Forget Your Core Values

“We’ve moved from core values to virtues,” said Mike, the founder’s executive assistant, as we walked to the CEO’s office.

“I don’t understand. Booster has been the epicenter of a values-based business for as long as I have known you guys. Chris, your founder, is the one founder and CEO I would go to if I had questions on this topic. Now you are telling me he’s moved on from values?”

Mike responded, “Chris has been working on this for over a year. He presented our virtues at the most recent Booster University to all of our leadership teams from around the nation.”

“Why did he move from promoting values to promoting virtues?” I asked Mike.

At that moment, Chris Carneal, the founder and CEO, walked into the room. He entered through the glass doors which looked out on an expansive work area. Above this area is a digital count up sign which can be clearly seen by Chris and everybody else. Since inception, Booster has helped elementary schools all over America raise close to $300mm (and counting).

What makes Chris go.

I heard Chris speak for the first time on values-based companies at a Ron Blue Trust event held for their clients who are CEOs. He clearly demonstrated three of his company’s core values at the meeting.

His enthusiasm was electric, crazy electric. He is like a cheerleader at a Georgia-Florida game.

He also showed his leadership and, by virtue of his accepting this speaking engagement, his love of community. I would learn later of the other two core values of integrity and results.

I never heard a CEO articulate an organization’s core values with such clarity. It was like a religious experience. These core values were Booster’s core values because they were Chris’ core values. When he spoke on a core value, you knew he lived it because he had one personal story after the next for each of them. They were not just some inspiring words beautifully displayed in his office’s reception area.

Now it is all about virtues?

“So why the move from core values to virtues?” I asked Chris.

“As Booster grew into a nationwide fundraiser for elementary schools, the employee base exploded. I found more and more of the team couldn’t articulate the core values. It appeared to me they were becoming words on a wall and not something we live by. In a word, the core values were not actionable. And this really bothered me.”

“Not actionable? Of course not. They are values. Values are all about what you value at your core. Values drive the decisions you make and explain why you make them,” I said. “I agree with you.”

“But as we grew the company, core values weren’t enough to keep all the employees behaving consistently in our interactions with each other and our customers. I was concerned it may even change our customers’ delivery experience. So after a lot of thought and prayer, I came up with this idea of virtues,” Chris explained.

“Virtues are something all of us at Booster can easily understand and aspire to each day. They speak to how we behave as individuals. Because they are actionable, we can recognize people in the act of practicing one of these virtues and reward their behavior. When we get together in our Advance Meetings (Chris refuses to call them retreats), we can celebrate the people who best exemplify a virtue,” he continued.

Here are the virtues Booster now promotes and practices:

  • Gratitude
  • Wisdom
  • Care
  • Courage
  • Grit
  • Celebration

As an example, Chris talked to me about wisdom. He said, “You can read a book in search of wisdom in a certain area. And you will gain wisdom. You will also receive wisdom from an experience you have with a new Parent Teacher Association you are dealing with. But you will never come to the end of seeking wisdom. This is true for each of these virtues. They must be practiced each day by each of us at Booster.”

From values to virtues.

I was skeptical.

It seemed gimmicky.

But I walked out of his office convinced. I believe Chris is right on moving from core values to virtues for his fast growth, geographically-dispersed organization. Although he and the earlier team members understood the core values, the newer people are all about practicing the Booster Virtues.

These virtues will be discussed and celebrated at every customer event and at every company meeting. Everyone will know the heart of Booster by experiencing how the team members practice and exemplify these virtues each and every day, in each and every encounter.

As Chris was escorting me out the front door, he went back to one of my earlier questions: “You asked how we moved from core values to virtues.” He then gave me a red Booster tee shirt, a coffee cup, and a wristband with the virtues listed. In addition to the virtues, each item displayed the letters CTW or Change the World!

This is his raison de vivre.

Chris is a thought leader. I am willing to follow.

How about you? What are the virtues you embrace at your company? Please share in the comments. Let’s join Chris and move from core values to virtues.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

2 thoughts on “Forget Your Core Values

  1. Would have loved to see a video on Chris to see if I’d buy into virtues or would I just consider it semantics! The virtue/value that I think makes the biggest impact is integrity & accountability which I’ve always defined as doing what you say you will do even if it hurts (or is unprofitable).

  2. I have interviewed only one time in the 14 years since graduating college and it was with Booster after Stephen Murray contacted me about a job opening they had. I didn’t get the job, but I still think about the interview experience from time to time. It was great… and that is coming from someone they ultimately passed on. Back in 2013 I could tell Booster did a lot of stuff right. It looks like that certainly hasn’t changed.

    I keep a list of people I have interacted with over the years that one day I hope to hire for my own company when the time and revenue is right. He probably has long forgotten who I am, nor would he probably be interested in leaving, but I still have Stephen Murray on that list. I only met Chris during the interview itself but he was very engaged and could tell he started/ran a great operation.

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