What the Marines and Argo teach us about powerful internal culture

Huff PostSeparating the "real" from the "Hollywood" is always tough for a movie based on a true story. Wonder about details and characters in the film Argo? A recent interview on Huffington Post says one thing's certain: the famous, "Argo f*** yourself" was real.

If you've seen the film, you know that the line is used liberally—by multiple people on the team—during some pretty scary times.

It reinforced the brand name they were a part of—and most importantly—helped defuse tension and cement feelings of camaraderie when they were executing on "the best bad idea we have."

Every rapidly-growing company is also playing in a high-stakes game. A strongly branded internal culture will help take that company further because everyone on the inside shares a common bond, common purpose and drive to win.

Over time, those sayings and the stories about their origin become the stuff of internal corporate legends. People who may not have even been there at the time will drink the Kool-Aid and adopt these -isms. They'll drink deeply, buy in completely and be hooked.

The Marines have it!
The Marines have a marvelous reputation for their powerful internal brand. Some of their lore is about Chesty Puller, the most decorated Marine of all time and winner of five Navy Crosses. He's a giant whose name rallies droves of men and women who cannot ever meet him,  to always do one more pull-up (or one more anything else) than requried. Their mantra: "do one for Chesty!"Chesty Puller and Ironman LeeFirst Lieutenant Lewis "Chesty" Puller (center left).

Chesty is often quoted and deeply loved: "Take me to the Brig. I want to see the real Marines." and "Remember, you are the 1st Marines! Not all the Communists in Hell can overrun you!"

Chesty knew how to stir passion. His name alone inspires awe and the desire to go far above and beyond.

How to find your own lore
Some of these stories and sayings happen organically. Others grow into being because the ground has been made fertile with good leadership or monumental challenges. Whatever their origin, nurture them.

Listen to the banter (and the angst) at the water cooler, on your intranet and before staff meetings. Ask people about the stories of triumphs and near-disasters, too. Encourage them to share. Make sure you honor and repeat these stories, because there's nothing better to build your team. This is the stuff that legends—and enduring brands—are made of.

      MB Piland Advertising + Marketing: Culture Quiz
      MB Piland Advertising + Marketing: Health Check