One of the most memorable pieces of advice I received early in the GooseChase journey was that it’s impossible to set the culture of an organization, it forms organically as a result of the early team & their day to day habits and behaviours. So make sure you hire the right people.
Often this is used as a scare tactic about making the wrong hires because it can tank a culture, but I think the flip-side is just as important and not talked about nearly enough - hire some great people and they will elevate your culture beyond what you thought was possible. It’s not all doom and gloom - with the right people, it’s actually rainbows and butterflies!
With my role shifting lately from product-builder to company-builder, I’ve begun thinking more in-depth about culture & what ours is all about. And with that reflection, I thought it would be fun to share a bit more about who we are & what makes GooseChase fly!
Experts in play
With our product’s origins being inspired by scavenger hunts and one of our values being “we’re playful and a little weird”, it’s no surprise that we like to play games & have fun as well.
Beyond using GooseChase internally (it’s fantastic for virtual team engagement), we also try to play other games together as well. Sometimes that means a couple rounds of Among Us (Shara & Mike are our resident experts), or a Gomoku tournament with Attila, our in-house champion. Because in addition to keeping our game design skills sharpened, it’s also important in that we’re able to just have fun & get to know each other outside of work.
This “outside of work” connection is one of the most challenging parts of being a distributed team, so carving out that time to actually connect has proven to be one of our most valuable investments yet. The team feels closer & works much better together as a result, a huge win for everyone all around.
And while having a job you love with people that you enjoy being around is an incredible experience, we also recognize that it’s not the only thing in life. Our team members have lives, hobbies & relationships outside of work and we see that as an asset to our culture, not a nuisance getting in the way of “the real work”. We’ve all spent time at other companies where it’s clear that hours worked is the primary metric, so when we set out on our own, we wanted to change that narrative & prove that you can build an amazing company in a different way. In fact, a huge part of why we’re bootstrapped is so we can grow at a sustainable pace and encourage our team to work how and when they want.
All the goose puns
I had no idea it was possible to make so many goose puns. In addition to having a Goosaversary every year at the company, we’ve added in “honktacular” and “plumping hard” as scoring levels in our performance criteria. And more recently, while working on our marketing website revamp, one of our favourite past-times was coming up with goose-themed celebrity doppelgangers to add as easter eggs. So if you happen to spot Tom Honks, Geese Witherspoon, or the star of Honk Hard, the ageless Goose Willis, hidden around our website you now know why!
Beyond being incredibly fun to come up with, we’ve noticed some really strong cultural benefits as well. By embracing these fantastic puns, it’s made us more playful, which then propagates into our customer interactions and product design as well. Put another way, by making our team happy & embracing our fun side, we actually make our customers happier as well.
Turning an online office into an advantage
Being a fully distributed team, slack & zoom are essentially our office. And while the rules change when your home base is virtual (thread everything!), what doesn’t change is the need to make people feel connected to each other. And thankfully we’ve been able to embrace a few tools out there to put our own spin on the virtual office.
First, we have big deal alerts. Anytime someone closes a deal over a certain amount, a message gets posted in our #good-things channel with a randomly chosen celebratory gif included. If it’s a particularly interesting deal, we’ll often share more about the customer and how they are using our platform. For those of us who aren’t interacting with customers as much, this provides a really good way to feel the momentum across the board and keep a pulse on our business, but it’s also just really fun to celebrate the good things that happen!
Secondly, and also on the gif train, we have giphy roulette. Ok, so this one is cheating a little bit since the giphy <> slack integration has changed recently, but for a while, we didn’t have the ability to choose which gif would be sent for a given keyword. 90% of the time, you’d get a great gif, but that 10% would be very, very far from what was intended. And the unofficial rule was that you had to leave it, no retries. One of the key things we have in our culture is to not take ourselves too seriously, and giphy roulette provides us a great way to keep that top of mind - none of us are perfect, just like the chosen gifs!
Lastly, and possibly my favourite, we’ve accidentally ended up with monthly bonusly bonanzas. We originally integrated bonusly, a slack plugin to award virtual points to each other, to create a culture of everyday appreciation. And while we do have that in our culture now, bonusly doesn’t get used daily for it that much anymore. Instead, on the last day of the month, when bonusly point balances are about to expire, someone will start giving out their allotted points and express appreciation for what others have done over the last month. That will then trigger an ad hoc appreciation cascade until everyone’s points are used up. Definitely not how we envisioned it, but the act of pausing at the end of each month & reflecting on the good things that have happened is something that makes a real difference in how close we feel to each other. And when we appreciate one another, it makes collaboration that much easier - meaning we have a happier team and improved business results!
Our style of work won’t be perfect for everyone, but we’ve found it really resonates with people who want to do amazing work alongside a team of world-class people in a way that complements the rest of their life.
And with part of our sustainable growth strategy being to raise our hiring bar, but always be on the lookout for amazing people, here’s our shameless plug - if our culture & approach to growth sounds like something that would resonate with you, we’d love to hear from you about joining our team!