My Values

Core ValuesMy mission at Gefjon’s Gifts is Embracing Your Values, Serving Your Business. I spend a lot of time talking about how important your values are to running a successful business that fits into your life and fulfills your personal needs. As a small business owner, it’s just as important for me. I thought you might like to know a little bit about Gefjon’s Gifts values and why they are so important to me. I wrote these with some potential future in which GG isn’t just little ol’ me so please forgive all of the “royal we’s”.

It’s Personal – At Gefjon’s Gifts it’s always personal. We put people first. Clients, their employees, their customers, and the public interest is at the core of everything we do. Above all we are respectful.

At the tender age of 42, I’ve spent more than 2 decades working for various small, medium and large businesses. One of the most reliable indicators for how happy (and therefore productive) I have been at any of them is how well everyone was treated. When you put people first it shows.

Keep On Learning – You can always rely on change. While some tools that help people succeed in business seem constant, others evolve or dissipate completely. We strive to learn all about them so we can help people navigate changing landscapes.

I love technology. I know, it’s weird. I recognize that it comes with a lot of pain points but as long as we are still putting people first I don’t think there is anything to fear. I was going to keep on learning about this stuff one way or the other. I may as well tell you it’s something I find very important and valuable 🙂

Always Mean It – We mean what we say and we say what we mean. We are sincere in our dealings with everyone and candid about our capabilities. We won’t always be a good fit. You won’t always like our advice. We won’t always be able to offer what you need. If you need to look elsewhere, we will try to help you find the right resource.

People lie. People also say things they think are true but it turns out they aren’t. I might be a little too literal at times. It’s just really important to me that my word has weight always meaning it is my final core value.

So those are my values. I welcome your feedback. What are your values?

Can you Relate?

59424639 - casual people activities frame graphic conceptI watched “You’ve Got Mail” yesterday. Ok, that sounds weird to me. In truth, it was on the TV while I meal and grocery planned for the week. When you’ve seen a movie approximately 1 zillion times it’s the same thing. In my favorite scene (when Meg is sick) Tom says opening a store that put her small book shop out of business “wasn’t personal.” After an awesome tirade Meg says, “Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.” Fucking A! You go with your bad self, Meg. I think everything is personal. It’s a big reason I believe developing your values is important. We are persons after all.

You are a person with a business. You have business plans. You have loads of stuff to do. There is someone else with needs and plans in this equation, the customer. Are you relating to them? Are you thinking about what they need? Are you making it personal? Have you told them about it? When you are busting your rear to get things done it’s easy to forget to build customer relationships. The great news is that when love what you are doing and love your customer it’s easy to correct. Check out one way in my work with Pagan Pride LA/OC we have started building more of these relationships.

I am absolutely thrilled to be a member of the Pagan Pride LA/OC coordinator team. As a non-profit organization without a tangible product, they struggle to make ends meet each year. While sitting at the table discussing fundraising I got to thinking about customers. While not a traditional consumer relationship Pagan Pride surely has customers. They have several types of customers who are all interested in different products. Vendors are seeking access to customers/supporters. Presenters and performers are seeking exposure. Attendees are seeking goods, information, and entertainment. All of these things are what they seek from Pagan Pride one day of the year. So I asked myself, can we give it to them better? Is it possible for Pagan Pride to offer this year round? Can we gain additional financial support in return?

I developed the Pagan Pride Sponsorship program as a response to these very questions. What value can we offer our customers? How can we deepen our relationships? A keystone of the sponsorship program is the monthly newsletter. It gives each member of the audience a glimpse of Pagan Pride Day once a month. Pagan Pride LA/OC also has a healthy social media network. It offers an opportunity to help vendors and presenters get their work in front of pagans who want to hear about it. The sponsorship program is a successful fledgling. I’m hopeful that as long as we keep our customers’ needs at the center of the offering it will flourish.

  1. Who are your customers? be specific.
  2. What sort of relationship do you want to build with them?
    • Expertise, friendship, levity?
  3. How do they talk to you?
    • What language style? formal, casual, profanity?
    • What channel(s)? email, in person, social media?
  4. When are they available?

By answering these questions and creating a relationship building action plan you can develop stronger customer relationships and in turn a stronger business that is of service to people.

By Kandy Crenshaw

What do you value?

11679254_sOur personal values aren’t just the things that are important to us. They tell us why we do the things we do. They point to our goals. They give us a map to creating a satisfying life. Let me repeat that. Living your values creates a satisfying life.  What happens when we live someone else’s values? I can’t tell you definitely, but I know that I didn’t find it satisfying. The people whose values I had borrowed didn’t seem impressed either.

Here is an exercise that has been successful for me. I’ve shared it here to help you find your core values.

Step 1) First we make a list. The list-makers whoop and the seat-of-the-pantsers groan. Don’t worry, there is a little something for everyone. Back to our list…

  • Make a list of things you like to do. I mean really like to do. The things that put you in a better mood. The things that make you happy.  Don’t be squeamish this list is for your eyes only.
  • Add to the list the things you really dislike but you do them out of obligation or need. Hey there are lots of things we don’t like to do. I hate pretty much ALL housework. Don’t analyse it just put it on the list.
  • Now add things about you that make you feel proud of yourself. Everything from T-ball championships to salsa dancing prowess. What do you want the world to know about you?
  • Now let’s add things you aren’t proud of. What do you do that embarrasses you? We are often taught that the things we love are bad.  Forget about judgments for a bit and just put the things on the list that you would be embarrassed for most people to know.

Do you need a break? If you aren’t used to asking yourself questions like this you might be feeling overwhelmed. Now is a good time to go do one of those things you love. When you feel relaxed and ready to dig a little more the list will be waiting.

Step 2) Read through the list. Is it a reasonably complete picture of you? If your 40 hour a week job, beloved beta fish, or obsession with Dr Who aren’t included now is the time to add them. Wow, that one was easy!

Step 3) Here is a list of things that people might consider their values. It certainly isn’t all of them and some might be the opposite of what you find valuable. Most are pretty generic so feel free to improvise (finally a bit for the seat-of-the-pantsers) or get specific. Categorize each item on the list. Sit with it. Think on it. What does this list of things say about what you value most in life?

  • Why do you love to take walks? Is it the exercise, the natural world, the peace and quiet, maybe all three?
  • Why do you vacuum the floor when you hate doing it? Is it to keep your home healthy, avoid the censure of others, so it looks nice? Consider all of your possible motives.
  • Why are you proud of that T-ball trophy? Is it a connection to youth, the pleasure of a family experience, or maybe the beginning of your physical prowess.
  • Why are you embarrassed that you can quote every line of every season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Is it the perception of geekdom, or that you can remember that but can never find your car keys, or maybe a sign that you are disconnected from current popular culture?  (Whatevs, Buffy will always be relevant)

Are you broken yet? Seriously. That was a lot of hard thinking about things we are usually not asked to think about. Great job! Need another break? Maybe take one of those awesome walks.

Step 4) Clarify your Values. Now we want to drill down to the things that are the most important to us. You can start by listing the values the come up several times. It might take some additional introspection.  Do your interests in reading and cooking both feed your innate curiosity? Does your job and your volunteer work make you feel useful? I think this is a good time to remind yourself that there are no bad values. Remember that you are doing this work to help create a life that is satisfying to YOU. Here are some additional guidelines to help you condense the list.

  • Shoot for 4 to 6 values but don’t throw out anything that is important.
  • A value can be broad or narrow and the only thing that matters is your interpretation.
  • There is no need to write them for others understanding.
  • If you have 42 core values and they are each distinct and valuable that’s cool. You do you, boo.

Step 5) Celebrate. Look at these important things that make you who you are and enjoy the self discovery.

Did you celebrate? I do mean actually celebrate. Do something tangible and memorable. If you can’t rejoice in the things that inspire your life it will be pretty hard to walk the walk. Celebrate who you are. Go on.

Step 6) It’s time to take stock and make a plan.

  • What do you do to feed each value? What would you like to do? Are there things that you can do more of?
  • What are you doing that doesn’t nurture your values? It can be hard to walk away from these things. It might help to think about making space for someone who will love it. Create an exit plan that fits with your values and you won’t go wrong. Sure, not everyone will love it. You aren’t creating a satisfying life for someone else.
  • Use your values as a yardstick for everything you do.

 

Now for the somewhat tricky part. Our values change with our life experiences. Today’s value of physical prowess may become tomorrow’s value of well being.  Today’s financial stability could turn into tomorrow’s generosity. Be prepared to reevaluate so you can stay true to yourself.

 

Breaking the Busy, Finding the Bliss

 

23191707 - life work balance actIt can be hard for pagans to seek satisfaction in the mainstream world. What we hold dear differs from what media says should be important to us. American culture tells us that we must want more things and do more things. We are expected to strive for the title that comes with the biggest office and highest paycheck.  These ideas (and others) that aren’t our own saturate our thoughts. They keep us busy without supporting our quest for happiness and satisfaction. We work hard but fail to discover our bliss.

If you want to be productive, setting aside your work seems counter-intuitive. The truth we fail to recognize is that busy doesn’t equal productive. We all dislike busy work and avoid it at all costs. How do you define busy work? Is busy work tasks that aren’t essential for survival? No one needs to play music, dance, or write blog posts like this one.  Does busy work simply consist of things you dislike?  For me, that would be laundry, homework, and making the bed. We probably agree that busy work consists of things that we feel wastes our time. If this is the case, there is only one way to avoid it. We must identify the things that are important and therefore worthy of our time. Identifying them requires that we make the time to step back and contemplate. The business of introspection, gathering our thoughts, is the key to bliss. 

A satisfying and passionate life is built upon our personal values. To put it simply, a person’s values are the aspects of their life that are the most important. These are things like family, good health, learning, creating, helping others, or career. We all deal with outside influences that can skew our sense of values.  Our culture, our families, and our spiritual paths all provide guidelines. That doesn’t mean we can adopt them in their entirety. Each person has to determine their own priorities. It can take some time to sort through the noise. If you need guidance in determining your personal values look to things you like to do. You might also start by mapping how you spend your time.  Once you know your core values, you can take the step of working to support them. Knowing that your tasks feed something important creates satisfaction.  Your work becomes productivity and the resulting product is your life.

Let’s acknowledge that there are things we must do that we will never love to do. This isn’t going to change by understanding your values. For instance, you might dislike your weekly call with a relative but value family connections. In those cases, you keep doing the unpleasant task. What changes is your acknowledgment that this inconvenient thing is important to you? There are also tasks for basic survival that must be accomplished. We all require food, shelter, warmth, sleep, and safety to function. Our values can inform how we acquire these things. If creatively expressing yourself is something you value then in our modern world you find a way to obtain your basic needs through creative work. Alternatively, you find work that allows you to fill your needs and gives you the time and opportunity to pursue your passions elsewhere. Your values eliminate wasted time by giving meaning to even the most basic of tasks.

I challenge you to take the time needed to determine your values. Set aside the things you think you have to do.  You will then discover the life that you were born to lead. You will find all of the passion you need and fulfill your purpose.