I’ve often felt that knowing who you’re doing business is an important thing. In fact, I would go past important to a crucial factor in deciding who you’re going to hire, whether it be an internal employee, a virtual assistant or an outside advisor.
Today I’m going to let you in on a secret…well, it’s not exactly a secret. It’s the beliefs I’ve held true for the past forty years I’ve been in business. We’re going to first deal with my five core values and then some beliefs I think it’s important for you to know.
I often feel that knowing who you’re doing business with is a really important thing. In fact, I would go past important to a crucial factor in deciding who you’re gonna hire, whether it be an internal employee, a virtual assistant, or an outside advisor.
So today I’m gonna let you in on a secret. Well, it’s not exactly a secret. It’s the beliefs I’ve held true for the past 40 years I’ve been in business. We’re gonna first deal with my five core values and then some beliefs I think is important for you to know.
So let’s start with my five core values.
- Number one on my list, and it’s been number one on my list since 1984, is personal responsibility. And what I mean by personal responsibility is that in my life, I don’t blame others and I don’t justify my actions when things go wrong. I take responsibility for what happened in my life and I expect those I’m working with do the same.It drives me absolutely nuts when I’m working with somebody and they blame others, they justify their behavior. Nothing good ever comes from that. Nothing good ever comes from my behavior if I ever do it, so I just think it’s the most important value that I have in my life. I learned this back in 1984 when I took a course called money and yield. Up to that point, I was like the world’s expert at blaming and justifying what it was. It started out as an aspirational value which means it’s a value that I wanted to become, and over the years since 1984 it’s actually become a really core value.
- My second value is rights and respect, and all that means is I’m gonna respect you as a person and treat you with respect, and I expect the same back. Emails I expect to be answered on a timely basis, phone calls answered on a timely basis, and I expect to communicate to you in a manner that’s respectful.
Every once in a while I fall down on this and it always makes me feel terrible, so it’s a core value with what my belief is, but sometimes there’s actually an aspirational value for what I want. I do have a temper and occasionally it gets out of control, although it’s way, way better than it used to be.
- My third value is a simplification, and that’s where we take the complicated and make it simple. I know that some people may find this, and those of you who have spent time with me, they say you make things too complicated, but really my value is, if I see something that is complicated, I wanna simplify it.If I see a piece of jargon, I want it identified. I want it to have a definition for what that jargon means so we’re both on the same page. So in my world, life is actually quite simple. You don’t need to make it complicated. It’s something that happens with really smart people. Smart people tend to take the simple and make it complicated. For me, I like to take the complicated and make it simple.
- My fourth value is congruence, and all that means is that we walk our talk. If I say I’m going to do something, it’s really important to me that I do it, or if I can’t do it, it’s really important for me to get back to you and let you know that I can’t do it and why I can’t do. Or if I’m going to be late then I’m going to be late.So when I say I wanna have something delivered on Monday at eight o’clock, I’m gonna work like crazy to have it there Monday at eight o’clock, but if it’s not gonna be there Monday at eight o’clock, it’s my job to talk with you about that, about why and when you can expect it.
- And my fifth value is creativity. Now I believe in small experiments where we fail fast and fail cheap. So creativity for me is not this gigantic change that’s gonna be made.It’s small changes that come from these little things and little experiments we do, and from some of those small experiments a big aha or a huge change does come along. But for me, creativity is about small changes, not big changes.
Now let’s move onto the eight beliefs I hold clear.
- I believe that private business is the glue that holds our country together. Most private business is small and it’s local. Most private business owners wanna have a good reputation in their community. Most private business owners will support the community that they are in. And rarely do you see a small business person or a private business owner have an excuse that our job is to magnify shareholder profit.Typically, I see privately-held business owners actually living at a lower level than they could because they wanna make sure their employees are taken care of and their community is taken care of. So for me, that’s a huge belief that private business is the glue that holds our country together.
- Number two, and this is kind of controversial. Government is not evil. Government has its place in the world, and along with government, unfortunately, comes regulation. Now, I don’t actually believe that regulation is necessarily a bad thing, ’cause regulation never, at least I’ve never seen regulations appear by mistake.Now, once a problem is identified and regulations are started to put around that, that doesn’t mean that government doesn’t go overboard and make too many regulations and then the pendulum needs to swing back again. But, regulations are there for a reason. Without regulations we wouldn’t have clean air, we wouldn’t have clean water. We like to think we would, but the truth is we didn’t until that came along.
- Number three is keeping secrets never did anyone good. So here’s something which I’ve learned along the way is that transparency is always important when dealing with people. I may actually share a little bit too much sometimes but the truth is, I would rather overshare than under share.So let me tell you a little story. 10 years ago I had a very, very serious case of cancer. It was so serious, it was stage four cancer, there was a really good chance I wasn’t gonna live through it. Instead of keeping it a secret I told everybody I knew about my cancer, and I wrote everyday except one during the entire two years I was going through treatment about what was going on, what I was thinking, what I was feeling.Now, some people say, well you can’t do that. All your accounts are gonna desert you. Well the truth is, nobody deserted me, nobody left, everybody stayed and everybody supported us. If you’re gonna keep secrets you don’t get support. If you tell those secrets, you do get support. So for me, keeping secrets, not telling people what’s going on, is something I’m just not willing to do.
- Number four, and this is kind of a controversial thing, the MBA degree is mostly not useful in a small business. I could almost say I’ve never seen it be useful in a small business, and it’s true. I hired a bunch of MBAs when I had my food service and vending company. I work with clients who have hired MBAs in their own companies.Now, these folks are good people, they’re smart people, they work hard. It’s not their fault, at least in my opinion, that they had an education that said business has unlimited resources. Well the truth is with private businesses we all have limited resources. Even in big business there’s limited resources. But the truth is, an MBA takes it simple and makes it complicated. I wanna take the complicated and make it simple, so in my experience, having an MBA does not help you become a great business person.
However, taking business seminars is a great thing to do about something you need to learn. That’s how I learned finance, that’s how I learned accounting, that’s how I learned about hiring, that’s how I learned about cash flow management. It wasn’t going through a college program. It was learning practical ways of applying these things along the way, so lifelong learning is incredibly important. The MBA degree, not so much.
- My fifth belief is, work-life balance needs to be work-life integration. I get so tired of people talking about well, we gotta have work-life balance. Nobody has work-life balance that owns a company that I’ve ever met.Anybody who owns a company will integrate, who’s successful, their personal life and their business life and bring them together into one life. We don’t live two lives, we live one life. And we need to integrate that life, not balance the life.
- My sixth belief is the best managers use the Socratic method of management. Now the Socratic method of management is very simple. Socrates asked questions, he never gave the answer. He only asked questions.Now the truth is, the people you’re working with and even yourself, you probably know all the answers that you need to know. What you need to do is have somebody ask you the question in a way that helps you discover what you know. You need to do that with your employees. You need to have your people who work with you do it with you.When you do the Socratic method of management, what are you doing? You’re teaching somebody how to fish. You’re not telling them what to do, you’re teaching them how to think and how to solve the problems on their own, and isn’t that what you want for your people?
- So here’s the seventh thing. Being curious will always help you in your life. Now, being curious means you have to say, gee, I wonder why that works, or ask the question, what would happen if?You wanna be doing things outside your experience of what you know a lot about. Get outside that comfort zone. Be curious. Learn about new things. Look silly, be dumb. All those things are good things to do, at least in my world. And it helps you have a more full life. Isn’t that something you would like to have?
- And then finally is number eight, and this could probably be the most important thing you could do in your company. You wanna treat your employees as well as you treat your most important customers, ’cause after all, your employees are never going to treat your customers any better than they’re treated by you.
So those are my eight things, and the things that I hold dear. Here’s what I’m curious about. I’m curious about, what are the things that you hold dear? What are the values that you think are important?
Why don’t you scroll down and let me know what you think in the comments below. And while you’re at it, click on the button below and GET your FREE cheat sheet on How To Establish The Right Values in your company.
Hey, this is Josh Patrick. I’m the founder of The Sustainable Business. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.