What's your culture?

The Weekly Bento // July 23, 2021

Hi there and welcome to the Weekly Bento. In this week’s issue:

  • Opening: What’s your culture?

  • Responding: Collective effervescence

  • Recommended: DAOs and clans, Alice Coltrane, Konosuke Matsushita

  • Closing: The Weekly Bento and the Bento Society IRL

Opening: What’s your culture?

There’s a cliche in the business world that your culture is what happens when no one is looking. Whatever your words say you are, whatever front you put up, it’s actions that matter. Culture refers to the unspoken rules and ways of getting things done. 

This idea stayed with me constantly while I was heads down on Kickstarter. I used it as a license for self-critique and to always work harder. What could I be doing more of? How could I be using my time better? As I sprinted from one thing to another the phrase “what happens when no one is looking” repeatedly played in my mind.

I’m learning that this same idea of culture exists on a personal level too. The culture I create by and with myself defines the outcome of everything I do: how I use my time, how I connect with others, whether I follow through. My personal culture is created by the way I respond to events, and likely the pattern by which I will respond to similar events in the future.This is the harmless, simple, and sometimes irreversible way culture is set.

You may say you prioritize quiet time, self care, and being spontaneous and adventurous with your friends, but to what degree do you live up to these things? This is your personal culture.

One lesson from this idea of personal culture is that diligence and discipline are rewarded. Hard work creates exponential results. But from a Bento perspective, there’s an even bigger lesson: Our personal culture isn’t just defined by and relate to our personal and professional goals. It’s also defined by how we make time and show up for people in our life.

This is a question worth asking yourself: what happens when no one is looking?What norms and expectations do you set for yourself without realizing it? Are you aligned with who you say you are? What’s your culture?

Responding: Collective effervescence

Last week I shared an Adam Grant essay exploring the idea of collective effervescence, the feeling of being in sync and together with a group of others. I asked for others to share their reflections on collective effervescence. Among the responses was an especially memorable reply from member Mark Arnett. He writes:

I do blues open mic through effervescent.
And it is special when it is collective!

I write my songs for the day,
while I hear the others play.

We never rehearse.
I just give the house band my first verse.

They start to play,
and I first listen to what they have to say.

My job is first to connect with the band,
and adjust the lyrics that I had planned

I surrender and we let the song go
and it effervesces into an amazing show.

It is not about you connecting with me.
It is about joining together collectively.

Wonderful stuff. Thanks Mark!

Recommended: 🎉 Yancey’s picks

Keii Kreutler, “A Prehistory of DAOs” — This week’s must read is an exciting essay from Kei Kreutler connecting the rise of DAOs, or decentralized autonomous organizations, to human civilization’s early roots in clans, tribes, and guilds.

This is a topic I’ve also been researching. The parallels between our early human groups and the kinds of arrangements that are taking place now are striking. Highly recommend this.

Alice Coltrane, Kirtan: Suriya Sings — One of my favorite records, previously only available via cassette and scratchy MP3s, is now available on streaming services. Alice Coltrane was an amazing spiritual jazz musician with many classic records. But this album is unique: a collection of spiritual songs sung in Sanskrit recorded for her ashram. The swirling organs, synthesizers, and vocals are unlike anything you’ve heard before.

Konosuke Matsushita, Not for Bread Alone — When I think about the books that inform my own personal culture, this book by the Japanese businessman Konosuke Matsushita stands out (I wrote about it in This Could Be Our Future too). In a collection of simple stories, Matsushita makes a profound, wise, and example-rich case for making decisions in the interests of the long term and a broader community. A wonderful book.

Closing: The Weekly Bento / Bento Society IRL

  • The Weekly Bento. This Sunday the 15-minute Weekly Bento will return with yours truly as the host. Together we’ll ground ourselves and set our intentions for the week ahead. For those of you looking to talk and connect with others, the Bento Cafe (a separate breakout room) will be open after the Weekly Bento for a guided conversation and casual hang.

    RSVP for the Weekly Bento

  • Bento Society IRL. This weekend members of the Bento Society in Vancouver are getting together to help clean a park. If you’re in Vancouver and would like to join, we’ll be meeting on Saturday July 24th at 3pm for a beach cleanup at New Brighton Park. Thanks to member Amber Bright for proposing and organizing! (Stay tuned for more Bento Society IRL meetups in the future...)

What would you like to see more of from the Bento Society? What are things we should be thinking about? We’d love to hear your tips: info@bentoism.org

Peace and love my friends,

The Bento Society

The Bento Society explores the frontiers of what’s valuable and in our self-interest. We host weekly events and support projects aligned with our mission.

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