23 December 2009

Values, motivation and business

I got these questions in an email interview by Garrick Gibson recently, and, since I get asked these things fairly often, I thought I would post my answers here.

1) What do you value most about what you are doing in your profession?

2) Name 3 of the most important actions taken to start your business?

3) How much of your personal values played a role in starting and operating your business?
How do these values show up in your business?

Here are the answers I gave Garrick:

Q: What do you value most about what you are doing in your profession?

I love that I can walk into a chaotic situation and help people make sense of it so they can make better decisions. It makes me feel useful and appreciated when people recognize and reward that.

Q: Name 3 of the most important actions taken to start your business?

1. When I quit smoking it made me realize that I could do anything when I set my mind to it, no matter how difficult it might seem. So, strange as it may sound, the first and most important step was quitting smoking -- it had nothing to do with business and everything to do with building my confidence.

2. Quitting my journalism job to take a much lower-paying job as a university professor. The importance of that step was that I was walking into a position with a definite end point. The position was a one-year contract, renewable up to a maximum of three years, so just as if I were an elected official, my job had a term limit. This set the clock ticking. It gave me a deadline, so to speak.

3. Expanding my world view. I felt strongly that to be successful in business I needed to understand all aspects, so I read voraciously about marketing, sales, strategy and finance. I also asked people who I deemed successful what drove their success. One of them once said to me "Nothing happens till somebody sells something." I took that to heart.

An understanding of sales was key to the success of my business. Turns out the biggest secrets of successful selling are great listening skills and an ability to turn understanding and empathy into action and results. These are great skills for anybody to learn, no matter what they plan to do.

Q: How much of your personal values plays a role in starting & operating of your business?

Personal values are huge. I believe that better clarity and understanding, in the long run, is better for the world. I feel that at XPLANE we are doing something good.

Q: How do these values show up in your business?

I felt strongly enough about company values that I worked with the team to create a culture map which we use to remain focused on who we want to be. You can see the culture map here.

We use this map as a compass to guide our actions and decisions. It turns out to be most useful with the more difficult decisions, not because it gives the answers but because it helps us ask the right questions.

Thanks Garrick, for asking the thoughtful questions that generated this post. thanks to you, reader, for reading it. I'd be very interested to hear how you would answer these questions.

Please leave a comment and answer Garrick's three questions, or just tell us about your values. How do they motivate you in your business endeavors?

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David - Communcations Guy said...

I tend to operate in the same manner. It is always a good idea to have as many external mechanisms of control, i.e. scheduled end date of contract, as a work motivator.

Creating a culture where differences of opinion can be respected and translated into positive energy motivates much of my work.

Menelaos Gkikas said...

"Murdock, i am coming to get you!!"

louisjkim said...

Dave, thanks for sharing this with us. It was edifying to read. - Louis

Natalie @ Mills said...

Great blog and post!

Jonathan Steele of Speechmastery.com said...

My answer to the second question is also learning how to sell. What helped me went way beyond listening and connecting emotionally.

What helped me was learning how to build a relationship with potential customers.

Like you, I left a very well paying job (nursing) that I loved for way less pay in hopes of greater freedom and ultimately better pay.

Now, it is looking like being free to go off for a month or more to help when disasters happen.

The SecretMaster said...

Interesting post and lots to think about.

Ken Majer said...

Establishing core values and building a culture map build the foundation for any organization. They define "Who we are" and "How we do things." Enlightened business leaders undertand the bottom-line impact of a values-driven culture.

Values-based leadership and values-driven culture alignment are so fundamenal that after many years of consulting, these are now the sole focus of my practice, my speaking, and my and writing.
Kenneth Majer, PhD
Co-author, "Way Beyond Wine"

Donna said...

Thank you for the share!

Jeff@thetruckmerchant.ca said...

Thank you, sincerely, for posting this. It came before my eyes at a time when I needed to read exactly what you wrote.

Comunicação Integrada said...

excellent post congratulations!