Core Values: What They Are & How to Develop Yours

Core Values Stacy Kessler.001.jpeg

Values = Culture

Your core values are the heartbeat of your business. Defining these are like putting a stake in the ground and saying to the world, This is who we are and what you can expect from us! It also says to your team and collaborators, If these resonate with you, you want to stick with us and conversely, If you can’t get on board with these, you’re not right for us.

Whether you’re flying solo, managing lots of employees, or collaborating with other organizations, you’re gonna wanna have your values clearly defined.

I think they’re so important, I’ve dubbed them a Meaningful Mantra (along with mission, purpose, and vision). If you get these four confused or aren’t clear on why your business needs them, checkout my article, Mission, Purpose, Vision, Values: What, Why & Examples

Related Resources: How to Write a Killer Mission Statement + Examples (free download below)

What are Core Values

Your core values are the culture of your organization.

They should:

  • Be guiding principles for how your business and its people will conduct itself both internally and externally.

  • Get everyone on the same page with how your organization operates.

  • Assist with recruiting and partnering with others by working only with people with whom these values resonate and ensuring they are aligned to operating in this way.

  • Demonstrate how your people will cohesively work towards your mission, purpose, and vision.

If you, your staff, or your partners are out of alignment with these values, it will not feel like you are doing the right things in the right way. These should be baked into everyone’s gut and be their guide on how to operate. If you follow these values you should feel proud about how you show up to work ever day.

Core Values Examples


Purpose Driven: Everyone has unique gifts and a burning desire to do something positive with it. We just have to take the time to listen and learn about what that is and then be courageous in running after it. If we are intentional, we can all use business for good. Though making money is important, work is never only about the money.

Anything is Possible: Never settle for the status quo. Dream big, but then do something about it. Encourage and support other’s big dreams. If no one has done it, then it’s your time. If you’re fearful, it means you’re headed in the right direction. All people are ordinary until they do extraordinary things. We all have the ability, but we have to believe and operate outside our comfort zone regularly. If you’re not making mistakes, push further.

Have the Right Priorities: Work is important, but God and family come first. Regular time off for rest and rejuvenation is a must. Never forget why you’re doing this work in the first place. We are more productive when we are intentional about how we spend our working hours. Fewer, but more important priorities are better than long to-do lists.

Never Stop Exploring: Be curious, be creative, be experimental. Never stop learning, never stop growing, never stop self-reflecting. It’s important to invest time and money into personal and professional growth. Schedule time to be creative, reflect, and do strategic work.

Knock Their Socks Off: Always strive for delivering amazing customer experiences. Be a student of your clients - learning continually through listening, feedback, and observation. Take criticism with grace. When failure happens, take responsibility for it and find a way to make it right. Then reflect on what you learned so you can provide a better experience next time. 


Community: Our people are what matter first and foremost. While we are here to get work done, we are human and thrive when we do not operate in isolation. Everything that we do considers our members and how it will impact the strength of our community. We care about the whole person and strive to get to know everyone both personally and professionally.

Openness: We are transparent in our plans and our decisions. We seek input, feedback, and ideas from our members, always striving to improve their experience at Platform 53. We are inclusive and welcoming. We form tight bonds and support each other, but we are proactive about welcoming new people and will not tolerate cliques.

Productive: We are a place for people to thrive and do their best work. While social connectivity is a piece of thriving, it should support and not detract from allowing people to be productive. Our environment should not just be creative, but also functional.

Collaborative: We value collaboration over competition. Everyone has unique gifts and can contribute in unique ways. When we see each other as potential collaborators instead of competitors, great things can happen. We will never ask you to sign an NDA or CDA. We encourage the sharing of ideas and finding serendipitous opportunities to work together and help each other out.

Diverse: We value diversity of skill, thought, and background. The more diverse we are, the more we can learn from each other. We believe we are greater than the sum of our parts and that increases exponentially with diversity.

For the Greater Good: We don’t believe in working just to make a living, we believe in working to make a positive change in the world. We have a desire to contribute to our community, not just take from it. We are not a place for freeloaders or hard-sellers. We welcome friendly, thoughtful, and generous human beings with a good heart that. We will be good “coworkers.”


Everything is figureoutable. No matter what we want to create or make happen, we can figure it out. Google is the world’s best free research assistant and social media allows us to connect with almost anyone on the planet to help bring our ideas to life, fast.

Intuition rules. We trust our gut over everything else. We take big risks when it feels right and turn down revenue, opportunities and partnerships that, despite looking great on paper, give us that flash of intuitive doubt.

Never create a product or service “just for the money.” The greatest profits (financial, spiritual, emotional) arise from where our deepest passions and our customers’ deepest needs are met. Every program or product we create is because we fully believe in it, it sounds like fun and we know it will make a huge difference in our customers’ lives.

Caring is the most powerful marketing strategy there is. We truly, deeply care about our customers and our larger audience. That’s why we strive to deliver 10x the value in everything we do.


Accountable: We take personal accountability for our actions and results, and focus on developing solutions and achieving results. Our word is our bond, and we keep promises and commitments made to others.

Credible: We work to constantly sustain credible, reliable, and trusted professional teams in each respective field within our areas of responsibility.

Transparent: We are dedicated to actively and openly providing information to our donors, stakeholders, and the general public. We will proactively communicate our status on all research, fundraising goals, priorities, campaigns, and deadlines.

Inclusive: We show respect for and value all individuals for their diverse backgrounds, life experiences, approaches, views, and ideas.

Visionary: We are dedicated to continuous evaluation of the future of our organization in order to address the needs of the present and the challenges of the future.

Ethical: We act with principle and integrity, not compromising the truth. We act with the highest commitment to ethical behavior in all our activities.

How to Define Your Values

STEP 1: Do a brain dump

Do a “brain dump” of the type of culture you want and the things that are important to you. How will you conduct yourself internally + externally? If you get stuck, here are some questions to help get you started. Only answer what’s helpful in identifying your values. 

  • If you were to bring on staff or partners, what specific things would you tell them are important to uphold as they represent your business?

  • If you had to let someone else run your company, what traits would you want them to have?

  • What drives you nuts about how other people do work or organizations run themselves? What is the opposite of that? 

  • If you or your company won an award for how you conduct business, what would you want the award to be for?

  • What type of approach to work do you think will best help you serve your mission and purpose and achieve your vision? 

  • What type of lifestyle do you want to live and how does that impact how you do business? 

  • What character traits do you consistently try to uphold? 

  • What things are important to you?

  • What beliefs do you have around work?

  • How do you want to conduct your business?

  • What are your non-negotiables?

  • How do you want others to describe how your organization acts?

  • What’s the type of culture you want to have?

  • What type of traits do you want to exemplify?

  • How will you conduct yourself as you run after your vision?

STEP 2: Choose faves

Once you’ve done your brain dump, I want you to mark the ones that resonate with you the most. Star, circle, or highlight - whatever you prefer.

STEP 3: Find patterns

Look at the things you marked and ask yourself what they have in common. Can any be combined? Do you see any patterns? Is there a higher level umbrella that encompasses multiple things you marked? Write a new list to capture these commonalities, patterns, and umbrella themes. You should end up with a much smaller list.

STEP 4: Choose

Choose your top 3-7 distinct and important values. Each value should be either one word or a SHORT statement (under 10 words, ideally even shorter than that). Can’t narrow it down? Ask yourself, if you were dying (sad thought, I know) and wanted to pass along the legacy of how to run a great business (or even take over yours) and you only had enough time to share 6-7 things, which would you choose?

STEP 5: Clarify your values

For each of your chosen values, write 1-2 sentences that further clarify the meaning. What would this tactically look like? Why is this so important to how you conduct yourself and your business both internally and externally?

STEP 6: Evaluate

Ask yourself if all of your core values meet the following criteria:

  • Are each of these really important to you?

  • Will they actually guide how you do work?

  • Do these align with your beliefs?

  • Can you stick to these?

  • Will they help you work towards your mission, purpose, and vision?

  • Will you feel good about how you work by following these principles?

  • If you were in a tough situation, would these help you make a decision on what to do?

  • Would you feel confident having someone represent you knowing that they were following these values (skills aside)?

  • Will they guide how you conduct yourself internally (the work you do, staff, collaborations, etc.)?

  • Will they guide how you conduct yourself externally (with clients, partners, etc.)?

If any of these criteria aren’t met, rewrite them so that they do and then check it again.

STEP 6: Use ‘Em!

Memorize your values, hang them where you can see it, share them with your team and collaborators, add it to your job descriptions, onboarding manual, and employee reviews, and refer to them when you’re in a tough situation and aren’t sure how to handle it.


Your core values are the culture of your organization and are guiding principles for how your business and its people will conduct itself both internally and externally.

To figure out your core values:

STEP 1: Do a brain dump

Brainstorm words and statements around the type of culture you want and the things that are important to you. How will you conduct yourself internally + externally?

STEP 2: Choose faves

Mark the ones that resonate with you the most.

STEP 3: Find patterns

Ask yourself what your favorites have in common, combine, narrow and rewrite.

STEP 4: Choose

Choose your top 3-7 distinct and important values. Each value should be either one word or a SHORT statement.

STEP 5: Clarify your values

For each of your chosen values, write 1-2 sentences that further clarify the meaning and describe what this would this practically look like as you do business.

(Check out Step 6 above for a checklist of what makes good core values and Step 7 on how these could be used in your organization).

Other Meaningful Mantras

Core values are one of the four important Meaningful Mantras that guide the who, what, how, and why of your business. Mission, purpose, and vision are the others. If you don’t already have a clear, compelling, and memorable mission statement that guides your work, download my free guide, How to Write a Killer Mission Statement + Examples below.



stacy kessler - pathfinding strategist

Hey There!

I’m Stacy Kessler, an entrepreneur, strategist, and adventurer dedicated to helping you figure out how to craft a unique, compelling, and profitable business you love around your expertise and passion.

You are meant to do important and amazing things in this world and I’m here to help you do just that.


You might also be interested in these articles

You don’t want to miss this.

Sign up to get these strategy articles delivered to your inbox every Wednesday.