Mission, Core Values and Vision Statement
So let's dive into mission, core values, and your vision statement. Now when I talk to my clients and I build mission statements for them regularly, I talk about it as if it's the north star of your business. And what I mean by that is when you are going to make a decision, your mission statement should really be the thing that helps keep you on track. So if you're thinking should I do this, should I not do this, if you look to your mission statement, it should really help you make that decision. So a mission statement is incredibly important. Now what's funny is I have built mission statements for my clients for the past 10 years, and about five years ago I realized I didn't have a mission statement. Oh my God, the cobbler's son, whatever, how does that work, where the cobbler's shoe... You know the one, right.
The cobbler has no shoes.
The cobbler has no shoes, right, so the mission and core values lady didn't have a mission. So I set out to create one, and I have been in your sh...
oes, I've had to create one from scratch, so I feel you. It's not easy to distill what you do. And distill all your unique qualities into one or two concise statements. So I'm going to share with you what I came up with for my business. So in this case I really wanted to focus on who I served, what I do, and what is the impact. Okay, so in my case it's we help restaurateurs and service-based companies open, stabilize, evolve, and prosper, while delivering lasting, unique results. Now I had to really think about the words I used, and I'm going to encourage all of you here and in the audience to work with a dictionary, work with a thesaurus, take note of the words you use frequently to describe your own business. And really understand what those words mean because they're representing you. So for me I had to talk about openings because I help businesses open, but opening is not enough, you've to have a business that is stable and one that evolves. That's something I talk about an awful lot with my clients is making sure that you are evolving your business so that it can really adapt with the times. And of course prosper, I want my clients to be prosperous, to feel like their business is healthy, and that they are making money doing what they love to do. On the flip side, my job as a consultant is to make results for my clients. If I don't make lasting results, you just wasted your money, so it's important that I focus on that and keep that in there to make sure that that is truly what I'm doing for people. So if the first part happens, that's great, but the bottom part is really the most important. That my clients feel that they get lasting results from working with me. So let's think about your mission statement. So the mission is your purpose. Why are you here, what are you serving? What are you doing? The mission is not necessarily your big dream on paper, but it's how are you speaking to your clients? How are you speaking to the world at large, what do you do? It's important that you're specific. Who are you serving? Who are you um, who are you working with? Who are you reaching out to? And what do you do, right? A lot of mission statements can be very bland. They don't really get too specific, so I think it's important to get specific. And when you're starting to write all this stuff out, don't get specific yet, when you're starting to craft it. Write out everything, you're going to get a lot of stuff on paper, and then we're going to hone it, hone it, hone it, so it really distills down to what's important for you. Use language that's unique to your brand and personality. Now some companies really think about their brand language. One of my favorite companies for brand language is Zappos. They always use engaging and interesting language in their customer service and even in their online personality. So think about some of the brands that you like that might be similar to yours and see what they're using, see how they use language. See how they communicate with people, and think about how you can do that in the same way. And consider addressing your clients as well as your employees, your community, and some of the expected areas of growth and profitability. So we don't want to just say hey, I want to serve people and make loads of money, right. No, who are you going to serve, what are you serving? And then maybe be profitable. Some people don't even need it to be wildly, they don't need to be wildly wealthy, sometimes they just want to make an impact on others, and hopefully the money will follow. So maybe profitability doesn't go in there. It's really unique to you. So what are you getting out of bed for every single day? And it can be short or sweet or a little bit longer. Now I've used American Express a few times here, and I just will say American Express is a just a company that I'm choosing out of the blue because they have a mission statement, they have a vision statement, and they have core values. So I'm just using them as an example. There are a lot of really good mission statements out there. So let's look at this one. First of all, it's pretty long, right. They talk about a lot of stuff. The mission of our program is to bring to life the American Express value of good corporate citizenship by supporting diverse communities in ways that enhance the company's reputation with employees, customers, business partners, other stakeholders, I'm starting to run out of breath here, right, it's long. We do this by, and I think that's a great statement to remember, we do this by. This is now a little great tag into the next sentence. Supporting visionary not for profit organizations that are preserving and enriching our diverse cultural heritage. Now, did anybody here expect that this would be American Express's mission statement? I did not, right, that's long, it's deep, it has way more color than I would have pictured, right, from a credit card company. So what's interesting to me about this is like whoa, I had no idea, it's really very interesting how they use this. But they touch on all those things that we mentioned. So they're talking about who they connect to. So American Express values, good corporate citizenship, diverse communities, reputation with employees, customers, partners, and stakeholders. And then they tell us how they do it. This is one example, this one's quite large, and I would say I think it's helpful to make it a little more streamlined, which they do a little bit later. I'll show you that a little bit later on. So the mission statement is your north star. That's your who we are and what we do every day. The core values are how we embody that, and I think it's really important for companies to come up with core values because it enables you and your employees to live the brand promise every single day. So core values very frequently fall into some sort of similar categories, teamwork, trustworthiness, having a good heart or a good sense of community. These are all sort of common values that companies want their clients, or really their employees, to uphold. And this is not a bad thing, okay, to have similar core values, I think that's very reasonable. The question is how do you talk about it? And in the workbook, there's a list of words that you can choose that are going to help you just try to define what your core values are. What do you stand up for? What are you representing in your customer experience? Now core values I think are a really great tool for your business as well. I have counseled people and I have helped people write questions for when they're interviewing new candidates that employ the core values. So that's really cool, you can use the core values to say hey, here's our core values, pick one and tell me why that resonates with you. And by doing that, by sharing why something resonates with you, you can already see if they drank the Koolaid or not, right. You can already see are they on brand or not. So core values are a wonderful expression of your brand. It's a wonderful tool for your employees because they can see how to be when they're working for you and they're representing you. And then it's a great tool for getting new people on board. So your core values, they're going to incorporate a few things. So they're representing the embodiment of your mission, so the purpose. So if your mission is to provide great customer services to my clients in the photography world, right. That would be a little dull, but I'll just use it for now. The core values are going to represent how you do that mission, how do we live that mission, okay? They need to represent what truly matters to you. And I think some of the best companies that have really interesting and lively core values are the ones that are very clear on what matters to them. So back to Zappos, Zappos has incredible core values. They're very expressive, they have delivering wow as one of their core values. Who doesn't want to deliver wow, I mean I would love to deliver wow, I hope I deliver wow. But they're very unique in the way they do that and it really represents what's important to Zappos, which is their whole business is about delivering happiness, truly. And listen to how you speak about your business. Okay, when you are describing your business, listen and be aware, take notes for yourself. What are you saying? How do you describe it? What do you wish it maybe were a little more? So take notes for yourself and keep track of that. Ask you friends, ask your close people, your family members, how do they describe your business? Are they confused, do they know how to describe it? You ever have a friend, and you're sort of like well I think they kinda do this kind of thing, but you're not really sure, right? The core values, the mission statement can really help clear that up, right, any questions they have, you can clear that up. So if you are, let's go back to the photographer again, there's a million photographers, why you? Let's try to find the words and the values that really stand up for you and your company and the experience you're going to create for your clients. And use your core values to hire your team and to make decisions. It's easier to make a decision about should we go forward with this new hire or not if you can really see if they believe in the core values that you already have, if they already share the core values that you've written out. It's going to be much clearer for you to see who fits and who doesn't fit. Also if you're already in business and you haven't done this like I did, I did after the fact. Talk to your team members and find out what is the heartbeat of this operation? What is the thing that makes you feel proud to work here? What is the thing that makes you really glad to be working for this operation? And that can help influence the core values that you use. So I did a project with a legendary restaurant in New York City, and it's the Rainbow Room, anyone that's been there. And they were renovating their concept. They had brought in a new restaurant company to help them reflect this new updated concept, even though they're in an age old environment, which is on top of Rockefeller Center in New York City, so beautiful, beautiful spot. And I was tasked with creating the mission and the core values. So I went around to all the people who were brought in on this project, and I interviewed them. And I just asked them basically the same questions, like why this place, why now? What's important about it, what do you want to express to people who are coming in for the first time? What do you want to express to your new teammates? And one by one they gave me their impressions of the business. And one of the managers there told me that what he wanted his team members to know and to be, was to be a chameleon, he said. A chameleon is always going to be this little lizard, but it's going to change its colors, it's going to adapt to any situation. It's going to blend right in to the background, but you're still a chameleon, you're still able to do this job, you're still able to do uphold it. And I was blown away, I was like there's a core value right there, be a chameleon. So that I could've only have gotten to by talking to people and finding out how do they express it? How do they live it? Now if you're doing it from the start, it's a little harder because you haven't lived it yet. If you're just now building your business and you're not really sure how do I want to be? Well think how you are. Who are you, what are you known for? What are the things that people comment back to you, like I always love hanging out with you because. Right, and so start to really take that for what it is and use that to fuel and power both your mission and the core values. And again, write a lot down because we're going to pare it down a little bit later. Now this is the core values again for American Express. And I'm using them because they are very concise, and they're very clear. There's a lot of them, you don't need this many. Some people use three or four, and this is one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, so that's quite a few. So they have a few that I think that a lot of businesses might have, so customer commitment, quality, integrity, teamwork, respect for people, good citizenship, a will to win, and personal accountability. So as you see those audience members, what are they ones that jump out to you as being somewhat unique or like oh, I did not expect American Express to have those as core values.
Good citizenship, I like that. Yeah, so why did that seem unique to you?
Just because as a company, it's important to like be part of the community and it sounds like it's one of those things, it's a big company, but they're part of communities.
Yes, right, it also made this behemoth seem like much more approachable somehow, doesn't it? And then the way they express that is we are good citizens in the communities in which we live and work. So very simple, it makes it very small, right. You have an impact where you are to represent this brand and be a good citizen. Yeah, absolutely. Any other ones that jump out?
Respect for people is a good one.
Sure, why did that jump out to you?
Because you kind of think of credit card companies as detached from everybody. They're basically just providing a service, but to actually respect people and deal with them one on one, you don't think of that too much.
Right, right, I know, a big behemoth company, like a huge, international brand. It's hard to believe that they actually want to drill it down, but a company like that is as successful as that, they do a very good job of making each interaction a personal one. So respect I think is really important. A will to win is one that got me. We exhibit a strong will to win in the marketplace and in every aspect of our business. There is the big guy, right, there is the consumer behemoth, a will to win, right, I will dominate at all costs. But it's interesting that they're bringing that to their staff, right, have a will to win. That's an interesting thing for your employer say to you as an employee, that's really kind of cool. I'm curious if anybody in the audience out there has any thoughts about core values as well. I will definitely will welcome any comments about mission and core values from our studio audience or from our audience above and beyond. Now a vision statement is another option here. And this states your intentions for the future, and this might change and evolve over time. So the mission is really the nugget. That's going to stay there, it's going to be bedrock for your company, every single day. But the vision statement gives you sort of short term goals. So a vision statement might, well let's look at the next one I've got here. So this is again American Express. We work hard every day to make American Express the world's most respected service brand. I almost thought that was their mission statement. And when you look at their online presence, this is actually what they present more than their mission. So for them, the vision is what they use in their day to day work. So we work hard every day to make American Express the world's most respected service brand. They don't talk about being a credit card. Service brand, which is interesting. So think about that. I think, I wish I could remember it off the top of my head, but Google for instance has a very interesting mission statement that has nothing to do with being a search engine. It's really about beyond that, creating technology. So think about really what your business is. So if you are a wedding photographer, are you about photography or are you about capturing memories that'll last a lifetime? That could be your mission statement. So think a little bit outside the box. It doesn't have to be specific in terms of what you do, it can be what you do in a larger sense. When you're building your mission statement, again, make it bigger and longer than you need it. So get expansive, write down everything you possible could, and then start to chip away. So it's like you know when you were a kid, did you every have one of those little sculpture things, it's a soap brick, and then you start carving, and there's a little statue on the inside, it's like carving a statue. You're going to have all the stuff, you're going to get rid of it, get rid of it, and hone it until it's something that you feel really does represent you and that you can live with every single day that will help you be your north star. And then with your core values, again, start to write down the things that are meaningful to you, and then, like I said, use the dictionary, use the thesaurus, see if the word integrity has another meaning, alright. I see a lot of people wanting to be excellent, high quality, amazing, impactful. That's great, but think about what does amazing mean to you. Right, amazing to me and amazing to you might be two different things. So be specific about what that actually is. So back to the chameleon, right. That's a very clear visual of what that means. So get unique, use your language to really enunciate what the core values are because that's what is going to set you apart, and it's going to make it easier for you to live it up every single day. Leadership is the ability to translate vision into reality. So this is a abundantly true. So if you are the owner, operator of your business, you've got to make sure the people can live your vision. And that's where the core values can be very, very helpful for you. It allows your staff to embody the business and act on behalf of your business. So when we think of things like self respect, if we think about citizenship, if we think about the will to win and we empower our teams with that, it'll be interesting to see what they come up with. That's a very cool task, or a very cool mantle to be given, to go impact people in that way. So all of these core values, you should think about how can they be active in my business. How can they be active for my employees and staff members? How can I be active when I'm walking around the business? And that would be the thing to think of when you are creating a culture of customer service, it's about the fact that you're going to be the leader of that culture. You have to live and breathe and talk and walk that culture every single day. So it's really important that you have a way to do it for yourself first and foremost, and then a way to share it and teach it for your employees and staff members. Otherwise they won't really know another way. Are there any questions about this, building the mission, building the core values, or understanding the purpose of a leadership, or a vision statement rather?
I have a quick thing on the mission statement.
So I know you mentioned that you want to get a lot down on paper, then kind of whittle away, are there any guidelines for people if they are building it, should it be x number of words or a couple of paragraphs, anything that people can use as a guideline?
Nope, it's very, very personal. So if you think about American Express, that seems to me long, but it seemed expressive of a lot of stuff for them. Let's actually go back to it. So when I was looking at it, I thought oh gee, I can barely get through it, but the fact is they are able to rely on a lot of that there. They actually get a lot in there. And I think that generally people write a longer one than a shorter one, so don't worry about being too concise, but if you have a stroke of brilliance that oh my God, four letters represents my mission, by all means do it. Okay, the thing is does it really represent your mission? To be amazing and make a lot of money, not a mission statement, right. How are you going to do it, who's going to be impacted by it, and what do you mean, what do you mean? It's got to be identifiable to you, but also to them. It's got to keep you on the straight and narrow. Yeah?
Do you have any advice on how to include your employees and the folks that are around you to guide what the mission statement looks like? You kind of alluded to that, but how do you actually like get folks involved?
Well again it depends on where you are in your process, so if you're just starting out, you're not going to have employees quite yet potentially. You might have a partner, you might have people that you've done work with, so you can start to ask them. Let's say you've been a freelancer, and now you're starting a company or you're going to go into partnership with somebody, you're building a new entity. You could talk to the people around you that know you, friends, family. You could do a survey that you send to your clients, people that have worked for you, and ask them to describe the experience of working with you, and what does that mean to them? And then you know, just like I said, listening and reflecting back on what, how you describe it and what you do. So you want to get that sort of 360 world view of how you do things by talking to people that have experienced it, the people that have observed it, and then yourself, the one who's live it. Okay, so get those three sort of list scenarios. And then you're going to look for congruency. You know, what is the thing that everybody is saying? Is everybody saying, oh, every time you do something, it's so personal and so warm. Every time you do something, it's so creative and yet it really satisfies my expectations. It's like you're reading my mind, right. What are the things that people are saying again and again? Or is it all over the place, and now you're realizing whoa, I need to really focus my energies and make sure that my top three things are being made clear, and my top three things are this. Right, so I'd say if you're starting out, you want to grab from the people that are around you. If you've been in business and now you're applying this a little big later on, then yes, talk to the people in your business. Find out what it is that they think is motivating, inspiring, true, maybe even not true, so that you can try to make sure that that goes to the background. Your strengths, your weaknesses. And again, create a list and then hone in that list. Look for the things that are happening and not happening. And also be aspirational, right. This is something that people you should want, you want your staff to be like, oh I want to be that. I want to grab that brass ring. I want to be somebody who can make an impact on my community, and I think I can, but I don't know if I can, but here I can. At this place, you've given me the ability to impact my community. And then make sure that they understand what that means. It doesn't mean necessarily, it might not mean you know creating a new water source in your community, it might mean you know saying let's do a race that's going to raise money for a charity in our community. You're empowered to do that, so give them some guidelines on what that means. Or it might mean just being friendly and nice or you know giving food to the guy who lived on the street corner, you know, think about ways that you can do that. And have conversations around it. I think that when you use the core values to lead your conversations with your team, it an be very, very insightful for you as an owner and also really empowering for your team members because they can see how. It's really about the how, how will I do it? How will I live it every single day?
And with the core values, should they be more outward facing, like the core values for customers, or the core values for your employees? Like is it a balance, what is that?
Well to me if you are showing your intentions, your best intentions to your employees, they're in turn going to show their best intentions to your guests, okay. So I think it really is an internal thing. Some people make the core values something that is going to be guest facing, which I think can be very cool, but if we're only speaking to our guests, we're missing out on the heart of our operation, which is the people who deliver that experience every single day. So my feelings is if you include and write for your staff, your clients by extension will be included in that. So that's the way I feel. I have a colleague who describes management in this way. Now we come from the restaurant business, he and I. And he said that when you are a server, bartender, runner, busser, cook, your guests are the people that you work for, right. I've got this person at that table, that person at that table, this is who I'm working for. When you become a manager, you're no longer working for the guests, you're working for your staff, your team members, they are your guests now because they in turn are going to take care of the people that come in every day. And I like the simplicity of that. But I think it's very true, and with those core values, you really want our team members to live them, so that our clients can feel that expression. Make sense, cool.