Process, the Perfect Team, and Psychological Safety

By | Building a Company, Culture, Healthy Stuff, Life at Daxko | No Comments

In 2013, Sam Hinkie took the helm as the general manager of an ailing Philadelphia 76ers (basketball) team and established what people refer to now as “The Process”. The Process was a calculated and devised plan to, over the course of several years, get the best young talent to the land of brotherly love where they could ball out. But like all good things, the process took time and included several (terrible) losing seasons, backlash from fans, and ridicule by analysts.

Hinkie, despite the controversy surrounding his tactics, was committed to The Process. Every act that he took, every decision his front office made, and every trade that he conjured was centered on his end goal: winning basketball games and building a franchise. Unfortunately, Hinkie supporters ran out of patience, and in 2016, he was forced out just a season away from the process finally (hopefully) yielding its first fruits.

Unlike the 76ers, Daxko has been a solid organization for years. But the similarity they share with the 2013-2016 76ers is the conviction that process is vital to progress. Understanding process increases scope and vision for where and what we want to be. I joined the Customer Success Team during a rebuilding phase; people were changing roles and moving on to other things during a busy time of year. Trusting the process was not easy when the phones wouldn’t stop ringing and cases piled up. The urge to overcompensate with impulsive hirings or knee-jerk reactions to problems were tangible. But with time, our a resilient and committed team weathered the storm. As we rebuilt, we became more tenured and experienced and, through deliberate hirings, we became stronger in number and proficiency. Now, a year and half later, our squad is stacked.

In trusting our process, did we achieve what we aimed to do? I guess it depends. The process of building a good team may not be able to quantify the intangibles that comprise a great one. Google, a company who prides itself on process and vision, recently conducted a study to uncover the characteristics of a perfect team. The study (Project Aristotle), despite pouring over decades of social and psychological group behavior and case studies on Google employees, found it hard to determine exactly what makes a great team. What they came to realize is that the lack of consistent patterns was because great teams took so many different forms. Some teams were balanced across the board which helped equally distribute duties. Other teams’ strengths varied but were able to give teammates tasks that fit their skill set. All in all, they identified two behavior traits that ran through the variations of great teams. One was what researchers call “equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking” which is a fancy way of saying that everyone on the team spoke an equal amount during team meetings. The other was social sensitivity, which is when people are aware of nonverbal cues: tone of voice, body language, group dynamics, facial expression, etc.

These observations comprise parts of what is known as “psychological safety”. The article quotes Amy Edmondson, a professor at Harvard Business School, when she says psychological safety is a ‘‘shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.’’ Psychological safety is ‘‘a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up … it describes a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.’’

It seems that for teams to succeed, there must be a good process in place to build for scale and growth, bring in all-stars, and craft a crew that can perform. But what may be the crux of impactful work, meaningful careers, and a successful team rests in the truth that to be excellent is to value those around you. Where work becomes excellent out of a sense of joy rather than a sense of fear, resilience replaces timidity, employees are teammates, and culture is a communal commitment to who we are and what we hope to be.


Sam G. is a Customer Success Advocate who enjoys slow mornings, coffee, and homemade waffles with his wife every Saturday.

Transparency Means Show Yourself

By | Communication, Culture, Employment Brand, Healthy Stuff, Life at Daxko | No Comments

I’ll confess: I’m a word nerd.

Words are important. How you put something matters, whether that’s in conversation, email, or just in your own head. I’ll often get wrapped up deliberating the right words to use, validating my struggle with that Thomas Mann quote about writers.

In another blog post, I tried pinning down what we talk about when we talk about engagement and how Daxko embodies it. I want to try that with the word transparency in order to see how it guides Team Daxko in what we do every day.

We’re all familiar with the sense that transparent means “clear or see-through.” Our pals at Merriam-Webster define it as “easy to notice or understand.” And most relevant to the business world is this definition: “visibility or accessibility of information.”

At Daxko, transparency is a guiding principle that defines our culture. Transparency is Open Q&As with our CEO and it’s our open-concept collaborative workspaces. But what does transparency look like for individual team members and what they can control in their own day-to-day?

Another definition of transparent that’s closer to what I’m getting at here is “free from pretense or deceit.” And when you slice the word down to its Latin roots – trans + parēre – you get “to show oneself.”

When a company’s culture is defined by transparency, team members feel encouraged to be themselves when they’re at work.

For professional development last month, I took a course on communication strategies. We focused on creating our personal brand and exploring how we can better show ourselves in our work. Ask yourself this: What is your unique selling proposition, and how does your work show who you are, your background, and your talents? Answering that question is easier when you work in a transparent environment because of the implicit invitation to show yourself.

I also think a lot about our team’s brand, about how we show ourselves. The Engagement Solutions Team implements and consults on Daxko Engage and Daxko Mobile, two of Daxko’s engagement tools. How should our team behave given that we stand for building relationships through engaging interactions, that we’re all about meaningful communication? It means we should be and do exactly those things for our customers and for our teammates across the company. Why the heck shouldn’t we have a reputation as an engaging team?

Here are a few things the Engagement Solutions Team has done lately to better show ourselves:

  • Our team is full of creative types, and we’re always looking for ways to use our skills in design, writing, music, videography, and even Excel wizardry to enhance what we do.
  • We started referring to implementation phone calls as conversations—because words are important.
  • At our team pod, we have a board where we highlight a customer’s “Engaging Conversation of the Week” and hold a weekly poll/conversation-starter like, “Is pineapple on pizza an abomination? Y/N.” (It turns out pineapple is not an abomination.)

The work of transparency doesn’t end. It’s a style, a philosophy, and a challenge – whoever you are. As you go through your day, think about how you show yourself in the work you do. Think about the effortless groove you get into when you’re simply being yourself.

There’s always something good cookin’ on the Engagement Solutions Team. Here we are at a recent team building event, where we whipped up a Tropical Tiki Party meal.


Charlie P., Engagement Solutions Team Lead at Daxko, wakes up early for a good long run, a good book, or just because.

Change Management and Churros

By | Culture, Grow Your Career, Healthy Stuff, Life at Daxko, Professional Development, Rewarding Careers, Talent | No Comments

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a Change Management course through ATD with some coworkers from the Launch and Education team. We spent two full days discussing Change Management and how it relates to our work. We discussed change management theories and split off into groups to dive into how we would apply them to our work. Aside from the educational value, this experience also proved to be an excellent team-building activity.

On Day 1, we indulged in churros – see glorious examples below.

Although we were tired after a day full of information, we still found time to hang out. We ate at a fancy wine and burger shop called Zinburger and made an impression around the Lenox mall in Atlanta.

Upon leaving, a couple of us decided to further explore the city and ended up on Krog Street which is known for its ever-changing graffiti.

I learned much more about my team members on the second day. For starters, we’re a creative bunch. Check out these amazing posters about the characteristics of a “Change Agent”:

Secondly, we’re a fidgety bunch. ATD provides pipe cleaners, dice, and scented markers on the tables for those that need to do something with their hands during class discussions. I was amazed at the creations my teammates made. Interestingly, as I looked around the room, the only people who were fidgeting were people from Daxko. Eventually, it caught on, and others started to create pipe cleaner masterpieces. The real question: do we fidget because we’re creative? Or does fidgeting spark creativity? Either way, seems like we’ve got this down.

At the end of the second day, the class stood in a circle and discussed Change Management quotes that resonated with us. More importantly, we also talked about what our action items would be.

Change Management is important to our company because we are constantly changing, but it is also helpful to have a grasp on the concept because our customers are in a period of change when they decide to implement our software. Understanding the phases they endure in a change process and how we can guide them to a successful result helps us better serve our clients.

It was great to see our culture outside of the walls of Daxko. This offsite excursion reminded me that our culture is contagious and whether or not we realize it, we do an awesome job of embracing change. I can’t wait to take what I’ve learned to create exceptional experiences during times of change for our customers.

“Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.” – Will Rogers


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

Somehow I Manage

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In the television series The Office, Dwight Schrute is convinced he doesn’t waste any of his company’s time. Learning of this, Jim naturally seeks to distract him. Jim butchers the plotline of the TV show Battlestar Galactica hoping that Dwight will defend his favorite show. Dwight, visibly angry, continues to work in silence as Jim talks about the show’s protagonist, Dumbledore Calrissian, who needs to return the ring back to Mordor. Jim also times Dwight whenever Dwight does non-work related things like sneezing and going to the bathroom. To Jim’s amusement (and amazement), Dwight manages to sneeze with his eyes open as he looks over spreadsheets.

Alas, not all of us can harness Dwight Schrute focus within the hours of the workday. As a member of the Customer Success team, I can speak for everyone when I say that distractions bombard us all day long. And not the Dwight Schrute kind of distractions (although playing pranks on my coworker Jeff is a favorite pastime of mine; he’s such a Dwight). I often think that if I had one more hour of the day, I could accomplish the tasks that remain outstanding. But maybe that’s the wrong way to look at it. Maybe the problem is not the amount of time, but what we choose to do with our time. One of the main reasons we experience the stress of task completion is the distractions that seep into our day. A study from the University of California Irvine found that once distracted, it can take 23 minutes to get back to task. That’s a LONG time. You can do a lot with 23 minutes here at Daxko – that is prime time to get close some cases, make a phone call, and talk with Darshell about her love for the Pittsburgh Penguins. But instead, distractions come in and chop block your focus zone, leaving you dazed and confused. That’s not to say we shouldn’t be willing to help people; I’m all about the team effort, putting the team on your back, jumping on someone else’s back, watching people’s back, scratching someone’s back, or any back metaphor that alludes to helping a teammate. But there is something to be said about guarding time and getting after it with less distractions. So…. I’ve compiled a list of helpful practices. As with many of the things I say, these aren’t my ideas. I found them all on the interwebs and by watching people at Daxko (for science purposes). All are pretty simple in theory but can be challenging to execute. But to be honest, so what? If habits aren’t hard to train, they probably aren’t habits worth having. Boom, roasted.

#1. Don’t keep your phone on your desk.

This may be the easiest one. It involves taking your phone and putting it in a drawer, or out of arm’s reach. The average American touches their phone about 2,617 times a day. Now granted, this number is an aggregate that includes every tap and touch, but it still shows we are reaching for our devices and interacting with them at an unprecedented level. Checking your phone when you’re in the groove can really kill your flow. Why cool down? Ride that focus out!

#2. Have an email plan.

Set aside some time and listen to this guy blow your mind on Outlook quick tips. Before I watched this gem, my inbox looked like someone took a fresh bag of groceries and dumped them on the kitchen floor. It was a mess. His videos help you organize Outlook and set you up for email success. Watch this one too: Outlook Time Savers

#2a. Figure out how often and when you will check your email.

Everyone has varying theories for 2a. It’s been helpful for me to have 4-6 scheduled times throughout the day to check email. Some people recommend waiting until later in the morning to check it while others benefit from checking just once in the morning. Regardless, some type of plan will help. Email can be just as distracting as your phone if you check it every five minutes.

#3. Plan your day before your day gets going.

Jot down some action items for the day ahead. I usually do this at the end of the day for the next but doing it when you arrive in the morning works too. It’s easier to get things accomplished when your task list sits on your desk all day.

#4. Run from meeting to meeting to save time.

See Marland.

#5. Scooter from meeting to meeting to save time.

See #4.

#6. Block off brain energy time.

Days are filled with processes, and most can be enhanced, delegated, or removed. With just a bit of brain energy time, these can be improved. It’s hard to ask the why behind why you are doing if you’re strapped for time. Some people call this reflection; others, pensive pondering. I like brain energy time. I made it up and it is the only thing I have authentically contributed to this post thus far.

#7. There is no spoon.

In The Matrix, Neo meets a bald kid in a bathrobe who is bending spoons with his brain. The boy tells Neo the key to bending the spoon is realizing there is no spoon (because they’re in the Matrix, duh). When Neo realizes this, he can also bend the spoon with his brain. What does this have to do with time management? This will seem utterly counterintuitive based off what I have mentioned so far but, according to entrepreneur and time master Rory Vaden, there is no such thing as time management. He says that you can’t manage time. Time continues to move on whether we like it or not. There is only self-management. For him, tips and tricks will only get us so far because time management is not just logical but emotional. Humans are emotional beings whose decisions are contingent on the desire of our hearts.  And if Rory is right, then even our “time management” decisions provide a small look into what we think is important, time sensitive, and beneficial. Understanding our time in this light may not give us the ability to bend spoons, but it could provide a paradigm shift that could lead to maximizing, prioritizing, and realizing the potential of what we can accomplish with our time.

There you go! These have been beneficial for me since being at Daxko and have helped in making the most of my day. All in all, I am thankful to work at a place that does not view time simply as a commodity but a space in which excellence, collaboration, and hard-work are always at play. It means the world that teammates, in considering the best use of their time, graciously give me more of it than I deserve.


Sam G. is a Customer Success Advocate who enjoys slow mornings, coffee, and homemade waffles with his wife every Saturday.