Category Archives: Values: Firm Foundation

Each company or organization needs to make its own set of values and rules that it wants to live by.  Rick has a few rules based on his values that determine the kinds of people he will hire.  Some examples of these rules include:

  1. They must be responsible.
  2. They must have a credit score about 700.
  3. They must have a college degree.
  4. They must have a minimum of five years experience in their profession.


Some of his rules for the people that he won’t hire are:

  1. I will not hire anyone that is a close friend.  
  2. I will not hire anyone who has been unemployed for a long period of time.  
  3. I will not hire anyone who does not value what we value.
  4. I will not hire anyone who is late to an interview.

Listing the values that you want to travel on in your organization is not just limited to your business.  You should set up values and rules to travel on in other areas of your life where you are striving to reach a goal.  Some of these areas could include:

  • Projects that you are involved in.
  • Charitable groups you are involved with.
  • Organizations that your children are involved in.
  • Your children’s friends.
  • Future business decisions.
  • Your personal habits.
  • Your health and well-being.

These are some of the ideas that Rick came up with, but this list should be personally tailored to you, your essential nature, your hopes and dreams, and your abilities.  Using value-based decision making can help you in your business, key relationships, parenting efforts, and virtually every other area of your life.  These values will help you avoid mistakes and make you more aware of where you are traveling on this road to success.


Eating our Own Cooking

As soon as we realized that we were getting our trading company back, Curtis and I sat down and mapped out the values we felt were essential for Froghair.  We went through the exercises in the section below and came up with the following list:

  • Competence – We are a competent team.
  • Cooperation – We value teamwork. We work together, we win together, and we waddle together. We cooperate.
  • Freedom – We believe in freedom.  Not only for the company but also in our personal lives.  We support and help our team members to become free – financially, physically, and mentally free.
  • Helping Society – We believe in helping society.  There are a lot of human needs. The most important is to live, love, learn, and matter.  We want to give back and to make a difference.
  • Independence – We believe in being accountable for our own destiny.  We’re not big believers in grants and handouts.  We take accountability for our own destiny.
  • Integrity – We try to do the right thing.  We are not always perfect, but our intent is to consciously work toward doing the right thing.
  • Leadership – Leadership can be lonely, but we have the courage to stand out in the cold if needs be to do the right things, even if those things are not popular. 
  • Responsibility and accountability – We have an attitude of “I’ll do it!”  We don’t say, “I’ll try to get around to it,” we just do it.  Not only do we do it, we take accountability for what happens – good or bad.
  • Gratitude – We’re a company of gratitude.  We’re grateful to God.  We’re grateful to each other. We’re grateful for our relationships and for the opportunities we have.  We expect our team members to be grateful as well.
  • Culturally sensitive – We embrace the people and places of the world. We value diversity.  We work on a daily basis with a wide variety of ethnic and religious groups, without bias.


These are the values we have worked hard to establish.  Our infrastructure is solidly in place, and it helps us ensure that we bring people into the culture of our company who are in alignment with our values.



These first three chapters have set the foundation for us to deliberately begin to zig and zag. You first assessed all of your resources so that you know what you are starting with at your beginning point.  Then you defined your beacon in the fog, or your destination point.  You know where you are going.  You have passion and a catalyzing statement that is the emotional fuel that will propel your vehicle to your destination.  Finally, you have defined the values or road system that you will take to get you to your final goal.  These four elements are what will get you on your way to your first zig!  In the next chapter we’ll be tackling Zig Number 1 – Driving to Profitability.




Values Exercise

A powerful and valuable exercise that I like to use is from Rick Sapio.  

  1. Write down three people in your life that you most admire or respect, and who you most want to be like.
  2.   From the values below, circle seven or eight values that best describe each of those people.  
  3. Those values that show up repeatedly will be the things that you value.

This simple exercise will bring great clarity to what your values are.  From my experience, you will end up with about ten values with which you closely align yourself.



Value Assessment

 Achievement/Drive, Adaptability, Adding Value, Advancement and Promotion, Adventure, Aesthetic, Affection (love and caring), Affinity, Aliveness, Arts, Attractiveness, Authenticity, Awareness, Beauty, Bliss, Caring, Certainty, Challenging Problems, Change and Variety, Charisma, Charity, Cheerfulness, Chivalry, Clarity, Close Relationships, Coaching, Commitment, Communication, Companionship, Compassion, Competence, Competition, Confidence, Congruence, Connection, Conscientiousness, Considerate, Contribution, Conviction, Cooperation, Courage, Courteousness, Creativity, Decisiveness, Democracy, Dependability, Discernment, Discovery, Ecological Awareness, Economic Security, Effectiveness, Efficiency, Ethical Practice, Empathy, Endurance, Energy, Enthusiasm, Environment, Equality, Excellence, Excitement, Expertise, Expression, Fairness, Fame, Family, Fast Living, Fast-Paced Work, Financial Gain, Flexibility, Focus, Forgiveness, Freedom, Friendship, Fun, Giving, Gratitude, Growth, God, Happiness, Having a Family, Health, Heart, Helping Other People, Helping Society, Honesty, Honor, Inclusive, Independence, Influencing Others, Inner Harmony, Inspiration, Integrity, Intellectual Status, Intelligence, Intention, Intimacy, Involvement, Job Tranquility, Joy, Justice, Kindness, Knowledge, Leadership, Learning, Leverage, Life, Location, Love, Loyalty, Making a difference, Market Position, Meaningful Work, Mentorship, Meditation, Merit, Money/Making Money, Music, Nature, Nurturing, Open and Honest (i.e. being around people who are), Openness, Partnership, Passion, Patience, Peace, Perception, Perseverance, Personal Growth & Development (living up to the fullest potential), Physical Challenge, Playfulness, Pleasure, Power and Authority, Presence, Privacy, Probability, Productivity, Public Service, Purity, Purpose, Quality, Quality Relationships, Rational, Receptivity, Recognition (respect from others, status), Reliability, Religion, Reputation, Resolution, Resolve, Resourcefulness, Respect, Responsibility and accountability, Security, Self-determinism, Self-Respect, Sensitivity, Sensuality, Serenity, Sharing, Simplicity, Sophistication, Soul, Spirit, Spiritual, Spontaneity, Stability, Strength, Status, Success, Supervising Others, Synergy, Team/Teamwork, Technology, Tenderness, Time Freedom, Togetherness, Travel, Trust, Trustworthiness, Truth, Unity, Value, Vigor, Vision, Vitality, Vulnerability, Wealth, and Wisdom.


After you have established your values, do not let anyone into your intimate circle that does not fit with your values.  Of course it’s naive to think that you will never have to deal with anyone who doesn’t share exactly the same values, but I’m talking about your inside circle or trust relationships.  That means your important hires, your friends, your partnerships.  You need to establish a value gatekeeper that you have complete trust in to make sure that your values are honored.  These values help you surround yourself with people who alight closely with you.

When our children were young, we made a family mission statement.  Mission statements are a little antiquated now, but my wife and I wanted to define the values that we wanted to live by in our family.  Some of the values we listed were:

  • Our family will support each other in our goals and ambitions.  
  • Our home will be an environment of safety, love, and respect. 
  • We will provide unconditional love for each other. 
  • We will teach respect for people, places, and things. 
  • We will embrace the value of hard work and leadership. 
  • We will allow each other to make mistakes and grow from these mistakes,
  •  but we will encourage each other to reach for higher levels. 
  • We will have positive friendships. 
  • Our family will work together, play together, and stay together. 
  • We will laugh often and savor the good, while fearlessly fighting the bad. 
  • We will act on life and turn negative situations into positives. 
  • We will value learning and education. 
  • Each family member will strive to make a meaningful contribution to humanity.


Our family is far from perfect, but these are some of the values we set out to teach our children. We have the list posted in our entryway, and each member of our family knows what is expected of them.  And I’m always amused at the stories our children tell each other and their friend of the funny things that happen in our family as we reinforce these values

Rick Sapio talks about what he calls “value-based decision making.”  He also refers to “The Doorman Prinicple,” which is defined as “the deliberate practice of defining a set of values and/or rules to dictate who, or what, is allowed to enter into your life or business.”  In our lives and in our businesses, we must have a “value gatekeeper.”  In our home, my wife is the value gatekeeper.  When she sees one of my sons being rude to his friends, she will call him on it because “We teach respect for people, places, and things.”  She insists that our kids do their homework because “We value education.”  She does not let riffraff into our home and encourages our children to have positive friendships.

Koral, my executive admin, is the “value gatekeeper” at my office.  She keeps the distractions and business snakes out of my life.  Koral is responsible for the final interview of every potential hire.  She deliberately does an exhaustive interview to ensure the person is in alignment with the twelve values of our organization. If the candidate does not pass this check, they do not get hired no matter how talented they are.

During the 2010-2011 basketball season, a basketball team that had fielded a lot of good teams over the years had a great team!  Led by a young man who was the nation’s leading scorer and who smashed school records that had stood for thirty years, this team moved into the top 5 in national rankings.  As the NCAA tournament approached, fans and pundits alike saw the team as a strong contender for making it to the Elite Eight, the Final Four, and maybe even beyond.  Then, not even two weeks before the NCAA tournament was set to begin, perhaps the second-best player on the team was suddenly suspended.  Why?  Well, the details are his business, but it was clear he had violated his school’s honor code—a set of values every student had agreed to live by, athlete or not.  The violation was such that he was allowed to remain in school, but he was not allowed to play. 

Not surprisingly, the team lost its next game.  It regrouped and won the final game of the season, and then lost the final game of the conference tournament.  Where it had only lost two games all season, in a week’s time it had lost four!  And when the NCAA invites came out, this team slipped from a lock on a number-one seed to a number-three seed.

Of course, there was a lot of talk about this young man’s suspension.  Some wondered why the school felt a need to stick to its values when so much was on the line.  Each time the team played without this young man, it was evident that, while it was still good, the team had lost its chance at greatness.  And, indeed, it lost in the Sweet Sixteen.

What it didn’t lose was its commitment to its values.  The school had a clearly stated policy on which behaviors were acceptable and which ones weren’t, and it stuck by them in an age when expediency often takes the place of integrity.  Some people felt the school had made a tough call.  And while it likely was a painful decision for administrators to make, it really wasn’t a tough call—it was an outgrowth of values that, for years, had been clearly delineated and adhered to.

As a footnote, this young man held his head high, he didn’t complain, he even continued to sit with his team in shirt and tie and cheer them on. And when he climbed up the ladder to help cut down the net after the final home game (just four days after his suspension), he was greeted with a standing ovation from a crowd of 21,000 fans.  And while I can’t predict the future, most feel he will serve out his suspension and return to the team for the 2011-2012 season.

I know of a mother who had a lot of children.  In fact, some people looked down on her for having so many, but she didn’t care.  She loved her children. She had very little materially, but she would look at her kids and say, “I will put you up there with the best of them.”  She had a big goal out there.  It was not only to raise good kids, she wanted to raise children who would be hard working and self-reliant.  She wanted her kids to go out and make a difference in the world.  This was her beacon in the fog. 

This family did not have many resources.  They lived on a dairy farm at a time when milk prices were dropping.  The entire time this family was being raised, there was not one year that their total income was above the poverty level; in fact, many years it was well below the poverty level.  But this inconvenience did not deter this mother.  She had a set of values she was determined to pass along to her children, and those values guided everything she did.  Some of the things she valued were education, hard work, and self-reliance.  She did not want her kids to be dependent on society like many other families in their situation. 

This mother got creative with the meager resources she had, and she taught her children that if there was something they wanted, they needed to do the same.  One of her daughters wanted to take dance lessons like the other girls in her class.  This mother talked with the dance teacher; and even though the mother did not have cash to pay for the lessons, the dance teacher happily took milk and eggs from her farm in exchange for those lessons.  Another child needed some expensive dental care.  The mother went to work at a dental office in exchange for the needed treatment.  This family was growing up in the 1970s and ’80s before personal computers were common.  As her kids became teenagers, the mother would encourage them to take typing classes so they could get a good after-school job.  She then allowed the kids to be responsible for their own expenses and learn how to manage their money. As busy as she was and as much as she stressed self-reliance, she always encouraged them in their homework and helped them seek out scholarships.

Once, one of her children was noticing all the name brand clothes her peers were wearing.  She stopped the mother and asked, “Mom, are we poor?”  The mother thought for a minute or two and replied, “No, we are not poor, we are just broke.”  She wanted her daughter to realize that even though they did not have a lot of money at the time, they could work hard and move up to become whatever they wanted to be.  In her mind a “poor” person was someone with a victim mentality, and she did not want her children to feel as though life was just owed to them.

Another time one of the daughters wanted to try out for the cheerleading squad.  Both the mother and the daughter knew the uniforms, shoes, trips, and fees cost a lot of money.  So they brainstormed together about how to make this work.  The daughter got a summer job moving sprinklers and working at Kentucky Fried Chicken to pay for the things she needed.  She had to work a little harder than the other girls on the squad, but those things made her strong.

In the end, every one of this mother’s children went to college and then on to productive careers.  Each one of these children is contributing to society in their chosen field.  One is a doctor, another an engineer.  There is a nurse, a businessman, a businesswomen, and a teacher. Now that her children are grown, people say to this mom “You are so lucky.  How did you do it?”  She smiles, knowing it had nothing to do with luck.  She had established her goals and values before she even had children.  And those children were clearly shown the road map they should follow if they wanted to achieve success.

One of my heroes and mentors was a businessman named Ray Noorda.  Ray was the CEO of Novell when I worked there, and he guided the company through its “glory days.”  During his time as CEO, everybody knew very clearly what the values of Novell were.  Financial responsibility was at the top of the list.  Next was to be on the leading edge of technology.  Another was to take good care of our customers. 

We had a series of mantras that were propagated throughout the company.  These were little statements that Ray was famous for, such as, “Resist change and die, adapt to change and survive, create change and thrive.”  Another was, “Customers first, employees second, shareholders third.”  One of his statements that used to spread fear throughout the company was, “Spring cleaning whether we need it or not.”  All of us knew that every spring the bottom 10 percent of performers would be laid off.  Ray did not like having dead wood in the company.  He felt it was an honor to work at Novell; and if people were not performing, he did not want them to weigh the company down.  Not everyone agreed with his values, but these are examples of the culture that Ray created for Novell. 

Most of us who worked for Ray considered him to be something of a tightwad.  Whether that is a fair assessment or not, he was definitely fiscally responsible. Although he was a billionaire, Ray did not have a fancy office; in fact, he had the same standard issue desk and chairs as everyone else.  When he traveled, he flew coach to save the company money.  He did not wear expensive suits.  He drove an old 1972 King Cab pickup truck.

Not surprisingly, he loved to walk around the company and met people.  He would stay after hours and talk with the custodians.  It was not uncommon for him to come sit on your desk and ask if you had anything good to eat.  He would talk to every level of employee.  As a result, he knew exactly what was happening in the company.

At one point, we had an executive who made it a point to let others know he had money, and one day he came to work with a shiny new Rolex watch.  This employee had failed to take note of the values and culture of the company.  Not surprisingly, he was one of those who ended up getting cleaned out the next spring.  That became one of the many stories that got passed through the company, which reinforced the values Ray used to guide Novell. 

One time I personally witnessed one of Ray’s stories, and I did my part to pass it along.  I was in the restroom when Ray walked in.  There was another man in there who was combing his hair and who kept the water on the entire time he was grooming himself.  He would leave the water running while he went to check himself in the mirror.  Then he’d come back for a bit more water, and then head to the mirror again.  When Ray came in and saw what was going on, he turned the water off.  The guy went back and turned it back on—and then gave Ray a dirty look.  As the guy turned away from the water, Ray shut it off again.  It was obvious this guy had no idea who he was dealing with.  After the third time, Ray wagged his finger in this man’s face and said, “Waste not, want not.”  I am not sure what happened to the offender.  But I know that I was sure quivering and that the value of not being wasteful was ingrained deep within me that day.  These were the stories that would spread like wildfire through the company.  They taught the values and created the culture of how everyone in the company was expected to behave. 

You can certainly head down the road not really knowing what your values are, but it’s never going to get you anywhere good. For many years, my favorite college football team had an incredible coach.  He was revered by fans, players, and coaches across the country.  He coached the same team for almost three decades and won countless awards, including a National Championship. He valued hiring great assistant coaches; and while there was no mistaking who was in charge, he was a delegator.  When he took over his team as head coach, he could see it would never compete well with a running strategy, so he decided he would find quarterbacks who valued passing the ball.  He faced teams that could score twenty or thirty points running the ball, but his team could score forty or fifty by passing.  So, they won.  Several of his quarterbacks went on to play in the NFL, and more than one took his team to the Super Bowl.

He believed in his coaches, in his players, and in his strategy.  On game day, he stood on the sidelines with his arms crossed, completely non-emotional as he calmly kept pace with his team from the sideline.  If his team won, his expression was the same as those rare times that they lost. 

After this coach retired, a coach came in who didn’t seem to know what he valued. His offensive strategy seemed to change from week to week. He would start a quarterback, pull him out, and then try another quarterback.  At times, he let his assistant coaches do their jobs, and other times he would take over—sometimes in the middle of a game.  When a game was close, he would run up and down the sideline, waving his arms frantically over what was happening.  Players and coaches alike didn’t know what he expected of them; and, as a fan, it was confusing to watch the team during this time.  No one seemed to know what he valued, and, as a result, it wasn’t long before he was fired.  Since leaving the university, he returned to the ranks of assistant coaches where he has had success, but no one has been willing to offer him a job as the head coach.

The most recent coach of this storied team is almost the exact opposite of the legendary coach.  He is much more hands-on, to the point where he has functioned as both head coach and defensive coordinator.  He is much more emotional.  He is much more involved in the community, and expects his players to be as well.  And yet, with all the differences, he is enjoying a winning record that rivals that of the man this school’s football stadium is named after.  The first coach and the current coach have succeeded with different values systems, but they each have one.  And those values were and are crystal clear to each of the players and each member of the staff. 

Whether you are deciding for yourself, your family, or your business, the values you  settle on will determine your behavior, which will in turn determine what stories will be told about you.  These stories will then serve to guide the behavior of those who follow you.

Although I do believe in right and wrong, it’s important to initially assess your values without judgment. Different businesses must have different cultures and, therefore, values.  A collections company that provides a service of calling people and demanding that they pay their bills will value employees who are assertive and will not back down. The employees would generally value justice more than mercy.  They would need to value responsibility and accountability.  The employer might value being fair, but would define fair in terms of all the parties, with a bias toward the entity that is owed the money. 

      On the other hand, a company in the business of entertaining people would not flourish if it based its business on the same values as the collections agency.  Typically, it would value fun, entertainment, preparation, and social interaction—those values that help ensure that everyone who walks in the door has fun. 

      It would not make sense for the entertainment company to say, “We are an entertainment company that is fair in our judgments.”  Likewise, you’re not going to hear the collections agency say, “We value bringing joy and laughter to our patrons.”  Different businesses, different values.

      I attended a very interesting lecture once where the speaker asked a group of chiropractors the following question: “Are you a healer?  Are you a doctor? Or are you a businessman?”  There was a long and awkward pause, and then he continued, “Your response to this question is going to determine how you will set up and conduct your practice.”  The speaker wasn’t suggesting there was a right or a wrong answer; he was saying that the answer would lead each of these chiropractors in a slightly different direction, so they ought to give it careful consideration.

      Picture how the “healer” might set up his practice.  He would be much more holistic in his approach, focusing on preventative care and wellness.  In addition to his services, he might recommend and provide certain supplements and vitamins.  He would likely encourage exercise and proper diets.  He would certainly teach his patients proper techniques to avoid injury.  His values would likely lead him to spend more time with each patient, which he’d need to consider as he mapped out his billing practices. He might spend more time with each customer and may or may not be as profitable. 

      The chiropractor who sees herself primarily as a doctor is likely more traditional and focuses on getting her patients’ spines back into alignment.  As such, her need for staff, office space, and billing policies are going to be quite different from the healer.  Finally, the “businessman” would have a dramatically different approach to his practice.  He might not even do the day-to-day adjustments, opting instead to have a group of chiropractors work for him.  He will be more focused on the production and efficiency of the practice.  While each of these chiropractor’s values may differ somewhat, what is clear is that their values are going to provide a road map that guides everything from selecting office space to determining rates to the actual care of the patient.