Core Values: Overcoming My Bias and Putting Them to Use

I’m not proud to admit it, but when I used to hear the words “core values,” “mission statements,” and “corporate visions” I would have to stifle a smirk. Most likely unfairly, I would envision people in business suits sitting around a conference room with a white board and a marker while everyone who wanted to hear themselves talk would throw out just enough corporate speak to not really mean anything but sound pretty important when saying it – all while defining who they *really* are. Isn’t EVERYONE super excited to talk about core values!?

I was not.

But I’ve since realized, and admit, the error of my ways. My company recently implemented Traction by Gino Wickman as our operating system/approach for running our business. In implementing it, I had to take a very hard look at the company we are, the company we’re aiming to be, and ultimately – what we stand for.

In this process, I finally had my a-ha moment with core values:

You hire for them.

You fire for them.

They are who you are

Finally. I got it. Core values moved from something I had to have to check some box that a growing company *should* have to becoming one of the most important tools that we use regularly to have open and honest conversations as a team. It’s also what I use to share with prospective new teammates about what matters most to us to see if they are a fit.

LinkedIn has become for me a community of other business owners building their company as I am, and it’s also become the place I keep in touch with those in my industry. For my entrepreneur colleagues, I share this because knowing what’s most important to me has given me laser-focus on who I’m going to have on my team (and people, as we all know, are our most important resource). It’s a process I highly recommend (as well as Traction as an EOS). For our clients and potential clients, I share because this is at the heart of who we are and if you’re trusting us with your business, you should know this about us. Here are our …(drum roll, please)….


No drama. We can’t give our clients our best if we aren’t operating at our finest internally. Open, honest, and direct communication is all we’ll tolerate. Period.

We take ownership. We’re accountable for all aspects of our roles and responsibilities. We are committed to completing our tasks, even when challenging, without giving up or needing others to encourage us. We ensure our clients are never waiting on us. We think of solutions to obstacles and communicate these proactively. Our teams have confidence they can rely on us to do what we say we’ll do every single time.

We are strategic AND we sweat the small stuff. We are adept at high level strategy while also being able to effectively manage the small details of each project so we can give our internal teams and clients the confidence they need that we’ve “got it covered.”

We are data-driven. We seek for ways to track all of our activities so we can utilize data to consult our clients and make the best possible decisions to help them meet their goals.

We are always learning. We are continually acquiring new skills or knowledge through experience or study; constantly looking for ways to grow professionally and personally.

So how do we use these?

We talk about everything we do through these lenses.

  • That weekly update to a client? It includes data points that highlight the way we’re thinking through their project from high-level strategy to the small stuff that can make or break a successful project.
  • A new best practice to share in using our survey software tool? It was presented at a professional development monthly meeting and now implemented by the whole team and used on every project.
  • That new person we’re considering? Easy — how would we rank them on all of our core values?

Core values have given me language to explain my ‘gut feel’

I have never worked best with people who I feel are just checking off boxes rather than really taking ownership of something and seeing it all the way through. I’ve never worked well with people who don’t think through the next step and the next and the next to get out ahead of issues as best they can. I have never worked well with people who don’t bring facts and data into their arguments. And I simply cannot work with people who bring drama into work. I just can’t. And now – using our core values as a tool – I don’t have to. We use these core values to explain what’s expected of everyone in any role in the company and people joining the team can hit these standards – or they can’t – but now we have the words to be very clear on expectations of everyone that will be on the TBG team.

So, I – once a very jaded person when it comes to all things “core values” – now not only see the value in them but rely on them for my most important decisions. I highly recommend this process to all business owners. Give the time and energy to sort these out. It’s made a huge impact on my business. And current and potential clients – now you know a bit more about what matters most to the team you work with. We would hope you agree that you’ve seen these in action.

Gina Boedeker
About the author: 

Gina Boedeker is the Founder and CEO of The Boedeker Group, a NYC based market development company that helps clients use their customers’ insights to create best-selling products. After 15 years in the industry, she left a senior leadership position at a global publisher to build a company that both delivers great results for her clients while giving employees the opportunity to find more work/life balance in their careers. Follow Gina on Twitter and LinkedIn.