From the Desk of Paul:

There are probably a number of ways to use core values in the interview process that will improve your company’s ability to make hires that support the desirable company culture; however, I have been very satisfied with the results of our interview process over the past several years, so that’s what I will share with you.

For starters, we commit to doing an entire interview, conducted by our leadership team, that is dedicated to nothing but core values.  It is that important to us!  After an initial 30-minute telephone interview, we have the department head and an executive perform a second interview that really takes a deep-dive into skills and experience.  The third interview is the core values interview.  Now, don’t assume that we put a higher priority on skills and experience than core value alignment.  We order our interviews this way because the core value interview requires 4-5 executive team members.  We don’t want to invest that time for that many resources if the skills and experience are out in left field for the department head and executive conducting the skills and experience interview.

Each executive is assigned one of our five core values for the interview questions.  The executive will read the core value to the candidate and then ask, “What does this core value really mean to you?”  Hopefully the candidate will give a thoughtful response, but if not, then we have learned to further the dialog by responding with “How do you mean?” or “Tell me more about that.”  We would typically follow with a request for an example of when the candidate has actually lived that core value out in their own lives.   Finally, we would ask a series of questions for which the candidates responses will give us some additional insights as to whether the alignment really exists.  Here are some examples:

  • Value: Our work is our calling, and we love doing it together! Question: When you leave for the day, what makes you say, “today was a great day”?
  • Value: Care for and encourage others! Question: Your coworker makes a mistake during a project that you were overseeing, and you are held accountable for it. How do you address the problem with the person who made the mistake?
  • Value: Act with the “Golden Rule” in mind. Question: Tell me about a time you disagreed with your teammates. What happened?
  • Value: Have a voracious appetite for achievement. Question: What were some areas of development in your last feedback session? What did you think of that and what did you do to improve?
  • Value: Do the right thing. Question: Have you ever been put in a situation where doing the right thing would make you look bad? Tell me about how you handled it.

These are just some examples that may be helpful, but in summary, what is really important is that you actively incorporate core values into your interview process.  Equally important is that you craft some questions around each core value that will provide some insight as to the alignment of the candidate’s personal values to your company’s core values.  Your company will be who your company’s employees are.  As always, if you have questions or comments that you would like for me to address, please contact me at

What Is Co-Managed IT? Is It Right For You?

When it comes to IT solutions, most businesses rely on one of three options. They have a dedicated in-house IT employee or team, an outsourced managed services provider (MSP) or nothing at all. There is, however, a fourth option: co-managed IT.

This hybrid option gives you an on-site IT manager or a small team AND access to an off-site IT services firm. For any business that takes IT seriously, this can prove to be an efficient and reliable option. It’s not as costly as a full on-site team, but it can be more comprehensive than relying on an MSP alone.

Simply put, the co-managed IT solution gives your business more options when it comes to getting IT and network stability and security right. It keeps you nimble when it comes to on-site issues. For instance, having an on-site IT manager means you have someone who knows the quirks of your business and its very
specific needs.

But depending on the scope of your business and the size of those needs, the job has the potential to get complicated fast. This is where having access to an off-site expert IT staff can be useful. An outsourced IT firm alleviates that pain point. Your IT manager has someone to call when they need to and suddenly you have a full IT staff.

These are experts in IT who understand a range of issues, from system management to industry regulations – and just about everything in between. They might not be familiar with the quirks or intricacies of your specific business or industry, but you already have that taken care of in the co-managed model.

Co-Managed It Brings Everything Together.

You can have someone on-site who you can count on day to day, but when they need assistance, they have someone they can reliably call. They have access to an incredible knowledge and experience base. But it
gets better!

One of the benefits of this approach is employee retention. Co-managed IT can completely shift your company culture for the better. Here’s why: small or single-person IT teams can get overwhelmed and overworked fast. This is common in IT. As a result, small-business IT departments often seem like a revolving door for those employees. It creates a broken culture.

If your on-site team lacks access to the proper tools or resources, it won’t take long for them to become overwhelmed and, eventually, burned out. If there’s a crisis, like a ransomware attack or a storage failure, and your internal IT team isn’t given the support they need to succeed, it puts undue stress on them.

While they might succeed in the end, they’ll be unhappier for it and will likely start looking for a new job. With IT in such high demand, especially in 2021, it’s likely they’ll find another job, leaving you left to pick up the pieces.

Co-managed IT helps you avoid this. Plus, there are many other ways businesses can benefit from this hybrid model.

You Have Someone Who Can Address Issues Immediately. While you can generally rely on an MSP to deliver a quick response time, it might not always be as quick as you’d like or need. With this model, you have someone to get on the issue in seconds – and they can bring in the MSP as needed.

Having An It Manager On-Site Puts Much Of The Responsibility On Their Shoulders. While you can still be hands-on when it comes to your company’s IT, they do what needs to be done, including coordinated with your MSP. This frees you up for everything and anything else.

Regulatory Compliance Becomes A Breeze. Depending on your industry, you may have to deal with all kinds of compliance terms and regulations. Your coordinated IT team is versed in everything they need to know – and they stay on top of it as things change.

You Have To Hire Fewer People. While you may have at least one person on staff, or maybe a small team, it’s unlikely to grow any larger – and it doesn’t need to. Not when your on-site team has access to all the tools, resources and expertise they need to get any IT job done.

You Have A Healthier Company Culture. This is a big one that often gets overlooked. When your on-site IT team has access to those outside resources, they’re a lot happier. Happier employees are more likely to stick around for a longer period of time, adding to the overall stability of your business (plus, less frequent hiring is another way to keep costs down).

If you haven’t yet considered co-managed IT, give it a look. You may find the IT solutions you’ve been looking for. And in a time when cyber security is more important than ever before – with more teams working remotely and cybercriminals working overtime – every business can use all the help they can get.

The Core Value Equation

Your core values are the most valuable asset you have. They help define your business, but more than that, they define your team and the work they put into the success of the business. That success can be broken down into the Core Value Equation.

Core Values = Words = Conversations = Decisions = Actions = Results

Or distilling it further: core values = results.

If you can define your values, everything that happens in your life is a direct correlation of your values, whether those things are good or bad. Your core values should be stated to and by your team, your customers should be aware of them – and they should be memorable.

Companies fail at core values when they are implemented poorly – or aren’t implemented at all. In other words, they come up with a list of values and don’t live up to them.

You and your employees should all be on the same page. You should see the core values around the office, they should be talked about regularly and they should be a part of the day-to-day aspects of your business. Don’t let them just be words on paper. Give them real meaning!

Developing core values is a five-part process:

  1. Discovery Process: What matters most? Core values don’t have to be “nice” – they need to be authentic to the company.
  2. Design Process: They need to be sticky, viral and memorable to the team – make a sign for the office and put them on the website.
  3. Rollout Process: You want customers and employees to fall in love with the core values, so make it all about them. Make sure that the core values are visible to the company – on the wall, on the website or even in your email signature.
  4. Implementation Process: Have your team forget about past experiences with the company. Your core values are about reorienting and reenergizing your employees and getting them on the same page.
  5. Measurement Process: Survey your employees and get their feedback. Review employees based on a core value rating. Put it to work and make it tangible.

How can you make sure your team remembers the core values?

Keep It Simple. Miller’s Law states that most adults can store between five and nine items in their short-term memory.

Keep It Short. Choose a word, then you can have a meaning behind those words.

Keep It Clear. Avoid jargon, keep it conversational and use words everyone uses.

With that, you have the foundation to develop a strong set of core values for your companies – core values that will define your team, who they are and their future success.

Make the value that you give your customers so high it doesn’t matter what the price is. Based on the experiences your brand consistently delivers, your customers should have no idea what your competition charges. You don’t need to raise your prices. You need to bring value and better service. This includes employee training – and be sure they understand how to build and keep relationships.

Andy Bailey is the founder, CEO and lead business coach at Petra, an organization dedicated to helping business owners across the world achieve levels of success they never thought possible. With personal experience founding an Inc. 500 multimillion-dollar company that he then sold and exited, Bailey founded Petra to pass on the principles and practices he learned along the way. As his clients can attest, he can cut through organizational BS faster than a hot knife through butter.

3 Top SEO Myths Completely Busted!

Myth 1: You Can Skip Mobile Optimization. You may have spent a lot of time and money on your full website, but don’t stop there. Google cares about mobile optimization, as mobile search is quickly taking over desktop search, so Google wants to cater to those people. If you don’t optimize for mobile, it will hurt your rankings.

Myth 2: Links Are More Important Than Content. Yes, linking is important, but you absolutely need solid content on your website to present yourself as a valid and credible site. Web users don’t stick around websites with poor content or just links. And when users quickly leave, the value of your links drop. Quality content is key.

Myth 3: Ranking Is More Important Than Anything Else. Some businesses only care about being on Page 1 or in the top five search results, but making that happen can be incredibly difficult. It’s more important to entice the searching public to click on your content regardless of placement. It comes back to having quality content on your website, content that solves or answers a question (adds value) for the user. Inc., Jan. 18, 2021



When your customer service employees are in a bad mood, it can come across in their work. Customers may notice, which can reflect on your business. Even if you’ve hired a stellar customer service (CS) team, sometimes negativity breaks through. Here are the top reasons.

They’re Frustrated. This is common for not just CS employees but also employees in any department. When they lack proper tools or resources and/or are understaffed, it leads to friction. Their job becomes much harder than it should be, and that doesn’t take long to show in customer-facing interactions.

They Lack Training. Sometimes the hiring process goes a little too quickly and CS employees are dropped into the role without full training. Even if they’re experienced in CS, they need to know your expectations and how you do things.

They Lack Support. This is the most important. Every employee needs support to succeed. In a CS position, lack of support can hurt your overall business. Be flexible and be there for your team to meet their needs. Forbes, Jan. 16, 2021



Putting down the phone, stepping away from the computer and turning off the TV can do wonders. Here are just a few of the benefits you can experience.

It Reduces Stress. The news and social media is packed with negativity. When you cut yourself off from the negativity, the stress melts away.

It Boosts Productivity. We live in the era of information overload. Spending too much time behind a screen clutters our brains and slows us down. Take a break to get perspective and regain focus.

It Just Helps You Feel Better. It gives your brain a chance to rest. Blue light given off by screens is overstimulating. Turning off the screen gives you a chance to recuperate mentally, emotionally and even physically. Forbes, Jan. 15, 2021

This monthly publication provided courtesy of Paul Meadows, President/CEO of Integrated Technology Group.

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