Words equal Culture

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Words Equal Culture

Words Are ‘principal carriers of meaning,’ powerful beyond comprehension. Building blocks. Tools of expression. Significance filters. Words matter. They always have and now amidst a globally connected web community, they matter more; if that’s possible.


A culture is the cumulative beliefs and behaviors, the personality and characteristics of a particular community, social or ethnic group. And to ‘culture’ something is to grow it, to till, nurture, to cultivate growth and development.

Words create Culture

Words are the most overlooked tool in community building, in nurturing human potential and in the creation of communities, organizations, teams, movements and tribes.

Words. Think about them, listen to them. What do they mean?

What word mattered to Obama?

Change. Now, agree or disagree; the word has meaning and placed at the heart of a movement as the purpose or vision the word develops the soul of the community, it communicates what is significant.

Let’s try a few more.

Hitler: One word full of HATE.

Please: A feeling in and of itself.

Nigger: Racism in 6 letters.

You, We: Inclusion

I and Me: Exclusionary

Non-profit: Having no value

Human Resources: People as things.

(of course I don’t use the N word; it’s not in my vocabulary because it doesn’t represent my beliefs, character or feelings and of course I don’t believe non profits are valueless – rather the exact opposite is true and because of their incredible value to society they should ditch the term non and come up with a new word that speaks to the heart and soul of their impact; social ventures, social business, social partnerships…And don’t even get me started about the words ‘human resources.’ People are not human capital, resources or any other term that in any way diminishes them, compares them to non-human materials and purports to put task, organization and goals ahead of them…

Businesses, organizations, groups, communities and individuals come to understand what is significant, what each other stand for by the words we use.Words = Culture

What is significant to you, your business, team,family? What has meaning? What is it, you are trying to develop, cultivate, improve? What are the behaviors, beliefs, the characteristics that define what is important to your team, family, venture?

A few of my favorite….Word and Culture Questions

If I ( my company) was 1 word it would be?

The feeling I want ( or my business intends) to leave others with is____________

If I( or my company, team ) was a verb, it would be ____________

If I ( or my company, team) was a noun it would be__________________________

The words that conflict, oppose my purpose, intention for my life and company are ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The big idea I am ( my team, tribe is) inspired by is_____________________________

The 8-10 words that I am most interested in, ( best describe my company or teams passion)
As a leader, parent, friend and writer I find myself in a constant state of awe at the power words have to create, cultivate, kill, harm and destroy. And now we have high powered search engines helping everyone find us, identify the words that have meaning to us and are significant.



Edit out words that hold no meaning for you. Architect phrases, choose words that best express your authentic self and the true meaning and purpose of your team, community, venture or organization. Review the words you use – do they cultivate the beliefs, the meaning, feeling, significance you represent? Do you have a word map that represents the soul of your culture?


And tell me what words best represent you, your company, purpose or passion?
Pam Hoelzle

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