Culture Without Ritual, Isn’t

I used to be a board member
of a small mastermind group of artists, freelancers, performers and

Once a quarter, we gathered
for a weekend retreat. The agenda was to give updates, share news, disclose
struggles, offer feedback, solve problems and of course, make tons of
inappropriate jokes.

And I was always blown away
at the quality of people’s insights. During our meetings, tears were shed,
gasps were made, epiphanies were realized and sighs of relief were exhaled. Each
time, we quickly remembered that the roller coaster isn’t as scary when you
have other people to scream with.

The only problem was, we had
no record or reinforcement around people’s insight.

And that wasn’t okay with me.

We were trying to build a culture.
A community worth belonging to. An atmosphere worth talking about. And an
environment worth passing on. And we needed a communication ritual to glue it all together.

So I had an idea.

During our final dinners, I
would ask each person to go around the table and share two things. First, one action
they planned to execute as soon as they got back to work. And second, one joke
that made them laugh the hardest during the meeting.

As the resident scribe, I
volunteered to document people’s individual contributions during the
discussion. And the next morning, I promised to send out the recap as the
artifact from our retreat. I believed everyone in the group deserved a front row
seat to their own brilliance. Not to mention, a ticket stub to remember the

Five years later, people still
talk about those dinners. Nobody remembers what we ate, but that’s not the
point. Culture isn’t about the food on the table, it’s about the people around

And that’s the power of

It’s a conscious practice and
a ceremonial acknowledgement. It’s an intentional experience we layer on top of
the activity to make it more purposeful. It’s how we make meaning, affirm belonging and turn disconnected events into an
ongoing story.

And whether it’s our peer
group, work team, sports squad, extended family or neighborhood community, any
time we tap into our natural human instinct to build communication
systems, we come alive.

What communication rituals have you created?


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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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