Core Values Aren’t a New Concept

I love talking about core values. You know, the essence of the people in an organization. At the Atlanta Tech Village, we can’t pick good ideas from bad, but we can create an environment that follows these four core values: be nice, dream big, pay it forward, and work hard/play hard. Some people don’t understand the importance of strong core values, and that’s fine. I’ll keep preaching anyway.

Yesterday I was listening to a colleague tell the story of Mindspring/Earthlink in the early days. The Mindspring founder, Charles Brewer, was fanatical about their core values, and rightly so. Back in 1994, when he started the company, the first thing he did is define the core values, before he even decided the nature of the business! At it’s peak, Mindspring had over 1,000 people, and hired in a way that kept their culture strong and customer service great.

It took me seven years to appreciate the importance of strong core values. In retrospect, core values aren’t a new concept and I just needed to experience things not working to feel the pain and search for a solution. Well, for the entrepreneurs in the audience, core values are a proven concept and they really matter. Trust me.

What else? What are some other examples of companies that have had strong core values for decades?

5 thoughts on “Core Values Aren’t a New Concept

  1. In the book Good to Great Jim highlights 15 companies like Walgreen’s, Kimberly Clark and Abbot Labs that are all at or near all time stock price highs, that make his grade.

    I have been listening to Good to Great on Audible with Jim personally narrating the book. It’s like he is sharing golden nuggets of wisdom. I often stop and make bookmark notes during his narration. Amazing experience.

    Along those lines tomorrow night, at the Founders’ Organization meetup at ATV, we’ll be discussing Core Ideology. Jim Collins’ model for creating and sustaining great companies.
    Founders are invited to attend.

    Core Ideology: A Foundation for Greatness

    Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013, 6:00 PM

    Atlanta Tech Village
    3423 Piedmont Rd. Conference Room 200-1 Atlanta, GA

    15 Founders Went

    Jim Collins in his best selling books Built to Last and Good to Great and in a classic Harvard Business Review blog post discusses the need for developing a Core Ideology for your business.Jim found that all of the great companies that they identified in the book Good to Great had one.In this meetup we’ll discuss the business value and components…

    Check out this Meetup →

  2. It’s worth realizing that when you ask for “examples of companies that have had strong core values for decades” you’re effectively inviting survivor bias. Unless we also examine failed companies, we can’t really know if emphasis on values has a positive correlation with business success. Unfortunately, failures, especially small startups, tend to just fade out without any fanfare or writeup, so gathering information on failed startups is harder than finding inspiring success stories.

    If you’re asking people to trust you because you’ve seen it both ways, that’s fair. But I’m always skeptical when someone trumpets a particular attribute of successful businesses. Focusing on success is fun and inspiring, but only by examining both success and failure can we get a realistic picture.

  3. Apple’s core value is one of the best and they stay so true to this: “We believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.”

    The market will change. Services will change. But core values will not change.

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