When Culture Is More Than A Fad

Culture is more than just saying the word “Culture” a lot

If you polled the corporate community about initiatives and goals across 2021–2022 you will probably hear two very common themes, Diversity/Inclusion and Culture. The world has hi-lighted the lack of these in the modern corporate environment. How have corporations responded specifically to culture?


To help retain talent and unfortunately, sometimes to help employees overlook negative aspects of a company companies employ “Culture”.

When many companies say “culture” what do they mean? I have heard.

We want to be like Google

I’m not really sure what that means, most of the time the person has not worked at Google or event knows anyone there.

We want to build a cool environment where people are free to be themselves, have an open schedule, and really promote the company as a great place

These are some lofty goals, but how to they play out usually? In many cases they are only words. I have seen those goals play out as insane deadlines, worked weekends, additional pressure, planned “culture” activities that get cancelled.


Because in most cases, “culture” is used as a retention methodology, a means to keep people around. The concern around “culture” should stem from the care and concern of people not the concern for the bottom line. To have a successful “culture” at work people need to be held above the business.

We can illustrate it this way.

A family business is run differently than a non-family business. In a family business you are willing to put up with that 2nd cousin that slacks off or is not great at their job. Why? Because they are family. Instead of a performance review you support that cousin, educate and help them get better. You give them every opportunity to advance.

You care about the person more than the exact job they are doing.

Would a company ever take that approach?

Recently I made a major job change. I never really talked about it here but previously i was the Senior Director of Product Engineering at Comcast, I was responsible for the Strategy and Architecture of their e-commerce platform.

While i was being interviewed for my new role (which i will write more about that interesting process later) i heard something over and over. People are important. Culture is in our blood. I was excited to hear about their return to work policy, that it was geared towards the comfort of their employees. I liked that they covered more modern medical expenses that many companies don’t cover. The list went on and on.

I have to admit, what i heard was great, but i did feel like if i got the job it was only going to hit about 60%-70% of what i was told.

About a month ago I took the position of Senior Director of Software Engineering at Red Ventures and i have to admit i stand corrected. From day one you felt the difference. What made this different?

  • 2 week on boarding — To learn about the company and your environment before you actually start your job.
  • Mental Health Days — The company has given extra fridays off through the year for people to refresh themselves.
  • Openness — Through my first month i met many people at different levels. At the VP level and above i heard people admit to mistakes they made and ask for genuine support.
  • Politeness — It seems funny, but people respect each other so much that you can get into a conversation thread of just thank yous, back and forth.
  • Being Yourself — I listened to one of the best and funniest town hall meetings ever. Each presenter embraced who they are and were not trying to impersonate some corporate persona. Humor was allowed and encouraged.
  • Mental Health — People understood what it was like to learn a new domain, new rules and new people. I was frequently offered the opportunity to take time to refresh and gather myself.
  • Closeness — Within the second week i felt like i had know people for years and I knew that they were willing to support me.

I could go on and on, but i think this illustrates the point. The approach was different from the very beginning. This “Culture” came from the concern from the individual, the real person. Investment in people should be more important than investment in technology or anything else.

How did they drive this? Listen to their C.E.O and Founder.

I can confirm that there are places where people are still important and where you can still be yourself and succeed. Are you looking for that?

Come Join Us, You Won’t Regret It

Come work close to me and my teams

Software Engineer — Dev Tools

Senior Software Engineer, DevTools | Red Ventures

Staff Software Engineer

Staff Software Engineer - Healthline | Red Ventures

When Culture Is More Than A Fad was originally published in A Technologists POV on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.