Culture and Revolution

watch time: 29 minutes

We know that culture is important. We even think we know what it is. But culture isn’t perks like dogs and snacks in the workplace — nor is it a defining personality, like, say, “googleyness”. Culture is the collective behavior of an organization… and whether or not you go about creating one, you’re going to get one anyway, argues a16z cofounder Ben Horowitz. “Unless you set it, it’ll just be what it is.”

So how should founders building companies (or leaders trying to turn their company around, address disruption, beat competition, and so on) go about creating a true winning culture? Horowitz shares key takeaways from the only successful slave revolution in the history of humanity — the Haitian revolution led by Toussaint L’Ouverture in 1791 — in this keynote first given at a16z’s inaugural summit event. How did this 18th century leader essentially “re-program” an entire culture to win?