In Part 1 on culture, much of the blog was about how writing down, and actually living our core values has impacted our company by making it a better place to work, more supportive, higher performing, etc… But get this – the values (we have them written down on a little card) actually opened the door for us to land the largest PO in company history - $1.2MM.

We were exhibiting at a trade show in California about 3 years ago. It was an active show and there was excellent traffic coming through our booth. One of the potential leads was a CEO of a contract manufacturing company that seemed to have significant work well suited for our grinding specialty. He and I had a great conversation about the work, and then he began to move on to another booth….but as he was walking away I noticed that he stopped, picked up our Values card, opened up it up and read it for about 15 seconds. He then tucked it in his shirt pocket and continued on his way. I found this to be interesting. We always brought our Values cards with us, but rarely had anyone acknowledged them, let alone picked one up and read it.

The CEO and I met a couple of days later for lunch. At a break in the conversation, I said that I had noticed that he picked up one of our Values cards when he was in our booth. He lit up, he said “yes! I did! I loved that. That is the company that we want to develop a relationship with. That card really said a lot about who you guys are….”

In many subsequent conversations that we have had, we have certainly discussed work, but we have discussed culture as well. The statement of our Values had a direct impact on our ability to land this company as a client. They have become our largest customer, and we continue to grow with them year over year. The relationship is collaborative and supportive, with a high degree of mutual respect and trust. This relationship could not have been formed (at least not this quickly) without a deep understanding of who we are, and how we want to show up in the world.

Culture is just too important not to pay attention to. Look at it this way - you have a culture in your company that is projected to all of your customers, vendors, employees regardless of whether you put any effort into it or not. And, clearly, it is not just something to make your company a better place to work…it is the only way that your clients can determine who you are, and directly impacts their comfort level in doing business with you. There is a very important question that you should be asking yourself…..If you are not setting the tone, then who is?? Why would you leave that to chance??!!