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My not-so-secret success formula: value-driven business

Monday, November 12, 2012 by Marianne Elliott

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Five Years Ago

Five years ago I was talking to my father about my work as a human rights advocate. He was proud of my work, my commitment to the rights and dignity of all people, and my willingness to sacrifice comfort to work in difficult settings.

But he was frustrated by the fact that – fifteen years into my career as a human rights lawyer – I still worked for other people. I’d worked for a large law firm, small non-governmental bodies and the United Nations. Some of these were highly effective organizations with great integrity and purpose. Others, less so.

Having grown up with parents who worked for themselves, I had no romantic notions about entrepreneurship. I knew it was hard work. But I also knew my parents answered to themselves when it came to matter of integrity and value. And I was ready to answer to myself too.

Five Years Later

Five years later I’m co-owner of a restaurant, owner of an online yoga business, a freelance writer, published author, radio journalist, public speaker and founder of a non-profit. And if you ask me what’s the most important – and valuable – part of owning my own business, I’ll tell you it’s being answerable to myself when it comes to my values.

It’s being able to insist on serving only sustainably harvested fish in our restaurant even when it costs more. It’s being able to teach my online yoga courses at a pace and by a method that I know works best for my students (fast-yoga, like fast-food, loses much of it’s nutritional value). It’s being able to take two hours to interview an Afghan farmer, even if only 10 minutes will make it on to air.

Following My Passion

I took my passion – my life-long work to contribute to a fairer, safer, kinder world – and turned it into my business mostly so that I could answer to myself. Which means having the chance to take risks, to do things in ways they’ve never been done before. It means being able to ask myself – what matters most to me?

My business is shaped, directed & driven by my values. And here’s my not-so-secret formula to success: when you build your business on your own values, you’ll attract clients & employees who share your values. And nothing is more rewarding than that.


This is my post for the Connected Women community is a FREE open global community site, created by an Icelandic entrepreneur, international personal branding speaker & trainer, Runa Magnusdottir.


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6 Responses to "My not-so-secret success formula: value-driven business"

  1. Rachel says:

    YES! This is exactly why I followed in my father’s footsteps to work for myself. This way I can work my hardest giving back to the things that matter the most to me: creating carbon-neutrality, planting trees, teach “slow yoga” instead of being forced by the studio I’m working for to push the vinyasas, promote serenity and attract the client base that gets all of that!

    Sometime it’s really really hard, and I wonder why I do it. And then I read posts like this and remember!

    Thank you

  2. Roxanne says:

    Lovely, simple, and so true. Beautifully put.

    Seeing your blog light up on my RSS feed always fills me with inspiration, Marianne. Sending you a massive hug from Boston and always sharing your work with those who can learn from it.

  3. Clare says:

    Love this, and connect deeply with what you are saying. Thank you for sharing, and for consistently allowing values and the wider ripple effects of them to permeate through your work, writing and life. It is a powerful paradigm, one we need more organisations and institutions to adopt. x

  4. Sandy says:

    I think I need to send the link to this to my husband. I truly feel he has something to offer people that is totally in line with his integrity and values. The problem is that neither of us have ever done well when we’ve tried to be entrepreneurs in the past, so he (we) are very skittish about it.

    Taking risks gets harder and harder the older we are.

    Keep us in thought and prayer over this matter as his current job is driving him into depression and high stress.

    Thank you for your care and concern.

  5. Marianne,

    I also connect deeply with the essence of your post. Values-driven – that’s what it means to be authentic. I’m so happy for you and happy that you are leading the way for all of us.

  6. David says:

    Hmmm ‘international author’ counts for a fair bit. Just read your book. It resounds with me- as a co-dependency text [with resolution]. I galloped through the book- something I have not done for a long while. I picked up the book to get a take on Afghanistan- and was not disappointed, neither.

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