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Building Culture

By Grant Fritchey,

As I write this I’m sitting on a ship out on the ocean. I’m currently taking part in the latest Tech Outbound event, a cruise at sea that is both a learning classroom and an deep networking event. I bring this up because while sitting in one of the classes, I learned something that explains so much about a lot of things that I just have to share it.

Kevin Kline, currently of SentryOne and one of the founders of PASS, told us a story about the founding of the PASS organization that I had never heard before. When they first started organizing PASS, 20 years ago, they had almost no funding. They wanted to put on an event, the first PASS Summit, but they had no idea how they were going to compete with much better funded events. Kevin then said that, while they can’t necessarily put on a better event, they can be better people. They would create a culture based on the concept of being aggressively friendly. It worked. To this day, what we now call the SQL Community has taken Kevin’s approach of being aggressively friendly to heart. You can see the aggressively friendly approach at work at PASS Summit, SQLSaturday events all over the world and all the local groups spawned from these. You’ll recognize the aggressively friendly approach in TechOutbound where they’ve also added inclusiveness to the culture. The establishment of culture survives and grows from the founders of the culture.

The question then becomes, what kind of culture are you building around yourself. Whether we’re talking about your corporate culture or just your choices of approach to other people, are you aggressively friendly, or just aggressive. Because the culture you build will be visible to others. Worse, or better depending on your point of view, that culture will be emulated. It’s your choice. You can concentrate on being aggressively friendly and inclusive like PASS and TechOutbound, or you can make other choices, positive or negative, about how you build and maintain the culture around you. Personally, I love the new phrase I learned this week, aggressively friendly, and I intend to attempt to emulate that better while being as inclusive as possible.

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