How to Craft a Company Around Clear-Eyed Core Values

For this post in our corporate values series, our founder and CEO Greg Segall discusses the meaning behind our values and how we live them here at Alyce.

Alyce Core Values

This blog post is the second in Alyce’s three-part series on corporate values. In this post, our founder and CEO Greg Segall discusses the meaning behind our values and how we live them here at Alyce.

This is a story about something that makes Alyce uniquely Alyce: our core values.

When you build a company, values have to be at the heart of everything you do. I’ve learned this lesson. As you craft your business, you need to instill authentic values everywhere in the organization, from each individual you hire to how you support customers to why you choose to work with different partners and investors. And that’s exactly what we’ve done here at Alyce.

As you craft your business, you need to instill authentic values everywhere in the organization, from each individual you hire to how you support customers to why you choose to work with different partners and investors. And that’s exactly what we’ve done here at Alyce.

Crafting Alyce’s Four Core Values

I believe deeply that corporate values need to be documented clearly and demonstrated continuously to become habitual and effective. So, as we began Alyce, we put a great amount of thought into the way we define and display them.

Early in the process, we drew inspiration from other companies who have built their businesses and cultures around values. Airbnb is especially inspiring to me, and their expression of values really hits home. There was a values-centric story that stood out to me when Airbnb had grown to a point where they were ready to make their first hire – an engineer – they spent four+ months combing through applications and interviewing candidates so that they could find the perfect values-aligned fit. That sounds insane, but we realized that the core group who built Alyce would forever cement the values platform we’d build from.

At Alyce, we wanted our values to play just as significant a role. We approached the building of our values by taking our vision for the business and creating a “company way” as the plan to get there. Our vision is to humanize the corporate world, and our values have become our guide.

Here are the four Alyce Values that we landed on – each with a little gift reference/pun:

Give First, Give Consistently

Give First, Give Consistently

We believe repeated authentic interactions that deliver value create real relationships.

Be CraftyBe Crafty

We are innovative and resourceful to get the most out of everything we do.

Seize the PresentSeize the Present

We make the most of every moment, and we don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

Unwrap the Possibility

We push ourselves and each other to be our best and constantly challenge the status quo.

More Than Words

Every company is unique, and their corporate values need to be uniquely relevant to them. I advise company founders and core executive team members crafting values statements to ask themselves:

  • “What do you truly value personally?” – This in turn ensures that these values are truly authentic.
  • “How do you want to be valued externally?” – This drives the values communication plan and sets you up for success internally.
  • “How can you instill those values into the core of your business model?” – The more tied into the business the values are, the easier it is to deliver on their promise.

Corporate values need to be far more than a list of inspirational words. Individual words, like “innovation” and “excellence” have a different connotation to everyone, which is why phrases are far more impactful and definitive. People need to be able to understand them when they walk in the door as a new hire, and they need to be able to turn them into muscle memory as they grow with the company. This is the core of your culture.

We chose each phrase for our values carefully (each with a little cheesiness) around concepts that resonated with how we wanted to grow our company, and when combined together, they paint the picture of the type of individual who would “fit in” with Alyce.

Values in Action

Our values have become a guide for how everyone thinks, behaves and makes decisions as representatives of our business. This brings cohesion to the entire organization and becomes exponentially more important as you scale.

This plays out in lots of ways. Here are two snapshots of how values played a front-and-center role here at Alyce.

When Our Values Led Us to Say ‘No’

Early in our development (we’re still young!), we had a situation where a customer wanted to use our service to do generic gift blasts (spam!) to long lists of contacts rather than to support ultra-personalized thoughtfulness at scale. We were working to build a company founded on the idea of creating meaningful moments and personal interactions by giving not only highly relevant gifts, but the power of choice – Alyce gift recipients always have the option to accept the AI-selected gift, exchange for another gift, or donate their gift value. So, this usage just felt… wrong. Honestly, it was difficult, especially because it was a very large contract staring us in the face. We had long internal discussions over a couple of days and ultimately made the decision to walk away because this request didn’t align with our vision and core value of Give First, Give Consistently. Holding true to this has been critical as we’ve really defined a new approach to helping our customers invest in business relationships, not exacerbating what we believe is “bad” outreach behavior.

Caroline, Phi, and Nina string together hundreds of origami humming birds crafted by all of our employees

When Our Values Became Art

We have so many examples of employees exemplifying our values. One recent story happened when our Director of Demand Generation Nina embodied our value of Be Crafty and got dozens of the Alyce team involved to Unwrap the Possibility. We had made a late decision to exhibit at a few tradeshows. Nina quickly got the Alyce team together to brainstorm ways to make our booth special. Out of that session came the bright and resourceful idea to create origami hummingbirds – as a nod to the Alyce logo. Before long, the entire Alyce team was sitting together folding origami hummingbirds for a week (including in meetings… it’s actually therapeutic) and supporting each other in this creative teamwork exercise. And this values-centered exercise paid off: tradeshow attendees kept talking about the “hummingbird booth” and sending people over to check Alyce out. Short money, tall order: an amazing display from an amazing team.

Values First, Values Consistently

For company values to really work, you and your entire team have to live and breathe them, and they have to be a real part of everyday life at your company. Values-driven magic won’t happen any other way.

For company values to really work, you and your entire team have to live and breathe them, and they have to be a real part of everyday life at your company. Values-driven magic won’t happen any other way.

At Alyce, we talk about our values constantly. We bring up our values in every interview, at every corporate meeting we conduct (even end our meetings with a “hands-in” values cheer), and in the context of major decision in the company. We make a point to highlight someone in the company every week who has embodied our values. Each week, the Alyce team member in the spotlight gets deserved recognition for their idea, behavior or decision, and the rest of the team gets to absorb another new case story in how we live our values in a real way.

I’m incredibly passionate about our values and how they drive everything we do at Alyce. I’ll be honest, I didn’t realize how important creating values were in my last company and thus, have made it the core of Alyce from day one. Our values drive everything we do, from our business model to our hiring process. This has been a key reason to why we have been able to bring together such an amazingly tight team of 87 and accomplished so much in such a short time. And the best part… we are just getting started!

In the next post in this series, I’ll hand the baton to some of our Alyce employees who will share their perspectives on our values, including how values played a role in their choice to work here, how they use our values in their roles, and why they believe having strong corporate values is so important. Stay tuned…

How do you live your values at your company? Leave a comment to continue the conversation.

May 21, 2019
Greg Segall
Greg S.
CEO

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How to Craft a Company Around Clear-Eyed Core Values

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