by Joanna V.
Here at VPUSA, one of our key culture goals is kindness. We believe that a simple act of kindness goes a long way in creating and maintaining a workplace that we can be proud of, a workplace where agreement is not mandatory, but kind disagreement is. No matter what the task, no matter how seemingly onerous, frustrating, or complex a problem, VPUSA employees will always, always, always greet each other with a smile and sort things out together.
Kindness without context is a relatively useless word, however. What exactly is kindness? Is it measurable or quantifiable? Isn’t it really just a subjective feeling? Objectifying kindness is counterproductive, our last intention is to turn kindness into something that you can check off of your to-do list. Instead, I offer you a few small, everyday anecdotes that demonstrate exactly what we comprehend in the idea.
Kindness is announcing to the entire office exactly where you are going for lunch, simultaneously inviting everyone within a 50 foot radius, and inviting orders for special direct-to-desk VP-delivery from a smiling peer.
Kindness is Orly’s banana bread muffins, made in two separate varieties (chocolate chip and walnut spice, yum) to cater to our discerning tastes and served desk-side to rock your taste buds first thing in the morning.
Kindness is Nicole hauling a king-sized air bed all the way to the office in a structurally unsound shopping bag, so that Sam could have a place to sleep in her new, unfurnished apartment.
Kindness is Jillian corralling what seemed like 800 mylar balloons through the windy New York streets, assaulting unsuspecting pedestrians along the way, and “hiding” them in a coat closet to decorate for launch day.
Kindness is Jill’s personal vendetta against bad coffee, immediately remedied by bringing in an electric kettle, individual filters, and gourmet coffee for all.
In my own interview with Mike, our fearless leader, I asked him to clarify the abstract concept of the employee “culture” that I had heard so much about in my interviews. He replied with something along the lines of - (said much more eloquently, of course) “You know that feeling when you first see someone you don’t know that well, and you are wondering to yourself whether to say hi to them or not? Basically, you have the first two times you see someone to say hi to them or not. If you choose not to, it will be awkward from then on. Here, you say hi and smile the first time, the problem is eliminated, and you’re closer to that person, too”. So true.
This is the first of what will be a weekly post featuring a new employee at vente-privee USA. This week’s post comes from Orly H. - who shares her experience from her first week. She joined us last Monday as a Sales Event Producer in our Digital Factory.
This place is a crazy international hodgepodge of turntable DJ’s, DIY ninjas (of the webmaster breed), secret agent ambassadors with FBI grade ear-pieces that reach at least as far as the kitchen, all doing their thing to the tune of fog horns of Zuccoti park.
Not to mention, Potbelly marathons and endless supplies of Hershey’s milk. And diet coke on tap. No this is not a Vanilla ice music video, this is where I work.
It is a place where anything goes and all is embraced. At least so far. Coming from a pretty “corporate” employer, I was one of the many working in the daily grind, anonymous in my workplace and assigned to a single desk on a dreary white-walled floor without any windows. I reported to a direct supervisor and saw very little outside of my own department.
Then I came here, and it blew my mind. In the 4 (count ‘em- 1,2,3,4) days I have been here, it already feels as if I have been personally approached by anyone and everyone in the company. Each new conversation reveals some hidden talent or random factoid that reinforces how seriously cool and talented these people are. But you’d never know based on their down-to-earth attitudes.
And for me, that is what really makes VP rock. I like to think of it as the “vp”-qualizing effect. Put simply, it is an equalizing effect that takes place once a new member passes the theoretical VP threshold. All the street cred it took to get here is left at the door and we all become equally important pieces to the puzzle, free of any inferiority-inducing rigid corporate hierarchy/bureaucracy. There are no superficial walls that divide us. I mean, literally. My superstar executive team all sits, works and plays with their teams - desk to desk so that innovation, problem solving, and the not-so-occasional football can really take flight.
The “vp”-qualizer, along with so many other constantly evolving reasons, is why I’m feeling like I made an incredible choice, if I do say so myself, in coming on board. And I feel pretty freaking lucky to be a part of this place. Not to mention I have the same coffee mug as my CEO- that’s right, Mike, I too drink out of an absurdly large Starbucks porcelain cup with a sketch of the NYC skyline. Now if that’s not some sort of cosmic sign that VP is where I’m supposed to be, I’m not sure what is.