If I Were a Butterfly

By | Culture, Healthy Stuff, Team Member Spotlight | No Comments

Editor’s Note: This post is less about Daxko and more about a team member and something they do that they hold near and dear to their heart. It’s important to see our team members outside of work and learn about their passions, motivations, and how they give back. So… read on!

When I’m not busy being a Project Manager at Daxko, I find myself drawn to a lot of different things, many of which can be attributed to my parents. I’ve been playing video games since I was a kid, when my parents purchased the original Nintendo Entertainment System. They bought it for themselves, but I quickly latched on and before long, I was stomping on goombas and destroying the robot masters with the best of them. They thought (perhaps hoped) I’d grow out of that…but they were very wrong. On a daily basis, I’ll find myself digging too deep into a dark cavern or attempting to talk myself out of a zombie apocalypse. Somehow, I always manage to come out unscathed.

What I am most thankful my parents passed along to me (even more than Zelda) is something called Special Session. This week of summer camp takes place at wonderful, wonderful Camp McDowell (located near Nauvoo, AL, which is somehow smaller than it sounds). This year was Special Session’s 20th year, and I am very proud to say I’ve been involved from the very beginning: I started as a staff brat, being my parents’ tagalong before graduating to driving golf carts, then to being a counselor, and finally joining the ranks of adult staff. We had two separate weeks of camp this year, our first-ever time splitting it, and by all accounts it was an incredible success.

Special Session is an intentionally regular week of summer camp, complete with pool time, arts and crafts and pie-in-the-face bingo, with one small exception: the campers are mentally and physically handicapped. I choose the word small here with purpose: everyone has disabilities, and while some people’s disabilities and special needs are more obvious than others, this does not stop us from having a good time. We celebrate our differences and are thankful that we are exactly who we are, how we are.

There is a theme that we roughly adhere to (this year being Willy Wonka and his World of Pure Imagination), but usually we offer the same activities every year. Above, you can see my friend Shea riding on a horse and absolutely loving it. He rides on a horse every year and beams with that happiness every time. Below, Dennis has his whistle ready to go in case someone needs saving at the pool (while the real lifeguard sits to the right).

Both Shea and Dennis have been coming for years and are some of my oldest friends. They’ve seen me grow up and have helped form the person I am today. They’re old pros at Special Session, so when we have a counselor (who are normally in the mid-teens to early twenties) who might be nervous about how the week will go, we let Shea or Dennis, among others, hang out with them for the week. The campers don’t need any help, but the counselor might: we know these two will take good care of them.

Another highlight of the week is the Talent Show. What happens on that Special Session stage is magical and is tough to explain in words. We have all kinds of talent showcased, from singing and dancing to extreme smiling and coat hanger twirling. Dennis will often grace us with his harmonica playing, and we get to see Michael Jackson’s songs come to life. We’ve had Pokémon battles, we’ve had arm wrestling competitions, we’ve had a guy tell us all about his cats at length: we’ve had everything.

And the crowd goes wild for it. On Talent Show night, every single person is a star on that stage. You can feel the energy as Geoff walks on stage to tell us on exactly what day of the week any random person was born, or the rapt attention as Jurdy reads us a poem she wrote. Breath is held as we wait to see which of the four contestants will be this year’s most extreme sitter or if Jeremy is going to be able to make his bed in that perfect way that he does. If there was more excitement in the room, the air would crackle with electricity.

The other heavy hitter of the week is the dance, which is the final night. This year, as our normal musical talent was unfortunately ill, I was volunteered as someone who might be able to DJ. What if I mess it up? What happens if I play the wrong song or someone doesn’t like my tunes?  I’d never done this before and was nervous: I’ve come to Special Session for twenty years and the dance is the single most impactful moment of the whole thing.

The first image in this post is of that night, right as a conga line is breaking out as I play one of the Soul Train themes; you can see me to the right finding the next song. My fear evaporated as Dennis, Shea, Moose, Philip and this large cast of characters I’ve come to know danced and cheered with each new song; as I should have expected, they took good care of me. It is at the dance where the underlying message of the week is most apparent: it is more trouble than it is worth to discern who is a camper and who is a counselor. We are all loved, we are all special and we are all incredible.

It’s hard to stop talking about Special Session. It’s a bittersweet feeling knowing that I’ll see all these people again in a year, knowing that I must wait a year. Life returns to normal and the most we can do is hope we hold on to the special parts of the week. You would think I would have a lot of practice but it is still sad to see my favorite week of the year, every year, pass by once again.

There’s always next year though!

A very special thank you to the incredibly talented Allison Kendrick, who took the photos. Check out her other work on her website: http://www.allisonkendrick.com/.


McKee S. is a Project Manager who loves playing video games and kickin’ around a hacky sack.

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 | One Comment

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.