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Business Growth
Sep 15, 2015

What Are Your 5 Pillars?

Sponsored Content provided by Adam Shay - Managing Partner, Adam Shay CPA, PLLC

I am a huge University of Virginia (UVA) basketball fan and can't wait for basketball season to start (let's skip football season). I remember when UVA hired Tony Bennett in 2009 and many fans said "Tony Bennett, like the singer?" Everyone wondered how a relatively unknown coach (due to West Coast experience and exposure) was going to turn around a struggling program in the ultra-challenging ACC. He did so by implementing and getting his team to buy in to his five core values – otherwise known as his five pillars. Inc. magazine has covered his five pillars as his five leadership principals.

While not all companies or teams are going to have the same core values as Bennett, it is important that a team identify and utilize its core values as a strength of the team. I believe that there is great value in publishing them for the world to see. Publishing them keeps the team true and genuine to the core values. It also adds a factor of accountability. We have published the  7 Adam Shay CPA core values on our website.

How do you come up with your company's core values? You need to look at what is important to you and what commonly unites your team. In the case of UVA basketball, the five pillars (along with my summary) are:

  1. Humility. No one is above or better than the team or others.
  2. Passion. Love what you do and give all that you have.
  3. Unity. Team is the core of everything.
  4. Servanthood. Sacrifice yourself for the team.
  5. Thankfulness. Always strive to be better but be thankful for what you have.
Whether you see it or not, there's a pretty heavy religious overture to the five pillars that may not be appropriate for every team or situation, but it works for the group that Bennett has assembled. They have been attracted to him and the school because of such values.
It's important that an organization go through the exercise of identifying its core values. Unlike the case of Bennett, I don't feel that it should just be a leader, driven-from-the-top exercise. It should involve the entire team working through a list of values and selecting and prioritizing the most important ones. You can do so by asking:
  • What makes our team unique?
  • What's important to everyone on our team?
  • What type of customers do we enjoy working with?
  • What do we need to keep our focus on?
By identifying and publicizing your company's core values you will:
  • Attract and retain the right people for your team.
  • Attract and retain the right customers for your business.
  • Continue to make sure that you stay true to what is important to the company and yourself.
My goal today was to illustrate the importance of company core values and to cover some of the processes to help identify and share core values if you have not already done so.
Adam Shay, CPA (NC License Number 35961), MBA, is managing partner of Adam Shay CPA, PLLC. He focuses on minimizing taxes and improving the financial results of entrepreneurs, and is actively involved in supporting the Wilmington entrepreneurial and startup community. For more information, visit or email him at [email protected]. He can also be reached by phone at 910-256-3456.

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