Feelin’ Like a Blimp? Fear Not. So Am I.
There are many things that have me feeling inflated today. You would think it’s the Thanksgiving dinner I had last week (and have continued to have in sandwich form since) or the non-stop family bonding time that has me feeling large. Turkey Day has certainly amplified my blimp-like state, but this feeling actually started about 2 weeks ago when I set out to plan a fearless high seas adventure with a group of inspiring co-workers.
Hopefully we all actively reflect on the awesome things in our day-to-day that we are thankful for.
But Thanksgiving always presents a time to more explicitly call them out en masse, and with that, I’d like to share a quick story that highlights a couple things I am particularly thankful for today. In no particular order, these are:
Diversity – We probably all work with some of the most amazing people in the world, all with hidden skills, surprise talents, and super cool interests.
Failure – I work at a place where I (along with the rest of my co-workers) am not only empowered but also encouraged to challenge the status quo and take on big things – our failures fuel our learnings.
Collaboration – The results that can be achieved with many great minds involved is astounding.
About a month ago, I was presented with the opportunity to dramatically shift the course of my efforts here at Optimizely. After joining the team in March of 2012 as our very first marketing hire, I had the unbelievable experience of scaling our marketing team and leading our marketing efforts for the entire company.
Our company has grown since that time from a team of 12 to a team of roughly 150 – this monumental growth has required us to constantly and rapidly learn and adapt as we confront new challenges daily. It has been amazing to watch this growing group do just that.
With respect to scaling our business, I have continued to be impressed with the commitment, focus, collaboration, and flexibility that has fueled our growth and acceleration. At the core of these efforts lies a robust and organically grown culture in our workplace. It is a culture of Ownership, Passion, Trust, Integrity, Fearlessness, and transparencY (which we have lovingly abbreviated into the acronym of OptifY). Most importantly, it is a culture that has surfaced from an entire team rather than determined and delivered from just a few, and the truth is that it gets better with the addition of each new hire here.
Something I have personally experienced in previous companies and heard anecdotally as well is that in these exciting rapid growth phases of many companies, the notion of company culture can easily slip into a sort of afterthought category.
Not here. Not yet.
After some reflection, I embarked on a new journey here, becoming our first ever Head of Experimental Marketing. Armed with a loosely formed charter to take on the development and execution of fearless marketing campaigns and a blank canvas, I set out looking for the perfect way to come out swinging.
To say I was fearless initially would be an outright lie. And subsequent to the execution of the first campaign, it’s safe to say that what allowed this campaign (and me) to become fearless was the brilliant supporting cast around me.
Three weeks prior to Dreamforce (the annual Salesforce gathering in San Francisco), I began digging into to a slew of short meetings with people all over the office. After conversations with dozens of my colleagues, I surfaced with an idea to create and hoist a live ‘pop-up’ banner of some kind over the right field fence at AT&T park during the Blondie/Green Day Gala concert event put on for the 30,000+ attendees of the conference. The target audience was good and the location seemed likely to be one-of-a-kind. The question still left to be answered was how we would raise a banner up over right field.
Having been already impressed with the contributions around me (keep in mind any help is in addition to the rest of the responsibilities that people have here), I recruited a team of four to directly help coordinate this mission.
We held some covert meetings outside of our regular working hours, divided small pieces of the puzzle to each other (some requiring specialty skills such as seafaring), and iterated on several possible ways to execute.
When the dust settled, we had developed a plan that involved an inflatable blimp, a boat, three large tanks of helium, and a crew of fearless supporters (both on board and on land).
On the evening of Tuesday, November 19th, 2013 we executed our first official experimental marketing campaign.
Here is what we achieved:
It was very exciting. But even more exciting than the delight of successfully launching an illuminated blimp up over the right field fence at AT&T park during Green Day were the realizations that came with some reflection after we had packed up and returned home later that night.
Often times it’s easy to overlook the awesome opportunities presented in work/life. The amazing people around you that you see daily can be exactly the people to enable your most fearless and exciting endeavors. Whether it’s the ideas they share, the processes they build, or the moral support they provide—both in successes and failures— take a minute and sit back, to be thankful for those times when they got your back. And don’t be afraid to have theirs, too.