Company values typically come about one of three ways: an outsider creates them (i.e., they're inherited), an internal team comes up with them, or a founder or leader writes them.

In Fullsteam's case, I wrote the core values after reading Traction, a book that has helped us be a better company and helped me be a better leader. Not that we have it all figured out...we're always aiming (and needing) to improve. As I often say, there are no laurels to rest on in the craft beer business.

Every quarter, as leaders and as a company, we revisit these core values and ask ourselves the same question: "Are these the right values for us?" Each time the answer is a resounding yes. These are indeed our values. We hire, train, and base employment on these values. We grow our company on these values and our mission.

I hope they read as honest and true to you as they do to me. While I'm proud of these values, I'm infinitely more proud of Team Fullsteam...the people who make it all possible.

Sean Lilly Wilson
Founder and Chief Executive Optimist, Fullsteam


1. Think like an optimist

WHAT THIS MEANS
We’re geared toward yes. This doesn't mean we say yes to everything -- that's a disastrous path -- but Fullsteam stands for opportunity and potential.

HOW WE LIVE THIS VALUE
Fullsteam was the first brewery in the South to explore foraging, purchase local ingredients, and to anchor on a mission to pioneer a Southern Beer Economy. (We're pretty sure we bought the first bag of the first local malted grain in North Carolina). To date, we've purchased over $500,000 in Southern ingredients from dozens of suppliers, ranging from large maltsters to buying foraged fruit brought to our tavern.

2. Seek truth and beauty

“Seek not greatness, but seek truth and you will find both.” — Horace Mann

WHAT THIS MEANS
North Carolina's state motto, Esse Quam Videri, captures it for us: "To be, rather than to seem." Truth and beauty is in being, rather than appearing to be. We seek truth and beauty as we build community, connect to the land, and actively advocate for a progressive South.

HOW WE LIVE THIS VALUE
Fullsteam is a founding and active member of the Durham Living Wage project. We list our ingredients and suppliers with full transparency, celebrating when we can go all local and being completely honest when we're not fully able to. We speak up for causes we believe in, we stand up for people on the margin, and we consistently give to the community in times of need. We could list out all our charitable contributions over the years, but that'd be in conflict with value #3...

3. Speak with quiet confidence

WHAT THIS MEANS
This is arguably our hardest value to reconcile, as "quiet" and "confidence" are inherently at odds. Too much quiet and we're meek and passive. Too much confidence and, well, we know what that looks like in this modern world.

HOW WE LIVE THIS VALUE
We're proud of what we do, but we know our story starts with the farm and the Southern wild. Quiet confidence is sometimes taking a back seat. Listening instead of boasting. Telling other's stories instead of your own. And making beer that celebrates and enhances beautiful moments.

4. Listen with empathy

WHAT THIS MEANS
Healthy relationships -- particularly within a company -- start with empathic listening. And empathy extends beyond our employees. We listen to (and share) the stories of the farmer. The maltster. The wholesaler. The bottle shop owner and bartender. And, of course, the beer drinker. We exist because of you.

HOW WE LIVE THIS VALUE
We practice open-book management with our employees, openly sharing our operational and financial status. We know that the best improvements come from the people in the field -- in the middle of it all. We listen and respond to their suggestions, criticisms, and ideas. And we listen to our customers and the community at large, responding to their interests and needs -- particularly in times of crisis.

5. Be Present, Productive, and Fun!

"Strong verbs, short sentences." — Dr. Bernadine Healy, Director, NIH

WHAT THIS MEANS
Our vision requires hard work, dedication, and focus. But, after all, it’s the beer business...it should be fun!

HOW WE LIVE THIS VALUE
We speak in active, not passive voice. We toil in this business of beer with open arms, hearts, and minds. We collaborate and share beers with our friends in the industry, and help them out in times of need -- just as they've helped us through tough times over the past decade.

We make beer (and food!) and serve you because we absolutely love it.