Courtesy of the Realtors, the only national housing data we'll likely see this week won't do a whole lot to stanch the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder during these dark, doubt-filled days of late-January. Not seasonally adjusted, resales of homes in December 2018--377,000--fell to their lowest level since 2012.

Still, if--as you might best do when uncertainty, volatility, doubt, and the sting of bitter headwinds begin to spread distraction and a deflated spirit among your team members--you're looking for beacons of clarity that can rally and motivate, there are plenty to be had.

We've written about the bottom line power of your company culture before, here, where we look at "How to Cross the Culture Barrier," and here, continuing on that theme, with a look at what it means to live--rather than just teach or talk about--your business culture.

And again, here, where Jason Forrest writes about "An Unleave-able Culture."

Bob Youngentob, CEO of Washington, D.C.-area home builder EYA, says what so many of us know by experience: “Most companies suffer because of lack of communication.” We all know that better communication leads to better business with fewer misunderstandings and hurt egos along the way. But if it were an easy task to accomplish, we’d all be where we want to be already. Youngentob has been using the one-page strategic plan for 10 years and credits it with helping them accomplish that elusive task of improving communication in their organization. He says, “The one-page strategic plan is the most significant management tool [I’ve implemented] in 22 years.” With 250 awards under their belt (including “Best Place to Work,”) I’d have to say it’s working for Bob and his organization.

The raw materials of great company culture--whether its a pick-up truck crew on a job site, or a local subdivision building firm, or a multi-regional corporate headquarters--are themselves pure and powerful in home building.

People love their new homes. People dream about them. People thrill to wake up, go to sleep, and spend waking hours relishing the outcome of the work you do. What could be more motivating? More a source of focus? More purpose-filled?

What could be more empowering than this work--money, people, time, materials, property--making people a place for them to prosper?

What you do, and who you are, and what that all means is the epitome of a "passion" business. And, up to the lately departed period of 2012 to 2018 we've come to know as the post-Great Recession housing recovery, this passion business found the means to dramatically expand the buyer universe--beyond the super-high FICO scores that have shrunken the credit box, beyond the discretionary means to plunk down big cash deposits, and beyond the loan-to-value underwriting criteria that allow "haves" to get a lot of bang for their buck, but impair "have nots" from entering the game.

Main Street, and Main Street's access--via hard work, savings, and a track-record of commitment to living true to one's promises--to the American Dream of homeownership, has been a critical part of home builders' important story in this country.

Main Street--not Wall Street, nor Silicon Valley--has made home building the livelihood and the empire-building ingredient America's biggest, most-powerful home builders have banked on until now, and depend on for their future.

So, for a beacon of clarity, for help now in playing the card you need to play to align your team, focus it, and inspire each of you team members to make your business intiatives add up to a passion business, what better place to go for how this works than to Jack Bogle, who similar to Herb Kelleher--one we saluted here recently--well realized.

Here's an overview of who he was and what he did, for those who may still not recognize the name.

It would be no exaggeration to say that John Clifton Bogle — known as Jack — did more good for the individual investor than anyone else in the past century. As the investment world remembers his passing this week, the plain-spoken founder of mutual fund giant Vanguard was best known for his tireless advocacy for ultra-low-cost funds and long-term investing.

Called the father of indexing, Bogle created the first index fund based on the S&P 500 for individual investors and ushered in an era of low-cost investing that brought fees down for the entire industry. Throughout his life, Bogle fought for the small investor, not wavering in his belief that a low-fee portfolio buying all the securities in an index and held long term would outperform the average actively managed fund. And he was proven right.

How can you not think of yourselves, home builders, when you read those words and think about what this man devoted his life's work to?

Here's something for you to think about, from another tribute to the kind of distinct way that both Herb Kelleher and Jack Bogle brought value to the market by focusing, fanatically, on people on Main Street.

Many CEOs hope that they can achieve distinctive results without boldly distinctive choices. However, these two realized that the only path to distinctive results is with distinctive choices – but not just any kind of choices. Theirs were distinctive choices utterly in favor of customers. Southwest customers would enjoy cheap, reliable, and pleasant travel. Vanguard customers would get to keep as close as possible to 100% of the returns their investments earned. Start with the customer and make choices that no one else was brave enough to make: that was their formula. It is a formula that more CEOs would be wise follow.

Right now, amidst the volatility, the uncertainty, the doubt, the declining data, the absence of trust, and--by golly, this god-awful time of year with dark days and dismal weather--when most of the others are "zagging," you can "zig."

Play the culture card now. And, as New Home Company ceo Larry Webb can attest to in a long, successful career of leadership at a number of organizations, that doesn't mean "teaching it." It means living it.

There's nothing America and Americans need more right now than belief in the passion of people who are making its homes and communities. Let it shine.