Business owners can have great people and great results if they’ll just serve cake without icing.

I see owners try the icing first when building their culture. Icing is things like printing your Core Values on coffee mugs and painting them in three-foot-tall letters on the wall.

These owners know they can’t achieve their vision without great people. They know solid Core Values attract the right people and repel the wrong people. They want to hire, fire, review, reward, and recognize based on Core Values.

But it’s not working, because they’ve neglected the three-layer cake that’s the foundation. You need these three layers to perpetuate your Core Values and build your culture:

  1. Hire every single person on Core Values
  2. Review based on Core Values
  3. Give a Quarterly State of the Company speech

You can bake these three layers into your company (see what I did there?) even if you’ve burned every real cake you’ve ever made. Here’s how:

Hire every single person on Core Values

Try to scare candidates away with a Core Values Speech. In this final step in your hiring process, you say something like, “At The Three-Layer Company, we’re all-in. Nobody says, ‘That’s not my job.’ We do whatever it takes to get the job done. If that’s not you, I just want to warn you you’re going to be very uncomfortable. It just won’t work out.”

Candidates who have your values will light up. The ones who don’t, you’ll see the energy drain from their face.

Review based on Core Values

The People Analyzer needs to be a part of your performance reviews. This simple tool brings crystal clarity to tough people issues. You simply rate each person on how her or his daily behaviors reflect, or don’t, your Core Values. Then, you have open and honest conversations when people are below the bar.

When your people realize they’re being evaluated on Core Values, that starts to perpetuate the Core Values, and build a culture around them.

Give a Quarterly State of the Company speech

Every quarter you, the owner, need to tell your people in an all-hands meeting where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going.

“Where we’re going” is an opportunity to show your Vision/Traction Organizer, a two-page plan that leads off with Core Values. For each Core Value, share one real-life story where somebody exemplified the value in the last 90 days.

Just do those three things, and it’s 80% of the battle. Add icing if you’d like, but be sure you’re spreading it on a solid foundation: Your three-layer cake.

Core Values, People Analyzer, and Vision/Traction Organizer are all tools in the Entrepreneurial Operating System®: A proven, complete system with a set of simple, practical tools designed to get you everything you want from your business.

Companies like EyeCare Specialties, ComPro, Bulu Box, Berry Law Firm, Bluestem Fiber, and MultiMechanics all trust EOS. For more, see, text or call me at (402) 202-2820, or email