Live and Active Cultures

For as many things as pass through my active but feeble imagination on any given day, it never occurred to me to correlate yogurt with working environments. But then two things happened almost simultaneously:

  1. I read the label on a container of some chi-chi yogurt. It said the yogurt contained live and active cultures.
  2. A colleague sent me this article — “7 Better Questions To Ask Interviewers Than “How’s Your Work Culture? — from the April edition of Fast Company. The article said this, in part:

If you want to know what it’s like to work for a company, you can’t exactly waltz up to a recruiter and ask, “What’s your company culture like?” … There are a number of questions you can ask during an interview … We asked a handful of career, recruiting, and HR experts to share a few of their favorites.

Connect the Dots

While I’ve never been accused of being a career, recruiting, or HR expert, I have been around more than my share of corporate rodeos. As a result, it occurred to me that your better brands of yogurt — and your more desirable corporate environments — should share certain characteristics. To wit:

  • Yogurt and corporate environments are considerably more tolerable with ample doses of coffee. Most reputable brands of yogurt offer coffee flavors. And the only corporate environments worth working in are the ones that have a fresh pot brewing all day or that have a roach coach parked outside their buildings all day.
  • Yogurt and corporate environments should be smooth. Nothing induces queasiness quite like taking the first spoonful of coffee yogurt only to find it has the consistency of Rocky Road with real asphalt chunks. Likewise, nothing upsets the equilibrium quite like coming in to work, stoked to get started on that new project, only to find your boss has created enough pot holes and speed bumps to trash your suspension.
  • Yogurt and corporate environments should contain live and active cultures. Most yogurts contain live active strains of Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Conversely, in some of the corporate environments in which I’ve worked, the live and active strains — particularly the intellectual strains — have had the collective EEG readouts of a zombie apocalypse.

Riddle Me This

So, while I am, indeed, no career, recruiting, or HR expert, here are the two questions I suggest asking during an interview:

  1. How’s the yogurt around here?
  2. Would you work here if you didn’t have to?

If you’re not happy with the answers to those two questions, move on. It’ll be better than joining the walking dead.

Image by ahmadreza89, courtesy of