I often hear our athletes, visitors and special guests comment on the unique nature of Vision Quest. Many times it is stated in an almost inquisitive way, as if they know it, but can't pinpoint exactly what it is that make VQ special. Is it the training philosophy? The classes? Or maybe the people and the wonderful camaraderie? So, I ask myself: "what makes VQ special?" I am reminded that the VQ experience has been evolving for over 15 years and, while we have offered a variety of different class structures, content, camps, clinics and services, there are a few things that have been part of who we are since the beginning. I find those elements critical to the VQ experience and what makes VQ VQ.
Over the last several months, our team has worked hard to define, articulate and actually write down what "it" is that makes VQ VQ. "It" is something most of our athletes know and feel. "It" is what allows VQ to help our athletes perform at a level higher than they thought possible. The pursuit of defining "it" led us to a reshaping of the VQ Value Statements.
Zeroing in on our exact value statements was not an easy process. Thankfully, we had a lot of help on our journey. Tim Zoph spearheaded the process during a three-hour brainstorming session with full-time staff. We talked about many things that are important to all of us and what defines who we are and what we are trying to accomplish. It was a great exercise and one that brought the team and mission together. It crystallized the objectives of the company and really made all of us feel good about the direction we are headed. The next stage of the process was to distill all the notes into ten value statements with supporting statements and facts that back up our values. This was an ever-evolving process that took several more meetings to get right. We ended up with seven statements, each with a supporting statement showing evidence of how we live those values.
In December we shared the value statements with all 50 coaches, instructors, ride leaders and office staff at the end-of-year staff party. They all had a chance to review the statements and give their feedback on what they liked, what they thought needed to be changed and how the statements lined up with their own ideas about who VQ is and what we're all about. I was again reminded of the quality of individuals who make up the VQ team. They are a group with powerful and impressive minds! We are so lucky to have them all as part of our team.
The feedback was terrific and after compiling and organizing all of it, several consistent themes emerged. First, make the statements shorter. Second, have fewer of them. And third, simplify the message and supporting statements.
After a few more meetings to apply all the feedback, we came to agreement on our most current VQ Value Statements, now down to five from that initial seven. These statements embody who we are and what we believe. They are things we think about before making any decisions and things we build our programming around. They are woven into my presentations, our coaching lectures, workouts and philosophies. They are the cornerstone to our "secret sauce," if you will, and they have been formed over the 15 years we have been in business. But, make no mistake, they are not afterthoughts. These values are VQ at the core. They are inherent to who we are and everything we do. I am proud of these values and we, as a company, will strive to support them at the highest level in anything and everything we do.
So, without further ado, the VQ Value Statements:
- We believe in the athlete’s journey… …every member is an athlete, sharing commitment to personal growth, realizing you are more capable than you believe yourself to be, measuring growth and building confidence, finding the athlete within, purpose and structure for every workout, goal-setting, continuous learning, no easy way, facing challenges, suffering, managing setbacks, attitude, taking risks, achievement and courage (cycle: assess, train, perform) [as evidenced by: athletic journey of >5000 athlete accomplishments: >1000 Ironman athletes, >1000 first-time century ride athletes, >1000 first-time triathlon athletes; our athletes have cycled >40 million miles, run >4 million miles and swam >400,000 miles…all with the support and guidance of VQ]
- We believe in community… …great athlete experiences, team bonding and friendship, getting better together, knowing the value and satisfaction of winning and training as a team, being a model for other athletes, treating everyone as an individual, immersive experiences, always being positive, treating employees with respect, clean and well-maintained facilities, having fun, flexible, cared for, cohesive, compatible, collaborative, being selfless, telling the truth, facing the facts, valuing feedback and giving back [as evidenced by: >90% of athletes participate in a VQ event or camp, 90% organic growth via athlete referral, 7 training centers with >5000 group workouts a year; diversity of athlete age from 17-77 years; the VQ family has raised >$1 million for charity]
- We believe in life balance… …focus on nurturing the whole person, balance training with work and family, proactively looking for signs and symbols of balance, build for longevity and you can do this forever, strong and stable with range of motion, being an athlete enhances all aspects of life [as evidenced by: new measures to follow including # coaching conversations, use of supporting methodology and lectures or forums]
- We believe in safety, always… …safety is a high priority in everything we do, coaches and athletes fully committed, create a culture of safety, ever present, part of every ride, obeying the rules, highest standards of training, latest technology, ongoing prevention and risk management, start and finish together [as evidenced by: all VQ coaches and instructors are USA-, LOB- and/or USAT-certified, including CPR and first aid certifications, all ride leaders and athletes must complete a rigorous cycling certification program anchored in safe cycling that has been refined over 20 years’ experience]
- We believe in innovation… …cutting edge and high quality training programs, the gold standard for nutrition, expert speakers and advisors, state-of-the-art performance centers and training technology [as evidenced by: developed >4,000 athlete-specific training programs for >20 years; thousands of training videos created, >5,000 lactate threshold performance evaluations used to enhance our performance training, engage an elite team of exercise physiologists and sports scientists including Allen Lim, Stacy Sims, Max Testa and Phil Skiba] When I reflect back on this entire process and look at these VQ Value Statements, I realize that it is the people, training philosophy, workouts and camaraderie that make VQ special. Each is tied to our values and reflects who we are as a whole.