Tag Archives: core values

Be Fearlessly Authentic

Originally posted on Practical Practice Management


If you are a manager, team leader or business owner there is one facet of your character that must stand out to those you lead and that is “authenticity.”

Your people want to know who you really are.  Many times when a person is put into a position of “leadership” they feel they must act the part (whatever that means to them).  It’s not long before their people realize that they are not being authentic and this is where problems will begin.

In the book The Go-Giver The authors teach the “Law of Authenticity.” The following is an excerpt from the chapter.

“As long as you’re trying to be someone else, or putting on some act or behavior someone else taught you, you have no possibility of truly reaching people. The most valuable thing you have to give people is yourself.”

Here are a couple of tips to practice in being authentic.

  • Realize no one is perfect, be yourself.
  • Be present when you are with others.
  • State your values and then live them out loud. “Walk the talk.”
  • Be aware when you are not being authentic and change it quickly.

Being authentic is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself and to those with whom you encounter, live and work with.

“I know of nothing more valuable, when it comes to the all-important virtue of authenticity, than simply being who you are.”-Charles R. Swindoll

Creating Game-Changing Organizational Cultures using POS

Krystal Gabriel, a Solutions Engineer for ViRTUS  shares with us some thought provoking information about organizational culture. 

Enjoy the following – originally posted on the ViRTUS blog.

http://i0.wp.com/www.virtusinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Culture_POS.jpg?resize=441%2C231I was recently chatting with a colleague about one of my favorite topics, Organizational Culture; what it is? How does it form? What elements make some stand out against others? How does it bring out the best in people? Or how might it limit people’s potential? To me, the culture is the soul of the organization; it encompasses how we do the things that we do, the things we say, the pictures on the walls, the ceremonies and rituals we engage in, the processes we follow, the processes we don’t follow, the gratitude and appreciation we give and receive, the feeling we get when we walk into the space, the stories we tell…I could go on and on.

If done right, it allows us to be who we are within the walls of workplace and draws on the strengths of the people to take both them and the organization to new levels of excellence together. Win.

If done wrong, things can turn pretty scary, pretty quickly (read: hating your job, never feeling like yourself at work, distrust, burnout, gossip, conflict etc.).

Human behavior fascinates me to no end and while traditional psychology has focused mostly on what is wrong with individuals, which carries with it the inherent assumption that individuals are lacking in some way, Positive Psychology focuses on strengths and building the best life possible, it looks at what’s needed to take individuals from good to amazing in all areas of their life, to find and nurture genius and talent.

SO, the question that has been on my mind for quite a while is: How do we create and foster the principles of Positive Psychology in the workplace and is there a term to describe it? Ask and she shall receive: The answer lies in Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS). POS is all about studying excellence and ways in which organizations and the people in them prosper in extraordinary ways. There is actually a Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship in Michigan, and they outline (in this video) four powerful questions that POS asks to shift our thinking:

Question 1: What result do I want to create?  This question puts us in a fundamentally different state of “I’m going to create something that doesn’t exist”, which means I have to go to the edge of my abilities and knowledge to create what I want to.

Question 2: Am I internally directed? What are my values? What would I do if I had 2% more courage in this situation? I might do all kinds of things…

Question 3: Am I other focused? Do I know what others really feel? What their needs and interests are?

Question 4:  Am I externally open? This is the heart of how to get there – If I’m externally open I can now learn what I need to do to get to where we need to go.

There’s obviously so much more to POS but this is a start.

Currently, there are organizations out there that get it and I call them Game-Changers and most of them are on this GameChangers500 list. These organizations focus on what the possibilities are, they focus on strengths, they replace control with trust, and they practice gratitude and develop authentic global leaders. Don’t get me wrong, we can’t negate what’s not working, it’s extremely important to, but it’s easy to get caught in a damage control state where all we focus on is what’s not working instead of what the possibilities are and how we can unlock our people’s potential to help us get there.

The coolest thing is that POS, at its core, asks the same fundamental questions that shake individuals into understanding what makes them come alive, as it does of organizations:

For organizations: Who are we? What are our strengths? What’s our purpose/why do we exist? What do we want to create? What legacy do we want to leave?

For individuals: Who am I? What are my strengths?  What’s my purpose/why do I exist? What do I want to create? What legacy do I want to leave?

Because individuals are the basic unit of organizational change, shifting the way we think (and do) individually to become better leaders of our own lives can have a massive ripple effect where the outcome is an organization that embraces authenticity and greatness. Just imagine the possibilities of that kind of entity…

I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface of POS and that we will be seeing much much more of its principles and application in organizations popping up, as the views of leadership, work and purpose continue to shift and fuse….and I’m delighted and grateful to be apart of an organization that just…gets it.


krystal-blog picAs Solutions Engineer for ViRTUS, Krystal operates in a business development capacity with a focus on client solutions and strategic growth. Her sweet spot is being a connector of people, ideas and strategies.

Zappos gets Culture

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the current cultural buzz factory ‘Zappos’ the billion dollar online shoe store.

I got a unique opportunity to have dinner with their CEO Tony Hsieh & their COO Alfred Lin.  The following day which was Saturday they set up a 90 minute exclusive tour for 12 of us followed by an additional 90 minute  behind the scenes Q&A session where they really opened up to us.

To start with – I was intrigued and a little bit cynical.  Where they REALLY as good as all this press was saying ?

I’d been the Chief Operating Officer for 1-800-GOT-JUNK? during the heyday of the companies growth and cultural buzz.  During the midst of my tenure I was lucky to be there when we ranked #1 Company to Work For in BC two years in a row by BC Business Magazine and then ranked #2 in all of Canada to Work For.  I knew how the whole culture thing worked.  I saw how we cranked it up – and I saw it go up and down at various points during our growth.  We were having tours & Q&A’s of our company every Friday during those days too.  Were they really this good ? What did they do differently ?

I’d also helped build a couple other companies over the years with awesome cultures. College Pro Painters was where I cut my teeth with culture, and Ubarter.com was where I had fun trying it the dotcom way.  1-800- GOT-JUNK? was where we nailed it.

So with Zappos, I just wanted to see if they were REALLY as good as all their press said (and I’ve had lots of experience getting Free PR too)…..

Here is what I learned at Zappos.  I wouldn’t say I was blown away – I wasn’t – but it was damn good and I learned.  I was and still am in awe of HOW DEEPLY rooted their CEO & COO both live the core values that eminate throughout the company.  I have to go back on a weekday now too – to be fair – in an office that seats 700 people only about 20 were milling about.  My bet is the energy is mind blowing when they bring me back.

Key Points I saw and learned:

—First 10 hires are the most important people to ever hire.  They hire everyone else and they set the direction of the company culturally.

—Core values first…Make all your decisions based on them.  They asked employees what the core values should be and they call each other on them daily.

—They grade employees on how they are living the core values in all roles, two times a year.

—They bring job candidates from the airport in a shuttle. And after they drop off the candidate they ask the driver for his thoughts on the candidates fit culturally – the interview starts at the airport.

—To figure out your company core values they really pushed to have us ask ourselves what are our own personal core values….the company values come out of those.

—Core values should be short phrases not just single words like “passion”

—They tell the employees that they are responsible for care taking the core values.

—Culture is like what makes a flock of birds work with out leaders as they all fly and turn as a group. It’s their cultural DNA.

—As their CEO Tony said – if you don’t fire people for not following core values they become a meaningless plaque on the wall

—In 2003 they decided they wanted to be about customer service. So they cut a profitable model of drop shipping to REALLY focus on Customer Experience – and um – it’s working.

—Most important thing they’ve done is exceed expectations.

—Every year they print and give out a Culture Book (I got copies of 2008 & 2009) and it is only edited for grammar and spelling.

—Tony is obsessed with Happiness  – and suggests we all read the “Happiness Hypothesis”

—I think their quirky decorating of all workstations is a little bit too cluttered, dusty, and could use a few days of junk removal – but if that’s the only negative I found then even a guy with all my A.D.D. could turn a blind eye.

These guys GET Culture.  I only wish I could buy shares in the company.  Too bad Amazon bought the whole company for over $900 Million a few months ago 🙁

This guest post was written by:

Tony Hsieh, Cameron Herold, Alfred Lin

Cameron Herold

Founder, BackPocket COO