More than words
Animoto creates custom videos, photo collages, and similar products for businesses and individuals. These can be great touches for open-houses or weddings, marketing, etc.
But Animoto also customizes language to articulate its values and to foster its fun and energetic culture. On a recent afternoon, Michelle Leirer, Animoto’s VP of People, and Jennifer Hollingsworth, People Coordinator, spoke with Disco about that culture.
It all starts with 3 Animacious concepts: Oomphocity, humbletude, and betterfication.
- Oomphocity, Leirer explains, describes an “extra gear” that people can access when necessary. It can be found in what is special about each individual, their strengths of character, or even, in Leirer’s words, what is “strange” about each of us.
- Humbletude, Hollingsworth clarifies, is the perfect blend of humility and confidence. She and Leirer describe it as confidence with “no ego.”
- Betterfication, Leirer explains, is “hunger for solutions, not problems.” She says that while Animoto employees are welcome to present issues or problems, they are encouraged to think creatively for solutions.
Animoto has made multiple appearances on Crain’s Best Places to Work in New York City list, and it’s easy to see how. “We’ve created a very unique culture and workplace,” says Leirer. It is one that is not only informal, with a youthful and energetic vibe, but one that overtly places great emphasis on the human side of team members and their right to be themselves.
Leirer emphasizes the idea that the company celebrates the fact that “we’re all human” and that we all have quirks. She says that Animoto is conscientious to not make people feel they have to hide their personalities.
Not surprisingly, many at the company have established solid relationships with one another, and Leirer says this facilitates feedback and the flagging of issues during projects. One imagines that if team members have humbletude, they’ll tackle these issues with oomph-ocity and some betterfication will have occurred.
Leirer says that the culture was carefully forged by Animoto’s founders, who had strong convictions about a humane and inclusive workplace. She says that Company CEO Brad Jefferson “walks the walk” when it comes to keeping things open and real. Meetings may include stories about his family or inside info on what he’s excited about or working on at the moment.
Monday meetings have a whimsical feel and are purposely designed to be a big production that will psych people up. Hollingsworth says, “people feed off it.” She says that while this wasn’t always the case at other jobs, she usually feels she “want(s) to stick around” at the end of the day rather than heading for the door at 5.
Beer Friday and the Battle of the Dips are just a couple of the “little things to look forward to” that Leirer says the company strives to create to make people feel that way. It’s clearly working, since the Crain’s list is informed by feedback from company employees. Leirer says she was “super pumped” to know that a sufficient number of team members showed the enthusiasm that led to inclusion on the list. It told her that “we built what we hoped we would build.”
The other day, a customer made a video thanking team members for their great work, and a manager in turn posted the video on a Slack channel along with kudos. That allowed untold employees to know about the customer’s appreciation when they might not have otherwise. That is simply kudoutstanding.