What Are Your Core Values?

Many marketers called the commercial “brilliant,” “effective,” and even “inspirational.”

I say it took the easy way out.

You know the one I’m talking about — the Nike commercial that ran right before the Masters Golf Tournament. Where Tiger Woods somberly looks into the camera as his father’s voice asks him what he’d learned, blah, blah, blah…

Didn’t it seem a bit like prostitution on Tiger’s part? Sacrificing his self-respect and what’s left of his reputation for a few bucks?

And did he really have to drag his dead father into his personal mess? Isn’t it bad enough that he’s sold out almost every other person in his life, including his beautiful wife and children, his business partners, and his friends?

We could debate Tiger’s motivations until the cows come home. The bigger issue here is Nike’s decision to make that commercial. It raises the question…

Who’s the Bigger Schmuck — Tiger or Nike?

My answer: Nike, by a mile!

It would have been so easy for Nike to do a commercial that eliminated Tiger from the equation — a commercial that really had a lesson for young athletes.

So, Nike, here is an idea. (Feel free to use it!) How about a commercial with Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning, and Pete Sampras on a beautiful golf course — all dressed in Nike attire and talking about what’s important in life… things like family, charity, and the environment?

Now that would have been a brilliant, effective, and inspirational commercial — one that would drive home one of the big lessons we hardworking parents try to instill in our children every day.

My nine-year-old son Connor loves playing baseball more then anything. If he is disrespectful — to anyone — Connor gets his baseball-playing privileges taken away. And during the Masters, Connor actually said, “Boy, I can’t believe Tiger gets to play after he hurt all those people.”

Now I’m not saying Tiger should have been prevented from playing in the Masters. But I do question Nike’s decision to glorify him in that commercial.

It offends me. Not just as a mom but as a businesswoman.

And it makes me wonder what Nike considers to be its core values.

Core values are the foundation of a company’s mission statement — a formal, short, written statement of purpose that every organization should have.

What Is a Mission Statement — and Why Does Your Business Need One?

In a nutshell, a mission statement answers the question “Why does this company exist?”
And if you do not have one for your business, I urge you to write one immediately.

Once you do, you will find that your customers understand you better. You will begin working only with joint venture partners who share your beliefs. All of your employees will have a better understanding of their purpose in your organization. And you will find that it is much easier to know how to run your business (including knowing whether an advertising campaign is appropriate!).

This is the mission statement for my company, Working Moms Only:

“Our mission is to supply the tools that can give EVERY working mom the ability to lead a healthy, wealthy, and more balanced/blended lifestyle. To create a community where millions of working moms from all over the world come together in support and celebration of each other.”

It’s simple and it’s sincere. And everyone I do business with gets it — instantly.

If you’ve never developed a mission statement before, here are a few things it may address:

  • A definition of what your company is and does
  • What your company aspires to be
  • What features/characteristics distinguish your company from its competitors
  • Your company’s ideology and visionary goals
  • The products and/or services your company offers

Your mission statement should be specific and narrow enough that it couldn’t apply to just any company… but it should be flexible enough to allow for growth and change. It must also be clear and easy for potential clients, partners, and employees to understand (i.e., no buzz words or industry jargon).

Core Values — the Foundation of Your Mission Statement

As I said, a company’s core values are the foundation of its mission statement. So before you can lay out the mission statement itself, you have to identify those core values.

Core values are NOT descriptions of the actual work you do. Rather, they give you guidance in the way you go about  your work, how you interact with others, and the strategies you choose to use to fulfill your mission.

Core values:

  • Clarify who you are
  • Articulate what you stand for
  • Help explain why you do business the way you do
  • Guide you in making decisions

These are the core values of Working Moms Only:

  • We are committed to enhancing our customers’ financial, intellectual, and physical wellbeing.
  • We continually strive for excellence in all of our products and services.
  • We partner with only those who share our customer-centric commitment.
  • We strive to provide a workplace that operates in the best interests of our employees’ professional and personal growth.

Once you have written down your mission statement and core values, post them. Post them in a spot where everyone who walks into your office or visits your website can see them.

Review them on a regular basis with your employees and partners. And always make sure when you bring in a new employee that they know this is what you stand for and why you are in business.

Of course, writing a mission statement and core values is not enough. What matters is living those words on a daily basis.

With the help of these tools, you will always know what to do — from which companies to partner with to which products to design to how you communicate with your customers.

You will never find yourself making questionable business decisions (like Nike did with that Tiger Woods commercial). The right decisions will be made for you.

[Ed. Note: One of the concepts that was repeated again and again at ETR’s recent 5 Days in July Internet Business Building Conference was how the core values you base your business on will determine whether your customers come to know and trust you enough to ensure your long-term success.

But that’s not all attendees learned. They got a complete education in the Agora Model — the formula that brings in millions every year for Agora Inc., Early to Rise, and hundreds of other Internet businesses. E-mail marketing, copywriting, search engine optimization, pay-per-click ads… it was all covered, and much more. If you couldn’t be there in person, now there’s a way for you to learn those very same business-building secrets… at your convenience. We filmed every minute of the Conference, so you can watch it in the comfort of your own home.

MaryEllen Tribby, ETR’s former publisher and CEO, followed her lifelong dream and started a new company, Working Moms Only, to help women balance work and family life. Keep an eye out for her columns in ETR on the challenges facing working moms, on marketing, business building, and more. And check out the Working Moms Only website and sign up for her free e-letter, here.]


Mary Ellen Tribby

MaryEllen Tribby is a business consultant and coach to entrepreneurs in the information publishing and digital marketing arena. She led Early to Rise from May 2006 to January 2010 as Publisher & CEO. She has also served as President of Weiss Research, managing divisions of Forbes, Globe Communications, Times Mirror Magazines and Crain’s New York Business. She currently heads up The CEO's Edge and WorkingMomsOnly.com.