A synopsis of my full presentation at The Digital Agency Summit April 2017.
“The harder I work the luckier I get”
CULTURE STARTS AT THE TOP!
When Jeremy and I started Perception we already had an unbeatable work ethic and deep respect for clients. Coming from R/GA we gained an “Ivy League” mentality with regards to a process and production of projects, which helped foster the beginning of The Perception Culture.
Growing up in Queens my father owned El Prado. A Spanish and Italian restaurant, and at the age of 14 he quickly instilled in me that giving his clients the best experience at his restaurant was key to being successful. He stressed that it wasn’t just a good Martini, or a well cooked meal that people waited on line for – it was the full El Prado experience. When people came my father greeted them like family and they were taken care of by the staff while my father meticulously walked around the dining room to make sure everyone at every table was experiencing something unique. To this day (after almost 20 years of being closed) I meet people and when I mention where I grew up, the first thing they say is “I remember a Spanish and Italian restaurant named El Prado that my parents took me to all the time, my parents loved going there for dinner”.
Miles away growing up in Brooklyn Jeremy also started to work at a very young age for a company called Mac Emporium. They were the only place where you can get anything for the Mac (except an actual Mac:). They also offered printing services, which is where Jeremy started to groom his skills in design.
Both our family backgrounds instilled a work ethic that is summed up in our Perception Hand Book as a quote – “Everyone wants a job, but nobody wants to work”. This philosophy of hard work and never say die attitude is what started and steered Perception to where it is today.
The Perception culture shifts slightly as the company grows and team members are added but the foundation of any culture MUST be strong. Do you know anyone who would agree to build a home on a weak foundation?
BUILDING THE FOUNDATION
New team members must have an understanding and sharing of the following: (These are selected elements pulled from our hand book)
Who founded the company and why?
What is the company mission and overall vision moving into the future?
some of ours are
We are creative problem solvers.
We create groundbreaking work with meaning.
Our work must evolve and innovate.
As a team we must always be open to change.
COMPANY CORE VALUES
Listen carefully, respond intelligently and communicate face to face as much as possible.
Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. Always stay hungry.
The process is more important then the outcome.
Do not fear the unknown, that’s when we grow.
We live and die as a team.
We exceed client expectations whether its an existing or new client.
We will make the clients brand our own.
In order for the culture to thrive it’s important to share with your employees these aspects. We detail this and other Perception attributes in our hand book and share with potential employees as well as sharing an abbreviated version with freelancers. The hand book contains everything from time off policies to benefits. It also has policies regarding equal employment opportunities and alcohol/drug abuse policies. In a nutshell a potential employee should be able to get a good sense of what journey they are about to embark on with Perception before even stepping into the studio doors.
Here are 2 screen shots right from the Perception hand book.
Last but not least. Taking a new employee through the company process is key. Giving them information based on:
How does a projects come in?
What team members are involved before during and after the project?
What are the general expectations of the client and how we formulate how the project will run? What is the project life cycle – including schedule, invoicing, discovery, production, delivery etc.?
MAINTAINING THE FOUNDATION
Establishing a strong cultural foundation and maintaining that foundation with the right managers is key. It starts with clear communication between everyone on the team. Each manager at the top of the tiers each have mini sub-cultures for their groups. Each one of these sub-cultures is a direct spin off of the main Perception culture with slight adjustments depending on the group. Since the teams interact constantly and have a deep understanding of the full culture and which philosophies are stronger for each groups they co-exist and create magical experiences for our clients to craft unbelievable collaborations.
Having a tool like the hand book has been invaluable for existing and new team members! It’s also one of the main ingredients for attracting top talent to Perception.