November 21, 2016
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.
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 I mentioned before, everyone was pretty much clueless, which made for an exciting reveal when we boarded a 74' schooner with an open bar and catered lunch for a glorious cruise of the Chesapeake Bay.
Shockingly, THE WEATHER COOPERATED. It was 67 degrees and sunny, a miracle after a week and a half of rain! PHEW. Even better? Everyone had a good time and no one got seasick. I was prepared with dramamine should my "surprise, we are going to sea" catch anyone off guard, but we were all surprisingly seafaring for a bunch of landlubbers.
It was a success right off the bat and the combination of the sunshine, fresh breeze and a fun surprise made for some really great team bonding. I remember one of our engineers (who usually keeps his emotional cards close to the chest) was just grinning ear to ear when we were on the bay on the schooner and remarked to me on how this was literally his dream way of spending an afternoon.
Why laser tag of course! After some naps on the bus, post-schooner, we headed back to the DC area for some good ol' laser tagging. It was a great way to break up the afternoon and everyone got in on a game or two....or four. We rented out the whole facility, and it was great to see how well we worked together as a team and how surprisingly competitive some of our co-workers are. I won't name names here, but there may have been a few people who needed to purchase a new tee shirt FROM the laser tag shop to replace their slightly sweaty shirts they had on...
Finally, we headed back into DC for our party. Here's where our friends, family or significant others could join in on the fun at Republic Restoratives Cocktail Bar and Distillery, and had pizza catered from a fresh (and portable) brick oven from Timber Pizza, another DC-based business that we love! I will selfishly say that I chose these things because it's my idea of a perfect day. Luckily, others agreed. I also chose all of these things because they were along Rt. 50, and logistically all fell into place.
The whole day was a chance to celebrate all the hard work we've done over the last 5 years. Plus, we celebrated alongside other Made in DC businesses, like Republic Restoratives and Timber Pizza. It felt like a celebration of the homegrown ingenuity and entrepreneurship we have in the nation's capitol.
The values we hold ourselves to in the office and throughout the company are being genuine, authentic, and good to each other. Founder's Day is all about taking a day away from the office to live out those exact things. One of the things I value most about Contactually is we genuinely enjoy each other's company; a lot of us have relationships with each other that extend beyond "coworker."
Founder's Day is a great opportunity to strengthen those bonds and create new ones with people you may not be as close with yet. Those friendships are what make us all the more productive in the office. "Social shortcuts" accelerate the GSD attitude because we understand how to communicate with each other, and want to see each other succeed.
The day also demonstrated how dedicated our Founders are to rewarding the hard work. Tony, Zvi, and Jeff love to have fun, and want to make sure each and every member of the team is appreciated, (despite Tony stalking you around a laser tag arena laughing manically when he pegs you with his tazer).
After it was all said and done, I was so pleasantly surprised by how trusting my team was in my ability to plan a day that doesn't suck. The agenda was a complete surprise for pretty much everyone; yet no one was freaking out about getting on a bus to a mystery destination. Personally, I would be having an anxiety attack. But, this is a special day, it's going to be unlike anything you have done before, and I wanted to make sure it was one of those unique experiences that the team will always remember.