Much has changed at Adzerk over the last 6 months. We had great leaders and employees move on to new challenges, but in turn we've hired awesome new people to join the team. We are now 12 people with plans to grow to 15 people in Q1. One of the challenges of hiring new people is ensuring that the things you love about the company stay the same, but hiring new people also creates an opportunity to fix some of the things that weren’t so great.
One exercise we undertook to help grow Adzerk in a disciplined way was to build a set of Core Values. We followed the process and methodology from “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits”, a book Matt Williamson and Aaron Houghton recommended I read. In keeping with our second core value of “Be Open”, we are publishing our Core Values here and on our About page.
1. Make The Internet a Better Place
Years ago, I got interested in advertising when I realized that by running an ad network, I could reward the bloggers whose blogs I loved reading. That hasn’t changed. We are inspired by the awesome publishers that we work with, and we love what we do because we get the chance to work with innovative companies like reddit, StackOverflow, and dozens of others.
2. Be Open
Part of our company constitution is to only work with open source software. The other push we have made lately is to contribute more to open source, and ship more of what we build here as open source software. For instance, we created and sponsored the Clojure tool Boot. Being open also translates into internal practices, like sharing the P/L of the company every month and being transparent about direction and decisions inside the company. Lastly, openness means sharing posts like this with the public.
3. We Are All Adults
We have an Employee Bill of Rights. We trust our employees to do the right thing, and we don’t feel like the company or management needs to babysit them. This also pushes us towards a mostly flat structure of management - if a company doesn’t need command and control, it can survive with much less overhead.
4. Go Above and Beyond
We go above and beyond to help our customers, and we always will. One of our engineers once jumped on a plane to travel to a customer’s site to help them launch - on a weekend. Our support team routinely talks to third party vendors and helps customers with their problems even when they aren’t tied directly to Adzerk.
5. Always Be Crushing
Most engineers ship code either on their first day or their first week of working at Adzerk. It’s not enough to just do things with urgency, though. (We've fallen in that trap before.) It’s important to also ship AWESOME things. It’s always a balance: we can’t always do everything we would like, but we can’t ship out something that doesn’t live up to our standards or our customers' expectations either. We try to embrace both urgency and awesomeness, which we define as crushing it.
6. Be a Hacker
We have always been a technology focused company, but we have been working to infuse it into every part of our culture. For instance, when our marketing specialist wants the team to review a new blog post or customer story, he now submits it as a pull request to the repo. We have also realigned the company to maintain a 1:1 engineer ratio: at least 1 engineer for every non-engineer at the company.
To keep Core Values relevant for a business, you have to lead by example. As we continue to grow the team, we'll introduce new hires to this list of six, as well as demonstrate our Values every day that we work on Adzerk.