Core Culture Can’t be Faked

The Upfront Contract (Extended)

The Sandler Training sales method developed the concept of an upfront contract as it relates to sales deal flow. According to Sandler, “A great sales call depends on what we at Sandler Training call an up-front contract. If you’re not familiar with the term, an up-front contract is an agreement, made ahead of time, about what will take place during a meeting or discussion — an agreement that clarifies what each person’s role in the conversation will be.”

Core Values Isn’t Just a Buzzword

While the upfront contract will determine the “what” for workplace relationships, your company’s core values will give you operating context for successfully navigating team interactions (ie the “how”).

  • Core values will drive your culture and are intentional; they are not aspirational, they are not a set of checkboxes required to keep your job and they do not happen by accident. Your core values may be tough to adhere to but will align your team to achieve your mission.
  • Core values should be authentic; you don’t want to be spewing rainbows and unicorns. A good set of core values may not be easy but will be fair. They will help employees understand how their strengths can contribute to the overall success of the company.
  • Founders should lead by example and own the process of adoption. It’s your job to make sure the initiative is embraced by everyone in your company; you do this by behaving in a way that reinforces the core values and by personally helping others understand the mission.
  • Make core values the fabric of your company. Everyone who is hired should be held to the same standard and should be rewarded for their contribution.


I was recently a guest on Ryan Hartley’s Always Better Than Yesterday podcast. We talked a lot about what startups do right and what they get wrong. One important takeaway, that I hope listeners absorbed, is that “the ultimate long term success [of the company] is not about the quality of the idea, it’s about the quality of the team.” A founder’s leadership sets the tone for the culture and can set the team up for the collaboration and accountability needed to take an idea into the world and provide real impact.



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Danielle Gillespie

Danielle Gillespie

Defining the intersection between technology and human connection.