We’ve always believed that forming a strategy is impossible until you’re clear on what your values and principles are. Without values and principles to guide you, making decisions can seem impossibly difficult. Given how important setting values and principles is to decision making we asked folks we admire to tell us about the values or principles that matter most to them.

Hannah Kuehl | Vice President

For me this is very simple, I believe that treating people with respect is the single biggest impact I can make professionally. You will not be universally loved or even liked. I find in positions of perceived or actual power to achieve that feels like it would be for my benefit and not that of our business. I accept that hard conversations have to happen, I will have to separate employees, hold them accountable, etc. Knowing all of this you can choose to treat everyone you meet with a friendly, open and professional manner. I always greet our staff, smile, laugh, share from my own professional experiences, I do not make leadership about me, so I share very little about myself. I focus on staff safety and wellbeing. Your staff must trust you to pay them on time and correctly, that you will respect and use correct pronouns, that pressure will not be put on a staff member to educate other staff at large. Leadership must insist on training and finding resources outside of the workplace to facilitate this. Read more>>

Elan Wenzel | Chef & Owner of Element Knife Company

The values, sensibilities and ethos of Element Knife Company are support and education. These principles come from my background of over 20 years experience in the culinary industry. I’ve been classically trained in culinary school. I trained sushi in Japan. I’ve come to realize that I have the opportunity to pass along my knowledge to any young aspiring cook, chef or home chef. I view my local community and restaurant community as my peers. Read more>>

Tiana Cooks | Mentor & Community Manager

One of the most important values that align with who I am is authenticity. I firmly believe that every person on this earth has their own purpose, power, and space that they were created to take up. As a woman of color from Colorado Springs, being my authentic self was something that I struggled with for many years as I felt inadequate in my body and my skin. I will never forget how liberating it was the first time I felt like I could authentically be me. Authentic Tiana does not compare; she inspires. She is a lover of life, lover of people, and a lover of self. She does not strive to be perfect; she strives to be happy. She places smiles on faces aside from her own. She is now walking in her purpose and power while using her voice to take up space. One of my passions is mentoring young girls and helping them fall in love with their authentic selves by reminding them that they are beautiful and wonderfully made. Society places lots of unrealistic expectations on how we should present ourselves, and one of my goals is to show them that they are unique and enough just by being their authentic and true selves. Read more>>

Francis LeGasse Jr. | Father, Podcaster & Chief Operating Officer

Growing up my parents, especially my father, instilled in us we must do the right thing no matter the outcome. It was a lesson I’m thankful today because I’ve learned doing the right thing isn’t always easy. However, when you do the right thing and put your name behind it that’s what matters. We must be leaders based on actions. Our actions must be truthful and impactful. My grandparents where very influential on the path I choose. I learned the importance of family and being there to support each other during the hard times. Additionally, I saw the challenges on our family as both my grandparents aged, one living with Parkinson’s and the other with Dementia. Both were strong men who lead incredible service filled lives. However, the stress at times on our families, especially my mother, made me realize the importance of creating an organization that not only provided a high level of love and care for our older adults but also supported their families. Read more>>

Jessa Dillow Crisp | Author, Speaker, and Executive Director at BridgeHope

I found myself in the middle of a conversation where my mind transported me back to when I was a young adult, homeless in Vancouver, BC. Those days were hard and traumatic. People would stare at me, undress me in their imagination, or turn their eyes away in disgust. I felt invisible within society. It was during those days that a smile from a social worker at the youth shelter I went to permeated my heart and gave me the ability to walk into another day. Her smile was much like the gentle touch of a woman who worked for the Salvation Army that made me feel seen and loved—reminding me that I was human. Due to the kindness of others, almost eleven years later, I am sitting in a beautiful place that is overlooking one of our majestic Colorado sunsets with my dog gently snoring at my feet. I currently hold a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, I am the co-founder of BridgeHope (an anti-trafficking non-profit in the Denver region that helps individuals coming out of exploitation), and I have spoken around the world on topics associated with human trafficking, trauma recovery, and the development of resilience. Read more>>

Caitlin Brozna-Smith | Dance Studio Owner and University Professor

Family. I was fortunate enough to grow up with a very supportive and encouraging family that really set the stage for how I valued human relationships through my life. Relationships are one value I place very high in how I conduct business and develop a sense of community at our dance studio. Families foster a sense of belonging to something greater than oneself. When life gets hard, people need support. Feeling accepted and understood is a basic need for people and families – whether traditional or chosen – can provide that. Our studio’s mission is to provide a fun and inclusive atmosphere that embraces the ethos “Dance is for every BODY”, no matter your age, size, background, orientation orientation. Families also foster a sense of belonging to something greater than oneself. Many families carry on traditions through the years by sharing stories from the past, celebrating milestones and carrying on family rituals. This creates connections, much like we do with our relationship to intercultural experiences at the studio since we are in international dance school Read more>

Sylvia Waller | Mrs. Colorado American 2020/2021

Resillence is most important to me. As a baby boomer, I am blessed to experience a new decade of my life. I have celebrated and mourned many phases of my life. Many ups and downs in my personal life as well as my career. By putting God first in my life; family, joy, happiness and success has followed. As I look into the mirror and see years of experience on my face; laugh lines, crow’s feet and fine lines. I’ve embraced the beauty they bring along with the elegance in aging gracefully through a healthy lifestyle diet and exercise to change my family’s health history narrative. Read more>>

Aaron Ross Green Sr. | Founder and Chief Executive Officer

A commitment to uplifting the human condition is a principle that matters most to me. Understanding that we are all connected, and tethered with the will of positively enhancing humanity is the cornerstone of my social work practice. Being a good person, having respect and dignity and worth of individuals, groups, has a profound purpose wherever I go. That is how I was raised, and how I choose to raise my two sons. I strongly believe that our connection and relationships with one another is the foundation of how I am able to navigate environments, and my success as an entrepreneur. Do good, be kind, work hard, and do all you can to enhance the circumstances of those who are vulnerable, or in harms way. That is my philosophy, and the value I bring to the work that I do. Read more>>

Eighty Spadez | Rapper, Beatmaker, Gamer

“This, above all, to thine own self be true.” I got this from Renaissance Man. The moment I heard that, it became my motto. To me, it means don’t try to be someone else, be you. Trust yourself. Know that yourself is more than enough if that makes sense. Read more>>

Nyasia Wyani Smith | Model

Having integrity would be the principle that matters most to me. Standing for something will always supersede the popularity of what everyone else is doing, I would rather stand for something than fall for anything. when it comes to modeling, I try to carry this with me in everything I do. Such as, being kind to everyone (even the people that are rude), trying to be a woman of my word, or just trying to show up as the best version of myself every day. All of these are attributes of integrity, and I try to embody them, because if I am radiating positive energy my hope is that it would sequentially rub off on my environment and eventually onto people, allowing my light to shine. Read more>>

Lawrence Page | Filmmaker, Entrepreneur and CEO of MILA CNCPTS

I’ve grown up with not having a lot, and living in a 1 bedroom NYC apartment with a family of four. Me and my family set expectations low but knew if we worked hard enough and were patient enough, we’ll receive what we need in life, and MAYBE, just maybe, we’d receive the things we’d WANT in this life. Learned a lot of values from my parents’ pasts stories of creating a life here in the U.S. My late mother immigrating to the U.S from the Philippines in the early 80’s, and having herself a great career as a nurse while balancing being a mother is something I’ll always admire. My father’s story is also another one that I admire, he had spent 10 years of his life since his was 17 incarcerated in the Philippines’ highest level secured prison. Because of his U.S citizenship (that he had because of a grandfather law, and his grandfather being born in the U.S) with arrangements made, he was able to come the America in the late 70’s. He came here with no education past a high school degree, and came here with a culture shock of first being out of incarceration, and number 2, trying to assimilate into American culture. Read more>>

Janna Zelinger | Personal Trainer, Senior Fitness Specialist, Fitness Nutrition Specialist

I was always taught growing up to follow the golden rule, “treat others as you would like to be treated.” While this was always a reminder to generally be a nice person (never a bad thing), it also provided the gateway to understanding how someone else might think or feel from their own perspective. Being able to see from another’s point of view is precisely how we practice sympathy and empathy, two vital ways to connect to other human beings. While it may seem that this is merely a social benefit, it really dives deeper into our lives than that. We must be able to connect to others in every aspect of life including work, play, education, or simply needing assistance from another on a purchase or problem. We share the world with each other, and it’s a much easier experience when we can all value one another and communicate effectively. Not only that, but that experience is enhanced by passion, something only people can bring to the equation for themselves and others. Read more>>

Mary Kaye Podschweit | Disabled Author and Artist

Since my anoxic brain injury from a pulmonary embolism and cardiac arrest three times, I’ve had to reinvent myself. The part of me that enjoyed challenges, math problems, and a good debate, that part of me died on November 22, 2013. Since then, I have been working life in first gear, sometimes, in park or neutral but always trying. Life for everyone, at some point, changes instantly. What I valued then, I really don’t remember, but what I value now is relationships, bringing joy, experiencing love, and being able to give all three freely. I’m not exceptional at anything. But that realization doesn’t prevent me from trying. I try. I try with my writing, whether it be non-fiction, short stories, or poetry. I find it easiest to express through words and painting, then trying discreetly to speak. Speech has been the most difficult form of communication to relearn. To see the words but not be able to articulate them used to be time-consuming. Seems rather silly, now I am sharing with you because I still get to love, to be a wife and mother, daughter, sister, and friend. Read more>>

Laura Pence Atencio | Customer Journey Strategist for Speakers, Authors, and Podcasters

Freedom is at the root of everything I do and everything I want in my work and my life. Time freedom is the biggest driving force in my life. I lost my husband in 2018 and that loss has massively changed my priorities. My primary focus shifted from growing my company to making the most of my time – right now. I already had a strong foundation in place which allowed for location and financial independence. I have run a successful digital marketing agency for speakers, authors, and podcasters who are coaches selling programs and services for over a decade. I was spending more time in my business than necessary. I was working long hours because other people thought I should. What nonsense! My God-given talent is creating order out of chaos. I look at existing systems and see opportunities for improvement. I put that talent to use for myself and spent the bulk of a year traveling with my daughter and spending more time with her. Read more>>

Floodgate Operators | High Energy Squidgrass

Patience, persistence and most importantly: having fun. The best don’t become experts in their field overnight, it can take years of dedication and perseverance to achieve goals. Having fun while being goal oriented makes all the hard work worth it. Music is no different, especially in bluegrass. If you would have told us 3 years ago that we would have put out an EP and are recording a full length album in April of 2021, I guarantee that none of us would believe it. Pivoting during a pandemic made these principles all the more valid. Our guitar player Kevin Doherty calls it “The Dojo”. We’ve been given a great opportunity to write more, refine our skills, and focus on what makes playing together fun and refreshing. Read more>>