Mastery and Culture

Mastery has everything to do with your unique culture, aligned with your unique values, and is more important than you may have imagined. In any given situation, you can act consistently congruent with your values. The way we define culture is: “It’s how and why we do what we do.”

We begin with two definitions of ‘culture,’ one by Marvin Bower, the noted business consultant, and the second, again, our definition.

Marvin Bower’s Definition: “Culture—it’s the way we do things around here.”

Our Definition: “Culture—it’s how and why we do, what we do.”

Before we look at types of cultures and some examples of each, let’s look at a few of the qualities or attributes of masters which form the foundation of their culture.

Those who can rightfully be called masters live their lives and do what they do based on their personal culture. They know their values. They consistently refine their behaviors and actions so they are congruent with their values as time and conditions change and situations evolve. They unconditionally walk-their-talk. Specifically:

Masters know the ‘why’, the reason, the purpose behind everything they do. To them, their ‘culture’ is more than a word or philosophy—it is the synthesis of their core beliefs (their values) and the actions they take. In other words, their actions have meaning and purpose. Their actions are directed and focused. Their actions achieve

Masters know where they are going because they’ve defined their vision, their goals, and their objectives including realistic and achievable and their defined vision and goals act as magnets because they’re continually being clarified and visualized as having been achieved versus something

Masters know where they are. They know their gifts and talents as well as their shortcomings. They know and capitalize on their strengths and manage their weaknesses. They see things as they are, truthfully, unfiltered, and unbiased as much as possible. Bottomline, they maximize their internal and external

Masters make better decisions. They are not perfect. They use mistakes and failures as lessons. They make whole-brain decisions. Once they’ve made their decision, they consistently and diligently stay on focus, track their progress as to congruence and achievement, and make course-corrections as wanted or

Masters have and gain from multiple relationships. They have relationships that can be classified as resources. They have relationships that challenge them and push them to new levels of thought and achievement. They have relationship who support their need for rejuvenation. And, they have relationships that are truly supportive and helpful such as a dedicated

The important thing about the points above is, for those in pursuit of mastery in their vocation or profession, that they are also the potential benefits of a committed journey toward mastery.

Next, let’s look at different types of Cultures beginning with what we’ll call the ‘People’ Culture which could be a country, a region, a province, or a town. What defines these different groups of people is their Culture and their Cultural Differences such as:

Style of Communication—Verbal communication which includes words, phrases, accents, sayings, and stories. Coupled with their verbal communication style are frequently non-verbal forms of communication including facial expressions and gestures.

Religious Beliefs—Their rituals, actions, holidays, sacred locations, images, symbols, special individuals both living and deceased, as well as their behaviors with those in their belief groups and those outside their belief

Gifting and Tipping—Their customs and rituals as to expected gifts and For example, in some cultures pre-gifting or bribes are the norm for doing business while in others it is, in some cases, against the law.

Personal Space—In some cultures handshakes are the norm while in others hugging is the norm for greeting someone or leaving their presence. Or, there are cultures where maintaining a respectable distance is normal while others a greeting includes a brief kiss on both

Dining—This is one area where many differences in cultures become visual in the forms of different cuisines, time meals are prepared and eaten, the days and dates that many times dictate the menu, as well as the seating

Forms of Address—This includes titles, and physical movements such as bowing, standing when certain ranking individuals enter or exit a room.

As well as a number of others including Individual Expectations and Assumptions about other cultures based on stories and information handed down from elders.

A recent example of a nation’s culture:

In March of 2011, Tom Miyagawa Coulton and John M. Glionna, of the Los Angeles Times, wrote a story about the Tsunami that hit three main prefectures in Japan where over 25,000 people died and how, the occupants, many of whom were fisherman and did business in cash, lost millions and millions of Yen.

“The powerful tsunami in March carried away houses, automobiles and safes, dragging many of them out to sea. However, more than 5,700 safes have been recovered, many spotted by residents who summon police to provide the muscle needed to lift the heavy objects. In privacy-conscious Japan, the names of the finders and the people who have seen money returned have been kept confidential. But Saiki says the stories continue to amaze him. For example, one recovered safe was the largest single find. The money belonged to the owner of a local company whose offices were swept away. All of the cash, police say, was given to company employees. “He was so grateful to have his money back,” Saiki said. “He didn’t keep it but distributed it among his workers and their families. It’s not about personal gain here. Everyone has suffered in this tsunami.”

In a testament to Japan’s culture of honesty, finders have turned in $78 million to authorities and some have waived their right to the money even when the rightful owners cannot be found.

Think about businesses you like to do business with and ‘culture’ that drives that business such as:

Apple’s culture is driven by its commitment to innovation and customer care. BMW’s culture driven by its commitment to being ‘the ultimate driving experience’.

Costco’s culture is driven by its commitment to saving customers money and no- hassle

Harley Davidson’s culture driven by its commitment to keep its heritage

Ferrari’s culture driven by its commitment to building vehicles its way and on its timeline.

Trader Joe’s culture is driven by its commitment to a unique selection of

Nordstrom’s culture is driven by its commitment to customer service’. WindoTrader’s culture driven by its commitment to develop software that gives traders an

A recent example of the importance of a business’s culture.

Zappos which, as most people know, sells shoes over the internet. In 2000 sales were $1.6 million dollars and in 2009 they were 1 billion dollars. And, in July 2009, Amazon purchased Zappos for roughly $928 million dollars. The following quote very clearly states the underlying reason for the success and ultimate sale of Zap- pos.

“I’ve been asked a number of times what the company’s biggest asset is, and my answer is always the same: the culture – Why? We are a service company that happens to sell shoes . . . In order for us to succeed as a service company, we need to create, maintain, and grow a culture where employees want to play a part in providing great service. Tony Hsieh, CEO-Zappos.com

The third type of culture is the personal culture of an individual. While we can certainly reference a number of studies and opinions from practitioners (consultants, advisers, and educators) active with clients and the results they are seeing almost daily, we’re going to just highlight what we believe is an indisputable, best example of the power of an individual, defined and lived culture—Ray Dalio and his Bridgewater Associates, LP.

Suggestion, read not only the information provided about Bridgewater Associates, LP including their page on Principles and Culture but most importantly Ray Dalio’s monograph Principles. Then, read an interview of Ray Dalio in Leader’s Magazine titled Radical Transparency (July 2010).

Regarding Bridgewater’s performance, the Wall Street Journal article titled As Stocks Slide, Investors Scramble, talks about Mr. Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates LP scoring gains of more than $3.5 billion, or about 5%, in its flagship hedge fund just in the past week, according to investors. The $71 billion fund now is up more than 20% this year, investors said, making it among the best performers in the hedge-fund business. The gains are partly due to a spike in safe-haven investments, such as gold, Treasury bonds and the Swiss franc, in which Bridgewater has sizable positions.

“It is through this unique culture that we have produced the meaningful work and meaningful relationships that those who work here and our clients have come to expect.”  —Ray Dalio.

So, to recap and define the ‘take-away’ from this issue, let’s take a look at several of the benefits that you as a trader can gain from defining and living in alignment with his or her trading culture:

You’ll know who you are (your natural state versus your learned state) as a for clarifying and achieving your target results.

You’ll design and develop trading, business and performance plans based on you, your trading methodology, knowledge, skills, strengths, and preference.

You’ll have an increased ability to make more informed, higher-probability decisions about and in relation to your trading as well as solve problems impeding your progress towards declared results.

You’ll create and have a track to run on that helps you focus on what’s important to you, i.e., in line with your principles, and not be sidetracked as you pursue the achievement of your target results.

You’ll develop and nurture win-win relationships which will become more meaning- ful and more win-win as time passes based on the congruence of each person’s understanding and appreciation for each other.

You’ll know the why’s of the things you do and/or plan to do. You will accomplish it more effectively and efficiently as well as more on target and with less resources.

Until next time . . .