When your company story starts with "two guys in a basement" it can take some time to grasp the idea of "culture." For years, we've wrestled with the notion that we have to control everything if we want to be a great company. Our society even encourages this paradigm. We often joke about how we can hardly get through a family gathering without someone romanticizing what it must be like for us as owners of "our own company." Surely we're the ones doing all of the design, strategy and programming — all while handling the books and scrubbing the toilets. If we're not, we're not being good business owners, right? Truth be told, this was our M.O. for many years. But, at a certain point, we had to make a choice, just like many small business owners before us.
Ironically, our enlightenment about the importance of culture came as a result of our focus on mature consumers. Surely the fact that we had an increasing number of staff, clients, and partners had something to do with it, too. But the real "ah-ha" moment for us came with our deeper understanding and focus on human behavior. We didn't get into this space for altruistic reasons. We saw a need with boomers and seniors as underserved markets online and aimed to fill it. What happened after that was unexpected. Slowly, we saw our staff (and our company) gain a sense of meaning and purpose. And with meaning and purpose came a change in morale. Ultimately, we saw our business operating more efficiently, more profitably — and all the while our "product" was getting better. The biggest surprise to both us was that all of these things were happening and it had little to do with us.
Since then, Jonathan and I have immersed ourselves in the idea of culture and the role we play in nurturing it. Two of our favorite books on the subject are Firms of Endearment and Peak. We subscribe to the notion that not only does our staff have needs that, when fulfilled, lead to happier employees, better work, and a more successful company, but that there is a whole ecosystem for which our company plays a role. This ecosystem includes our partners, our community, investors (us), and, of course, our clients. We know that real success — the holy grail of capitalism — is only realized when we are aligning the needs of each of those stakeholders. Business is not a zero sum game. There is an interdependence that isn't always apparent on a spreadsheet, but is very powerful and real.
So we're not perfect. Creating an ideal work environment has been both challenging and transformative. That said, we're constantly pushing our relationships and looking for others who are driven to do the same. We try a lot of things to create a positive culture — some of them are silly things like our bucket brigade and others, like our Share the Love meetings or our Elder Hero Fund, seem to have a more significant return. As anyone who has ever worked at a big corporation can tell you, what we do is only one part of the equation. What we foster and what we don't do is just as important and the kind of thing we think about every day.
If you're trying to figure out who Immersion Active is and if we're a good fit for you or your organization, kudos. We invite you to check out some of the links below. Ultimately, your best insight will likely come from the people who make us who we are.