What does living by core values actually mean

April 03, 2024/4 min min read
Purpose and fun
Image of Maria Tamming
Maria TammingEmployer Branding Specialist

When Mentimeter first started out, there were no rules, says Niklas Ingvar, one of the founders who is currently working as an AI Engineer. Yet he and Johnny, the other founder and CEO, discovered quite quickly that rule-free doesn’t work when you want to build a successful business. As Niklas says, “We messed up and lost a co-founder and other talented people in the early days.

Having been a part of both types of companies, those with values on the wall and those that actually live by them, Niklas and Johnny, decided that they want to run a value driven company:

“We're going to use these [company values] for something and that something is to be a productive and happy company and have fun during work.”

The first four values [include everyone, consultant mindset, be humble, work smart] were defined quite quickly. “Have fun” took a while to figure out. We now feel we have a good balance as our core values create a warm, productive and professional yet humble environment for people to thrive in.

Including everyone means feeling safe to come as you are, speak your mind and take action as you see best

Niklas knew early on how critical psychological safety is for an innovative company to be successful. “I need a place where people feel that they belong and that they can be themselves because otherwise we won't have any autonomous individuals that can be creative and make decisions.” Therefore diversity, inclusion and transparency became very clear candidates for Mentimeter’s guiding values. 

We believe in keeping people in the loop and giving space to different perspectives

Consultant mindset is about finding ways to get the job done

Having previously worked as a management consultant, Niklas is a big fan of the “consultant mindset” core value which he defines as being able to find ways to solve the right problems to reach your goals. It also means rolling up your sleeves and solving the problems that stop you from moving forward, like ensuring that you have the tools you need. 

Over the years this core value has grown to include various things from defining the most important tasks to acting professionally, communicating well, motivating and engaging people and other aspects related to managing various stakeholders.

Work smart by choosing what is worth your time and effort

Next came “work smart” because Niklas and Johnny saw that aiming always for perfection is neither feasible nor smart. It also means knowing which rules to follow and which to challenge or break. They wanted to achieve a good work life balance but felt that just writing down those words won’t be much help. Following certain guiding ways of working instead would allow for work-life balance to become a reality, Niklas explains. 

It’s about deciding whether to do something fast because it's needed or assuring high quality because it's important. That is the way to balance work and life. It is also about optimizing and automating things whenever possible. 

Be kind and try to understand while chasing success

Another important core value of Mentimeter is humbleness. Niklas describes having come across some people who would just tear down others, especially women, and their work, and he absolutely hates this kind of attitude and believes it to be very harmful. He says: “It’s all about being curious and seeking to understand.” Maybe the context of why something is the way it is, is very different from the current situation. Maybe the tech wasn’t there yet or the team was stretched thin. Maybe there was a very small budget to work with. It doesn’t mean that there is no room for questioning or improvement but before demanding changes, Menti team has decided to prioritize trying to understand each other. 

A meeting check-in voting for favorite emojis

Find your way to have fun at work and live by the guidelines to create a nice environment for everyone

Niklas says that back in the days when they started out, every company that he knew that would state have fun as their value, were per definition not fun. 

The main goal behind the core value “have fun” in Mentimeter is to make work itself more fun. What is fun to you? There are many different things that having fun can mean and it is ok to enjoy different things.

Read more here about what makes work fun for Niklas!

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