Living Our Values

May 15, 2018

Last year, ALTA released its Our Values initiative, which serves as the industry’s cultural compass and highlights the universal core ideals ALTA members embrace. The key words in the values are We Lead, We Deliver and We Protect.

These are simple phrases but have a deeper meaning that get to the core of what the title industry provides to its customers. A few years ago, ALTA developed its Best Practices. These evolved into an industry standard. Best Practices are what companies do, but values define a company. To succeed, it’s vital for companies to truly understand who they are. Having an established set of values serves as the foundation for a strong culture, which in turn provides clarity and focus for collective action and decision making.

Eric Schneider NTP, title group manager for Lakeside Title Company, was among the group of title professionals that helped develop the Our Values program. Discussions started around the idea that compliance is a culture, not just a policy. Using ALTA’s Principles of Fair Conduct as a guide, the group incorporated concepts of ethical behavior and best practices, and created something that could be memorable and useful in day-to-day operations. From there, the group developed the three phrases, each with a short, one-sentence explanation.

To help members understand how these values can be applied to their operations, Schneider shared how Lakeside Title approached the development and implementation of its values.

How did your company go about developing its values?

Being involved in the process, I jumped right in and helped to apply the concept of “values” to the staff at Lakeside Title. Sherri Landauer, our CEO; Yvonne Deardorff, our COO; and I met with a strategic planner who made us look at our company past, present and future. We then spent the better part of a half day analyzing what we thought was important for us to be a successful business and one that we could be proud of.

Many oversized Post-it notes were on walls throughout the conference room as we struggled with creating values that we felt should guide our daily operations. When we finished, we were content with our product while realizing that it would need to be periodically reviewed. We were ready to share it with our employees and adopt it as our corporate philosophy.

How did your company approach getting staff to buy into the values?

Yvonnne and I went on road trips around the state to meet with everyone who works at Lakeside and share with them the values we seek to strive for, the plans we had for the future and, most importantly, to solicit input from employees so they could feel as though they were part of the process. We learned much from the “SWOT” approach as things were pointed out to us that we didn’t realize were issues in the field, and we adjusted our plans based on that input. For those not familiar with the term, SWOT refers to Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, which are four ways to look at one’s own business model and gauge its potential for success. It also is a fantastic way to encourage input from everyone who works in an organization, and helps employees feel empowered in the workplace.

Now that the values have been assimilated into the company’s culture, what’s been the result? What has leadership learned about the company?

Following the meetings, we started to institute changes in certain procedures we had been following and are addressing the number-one issue across the board: Employees really want to learn more about our business in general—what everyone else does and how they can improve themselves through additional training. This will always be a work in progress, but I really feel as though the Our Values project initiated by ALTA has made us look at our company in a new light and address some things that we may not have considered otherwise. Hopefully other ALTA members will find the same benefits in their own companies.


For more on the Our Values initiative, go to Have a story to share about your company’s values? Email

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or

[eGuide] Access 'The Title Operator's Guide to Implementing ALTA Best Practices' from Qualia.