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A strong value system can power a business to success, writes Zac de Silva. Scroll down to find opportunities within a business that keeps core values front of mind.

One of my top business lessons would be the importance of core values.

When I was younger the talk and thought of values was enough to make me sick. It conjures up thoughts of wishy-washy rubbish. But over time, I learned first hand the effects that knowing, remembering and living your firm's core values can have. They can be business changing.

My definition of core values in a business context would be "the way that things are done around here."

Simply having core values does not make you a great company. Enron had core values and we all know what happened there, including integrity and respect, which is obviously very ironic. They only become a powerful part of you being successful if you live them.

Usually they come from what the founder of the business believes, but over time they can change or be updated, based on who owns or is running the company.

Values can be a secret weapon if you let them.

When I speak at conferences I often ask people in the audience to put up their hand if their company has written core values. It surprises me how few hands appear. And when I ask the "hands-up" minority just how many core values they think are remembered and lived in the day-to-day business, there are not many hands left.

Unless you are going to live them, there is actually no point having core values written down as it just makes you look like a hypocrite.

The best example of one of my clients sharing and proactively focusing on core values is Kotahi Logistics  - who have five rules.

Their HR Manager, Jay Padden, is a crusader for holding people accountable to them and is great at sharing good and not so good examples of how the values are being lived.

Values can be a secret weapon if you let them. Employees love patting each other on the back when someone has gone beyond and above the values. Values also help you to have those really hard conversations that we naturally do not want to have.

Personally , I have found that most staff behavioural issues I have had to deal with as a manager could be solved by referring to the company values. Employees could almost always see that they needed to change in their attitude or approach, as it was so obvious their behaviour was not in line with the known values of the company.

With recruitment, values are so important in helping to get the right person.

Once I took the easy way out by employing somebody I suspected was not compatible with my company culture. But I needed a person in my team. As a result,  this person struggled in our business because despite being a really great person, they were never going to make it.

I did learn that lesson and went with my gut feeling about culture fit from then on. I suggest if you think of any poor recruits you have hired in the past, a lot of those people will have struggled with your core values.

I have seen various entrepreneurs take their personal business values from one company to another as they buy or set up multiple businesses. You have to be prepared to make hard decisions if you are faced with something that does not meet your values.

As an example if you had a core value around the environment and then a nuclear power plant offered $100 million to rent part of your warehouse, what would you do? Would you do the right thing to live your values or take the money?

I wonder what values you have in your business and whether you think they help you to do better? Certainly, if they are lived and people are held accountable to them, they should help you to be successful in your industry.

Zac de Silva is an award-winning business coach who owns (external link) . Visit (external link)  to sign up for regular business-thinking questions and build prioritised action points. De Silva is also co-founder of (external link) , the Fiji business retreat in November 2016.

This article was originally published here. (external link)

Kotahi, the country’s largest export supply chain collaboration, has signed a long-term partnership with Cape Sanctuary, a significant wildlife restoration programme at Cape Kidnappers, in a bid to protect native New Zealand birds.

Cape Sanctuary Co-founder Andy Lowe said Kotahi’s partnership will allow two additional New Zealand native species, the near extinct Shore Plover and endangered Blue Duck, to be included in the Cape Sanctuary programme.

“Our philosophy is to develop long-standing partnerships with businesses, iwi and Department of Conservation to restore native bird life to our region. Cape Sanctuary began as a project by people passionate about bringing back and sustaining native species that once would have existed on the Cape Kidnappers peninsula and nearby coastal communities.

“We’re excited to partner with Kotahi, an organisation that shares our values and beliefs. Their involvement gave us the commitment required to build the Kotahi Aviary, with support from Department of Conservation. The new aviary is a significant step for Cape Sanctuary enabling us to grow the programme and set new goals for the regeneration of these important native birds,” he said.

Department of Conservation Operations Director Mr Kemper said “Having a business like Kotahi working with Cape Sanctuary and the Department of Conservation, to protect our natural environment, is very important if we are going to achieve increased levels of protection for New Zealand’s rare and endangered species. This is a fantastic initiative and another example of the great conservation going on in the Hawke’s Bay.”

It is the long-term goal of the partnership to see Shore Plovers and Blue Ducks released back into predator-free environments around New Zealand.

Kotahi’s partnership will enable the everyday running of the aviary and support a research project to better understand how these unique New Zealand birds can be re-established back into the wild.

Kotahi Chief Executive David Ross says that the partnership with Cape Sanctuary is a natural fit for Kotahi.

“We collaborate with customers and logistics partners to create a supply chain that drives down carbon emissions and focuses on sustainable practices, moving cargo from manufacturing sites, across land and sea, to customers around the world.

“We believe it is important for New Zealanders and New Zealand companies to take steps to protect our unique native species. In supporting the Cape Sanctuary initiative we’re proud to be part of a talented group of people investing both volunteer time and a love of New Zealand’s wildlife, to ensure that future generations have the chance to experience native species in their natural habitat.

“It is the long-term goal of the partnership to see Shore Plovers and Blue Ducks released back into predator-free environments around New Zealand,” he said.

The native Shore Plover (Tuturuatu), one of the world’s rarest shorebirds, was chosen as part of the Cape Sanctuary project because it is near extinction, with approximately 175 adult birds including 70 breeding pairs, left in New Zealand. [Source:]

New Zealand’s iconic Blue Duck (Whio), a nationally vulnerable species that risks extinction with a population of less than 3,000, has been impacted greatly by pest predation. Whio are an ancient species of waterfowl, considered taonga (treasured), holding a strong cultural, spiritual and historic connection with New Zealand. [Source:]

About Cape Sanctuary

Cape Sanctuary, established in 2006 by Andy Lowe and Julian Robertson, is situated over three properties on the Cape Kidnappers peninsula, Hawke’s Bay. The sanctuary covers 2,500 hectares of pine forest, farmland, gullies, cliffs and sand dunes.

A 10.6km predator-proof fence was built to rid the area of animals such as cats, rats and stoat. Possums have since been totally eradicated from the area and Cape Sanctuary is now home to species of kiwi, petrel, penguin, teal, whitehead, robin, speckled skink, takahe, tuatara and weta many of which have been absent from the peninsula for decades. For more information about Cape Sanctuary please visit

Above image caption: Kotahi Chief Executive David Ross and Cape Sanctuary Co-founder Andy Lowe at the site of the new Kotahi Aviary, part of the Cape Sanctuary wildlife restoration programme.