How to Re-Align Your Business with Your Values with Erica Courdae

If you’re out of alignment with your business and want to realign yourself, it starts with your vision. But it doesn’t end there. You’ve got to get your values on board as well.

In this episode of the Promote Yourself to CEO podcast, Erica Courdae is back to help me dive into how you can realign your business with your values. You’ll learn how being out of alignment affects everyone in your company, the one band-aid you want to avoid using when you’re feeling stuck in your business, and what might be behind that resentfulness you feel towards your business.


On this episode of Promote Yourself to CEO:

3:02 – Why have this conversation now? Erica and I talk about why doing more isn’t the answer to fixing the problem.

6:12 – You’re not the only one affected in your business when you’re out of alignment. We reveal an inflection point for many small businesses.

13:52 – Why do values not exist in action in a lot of businesses (both large and small)? We discuss what it takes to realign your values.

21:17 – Here’s how the 90-Day CEO Operating System and Erica’s workshop help get you back to alignment.

25:49 – Do you resent everything about your business, including your clients and team? This might be a reason why.

30:48 – I share why we lead with “life before business” as our #1 value at The CEO Collective.

36:42 – Beware the consequences of going it alone and not allowing your team to contribute (on some level) to solidifying your company’s values.

41:46 – What’s the difference between joining and belonging? People often conflate the two.

Mentioned in How to Re-Align Your Business With Your Values with Erica Courdae

Racheal Cook: If you have felt frustrated, annoyed, or even resentful about your business, your team, your clients, your community, then chances are something is out of alignment. In the previous episode, we talked about how to realign your business to your vision, that big picture, the direction you are taking your business in the future, and in this episode, my dear friend and mentor inside of The CEO Collective, Erica Courdae, is joining me to talk about how can we realign your business with your values. Let's get into it.

Are you ready to grow from stressed-out solopreneur to competent CEO? You're in the right place. I'm your host, Racheal Cook, and I've spent more than 15 years helping women entrepreneurs sustainably scale their businesses. If you're serious about building a sustainable business, it's time to put the strategy, systems, and support in place to make it happen. Join me each week for candid conversations about stepping into your role as CEO, the hard lessons learned along the way, and practical profitable strategies to grow a sustainable business without the hustle and burnout.

Hey there, CEOs. I have a very special return guest. Erica Courdae is with me. We are talking today all about how to realign with your values when your business is feeling hard, when it's feeling frustrating, when you're feeling like “This isn't it” is when we start to see people who are grasping for answers.

We tend to find that it all comes back to values. Literally, every time Erica and I talk about this, it's like, “Well, the answer really comes back to what are your core values? What are the core values of the business?” That is the starting place for so much, including your vision which is the previous episode that I just released. Erica, welcome back. I have no idea how many times you've been on the podcast by now but it's been a lot. You're like my top repeat guest here.

Erica Courdae: I will take it and I always love being here. I like having a great conversation with you because so much comes of it. So thank you for letting me be here and letting everybody listen in because I know there's a whole lot to come out of this.

Racheal Cook: Yes. We recorded a bunch of short-form videos. People might have seen them on Instagram or in TikTok over the summer because Erica and I have known each other for a while now, we've worked together in so many different ways, she has helped me define our values inside of The CEO Collective.

She has worked inside of The CEO Collective as a mentor to our clients. It's very much the mutual admiration society happening here. Then our Voxer is always full of conversation, especially when we start to see things pop up on the internets that we're like, “Whoa, what is going on?”

I think that's what brings us to this conversation that we're having because in our work with small business owners, I think often, a lot of people get frustrated, they get stuck, they get overwhelmed, and wanting to throw in the towel on their business or feeling like they need to burn it all down and start again, and they really don't. They really don't need to do that.

They just need to press pause and re-evaluate what's actually happening here. That is a deeper conversation than just try a new marketing tactic or create a new program because those are never the fixes, those are always the Band-Aids hoping that it'll change everything about your business but they never do.

Erica Courdae: I still haven't quite figured out why the go-to feels like “Let me do more. Let me create something else to divert my efforts. Let me create something else that splits the attention to what I do and how I support people and the outcomes that I get.” That's not the answer. Honestly, it's never the answer.

Racheal Cook: Yeah. I think it becomes a lot of that saying no matter where you go, there you are. You can try to keep running from the problem and trying everything on but if you're not willing to really sit down and look at yourself in the mirror as the CEO, as the leader of this business, and ask yourself these harder questions where there is no right or wrong, there is no one-size-fits-all, you really have to get brutally honest with yourself and answer these questions before you can take any next step.

I think a lot of people hesitate to do that because there's a lot of the use of the word values that’s thrown around there without any depth. It's just a label that we’re a values-based business, we have values-driven leadership but when you ask them what are those values and how are they showing up, how are they in your business, they're not sure.

Erica Courdae: No, no, they're not. Part of it is the other piece that you said of there's fear around answering questions if there's no perfect answer, if there is no ideal Instagram social media worthy response that's going to come out of it. None of that translates to impact. It actually does not translate to sustainable income, clients, or interactions, let alone relationship building and the integrity that comes with actually having values infused in everything you do in your what, your why, your how.

There's just this fear of number one, “I can't pause. Because if I pause, somebody's going to catch me, they're going to pass me, and I'm never going to be able to recoup.” You never take that pause to actually question, “Why am I doing this? Why does this matter? Who is this for? Does this actually support the life that I want to create for myself? Am I creating somebody else's business? Did I just become the worst boss I've ever had?”

Racheal Cook: That one right there. Becoming the worst boss you've ever had, trust me, if you're feeling this about your own business, then guess how your team feels, guess how your clients feel, they can feel it.

Even if you think you're checking all the boxes for delivering an amazing experience to your clients, they can tell if you are overworked, if you are on the fast track to burnout, if you are just not in alignment. That energy is palatable to people. It will actually start to repel people because they can tell you are out of alignment.

Erica Courdae: The interesting thing about what you said is at that point, you are repelling the people that you might actually want to attract as opposed to intentionally repelling the people that are not a good fit because your values are out of alignment. You want to repel but you want to repel with intention and purpose.

Racheal Cook: Absolutely. As we're talking about values, we've talked about this before on the podcast so we're going to link up some of the episodes Erica and I have done together, highly, highly, highly like underscore 20 times recommend going to their website, Pause On The Play, and checking out the From Implicit to Explicit Values Workshop because it is hands down the best investment you can make in your business when you are at the stage where you are building a team and this is about no longer just you.

I think this is an inflection point for small businesses where your business is growing beyond just you, and just like with your vision, if your vision is all just about how you personally benefit from your business but it's not about how this business impacts your clients, your community, or your team and what's in it for them, if it's only about what's in it for you, people aren't going to be excited to get behind that.

If your values are just based on your personal values, there are so many things there that may or may not be relevant to the work that you're doing or might not be the top five that should be really ingrained in the culture that you're trying to build. Go do that workshop.

Erica Courdae: Right. Honestly, a great example is literally you're talking about the culture piece. If somebody wants to work with somebody and they know this individual, they want to be able to access you at all times, they want to know that you're going to answer these emails really quickly, and they don't have to wait but your values have not been communicated, “Hey, five, six o'clock, I'm done. I'm not checking this on the weekend. You'll hear from me when I get back in the office at the beginning of the week but it might not be Monday because now I'm catching up on everything and email might not be the first thing I do in the morning because that's not what I have set my business up to do.”

If somebody was attracted to you and they are looking for that type of urgency and immediacy and you have misled them because that is not how you operate, now we have a conflict because you are on two very different wavelengths. If that's what they want, that's fine but they need to be clear that they cannot receive that from you and you need to be able to clearly communicate that that is not what you are able or willing to deliver so that somebody that wants that from you does know how to find you.

Racheal Cook: This ties into how we've talked about values being the rules of the road. This is how things are implemented. This is how you do things in this company, in this business, in this team, in this culture with these clients. When people clearly understand what the expectations are, what the boundaries are, the thought process behind how you show up and do the things that you do, it smooths out so many issues that a lot of small business owners have because now everybody's really on the same page.

They're not second-guessing you because they're all looking at a decision you've made as a business owner with their own lens of “This is how I would do it.” They know this is how this company shows up. It really creates this uniform way of doing the things that you do, which as you grow your business, if people aren't on the same page, it becomes so incredibly challenging.

It just causes chaos when people don't know how we approach decision-making, how we approach communication, or how we approach handling projects or handling conflict. All of this, answering those questions and figuring out those problems, it starts with identifying your values. That's not the end of it though. It's not just identify them, then we've got to pull them through and really weave them into every part of your business.

Erica Courdae: That was going to be my next statement because you have figured them out. Everybody else that you are interacting with needs to be on the same page and there needs to be collective agreement on how it is that this shows up throughout the business, how does this influence the standards, the decision-making, the choices, what you will and won't do.

A lot of times, Andy and I, when we do Implicit to Explicit with people, one of the big things we say is, “You want to be able to be clear on what you will and won't do. Do's and don'ts, if you cannot figure those out, you definitely cannot communicate it to other people.”

But using CEO Collective as an example, as a mentor, I am clear on how it is that I'm interacting with somebody and I am clear where it is that I am going to guide you or give you insight as your mentor, as a coach, as an individual and where it's like, “Actually, you need to go to blah-blah-blah call, you need to talk to this person. You need to go bring this here.”

I understand and if I don't, I know how to get answers because it also doesn't mean that you have to know all the answers but you do have to be clear on how to find out what those answers are because there are nuances that they come up all the time. But if there's no opportunity to have that conversation of “Hey, I'm not sure. What do I do?” or “This is what came up and this is what I thought but I just wanted to validate,” yep, you got that one on head.

When you have that culture that has been clearly communicated, everybody has the access to share if they're noticing that something is out of alignment or where things can possibly work better and they feel like they're a part of it, you didn't just come in and give them directives that they had no input on, they are simply there to do a test, they're a taskrabbit and they don't actually map.

We all matter. We all are a part of this and to my knowledge, none of us that I'm aware of feel as if our lives don't exist and don't matter and never show up in the context of what we do. Knowing that you're a whole human in the context of the work that you do and how it is that you choose to serve people is a large part of not only how well you serve but how it is that that company culture actually works. Is it cohesive? Does this run well?

Racheal Cook: Yeah. I think so much of that is the clarity that we have and I think when it comes to values, one of the reasons they just don't exist really in action in a lot of small businesses, in a lot of large businesses too, let's be honest, there's a lot of corporations out there that don't know how to pull this through and fully integrate it throughout the business, it is repetition.

The way that you build culture isn't by what you say once but do never. It's about what you say and do all of the time. It's through every point of your business. I think about all the places where we talk about our values. One, it's on our website, it's there. I've talked about it on this podcast multiple times. Everybody knows we're here to do life before business and then I like to keep things simple and strategic.

These are almost like Racheal-isms that now are just part of the DNA of how we run this business. It's repeated. It's repeated in the onboarding of our clients. They literally go through a mini onboarding process where they're watching something that talks about the values and the community guidelines for being a part of The CEO Collective.

It's built into our frameworks. It's built into the way that we talk about things. Anytime people come to The CEO Retreat, we're always asking, “Where's your life in this plan? Where's your time off in this?”

Erica Courdae: I was going to say I had yet to have one time that I have not had to propose, “Wait, wait, wait, pause, where did you show up in all of these values that you set? Where did you show up in these judgments that you're putting on yourself that did not take into consideration what your life actually is and not with the best-case scenario you would love for it to be?”

It always happens. It's not because people aren't aware of it, it's because it can be so easy to go back to the programming of autopilot of “I come last. I don't matter. What is the work? What is the business?” and it's like, “That's not what we do and that's not why this works.”

Racheal Cook: It's a huge shift. It takes a lot. When I first started talking about this, it took a lot for me to feel I guess confident enough in this idea to say, “You need to not work right now. You need to take time off.” I have had so many clients where I've had to be like, “You're on the brink of burnout and if you don't take care of this now, it will take care of you in the future.”

Erica Courdae: But showing up that way is such a divergent idea in comparison to what we are ingrained to believe that business not only has to be but like, “Oh, you're not a man doing it so you absolutely have to follow the rules. Who were you to break the rules? Wait, what? No.”

Racheal Cook: What you just said there, divergent, I think this is one of the big reasons why especially small business owners who we tend to attract into The CEO Collective and here on Promote Yourself to CEO, these are people who when they describe their dream life and their dream businesses, you can hear their values in that.

But when it comes to making the changes right now that will lead them there, it is so difficult to get out of things that are so entrenched that you know those neurons have a little groove in your brain somewhere that when the email comes in at 10 o'clock at night, you still get up and answer it or if somebody wants you to take a phone call when you want to have dinner with your family, you accommodate them.

There's a lot of bad habits, there's a lot of bad culture, anybody who has worked somewhere else where you know is a toxic workplace, we still have to get them to re-evaluate their way of showing up because it is, it becomes so entrenched and it almost feels like we have to deprogram people from this because the toxic work culture, the hustle culture, the people-pleasing, the bending over backwards all the time and not making space for yourself, you have to think about it, this is the message that has been shoved down our throats since we started school and maybe even before.

It's going to take more than just one conversation or one podcast episode to really start to shift that belief and realign to what your actual values are. Because you can do the exercise to figure out your values but it takes active practice to really be in alignment with them.

Erica Courdae: It's going to take a lot of time, a lot of purposeful conscious intentional effort because you have to be conscious of it, you have to be aware of it, you have to try to actually take that time to think, “What is the impact I want to create and therefore I can think about what the intentionality is that I want to have with my actions?”

But there is no way that you are going to be able to just shirk off White supremacy culture, hustle culture, capitalism incarnate, patriarchy at its finest and worst. The reason I say finest is because the reality is that these systems are awful but they're running as they were designed. It doesn't easily go away and it's extremely insidious.

Very often, you find yourself moving forward and you're like, “Oh, I've made some strides, I've gotten better,” and all of a sudden something will try to snatch you back and it's going to happen. It's what you do when it happens that is really the determining factor. It's whether or not you allow yourself to be reintegrated into these problematic ways of being that are not healthy. They are absolutely harmful to your health and those that are around you.

Mentally, physically, spiritually, all the ways, it's not helpful because you are simply being consumed for someone else's benefit. It doesn't benefit you. Being able to have that awareness of it and figuring out what needs to be changed and starting that process, staying aware of that change that needs to happen, and what type of accountability that you need to stay present and in forward motion, that's the thing that matters because it's not going to happen if you figure it out and you stick it in a binder and it sits on a dusty shelf.

It's not going to happen if you decide it and then you don't actually figure out how this gets integrated and what are the actions that go along with it. It's not going to happen if you not only simply leave it be once you've landed on it but you never revisit it to figure out whether or not you're actually in alignment with it and if there's been any nuances, any shifts, what are the wins that you've had since then, where are the opportunities for growth, we don't just leave that there. That's just like trying to work on your health. You don't just say, “Oh, I'm going to do this, and then I never check on it again.” That's not how that works. None of it.

Racheal Cook: I think this is why the framework that we've created, the 90 Day CEO Operating System works so well to help you come back to alignment because it takes a lot from mindfulness practices honestly. A lot of the habits I work on with our clients and that the team works on with our clients, these are basic mindfulness practices.

Sitting down to review your week and ask yourself, “What's working or what's not working?” If that isn't a way to tell if you are in or out of alignment, I don't know what is but how often do we sit down and ignore those questions? A lot of people don't look at them, and then they wait until, for example, you said things creep up like your calendar is one very clear area we can tell if you show somebody your calendar in your bank account, I can tell what you value. I can tell where you're putting your time, energy, and money very clearly.

If your calendar is just chaos, there are meetings all over the place haphazard around your week, there's no clear structure to your week, there's no time for you to even eat lunch, go to the bathroom. I know people who they are so booked and then they're coming to us, “I'm so tired,” and I'm like, “Well, let's look at your calendar. Let's ask ourselves what's working, what's not working. Let's ask ourselves where do you need support, what does your self-care look like.”

These are built into the planner. By the way, everyone, if you just want to get more in alignment with your business, take Erica and India’s workshop and then go buy yourself a CEO Planner because you will learn some of these habits because every week you're checking in to ask yourself, “Am I in alignment with what I am trying to accomplish here?” You're tracking your progress and then you're taking time to review and reflect.

Those are basic mindfulness principles. Anybody who's ever done journaling, who's ever done a gratitude journal, or what my wins are, basic mindfulness things to just be present and think about what is happening in this present moment and how is it working for you.

Erica Courdae: Oh, my gosh, yes. Going back again to if you do Implicit to Explicit and you come out and you're like, “Okay, I have these values, I get it,” now you have something to measure against. You can be able to be like, “Wait, okay, I said that I value life over business,” let's go with a really tangible one everybody already understands, but then I can clearly tell that it is the middle of summer vacation and I have booked four out of five days, 10-hour days for the entire month of July, that's not going to work out real well.

It's not going to work right. It's not going to work the way that you want it to, especially if you have two kids that are under four. Good luck with that. That's not going to work out well. The challenge is that if you have those values and you keep them somewhere that you're going to interact with them, you can utilize it as a filter for really checking whether or not your decisions are in alignment before it get so out of whack that you now have to recoup and repair the damage that has been done.

But there's also the benefit of having someone, whether it's a mentor, it's an accountability partner, a peer, whoever it needs to be for you that you have access to that understands this and supports you to be able to be like, “Hey, I have a real hard time not doing XYZ thing. If you catch me doing this, please, please help to redirect me. Or if you notice that I don't seem like myself, please help to redirect me.”

You have to be able to have this place to figure out what accountability looks like. I am very fortunate that I feel like my mentees, they actually listen like they want this and so when I say certain things, they're not like, “Oh, she's telling me this again” even if they think if they don't say it and they go do the thing.

I had one that came back yesterday and was like, “Oh, yeah, I'm always fighting the hustle part and I'm always trying to make myself do more. However, when you told me to write down everything that I was doing, it made a huge difference because when I actually saw it on paper, everything that I was doing and yet I was still telling myself I wasn't doing enough I had to check myself.”

Racheal Cook: Yes. That's what a lot of this is. It's making the invisible part visible. There's a lot of conversation right now about emotional labor at home. That tends to be someplace where a lot of women struggle because traditionally, women carry the emotional, mental load of running our families, running our households, etc., so there's been a huge conversation online about that especially since the pandemic, because let's face it, women have held up the United States forever with unpaid labor.

There's a great book called Fair Play by Eve Rodsky and she actually talks about she created a deck of cards. If you were to get a deck of cards, each card has a different chore or a different thing that needs to happen for the running of your household. There are like a hundred cards on the deck.

The practice that she has everyone do in the family is deal out the deck of cards first according to who does those things currently. What you often see is that the women of the family often have 80%, 90% of the cards, and their partner has like, “Yay, I take out the trash and mow the lawn,” it's like, “Congratulations, you do a chore twice a week and we're doing everything else.”

Anyway, I'll pull back for a second because I don't want to go down that rabbit hole too much but it is the making the invisible visible and that exercise you have right there, it's all about getting it out of your head, which is where if you can't articulate what is wrong, then you just end up with this ambiguous feeling, this just heaviness of “This isn't working. This is too hard.”

You start to resent your business, you might feel resentful of your clients, you might feel resentful of your team. If you're constantly feeling resentful of your team like, “God, they can't do anything right, they're not doing it the way I want to do it, they keep coming to me and I have to keep teaching them and telling them and blah-blah-blah,” are you making this stuff visible? Have you sat down to articulate what these values actually mean in practice so that they can take them and take full ownership of it?

Erica Courdae: This is where I think it's important to acknowledge how it is that your brain works, how it is that your day-to-day working life works, and how that extends to those that you work with because for some people, they're at their desk each day, for some people, they're like, “I cannot sit at this desk. I'm going to lose it. I gotta move around.”

Other people are like, “Look, I'm going to do these things but it's likely going to be at a different time frame than everybody else so I might be working in a different way.” It's important to figure out how is it that everybody can have a similar level of access to the awareness of these values and these parameters? Is it that they need to be at the top of your Slack? Is it that it needs to be on a sticky on your laptop? Is it that it needs to be on maybe the background of your computer, the words are just there?

These are just random little things that may or may not help you. Is it a sticky note that stays stuck on the front cover of the current journal that you're using so you can always go back to see exactly what it is? Whatever that thing is that works for you in this season of life, there needs to be a concrete and tangible way to revisit exactly what these things are.

If you need it, you can extend that to “How does this show up in action? What questions do I need to ask myself to validate whether or not I am or am not in alignment?”

If free time and flexibility matter to you and all of a sudden you are noticing your schedule getting out of hand and you go to do a weekly check-in with yourself and you see that, something should prompt you to be like, “Okay, how did I get here? What is it that's happening? Is it that I'm feeling scarcity? Is it that I said yes to something I should have said no to? Is it that I said yes to something in a way that I should have said yes differently to it? Am I not receiving help? Am I not even understanding that I need help?”

Or just being able to acknowledge “This is temporary. This will last for this amount of time and when it is done, I go back to resuming my normal.” Because sometimes, there are moments that we have projects and it's like, “I gotta get it done while I have the access to the other people that I need.” But you need to have awareness of whatever that is so that you know that you don't end up on a slippery slope to burnout or to creating your own hell.

Racheal Cook: Yeah. This is why I am such a systems person because I have to be because my default setting for a very long time was to say yes to everything, to say yes to everyone, to put everyone else's needs in front of my own. This is why life before business is our number one value that we lead with because once you teach yourself how to actually put yourself first and make sure that everything is truly working for you, it shifts but it takes such a long time to get there, y'all.

I'm not going to say it's an overnight thing at all. I literally just this week posted in our membership area for The Collective, I said, “Y'all, I literally just took three big things off my calendar this week, deleted them. Here's what I took off my calendar. I took off a connection call, I took off an interview, and I took off a networking event.”

Now all of those on the surface are important, these all fall into my role as the CEO of my business but in the context of this week and next week, the time that we're recording this episode, I'm about to lead the CEO Retreat, a virtual one followed by the in-person one, and when the in-person ones happen, you are holding a lot of mental, emotional space for people and it takes a tremendous amount of energy.

Erica Courdae: Yes. To show up in a way that I know it is important to you, you could not have done that had you left all those things on your calendar. I know what I hold and I am not nearly visible in the same ways with it as you are. You absolutely needed to take those things off your calendar.

Racheal Cook: Well, and that's why I not just took it off, and again, because on the CEO Date, your calendar, organize your calendar for the week, that's when you're asking yourself, “Am I in alignment here? What do I need? What support do I need? What self-care do I need?” and I realized that I didn't have the bandwidth to do everything.

I had to prioritize not just what was important but what is important and urgent, needs to happen this week and next week, and replace the things that were going to take a lot of energy from me with things that are going to give me back energy. I replaced it with acupuncture, replaced it with Pilates session, and I replaced it with getting extra rest this week because those are the things that are going to fuel me through this busier period.

But it's the action of every week sitting down for my CEO date and setting my week up for success and giving myself permission to change the week if that's what I need that week because every week is a little bit different. I don't know about you, Erica, but I know based on where I am in my cycle, that can dramatically impact my energy for the week because I have chronic health issues, that can dramatically impact what's going on for the week based on I've got 13-year-old twins. Who knows what's going on?

Sometimes your family really needs you and you have to really evaluate like, “Okay, are they going through something? Is something happening right now that I need to be available for and then how do I adapt and adjust accordingly?” I think it's the practice of looking at it on a regular basis.

Erica Courdae: Oh, my gosh. It is absolutely building that habit to do it. It's also building a habit to not isolate yourself. I am very fortunate that first of all, I have that circle of people like you that if you were to see me doing something wacky, you'd be like, “Girl, what are you doing?” and you would recognize quickly what is out of alignment for me because you know what matters to me.

I'm very fortunate that I have a business partner in India that one of the things that we do is we start off each week by “Okay, this is what my week looks like, this is what is already on there when it comes to family and personal things, this is when I will and will not be available, this is what I'm working on, this is what I think I need you for. Can we put time on here that if we don't already have it that we need it for?”

Or even just simply “This is how I'm feeling and this is what I need right now.” Sometimes you're like, “Yeah, today, can I move this? I don't think I've ever had a time.” She's not like, “It's fine. Either I'll do it or it'll get done,” or “Do we even need to do this? Don't worry about it. Just let it go.”

But being able to have somebody that that is an understood action, that burnout is never desirable, you are not required to work beyond what we have agreed upon our working hours are, and that's if sometimes that shifts beyond what we have set is our normal, you also do not need to take on or do more than what really needs to be done just in the sake of doing. That is not the goal. There's no glory in that. There's no justification for treating yourself in that way.

If life shows up and your humanity needs to be honored, then that's what's going to come first. That place to be able to be like, “What do you need? How can I help?” because there is that transparency and it doesn't feel like, “Okay, now there's a fire and the building's burning down because I didn't know and now here we are,”

No. The norm is “How can we get done what we need to get done? How can we make sure people are taken care of by prioritizing ourselves first because we cannot pour from an empty cup? And where is the awareness as to whether or not what we are currently doing is working or not?” Because if you never pause long enough to figure out if it's working or not, then you don't know whether or not you are actually on the trajectory that you want to be on.

Racheal Cook: The last thing I want to say to tie this whole thing up is this is not an exercise to do solo either. If your team doesn't have some level of contribution to solidifying these values, they're not going to be on board with executing those throughout the business, and one of the things I see in a lot of small businesses is when the CEO decides that they're the only person who can make decisions, the only person who can set the tone, they will say one thing but do another.

We've seen this because we, y'all, we have so many conversations offline because we've been in this world so long, we've seen a lot of people who leave very big teams of very well-known business owners and the stories they tell are heartbreaking because that business owner is out here talking about building a life you love, living this incredible lifestyle, they're literally selling their lifestyle as part of their marketing, meanwhile, their team is exhausted, their team is burning out.

It's like, “Congratulations, I'm so glad, the face of the business is living your dream life,” but it's very much a do what I say not what I do situation. If your team is not willing to come to you and say, “Hey, you're talking about how we should be living our dream life but I'm not living my dream life right now because you're putting unrealistic expectations on me, I'm constantly putting out fires, I'm constantly being handed new stuff, I'm just getting more and more and more,” then that's a misalignment.

You're probably churning through team, you're probably having a hard time getting people on the same page. That's why when we're talking about realigning your vision and your values, it's not just about you. It is about what's in it for every stakeholder in this business. You are part of that. It needs to work for you, absolutely, you're the business owner, there should be a lot of perks to being a business owner because you had the courage to go out there and create this whole thing.

That takes a tremendous amount of courage and you should get rewarded for that risk for taking that on. And when people say yes to supporting you, you should say yes right back to fully supporting them. When that happens, your team dynamic changes completely and people love being a part of what you've created instead of secretly grumbling and complaining about what a task-master you are.

Erica Courdae: It is dehumanizing to only prioritize people for what they can provide to you. That does not work. That is one of the main reasons why, and I go back to this not because of oh, I'm talking about Implicit to Explicit again for the sake of it but because so many of the things that you're bringing up, we have learned things don't work when you don't do it this way.

We don't do this process with the CEO only. This process needs to include your leadership team. If it does not, how are you supposed to go back and get buy-in from your people to utilize these brand values as a form of a filter for every decision that you make when they had no input in them, they didn't get to be a part of actually letting you know, “Hey, this actually doesn't work in this way because the clients that I interact with, this is what is happening”?

When you take values back that you created, that they'd had no input on, have no way to put input on now or in the future, or that you are just assuming, “It doesn't matter what they think because this is what I think,” well, you're going to create an environment that is not healthy. That is not how that is done. These are our values and levels of awareness and intentionality that need to include other people being a part of it.

It's why we've now created the follow-up to this. You've done Implicit to Explicit and now, there's a follow-up that you can do. You're now going back to check in with, “Hey where are these visions and values currently?” and let's check back in with the team. Where are you? How are you feeling? How are these things playing out? Where are the wins? Where are the opportunities? What's next?

You cannot just do this in a vacuum and then wonder why you can't be Peter Piper coming through the town and everybody is just coming behind you. That's not how that works. They're not going to do that.

Racheal Cook: Exactly. When you do this level of work, this is where you can tell there's such a difference between joining and belonging.

Erica Courdae: Getting started on that, that's a whole nother thing.

Racheal Cook: Yeah. It is a whole nother thing.

Erica Courdae: People start bringing up belonging and it's like, “You don't know what that means.”

Racheal Cook: Well, and I think a lot of people get those two conflated and we've talked about this in the past but you can have people join your team, you can have people join your programs, your services, and join your community but if they don't feel a level of responsibility and connection to the culture, then there is no real belonging.

I loved the definition that Brené Brown gives, says, “The opposite of belonging is fitting in.” That's what a lot of people think of when they think of belonging is just doing what everyone else is doing but belonging is truly feeling like “I am valued here.”

Erica Courdae: I am accepted as I am.

Racheal Cook: Yeah. I am accepted as I am. What I have to say is important. What I feel is important. How I show up is important and I am valued, honored, and respected as me, just me the human being. I think this is where a lot of people are talking about the direction the world of work is going and how business is going. This is the direction it's going.

It takes a lot of courage to look at yourself and figure out like, “How are we really showing up in being aligned?” Well, as we wrap up this episode, Erica, thank you so much for joining me, for anyone who is interested in learning more about doing this values work, can you share a little bit about Pause On The Play and how you and India do that?

Erica Courdae: Absolutely. Again, my name is Erica Courdae. I am half of the duo that is Pause On The Play, myself and India Jackson. I am the values and diversity, equity, and inclusion and coaching side of it. India brings in the visibility, marketing, and branding side of it.

Essentially, Implicit to Explicit is an interactive workshop where we guide you through not only being able to start with what it is that matters to you, again, what your wills and won’ts and do's and don'ts are, but how that filters down into the work that you do, how it is that you show up doing that work interacting with clients, and being able to get to a point that you're like, “Yeah, these are my values for my brand and this is what we can take for.”

You do this in tandem with your team. We do this with you. In order to learn a little bit more about it and you can also go ahead and sign up, hop on the calendar, and get it booked today, you can go over to That'll have everything but that'll also give you a chance to just learn about why it is that values matter and why nothing else happens without that. Period.

Racheal Cook: I will make sure that all the details are linked up in our show notes. Everyone, if you enjoyed this episode, if you've listened to the first part where I talked about realigning to your vision and now we're talking about realigning your values, make sure you head over to Instagram and continue the conversation with us.

You can tag me @racheal.cook, you can tag Erica @pauseontheplay, and let us know your insights, your ahas, your thoughts. Did you take time to review your values and to review your vision or create those so that you can press pause and really see where are you in or out of alignment?

We would love to hear from you because this truly is the foundation. There is a lot you can try to do to move your business forward and hit all those exciting revenue goals but there's a massive difference between one business that is aligned that you feel amazing about, that you have people who are excited about versus one that is not aligned where you feel just the weight of it, the pressure of it, the disengagement of it.

We want to see more people excited about what they're bringing into this world and feeling like it truly is the work that you're here to do. That all starts with this deeper level work. Thanks so much, Erica, for joining me.

Erica Courdae: Thank you. Thank you.