leadership team are doing at our office in Chicago is to build a “CULTURAL FORTRESS.” In other words, make it a place that is so good, that no one will want to leave, and it will always be improving as we raise the bar every week. We have been very successful in the past year, since I have been here, improving the culture, and what we have found is that more agents come into the office to work, more participate in our activities, we are raising more money that before, and we have a place now that other agents want to be a part of!

    Culture is the bottom line to have a successful, productive, fun, and happy environment to work in. Without it, or with “bad” culture, the business simply fails.

  21. “Helping someone else achieve their goals..” I think this is the phrase, out of all the descriptive phrases that you have used, Mo, that best describes my feeling of what “culture” is… or should be.

    Sometimes, we get so immersed in trying to plan for and achieve our OWN goals that we lose out on opportunities to lend an ear, a hand, or a shoulder to someone else. Let’s all stop for a moment.. somewhere in our busy day to listen for an S.O.S coming from a friend, family member, or colleague and respond in kind. There will be many blessing to count for sure!

  22. Don Kolenda says:

    Caring to make a difference in other peoples lives is the reason Keller Williams appeals to my team in the business world. The more we can impact the clients we work with, their view of real estate will change. I thank every KW agent that takes there culture with our comnpany to the next level seriously. Don Kolenda

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