There is an ambulance company in India called 1298.
When they started in Mumbai, there were only 3 ambulances in the entire city. It’s like a city the size of Johannesburg, with only 3 ambulances the entire city.
Their ethos when they started is whether you are rich or poor you deserve to get to a hospital before you died.
So, if you are poor and you get into the ambulance, you don’t pay a cent.
If you are wealthy and you get into the ambulance, you pay what’s appropriate.
The number you call when you need an ambulance in Mumbai is 1298.
So the question is: Why is it called 1298?
Why not it called 911?
Why is it not called the well-known international emergency number?
People in Mumbai watch TV, and they know that the international number for emergency is 911, so why don’t they make it easier for people and use 911?
Why build an ambulance company and call it 1298?
The answer is:
Someone at the phone company where they register numbers wanted a bribe in order to give them 911.
And they made the decision from the first day, even though people said people are going to die because you picked a lousy number for your company, they responded by saying, we are not the kind of organization that pays a bribe, even when it’s important.
After all no one pays a bribe when it’s not important, people always pay a bribe only when it’s important.
By establishing from day one, [even though no one would find out if they paid bribe], we are not the kind of company that does things like that [paying bribes].
That way they are building an organization that will get to where it needs to go.
Everyday you are going to have to wrestle with this, which corners do you cut and what kind of culture do you build?
When you steal, cheat, manipulate, or lie, you think it is only just this once, unfortunately, you do it once, it will happen again, and again, and eventually it becomes your culture.
The culture of the organisation you built changes everything.
Whether you are aware of it or not, whether you are intentional about it or not, you create a culture in your life and business everyday.
It starts with simple things, arriving late for meetings, cutting corners, manipulating, lying, cheating, inflating hours and charging full fees, not doing the work but taking the credit and then it escalates to paying bribes, lying about your tax returns, massaging numbers in your financial reports etc.
Everyday, drip by drip, you are creating a culture for yourself and your organisation.
Culture defeats strategy.
Culture defeats tactics.
Culture defeats new years resolutions.
Culture is at the heart of whether you are going to get to where you want to go or not.
Change your culture, change your future.