Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Your Core Values


I’ve mentioned before that last summer I did an exercise that required me to set core values for myself. It was a phenomenal process, and the output has provided me with 7 core values that I rely on multiple times throughout the day to make both big and small decisions.

Here is a simplified version of the process we used to create these, and if you are lucky enough to have a group of colleagues, friends, or a forum, I advise you to find a way to go through this. (By the way, it’s much better with a group or friend than on your own, because presenting it outloud really helps it stick.)

  1. First you create your “dream board” of advisors.  Include personal heros, public figures, historical figures, family members, friends. Who would you want on your personal board of directors?  Take some time with this.
  2. Second, write down a summary beside each of them as to why they are on your board. What impresses you about them? What accomplishments do you want to share with them? Think about whether they are balanced as a group of advisors, or if you need to adjust your board to achieve the balance you want in your life.
  3. Once you’ve tweaked the make-up, start putting traits of the dream board out beside them that you admire. Try to list 5-7 words/traits beside each person.
  4. Next comes the magic… spend some time with this and go all “Beautiful Mind” on the words … see which of those traits you also share, and circle them. You will begin to form a list of the values that you find most important. For me, it was obvious and amazing. In that couple of hours I came up with a list that will probably last me for many years.


And since I’m sure you are curious, here are my 7 Core values. Other than the #1 value, the rest are equal and not in any order.

  1. Self-aware and at Peace
  2. Engaged with family and friends
  3. Resourceful and applied smarts
  4. Financially enabled freedom
  5. Laughter is air
  6. Open and direct as much as possible
  7. Intensity in everything

These have kept me going and keep me focused on the person I want to be.

I hope you’ll consider your own Core Values. Do you have any other resources for the community on creating, understanding, or leveraging core values? Please share.



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