As many of you read last week, I was recently hired by WhatCounts as the new inbound marketing coordinator, in turn allowing you to get to know me through my blogs, comments, and social media posts. Chris has already given you a bit of insight on the hiring process and how I got here, but not really what has gone on since I have joined the company. I’m going to be honest with you – Working at WhatCounts is completely different from what I expected and what I am used to. That can be attributed to the fact that the entire team is incredibly friendly, my boss is a ninja (no, seriously), and our CEO, Allen, has a completely different outlook on business.
During the hiring process, I was brought in to speak with Agatha, our marketing manager, and Allen to get a better idea of who WhatCounts is and what they’re all about. Right off the bat, he broke down the company values and mission. These are two aspects of companies that I assumed were created to have something to tack onto a brochure, but this guy actually meant it. His passion for what he does, his vision for the future, and his brutal honesty were highlighted by a great sense of humor. To me, this signaled one of two things: This guy is either running a cult or this is what being genuine looks like. After a week of working here, I have come to the final summation on Allen: He’s like the Eli Manning of the business world – He’s a pro, a leader, and a genuinely down-to-earth nice guy. I say that not only because I assume that Eli Manning displays all of those attributes, but also because Allen looks a little bit like Eli Manning.
Throughout this past week, I have been completely immersed in WhatCounts’ environment, culture, and ethic. I imagine this experience being akin to “drinking the Kool-Aid” except I believe not out of fear, rather what we can actually accomplish. This experience was punctuated perfectly by a meeting with other new hires, including our Seattle and Baltimore offices via video conference, in what has been dubbed “ONETeam Onboarding.” Allen sat down with us and conversationally went over the history of WhatCounts, the ultimate goal, and why our team members are an investment in the company. He also lumped up our objective of constant improvement to our work environment very succinctly: “It doesn’t have to suck.”
This is an outlook, albeit very blunt, toward our office, our attitude towards work, and our coworkers that many companies fail to address. Instead of trying to convince employees via motivational posters that are emblazoned with workplace propaganda like “TEAMWORK” and “POSITIVE,” Allen just tells us like it is – This company and its environment can only be as good as we make it. If you don’t like it, let’s make it better. How many companies not only suggest this belief to their employees, but actually work constantly to address it?
Throughout our meeting we continually focused on the motto “If you don’t make a mistake, you’re not trying enough stuff. If you make the same mistake repeatedly, you’re not focusing on quality.” We encourage members of the team to try new things, because that’s the key to progress and innovation. I like that idea. We also discussed the importance of getting to know everyone, coworker and client alike, on a first name basis. It’s by identifying everyone as a person, not by labels such as a “client,” “coworker,” “manager,” “executive,” or even “Mr.___” that really allows us to come together as a team. I like that idea, too, but that’s probably because my last name is Zibanejadrad and no one can pronounce it.
Some questions to consider at your company: How much do you value mistakes in your own organization? Do you penalize employees for any mistake or just repeating it, since mistakes are the primary ingredient of innovation?
Inbound Marketing Coordinator, WhatCounts