So, a few years back, I was working at this company that had the most generic, bullshit values you could imagine. You know the type: “teamwork,” “integrity,” “excellence.” I mean, seriously? It’s like they took the most overused buzzwords from every corporate PowerPoint presentation and threw ’em on a wall. Needless to say, I didn’t stick around there for long.

Now, let me tell you, this experience was a real wake-up call. It made me realize that so many businesses out there are using empty, meaningless values to make themselves look good. But here’s the kicker: this shit doesn’t work. In fact, it can be downright harmful. Cliché values breed cynicism, demotivation, and disengagement among employees, and that ain’t good for anybody.

What we really need, my friends, are authentic, powerful values that mean something. Values that actually drive our actions, decisions, and relationships. Values that make a freakin’ difference. So if you’re ready to level up and create a kickass company culture that people actually give a damn about, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, I’m gonna break down everything you need to know about the different types of values and why it’s essential to understand them. Then, we’re gonna dive into how to be aggressively authentic (spoiler alert: no BS allowed), and why owning the process matters (hint: it’s not a democracy, dude). We’ll also explore how to weave values into the very fabric of your company, because, let’s face it, if they’re not front and center in everything you do, they’re just a bunch of pretty words on a wall.

Finally, we’ll get real about the benefits and risks of embracing authentic values. Because, let’s be honest, living up to your stated values ain’t always easy. But trust me, it’s worth it.

So if you’re ready to unleash the power of authentic values and create a business that stands for something more than just making a quick buck, let’s dive in and get started.

The Different Types of Values: Knowing the Score

Alright, before we start revolutionizing your company’s values, let’s get one thing straight: not all values are created equal. In fact, there are four main types of values that you need to know about if you want to make a real impact. So, let’s break ’em down, shall we?

Core values: The foundation of a company’s culture

Core values are like the bedrock of your business. They’re the non-negotiable principles that guide everything you do, from the way you treat your employees to how you make decisions. These bad boys should be so ingrained in your company’s DNA that if you removed them, your business would crumble faster than a Jenga tower at a frat party.

But here’s the thing: you can’t just pick a few fancy-sounding words and call ’em your core values. Nah, these puppies have to come from the heart. They should represent the essence of who you are as a business and what you stand for. And most importantly, they should be authentic (remember: no BS allowed!).

Aspirational values: The driving force for growth and improvement

Now, let’s talk about aspirational values. These are the values that push you to be better, to grow, and to evolve. They’re like the North Star guiding you towards your goals and dreams. And while they might not be 100% true for your company right now, they represent where you want to be in the future.

Think of aspirational values as a challenge, a call-to-action for your entire organization. They should inspire and motivate people to step up their game, to reach for greatness. But be careful, my friends: aspirational values can backfire if they’re too far out of reach or if they’re not backed up by concrete actions. Remember, talk is cheap, so make sure you’re putting your money where your mouth is.

Permission-to-play values: The basic expectations for employees

Alright, next up, we’ve got permission-to-play values. These are the values that set the baseline for how your employees should behave. They’re like the rules of the road, guiding people on how to act and interact within your company.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Aren’t permission-to-play values just common sense?” Well, yeah, they kind of are. But here’s the deal: you can’t assume that everyone’s on the same page when it comes to basic expectations. So by clearly stating these values, you’re making sure everyone knows what’s cool and what’s not in your organization.

Accidental values: Unplanned consequences of company culture

Last but not least, we’ve got accidental values. These are the values that sort of just… happen. They’re the unintended consequences of your company culture, the side effects of the way you do business. And while they might not be part of your master plan, they can still have a big impact on your organization.

Sometimes, accidental values can be pretty harmless, like an office-wide obsession with Taco Tuesdays. But other times, they can be toxic, like a culture of gossip and backstabbing. So it’s important to keep an eye on these sneaky little buggers and make sure they’re not undermining your company’s success.

Now that you’ve got the lowdown on the different types of values, you might be wondering: “Why the hell does all this even matter?” Well, my friend, understanding and distinguishing these types of values is crucial if you want to build a strong, successful company culture. Because when you know the score, you can create a kick-ass values statement that actually means something.

First, by identifying your core values, you’re setting the foundation for everything your business stands for. You’re giving your team a compass to guide their decisions and actions, ensuring that everyone’s working towards the same goal. And trust me, when your core values are rock solid, it’s like having a secret weapon in your back pocket.

Next, having clear aspirational values helps keep your company on its toes, constantly striving to improve and grow. These values remind your team that “good enough” isn’t enough, and that there’s always room to push the envelope. Plus, by painting a clear picture of where you want to go, you’re helping your employees see how they fit into the bigger picture, and that can be a powerful motivator.

When it comes to permission-to-play values, having them in place means everyone knows what’s expected of them. There’s no room for confusion or misunderstandings, which can help prevent conflicts and foster a more harmonious work environment. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want that?

Finally, being aware of accidental values allows you to keep a pulse on your company culture and make adjustments as needed. Because if you’re not paying attention, these sneaky little values can grow like weeds, choking the life out of your organization. So stay vigilant, my friends.

In conclusion, knowing the different types of values is the first step towards building a values-driven company that kicks ass and takes names. So get clear on what matters most to your business, and then watch as your team unites behind a shared purpose and vision. After all, when your values mean something, there’s no limit to what you can achieve.

Aggressively Authentic: No BS Allowed

A. The problem with treating values like a marketing campaign

Okay, let’s get real for a second. You know what’s worse than having no values at all? Pretending to have values that you don’t actually give a damn about. That’s right, I’m talking about treating values like some sort of marketing campaign, where it’s all about the flash and sizzle, but there’s no substance behind it.

Newsflash: your employees aren’t idiots. They can smell BS from a mile away, and when they see that your values are nothing more than a smokescreen, they’ll lose faith in you faster than a Kardashian marriage. So if you want your values to mean something, you’ve got to be aggressively authentic. No compromises, no sugarcoating, and definitely no BS.

B. The need for authenticity in defining and communicating values

Now, being authentic doesn’t mean you have to spill your guts about every little thing (nobody needs to know about your weird obsession with cat memes, trust me). But it does mean being honest and transparent about what matters most to your business, and why. It means digging deep and getting to the core of what you stand for, and then putting those values front and center for everyone to see.

And it’s not just about defining your values, either. You’ve got to communicate them in a way that’s genuine and relatable, too. Don’t hide behind corporate jargon or buzzwords; speak from the heart, and let your passion shine through. Because when you’re authentic in both your words and actions, that’s when the magic happens.

C. Examples of companies that nailed their authentic values

Alright, enough theory. Let’s look at some examples of companies that totally nailed their authentic values, and see what we can learn from them.

First up, we’ve got Patagonia. This outdoor clothing brand is all about environmental responsibility and sustainability, and they’re not shy about it. From their commitment to using recycled materials to their “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign, Patagonia’s values are woven into every aspect of their business. And guess what? Their customers freakin’ love them for it.

Next, let’s talk about Netflix. When it comes to company culture, these guys are the real deal. Their famous culture deck spells out their values in no uncertain terms, and they live by them every single day. They value things like freedom, responsibility, and honesty, and they’re not afraid to make tough decisions to uphold those values. The result? A kick-ass company that attracts top talent and keeps on innovating.

And finally, we’ve got Southwest Airlines. Now, you might not think of an airline as a shining example of authentic values, but these guys have it down to a science. They’re all about putting people first, from their employees to their customers, and they’ve built a culture that’s focused on fun, love, and positivity. Sure, it might sound a little cheesy, but it’s working: Southwest consistently ranks among the best airlines for customer satisfaction and employee engagement.

So, what can we learn from these companies? It’s simple: when you’re authentic and true to your values, it shows. And not only does it help build a strong company culture, but it also attracts the right customers and employees who share your values and are stoked to be part of your journey. So go ahead, be aggressively authentic, and watch as your business reaches new heights.

Owning the Process: It’s Not a Democracy, Dude

Listen up, because this next part is important: defining and implementing your values is not a democracy, dude. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for collaboration and teamwork, but when it comes to values, too many cooks in the kitchen can turn your statement into a bland, watered-down mess. That’s why the best values efforts are driven by small, focused teams who are willing to make tough decisions and own the process.

Think about it: if you’ve got a gazillion people trying to weigh in on your values, you’ll end up with a Frankenstein’s monster of a statement that tries to please everyone but ends up pleasing no one. It’s like that old saying: “a camel is a horse designed by committee.” And let’s be real, nobody wants a camel when they could have a sleek, powerful stallion, am I right?

So why is it so important to avoid trying to please everyone when it comes to values? Well, for starters, when you’re trying to make everyone happy, you usually end up with a set of values that are so generic and inoffensive that they’re completely meaningless. You know, stuff like “integrity,” “teamwork,” and “respect.” And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with these values, they’re not going to set your business apart or inspire your employees to greatness.

Plus, when your values are all about making people feel good, you run the risk of losing sight of what really matters to your business. You might end up prioritizing the wrong things or making decisions that go against your true values, all in the name of keeping people happy. And that’s a recipe for disaster, my friend.

Alright, so now that we’ve established that values aren’t a democracy, let’s talk about what it takes to really own the process. First and foremost, you need strong leadership. I’m talking about the kind of leader who isn’t afraid to make tough calls, even when they’re unpopular. Someone who’s willing to stand up for what they believe in, even when it’s not easy or convenient.

And it’s not just about the person at the top, either. You need a small, focused team of people who are committed to defining and implementing your values. These are the folks who will help you stay true to your vision and keep your values alive, even when the going gets tough.

But here’s the thing: owning the process doesn’t mean being a dictator. It means being open to feedback and input from your team, but ultimately having the courage to make the final call. It means being willing to listen and learn, but also to stand your ground when necessary. And most importantly, it means leading by example, and showing your team what it means to live your values every single day.

In conclusion, if you want your values to mean something, you’ve got to own the process, dude. It’s not about pleasing everyone or trying to make everyone happy. It’s about being true to yourself and your business, and making the tough calls that will set you apart from the competition. So gather your small, focused team, and get to work. Your values are waiting.

Weaving Values into the Fabric of the Company

Alright, so you’ve got your badass, authentic values all sorted out, but now what? How do you make sure those values become an integral part of your company? Well, let’s start with hiring. Look, I’ve been around the block a few times, and I can tell you, hiring the right people is crucial to building a successful company. And by “right people,” I mean folks who share your values and are just as passionate about living them out as you are.

When you’re interviewing candidates, don’t just focus on their technical skills and experience. Ask them questions about their own values and what they think about yours. Get them talking about how they’ve lived those values in their previous jobs or personal lives. Trust me, if someone’s bullshitting you, you’ll pick up on it pretty quick. And if they’re genuine, they’ll shine like a fucking beacon.

Now, let’s talk about performance management. If you want your values to stick, you need to incorporate them into the way you evaluate and manage your employees’ performance. This means setting clear expectations about how your values should be demonstrated in day-to-day work and holding people accountable when they don’t live up to those expectations.

But don’t be a dick about it. Remember, this is about creating a culture of authenticity and empowerment, not fear and punishment. When you see someone doing a great job of living out your values, recognize and celebrate that shit. And when someone’s struggling, don’t just come down on them like a ton of bricks – work with them to help them understand why it’s important and how they can improve.

Alright, let’s get real for a minute. Living your values isn’t always going to be easy, and sometimes it’s going to mean making tough decisions that hurt in the short term. I’ve had to fire people I really liked because they just weren’t living our values, and it sucked. But you know what? In the long run, it made the company stronger and more aligned with what we stood for.

So, when you’re faced with those tough decisions, whether it’s letting go of someone who isn’t a cultural fit or turning down a lucrative deal that goes against your values, remember that staying true to what you believe in is what sets your company apart from the rest. It’s what makes you a leader, not just another face in the crowd.

Now, I’m not going to sugarcoat it – weaving your values into every aspect of your company is hard fucking work. But that’s what it takes to create a truly authentic culture that drives success. You’ve got to be relentless about reinforcing those values at every level, from the top dogs down to the new hires.

One way to do this is by regularly sharing stories and examples of how your values are being lived out within the company. Celebrate those wins, and make sure everyone knows what success looks like. And don’t forget to lead by example. If you’re not living and breathing your values every damn day, how can you expect anyone else to?

So there you have it, folks – the lowdown on weaving your kickass, authentic values into the very fabric of your company. It’s not easy, but it’s worth every ounce of effort. Because when your values are truly alive and well, your company becomes an unstoppable force to be reckoned with. And who wouldn’t want that?

The Real Deal: Benefits and Risks of Embracing Authentic Values

Alright, so you’ve got your badass values and you’re weaving them into every aspect of your company. But what’s the payoff? Well, for starters, strong, meaningful values can have a huge impact on employee morale and retention. When people feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves and that their work is aligned with their personal values, they’re more likely to be engaged, motivated, and loyal to your company. And that’s the kind of team that can take your business to the next level.

But it’s not just about keeping your team happy and sticking around. Authentic values can also play a big role in building a strong company culture and brand. When your values are front and center, they help create a shared sense of identity and purpose among your employees. This not only makes your company a more attractive place to work, but it also makes your brand more distinctive and appealing to customers. After all, people like doing business with companies that stand for something.

Now, I know I’ve been hyping up the benefits of authentic values, but I’ve got to be real with you: there are some risks, too. The biggest risk is adopting hollow or disingenuous values that don’t actually reflect who you are as a company. Remember that whole Enron fiasco I mentioned earlier? Yeah, that’s what happens when you slap some nice-sounding values on your website but don’t actually live them out. It might work for a while, but eventually, people are going to see through the bullshit, and it’s going to come back to bite you in the ass.

Another risk is the challenge of actually living up to your stated values. Let’s be real: it’s not always easy to practice what you preach, especially when the going gets tough. But if you want your values to be more than just empty words, you’ve got to hold yourself and your team accountable for living them out, no matter what. That means having the courage to make hard decisions, even when it’s uncomfortable, and being willing to admit when you’ve fallen short and need to course-correct.

So, there you have it: the benefits of embracing authentic values are pretty damn compelling, but the risks are real, too. The key is to be honest with yourself about what your company stands for, to make your values a living, breathing part of your organization, and to hold yourself and your team accountable for living up to them. If you can do that, you’re well on your way to building a company culture and brand that sets you apart from the pack.


So, there you have it, folks. We’ve been on quite a journey, haven’t we? We’ve talked about the importance of understanding the different types of values, being aggressively authentic, owning the process, weaving values into every aspect of your company, and the benefits and risks of embracing authentic values. And after all that, I hope you’re convinced that authentic values have the power to drive success and growth in your business.

When your company has a strong set of values that truly represent who you are and what you stand for, it sets you apart from the competition. It gives you a unique identity that attracts the right kind of employees and customers, and it provides a solid foundation for building a thriving company culture. And, let’s be real: it’s just way more fun to work for a company that knows who it is and isn’t afraid to be true to itself.

But remember: embracing authentic values isn’t a one-and-done kind of deal. It’s an ongoing journey that requires constant attention, reflection, and effort. You’ve got to keep your values front and center in everything you do, from the big strategic decisions to the day-to-day interactions with your team. And you’ve got to be willing to evolve and adapt your values as your company grows and changes because, let’s face it, shit happens and sometimes you’ve got to pivot.

And finally, if you’re a leader in your company, it’s on you to set the tone and lead by example when it comes to living your values. Your team is going to be looking to you for guidance, and if you’re not walking the talk, they’re going to pick up on that real quick. So, don’t just pay lip service to your values; live them out loud and proud, and inspire your team to do the same.

So, get out there and unleash the power of authentic values in your business. Be bold, be real, and be true to who you are, and watch as your company grows and thrives. And remember: in a world full of generic, empty corporate-speak, a little authenticity goes a long fucking way.

About the Author: Geoffrey Byers
Geoffrey is one of the world's foremost Designers. He is also a Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, and Mad Scientist. Hypothesis-Driven experimentation is his love language.