The last couple of weeks have been pretty busy at Clockwork. In just the last few days we’ve launched some major client initiatives that we’ve been working hard on for months. And while we kept our heads down and our efforts focused two other events happened, and I really wanted to mark them in time.
First, Minnesota Business Magazine named us one of the Best Minnesota Companies and we ranked 3rd overall in mid-sized companies (the actual publication had an error and had the small and mid-sized companies mixed up).
Then, just this past Sunday, the Star Tribune announced their list of the 100 Best Minnesota Companies and Clockwork ranked 2nd in the small company category. As if that wasn’t enough to celebrate, I was recognized for leadership, along with two other CEOs from the medium and large categories. It was all really fantastic and even a little overwhelming.
We certainly have a lot to celebrate at Clockwork. And once things calm down a little we’re hoping to do exactly that.
When I’m asked what our secrets for cultivating a healthy culture are I’m always at a loss. The Star Tribune luncheon was no exception. I wish I could tell you that I’m some sort of guru with all of the answers for building happy productive work environments. But I’m not. I don’t have any special manual, no secrets, no special education or crazy powers. I just did one thing right—I picked the right people. I put my trust and confidence in my business partners when we started Clockwork and then we, collectively, committed to finding really smart, really talented, driven people to work with us and build our business. And that’s really it.
This year Clockwork celebrated our 10th year in business. We had a little party to make certain we took the time to say thank you to each other, to our clients, our friends, our families and our community. At that event I had an opportunity to say a few words. I hadn’t really planned what I would say. I hadn’t rehearsed or written anything out. I just got up there and started talking.
What came out was my truth: in my life I have been fortunate to meet some fantastic people who literally changed the course of it. My partners and friends, Chuck Hermes, Michael Koppelman, and Kurt Koppelman are three of those people. Sometimes when I’m talking to young people about their futures and their career paths I try to impress upon them the importance of being open to and recognizing those people who will change you.
No one achieves any kind of success alone. People like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates weren’t islands; they didn’t do what they did in vacuums. Jobs had Steve Wozniak and countless other cohorts and influencers. And let’s face it, Bill Gates wasn’t nearly as interesting before he met Melinda. For all of his genius and drive, Gates needed his wife to make him human and to trigger the humanitarian in him, I suppose. I don’t know that we can point to anyone in history who made any kind of a mark and suggest that they did it entirely alone. But we keep trying. We keep shining glowing lights on CEOs and giving them far more credit than they probably deserve.
Yesterday I had coffee with a colleague in my industry and one of the things he said (and that I considered a great compliment) was that he was, “continually impressed with the values and the ethos of Clockwork.” Those values started with four friends who wanted to do something good together. Four friends who wanted to go to work at a place they enjoyed and to work with people they appreciated. Four friends who wanted to do something good within, and frankly for, a community that they loved.
Today they’d call that a kind of ‘social entrepreneurship’. We didn’t have anything to call it then. We just knew that there was something to the idea of aligning our work with our quality of life and the community within which we lived. That’s really all we wanted. Good lives. Not just for us, but for every single person we added to the mix. And we wanted to do work that made us proud.
It seemed pretty clear that the most critical element of our plan would be the people. But that didn’t—and still doesn’t—mean just bringing on people that agree with our approach, our values, and our way of working. No, it means finding the people who will work hard to ensure that it’s maintained. Culture isn’t declared, it’s lived; it isn’t static, it evolves. And that all requires vigilance, commitment, and teamwork.
Everyone at Clockwork works hard to foster, protect, and shepherd the culture that the four of us founders seeded. That’s why every Clockworker belonged up on the stage with me at the Star Tribune luncheon. We all work hard on projects, yes, and we all contribute immensely to what Clockwork produces. But it’s the equally important attention that each and every one of us pays to how and why we work that makes Clockwork what it is.
I’m grateful to Minnesota Business and to the Star Tribune for recognizing our little company. But even more so, I am grateful for all the Clockworkers, past and present, who invested time and energy and collaborated with us over the years to make sure that we stayed true to that dream we had 10 years ago.