my Personal Values

I have always liked the work of Jim Collins. On a recent podcast, he talked about personal values. So, of course, he had my complete attention! He talked about pushing yourself hard to determine your values, asking if someone had observed you over the last year, what would they say were your values?

One of my personal core values is creativity. I found my way to understanding how important this value was to me when I least expected it.

My husband and I have twin boys, and when they were first born, it was a little overwhelming – ok, a lot overwhelming! My parents came out to stay with us, and when they walked through the door, they knew! The dark circles under our eyes were one giveaway, the glazed expression another. We were exhausted! Our happy bouncing baby boys were anything but exhausted. Within 5 minutes, my dad said, “Jan, you and I will take the night shift, and Mom will take the day shift.” They were baby people! Both of them could soothe a crying baby innately.

One afternoon while I was resting, my Mom was getting busy. First, she labelled and alphabetized our spices (that is another great story.) She also found my creative nook. Since the boys had arrived, it hardly resembled a creative nook, more like a dumping ground for all kinds of paraphernalia. She found some of my unfinished sketches, random art supplies, and ideas scribbled on scrap paper. She organized the whole area so that it was fresh and ready for creating.

When I woke up, she said, “your Dad and I are taking the boys for a walk. You take some time for yourself and wander over to your desk.” Mothering was wonderful and yet all-consuming. I thought I would never have time for creative endeavours again. I was sure that side of my brain was asleep! I drifted over and started to dabble. As I connected with my creative self, I realized what my Mom knew long before I did that being able to create is essential to my being (my Mom and I happened to share that value).

Since then, I have always respected and nourished this value within myself. I need space and time to create and imagine in order to optimize my best self. This is when I am most aligned and do my best work. It connects me to my center, grounding me. From there, anything seems possible.

For me, the creative process challenges me to drive invention, discovery, and curiosity. It is also at this junction where I have had spectacular successes and failures, often in equal measure and sometimes at the same time (many future blogs worthy of these examples so stay tuned)!

As purpose-driven leaders, we need to know our own core values. Our values will inform our purpose, and when we are aligned, we will have the impact on the world we know we can. Living and leading from our values is our most effective and effortless way to put our own unique stamp on the world.

It sounds easy, but the process can be challenging. Capturing your core values and finding a way to live by them is worth the effort.

And we are here for it!

If you are ready to put your purpose and values into words and action, The Story Co.’s Leaders Journey to Purpose might be just the course for you.

Interested? Email us at [email protected], and let’s create your path to purpose.

What is a purpose statement and why do you need one?

The exercise of defining your purpose, vision, and mission creates two camps.

The first camp will participate in the exercise but they don’t believe it will truly make a difference.

And for them it doesn’t.

The second camp engages in the process and turns these statements into something that generates fulfillment and growth.

The Edelman study found that on every business metric the companies that were committed to being purpose driven were 86% more successful. Doesn’t this sound like the better camp to be in?

Often the reason these statements are not effective is simply because there is a lack of understanding of what the differences are between each one and how to translate them into something real, measureable, and actionable and fun!

As with everything keeping it simple is an art!

Rambling long statements don’t create change. (I once saw a purpose statement written on the wall of a large corporation.  It took the entire wall, had 4 paragraphs and could not be remembered or repeated.)

Below are simple ways to define each of these incredibly valuable statements.

Purpose statement: this answers your why and explains the impact your good work has on the community you serve.

It is one succinct statement that is memorable and repeatable. It appeals to our emotions, is aspirational and everyone in the company should feel personally aligned to the purpose statement.

As you grow and change your purpose should stretch with you.

Your purpose makes your ideal client want to be part of your community. Purpose drives strategy but it will fail if it is the strategy.

Vision Statement: Where are you going and what do you do? What problems are you uniquely solving?

Mission Statement: How will you achieve your vision and purpose every single day?

This last year has shown us that the “what” and “how” of business rapidly changed and our “why” proved to be our rudder, our compass, for making key decisions and finding opportunity.

If you want to be part of the 86% nothing would make me happier than to help you get there. 🙂 My purpose is to elevate others through the power of their own story and I know your story needs to be told.

Changed forever

What will your brand stand up for?

Both Covid-19 and the racial injustice movement have changed us forever.

We can do better.

I’ve been thinking about just how can we do better.

If we have been changed, surely our personal brands and the brands we work for must change too. We cannot imagine that from here we simply go on as we have.

We have always had choices on which businesses we will support, but now that choice seems more important.

The truly purpose-driven brands have always been more successful. The purpose-driven brands employing people with a personal purpose aligned to the purpose of the company are even more successful.

So why now, when we have been so severely shaken by global events would we support brands that do not support our deepest held beliefs?

We won’t.

To get the attention of the marketplace you want to impact, it is time to declare what you stand for and what your brand will stand up for, and what you will not tolerate. Then find concrete ways to ensure you walk the talk.

If you are looking to be a purpose-driven brand, start by declaring your values. Once considered “fluff”, or a “nice to have”, now your values are a rallying cry, a uniting force, and a source for motivating a team of staff that wants to make a difference. Values are a way to retain and acquire new talent.  Values will also be your differentiator in the marketplace.

What would change if you added anti-racism to your values?

What would change if you added well-being to your values?

How would that drive internal and external change? What impact would the results of those actions have?

The time has come to be a purpose-brand.  If you need help navigating this impactful way of living and working, let’s work together to make this part of your story.

Forever changed is the silver lining.

Keep going.

Live your story, on purpose.

Do Something Everyday That Scares you - No Thanks!

Do something every day that scares you – no thanks!

You can buy t-shirts and mugs and of course there is even a hashtag for Do something every day that scares you. I want no part of that!

Sometimes I wonder if everyone who buys into this philosophy has ever been really scared before? And if they have been really scared what on earth was so attractive? The racing heart, the sweating palms, the ability to not think clearly, being dictated to by adrenaline? Which one of those feelings is your favourite?

Ok, I get it – the cliché is meant to be a motivator but fear is not my motivator.

In fact, I think a good chunk of what is wrong in the world is because we are letting fear guide our decisions. Really important decisions. Fear based politics is having a disastrous effect! I guess that could be a whole other blog!

Let’s get back to business.

Fear based marketing – it works. But it is not sustainable. And besides is that really how you want your customer to feel when they buy your product – afraid that if they don’t buy it some disaster will strike them?

What about your team – do you want your team operating under a veil of fear, because its motivating? Where is the logic in that?

So what if … rather than doing something every day that scares you that instead … you do something every day that brings you joy and helps someone else. Full heart, open mind, focused and in the zone. Does that not sound more enticing than a fear-based motivator?

When we do our genius work – when you feel totally in the zone our heart rate drops, our blood pressure drops, our ideas flow. We are not fighting with ourselves, we are not conquering. It is so much more important than conquering! When we are doing our best work – the work we are meant to do, it is actually easier for our brain. We are more efficient; focus is effortless. We are not concerned about outcome or what others might think of our work. The ego evaporates. There is a quieting of our minds, fear is not driving the car.

What we do best comes more easily to us which makes it easier for us to discount our abilities and say “oh that was nothing”. That can make it hard for us to see what we are best at. We all have something that is easier for us to do, that comes more naturally, and gives us energy rather than takes energy – that is our genius work.

To get to this state takes confidence, and practice.

And it’s fun.

We can’t always be in the zone; some tasks have to be accomplished that are not our genius work. But we can be mindful of managing the percentages. So that more of work falls into the “gives us energy” category than the “takes energy” category

Flow begets flow. When you are lost in the moment, the moment finds you. A study done by Miriam Mosing a neuroscientist at the Karolinska Institute believes that those who spend more time working in the zone maybe also be protecting their own mental health. Her findings indicate that there is a protective effect to the brain when we are in flow. The same cannot be said about the effects of fear.

So, ditch fear.

With a full heart, embrace your genius work. What you do best. That’s what the world needs now!

What happens when you can’t deliver on your brand promise?

I once owned a company named Starstruck, and we manufactured and exported a line of women’s clothing to 320 stores in the US and 120 in Canada.

It is quite a story. 

A big part of that story is that not everything went as planned. Well, to be honest everyday something didn’t go as planned. It was the nature of the beast. Sometimes things went better than we ever could have imagined. (It really did help to be an eternal optimist in the world of manufacturing women’s fashion.)

There are so many stories, but I’ll tell you one in particular. I know exactly where I was standing when the call came in from our fabric supplier. It had been a great day, sales were up, our new line had been well received, our local retail store was humming. It was early afternoon on a sunny spring day; the kind of day that convinces you winter will never come back. I clearly remember feeling like we were on top of our game. 

But, back to the call: our container was stuck in the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of Vancouver. There was a labour strike at the docks. Nothing was moving. There was no foreseeable end in sight, and no one could tell us exactly when we would receive our goods. 

We had tight turnarounds – fashion is like that. What retailer wants a shipment of winter coats in April? 

There were substantial financial ramifications. Some of our bigger department store clients had relentless one-sided terms. Of course we had reluctantly agreed to them because of the significant advantages of being carried by the ‘bigs’. They were essential to our growth. But those sales were a double-edged sword and we were about to feel the sharp side. 

Big retail understands the cost of holding inventory that is not on the sales floor, so deliveries were tightly timed. We were given a 10-day delivery window and every day an order was late we would lose 30% of the value of the order. This business was not for the faint of heart. Likely you have guessed that US department stores did not particularly care about the strike “up in Canada”.

Late deliveries were hard on our smaller retailers too. Although the ‘bigs’ were essential to our growth, the smaller and mid-sized retailers kept us in business – they were always our long game. 

Manufacturing is at the best of times a massive amount of moving parts. The domino effect when one of those parts goes astray, well I can feel the headache all over again.

What hurt the most was late deliveries were so off-brand. This is not what our brand promised. We knew how important it was to be true to our word. “Fashionably late” did not cut it.

We were living in the land of Porter’s Five Forces! I don’t always think that “academic” models actually live very well in the real world, but this smacked of  one of the five forces.

The Porter’s Five Forces model examines five key aspects of your company’s competitiveness. One of the five forces is Supplier Power. Wow, did we find out that our supplier had a lot of power!! Of course long before Porter, our mothers had told us “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Always listen to your mother! 

So, I got on the phone to explain that orders would be late.  The true story felt like such a ‘roll your eyes’, dog-ate-my-homework kind of story. I pictured the response, “Seriously this is the line you are going to give us?”  My palms were sweating, I paced as I talked (10,00 steps was not a problem!), my stomach turned. The self-doubt gremlin arrived.  Maybe we weren’t going to make it?

On the other end of the phone the response was not what I expected. 

We had a reputation of living our brand promise. We had made significant deposits. They believed us and more importantly they believed we would do the best we could. It was truly humbling to see the trust they had in us.

They were also truly shocked that we called and owned up. 

What happens when you can’t deliver on your brand promise?

Be transparent. 

Own up. This is not the time for hide-and-seek.

Make it personal.

It’s hard to imagine, but in the toughest of times the strongest relationships are forged. If you can’t deliver on your band promise, it’s a big deal. Recognize that.  Go to the highest rung on the ladder and have whoever that is make the call. It will never be forgotten that you cared that much. 

Take care of your Porter’s Five Forces.

Look at each of the five forces and review the strength of your competitors, supplier power, buyer power, threats of substitution, and threats of new entry. It’s a handy tool to protect your competitiveness. 

As for this ‘drink from the fire hose’ Starstruck tale . . . we made it out alive.  The strength of our brand promise saved us. The strike ended, fabric arrived, we worked like dogs (not like the dog sleeping at my feet right now), to turn raw goods into finished goods, and then into shipped goods.

Then we doubled our number of suppliers.

And went merrily along making more deposits in our brand promise account. (I do love a happy ending)

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