Culture Archives
K9to5: Contactually Makes Connections with Animals

K9to5: Contactually Makes Connections with Animals

The minute you walk into our offices here in downtown DC, it’s pretty clear that we’re animal-lovers. Most likely you’re greeted by one of the resident dogs and nearly everyone is a pet owner or a lover from afar of our office hounds. Dogs have been a part of the Contactually family since Day 1, when our founders Tony and Zvi were bringing their pups Tucker and Astro to the early stage Contactually meetings. We currently have 6 dogs that are regulars in the office, and average about 3 pups a day. Having dogs in the office is an awesome benefit, not only for stress relief and entertainment, but for employees who don’t need to worry about rushing home to let the dog out or finding a dog walker. It was a pretty easy leap for us to do our community outreach partnered up with the Humane Rescue Alliance of DC and last week we got to go over there and so some of the ‘heavy’ lifting at the shelter Contactually and the animals: I foster through City Dogs Rescue, which is another great DC animal welfare organization that rescues dogs and cats from high-kill shelters in VA, SC, NC, and WVA. They are 100% foster based, and really rely on volunteers to allow them to scoop up animals who are next in line for euthanization and bringing them to DC to be adopted. Being able to bring a dog to work provided me with a unique opportunity to foster a dog. A lot of dogs who are in search of their forever homes suffer from separation anxiety and really...
Founder’s Day 2016: Celebrating 5 Years as Contactually

Founder’s Day 2016: Celebrating 5 Years as Contactually

Since our company’s inception in October of 2011, we’ve found different ways to celebrate Founder’s Day and this year, of course, was no exception. This was my first Founders Day and I had big expectations to live up to. This year, we turned five. This is a very special milestone for startups, cause if you’ve made it this far, you’re probably doing something right.  Founder’s Day 2015 included a highly contentious scavenger hunt that had the entire company running around DC…. We went in a slightly different direction this year to great success – if I do say so myself – and after several months of planning, we arrived at a near perfect day to celebrate Contactually and everything we do, represent, and love. Leading up to the big day, I met with the Founders a few times in the planning process to see what had been done for prior Founder’s Day and collect feedback on what they’d like to see this year. For the most part, they let me run wild with my ideas (for which I am very appreciative). As I ran wild with my ideas, I also kept them a secret from most of the company and it wasn’t until we got to our first destination on the morning of, they had no idea what was in store for the whole day.  Read on for the FULL story of our Founder’s Day… Okay, so after a delicious breakfast of biscuits and a brief presentation in the office from Zvi and some of our longstanding employees, we all piled on to a bus and headed east….to Annapolis, Maryland. Like...
Why We Have an Annual Company Retreat

Why We Have an Annual Company Retreat

This year, Contactually trekked to Winchester, Virginia for our annual company retreat. It’s a tradition that’s been passed down since the first formative year of the company and something that continues to remain an important part of our company culture, even as we grow exponentially and the logistics become a bit difficult. Our CEO, Zvi, handed me the reins as our new Operations Manager and let me go ahead with the planning. He gave me a few stipulations, and a little background and that was that. Retreat 2016 was a sweeping success, one of the best yet or so everyone told me, and it turns out that a couple days away from our desks can do a lot for team bonding and company morale. An inside look at the 2016 Contactually company retreat…. The history Some background on our retreat, back in the early days of Contactually, the team jetted down to Miami for retreat because as Zvi put it, “as intense as the early days were, we wanted Contactually to be a fun place,” and we’ve been doing it ever since! The first few were a bit unstructured and because of that, unproductive. Since then, the overall goal has always been to put together a full schedule that’s a good mix of fun, team bonding, collective brainstorming, and some personal development. One of the best things that we’ve done consistently at the retreat, is have an open-ended discussion about improving the company. Every year at retreat, we revise our company values. This year we broke out into small brainstorming groups and was one of the most important aspects of retreat. Usually...
Leadership School: Growing the Next Generation of Leaders

Leadership School: Growing the Next Generation of Leaders

With our massive vision, we’re focused on building Contactually for the long term. Alongside building an awesome culture, we also realize that having great managers and executives is a critical component of our strategy. Like many fast-growing companies, we were “surprised” when we came into the office one day and realized we now had a while tier of managers, beyond our VP-level executives. Some had been hired specifically for that role, many had received “battlefield promotions” as the needs of the company grew. One of our core values is “always be learning and innovating” — in line with that, we started a bi-weekly Leadership School, and have found it incredibly valuable. After hours, anyone who has any kind of managerial responsibility – from team leads up through founders, gathers together for an hour. Through our experiences, I’ll share some best practices for you to start your own leadership school. How Contactually Grows Leaders… Host it either in the morning before work, or after work You want everyone focused on themselves for once, not their team. Titles go away This has to be a safe space, where people feel comfortable sharing and participating, regardless of title. I’ve intentionally given very personal anecdotes to make others feel comfortable sharing. The higher executive you are, the less you should talk. Topics rotate We rotate who leads the conversation — they pick out the topic, find appropriate articles, and lead the conversation. And provide snacks, of course. Better leaders, not a better company We’ve noticed a tendency for conversations to veer towards “what the company should change” — so we have to be mindful...
Recruiting Talent for Your Company? Start Building Relationships

Recruiting Talent for Your Company? Start Building Relationships

My second job out of college, I was thrown into a management role and I was responsible for a mountain of work. Despite frequent recommendations that I hire contractors and people to help chip away at the work, I didn’t know where to begin. I attempted to do most of it myself, and I was drowning constantly. When Contactually started hitting traction, I took that scar tissue with me. At 60+ people, we are long past the point where my individual contributions can make an impact — I like to joke that we’ve hired engineers who are much smarter than me and won’t even let me code. It’s a widely accepted canon now that the most important thing for a CEO to do is to build the best team possible. The vast majority of that lies in hiring the best people. It varies, but present day 30-40% of my time is spent hiring. We implement every tactic possible. We let employees pick a charitable cause we’ll donate to every time we hire someone they recommend. We use recruiters, and are hiring our own. Our investors are almost exclusively tasked with helping us hire between board meetings. We eek out every bit of social capital for the right referral or introduction from those we know. I spend hours trolling the internet and reaching out to prospective candidates. We’re often lucky when, on the first encounter, the candidate is willing to move forward at that time. But for the rest, we maintain relationships. I’m going to tell you how, in twenty-four hours, we just hired THREE amazing new engineers (arguably the...
Getting the Pulse of Your Company

Getting the Pulse of Your Company

If your startup job title includes the term “Founder” or “VP,” you’ve almost surely experienced the menacing, sine-wave of your own personal psyche. On a daily basis, you’ll soar euphorically through excitement and opportunity, to sometimes having to peel yourself off the walls you run into; full of challenge and disappointment. I’ve trained myself to at least have awareness of this trend, so regardless of the current mood, I can still keep trucking. In general, attitudes are positive, the atmosphere is electric, and people literally run< to get things done. The new challenge that arose is that as our team has grown, that trend manifested itself in the whole company. Meaning there were days where everyone walked around, head hung low — we might as well have been some sad federal agency. I recall this being brought up periodically in excutive meetings — “Is it just me, or are people really happy and in a good mood?” or “Why is everyone acting so depressed?” We would spend time coming up with possible reasons and ideas but in hindsight, we were lacking one big thing. We didn’t have a solid pulse on the company. Yes, we had tons of metrics that showed how well we were doing from an external metrics perspective, but we were missing one of the key ones — how are our people doing? With that in mind, here is what we’ve found helpful. We’re an evolving and growing company, so some of these are relatively new and I’m sure all of them could be improved. Top Level: Quarterly Survey Ever since Q1 2014, we have sent a poll to all of...