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The Art of Bottling Magic: Why and How I Created our Company Values

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The vision Albert Einstein held for his life’s work was to be able to summarise the universe in one short, elegant, mathematical formula. Einstein believed in the beauty of simplicity and thought the academic world, in its desire to sound intelligent, often made things more complex than they needed to be.

Einstein is often misquoted as saying: “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” Although this is not actually an Einstein quote (it was E. F Schumacher, an early 20th century economist who said it), it was probably misattributed to him because it is indicative of his view on finding simplicity on the other side of complexity.

Einstein was one of the most influential figures for a young Steve Jobs, who grew up studying different historical icons who had made a difference in the world. Jobs was always fascinated with major events and larger-than-life figures who had changed the course of history and left a dent in the universe. For a long time the only decoration hanging in Jobs’ large house in Palo Alto was a portrait photo of Einstein, the same photo he had hanging above the hallway he would walk through before entering the stage to deliver a keynote address at the Apple Town Hall.

Einstein’s principle of simplicity was one that Jobs applied to design, creating great products, in the making of the business models he developed across several industries, and even in how he set up his home and his life. The principle of simplicity was also therefore inherent in the DNA of Apple Computers. One of Apples core seven values is: “We believe in the simple, not the complex.” Jobs, who saw his life’s work through the lens of artistry, once said:

“The first thing we ask is: What do we want people to feel? Delight. Surprise. Love. Connection. Then we begin to craft around our intention. It takes time. There are a thousand no’s for every yes. We simplify. We perfect. We start over. Until everything we touch enhances each life it touches. Only then do we sign our work.”

It is these values that flow through every product that Jobs oversaw at Apple right through to the iPhone, iPad and the Mac. A principle that Einstein lived by and spoke about more than 100 years ago, taken on board by a young Jobs and breathed into the heart of Apple. It is through the timelessness of this one simple value that we see Jobs’ fingerprints all over the devices that we live with today.

Values are simply a set of principles that govern and guide who we are and who we want to be.

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 As a team grows, usually beyond 20’ish people, it becomes increasingly difficult for the DNA and the character of the founder to permeate throughout the organisation. While there was a sense of ‘magic’ in the team in the early days as everyone on the team knew each others names and could communicate as an entire company by simply speaking up, as the team grows and communication becomes more segmented, individuals start to look for clues as to who they are expected to be in alignment with the unwritten essence of the business.

Values are how we bottle the magic that was captured in the early years. It is how we put language to the previously unspoken. It is how we articulate what most never voice. Values should not be a list of principles that we ‘create’ and put over a business, but rather a set of principles that are actually discovered already lying deep within the existing DNA of the business.

Like a lot of things in the business world, “values” have been severely bastardised by corporate misuse; Enron, whose executives ended up both morally and financially bankrupt (and in prison) had ‘integrity’ as one of their top four values. Values should not be a set of principles that are manufactured to inauthentically engineer productivity or loyalty but should, and will only work when, they are an authentic representation of the true heart beat of an organisation. Values, like brand, should not be about creating a label that sits on the wall but rather a confirmation of what is.

Discovering our values is a process of asking ourselves: “Who are we and who do we strive to be?”

The most rewarding part of business for me has always been challenging and enabling my people to do their life’s best work and accomplish what even they once thought impossible. To see and play a small part in someone’s growth journey, particularly someone you care about deeply, is a fulfilment that breaks through barriers and touches the soul. A fulfilment that can only be found when we move beyond self and start to truly care about the lives of those who give so much of themselves to the realisation of the vision and the actualisation of the values.

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At The Entourage we have grown quickly. We now have a team of 70 people that inspire one and other and lift each other higher every single day. It is a self-fulfilling, high performance culture that is grounded in heart and manifested in results. If you were to put a microscope over a DNA cell of The Entourage, you would see our 10 values.

The Entourage Values & DNA

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1. Be “WOW” – Seek to amaze in everything we do
Whether it be how we interact with each other in the EDC (Entrepreneur Development Centre), how we speak to our members, or the experience a member has as they go through our programs, EVERYTHING we do is done with the intention of making you think and say: “WOW”.

2. Make it Happen – Be outcome orientated
We are a high performance culture that is only upheld through achieving what we set out to do. It is not about following the system or ticking the boxes of the process, but getting the result. Every time.

3. Everything’s world-class
At The Entourage we have a very informal culture, however we are definitely not casual. Our Mission is to be the world’s number one education institution for entrepreneurs. To become this institution every tiny detail has to be world-class. 

4. Have a growth approach – Take ownership of your own growth
You take 100% responsibility for your growth and I’ll take 100% responsibility for your growth. We have an environment that will almost force you to grow, however if you don’t have the internal hunger you simply won’t keep up.

5. Have fun, bring quirk
The Aurora Principle. One day after I had reflected and created about 14 values I wanted to let them ride for a bit before I announced them and in doing so I observed my team a lot. One day I was watching one of our most amazing superstars, Aurora Voss, do her thing. As I observed Aurora leading her team with a glow and a quirk and a magic that was captivating I asked myself, “How would I language that? How do I bottle that magic?” Upon further reflection I realised that Aurora’s glow came from the love she has for our members and the love she has for the work. As such, “Have fun, bring quirk” was born.

6. Do more with less – Become a master of leverage
We are not a corporate. Leverage and achieving massive output with very little input is in our DNA. Innovate. Find a way.

7. Live on the extra mile – Good enough isn’t good enough
We live in a society that encourages mediocrity, at The Entourage we pride ourselves on always going above and beyond. This starts with high standards both as individuals and as a team.

8. Come from heart – Stay humble, respectful and show compassion
We believe that no one, regardless of success or wealth, is ever better than someone else. We do not teach from a position of superiority, but rather lead from a position of heart. We are in the business of helping people actualise their dreams, as such we need to tread carefully and lovingly with absolutely every soul we touch.

9. Take initiative – Don’t wait
Need I say more?

10. Dream out loud – Have dreams, goals and celebrate personal milestones
I want my people to have dreams and goals and when they achieve them I want them to scream it for all of us to hear. Imagine living in a world where everyone lifts each other higher…That’s where we live at The Entourage.

5 Keys to Discovering Your Values 

1. Values are principles that identify and bottle your unique culture and DNA

2. They set the standard as to how and who we show up as every day

3. They take into consideration all the characteristics we want and need in each individual

4. Should be in cascading order with the most important at the top

5. May be inspired by observing traits in yourself or your existing people – The Aurora Principle

Too often in history impactful individuals and companies have done their best work early (not by age but by stage). When they were still young at heart, unafraid and ruthlessly innovating. Einstein wrote four papers that changed science and the way humanity views the universe in 1905, he was just 26 and not yet a professor. He went on to publish the general theory of relativity in 1916 and after that never created work again that rivalled what he was able to imagine when he was still young and hungry.

It is my hope that for my business and yours, that as we grow we do not mature. That our growth does not serve to cause us to forget who we truly are, but rather serves only to amplify our heart beat. In values we find a way to bottle the magic in which great companies are founded, and to capture the DNA that makes us who we are.

About Jack Delosa

Jack Delosa is an entrepreneur and investor who is changing education. He is the founder and CEO of Australia’s largest education institution for entrepreneurs, The Entourage. He is also an investor in growth companies such as Q-Biotics, Martin Jet Pack (ASX:MJP) and eMerchants (ASX:EML), and founded The Entourage Growth Fund, which invests in upstart businesses. He is one of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs, having been listed in the BRW Young Rich List since 2014.

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