At Praxis, we have an all-remote team, work happening nearly every hour of every day, rapid communication, high expectations, and bend-over-backwards customer service.

We are all pretty independent, confident, and unafraid of conflict.  We debate and discuss a lot of stuff, and have little patience for poor performance, delay, bureaucracy, or make-work.  We’re competitive, we want to win, and we’re trying to grow every day.

This is a great recipe for startup growth.  It’s also a great recipe for stress, misunderstanding, frustration, and tension.

To date, the greatest tool to relieve potentially contentious situations and re-frame things with proper focus is a movie reference.

Slack, Voxer, Zoom, email.  Doesn’t matter the platform.  When we’re deep in work discussions, a clever, well-timed movie reference always makes everything better.  I can’t think of an exception.

Someone finds out another team member was already working on a project they’d been grinding on themselves without telling them?  Everyone’s a little miffed, but there’s only one way to reset the mood and restore a proper, productive pace…

Sometimes, I ask two team members to work together to handle something where it might be quicker for just one.  A little annoyance at being pulled into an unexpected task can fester and harm culture.  But who could let it if it’s followed by this?

I can’t tell you how many times movie or TV references have bolstered morale, broken tension with a laugh, or re-aligned the narrative in a productive way when it could have gone subtly south (and sometimes inspired a mini YouTube binge session…maybe not great for productivity, but good for fun!)

The only things that come close to the power of movie and TV references for the health of the Praxis team are NBA references.

(Hip-hop references appear sometimes too, but those usually require a higher level of background knowledge and aren’t as universal).