Over the last 15 years our company has invested many millions of dollars in expanding and renovating our building, purchasing advanced grinding equipment, installing inspection systems and software, and hiring consultants. Care to venture a guess on what the most impactful investment we have made was? It was the investment of time in thinking about, writing down, printing out and discussing – on a weekly basis – our company Core Values.

I know that many of you are thinking that this is “rah-rah BS”…..it’s not. Believe it or not, this is hard work – figuring out what you stand for, writing it down, and then the really hard part….living it day in, and day out. 

It is a different way of thinking about business. The financials are absolutely important, but if that is all it is about, it tends to get a bit hollow. I learned from someone much older and wiser than me, that most of us reach a point in our lives when we want to go from “success to significance”. I don’t know how successful I have been – I guess I would like to be more so. But, I know that I want to be significant. Owning our Core Values, talking about how we want to show up in the world, how we impact our customers, how we impact each other– this has changed my life, the lives of our employees….and the company itself.

This does not happen overnight. It is a process and takes great commitment and resolve. It took some years to get where we are, but we are now all pulling hard in the same direction. We speak the same language. We have the same goals. We communicate with one another. Support one another. Value one another. HR issues have faded to be non-existent, and we ALL feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves.

Sounds like Nirvana….it’s not. But, it’s really good. Having a good, strong culture is not just being a nice place to work – our company is high performing, high pressure, and there are high expectations. Sometimes people can’t hold up and they need to leave – but if you look for culture first (especially when hiring) this happens infrequently. Our culture has made us a better company in ALL respects – we are better people for it, we are a better vendor for it, and we are better financially for it.

In Part 2 – I will tell you how our Core Values helped us land a $1.2 million order……