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Being Good at What You Do Isn’t Enough Any More

What makes for a great project, a great team and great place to work?

When I joined Gunderson Direct there were five of us. Now we’re nearly 20.

I grew up in a (pre-millennial) time when corporate culture was pretty much set by your boss (who took his cues from his or her boss, and so forth). We had a joke at the first agency I worked at that expressed the company culture a little more accurately than it should have, “If you’re not willing to work on Saturday, don’t even bother showing up on Sunday.” That was as deep (and motivating) as it got.

Times have changed. Now companies strive to identify their values as a differentiator, rather than strictly relying on technical competencies to separate them from the pack. At Gunderson Direct we know the competencies that got us recognized as a leading direct mail agency.

Core values are fuzzier, but no less important. Here’s how having core values has impacted our company. They help us understand:

  • How we see ourselves
  • How we want to be seen by others
  • The people we want to work here with us (new hires)
  • The kinds of companies we want to work with (clients and partners)
  • How we prefer to go about our work together
  • How we will make each other and our company successful

How We Got to Our Values

Like most companies, we’re a collection of individuals from different backgrounds and unique life experiences. It takes a lot collaboration to be successful in our business so we get to know each other pretty well as time goes on.

Coming up with our values didn’t take a lot of research and analysis. First, our management team listed the traits of each individual related to what we felt made them an integral part of our culture of success. Next, we honed them down and grouped them into five core values.

They were presented to our staff with a sense of pride, because we all recognized them as a great reflection of who we are and what makes us a special group of people. The fact that no one was surprised by them, and everybody saw a little of themselves in each one, were good signs.

The best values aren’t the ones we create and push down. They’re the ones that bubble up from who we already are.

Here are ours:

How do we keep life fresh? We ask questions, thirst for knowledge, explore new trends, dig deep to discover why, to discover our clients’ business, to discover our clients themselves, and perhaps most important, to discover each other.

We each have our own expertise, but our boundaries don’t end there; we stretch to understand each other’s processes. Empathy solves problems, helps us understand each other, and unites us to act as a single engine delivering amazing work.

Though we’re absolutely serious about making our clients successful, we also need to pop the bubble, flip to the light side, make each other grin and giggle and pun-groan from time to time to time to time. After all, timing is everything.

One truth seems universal: the universe is a boomerang and what you put out comes back. Be kind and kindness will happen to you. Make someone laugh, and you’ll soon find yourself laughing. Make your clients successful and you’ll become successful yourself.

Your client’s business is your business. This is your agency. This is your project. These are your teammates. This is your success. And occasionally, this is your mistake. The more you own it, the more each of us owns it, the more successful we’ll be and feel.

One Final Note

If you’re interested in adding direct mail to your marketing mix, then drop us a line. We’re standing by to answer any questions, and, most importantly, to help you get your mail opened.

Jeff Tarran

As VP of Account Services, Jeff works with our clients to analyze business problems and develop direct marketing strategies that achieve their goals. A 20-year veteran and strategic thought leader in direct marketing, Jeff has headed two independent direct response agencies in the Bay Area after starting his career at Foote Cone and Belding. He earned a Dual BS in management and communications at Syracuse University and his MBA in marketing at Columbia University in New York.

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