Ok ok, so the other day I found myself ordering a giant inflatable gorilla on amazon...
Crazy right? Well... the weird thing was (ask Mia), that it didn't feel strange at all? (Personal disclaimer: do not worry, I am not one of "those ones" that enjoys purchasing inflatable objects on amazon on a regular basis). But it got me thinking.. I looked around at my team and started realising that actually, a lot of what we did everyday wasn't really "normal" at all. Curious, my thoughts were then whisked back an article I had read a few months prior. An article about deodouriser, in particular, about the very first deodouriser - Fabreze.
The story goes that in the mid 1990s (who knew there was more than scrunchies and Spice Girls?) P&G decided to spend millions of dollars on a new product for which they believed would revolutionise the cleaning industry. A product that was set to remove household odours, you know, pets, cigarettes, crazy cat ladies, the whole shebang. Fabreeze's producers were certain the new product would go flying off the shelves, after all they believed they had the perfect solution for a nasty problem... But, they didn't. Sales started small and got smaller.
Huh? The marketing team at P&G were shocked, and decided they needed to understand the data (ahhh, data lovers). They interviewed multiple different house holds, including a lady with nine cats, at a home in which even the researches recoiled in disgust. However, they were shocked to find that in fact, the interviewees, even with houses that.... that.... hmm... didn't smell like roses, failed to recognise the odour. What they discovered was that their brains had simply adapted to the smell, and no longer had the same effect on the nasal passages.
In a creative solution, P&G marketers and product designers went on to understand that the product shouldn't just remove the odour, it should contain something that made the customer's brains realise it was different, so they added perfume! In this strike of data driven innovation, coupled with a new marketing plan, Fabreeze remains to the his day a leading house hold deodoriser....
If you fear becoming a crazy cat lady, but are adamant you will smell the difference, here is another example to hit home the point. Have you ever moved next to a busy road, or under a flight path and battled the noise, until suddenly you didn't notice it? Ok ok... I hear you? WTF has this got to do with business or startups?
Well, to be honest I am not completely sure, but I know it is important when integrating new talent into a strong and defined company culture. To illustrate the point, I had the idea of writing an inside list of the top 20 crazy shit that happens in my office, a list that probably I, together with most of my team take for granted. Actually, it isn't until a newbie joins and we can see their surprise that we see the Fabreeze affect in full action. So here goes:
1. The time we created a reward for the person who could fly a drown out one window of our 6th floor office, then in another (everyone sucked, there was too much wind)
2. The time we decided that even Tada babies need swag
3. Oh, you want to work at a desk do you? You build it yourself (or be an excellent smooth talker)
4. When, as a Founder (on day one after company incorporation), you solemnly swear to bake for you team EVERY SINGLE WEEK
5. The decision that every new employee gets 50 euros to decorate their desks (nice choice Andy)
6. When people are sick, they can only join on meetings from their desks... via skype (as not to create a mini-petri dish and incubation chamber)
7. Ability to hang inflatable animals is almost on the role description
8. Culture days are how we roll, after all, who can't cook a local dish from their own country... oh wait... that's right, never mind.
9. Whoever loses cleans the gold fish... Let's just say, Tadaweb has a lot of winners, and Chuck and Norris are in a better place (a special thanks to Cedric, I know you guys were tight)
10. A Tadaweb welcome pack includes a batman cap an at least one nerf gun
11. The Team in general, is alway diplomatic.... cough, or rather quick thinking yeah. #savedmyass
12. We have a very famous inflatable Gorilla called Bob, so famous in fact, most visitors require a photo with him
13. We like puzzles so much, we ordered a puzzle of ourselves...
14. "You say "show and tell" like it is for kindergartners?"
15. Dogs are just as welcome to hang in the Tada office as the team are, this was Pretzel.
16. We like to build stuff, including retro-arcades, and we get a little over-excited when they actually work
17. We sometimes solve disputes by counting how many smarties are in the jar...
18. Our office theme (Starwars) was only selected because the sys-team hacked the voting platform, but hey.. 25,000 votes to 20 is still a win (even if there was only 40 people in the team)
19. If you work late, dinner is on Tada
20. We care very much for the well-being of our team... including the option to work on balance balls, for which some people just fail to understand...
So after reading this post, I started to realise that maybe our culture isn't normal, if there is such a thing. Startups provide an incredible opportunity to re-create the norm, but to future founders out there, remember when new people join your team, they may be the only ones to "smell the cat" pee. When your culture is strong, it can be actually be intimidating for newbies. Make the on boarding process smooth and don't forget to add the perfume, so every can help newbies fit it.
Oh, and if you liked what you saw and want to join us, check out our open jobs at www.tadaweb.com