“Not everything in life is a lesson, Mom!”

“Oh, but it is, Catherine.”

This is a real conversation I had with my daughter several years ago when she was still living at home. Since then, she has gone on to do amazing things in her career and has learned her own lessons along the way.

Looking back on my career, there were moments when I didn’t want to face my current situation and wanted to call it quits. However, that was a luxury I couldn’t afford. Over time, I realized these lessons had a bigger meaning and could help me or others in the future, so I created a folder called “If I’m ever in charge,” in which I began to file the lessons I learned from those challenging times.

Among the lessons in my file is a quote I found meaningful from author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek, who said, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” Words have never held a truer sentiment.

In our industry, people are our product, and with that we offer a voice, a purpose and a future to help people fulfill a life mission that we have the honor of helping them achieve. Everything starts with a job! It provides a sense of belonging, dignity and necessities that ripple out and impact the well-being of our loved ones.

When I took over as CEO of BG Staffing Inc. in October 2018, I was very grateful I had documented those challenging times. I immediately initiated the first companywide strategic plan, as I wanted to take the lessons I learned and help develop the foundation for who we were going to be as a company.

Twenty BG team members came together and compiled the lessons they had filed away to develop our company values, based on individual experiences and personal values. What would define us, and how were we going to achieve these goals? If the founding members don’t have a strong set of personal values, it’s reflected in your company values. I believe we have values that illuminate all aspects of life – from work, home and community life.

Values set the foundation. Strong companies are built on foundations that can weather the storms. Your values help you make decisions you can stand by in times of uncertainty and change. Values provide clarity. We are faced with millions of decisions daily that effect people. Your company values give you a filter to run your thought process through and ensure your decisions are predictable to others.

Values provide the roadmap. In our case, our values — dubbed our “BG GIIFT” — are Growth, Integrity, Innovation, Fun and Teamwork. Once our values were in place, we held our second strategy meeting outlining our organization and financial strategy. So how does this tie into all those lessons I was thankful for?

Growth. It’s not just about the bottom line. People matter, training matters, providing benefits that build loyalty matter, diversity and inclusion matter. Starting with people builds growth in all aspects of our business, especially the bottom line.

Integrity. It’s easy to do what is right when people are watching; true integrity is doing what is right when they are not. We don’t always get it right, but owning it when we are wrong provides honesty and transparency to all our stakeholders.

Innovation. We don’t just talk about it and hope someday it magically happens. We have a plan, we have a team, we have invested in it. It is scary and expensive! We encourage innovation of thought and listen to feedback. Innovation starts where we meet our talent. In the end we will be stronger, more efficient and more profitable.

Fun. Who doesn’t want to have fun at work? Take a break, have a laugh, recharge.

Teamwork. No one does it alone! Friendly competition is motivating; helping others be their best starts a movement.

So, in the end, be thankful for the tough times, because everything really is a life lesson.