Culture of Interaction

I have not talked about culture in quite some time. It used to be one of the most interesting subjects to me, in some ways it still is, but being trapped in the corporate machine for what it seems like an eternity really put culture in the back seat. Recently the whole topic has been at the very front and center of my life. A lot has changed in my life in the past couple of years and even though it has nothing to do with identity, I have become very aware of how important culture is to me. Not just my culture, but just culture in general. I read this article () about business today but it resonated with me far beyond that, in particular this part.

Why is culture so important to a business? Here is a simple way to frame it. The stronger the culture, the less corporate process a company needs. When the culture is strong, you can trust everyone to do the right thing. People can be independent and autonomous. They can be entrepreneurial. And if we have a company that is entrepreneurial in spirit, we will be able to take our next “(wo)man on the moon” leap. Ever notice how families or tribes don’t require much process? That is because there is such a strong trust and culture that it supersedes any process. In organizations (or even in a society) where culture is weak, you need an abundance of heavy, precise rules and processes.

The topic of culture, not framed in this context or even by this word has been discussed by my group of friends a lot recently. I am very close to my family, in particular to my Mom and sister, we talk often, they are aware of what steps I am taking in life. I often bounce ideas off them just to get their reaction. That is part of my culture. They don’t make decisions for me, in fact I have often gone the complete opposite way of what they think I should do, however it is a great part of how I live my life. We did not need any process created, it just grew from mutual trust and family. When I visit them or they visit me, there is not a ton of preparation or discussion about it; we all trust each other to take care of the details. Not all families are like this, not all cultures are like this either.

America struggles to find an identity at times and with it its culture. I have talked about this before, but the part that I feel is lacking is trust. When you don’t even trust your own family and friends it is pretty hard to have interactions with them. Tons of protocol and process has to be build around something that should be natural and organic in the interactions you have with them. The more I become familiar with people here in the US I am amazed by the structures that have to be built in relationships and the lack of fluidity in interactions. Nobody shows up at your house unannounced just to “visit” probably being the best example.

I like being spontaneous, picking up the phone and saying hey you want to catch a movie or dinner tonight? That can send some people into almost an anxiety attack because they are used to planning things not just days but weeks in advance. So what do you think, does your family or group of friends have a culture that makes interactions easier? or are there tons of protocols and rules that you follow on your interactions with them?

What happened to Rock?

I guess the question could even be broader than that and ask what happened to music in general. Maybe I am getting old now that I am closer to 40 than 30. I just can’t seem to find good rock anymore. The most exciting thing that has happened recently is Corey Taylor rendition of Rainbow in the dark. How sad is that? No new music has really made me go, wow this is good rock. When J-pop seems to have better guitar than actual rock I think we are either getting old or everything that is produced now is crap.

I am not a fan of the Foo Fighters. The more I get to know Dave Grohl the more I like him, but I still find their sound just ok. Not something that I can listen to over and over like I did with Guns and Roses, Velvet Revolver, The Offspring and Metallica(before Living in Michigan and Mandatory Metallica killed that for me.) Bands like Aerosmith simply don’t exist anymore. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy Disturbed and can listen to some of the pop rock and enjoy it, but it does not evoke emotion the way the rock of my youth used to.

I used to think it was simply age, but it seems that even kids today don’t have a Nirvana.

So is anyone out there listening to something that I should listen to? Or is the simple answer that rock is just dead?

The F@ck You Face

H has been trying to talk me into going into what I consider the ultimate redneck church (Bass Pro Shop) for a while. Mostly because they have 2 big fish tanks and I am a big fish geek, but also because there are a lot of things to see there. The number of taxidermy-ed animals in there was my what first repulsed me. I encountered the practice very early on through some family friends back in Colombia… the dude also collected butterflies and other insects, and that part was cool… the mothball odor was not… I can almost taste it right now. So yea, back to the unreal amount of stuffed animals in one place. This took the place of the previous most numerous stuffed animal display which was impressively held all these years by a friends’ parent’s house that I visited back in college. Don’t get me wrong, you kill it, you eat it and you stuff it is not something I am against, it is just a little shocking when people keep carcasses as trophies, makes me think of predator.

The place is actually fun once you get over the fact that the place is probably hunted by the thousand animals souls separated from their flesh (if you believe in that sort of thing, not sure what the native american stance on that would be.) They have a shooting range… wait, actually they have like 3, real guns, lazer guns and even bows. You can buy more camouflage stuff in there than I though existed. It is a hunters paradise. I did not get to eat at the restaurant but I can only imagine the menu. I wonder if they have a vegan option.

This post is about something else though. The most shocking thing I saw there was the f@ck you face that almost every male that was there with a female sported. It was kind of unnerving to see so many people that looked so angry.

I’ve hung out in the west side of Chicago with some black friends at a park. The people there were not those you take lightly, people just out jail with more muscle than I thought was natural. I was not nervous until I saw a dude fumbling with a gun that did not seem to really know how to use it. We left shortly after. None of the people there made direct eye contact event thought they did look my way, I was a couple of shades lighter than I should have been but I did not feel like there would be trouble. I was not scared there, but I was alert to what was going on around me. That was probably the only place where I was so many people so alert.

I never thought that I would see something similar at a camouflage mall, but there I was around grown man practically dragging their woman by holding their hand tightly while wearing that f@ck you mask. All the guys there that I saw with what I assume was their wife had similar expressions and just wanted to display their machismo I guess. I am seriously not using my usual blank statements either. It was almost as if they were handing plates with feces before you entered the parking lot because I can only assume that is the face you make after you eat a plate full of it.

Then I thought about a conversation I had recently with a friend. I was wondering from an American perspective why is it that higher education or intellectuals are almost looked down upon by so many in this country. My friends theory is that intellect is though of as a feminine or weak trait. That this country is about guns and beer, and that reading a book is for weak effeminate types. Sure, it seems like an extreme view, but there might be something to that.

I am not really faced by the f@ck you face, it does not make me fear you. I live in America… not sure how long the whole ‘MURRICA trend I see getting bigger lately will go, but I hope it goes away… I mean, even the benign flower power of the 60%s went away… right?


Not everyone will understand your journey. That’s fine. It’s not their journey to make sense of. It’s yours.


That quote resonated with me. My journey might not make sense to many, maybe not to anyone besides me; but in the end it really only has to make sense to me. For some time now I have thought about my life in terms of a book, and while I go through it some people that used to seem to be chapters of the book have merely become footnotes. For the longest time I used to think that making others understand me or my journey was important only to realize that those really interested would not care to get what my journey is about, simply just be a part of it.

We are all in some way marked by our pasts, but do they really define us? are we really in control of the outcome? Living in the present is sometimes a lot harder than it seems on paper. A new year gets here and we are faced with evaluating what was and what is to come. Do we dwell, do we move forward, do we refocus?

Initially I wanted to start the year (or end it) with a post about the new year resolutions I had in mind. Health both mind and body are top of the list, but experiences are also sprinkled there for good measure. I had found a list that made a lot of sense, and as I get older it makes even more sense. With age we gain perspective. What used to matter, really does not matter in the long run. What are we left with then? Regret?

I regret little by simple force of will. I am stubborn enough to try to squeeze juice out of every lemon life sends my way. I do hate the word, but it seems to at times always catch my attention. What will I regret when I get old?

Here is the subset from the list of “37 Things You’ll Regret When You Are Old” that I want to keep just to look back on.

Not travelling when you had the chance
I’ve had to turn a couple of trips down simply because of work schedule, but this year it seems that I will actually make it to South America a couple of times in business, maybe even more.

Not learning another language
My goal is still 5 some day, I will revisit French some day but I have started on Portuguese, Rosetta Stone and all.

Failing to make physical fitness a priority
Gym membership is still active, but this year will see me not only using my bike more but getting back into P90X.

Refusing to let friendships run its course
I’m really bad at this one, but I think this year I will be able to just let things go and not try so hard with friendships that are just not what they used to be.

Worrying too much
Not sure what changed this exactly but I have become better and better at it. This is truly a skill that comes in handy.

Not spending enough time with loved ones
This one is challenged by geography but I want to see my best friend this year as well as visit Chicago more often.

Never performing in front of others
A while back I was all into doing an amateur stand up show, I think this year I might actually start working towards that again.

So there you have it. Those are the ones that I will be concentrating on this year. While this is more for me, I hope that maybe this makes you think about something positive to accomplish this year. To a very prosperous 2014 my friends.