Our organization’s culture defines the way we act, work, and treat each other. It’s those shared beliefs and values that ultimately shape everything we do as a team. Like many founders of startups, I wanted to solve a business problem and create a company with an awesome culture. Yes, awesome!
In 2011, I started LeadiD with a mission to add transparency, performance, and compliance indicators to the lead-buying process. Rebranded as Jornaya in 2016, we continue to solve similar problems by helping marketers engage more effectively with consumers who are interested in their products and services. The goal, like most B2B companies, is to help our customers (and their customers) achieve the most valuable outcomes.
The success we have experienced is based on the people we hire, more than just the skills they bring. Being skilled is table stakes just to be considered for a role at Jornaya. A big part of our culture is being able to contribute a unique perspective, have a curious demeanor, and a desire to do more for others. All of this adds up to amassing unique creativity that contributes to our shared vision, binding us together as a powerful team.
Our commitment is to forming a culture that maintains the health, well-being, and growth of our organization. We are creating the company we want to be; not one someone else says we should be.
Discussions about what makes a great culture started early within our team and continue today. Early on, we wanted to identify the values that would unlock—and grow—the passion we have for the work we are doing.
“Don’t be a jerk,” said one team member.
“Learn from our mistakes,” offered another.
“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” was asked and instantly became a part of our mindset and culture.
These ideas flowed, resulting in the creation of what we call The Jornaya Code, a set of guiding principles that help us treat others as we want to be treated. The Code is a simple reminder of the values that are important to us. It is shared and discussed amongst our team so we have something to aspire to—individually and as a whole.
In 2016, we refined the Code to eight principles. It was about the same time that I read The Boys in the Boat, the New York Times-bestselling story about the American Olympic crew team’s triumph in 1936, against all odds. The book chronicles the University of Washington crew team who, sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, were never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast, let alone Great Britain and Germany. To me, the most relevant theme of the book, especially as it relates to culture, is teamwork—trusting one another and working together toward a singular goal; putting the team ahead of any sub-group and ahead of any one individual. This is the only reason this team won a Gold Medal, with the odds stacked heavily against them.
Today, as we onboard new employees, I meet with them to talk about the Jornaya Code and discuss the importance of the message. I always share this quote from the The Boys in the Boat: “What mattered more than how hard a man rowed was how well everything he did in the boat harmonized with what the other fellows were doing. And a man couldn’t harmonize with his crewmates unless he opened his heart to them. He had to care about his crew.”
Finding Our Sweet Spot
We know we’re not unique. Thousands of startups before us have established a mindset to succeed based on strong cultural values and principles. We’re all working hard—but the goal is to work hard together and as a single unit.
If you’ve had a chance to hear Patty McCord, former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix, or read her her latest book Powerful, Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility, she gets very real about teams, teamwork, and trust.
“Hire smart people who aren’t assholes,” she says. “Build amazing teams, filled with smart people, who do fabulous work, on time, that serves the customer.”
Amazing teams make a company great. They approach their work from all angles. They are genuine, innovative, and accountable.
“The greatest team achievements are driven by all team members understanding the ultimate goal and being freed to creatively problem-solve in order to get there,” writes McCord. “The strongest motivator is having great team members to work with, people who trust one another to do great work and to challenge one another.”
Today, the team at Jornaya uses data and intelligence to maximize value for our customers. We’re proud to be an amazing team that celebrates success as well as being open about and learning from failure. If you’re looking for a great place to work and want to be part of this amazing culture, we’d love to consider your joining us.
Ross Shanken is the Founder & CEO of Jornaya.