The Ahalogy Playbook

 

A guide to making choices at Ahalogy

 

WHAT IS THIS?

The Ahalogy Employee Playbook codifies what it means to be a part of Ahalogy. We chose to put this on paper because we want to encourage ownership, free-thinking, and collaboration. We call this our Playbook. If we follow what is transcribed here, this will be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have.

Picasso once said: “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” We believe this in many ways, as evidenced by our playbook’s heavy influences from Netflix, Valve, and others. Don’t be surprised if you see something you’ve read before.

UPDATE: Ahalogy was born in 2012 and our first Manifesto was released in 2013, barely a year after we got off the ground. Since then we’ve learned and accomplished a lot. We updated this document at a company offsite in January 2018 in order to more accurately represent who we are now, and who we need to be to continue our success.

 

IS AHALOGY A STARTUP?

Some people ask us this and we ask it of ourselves every so often. If a startup means you’re eating ramen noodles and wondering how to cover payroll—nope, we’re past that. Ahalogy is no longer in the awkward early stage of discovering a business model. We’re profitable and scaling, but we still believe in holding onto a “startup mentality”. For us that means we come at organizational design with a clean slate, rather than simply applying the formulas that large companies have followed for decades.

We still work hard – but we work smart and often in sprints that are determined by the flow of opportunities and team preferences. Working here is not easy, nor is it for everyone. No one will raise an eyebrow if you leave at 5pm, but we don’t “punch out” then either. We don’t believe in work-life balance, we believe in work-life integration.

We all spend a lot of time here, so make yourself comfortable. We call this our Couch Culture—tearing down the walls and promoting an open, collaborative environment. We want people to have the freedom to work where, when, and how they want. Grab a drink and a snack and sit on the couch with your cross-functional team and talk—or head back to a huddle room for some peace and quiet.

 

THE BASICS

We’re not here to build another app. Our tools help real people achieve dreams and put food on the table. We believe in what we do and see the chance to change the world. No matter your age, sex, or experience level, you have an equal and fair voice. You have an incredible amount of freedom — so make smart choices.

Our Mission

Ahalogy exists to make the web more meaningful by making creators more empowered, brands more authentic, and content more beautiful.

Our Vision

To create a multi-billion dollar ecosystem where content creators, brands, and end users all win. Creators are successful entrepreneurs. Brands are more meaningful. End users are delighted by our recommended content.

 

OUR VALUES GET US THERE

We are nothing without our values as a foundation. If we have the right values, we can succeed at anything. We should strive to embody our goals every day and to do an even better job tomorrow.

While it’s important to have values, it’s more important that we act upon them. For us, it doesn’t matter what type of work Ahalogy does. What’s most important is how we do the work, and who we hire that will impact the way we do it.

Companies frequently define their culture through company values. If you look at some of the core values out there, you will see many of the same keywords from company to company. In the end, most people simply want to work in a place where they feel respected, to do good work for their clients, and to see their company prosper.

Unfortunately, many companies that try to build their culture through values still fail. Why? Because for many, the values are just words painted on a wall. They are static buzz words trying to cover off on a breadth of topics imposed upon employees on the day they were hired.

At Ahalogy, we feel the values should be based on the below:

  • Action-oriented: Keep us driving forward.
  • Relevant: Applicable no matter what type of work Ahalogy does.
  • Personal: Truly matters to us as individuals.

If our values align to the above, they will guide us in the right direction, help us make smart choices for the good of both the company and the employee, make great hires, and let us expand or change strategically as needed. Our values:

Ownership
This one is easy: We believe in giving people accountability and responsibility for their piece of the Ahalogy business. Our philosophy is that the org chart should be turned upside down. Instead of asking for permission and approval, or managers exist to support their teams with coaching and advice. Ownership helps us make better, faster decisions—and it helps all of us keep growing and motivated.

Competition

The future of marketing is the game, Ahalogy is our team, and we play to win. We love to win, hate to lose, but learn from our losses. We actually love our competition because they push us to keep upping our game. Everyone at Ahalogy can win together…except in our monthly cooking competitions.

Curiosity

We are eager to learn, share ideas, and get market feedback. Ahalogists ask probing questions, listen carefully, form hypotheses and test them quick & cheaply. We know that most of our future revenue will come from innovation that we create today.

Client Focus

At the end of the day, we are in the business of making others’ business more successful. We all either serve paying clients directly or have an internal client that we partner with. We bring a “Yes, and…” attitude to every interaction.

Creativity

On multiple levels our profit and growth are directly related to the quality of creative that comes from our products. We must live, breathe, and celebrate creative excellence in everything we do—and lead the thinking on how creative is continually evolving.

Productive Paranoia

We celebrate success and are proud of our work, but a little part of us remembers that “this, too, shall pass.” We expect the best outcomes but plan for the worst, listening to where we might have weaknesses or unhappy partners.

Support

Our company first began with the startup spirit and a handful of people who gladly wore many hats and jumped in to help whoever was in need. While we have more specialized roles than ever before, we’ve kept our “grab a shovel” mentality when opportunities pop up. And when things go wrong, we pitch in to help dig people out—rather than passing blame or looking the other way.

Respect

Ahalogy actively looks for opportunities to do the right thing and take the moral high ground in key company decisions. When we work together we follow the Golden Platinum Rule: Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.

Pride

We want to do our best work and do not want to let others down. We actually care about our jobs and the output of our work. Ahalogists are confident but not cocky.

Joy

Life is too short to spend most of it working in an environment where you cannot find enjoyment and be yourself. Joy is a dish best served shared, so we strive to “make it a great day” together.

 

Manifestations of our values

Carve your own career path – We believe that people do their best work when it is as close as possible to something they love and are great at; we’re also a fast moving/growing company that is a long way from established ladders of career progression. Put the two together and it means that we all have to play the lead in creating our future at Ahalogy. To support this process, we’ll use tools and manager conversations and tend to promote from within.

Moose on the table – we’re nice to each other and sometimes have a hard time having difficult but necessary conversations; so we openly say we’re going to “point at the moose” in the room and make it something we cannot avoid talking about.

Control our own destiny – we’ve learned the hard way that you can waste a lot of time waiting for an outside partner or investor to solve your business challenges; we err on the side of forging our own way and choose not to be a victim of others’ decisions and market ups & downs.

Continuous Innovation - anywhere, always, anyone; a shark dies if it stops swimming, and it’s also a hunter that needs to find and grab a fast-moving meal/opportunity. We’ve similarly got to stay in “hunter mode” and look for the next opportunities. After all, in 5 years our main source of revenue could be something we haven’t invented yet.

Open & honest – to help us all be leaders and do the right thing, it’s smart to be open about where we are, where we’re headed, and why. So we share financials, talk about valuation, share company strategy, ask Bob and anyone else anything—but remember that it stays here.

Lead the thinking – If you don’t make a recommendation about your business or project, then someone above you will, and it might be the wrong one. When you have a problem or decision, seek advice; if you share a concern or interest, share an idea of what it means—bring strong opinions, weakly held.

Fix broken windows – When something is broken and everyone sees it’s not being fixed, it sends an unconscious message that can become cancer in the organization. We need to point out the issues and help fix them to keep Ahalogy a beautiful place; everything should be “I” and “we,” never “they.”

 

WE POINT FINGERS

…at each other for doing great work and exemplifying our Values in everyday work. Here are some recent examples that we collected off the tops of our heads:

Casey taught us about how recycling really works at our monthly Fireside Chat

Rob created a partnership with the leading celebrity agency group in his first week

Kolin brought forward a plan to launch Muse months earlier with a new approach to topics

Cassie is taking classes with Girl Develop It during her off hours

Sarah offered up her personal blog for innovation testing

Ross figured out how to eliminate our social data subscription

Ryan continuously updates us on profit and how our options are valued

Bob publicly shared his condemnation of harassment in the workplace

Kim created a scorecard to alert us to weak signs in client relationships

MaryAnne stuck up for her client success teammate when a partner was behaving badly

Jeff hosted our holiday party at his house when times were lean

Courtney planned our company cooking competitions

Jessica worked with her former co-workers to introduce Ahalogy

Jake updated our Muse admin UI without anyone asking

Britt proactively brought new social branding ideas to her clients

Charlotte created a challenge for the team to wring even more profit out of our media buys

Kristin pioneered new partnerships that have opened up massive opportunities

Ann made over a dozen client introductions to her sales team peers in her first week

Traci decided to remake a client video to keep our client happy and help our team learn

Lauren revamped our client success process & benchmark documents

Madie learned how to create gorgeous how-it-works videos and airport ads

Kelly came up with a strategy for unearthing new, diverse influencer voices

Julia developed a process that would allow us to compress timelines on Brandables projects

Patrick’s Client Focused approach delivered a great client-onboarding with a new and important client

Rachel developed a paid media benchmarking document, making it easier to track and monitor paid campaigns

Andi volunteered to write and create a recurring blog series for the Ahalogy Partner’s website

Mary Kate displayed incredible Ownership by upselling Brandables to a top client within two weeks.

Sam landed a huge story about our model with Digiday

Megan learned the ins and outs of SEO and how keywords drive performance across digital platforms

Katie took the initiative to own all planning and execution of social posts for Ahalogy

Drew has amazing attention to detail, especially about his own projects
Noah showed a great amount of curiosity in helping build out a new department and became our first in-house SDR

Steph continually maxes out her “thank you tacos” to everyone who contributes to signed contracts

Monica went above and beyond to teach her clients why our Tri-Verified approach is superior

Nick continuously reviews other products and sites to get ideas on how they could impact Muse

Chris scheduled/runs tech debt meeting to make sure we are building everything to our best

Gob is the first to say “Yay” when a new deal gong is sounded

Joe organized tasks so he and Mojtaba could better stay on task and hit deadlines

Mojtaba built new trend algorithms in 2 weeks and worked around clock to make it happen

Connor built out a new Blog parsing system in his first few weeks as an Intern

 

HOW WE HIRE AND WHY WE FIRE

We will only succeed if everyone on the team is amazing. We don’t have many “rules” and we allow great people to do great things. But this kind of system only works if we have the best people possible. That means A+ players in every role. To this end, hiring is the single most important thing we do.

Discipline, including but not limited to termination, is also in line with our values. To allow all employees the freedom to have ownership, be curious and show off their creativity, we can’t afford to tolerate mediocre performance or non-alignment with our values. One bad actor can ruin the amazing environment we have created. To that end, we are quick to identify and address any situation that puts our amazing culture at risk.

We want to embrace and be honest when Ahalogy isn’t the place for someone. We know Ahalogy isn’t for everyone. Our Values are very important to us. If at any time someone feels they are not professionally or personally fulfilled, they just have to communicate

Please know that if you choose to walk through the door of Ahalogy, there are some things that just don’t fit. Examples include fancy titles, failure to put away the dishes or change the toilet paper, or complaints about which brand of free food or beer we provide. Please know, we practice the following:

  • Culture First — Business and interpersonal skills are key to our culture. Brilliant geniuses that do not comply with our standards of conduct and values won’t make it.
  • Honesty Matters—Defraud us or provide false or misleading information at anytime during your employment and you will lose your offer and/or your position.
  • We Don’t Tolerate Harassment or Bullying—We strive to maintain a work environment that is safe, comfortable, and productive for everyone.  Any conduct that interferes or has the potential to interfere with this goal should be reported to a company leader.

 

SUCCESS AND DEVELOPMENT AT AHALOGY

Your success is not only important to us, but also directly tied to Ahalogy’s success. Here are a few ways we try to help you be your best:

Reviews & 1on1’s – We do reviews twice a year (performance and 360) so you always know where you stand. Reviews help remove communication barriers, help you stay focused, and allow you to hone your craft. You will also have frequent 1on1’s with your manager.

Talent & Salary Reviews – Our managers convene a minimum of once a year to talk about talent and career coaching. At this time we also do an annual salary review. Tackling salaries once a year takes the guesswork out of “will I ever get a raise”.

Career Coaching – At its core, Career Coaching at Ahalogy is a way of identifying and working on the skills that are most important to the long-term vision for your career. Ahalogy is not about “climbing the corporate ladder”. Yes, a promotion or raise could be an outcome, and we will make sure there are career milestones in place, but Career Coaching goes beyond your basic job description.

Lunch n’ Learns – we’re always talking about various topics, with internal and external presenters. These are driven by employee wants and needs. Chances are if one person is seeking out information, it may be beneficial to many others.

All-Company Meetings – We come together as one group to talk shop, share updates on what we all are working on, and we bond over celebrating our success and failures.

Family/Friend Events – Chances to get to know each other, along with significant

others, kids, etc. at game nights, holiday events, and happy hours. We also have a pet-friendly office.

OfficeVibe – Feedback is a two-way street. We use tools like OfficeVibe so you can (anonymously) let us know of anything that might have been missed along the way.

 

IN THE END

If you join Ahalogy with a strong commitment to living our values, and exhibit them every day as you go about your work, you’ll be richly rewarded. Not just in monetary compensation, but also in personal growth and the professional satisfaction that comes with being a vital part of our growing team as we move toward our vision. Together.