A decade is a pretty good chunk of time.

Most of them seem to go by pretty fast, but they are still significant markers in life. Ten years ago can feel like so long ago, but also “like yesterday”. What’s true, though, is that we don’t get that many of them. A few of my grandparents were fortunate enough to get almost ten of them in. One grandfather didn’t quite get five.

As we’re hitting the first decade marker of Thought Design’s existence, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting and asking a lot of questions. What have we learned? How have we changed? What have we created? How have we failed? Who have we become?

The Thought Design of today isn’t exactly what we imagined it would be when we opened our doors in May of 2013. We aren’t terribly far off, though. Over the years, we’ve shifted and transformed, shaped by what we were learning and the needs we were being invited to meet. As I’ve reflected, what is really clear is that the element that has both fostered enormous growth (in the maturing way) and provided our strongest anchoring has been our four core values.


We spent a lot of time during our formation stage of Thought Design.

We identified the deepest, most important driving forces that would define who we were and how we wanted to do business. The four that emerged felt deeply true and non-negotiable. Defining them felt galvanizing and inspiring, and also a bit intimidating. We were putting some strong stakes in the ground.

Looking back over the last decade, I can see how Thought Design’s four values have guided, challenged and shaped me, and us. Over and over as we’ve faced sticky situations or uncertainty, one or more of these values have raised its hand and led the way. Staying committed to them when it felt like the harder choice has grown me.

Last summer I took a trip to Italy and spent a lot of time in museums, seeing incredible sculptures, including Michelangelo’s David. Gazing at it, I couldn’t help but think of the quote I’ve heard so many times: “Every block of stone has a statue inside of it and it is the sculptor’s job to discover it.” When I think of how Thought Design began, like that block of marble, I feel certain that those values were the chisel that allowed who we are to emerge.

  • The value of Learning has taken us down new, unexpected paths, insisted that we risk failing and invited us to experiment our way through a pandemic.
  • The value of Community has expanded our understanding of belonging and held us together when things got hard.
  • The value of Wholeness has demanded that we walk our talk and bring all of our selves into this work.
  • The value of Generosity has taught us that what we let go of is as important as what we give.


It’s interesting how these values have never changed.

When Tara joined Thought Design a few years ago, we looked and them and wondered if they needed to shift. They didn’t. What has shifted over the years, though, is how we hold them and how they hold us. What they meant to me ten years ago isn’t exactly what they mean now, because they’ve changed me.

So now I can’t help but be curious – how will they continue to shape and shift who we are? Who I am? What bits and pieces of marble still need to be chiseled off and what is still hiding in there?

What are the values that have shaped your life and work over the last ten years?

What difference have they made? How have they challenged you?

Just some food for thought.