Since we’re constantly striving to spread the word about Foolish culture, our latest endeavor is pretty darn exciting. Introducing Foolosophies, a peek into life at FoolHQ through interviews with the Fools that know our company best. This video series uncovers answers to many questions about the Fool, from the importance of core values to our Foolanthropy tradition; different collaboration opportunities; and the 411 on our insurance benefits.
Do you feel like your organization is in need of a culture makeover? These videos provide valuable information that could inspire you to make a big change. Fools share their best tips for accommodating different types of workspaces; fostering transparent communication; and holding companywide events like Pizza Day and Cake Day – for a purpose!
More #Foolosophy videos are in production, but we’d love your feedback! Is there a question that you’re dying to have answered? Comment below and we’ll take it into consideration! Wondering how to see such great content? See our Menu above – and click “Foolosophy.”
I hear a lot of chatter about coffee at FoolHQ, but the buzz doesn’t always revolve around the need for caffeine. As an opportunity to connect, Fools are encouraged to request Starbucks gift cards sponsored by The Motley Fool. In return, Fools must treat a fellow coworker – ideally one they don’t know well – to a drink. Though there’s definitely a monthly card limit, some Fools don’t mind to fund Starbucks runs on their own dime every once in a while. You could say that coffee meetings are a popular part of our culture, to say the least.
Our CEO Tom Gardner envisions more to this benefit than just a free soy latte. Introducing the idea at a company-wide huddle last year, Tom encouraged using the cards as a chance to learn about others’ projects; identify best practices Fools use; and collaborate on challenges or ideas. Fool Amy Dykstra approximates that she hands out around 10 gift cards per month.
Jerry Seinfeld also recognizes room for great communication in a cup of coffee. In fact, it’s the focus of his successful Emmy-nominated web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Seinfeld explains, “…why it’s great to meet someone for a cup of coffee — the ease, the simplicity, the compactness. And that it also obviously gets people talking. You have coffee and for some reason it makes you talk a lot.” Whether or not you order coffee, tea, or a glass of water, it’s the conversation that counts.
While Jerry Seinfeld hosts his guests in cars, Tom and David Gardner hold a monthly event at FoolHQ called “New Fool Coffees.” Spending an hour together with our founders, recent hires are able to learn more about our company and ask tons of questions. Conversations can travel anywhere from Tom’s favorite drink to what inspired his team’s latest stock pick. Starbucks – or FoolHQ conference rooms – are hot spots for Fools, but the location shouldn’t stop you from incorporating this idea into your company’s culture. And it doesn’t even have to be about a coffee drink, either. Simply encourage employees to leave their desks, welcoming the idea that a fresh environment can inspire new and valuable thoughts.
Engaging others through stimulating conversation – caffeinated or not – is important. A quick sit down can allow for new concepts to brew and employees to mesh together, both of which will benefit your organization. Steven Johnson reinforces, “We take ideas from other people,from people we’ve learned from, from people we run into in the coffee shop,and we stitch them together into new forms and we create something new.That’s really where innovation happens.”
Is it lunchtime yet? Maybe the better question would be to ask if you even take a lunch break at all. Research reports that in North America, only one in five employees put time aside for meals, with nearly 40% of this population claiming to eat at their desks. We’re all busy, but let’s at least take a few to discuss why lunch breaks are worth it.
Experts claim that standing up for a quick food break can “increase your energy levels, stabilize your blood sugar, and enhance delivery of nutrients like antioxidants, vitamins and fiber that help your systems run smoothly.” Pretty important benefits, no? Stopping your work flow to eat lunch isn’t rocket science, but it can be difficult to put a project on hold. If you need more convincing on the matter, desk lunches also increase the potential for mindless eating, defined as “enjoying food less, eating beyond full, and generally not feeling satisfied by it which often leads to snacking on non-nutritious foods later in the day.” I doubt that anyone wants to feel poorly when, in this situation, making a schedule change can be so easy.
If eating lunch at your desk is part of your company’s culture, it’s time for a change. You’re entitled to enjoy a midday break! Add a reminder to your calendar and find a lunch buddy. The lunch rush can be a great opportunity to meet other coworkers. Our café is always buzzing in the afternoons, acting as a communal space to not only eat but communicate. We also host a monthly pizza day where Fools can unwind and enjoy a slice or two, as well as weekly afternoon express fitness classes to get Fools up and moving.
Don’t worry, your work will always be waiting for you to return. Whether you leave the office or not, I bet you’ll notice a difference in how much better it feels to get away from your desk. Taking leave for lunch will provide a burst of energy so that you can bring your A game back to your desk for the afternoon.
Maybe a version of “Bring Your Kids to Work Day” was part of your childhood, and The Motley Fool certainly continues this tradition every summer. We recently turned the tables and organized “Bring Your Adult Family to Work Day,” which hosted Foolish spouses, siblings, and parents. This event, the first held at the Fool in a few years, left everyone impressed – and informed. Financial breakout sessions, a company-culture breakdown, and lunch over a live taping of Motley Fool Money gave family members a glimpse into Fools’ lives here as employees.
Considering that only 1% of U.S. companies host such an event, it’s not surprising that many of my friends were unfamiliar from their own work experiences. However, more companies are inviting parents into the workplace. Google and Starbucks held their first parent events in 2012, and LinkedIn recently hopped on the bandwagon. Last November, LinkedIn hosted the company’s first “Bring In Your Parents Day,” which allowed guests to tour the campus and mingle with staff. In short, it sounded quite similar to our event – except for LinkedIn hosted nearly 600 family members.
Interestingly enough, there was once a time when companies didn’t roll out a welcome mat for employees’ parents. Managers saw them as a burden, furthermore “The hyper-involved moms and dads of the millennial generation were said to be showing up at job interviews, calling hiring managers on behalf of their kids and even complaining to employers about their children’s salaries.” The tides have turned and organizations are now embracing the idea of parents in the workplace – every so often, at least. Some argue that if employees’ parents appreciate the company, those staff members will be happier and more connected to the organization. The Washington Post feature continues, “If there’s any common theme to why companies have started involving parents more, that’s it: Showing the workplace off to parents, and better communicating with them, could stoke higher engagement among employees and make them less likely to leave.”
There’s a happy medium that can be found in parents’ workplace involvement. Our event was meant to be something fun and casual for Fools and their loved ones to enjoy. To take the idea a step further, Northwestern Mutual sends optional e-newsletters to parents and also organize recognition dinners, while Google offers the option of sitting down alone with their child’s manager.
It’s clear that companies can approach this type of activity in different ways. Can you see the benefits of hosting a parents’ event at your workplace? Why or why not?
It took 11 years for Chris Guillebeau to complete his quest of visiting every country in the world. This staggering journey – which he viewed in the beginning as “really difficult but not fundamentally impossible,” led Chris to all 193 countries. The first 100 countries he visited – not counting layovers, by the way – cost $30,000. Though there was certainly a financial element involved, Chris prioritized his travels and reached this incredible goal by his 35th birthday.
Chris met an amazing community of people and gathered a treasure trove of stories, many of which are shared in his latest New York Times bestseller The Happiness of Pursuit. He features the quests of people like Lisa – the youngest person to circumnavigate the world by sailboat at age 16 – to a man who pursued a 17 year vow of silence. Check out what you can take from Chris – including his top pick for travel destination – in 60 seconds or less below!
It was an awesome summer, but I’ll leave it to our 2014 interns to tell you more about it. Applications aren’t yet open for 2015, but be sure to look back in early December for more info! And don’t forget to check out our blog – culture.fool.com – to learn about what’s going on at The Motley Fool.
Here at FoolHQ, change is in the air. We are in the process of implementing a new Human Resource Information System platform, and it’s an interesting time for everyone as we learn about our new tool, adjust to our new processes, and transfer all of our data. We have chosen to go with Namely as our new enterprise HR system. They are one of the newer kids on the block, and they resonated with us because their platform intuitively captures growth and allows us to seamlessly grow without dropping any data between the cracks. As we make the transition to our new HR system, one piece of data caught my eye.
One of the fields we needed to include in our new platform was job titles. Once these titles were uploaded, Fools could log in and select which one applies to them. For most companies, this simple step probably requires little thought. I’m picturing a drop-down menu with a basic, humdrum list that includes “Analyst,” “Developer,” and “Accountant.” But there’s nothing basic and humdrum about us, is there? With north of 315 employees at the Fool, I’m thinking our drop down menu will include about 300 unique-as-a-snowflake titles. And we are totally OK with that.
At the Fool, we let our employees choose whatever job title they want. We care much more about the awesome work you’re producing than the title in your email signature. (We use the same reasoning for our casual dress code- is your work less awesome if you do it in flip flops? I didn’t think so). I can’t help but laugh at how hung up people can get on titles- like all their hopes and dreams are tied into these few words. What will be different about the role you play and the difference you make today vs. tomorrow if you had a different title? I imagine not much would change. Our challenge to Fools is to create a Funktional title- something fun and funky that tells us a little about what you do.
So with the freedom to choose your own job title, the process to upload them into Namely took a little longer for us. In the constant search for efficiency, we realize there are some things that are worth the extra time. We created a Google Doc and asked all our Fools for their job title submissions. We should have ordered popcorn as we watched the creative titles roll in. “World Domination Operations Gladiator” was pretty epic. “Foolish Beat Dropping Financial Planning Ninja” was a close second, but one of my favorite titles comes from our head of HR who requested that her title be “Resources for Humans.” The more traditional title of “Human Resources” highlights how many companies view their employees as resources to be used by the company. “Resources for Humans” puts a spotlight on our servant leadership approach; we are here to serve our Fools. How can we help you today?
The Motley Fool isn’t the only company that has built a fantastic culture, but sadly there aren’t enough of us. Countless studies show that employees are lacking engaging and healthy work environments. An interesting New York Times piece, Why You Hate Work, digs deeper into these disadvantages, mentioning faults that stem from the rise in digital technology, increased competitiveness, and our post-recession economy.
Author Tony Schwartz argues simple solutions that, if introduced, could make a huge difference in corporate environments. His suggestions ring true during a time when workplaces actually have the opportunity to evolve. It’s not necessarily a world of suits, ties, and strict regulations anymore.
In Schwartz’s opinion, companies should measure employees not hourly but by the value that they create. He explains, “To the extent possible, let them decide where to do their work, and when to do it, as long as they meet deadlines.” Trust is a huge component, and The Fool’s flexible scheduling speaks to Schwartz’s point. We throw traditional 9-5 calendars to the wind by allowing our employees to manage their own time. With this flexibility comes the expectation that employees are striving to produce their highest quality of work. Because everyone has different work styles, we also offer quiet spaces that offer a break from our open office, as well as the tools to work from home.
We believe in transparency, a point that Schwartz addresses in his column. He notes, “…seek to define all jobs in ways that feel meaningful and significant to people.” Fools are encouraged to establish honest relationships with their managers, making it easy to communicate about goals, projects, and ideas. If a Fool isn’t happy, our People Team wants to help. We organize feedback sessions to connect with Fools about their job path and progress, and recently implemented an internal reward service that allows Fools to publicly recognize others with “gold” for a job well done. Gold can be spent on gift cards for a variety of stores, and the entire process makes receiving Fools feel happy and valued.
However, it’s an unfortunate fact that all workplaces can’t — or will not try — to implement a progressive culture for employees. In addition to cynicism and anger, decreased energy is a common symptom of workplace unhappiness. To combat these signs, Schwartz suggests using 15-25 minutes for rest or an outdoor walk to increase productivity and alertness. The warmer weather has inspired a Fool Walking Group, which takes 30-minute outdoor strolls twice a week. We also have the Reading Room, a quiet space for better concentration that doubles as a place to take a power nap. Our culture encourages Fools to be comfortable enough to always take the necessary time for rest.
Schwartz’s article is one of many that shows how corporate cultures are changing. The Fool is on top of preserving Foolishness, from showing appreciation to our employees to trying out new, fun ideas in the office. Hating your job is the last thing The Fool would ever want, and we’re constantly on the search for ways to top the happiness scale.
The Motley Fool is growing and growing fast. With any rapid growth, scale and efficiency are key. We are desperately seeking a new Fool to investigate, test, and learn their way in to creating value by finding those little gaps in our systems and processes. In this new and important role you will absolutely be improving systems and processes, establishing new systems and processes, or combining systems and processes to create efficiency.
Initial Project List Draft:
Have you ever begun the walk or drive from Starbucks to the office and a tiny drip of coffee magically, intentionally pops from the edge of your cup on to your finger? We at The Fool have noticed that the amount of time we spend cleaning up the coffee spills from the annoying, magical drip from a Starbucks cup is small amounts of time that add up over the year. The successful candidate will experiment with the Starbucks coffee cup to determine why that drip appears, seems to have a mind of its own, and is intent on attaching itself to my shirt or desk. There it is again, what the heck is going on with the devil drip?
We at The Fool are long time users of Microsoft’s incredible invention, The Outlook. Long ago The Outlook discovered that the most efficient way to get from one meeting to the next is to allow zero seconds in between meetings. It is a real stroke of genius, meetings can start right away one after the other will absolutely no breaks. At The Fool we haven’t yet figured out how to master the lofty goal The Outlook has laid out for us. We need to experiment with running super-fast, cloning, time travel, or riding cheetahs to take full advantage of TOKES – The Outlook Kalendaring Efficiency System.
Everyone knows that interns are super smart, get great work done, and…wait for it… we don’t ever have to spend time getting to know them or their name. There is a lot of time spent at The Fool getting to know each other, having fun together, and collaborating. This could be just a big waste of time. We’d like to transition our full work force to be interns who do great stuff AND we don’t have to get to know them on any personal level. Each intern will be named Templeton I (male) or Temptress I (female). We will need to train them not to eat all of our free food, though.
One pass through our office and you can see that the more computer monitors we have the more efficient we are. We’d like to move to a point where every Fool has six monitors minimum. Math and strength will be key for this task. There is a lot of ordering and heavy lifting in this role. You will need to be able to count the number of monitors currently on people’s desk, subtract that number from six, and then go get that new number for setup. Again there is a first number, some subtraction with that number and the goal number, and then a determination of need based on the final number. Pivot table training will be provided through FoolU, our internal University.
We are big on standing desks, treadmill desks, and cycling desks. This promotes health and yes, speed! With speed comes getting things done faster. We know that when we combine our core values with great ideas amazing things happen. Fun, Competitive, and Collaborative are two of our core values and, well,
why should they be a part of everything? We’d like to take this to the next level with the Fool Sports Desk. In this scenario you will be able to play full court basketball, soccer, and tennis while using your laptop. Fools can work, play, compete, collaborate, get healthy, and win. We are winners.
If these are the types of projects that get you excited and ready for systems, processes, efficiency, strategery, systems, and process then apply now!
Tom Gardner was interviewed by Professor R. Edward Freeman of the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business as part of a Coursera class called “New Models of Business in Society.” Watch him talk about how The Fool aims to be different from Wall Street and disrupt financial advice, unique ways we increase employee engagement, how we created our company values and live by them, and more!