Culture Came Calling
BY SHELLY ROSENBLUM – DIRECTOR OF DATA SCIENCE
On the heels of being recognized as one of Ad Age’s Top Ten Best Places to Work for the third time, I started to reflect on what makes Elicit so special and why I work here. For me that story starts and ends with the people—my “teamily”—but I’ll get to that in a bit.
In October of 2015, I put in my notice to leave Elicit. “If you loved the company so much, why did you ever leave?” you may be asking. Simply put, I needed to see firsthand what professional opportunities lay beyond the safety net of my teamily, push my boundaries, and gain exposure to different ways of thinking. I wanted to know how other companies melded minds, solved problems, and helped clients. I also wanted to find out if they could have as much fun as Elicit did along the way. I realized that even when you’ve found a place you love to work, a place that feels like home, professional ambition and natural curiosity of the unknown can lead you away from a place and people you really love working with.
I learned a lot in those three years away. My experience was like boot camp for management consulting—an on-the-job MBA. I learned how to break down problems, get at root causes and prioritize solutions, how to take a hypothesis-driven approach to solving just about everything, and how to tell a compelling story with data. I traveled the world to help solve some really interesting problems, and I will be forever grateful for that experience and for those who taught me along the way. However, throughout that experience I was comforted by the fact that the grass was not greener outside of Elicit, it was simply grown differently.
As time went by over these three years, my new team shifted in makeup and structure. The company was growing and moving along like any large organization does. On a personal side, I got married and moved across the country for my husband’s job and was effectively starting over within the West Coast office of my company. I found myself at a major crossroads in my career—I could choose to start over internally at my current company or make a change. Serendipity struck in the form of an email, as a message from The Chief asking me I if I was ready to come home yet pinged my inbox.
Spoiler alert: I took the job. But the natural question you might ask, which I of course asked myself, is “why go back?” I realize now that I had the answer to that question three years prior, on my last day at Elicit. I just needed perspective to help me articulate it. In comes the long-awaited word, the word we at Elicit are most proud of—culture. To bring to life what the Elicit culture means to me, I only need to go back to the week before I left. Once the team found out I was leaving, they descended on Dallas and threw me a kick-ass goodbye dinner, 20 people strong. We shared great food and great memories, but their most touching gesture was a signed list of all of the ridiculous things I had said over the course of my three years at Elicit (I don’t really have a filter), affectionately referred to as “The List.” Tears were shed. The List has been on my nightstand ever since.
But Elicit’s culture goes beyond goodbye dinners and thoughtful gifts. The core of our company is the concept of our teamily. The foundation of this teamily is a norm that we live every day as we are first and foremost supportive team members. We lift our team up, and as a result, can better support our clients. I can honestly say I have never been more vulnerable with people I work with than I have at Elicit. I saw that for every weakness I exposed, someone with equal emotion was cheering me on and providing me guidance, genuinely wanting me to be better. In turn, I am committed to doing the same for every single one of my teammates. When we can be that honest with ourselves and our teammates, and trust they will honor that vulnerability with consideration and respect, then the conditions are truly right for growth as people and as a company. That trust isn’t just given the day you are hired, of course. It is still earned over time. But at Elicit we offer plenty of opportunities for that trust to be earned both inside and out of client work. These opportunities come in so many different forms, but some of my favorites include our late night “jam sessions” at company retreats, “office hours” at the hotel lobby bar with our executive leadership team, training together for the Nashville Rock ‘n Roll half marathon, white water rafting, and being groupies at our teammate’s jazz performances. We are there for each other in the high moments, and the low, and everything in between. Our ability to function not just as a team, but as a de facto family—a teamily—is the core of our success as a company. I can’t speak for everyone at Elicit, but that’s why I love our culture, and that’s why I came back.