Culture Archives
Battle of the Workplace: The Startup Vs. The Corporation

Battle of the Workplace: The Startup Vs. The Corporation

In this day and age, the big decision of picking between the two ends of the workplace environment spectrum is not that uncommon for the average employee to experience. You hear through the grapevine about the far-fetched but somehow simultaneously necessary and unnecessary perks of a startup environment and compare it with the guaranteed internal growth and financial security of a corporate career.  But which do you choose? While there are many grays on the workplace spectrum, each are tailored to a specific type of person and work ethic…so have no fear! While we’re not saying that every startup and corporate company fits exactly these traits, we’re breaking it down to give you a better idea of what each of these environments can offer and if it may be the right fit for you and your working style as you hunt for the perfect job. Here at Contactually, we embody much of the ‘typical’ startup traits but understand it’s not always the best fit for folks on the job hunt.  Workplaces & You: Startup environment vs. Corporate Choose: Startup Appreciate the little things in life. Ah, the startup. Usually characterized by exposed-brick walls with a plethora of “fun” yet creatively stimulating interior decorating, the startup sounds like a playground for work. Completely personalized hours, napping rooms, your colleagues bringing their dogs to work- the startup is the ‘millennial’ of the two environments. With a laid-back atmosphere, it aims to mix work and pleasure by creating an environment where employees can literally feel very comfortable.  Freedom. Unlike a corporation, the startup maintains very little definitive hierarchy or its corresponding laws. It immediately puts trust into...
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...