On February 9th and 10th, Terakeet hosted its second annual Entrepreneurship Day. It was another strong success – here’s a peek under the hood.
One of the neat things about Entrepreneurship Day is how the event essentially runs itself. We do a fair amount of work prepping for the big day, like communicating the vision and getting teams on board. Once we send the kick-off email, though, all the activity and excitement blossoms naturally, with little management required.
What is Entrepreneurship Day?
The central premise of E-Day is simple: work on whatever you want with whomever you want for 24 hours, then show off your project proposal to the whole company. The reason it works so well at Terakeet is because we have an abundance of emerging leaders. We recruit and retain top talent – the type of people who are attracted to and invigorated by the idea of driving and owning creative solutions for our company.
A secret is hidden inside the backbone of Entrepreneurship Day, which I happily share with you now: the substance of each project is incidental to the event’s success. E-Day is special regardless of the results. Any growth that a project adds to Terakeet is a side-benefit of the event’s central activity. Solving problems is a liberating, thrilling experience. Collaborating across departments on a shared vision with talented friends is an adventure. Presenting a complex proposal in five minutes is demanding and intimidating. The number one goal for Entrepreneurship Day is to remind participants of their creative power, so they can carry their growing skills, courage, and connections back to their regular responsibilities.
Everyone’s a Winner (Sort Of)
At the end of E-Day, there are two winners. First, everyone who watches the presentations and participates casts a single vote, and the team that earns the most votes wins a plaque on the wall. This year’s competition was tight – Analytics Director Ron Cierniakoski’s project won by a single vote, with a project based around a clean-up of our onboarding process.
Then, while everyone is abuzz with voting, our co-founders Mac and Pat meet privately to select their personal favorite project. The Founder’s Prize is aptly named for earning our owners’ high and respected praise, and poorly named because there is no actual prize. Again, this is intentional – collaborating on creative work is inherently motivating, and recognition from your peers and admired leaders is sufficient reward.
This year, the Founder’s Prize went to a project led by a budding leader. E-Day is a quick-spinning crucible for young leaders, and this year we were pleased to see several new employees lead and join teams. With less than one year at Terakeet under her belt, Brand Strategist Anna Dussing led a team. She said it was “never my initial intention to lead a team, but with encouragement from Terakeeters I decided to.” It’s a good thing, too, because Anna’s project won the coveted Founder’s Prize.
For Anna, the greatest part about working at Terakeet is our supportive culture: “I’ve been lucky to work with some great and supportive people who are all about helping you succeed.” Another new project leader, Lauren Lasky, says that she loves our flex time policy, which Christine Stoddard shepherded last year from an E-Day proposal to a full-fledged employee benefit. Flex time served as one source of inspiration for Lauren’s new proposal: PTO for volunteer work. It turns out several successful companies offer a similar program, and Lauren’s team developed a framework to fit Terakeet’s culture. The highlight of her experience was “being able to work with coworkers who I normally don’t interact with on a day-to-day basis.” We hope to do more of the same collaboration on volunteer projects around our local community.
I was really pleased this year to see my Software Engineer buddy Jim Ledwith take on the project leader role. Reflecting on the event, Jim said simply, “We work on innovative and important projects all year long. E-Day gave me a chance to explore a fun idea.” As special as Entrepreneurship Day is as an event, Jim is right – the reason it works so well at Terakeet is because it reflects our innovative and entrepreneurial culture.
Each year, as Entrepreneurship Day host, I get the privilege of holding a mirror up to our company with this event – to let our creativity shine as we solve problems together. At the end of this year’s event, our CTO and co-founder Pat Danial intimated that both the variety and quality of the projects had improved since last year’s inaugural event. He and Mac agreed – every proposal was impeccably aligned to suit Terakeet’s business needs. It is a testament to the quality of leadership in our company at every level. Our goals are aligned, our vision is clear, we are ready to rock and roll.