Welcome to the first episode of our podcast. You'll get to know a few people on our team and a bit about what we're doing as we explore company values. A lot of companies talk about values, but what are they really for, and how do company values relate to our own personal values? We share our own stories and thoughts about it.
You can read our values in our public Osio Labs Employee Handbook.
You can get in touch with us to ask questions, leave comments, or provide suggestions on our website, https://osiolabs.com/.
Osio Labs is tinkering with Open Source Inside and Out. We’re on a mission to empower anyone to build websites using open source tools, and to create an open and sustainable business.
Hey everybody. This is Addison Berry, and you're listening to the Osio Labs podcast. The show that explores the question,"how can we create sustainable businesses that care for people and make the world a better place?" On today's episode, I'm joined by my colleagues, Ashley Jones and Amber Matz. This is our very first episode, and we're going to talk about values. We figured this is a good way to get to know us a little bit, and we can dig into what we think of as a fundamental question, when running a business. Where do company values come from? Are they really good for anything? We'll also look at the intersection of company values with personal values. How does all that work? Let's dig into it.Addi:
I think where I would like to start is a, it is just a little bit of context and history, for our company and our values, how our values came into being and exist because as Osio Labs, we were a small team that used to be part of a larger company called Lullabot, and when we split from that and became like a, a sister company, we. Took those Lullabot values because we came from a company that already had values and then we decided we would rework them or redo our values for this new company and this new team that we had. Now in terms of like the three people on this, on this podcast and our experiences with our company values, I was at Lullabot from the very beginning, so I was employee eight and we did not have values when I started at Lullabot. and then a few years, I wanna say maybe three or four years after I joined Lullabot, the company was growing very quickly. And so, the owners, Matt and Jeff, decided to sit down and work out values and write them down so that it would be clear for existing employees and new employees in particular when they came in. this is sort of what we're doing. and then they presented that to us as a, as a team and said, asked for feedback and was like, does this stuff make sense to you? so that was like a strange like going along, having values made up for us and then sort of having a little bit of feedback. But I wasn't part of that, that value process. Right. Then we get to Osio Labs, we split off and we're like, okay, we're gonna create our own. and Amber was a part of that team at that point. So Amber had come into Lullabot after the values existed, but then got to make the new values as part of Osio Labs. Then fast forward a couple years and Ashley gets hired and she gets hired into Osio Labs who already has their values established. So we have three different relationships to company values, that are happening here. Um, And so I'm, first I just wanna start off with, why we even have values in our company. And like I said, like in Lullabot, the company was growing in size and they wanted to make sure that the unspoken values and reasons that we had behind what we were doing were written. so that that could be clear. And, and passed on as it were when we became our own company. We wanted to have our values that reflected us and they were a little different than what Lullabot had. And I'm curious for you, Amber. what that experience was like for you. Like, cuz you came into a company that had values, which is the most common situation, I think, and then you had an opportunity to actually create new values. Was that weird for you, or was that like, wait, why am I creating values? Or were you like, no, this is an amazing opportunity. Where, how did you fall on that spectrum?Amber:
I just thought it was amazing that there even values because I don't think that at the time it, it wasn't normal for me. It was not in my experience to work at a company that had that really talked about their values. So maybe there were values somewhere. I had no idea about them. I didn't, they weren't brought up, they were not part of the company culture at all. It was just,Addi:
The, the upper management, you know, speaketh and thus is the word. You know, like, it was just like that was that, that was how it went. So just the fact that Lull bot had values and that they were always a part of the discussion and it was part of the culture, like it was in, you know, whatever. real-time chat software we were using in the earlier days, you know, was, and it was just all like, it was just a part of it. It was a part of your experience, it was part of your training, your onboarding and everything. And I was fascinated by it because, I came from a really stressed out situation. you know, I was, my, my job it, it was toxic to me. It was, you know, very difficult and stressful and I was just rapidly burning out. And it was very not human-centric at all. It was just all about generating revenue and, you know, trying to keep, keep everything together and, You know, it was just kind of a mess. So I just, coming from no values to having it be really central and having one of those central values be, be human. And it just took a real load off, you know, because there was just so much, I felt like I was shouldering at my previous job, like so much stress and like trying. To shoulder things and keep things moving forward so people could keep their jobs. And it just felt like failure wasn't an option and mistakes weren't an option, and it just, there was just a lot of stress and to just be valued as a human being and not have this micromanagement happening and this like feeling. Someone's always looking over your shoulder or, or not even a feeling, like someone literally looking over your shoulder, you know, working in a cubicle, you know, layout and someone literally walking behind you and looking over your shoulder. Very unsettling. And so moving to a remote, or distributed workplace where you really had to be, you know, lo blah, was really explicit about the values and the communication standards. and all of that. It was just so, it was such a relief, to, to have all of that written down and agreed upon, like as part of like, Your work here, you, you're agreeing to this. And I'm like, okay, that sounds great and it sounds healthy. And it's like, it just was really, it was a healing experience. Like I don't wanna get all woowoo, you know, but it really was a healing experience and it helped me to, Value myself. And, so having company values really transformed how I think about myself and how I think about myself in the, in the context of work. So having a company that valued its people and it's humans, and helped me to, to kinda realign my personal values and really think about that and think, rethink how I was thinking about myself in terms of work got me out of the survival mode of, you know, and stress, survival, stress mode of a relationship with work and into like, yeah, I have something. I am a valuable person. I'm bringing something, I'm working with a team. We're caring for each other, we're caring for our customers. We're doing. great work and we're being really creative about it because all of that is just lined up. So that's a bit of a ramble to say it was a very positive experience, like it was. If I hadn't had that, man, I don't know. I don't, I don't know where I would be. So I'm very, I'm very grateful for that Experie.Addi:
What was it like for you, Ashley, like you came into Osio Labs and I'm, I, I know that you have worked for other companies that definitely have values written down somewhere,Ashley:
right. It was it. different even from like the interview process. Like, because one of the questions when you're filling out, when I was filling out the application was about like which value you resonate with most. And off the bat I was like, oh wow, you know, this is interesting. And then it led me to obviously go look at the company values and see what they are. And I was like, oh my God. Spread Happiness. Like, you guys care if I'm happy because like you said, I did, I did come from a company with values, but they absolutely did not care if I was happy. Even if they said they did. Like, I feel like my work experience was really similar to Amber in that it was very stressful. I had terrible work-life balance. It was a situation where you didn't feel cared for as a human, like you felt replaceable. And if you messed up, like you, you could be replaced. So to come into a company where one of the values is spread happiness and like another value is feed creativity, it was like, oh, this is very different. And, Being a part of a team where, everybody is human and everybody's human first and not just like a number or a job title, been really, really transformative for me too. It's like I didn't even know that this existed. Like I didn't know that there were companies, who had values and actually had values that matter. because on top of the values being part of the application process, like we revisit them and we check to see if they still align. And we see how our work aligns with these values. And um, it's definitely a focus that I had not experienced previously, but one that I enjoy quite a bit, like it's been wonderful.Addi:
Yeah, I think, for a lot of people, companies have values and they're written down in some dusty place and they aren't actually looked at. Most employees probably don't know what those values are. And they aren't actually used. And I think that was definitely one of the things you know, coming from lava and then when we established our own. We don't wanna just write them down The, the point is to actually use them like with personal values and like I have my own personal values and when a hard decision comes up, right, that's where they shine. Because at that point it's like, well, what do I truly value here? I need to make a decision. What's the thing that I'm gonna feel is right? You know, in, in inside of me. And we do the same thing with those values. as a company, when we have hard times or hard decisions to make, we turn to our values and be like, what do the values say we should do If, if these values are true? If they're real, what? What should we do? Right? And that's a really. Different experience, I think for almost everybody, because a lot of companies don't revisit their values. They don't actually use their values. Like we use, as you said, we've used it in hiring process. We use it internally when we have decisions. We review them, at least once a year to make sure we're all on the same page or how do we need to clarify them and, and that kind of thing. Related to that, like the reviewing of it, Amber was part of the, the initial team, that, that created our initial values. And then Ashley got hired a few years after. And I'm curious, for you Ashley, how do the values feel to you? Because you weren't part of originally creating them, but you are part of us using them. And, and reviewing, but I'm curious, how do you feel what do you feel is your relationship to them in that way? Of, well, I didn't create these. I like'em, but you know, there's somebody else's ideas, you know,Ashley:
I mean, it's true I didn't create them. But I think part of me like feeling. like I wanted to apply for the role and part of me wanting to work for Osio Labs was the values and. The way that they align, with my own, and granted some of these I probably would not have thought of off the top of my head. Like if somebody said, what are your core values? You know, I probably wouldn't automatically say care for customers becauseAddi:
you know, I'm just a human out here. I'm not really thinking about customers, but you know, a lot of them really do speak to, who I am and what I believe, personally, like spread happiness is a wonderful value. I am somebody who like sees a glass half full. I, I want everyone around me to be happy. I. am somebody who might be a little too perky at times. Like I've, I've had conversations about toxic positivity because that is a thing,Addi:
It is, yeah.Ashley:
it's, you know, but in reviewing the values because I felt like there was alignment with who I am and what I believe, especially, what I believe for a work setting. I felt really good about coming into the company, like do great work I feel like if we're gonna be successful, we gotta do great work. You know what I mean? So it makes sense that that's value. It makes sense that that's something that we, we can all be in alignment on. And I did feel like if I was gonna be a part of the company and really contribute in a meaningful way and feel good about being a part of the company, that these were values that I had to get behind. I also, didn't feel like they were just words on a paper. Like I could tell that they mattered, and I'm going over them now and I still feel very much in alignment with all of them. Like I, I think we have really great values. And I have seen some, some companies where I don't feel as in alignment and it does kind of give me pause. It does kind of make me say like, huh, I saw one company where they were very explicitly like, we are coworkers. We are not a family, we are not friends. We don't love each other. We just work. And it just felt very cold. you know, it, it's not like I need it to be explicitly stated we are a family and we hug each other every day. Obviously that's not the case. But for that to be explicitly written in their values, all of these things we are not, it made me be like, well that's probably not the place for me. I wanna feel connected to my team, you know? And. I felt really good coming into a company, even though I didn't contribute to the values initially. I did get an opportunity to voice my opinion as we reviewed them and, because I still, because I felt really in alignment with them and because I still do, like, I have no issue with it at all. It's been great.Addi:
Nice. Yeah. What, a, uh, Amber for you, if in the list of values you had seen a value that didn't align with your values or you thought was weird, like, how would, do you, would that have changed you applying for a job at Lullabot, do you think?Amber:
You know, to be honest, I think I wanted the job so badly. I would've like, tried to change myself to align with the values, and I think that that's part of the. The stress of when your personal values either aren't very well defined or they run counter to the company values, and it's like, what kind of person am I going to be or am I gonna act like when I'm on the clock, so to speak, and when I am at work? and is that person, someone that I can live with? And it, you know, my, in my own head. And, and I think that, that, it can be really unhealthy you know, I, I think this is probably the case at maybe a larger company, which I don't have a lot of experience with where the company values, it's really like, The brand. And the brand is like the sacred entity that has these values and it's brand first, you know, type of thing and not human first. And, we see a lot of social problems that result because of this, you know, and so I, I always felt like if I didn't understand a value that, what. I could have a conversation with someone about it. I could learn about it. Like, why is this, you know, important and what, you know, I had never thought about this before. Like, what does it mean to be human? Or what does it mean to kick ass or what does it mean? I never thought about these things before. what does it mean to spread happiness, at work? you know, so I always felt. at Lullabot, or even here, like as we're reviewing our values that are retreats or whatever. If I, if something isn't resonating, if I'm not really getting it, I can always talk to someone about it and l and either learn more or if it comes to a point where it's you know, this is just not sitting well with me anymore. I can either. bring it up in a team discussion and we can talk about it. or I can move on. You know, if I have a true conflict, with it, then I feel like at this point in my life, I don't wanna subject myself to the stress of being two-sided and being one person at work. That's a completely different person than who I am.Addi:
Quote unquote, normally. that doesn't really apply here because the values that we haveAddi:
dictated in our company values, you know, they really sit well with me and, and, you know, and I'm in agreement with them and, and I think that they make me a better person when I'm exercising these values at work. And so I just think it, it all aligns.,Addi:
talking about brand, because I do think when I was thinking how, how do companies come up with values, right? Like for us, we, we were a tiny team. I think at the time we were eight people, maybe we're smaller now, but still veryAmber:
thought when I, yeah. Mm.Addi:
and so, and so we just literally sat in a room at a. and talked about values for a day, and sort of wrote things down. In most companies, that's probably not how it works, where the whole company has input into the values and, getting back to brand, I think there are a lot of companies whose values are created by the marketing team. you know, in terms of like, These values are our brand and we wanna make sure our brand is associated with these values. And that's not bad or wrong necessarily, but it feels a little backwards to me because you, the values should come from the people and what the, the mission and what the company's actually trying to achieve. And then the brand should show that and represent.Ashley:
instead of how do we want people to perceive us, let's write some values based on that and then try to backtrack that into how we actually run our company. Like it's, it's just a, you know, a backwards way from how we did it and how I think it should work.Ashley:
Mm-hmm. Yeah. And I feel like for. it was, that was really different. because I do feel like I came from an organization where the values were created by a marketing team and it was all about the brand. And you know, Amber talked about not wanting to be a different person at work and at home and if that conflict. Existed or became too great, she would just leave. You know? But, and I agree, but I think I agree now cause I've been a part of Osio Labs and I know that it doesn't have to be that way, but I think. Initially, I, I didn't know that it could be another way. I think I just was like, you have to have a job and sometimes you don't like it and sometimes you don't have fun and it doesn't matter. Like you, you know, you're there to make money. The company's there to make money. At the end of the day, it all boils down to numbers and money and. Who cares if you're not happy about it, you know? But I think when you, when you work for a company that does, have values that are like living and breathing and they stand behind them and, you know, everybody's a human, it does also make you feel empowered to have your own values and stand behind those too Like, if this doesn't make sense for me, then I probably shouldn't work here. And, I love that. I love that for all of us now, because I definitely was not that person before. I was very much kind of like what Amber said, oh, well, you know, need this job. I guess I can fit into the values, you know, I can make it work, like whatever.Addi:
Yeah. I think aAshley:
but I really like it being the other way.Addi:
A lot of us do that in a lot of places in our life, right? I mean, I think this is like just a common social. Problem. that we were sort of raised to just put up and shut up and get it done regardless of the scenario. And of course, work takes up most of our living time in our lives, So that's like a, a, a major place, but it happens all over the place, right? It happens even within families or, other organizations, right? Or religions and, and things like that where the values actually don't. but you just get on with your life. Like this is how it is. You can't, you can't expect better. So deal with what you have. Right? And so yeah, I think it's, I also have found that working in a company that defines values and uses them and talks about them has made me think about what are my values? Like this list of value sounds awesome. sure, I'll sign off on all of that. But also at the same time, yeah, they're not all exactly my core values, right? They, there's some overlap. Some of them totally work. Some of'em are like, yeah, that's, that's awesome, but it's not core or central to me. But it really made me start thinking about it like, well, what do I believe in then? How, how do, how do I navigate my life in the world, not just at work, but also at home and family and, and organizations I'm involved with, right? Like, oh yeah, this value thing actually really important. And it, it changes how you feel about yourself. It changes the work that you do. It changes so many nuanced things. about our lives. so I think having company values is super important for a company to have guidelines to help steer the ship. but I also think it's really important for people and employees to be exposed to a, a, good application of values, right? Instead of just like the whole brand written down thing, but. To actually just cuz yeah, maybe they don't align and maybe that's a good thing for you to learn. If someone on our team, or a potential employee who we really wanted to hire for instance was you know, this is all good, but this is not, this does not jive with me. Or I feel like this is, there's something missing here and it doesn't really fit for me. I would totally respect that. I'd be like that's awesome. That's awesome that you recognize that. And, and I would do whatever I can. If you feel like you need to move on, then let's, let's figure out how to find a place that would be a better match for you.Ashley:
of screw you and your little dog too. right. So I, yeah, I just think it's like an important, because people spend so many much of their lives at work.Ashley:
being exposed to values and values that matter, and values that are actually applied. I think is is also a, I don't know, I, it ends up sounding weird. Almost like a gift though, right? Because I certainly had never really interrogated my own values until I was confronted with values that were being questioned and applied, and I was like, oh, oh, that's what you do with values. Okay, cool. I can work. yeah.Amber:
I was thinking back to when we were working on our values, for you. When we, when we split off from Lullabot and it was novel for all of us, if I recall. And we, we did, I think we, we might have done a workbook or read a book together or something like that. But I just remember spending some time like, what is this whole personal values thing? Like what does this even mean? And we, I think, you know, I remember individually doing this, but I think a lot of us, we, we dug into it cuz it was novel. It was. Yeah. We're, we're taking this seriously, and, but what is itAddi:
like a great idea, but what do we even mean by this? And, and it, you know, so it, it wasn't this automatic thing, of course, you know, we have values and we know what they are and we, we totally know who we are as people and individuals and how we fit. You know, none of that, none of those questions were answered. It really took a lot. you know, to think about and to talk about what do we mean by this? And how do I even know if my, if I align with these values, what are my values? There's nothing to compare youAddi:
and and you hadAmber:
a group of people and we had to get values that we could all agree to,Amber:
Like there had to be the overlap, you know, we had to figure, figure it out because obviously we all would have different personal values, so we needed to find. Ones that overlapped in the sense that we could all get behind that value, whether or not it was a personal value for us, that it wasn't counter to any of our personal values. Right? That it's just like, yeah, no, I don't actually believe in that and of course also, and then having to step back and also look at it from a company perspective of the company has a, a mission and a vision. and what values would support us achieving that and don't conflict with our personal values. Right. So yeah, it was like a lot of, a lot of thinking and a lot of reflection going on. For sure. And, and it, I think this still happens to a lesser degree at our retreats. when we review our values and we sit and we think about it and like, does this still sound good? And we have mod made modifications to the values over the years in terms of, I feel like this is something we do value, but it's not reflected in the values. Or This value sounds kind of flat. What does this really mean? so we've definitely had those kinds of conversations. And it's an ongoing process cuz we've also changed, right? Osseo Labs has been around for seven years now. So, you know, people change. The company has changed, so many, so many things keep changing. we don't change our values, that quickly, but I do think that checking in and reevaluating them and, and, and really thinking about them, keeps us current with what's actually going. with us instead of just, all right, we set these values 10 years ago, everybody's just rolling along. You know, it's like, well, I mean, that can work and our values are, are essentially unchanged. but I think, little refinements and smaller nuances and things like that are keeping it, keeping them relevant to who we are now as a company. and so that's, It's, it's, it's all a fascinating process, I have to say, personally and as a, you know, being part of a company and trying to make a company succeed.Ashley:
Oh yeah, I, I just had a question for you guys, cuz you, you guys made, you were part of the making of the values for Osio Labs. and I feel like the options are so vast, and they could be so many things. How did you guys come up with these? How did you.Addi:
hone in on these andAddi:
Well, we, weAshley:
did we get here?Addi:
we had a little starter pack, right? We had, we had a little cheat because we came from Lullabot, so, So we had the Lullabot values and, and we did do a whole bunch of here is a huge list of values. You know, pick things out of these that, that are meaningful, right? so we did do that kind of thing and then see where there was alignment. But we also had this, the, the original values from Lullabot. and you can see that they are related when you compare the, values side by side. But we modified them. To better match or to to be clearer for us. I remember one of the, one of the values at Lullabot is have fun and that ended up becoming spread happiness for us. And you know, those are, you can see how they're related, but they are very different in their terminology and their meaning. and it's not that have fun is a bad value, but spread happiness fit us better in terms of what we valued about. Have fun. Like what was it about? Have fun. So anyway, we had a little cheat pack, to kind of get us, started. But we did actually still just go through here's a whole list of values and what of these are meaningful to you and, and all of, all of that good stuff. yeah, it's not, it's a, it's not a short processAshley:
No, it doesn't sound like it.Addi:
Yeah, we should, I guess we should probably wrap this up. Um, cuz Wow. Um, it'sAmber:
that went byAddi:
time is moving on. Yeah. So we'll wrap this one up And thanks for joining me for this episode.
Hey, so thanks for listening and let us know if you have questions, comments, or suggestions for what you'd like to hear more about. You can find all of the various ways to reach us on our website at osiolabs.com. That's O S I O L A B S.com. Also, please make sure to subscribe to the podcast on your podcast provider of choice. We'll catch you on the next episode.