Company Core Values: What Makes a Value “Core”?

Fruits of the seeds planted across Creation
Our Core Values: Fruit of the seeds planted across Creation

Familiarity breeds contempt. In the case of vocabulary, this means we might use words freely and regularly without respecting them, or examining or revisiting their underlying meaning.

(Of course, if you looked up the definition of every word you use on a regular basis, you wouldn’t have much time to write or talk).

I find it useful, especially when I’m writing or speaking about a topic, to try and take a “fresh look” at a word to see if there are any insights to be gained.

As I prepared to blog about Creation’s Core Values, the word “core” jumped out at me. Why do we call them “Core” Values?

So I went to first place most of us go when we want to find an answer…Google, of course! (Quick trivia quiz – how many of you remember “Ready Reference”?)

Here’s the first definition that met my eye:

Core: (noun) The tough central part of various fruits, containing the seeds.

Obvious, yet so illuminating.

An apple probably came to mind for many of us when we thought of this definition of “core”. I don’t know about you but I’ve eaten my share of apples and thrown away the cores when finished.

Wait a minute! That can’t be it. “Core” Values aren’t meant to be thrown away.

Are they??

Who wants to be Johnny Appleseed?

I’m quite sure many of us were read or told the story of Johnny when we were still too young to peel our own apples.

Though the real Johnny (Appleseed) Chapman was actually a pioneering nurseryman, the story most of us know is of Mr. Appleseed traveling the world eating apples and planting the cores.

As the cores naturally degraded, the seeds inside were released from “captivity” and took root in the soil. Over the years, nature took its course and we ended up with apple orchards scattered throughout Creation (pun intended!).

Is there a moral to this story (or at least an end)?

Glad you asked.

Consider this… What would have happened to the apple seeds if there had been no core?

That’s right! Johnny would have swallowed them.

And then what?

Well if Johnny had lived in the age of indoor plumbing, the seeds would have ended up at the sewage treatment facility. What a tragic ending for the apple trees and orchards! Talk about things going down the toilet! 

I digress.

All this talk about apples is making me hungry…

Core Values: A Foundation for Growth

I think we’re all hungry – for attention, recognition, guidance, partnership, learning, growth, making a difference, and winning, to name a few examples.

The founders of Creation Technologies, Geoff “Applereed”, Dave “Pettiseed”, Paul “Appleclark” and Barry “Henderseed” understood this hunger.

Like many strong business leaders, they knew that in order for a company to satisfy these needs for its people, it would have to grow into a tree, and then eventually an orchard.

So they drafted a list of values that they thought would preserve and guide Creation through good and bad times.

Then they debated, re-drafted, consulted and debated some more.

And then . . . Creation’s Core Values were born!

Boldness, Entrepreneurship, Integrity, Openness, Preparedness, and Respect have been at the “core” of Creation’s success ever since. Every time we honor and live these values we plant seeds for the next trees.

Think of that the next time you eat an apple!

“Of cores” I’d like to hear from you!

Do you have personal Core Values? Family Core Values? What are they? How do you “connect to them” and live them? When is the last time you reflected on them? Is your “orchard” bearing fruit? What kind?

Start Setting Goals. Change Your Life.

Setting Goals: What are yours?
Setting Goals: What are yours?

Setting Goals May Be More Important Than You Think

My Granny recently celebrated her 96th birthday. She lives very far away from me, in a small town in Ontario, Canada, where she is well cared for by the wonderful staff of an assisted living home.

Her life is busy, but on her birthday she always makes time to chat.

This year, we had a long conversation with many questions about my work—my new team and Creation’s business—and life in general. She is always curious, eager to learn, and happy to hear about what the ’young folks’ are into these days.

As for her, well, when we spoke, she had just finished preparing the facility flower beds for planting, helped identify a fungus that only grows in poor soil, and is excitedly organizing a new music therapy program. And did I mention she regularly entertains her fellow residents by playing piano?

After listening to her talk about her busy schedule and many commitments, I was struck by how much we are alike. It’s not just our love of math, financial markets and getting into trouble.

We are alike because we both see goals as an important part of life.

Before our call I’d heard about a study published by Rush University Medical Center that found fewer ‘plaques and tangles’ in the brains of those with purpose in life – ‘plaques and tangles’ are thought to be a primary cause of dementia, a growing concern in today’s society.

We’ve heard for years that staying active and engaged can increase your life expectancy. Can combatting dementia be as simple as setting goals? That certainly seems the case for Granny. Her energy is remarkable and her ‘marbles’ seem fully intact (so far, she reminds me!)

Be SMART

Setting goals is an art as much as a science.

While we have learned that goals must be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely), they also must engage and challenge in a way that our daily work may not.

Setting goals for oneself should be straightforward if not easy: complete a course, run 20km per week or build a new Excel model.

Goal setting is best when it is collaborative; goal achievement comes only with the support—and sometimes the pressure—of a team.

As a new Leader at Creation, I have started slowly in setting goals with my team. A slow start allows me the opportunity to observe existing practices and identify what works well, and where we can improve. We are starting modestly – but with impact – by addressing our approach to customer service and quote process efficiency.

Our next step – which I am really looking forward to – is identifying our new longer-term strategy and building a set of goals that will help keep us on track. Our team is “SMART” and I am confident that the right goals will provide a great foundation for us to best support Creation.

Shout Out to Granny

As for Granny, I could not be happier to have her in my life. Her energy, tenacity and honesty have always inspired me. She has been a lifelong teacher and has (hopefully!) helped make me a better leader, teammate and person.

How have the goals you’ve set for yourself influenced your life? How have other people inspired you to follow through?

Weight Loss Challenge – Just Lose It!

Weight-Loss Challenge: Just Lose It!Early this year, our Wellness committee in Milwaukee decided it would be fun to host a weight loss challenge at work.

At Creation, we’ve been advocates of Workplace Wellness for a long time (I’d just like to take a moment and encourage other companies to take a look at the Well Workplace program through the Wellness Council of America).

Over the last decade, we’ve seen the growing popularity of television shows like NBC’s The Biggest Loser, aimed at fighting obesity and challenging people and communities to start living a healthier lifestyle. We thought we’d tap into this kind of group challenge as a way to keep us motivated and to have some fun!

Just What the Doctor Ordered

We posted the flyers, sent the emails and spread the word for our new challenge, called Just Lose It! It turns out that it was just what many of our people were looking for.

Support and accountability are important elements in a weight loss challenge like this one, and so we asked people to form small teams (minimum of 2 people and a maximum of 5) and to sign up to participate.

To our delight, at the very first weigh-in on March 1st, we had 23 teams and a total of 82 participants! That’s about one-third of our people here in Milwaukee.

Weight-Loss Support & Motivation

We knew we’d need some expert support and coaching. Kim Flannery, a nutritionist at the Wisconsin Athletic Club, started us off with some valuable information about what sort of nutrition our bodies need and how we can get it. Over 140 people attended her session! We continue to use some of her tips and recipes from her blog: http://kimthedietitian.wordpress.com/

It’s been several months now, and we’ve been walking together, weighing in and trying to hold ourselves and our teammates accountable. Like any challenge of value, for some of us it has been a struggle, while others have done very well.

Our weigh-out is coming soon and we will be announcing our winners at our Spring Wellness Walk. We will be sure to keep you posted!

Are you planning a workplace wellness event? What kind of tips would you offer to people trying to motivate and organize this kind of weight loss challenge?

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