First thing’s first. I should get personal travel and/or injury insurance the next time I visit the Cannon team.
I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working with this work hard, play hard team for the past few years and, it’s safe to say, we push each other to the edge, way out of our comfort zone, while living to tell the tale.
The Cannon Safe and Gun Vault teams allow me to join in on their team building while we’re tackling their strategy and annual or quarterly planning. They’ve taken me ziplining across canyons in 115-degree temperatures in Las Vegas.
They’ve geared me up, slapped a paintball gun in my hand and told me to help capture the flag while Greg in sales pelted me at point blank range with a smile on his face. I had to take my pain out on Morgan in IT and shoot him square in his goggles.
The Cannon family lives by their Core Values. In fact, we all carry coins with their Core Values inscribed and at any moment, Steve Hoffa, President, will pull his coin out, and we had better have ours to show as well. It’s a reminder to wear the Cannon Core Values at all times both physically and mentally.
Our PATH is CLEARLY defined.
People At The Heart
Enjoy Hard Work
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Yearn to Learn
More than a coin in a pocket, I’ve been able to witness their Core Values first hand beyond the dashboards and flipcharts in a conference room and see them thrive when taken outside - as we try to off ourselves with whatever activity Steve Hoffa, Special Forces, has deviously created. If you want to test your Core Values, take them on a field trip.
Finally, they handed me a hiking stick and waterproof boots and sent me up the Narrows in Zion National Park. As my team in the Narrows were gracefully stepping along the rocks hidden below the rapids, I was looking like Elaine’s dance from Seinfeld with a series of thrusts, leg lifts, and unnatural bends in my back. We make our way miles up the Narrows when the team breaks out these $2 rafts from a dollar store for us to blow up. What are we going to do with these? Float back down the rapids, of course. Why would I be surprised?
In the end, the Cannon team yearned to learn how to traverse the rocks. They respected everyone’s capabilities and encouraged each other while never letting anyone fall too far behind. They shared rafts to make sure everyone had a great experience as the $2 rafts started popping. After all, actions speak louder than words. We started sharing our methods and decided Alberto, Cody, and Cayla (being the daredevils in the front of the line) would report back on spots to avoid as our continuous improvement. No one complained. I even sucked it up when a rock fell and hit my back. I enjoy hard work...and hard rocks. Why couldn’t we be like normal people and walk back down the Narrows? Because we love change and doing the same thing twice is lame.
When you hold up your coin at Cannon, you are CLEARLY saying you would honor these values whether you were handed some tough news or a $2 raft.
I survived the hike, the rock hitting my back, my jerky dance moves, my body somehow gliding across and around legit rocks. I’m sitting on the tarmac, and I exhale. And that’s when we were alerted that we had to evacuate the airplane. It was a bomb threat. A couple hours later, Leah, one of my rafting partners from Cannon Safe texts me if I’ve made it on board alright. She saw a flight was evacuated at the airport and was afraid it was mine. She wanted to make sure I was OK, and they would help find me a hotel if needed. Loyalty.
Cannon Safe or Gun Vault isn’t for everyone. That’s really the point in Core Values, isn’t it?
You should hire someone who aligns with the values and fire those who could put the culture in jeopardy by not upholding them. We’ve all worked with competent jerks (swap out jerks with your favorite term) who survive because they are also performers. All of this is done at the expense of the culture. Nothing sends a swifter and stronger message to your team that you are the gatekeepers of the company’s culture than firing based on blatant disregard for how one should interact with others.
In the end, what a fantastic and life changing experience all around because I fit (although clumsily) working with the Cannon culture. It’s not for everyone. That’s OK, though. More rafts for me.
I would love for you to meet Cayla Heeringa (daredevil) as she is one of our Women in Strategy Panelists at the Breakthrough Conference. And, shameless plug for me, to hear more stories like these, come to my breakout session on How to Use Core Values to Build a Winning Team.
Now, go take your Core Values outside!