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A business without core values isn’t truly a functional, efficient business. Think about it – how can you build great teams, deliver excellent customer service, and foster innovation if you haven’t developed a benchmark of how you build such things? 

Having clear company values helps you focus on what’s important, hire the right people, and ensure all of your employees are working toward the same goals. Whenever a challenge occurs within your company or with a client, your core values should be at the forefront. 

The best company core values shape your company culture and drive decisions on your business strategy. It can even shape your unique company value proposition. To create purpose, commitment, and cohesion within your company, core values should lead you every step of the way.


Ultimately, having core values within your business helps make you a better leader. In Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why, he dives deep into why some companies succeed and others fail. The ones that succeed have purpose oozing out of every employee, business decision, and marketing campaign. The ones that don’t? They focus on WHAT they do, not WHY they do it.

You’ve probably heard the phrase as an entrepreneur that, “No employee is going to care about your business as much as you do.” 

That may be true. But having a purpose inspires your employees to work toward something bigger than themselves. The purpose is undeniably critical for employee satisfaction. 

An Imperative survey of LinkedIn members found 73% of purpose-oriented members are satisfied in their jobs, compared to 64% who are not purpose-oriented.

Plus, purpose doesn’t just improve employee satisfaction — it also increases your bottom line. The same Imperative survey found 58% of companies with a clearly articulated and understood purpose experienced growth of +10%, compared to just 42% of companies that don’t prioritize purpose.

Developing core values is a big part of a company’s purpose and is vital for a long-lasting, successful, and motivating place to work. 


For a second, consider what a company is. “A company is a culture,” says Simon Sinek in his book. “A group of people brought together around a common set of values and beliefs. It’s not products or services that bind a company together. It’s not the size or might that makes a company strong. It’s the culture — the strong sense of beliefs and values that everyone, from the CEO to the receptionist, all share.”

“So the logic follows,” Sineck continues, “the goal is to not hire people who simply have the skills you need, the goal is to hire people who believe what you believe.”

As long as someone has the basic set of skills you’re looking for, you should be asking them questions during the interview process to dig deeper into their why, their motivation, their values, and how they work on a soft-skills level. You can teach most people anything if they are open to learning. Sometimes, it’s even better if they don’t have an in-depth methodology because then you can sculpt how they produce work. Hence the reason why some companies dislike hiring people with MBAs is because they have a stereotype of all thinking similarly. 


Consider one of American Express’s company values — “Customer Commitment.” This is a general, yet impactful, value that guides their focus. If you’re a customer of American Express, you’ve probably experienced this value in action.

Alternatively, check out one of Google’s values — “Focus on the user and all else will follow.” If you’ve used Google before, you know that they truly stand by this purpose. How often do you have to go to page 2 on your Google search to find what you were looking for? Rarely, right? That’s the focus. 

Below is a list of Company core values examples to help get you started.

1. American Express

Customer Commitment: We develop relationships that make a positive difference in our customers’ lives.

Quality: We provide outstanding products and unsurpassed service that, together, deliver premium value to our customers.

Integrity: We uphold the highest standards of integrity in all of our actions.

Teamwork: We work together, across boundaries, to meet the needs of our customers and to help our Company win.

Respect for People: We value our people, encourage their development and reward their performance.

Good Citizenship: We are good citizens in the communities in which we live and work.

A Will to Win: We exhibit a strong will to win in the marketplace and in every aspect of our business.

Personal Accountability: We are personally accountable for delivering on our commitments.

As stated earlier, the biggest value and the one American Express is most known for, is their customer commitment. They have historically always gone above and beyond for their customers. 

For instance, Raymond Joabar, the Executive Vice President at American Express, recently told this story in a Forbes interview: “One time, a hotel café manager [an Amex merchant] alerted my team that he had accidentally sold a display cake with harmful chemicals and needed to find the customers before they ate it. Obviously, there’s no procedure for that, but our team took ownership of the problem. They gathered all the information they could from the record of charge, identified 21 Card Members who used their cards at the café during that time frame, reviewed the accounts to find the right match, and then called the Card Member in time before they served the cake at an anniversary party.”

“The important point here,” Joabar noted, “other than that everybody ended up safe and sound — is that there isn’t a script for every situation, so we empower our care professionals to do what’s right for the customer. And we recognize what they do with this empowerment as well. We give awards to employees who go above and beyond to help customers and we share their stories across the company.”

This exemplifies American Express’s commitment, and their employees’ commitment, to their customer’s success, even when it’s not an easy task. 

2. Google

Focus on the user and all else will follow.

It’s best to do one thing really, really well.

Fast is better than slow.

Democracy on the web works.

You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.

You can make money without doing evil.

There’s always more information out there.

The need for information crosses all borders.

You can be serious without a suit.

Great just isn’t good enough.

My favorite value on here, and one I’ve incorporated into my own company, Nolia Roots: You can make money without doing evil. 

I fully believe this. Firstly, many people, especially women, feel “icky” when talking about money. Money and wealth don’t innately make you a bad person. However, from Google’s standpoint, if you gain that money by unethical means, that can destroy a company’s trust and culture. 

Google explains on its philosophy page, “We don’t allow ads to be displayed on our results pages unless they are relevant where they are shown … We don’t accept pop–up advertising, which interferes with your ability to see the content you’ve requested … [and] Advertising on Google is always clearly identified as a ‘Sponsored Link,’ so it does not compromise the integrity of our search results.”

3. Coca-Cola

Leadership: The courage to shape a better future.

Collaboration: Leverage collective genius.

Integrity: Be real.

Accountability: If it is to be, it’s up to me.

Passion: Committed in heart and mind.

Diversity: As inclusive as our brands.

Quality: What we do, we do well.

Coca-Cola demonstrates its diversity core value with its public Global Diversity Mission page, which lists the company’s diversity-related efforts, such as, “[collecting employee] feedback through formal surveys and informally through their participation in our business resource groups, various diversity education programs and our Resolution Resources Program, where associates can work to resolve issues they face in our Company.”

4. Whole Foods

We Satisfy And Delight Our Customers — Our customers are the lifeblood of our business and our most important stakeholder. We strive to meet or exceed their expectations on every shopping experience.

We Promote Team Member Growth And Happiness — Our success is dependent upon the collective energy, intelligence, and contributions of all of our Team Members.

We Care About Our Communities And The Environment — We serve and support a local experience. The unique character of each store is a direct reflection of a community’s people, culture, and cuisine.

We Practice Win-Win Partnerships With Our Suppliers — We view our trade partners as allies in serving our stakeholders. We treat them with respect, fairness, and integrity – expecting the same in return.

If you’ve ever been to Whole Foods, you know they’re serious about their efforts to reduce waste and help the local community. It’s part of the reason so many customers are brand loyalists — because they support those efforts, too.

Whole Foods provides a list of environmentally-friendly efforts they’ve practiced since 1980, including “Printing and packaging using recycled paper and water- or vegetable-based, composting to decrease landfill waste, and no single-use plastic bags at checkout since 2008”.

5. Apple Company Mission, Vision, and Values

Apple is a very important example of how companies that first start with their why, follow with their how, and finish with their what will always beat the competition. 

Apple’s mission is “to bringing the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services.” And in a manifesto dated 2009 Tim Cook set the vision specified as “We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing.”

Why is Apple so much more popular than Dell? Dell starts with their WHAT while Apple starts with their WHY. Dell is a computer company. Apple is an innovation company. If Apple marketed themselves like Dell, it’d sound a bit like this:

We make great computers.

They’re beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly.

Wanna buy one? 

Not too compelling, huh? That’s because this is starting with the WHAT. What makes an impression and creates that feeling that Apple is just better than any other company out there is because Apple starts with its WHY. Like this: 

Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.

The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly. 

And we happen to make great computers. 

Wanna buy one? 

This is the reason if Apple made a car, people wouldn’t think twice and jump on the opportunity of innovation. If Dell tried to make a car… I have a feeling it’d be a dud. Just like when Dell tried to make an mp3 player.  

Apple’s full vision statement was explained back in 2009 by Tim Cook when Steve Jobs was on medical leave. Check it out below:

“We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing. We are constantly focusing on innovating. We believe in the simple, not the complex. We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products that we make and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution. We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us. We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot. And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change. And I think regardless of who is in what job those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well.”

This vision sets in stone some key company values and beliefs that Apple lives by:

Making great products

Focusing on innovation

Simplicity in place of complexity

Control the primary technologies behind Apple’s products

Focus on a few key projects

Excellence as the standard

Essentially, a company’s vision is its WHY and its missions and core values are its HOW. The actual product serves as a company’s WHAT.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or need a revamp in your messaging, take time to develop those core values for your business, share them with your employees, and find ways to weave them into every part of your day. The last part is important! I see too many companies build their core values because they heard they needed to then completely ignore them.


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