Confidence, Empathy and Productivity - Why Our Core Values Matter

Confidence, Empathy and Productivity - Why Our Core Values Matter

By Andy Kocemba

We’ve read all about core values, but before you roll your eyes or move onto another tab, consider this. When misunderstood and misused, the concept of core values can be laughable at best, and damaging to the business at worst. Take Enron for example. Their core values were communication, respect, integrity, and excellence. We all know how that turned out.

When properly identified and emphasized, a company’s core values can drive an effective culture and result in business success. Here’s my definition of core values:

“Traits a successful company has that guide its actions and separate it from other successful companies.”

Notice my use of the word successful.  My belief is that core values are what sets your company apart and makes it unique. Please don’t tell me things like integrity, honesty, or good people are your core values. To me, that’s just being a good company. Those traits should be a given. All businesses should have integrity, so what else drives your organization and influences your actions?  Here’s what it looks like at Calhoun Companies:

  1. Confidence: When you’ve been in business 100+ years, you learn a thing or two. The cumulative experience of every person at Calhoun Companies since we began business in 1908 brings its full weight to bear every day we turn on the lights. We know business owners inside and out because we talk with business owners every day. We look at their books. We know who their customers are. We know their strengths and weaknesses. We know pinch points. We understand their industries. We know their communities. We can spot opportunities. That experience distinguishes us in the market place, setting us apart from others in our industry. But more importantly, it influences and directs how every member of our team carries him/herself throughout the day.  It’s the, “I’ve been there attitude” we bring to the table in each of our deals. Our clients can trust us because we’ve seen it all and we can foresee outcomes. The confidence of the Calhoun sales agent becomes the confidence of our client. That’s why we call ourselves, “The Confident Choice.”
  2. Empathy: Counterbalancing confidence, we also feel what our clients are feeling. Being through as many years and transactions as we have, it’s natural to want to speed our way to the finish line, anticipating the steps along the way. But, while we’ve been through thousands of transactions over time, it’s more than likely that our client experiences it exactly once in his or her lifetime.  That’s something we are highly aware of as we manage our pace and approach to deal making. We take the time to answer questions and walk our customers through every step in the process so they understand what goes into making a deal. We’ve even written books to help customers through the process and make sure to include the intangible aspects of a sale that people often overlook such as learning to let go of their company and identifying what’s next for them. Selling their business, their life’s work, can be a deeply emotional process and our empathy and support can make a huge difference to our customers.
  3. Productivity:  Finally, as a sales organization, we don’t generate income unless we produce a successful transaction.  Buyers and sellers need to be happy, and we are always striving for a win-win scenario. Our sales agents know they operate in an environment where they are “only as good as their last deal,” and this fuels them to always keep the machine moving.  It’s why we average nearly 60 deals a year across virtually every industry imaginable.

These are the values that drive the engine of Calhoun Companies. Does your company have core values? What are they?


  1. Core values can result in business success, or can damage a company if misused.
  2. Core values should make your company stand out. Things like integrity and honesty are not core values. They are givens for being in business.
  3. Our core values are confidence, empathy and productivity.

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