What is in a Word?

  • December 28th, 2017
  • By Steven Sparling

During construction of the Grand Old Barn, home of Cowbell Brewing Co., we asked Cowbell Team members to describe Cowbell in a single word. No rules. Simply a word to describe how we feel about the Team, the business, brand, culture or whatever else is of value, meaning or significance to us and our Cowbell journey.

In fairness, one likely needs to be directly involved in this remarkable Cowbell experience to truly understand, but I am confident that the themes will resonate with anyone who has had the privilege to be surrounded by truly audacious people.

The words have been used to create a chalkboard-looking word wall in our Team Room, where it is the primary feature. The wall is a constant reminder of our perspectives and aspirations. To me, it speaks a different language than statements of Mission, Vision and Value, which are too often crafted for the consumption of others. And the word wall is more influential than the most pithy, motivational Slogans of the Month. I mean really, “There is no ‘I” in TEAM.” Good grief.

This wall of humble words is powerful for its obvious simplicity. This is who we are. This is how we see ourselves, our purpose, and our responsibilities. It is how we conduct ourselves and why it all matters. The word wall is a window into the culture in our workplace.

Workplace innovators and thinkers like the late Peter Drucker have championed the value and the vital, unmistakable impact of culture for years. I often quote Drucker, who created the concept of the “knowledge worker” and who fiercely maintained that, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” I believe this and, while easily discounted by those who don’t know any different (i.e. those hearty stalwarts of Mission, Vision and Value statements that festoon office walls), my primary function at Cowbell is that of Culture Warrior. This is the most exciting adventure I have ever had.

In a recent conversation, a member of our Cowbell Team said to me that, “Culture is our Mojo.” Well, whatever it is, bring it on. Life is an imperfect journey and we work hard every day to be the best version of ourselves and to provide the best possible Guest Experience. We are blessed with a growing Team of mojo-motivated and aspirational people, and together we have the unique opportunity to make a living AND make a difference. How cool is that?!

Best wishes for a Safe and Happy 2018.


Steven Sparling
Founder, CEO & Culture Warrior