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What Happens When Personal Values And Corporate Values Collide

by Nate St. Pierre on November 7, 2013

Today is a recharge day for me – an unexpected day off of work my company gave as a surprise gift. I’m supposed to be doing something that feeds my soul, makes me happy, and helps me connect with who I am and who I want to be.

And that’s why I’m writing this article.

You see, I believe in the power of doing valuable work, and doing it well. For me, this can be just as energizing as a week’s vacation on a tropical beach (partly because I have a hearty dislike for tropical beaches, but stay with me).

One of the things that many of us struggle with in our careers is friction between our personal values and the corporate values of the company we work for. This is obviously going to be a major problem when the vast majority of people want to do valuable work that makes a difference, and most companies want to make a ton of money any way they can. When people don’t feel a connection to the work they do, when they feel that they spend the majority of their waking hours contributing to a cause that they don’t believe in, that’s when discouragement can eat away at a person and begin turning them into someone that they don’t want to become.

But every once in a while a company comes along that bridges the gap between how we make our living and who we want to be. I am fortunate enough to have found mine in GiveForward, where I’ve been the Director of Communications for almost a year now. In my 20-year career I have worked for a couple dozen organizations, and I can tell you with absolute conviction that I have never seen a company like this one, completely full of talented people who truly care.

Time and time again I have been floored by the compassion and generosity of the people on this team, from the founders and senior leadership all the way through to every single employee. And not only do they make me and every one of our users feel loved and appreciated and valued, but they’ve also built a thriving, profitable, growing business that literally exists to help people through their darkest times. Those of you who know me well know that I am pretty reserved with my praise, but I will positively gush about GiveForward if given the opportunity. Other companies work to create beautiful products, but here at GiveForward I feel like we get to work to create beautiful people. I get to live my purpose – to change the world.

I think the reason GiveForward has been able to collect some of the best people around is because they offer something very few other companies can: a chance make a direct connection between your personal values and your corporate values . . . the work that you do every day. The really great organizations can help answer this question for their employees: “Why do I get out of bed in the morning, and why should anyone care?” (For a more detailed breakdown of what this means and how it works, check out Simon Sinek’s TED Talk here, especially from the 2:00-3:00 mark.)

If this sounds just a bit too fluffy or abstract, let me show you how it works in practice, with mission and value statements written down (and yes, if you really want to be who you say you want to be, it helps to write these things down).

Why (our purpose): Empower Compassion
How (the way we do it): Create Unexpected Joy
What (what we produce): The world’s #1 fundraising site for medical expenses

Why (my purpose): Change the World
How (the way I do it): Make a positive impact in the lives of the people around me
What (what I produce): Projects that change people’s lives on an individual level

It’s easy to see that the work I do in my day job lines up beautifully with the kind of work I want to be doing in my life. I can’t speak for everyone in the company, but I would venture to say that this kind of alignment exists with almost everyone at GiveForward. When you tie that kind of value to the work you do every day, incredible things will happen. But you don’t have to take my word for it; you can see for yourself. I ran through the “Why” and “How” pretty quickly above, but take a look at the “What” it produces below:

I could go on for a while with this stuff, but I’ll stop there and simply say this: so many companies tack on value statements to the product-driven work that they already do, but only here at GiveForward and at a few other companies have I seen the organization stand for something incredible, and truly live what it believes. I love that when I’m working here, not only do I get to change the world every single day, but I know that I can always stand up for what is right, and the rest of the team and the entire business will have my back no matter what. I am incredibly proud of the valuable work we do.

This is what it means to succeed in business and in life. And of all people, I think that Conan has summed it up the best in his Tonight Show goodbye:

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