Core Metal Values: How Heavy Metal Inspired The Way We Do Business
“We are Digital. We are Metal. Let’s make something Great together.”
In the 4 years since Digital Will got started, our motto has delighted, intrigued and confounded many clients, but there is a method to our madness. At first glance, heavy metal music may seem to have little to do with a digital company that does development, marketing and games. This is the story of how we found our core values from an unlikely source and why core values are important.
WHAT ARE CORE VALUES? DO THEY MATTER?
A core value is defined as “a principle or belief that a person or organization views as being of central importance.” Basically, it’s an idea you believe in that carries over into everything you do: how you carry yourself, the way you treat others, and the way you do business.
Do core values really matter? Is it just corporate-speak? They don’t have any real effect day-to-day and no one really cares about them, right? In most cases, we would agree with that assessment. The problem is that most companies treat core values as ideals, the things they strive for and want to be. We would argue that core values are not ideals. Core values are who you are.
When approached this way, core values are a powerful barometer you can use to guide your decisions. In business and in daily life, you inevitably are faced with certain dilemmas. Should we partner with this company? Should we hire this potential new employee? Should we get the chicken parm or the BLT? Ok, maybe not that last one, but the point is there will be tough decisions, and knowing exactly who you are and what you stand for makes it easier to pick a direction whenever you come to a fork in the road.
Finding your core values is really a journey of self discovery. And sometimes the first step to finding out who you are, is finding out who you’re not.
WHO YOU ARE AND WHO YOU AREN’T
Like many start-ups, Digital Will originally began as a side hustle. In 2018, founder and CEO Will Bohn started Digital Will as a place to handle side projects while he kept up his regular day job. In a sense, the company was an extension of himself; a place where he could be his own boss and could work on the projects he wanted to work on. And bit by bit, the side hustle grew. But as it did, the contrast between how Will did things and how other firms did things grew starker by the second. With the freedom to do things his way at Digital Will, suddenly points of inefficiency and subpar service in other companies stood out like a sore thumb.
The final verse of Motorhead’s Just Cos’ You Got The Power, sums up his thoughts at the time quite succinctly:
“You think that life's just dollars
Won with greed and lust and spite
But I wasn't born to follow
Like to get my sleep at night”
Will saw that other companies in the industry weren’t always putting the customers first. When his head hit the pillow every night, he wanted to sleep soundly knowing he did right by the customers and right by himself. And Will didn’t want to follow. He wanted to lead. He wanted something new; something fair, honest and effective.
The sentiment was shared by friend and former colleague Don Kratzer, who was freelancing at the time. Soon after, Don came on as co-founder, and the two decided to break free completely and really get Digital Will off the ground.
ROCK SOLID VALUES
There was no big roundtable discussion where everyone at the company sat down and debated what the core values of the company should be.The pair simply got to work and let them arise organically. The company began to grow, and the time came to update and expand the company website. The topic arose of adding an “about us” page that would elaborate on who we are and what the company stood for.
Poking fun at Will’s love of metal music, Don jokingly replied, “We’re metal, man. Heavy metal all the way!” At the moment, the comment was laughed off, but the more Will thought about it, the more it just seemed right. The parallels in our philosophy and work style were just too clear to ignore. Who we are, at the very core, is simply and undeniably metal.
Heavy metal has always been outside of the mainstream, and so are we. We're not your suit-wearing, corporate salarymen type, and nor do we want to be. We are built from different stuff. The very word “metal” has an edge to it. It evokes raw power, speed and energy. Musically, heavy metal requires god-tier levels of dexterity and virtuosity to keep up. On top of the insane talent and coordination needed to play as a band, behind every riff are countless hours of individual practice and refinement. But under the rough exterior, tattoos and long hair, metalheads are incredibly positive and supportive. If a fan falls in the mosh pit, others crowd around to protect them and pick them back up.
Core values should be based on who you really are, and we had struck upon just that: we are Metal. Having gained the full picture of who we are and who we aren’t, we distilled it into three core metal values: Respect, Intensity and Self-Improvement.
/ RESPECT _
Rock out, go hard, and leave it all on stage. Inspired by heavy metal’s raw, and unapologetic style, we lay it all on the table. It is the defining principle of our metal philosophy – Straight-up, open communication with our team and clients – no BS.
/ INTENSITY _
We wield speed, power and passion like a thrashing heavy metal riff. Inspired by metal’s fast, relentless lines, we approach our work in the same way to beat deadlines and crush expectations. We attack projects with a power, pace and energy that leaves our clients awed and astounded.
/ SELF-IMPROVEMENT _
Guitarists spend countless hours perfecting that new lick, but real rock legends never stop improving. Inspired by the discipline and drive that is required to learn guitar, our final core value is self-improvement. We self-reflect, identify ways to grow, and keep our nose to the grindstone. Our drive to become better never ends.
Having well established core values based on who we really are has helped us work as a team, forge long lasting partnerships, and grow our business. It can take a bit of time and effort to discover your core values, but it pays off in spades. It is the firm foundation upon which you can build something great, something true to yourself – something Metal.