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Why We Insist on Being Thoughtfully Candid

At Launchways, we believe in doing something radical in the business world: telling the truth. We have seen clients succeed and fail based on their ability to foster a vibrant company culture and engage their people power. And we have found that honesty, transparency, and respect are the keys to positive business outcomes.

We have taken this experience and ingrained it into every part of our business. Our people-powered approach to HR and benefits requires deep honesty and respect between our team members, with our clients, and between our advisors and our clients’ employees.

So, one of our fundamental core values is being thoughtfully candid. We think we’ve hit upon something special with this value and the way we live it in our day-to-day work. Here’s what we have to say about being thoughtfully candid:

  • What it means to be thoughtfully candid
  • Why we value thoughtful candidness
  • How being thoughtfully candid helps us be better

What Does it Mean to Be Thoughtfully Candid?

What does it mean to be thoughtfully candid? Well, you can break it down into its two parts: candidness and thoughtfulness. Being candid boils down to honesty and transparency while being thoughtful encompasses empathy and respect. Let’s take a look at each part:

Being Candid:

The principle of candidness is simple enough: just be honest. But putting it into practice is a lot more complicated because it goes against what many of us may have been taught.

That’s because we tend to think that honesty is, in some way, bad. The truth hurts. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Ignorance is bliss.

But what we’re really saying is that we don’t trust the other person to handle our honest opinions. The misconception is that it’s better to pretend that we agree with them or that they are doing a better job than they really are just to spare their feelings or avoid conflict. But at the end of the day, this simply isn’t a good way of doing business.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should be outright rude or mean. And by being thoughtful, we can make sure that the truth doesn’t hurt. But, even without being thoughtful, being candid is still the best approach.

Take this example: imagine you get called into your manager’s office tomorrow. You walk in expecting praise for your work. After all, they told you how well you were doing when you asked them only last week. But instead, they tell you that you are being fired because of your poor performance. Were they doing you a favor by sparing your feelings until your performance became a serious issue? Or would it have been better for them to come to you as soon as there was an issue so that you could improve or address underlying issues?

What does candidness look like at work? The key to candidness is giving and receiving truly honest feedback and opinions without taking them personally or trying to spare (or hurt) coworkers’ feelings. It means giving your honest opinion in all cases, knowing that people will respect it as such and will respond with equal honesty.

With absolute candidness, there’s no room for passive-aggressive behavior, backstabbing, and office ‘drama’. In their place are open communication, mutual respect, and radical problem-solving. But candor is most effective when it is paired with an equal emphasis on thoughtfulness.


When you are being candid at work, it’s important to remember the humanity and intentions of the people you are working with. And to bring your humanity to bear when forming and sharing your opinions. For your candid input to be accepted and to foster a productive, energetic workplace, it has to come from a place of respect and empathy for your coworkers. If you want them to succeed and be happy, and they know that to be true, then they will welcome your honesty rather than seeing it as a threat.

So that’s the first aspect of thoughtfulness: empathy. Knowing where coworkers are coming from when they share their opinions and feedback, and thinking about their challenges and best interests when forming your own. Empathy is the basis of mutual respect, and it is also the key to developing strong, productive relationships with your coworkers.

But there’s more to being thoughtful than being empathetic. Thoughtfulness also requires that you act intentionally and with an open mind. We don’t just give our honest opinions: we give our considered opinions. We think before we speak and try to make sure that our positions are both correct and truly the honest reflection of what we believe in. This stops haste from causing miscommunications and gives us even greater trust in what our coworkers say to us.

We also try to keep as open a mind as possible. Because everyone is being honest and operating with good intentions, there’s room for real compromise, consensus, and understanding. There’s even room for people to change their minds!

Why We Value Thoughtful Candidness

At Launchways, we know that sustainable business success is built on the success of each employee. Helping our employees become the best, most productive versions of themselves is just good business.

In our experience, people want to be challenged. They want to grow and add to their value as an individual and as an employee. Which sometimes means pushing them to improve and equipping them with the skills and knowledge to become better employees.

When we come up with a business strategy or initiative, our first step is to identify the challenges and issues that we are trying to address. Without an honest evaluation of the status quo, we cannot develop an effective strategy. And without honest review of the initiative’s progress, success or failure are impossible to measure and progress is significantly stifled.

We believe that employee careers and personal growth should be approached in the same way. An honest appraisal is also necessary for our employees’ professional growth. It’s the only way that they can discover what they need to work on and get the advice they need to effectively address any issues or skill gaps.

Being candid allows our executives, managers, and team members to talk to each other honestly, enabling valuable feedback on all levels (we want our new hires to be just as candid with our CEO as our managers are with their team members) and empowering our employees to encourage each other to succeed. We believe that it is not just the morally correct way to conduct our business but that it is also one of the main factors behind our rapid success.

And we believe that thoughtfulness is just as important as candidness. Being thoughtful in our interactions fosters deeper connections between the people who make Launchways special. It allows us to trust that the candid feedback and opinions coming from our coworkers come from the best of intentions and are meant to help us grow as professionals and do our jobs as effectively as possible. Mutual respect isn’t just an ideal: it is a reality of life at Launchways.

How Being Thoughtfully Candid Helps Us Be Better

As one of our core values, thoughtful candidness shapes just about everything we do at Launchways. It makes us a stronger team and helps us develop innovative solutions for our clients.

Being thoughtfully candid begins with our weekly roundups every Monday morning. We start the meeting by giving genuine shout outs to coworkers we think did an exceptional job the previous week. We then go around and have each team member share their goals and projects for the week as well as their roadblocks that they need help on.

These meetings allow us to celebrate each other and share our projects and challenges. They set the tone of thoughtful candidness and set up spin-off conversations throughout the week in which we share ideas to help solve roadblocks and accomplish projects collaboratively.

Of course, being thoughtfully candid is also especially important to our review and feedback process. Our culture of openness and respectful honesty allows consistent feedback. That means that everyone knows where they stand, reducing stress, increasing engagement, and creating consistent opportunities for improvement.

There’s no simmering resentment or fear of secretly falling down on the job. If there’s an issue with our performance, we find out right away. But we’re just as quick to share strengths and successes, so we’ll also know if we’re doing a good job and feel genuinely appreciated for it. And being thoughtfully candid allows us to give more than qualitative feedback: it lets us genuinely help each other succeed rather than focus on raw performance. Honesty lets us get to the root causes of our challenges and successes.

Best of all, being thoughtfully candid lets us collaborate more meaningfully. We can work together to solve not only our own challenges, and those of our coworkers, but also develop better solutions for our clients. We make realistic plans, execute them more effectively, and track our progress to create the best possible outcomes. And our clients respect us for our honest approach and open communication with their internal teams. These collaborations make our work more meaningful and more successful.

Key Takeaways

Being thoughtfully candid is integral to how we do business at Launchways. It is one of our five core values that guide our decisions and culture. As we’ve laid out in this article, being thoughtfully candid means:

  • Being honest at all times, but also having respect for coworkers and coming from a place of empathy and considered positions
  • Open communications between coworkers, managers and team members, and leadership with employees
  • Consistent feedback, personal and professional growth, deeper relationships, and productive collaboration

We think that our way of doing things makes our work more enjoyable, meaningful, and productive. If joining a team based on thoughtfully candid communication sounds interesting, check out our career page for current openings!

How We Do Things Differently at Launchways: Always Doing What’s Best for the Client

At Launchways we take a drastically different approach to benefits and human resources. We believe that we do best for ourselves by doing best for our clients and that our clients thrive when they do right by their employees. We know that benefits and effective HR are some of the best tools that growing businesses can use to attract, engage, and retain the talent they need to not only survive but thrive and grow.

By taking a personalized approach, we can find unique solutions that reduce costs while actually improving the value that our clients provide for their employees. Our team is deeply involved in our clients’ business and that’s why we act as partners and problem solvers instead of salespeople. Which has not only helped us rapidly grow our business but also makes it genuinely rewarding to come into work each day.

Here’s how we do things differently at Launchways to ensure we’re always doing what’s best for our clients:

  • A consultative sales process means we find the solutions that work best for our clients
  • We help people first to empower business results
  • Our team becomes an extension of our clients’ teams so we act as experts not only in benefits and HR but also in our clients’ industries
  • Constant innovation helps Launchways and its clients thrive
  • Scalable solutions mean that we build long-term client relationships

Consultative Sales: Finding the Solutions that Work for Clients

One of the best things about what we do at Launchways is that we get to be problem solvers instead of salesmen. Our business thrives by always providing our clients with the solutions that best meet their specific needs and budgets. That means that we take a consultative sales approach with our clients.

What does a consultative sales process entail? Essentially, it means that we are selling solutions instead of products. Our sales team members serve as consultants for our clients, guiding them towards the insurance plans, benefits, and technology partners that will work the best for them and their businesses.

We use our industry experience to advise our clients about which options we think are right for them and build connections with premier vendors to provide our clients with the best possible options. This unique approach means that we don’t bring our clients “out-of-the-box” packages and ask them to pick one. Instead, we craft custom, strategic solutions that are tailored to each client’s unique needs. While we have formed numerous strategic partnerships with insurers, benefits providers, and technology companies, we don’t pitch our clients on their solutions. Instead, we leverage our partnerships to deliver unique savings, greater support, and customized solutions to fuel our clients’ businesses.

Helping People First to Deliver Business Results

Our business model is based on the essential truth that a company is only as strong as its people and that businesses perform best when they do best by their employees. Growing businesses might come to Launchways to control costs, increase employee productivity and retention, and achieve other business results, but our solutions are ultimately grounded in helping our clients build and maintain a team that fuels business success.

What does that mean for Launchways? For one thing, it means we are extremely strategic in the way we help our clients control costs at their businesses. Reducing costs is important for most of our clients. But we understand how to balance cost cutting with maintaining employee happiness and building an attractive employer brand.

Growing businesses can often achieve the cost-savings they need by reducing bureaucracy, rather than reducing the quality of employee healthcare. We streamline processes, generate savings through strategic plan design, and identify real employee healthcare needs to increase the benefits that matter most to employees while eliminating waste.

A Business of Partnership: Consultants and Advisors not Brokers

Launchways is a growing business that understands the pain points that our fellow scaling businesses face. We understand that benefits and HR are very personal topics and should be addressed with personalized solutions. Launchways takes a uniquely boutique approach to benefits and human resources. Our team serves an extension of our clients’ human resources and leadership teams, helping steer their companies towards sustainable growth and scalable solutions.

Under this approach, our advisors serve as partners and problem solvers. Our team embeds itself in our clients’ businesses to create custom solutions for unique challenges. We get the opportunity to work not just for Launchways but for each of Launchways’ clients.

Constant Innovation

Because of our dedication to doing everything possible to help our clients and their employees succeed, Launchways is always searching for new ways to empower our clients’ benefits and human resources. Whether it’s a new benefits management software platform, unique wellness benefit, telehealth program or innovative approach to prescription savings, our job is to find out what the cutting-edge solutions are and determine how we can leverage them to help our clients.

At Launchways, we always have our eyes on the horizon so we never get stuck in a rut. We are constantly pushing forward, never content to rest still and implement the same solutions over and over again until they become outdated.

The focus on innovation to fuel client results fundamentally changes the nature of our organization and how we operate. From our trendy office space at the heart of Chicago’s startup district, our work-life balance, and even the way we handle our internal communications, Launchways lives-and-breathes like a tech startup rather than a traditional benefits broker.

Human resources and benefits should be exciting and rewarding. The Launchways approach cuts through the usual bureaucracy to bring the focus back on people and innovative problem-solving.

Scalable Solutions Mean Long Term Relationships

Businesses’ needs change as they grow, their employee demographics and priorities change, and the market shifts. And the solutions available to address business challenges are changing just as quickly.

So while Launchways is dedicated to implementing solutions and strategies that can scale with our clients’ growth, we know that truly scalable solutions require continuous feedback and revision. We know that we won’t do right by our clients if we just sell them a new benefits package and then move onto the next account. Instead, we forge long term relationships in which we make our expertise, resources, and strategic partners available to meet any issues that our clients might face. Ongoing service and consultation are an integral part of our business at its core.

Key Takeaways

Launchways was founded to provide a better model to tackle the benefits and human resources challenges that growing businesses face. Our mission has led us to take an unconventional stance for a successful benefits broker: we always do what’s best for our clients and their employees. This has a ripple effect that changes just about everything about how we do business, including:

  • Our sales team takes a fully consultative sales approach that focuses on building solutions, not selling products
  • We get to help people because we know that businesses succeed when they help their employees succeed
  • Launchways’ benefits advisors become an extension of our clients’ teams, getting to know their businesses and working for them as much as for Launchways
  • Technological advancements and changes in the healthcare market mean that Launchways is constantly innovating to deliver the best results possible
  • There is no one-off solution for benefits and human resources challenges, so we take a long-term approach to our client relationships that makes our work more productive and rewarding

Do you like the sound of doing what’s best for your clients, forming deeper relationships with clients’ teams, and developing solutions that help people? The Launchways model has proved successful and we are expanding our team to meet the growing demand for our business model. Check out the open positions on our careers page.

The Real Value of Company Values

I’ve been building, managing, and supporting strong, functional teams for two decades, and while I get lots of great questions from emerging leaders and HR professionals every day, so many of their concerns boil down to two key questions:

  • How can I center my team to make sure they’re doing great work that’s consistently done our way, not just their way?
  • How can I show off what my great team’s all about in a way that builds enthusiasm in the public and aids in recruiting?

Believe it or not, those two questions are actually quite closely connected. Even though one is an internal/operational concern and the other is an external/marketing concern, they both have the same answer: an organization aligned behind clearly articulated organizational values.

Your company’s identity is incredibly powerful. It dictates the flow of talent, the volume of inbound business, and how your partners, competitors, and the general public engage with your brand.

In this post I’ll explore:

  • Why well-articulated values are so useful
  • How corporate values should be structured and focused
  • What a real-life example of strong guiding values looks like

The Value in Values

Remember when you were in school and that one teacher spent an entire week doing icebreakers and “getting to know you” games before they dove into lessons? It might have seemed silly or pointless at the time, but that educator was actually attempting to do something much bigger than communicate facts – they were trying to turn a room of individuals with varying degrees of comfort and familiarity with each other into a thriving, upbeat community.

That same teacher, even if they were fun and free-spirited, probably seemed to have a tremendous zest for going over classroom rules and procedures as well. You might’ve rolled your eyes at the time, but through an adult lens, what they were doing was very purposeful: they were establishing expectations and establishing the rigid, non-negotiable elements of the classroom culture.

So why all the education analogies? Well, frankly, teachers are some of the smartest problem-solvers in the world when it comes to generating buy-in and engagement, and that’s what your organization’s core values are all about.

An organization’s values give them two-way benefit just as those early-year classroom activities do. Both the teacher and the employer gain a level of clearly articulated authority and identity that set the tone for the work, while also humanizing the experience in a way that invites the employees, to get involved and get excited.

Values Set the Tone

Your corporate values set the tone both for how your brand interacts with the world around it and how individuals within the organization interact with each other and outsiders. Businesses that get that right set themselves up to build a great team and get a lot done. Businesses who lack articulation or don’t meaningfully honor their values can’t maximize their potential in the same way because they’re not establishing expectations fully or giving the individual members of the team something to believe in that’s bigger than themselves.

Great articulation means great engagement, and great engagement means great work.

Crafting Your Company Values

Every organization, large or small, should have an established set of values to guide the vision, dictate the tone of business, and aid in meaningful business- and community-based goal setting. Generating those values should be the collaborative responsibility of senior leadership. HR, marketing, and representatives from other key teams or departments should have a voice in the process, but the values must flow from and reflect leadership.

That doesn’t mean your values are all about “what the bosses care about,” though. Those brainstorming sessions must be guided by a clear understanding of how those values will connect to, motivate, and engage your current employees, leading talent in your industry, and the community and world at large.

Sticking to the Core

One of the most common mistakes organizations make when they set about the work of articulating values is, well, articulating too many values. A company’s values should represent the most relevant and overarching aspects of their approach to work and their place in the world, not every little thing they think is important.

When it comes to corporate values, three to five is the ideal number, as it ensures you’re building an identity that’s supported by multiple strong pillars that you can focus on and truly honor without so many values that the message becomes diluted.

Values are Real, Not Aspirational

The other big mistake organizations make when they create corporate values is that they try to give “the right answers” rather than actually focusing on the ideas that are closest to their work and most relevant to the uniqueness of their own workforce. That often leads to a lot of lofty goals and minimal follow-through.

To work as part of an employee culture, talent attraction, or marketing campaign and meaningfully support an organization, corporate values must be real, must be honored, and must be rooted in the daily challenges, triumphs, and guiding lights of what makes both day-to-day work and “the work” on the whole special at that business. A lack of follow-through will only undermine the potential gains of articulating values and working to establish a culture in the first place.

Launchways’ Core Values

Now that I’ve laid out all that theory on why core values are so important and what businesses need to do to get them right, let’s transition to looking at a real-world example.

At Launchways, we recently established a new set of company values to help flesh out our core identity and set the tone for our work moving forward. Each value was carefully discussed and debated by our leadership team, and the result was a powerful list that made the entire team feel great about our present and even more excited about our future.

Let’s explore Launchways’ five core values one at a time:


We are a resourceful organization. We take initiative, we own the challenges that are set before us, and we embrace the work of finding solutions, no matter what it takes.


We are a driven enterprise. We’re passionate about what we do, and we strive to always go above-and-beyond for our clients and for each other.


We’re a disruptive business. We’re unafraid to do things different, especially when we think it can yield better results. We’re confident in our ability to improve the industry.

Thoughtfully Candid

We’re a reflective and honest brand. We value constructive conversation and believe that difference of opinion can make conversations and businesses stronger.


We’re a community-minded team. We’re always looking for new ways to support members of our Launchways community while also engaging with the greater Chicago community.

Key Takeaways

Establishing core values is an extremely important process to get right. A few key takeaways I’ve learned in the process include:

  • Articulating and documenting your business’ values make it easier to establish a clear direction for your business
  • Values should both set the tone for and reflect your organization’s culture
  • Values need to be real, not aspirational; values that aren’t honored will undermine the process
  • Businesses should stick to five or fewer core values or principles to avoid diluting the message