I had the opportunity to chat with Bryan Wempen today on his show, Drive Thru HR. Here’s the interview.

When he asked the question we all know so well – What keeps you up at night? – I talked with him about heritage and what it means.

My employer, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, celebrated 140 years as a business this year. Before there were light bulbs, before there were telephones, before there was manned flight, there was a Kimberly-Clark Corporation. And there is a rich heritage I won’t go into here, but in terms of the modern era, Jim Collins explains some of why he feels K-C has been successful in his well-known book, Good To Great.

In my conversation with Bryan, we talked about how the phrase “because that’s how we’ve always done it” is the wrong kind of heritage. Heritage is about values, not methods. Fair dealing is a value from the company founders, and our current CEO talks in terms of “taking accountability, and doing the right things.” When I started my career, I worked for another company that was celebrating it’s One Hundredth Anniversary that year. It didn’t make it past one hundred and fifteen. Their heritage was there, but the leadership didn’t care about the heritage in terms of values. That stance on values is what has allowed us to continue to thrive today. And if you work in a start-up, you might want to be asking the questions about your future heritage. What are the values that you are basing your business dealing on? That you base your recruitment on? That you base your promotions on? Results matter, but values are key too.

Mom on her 90th birthday

And speaking of heritage, my mother celebrated 90 years of sharing values this weekend. You can read more about her here. Her six children will be gathering in her honor later this month, and I can assure you we are all grateful for the heritage she and her ancestors have bestowed on us. And we probably each hope that some of the right genes have been passed along as well!

3 Responses to Heritage

  1. A lovely post with a very powerful point. Just because the business has made it to 100 doesn’t give it a right to keep going eh? Tony Hsieh talks a lot about the importance of culture and values at Zappos – I reckon he would enjoy your post too. And belated birthday wishes to your Mum – good work!

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