Since the inception of Hollstadt, our core values were lived even before they were written. Daily we would talk about “what’s the right thing to do” or how is this deal a win/win/win (client/consultant/company) and what the impact of our decisions had on each of the stakeholders. Quite often the discussion was difficult, because the expedient thing to do wasn’t always the right thing to do. Fast verses right was never in question. We did what was right.
Based on principles held dearly to our founder, doing the right thing was crystal clear and never in question. There were NO short cuts. We lived -daily- to the values we all held, which were formed for all of us early on in life and in our careers. There are very few ideas that are forbidden at Hollstadt, short of not following our values. It’s been this way since our founding.
As our values became engrained in who the firm is and what we represent, we decided it was time to formalize them as our guiding principles. The objective was to provide a consistent foundation that would help us run the business the way we intended. We felt it would also give all stakeholders piece of mind as the firm changed and grew. To create these “guiding principles” we hosted a full day off-site planning session to create our first set of “Core Values.”
On that day in 2008, the Hollstadt management team started the day long session to create our values. The “day long” session took about two hours, because what we had identified as our values were what we had lived by since 1990, and continue to live by today:
• First Understand
• Be Humbly Confident
• Do The Right Thing
• Grow and Prosper
The values we adopted weren’t big hairy audacious concepts, they are practical, meaningful, real, from the heart and what we expect all people associated with Hollstadt to live by.
Since Molly and I have owned Hollstadt, for the past 10 years, our management team has incorporated our values into our company meetings, hiring processes, evaluation processes, and even further into how we conduct our day-to-day business with our clients and other stakeholders. Our employees understand that if you’re not living up to our values, you get a chance to correct the problem. Ultimately, if you don’t reflect our values and operate by them, you can’t be part of our team.
Another example of how seriously we take our values is when interacting with clients. On a regular basis Hollstadt is invited by clients and potential clients to respond to a Request for Proposal (RFP). Within every RFP we’re asked, “what are your points of differentiation?” What makes us special… and inevitably we start with our core values. We start there for two reasons:
1. Because core values are real to us and guide us in all interactions. If the client or potential client doesn’t care about these kinds of things, then we’re wrong for them, and they’re wrong for us.
2. Our values “say easy but do hard.” We’ve had 32 years to hone how we use our values to serve our stakeholders. Through good and bad times, using these values to guide our approach makes Hollstadt unique. It’s not what we do, or what our values are, it’s “how we do it” and how we apply them.
It may sound corny in today’s world of artificial intelligence, inappropriate use of social media, and “social media influencers” that show not an ounce of humility, that a firm would still compete on such a simple foundation, but we do because it speaks to our clients and consultants. We are competitive because our clients and consultants understand that core values are a key differentiation that will save them time, headaches and money. That’s a win/win/win attitude and what we’re all about.
Jim Jungbauer, President