When I first started my digital creative agency, I didn’t realize that I had a core company value driving it from the get-go. I’ll be perfectly honest, I’ve always felt that businesses that had a list of company values were full of it. It seemed more like a marketing angle whether that be for internal or external appearances.
Most of my work history has involved being self-employed. I did work for 2 national retailers with one being in the consumer electronics field and my experience there is most likely the cause of my sour outlook on company values. It affected me so much so that I put in my two weeks to quit and within the final hour of those two weeks, I walked out.
The company had a strict rule that if anyone leaves while at work, they are not allowed to work at the company ever again. I had to make sure that I would never fool myself into thinking, it wasn’t that bad. It was. This was a business that touted teamwork and core values.
We had early morning team meetings to rally the troops as it were with a lot of positive talk. The truth was that this was a scary dysfunctional place. Stealing was happening at the highest level, managers were engaging in unprofessional manners as they say and people that wanted to do good for the company were pushed out in unethical ways. I was a meek bystander seeing all of this happen in my young life and I could only think, “my gosh, is this how businesses work?” The entrepreneurial spirit was always in me but this certainly gave me a giant push to never work for others.
I had to make sure that I would never fool myself into thinking, it wasn’t that bad. It was.
My agency was started purely from something that I loved, design. From a young age, how things appeared, the way that they were crafted and presented always had a strong impact on me. I would watch for software updates that focus on user interface (UI) changes just to play and experience it. Many people complain when a user experience changes in software because they knew where everything was and had become accustomed to it, I craved it. I hoped that with every update would come a massive UI overhaul. I just couldn’t get enough of different experiences.
I was born in the 80’s and grew up in the 90’s, the era of AOL, MSN and Yahoo. I was in Microsoft’s beta testing group and was flown out to Seattle in the early 2000’s to tour the campus to provide feedback on different communication platforms. I loved it. At 16 years old, I started a mobile car detailing business and I spent time creating logos, marketing materials, and a 15-page website where customers could book appointments online. This was 1999. I re-branded this small company three times out of the pure love for it. I would look to “out-design” national brands and find ways to improve the experience. Even though I had a small local reach. This wasn’t action focused on driving more sales, it’s something that was driven within me.
While most people complain when a user experience changes in software because they knew where everything was and had become accustomed to it, I craved it.
Through two other web design based companies during my college years, late nights were dedicated to designing and coding. Being a night owl helped me and I’ve never needed caffeine to fuel me. My caffeine is my passion for what I was doing. In 2009, I started my creative agency, LuccaAM. I was obsessed with punching above my weight in design and this fueled all the by-products of pursuing that. I over-designed for the budget of nearly every project (not a great business decision). Money didn’t drive me then and it doesn’t drive me now. For money and objects to not be my driving factor, I feel fortunate.
I never was a person that was working to get to retirement as quickly as possible or fill the present with distracting things. This is life, it’s being in the thick of it. It’s being challenged every day. It’s struggling and succeeding. It’s about living your passion every day.
As our agency has started to grow and we add team members, I’m starting to really see the importance of company values. I’m also personally aware that company values need to be real to the company and the people that make it run. When we hire, we look for one quality above all and that’s passion. You need to love what you do. When someone loves what they do, they are going to outperform a lot of other people. Plus, it creates an insanely inspiring work environment to be in when people truly love what they are doing. It’s the same as Einstein’s famous quote. I can’t write it because it has been overused so much that it hurts. It’s based on the idea that hard work outperforms talent alone and I wholeheartedly believe passion fuels the good kind of hustle.
Through everything, I see that values are in every company but not every company shares their true values with everyone. I suppose having the value of greed or deception wouldn’t have the same feel during that early morning team rally.
What is your experience with company values? How do you instill those values with every new hiring?