Career Advice from a Longtime Daxko Pro

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When I joined Daxko in 2009, it was my first “real job” out of college. Being a clueless-yet-confident twenty-something, I was terrified that at any moment, someone might discover I didn’t have it all figured out. Lucky for me, Daxko turned out to be fertile ground to grow my career and blossom. The fast-paced environment was just what I needed to expand my skillset, super-charge my confidence, and find the courage to be my (weird) self.

My first Daxko “wall” photo taken in 2009. Can you smell my eagerness?

As I prepare for my next adventure after nearly a decade-long career at Daxko, I can’t help but reflect on the relationships I’ve built and lessons I’ve learned along the way. So, here’s a bit of career advice from me to you. Whether you’re the new kid on the block, rocking your second decade with a company, or somewhere in between, I hope you’ll find advice here to move onward and upward in your career.

Enthusiasm is Everything
Life is short and tomorrow is not promised, which is why I aim to enjoy every moment, including my time at the office. This is why I’ve always fit into the company culture at Daxko. The entire company is teeming with fun folks who bring a high level of enthusiasm to their work. Enthusiasm is contagious, and people willingly follow passionate leaders. Think about it. Is there anything more inspiring than working alongside someone who’s fired up? It’s like Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

Running amok with teammates at our Kickoff 2012 event

Stretch, Reinvent, Repeat
Through my years at Daxko, I’ve held a few different positions. Each time, the change was scary, but I was always better for it in the end. Beginning your career in one role or department doesn’t mean you’re locked in for life. When it’s time for a little reinvention, channel your inner Bowie and figure out how specific skills you possess can translate into that next new job. If you’re qualified for 60% of the job, go for it and stretch, baby, stretch!

My final reinvention at Daxko was on the Marketing Team. We were…really into exploring our strengths.

Find Your Equilibrium
If you’re not intentional about setting boundaries and scheduling down time, work stress can suck the lifeblood out of you. Case in point? A good portion of my Daxko years were spent managing events, which is statistically one of the most stressful jobs, along with firefighters and airline pilots, so I’ve navigated my fair share of hair-on-fire work stress. Of course, every job has its stressors, and there will always be projects that call for longer hours and a little more hustle. The trick is to avoid burnout by finding your equilibrium – a pace you can sustain for the long haul.

Stress? What stress? We’re cool as cucumbers, baby!

Change is Inevitable. Adapt!
During my time at Daxko, I’ve seen so much change: new faces, new products, new leadership, new workspaces, new goals, new norms…the list goes on. It’s true what they say – nothing ever stays the same. That’s why it’s important to become adaptable. I find this is best accomplished with a good sense of humor and eyes wide open for new opportunities. The butterflies in your stomach are natural. Push through and embrace the change!

No desk? No problem! Adapt, plug in, and make some magic happen.

Organizational Health: The Last Untapped Advantage

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Late in August, the folks of Daxko joined together in our Garage to listen to Brian Jones present on why organizational health is the last competitive advantage that has remained underutilized. Brian Jones is a Principle Consultant of The Table Group, a company dedicated to helping other company’s teams work together more seamlessly. As Brian explained, they believe that the most important piece of technology at a company is the table at which they meet.

As Brian explained it, there are many requirements for organizational success, that can be split into two categories:

‘Smart’ requirements deal primarily with what many would consider more traditionally business aspects of an organization: strategy, marketing, the technology, finance. These are easier to quantify and harder to mess up, as, traditionally, this is what all companies will focus on.

‘Healthy’ requirements are, conversely, easier to mess up and harder to quantify. These include minimal politics, minimal confusion, having a high morale and high productivity in your team members, as well as having low turnover. Most organizations focus on the ‘business’ requirements while neglecting these health requirements, to the detriment of their company.

Brian went on to explain that there is a tough spot for employers to be in due to how employees can behave. Essentially, an employee either lives our core values (or not) and that same employee will either get results, or not. This creates four types of employees:

  1. Those who live our core values and get results
  2. Those who live our core values without getting results
  3. Those who do not live our values yet still get results
  4. Those who neither live our values nor get results

Three of these four team member types have clear courses of action concerning how the leadership should approach them. For those that live our values and get results, you obviously want to promote this behavior, so you recognize, reward, promote these team members. Likewise, those who have our values while not receiving results, you want to hold on to: you retrain or reassign these individuals to where their skills are more helpful. And of course, those team members who neither share our values nor perform well, they likely won’t be team members for long.

The last type Brian called the ‘Brilliant Jerk,’ someone who has bad behavior but is a high performer. What do you do with this team member? As was pointed out in the session, ‘the norm is defined by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate.’ If core values are what an organization values to its core (tautology here to drive the point that the organization should value that above all else), then the Brilliant Jerk must be either coached to hold those values or, unfortunately, let go.

Brian’s talk covered a dozen more interesting talking points; if I were to attempt to write them here, I would not only do a disservice to his comical and engaging speaking style, this post would be transformed into a small novel…which they’ve already wrote! You can find many of The Table Group’s books online, such as The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and The Ideal Team Player; I’d highly recommend giving them a read. His overall point, though, remained constant throughout: an organization that holds fast to its core values and hires with those in mind will have a happier, more engaged workforce.

From the Pitch to the Pod

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I’ve spent most of my life on a team. I lived and breathed competition as soon as I could. From a young age, I jumped into baseball, basketball, football, and in college I found an outlet in rugby. Over the years I’ve played every role imaginable on these teams. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience sports from a variety of roles within a team. I was never very good at football, so I played only small role. I was an average baseball player, so I played a moderate amount. I fell in love with rugby and put all my effort into it and now am fortunate enough to travel the country and play.

One of the most important things my experience in sports has taught me is that it takes every role performing to the best of their ability for the team to succeed. A good coach always reminds his players that no one individual can succeed without the team. The core concept is that you all rely on each other.

Sports have provided me with a number of life lessons, and my experience with them have been invaluable. You may stop playing sports, but you’ll be a part of teams for the rest of your life. Daxko picks up the team mentality and runs with it. When I accepted a role as Project Manager at Daxko, I jumped in to a team of people who immediately welcomed me in. When I say ‘team’ I don’t mean every employee at Daxko (although they certainly were all friendly); I specifically mean the Project Management team around me.

Daxko puts a lot of emphasis on what kind of player you are for your team. You’re in for a few personality tests when you first start out, including Marcus Buckingham’s StandOut assessment. Learning to identify your Strengths will help your Team Lead understand what you bring to your team and will inform how they use you as a player. You’ll never be curious as to what each of your teammates strengths are, because you’ll see these handy magnets throughout the office that identify everyone’s strengths.

As I’ve spent time learning the ins-and-outs of life at Daxko, it’s obvious that each member of our team plays a role that helps drive us forward. We have role players, contributors, superstars, captains, and coaches. Together we learn our strengths, what we can bring to the team, and how to contribute to our ultimate goal: Success. And yes, it’s cliché, but we all rely on one another to be successful.

Whether I’m on the rugby pitch or in the PM pod, I’m working with my team to be competitive and succeed. Working in a place where you’re surrounded by people who are invested in your satisfaction and your success is empowering. We’re all working toward the same goal, all aiming at the same objective. We want to be the most loved company in our industry. To do this, we leverage our entire team’s strengths to empower one another to be the best at what we do.


Zac R. is a Project Manager who loves naps, karaoke, and self-deprecating humor.

Work Hard, Play Hard

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Every Friday, as we wait for the 11:30 lunch notification from our Flight Attendant, we’re gathering our decks and making the trek to stake claim on a large communal space for “Friday Family Lunch” aka “Game Time!” It all started as a grassroots effort from our most loved, McKee. His mission was to get his coworkers involved in social deception games – like Coup, Avalon, and most recently, Werewolf.

We started with Coup. This fairly simple game, allowing up to 6 players, is a great way to learn more about the people you thought you knew everything about. You wouldn’t believe how good these folks are at deceiving their friends, all in the name of fun. As the size of our league expanded, our need for games allowing more people became apparent. McKee offered a solution…

Avalon – a battle of good and evil. Merlin and the Arthurian Knights face off against Mordred, his assassin, and their minions. This game causes more of a rise out of players because in each turn, a player must select which people they trust to be “good” to go on a mission – with hopes that mission will be successful. Or bad, depending on which side you’re batting for. Everyone playing swears they’re good which makes it far more interesting. As we continued playing Avalon, our interest in this genre of games piqued.

Soon, I will introduce Ultimate Werewolf (or a variation) to my peers. Like Avalon, this is a game of good and evil, but there is a lot more to it. There are two phases that go back and forth: a night phase where werewolves eat villagers and a day phase for the villagers to discuss who could be a werewolf (and for werewolves to throw villagers off their scent). These games tend to last quite a bit longer, and they require a moderator to facilitate game play. Being a moderator is the most fun responsibility ever. You have the opportunity to know everything that is going on. You get to watch the “werewolves” wake up in the night phase and argue silently on who to “eat”. You get to see what straws villagers grasp at to determine who the werewolves really are. Watching mob mentality decision making process in a mock setting is a joy – I promise.

At Daxko, we believe in working hard and playing hard. For some of us, playing hard is a game of kickball with our peers. For others, it is a social deception game. Either way, it gives us a moment to step back and enjoy some of the things we love with some of our favorite people.

Coworkers card game


Emily V. is a proud dog mom, and Netflix connoisseur, and lives on Daxko’s Engagement Solutions Team.