Dani Townsend, head of People and Culture at Everledger, reflects on why values matter and our journey to finding our own.
Do values actually make a difference? The short answer is yes, absolutely. A robust value system is arguably the most critical asset a scaling organisation can have. It creates the common language and operating principles that will enable a business to make better decisions faster and ultimately deliver exceptional results. Everledger was founded in 2015 with the bold vision of our founder to provide ever more transparency where it matters most. Fast forward five years, and we have built a thriving organisation that is being recognised time and time again for the innovation we bring to the industry and our customers.
Our founding team has hired many exceptionally talented people and created a great place to work. But we know that a great culture, the kind people move for, act on and remember long after their employment, doesn’t ‘just happen’, it takes work and clear intention. We want our culture and values to mirror the principles upon which our vision was founded and the experience we are working to deliver to our customers. To capture everything it means to be an Everlegend, to be Everlegendary.
To us, values are much more than a list of buzzwords on our website or an executive announcement fast forgotten – they are the guiding principles that help us to make better decisions, guide how we interact with one another and our customers, inform the products we build and innovations we pursue and bring us together in times of change and uncertainty – continuously drawing us back to our common north star. We’re scaling. We have grown over 300% in the last two years from a small founding team, and we now have people working for us across 4 continents and 8 countries.
The value this diversity brings to our team is what makes us unique, and the rich patchwork of people, skills and experience we have across the globe is the reason we are where we are today and seeing our vision come into reality.
While this growth has been amazing, scaling this diversity while working effectively in a distributed way across numerous time zones is challenging and has highlighted the importance of our culture and values as the connective tissue that holds us together.
Nevermore so than this year, as our organisation has navigated the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve pulled together to support one another through significant change and rapidly respond to a shifting global environment. Our people, their care for one another, and what they stand for have enabled our resilience.
But we know that what got us here may not get us where we want to be as we move forward, and so over the last few months, we have taken the opportunity to revisit and redefine our values; to ensure that operating principles we are setting for ourselves continue to reflect who we are and the aspirations we hold as we enter this next phase of growth in an evermore uncertain world. We didn’t want the creation of our values to be a purely top-down exercise or the product of a few wordsmiths designing nice but meaningless statements. These are the enemy. By creating a cross-functional task force, we were able to go far and wide and capture the views and insights of every Everlegend and our customers.
There were interviews, focus groups, surveys and town halls – no stone was left unturned as we captured, distilled and co-created a set of values that reflected us all.
And so, our values were born. The essence of who we are, together, and what we aspire to be.
These four values are what we believe best define what it means to be Everlegendary.
Value #1: Be the Trust.
We believe trust is an enabler that allows us to move fast, take risks and learn fast. Trust is liberating, and with freedom comes the responsibility to perform. Trust evokes deep conversations that lead to game-changing solutions. Better decisions come from sharing information. Trusting others is noble. Fostering trust is Everlegendary.
Trust was a recurring theme in our research with both employees or customers. While it’s good to trust others, it’s earning trust that is really important, as success comes from fostering the development of trust and trusting relationships. You actually have to go out and work for trust.
David Orr, our Head of Engineering, is passionate about leading through trust. “As a company, we create technology that helps to foster honesty and trust between organisations,” he said, “But engineering trust layers on the blockchain is not the same as building trust between human beings.”
“I see trust as a release mechanism. You’re inviting another person to do something without judgement. Why does that matter? Innovation. If bosses lead by intimidation and aggression, then there may well be a quick uptick in productivity because people fear for their jobs. But in a year or two, that company is lagging behind because people are too scared to innovate. They won’t risk the penalisation. When you invest in people’s creativity, they repay that trust in the long term.
Value #2: Be you, united
Our diversity is a source of energy and competitive edge at Everledger. Every voice matters. We listen humbly because we know our differences make us stronger. Once a decision is made, we commit as one. As individuals, we’re special. Together we’re Everlegendary.
Sarah Montgomery, who works with our partners in China, was a member of our values task force. She identifies with the sense of pride in each other that runs through the business. “Everlegends working together are a source of great strength for the company, especially given the eclectic composition of the people who work here,” she said. “The ‘unapologetic boldness of our people’ was a phrase heard in our survey that resonated with me. ‘It feels good to work with talented people’ was another.”
Likewise, Anna Maria Gibiec, our solution architect in Brisbane, Australia, reflected on the power of togetherness. “I remember a client once saying they found it weird that Everledger folk never disagree with each other. That must be how we come across, but it’s simply not true! I often have different views from colleagues, but we unite over the goal and find a solution. When you get caught up on who is right and who is wrong, that’s when the common vision gets obscured.
Value #3: Pack light, work right
Frugality is what keeps us sharp here. It hones our focus on resourcefulness, not resources. We cut costs, not corners. Time is precious. We believe that beauty does not have to cost the earth. We are sustainable, and we make the world a better place to share. Constraint breeds creativity. Resourcefulness is Everlegendary.
Matt Davidson, our pre-sales coordinator, based in Seattle, says that this is a value we all feel every day – and especially with COVID-19 and the need to strap down. The fact we were able to adapt so quickly speaks volumes about how we frugally use our resources.
“Saving resources is not about making your own breakfast at work,” he said. “It’s about doing due diligence and critical thinking to understand how to make a good product or a good platform with what we have, not what we think we need. It’s tied into environmental, social and economic sustainability – a whole governance stream for how we manage our company and our data. Often, we end up not spending that extra money, and it still works out. This is our founder’s mindset: we are all scrappy, inventive entrepreneurs who are daring to find a way even when the path isn’t clear.”
Kayla White, our operations manager in Brisbane, agrees. Resourcefulness starts at home (or so the saying nearly goes). “Sometimes the little gestures make the biggest impact,” she said. “For example, in our office, we use pots and plants, as well as wall art, that was gathering dust in our houses. Our Christmas tree came from the back of my cupboard. When we celebrated International Women’s Day with a ‘pink theme’, I repurposed a whole load of stuff from my daughter’s recent birthday party. And when we moved offices, we all helped with the removal, which was a good cardio workout, given the number of steps. Every little bit helps, right?
Value #4: Fast forward to the future
We lead the way, growing stronger through challenges. Stubborn on the vision but flexible in the details, we leave our comfort zone behind. Live for today, building for tomorrow. That’s where the magic happens. Resilience makes us strong. Shaping the future makes us Everlegendary.
This value is about two things. “It’s about resilience in accepting that sometimes strength comes from making mistakes and learning from those mistakes,” said Sidsel Rytter, technical project manager in London. “Trial and error make us a lot more aware of the direction that we should be heading. You can’t have that trailblazing spirit unless you’re prepared to fail and then improve.”
“At Everledger, we have all felt a sense of disappointment when things go wrong but then found the strength to get back at it. Often, that comes from colleagues’ support. It helps that Leanne, our CEO, is super inspiring. Her vision – and the opportunity to work with the newest tech – is what attracted most of us to Everledger. It’s hard to innovate if you’re a follower, not a leader.”
Innovation is also about personal ambition, added George Paulose, blockchain engineer in London. “Yes, we do it for Everledger, but this drive comes from within. We do it for ourselves because, without curiosity, life can be a grind. It’s up to us to make it stimulating and seek out the barriers to break. That’s how we last forever. With that motivation, we also motivate each other to reach beyond. I feel that osmosis of talent at Everledger. When we open our laptop in the morning, we’re helping our peers – that cohesion makes this value so beautiful.”
Together, these values form the guideposts that we have chosen to lead us to our next horizon, our values 1.0. As our business continues to grow and change, so too will the opportunities and challenges we face. We will continue to revisit and enrich these values through lived experience on our path forward.
If you like what you see, then why not come and join us? Check out our openings at www.everledger.io/careers.