CV #16 Mojo Media Labs: 5 Takeaways on Company Culture with Mojo Media Labs
COMPANY AT A GLANCE
Founded: After 10 years in the promotional product business, Mike Rose founded Mojo Media Labs in 2007. In 2016, Nikole Rose decided to join the company full-time after selling their promotional marketing company, Marketing Candy. Like many agencies, they suffered with high turnover in the beginning. One morning in 2013, Mike and Nikole realized they didn’t like coming to work anymore. After some deep reflection on their leadership styles, they created their company core values, re-evaluated the team members who didn’t share them, and then built everything around those values. Here’s what they value today:
Core Values: Creativity, Passion, Ridiculous Results, Conscious Collaboration, Professional Development, Reliability
BHAG (Big-Hairy-Audacious-Goal): Get to 10 million in revenue with 50 employees within 3 years.
LET THE TOUR BEGIN
Mojo Media Labs is located on the 10th floor of the Canal Centre building in Irving, TX. It’s a gorgeous space with a beautiful view of the Lake Carolyne and the Dallas skyline. During the visit, I had the opportunity to sit down with almost a third of Mojo Media Lab’s team members: including COO, Nikole Rose, Founder & CEO, Mike Rose, Director of Culture & First Impressions, Ashton Adair, Client Success Manager, Leah Baldock (who’s first day it was!), Brand Authority Journalist, James Elhardt, Intern and Future Jr. Digital Designer, Courtney Smith, Digital Marketing Intern, Morgan Minshew, and Digital Designer & longtime employee, Rick Reid. Here’s what I learned:
1. A Short Onboarding Survey Goes a Long Way
When Mojo Media Labs onboards a new team member, they have them fill out a simple survey of their favorite things and preferences. Examples of questions include: How do you like your coffee? What’s your favorite food/snack? What’s your learning style? Who’s your celebrity crush? What’s your preferred way of communication (text, call, slack, email)? The survey helps Mojo Media Labs to know how to celebrate, reward, and recognize their team members. For example, on Director of Culture & First Impressions, Ashton Adair’s, first mojoversary (one year of employment), her office was decorated with actor John Krasinki photos because he’s one of her celebrity crushes. Now, 6 months later, she keeps the photos up because it’s a reminder to her that her team members know and care about her.
2. The Importance of Growth & Development in Flat Organizations
As a small and relatively flat organization, Mojo Media Labs, doesn't necessarily have many positions to promote team members into; however, that doesn't mean there isn't room for growth & development. To keep team members engaged and learning, they've developed a system, modeled after the difficulty levels of Ski slopes in Colorado (where Mike & Nikole love to vacation). This system brings clarity, transparency, and accountability to team members' progression, performance, and compensation.
Each role is divided into 4 levels of mastery with a suggested time frame for completion: Bunny (0-6 months), Green (6 -18 months), Blue (12-24 months), and Black Diamond (18 - 36 months). Under each level of mastery, skills are divided into three groups: 1) Technical Skills (think SEO, Indesign, Photoshop), 2) Soft Skills (think communication, collaboration, leadership), 3) Certifications (think hubspot & LinkedIN certifications etc.). Each level is tied to a salary range. To earn a raise, you must first complete all of the outlined skills and competencies within that range.
Director of Culture & First Impressions, Ashton Adair, meets with team members on a bi-annual basis to review their progress. Before the meeting, both Ashton and the team member individually evaluate where they think they are based on the slope difficulty and then come together to compare notes. After discussing each section, they decide the appropriate level together and a plan to advance further.
3. Teaching Interns How to Go to Work & Uncover Their Passions
Two years ago, Mojo Media Labs officially launched an internship program that has made an impact on their interns lives and the company’s bottom line. They treat interns like they’re a core part of the Mojo Media Labs team. There’s even an “Intern Hall of Fame” on their website recognizing their contributions.
Mojo Media Labs accepts two-three interns from a large submission list from May – August. When hiring interns, they first assess what needs they have as an organization and then see who is most passionate and interested in filling those gaps. Throughout the internship program, they try to expose interns to as many parts of the organization as possible. In addition to providing great work at Mojo Media Labs, the end goal is to help interns understand what type of future role they would be interested in and how Mojo Media Labs can help them get there. Here’s what makes their program special:
1. On-Board interns like you would any team member.
Mojo Media Labs onboards interns just like they would their team member, which includes a lunch, a deep dive into their company culture, introducing them to all team members, filling out the culture survey, and assigning them a mentor (ski instructor) to work and collaborate with. They want interns to feel like a core part of the team and ensure their success.
2. Teach interns how to go to work.
The Mojo Media Labs team recognized that for many interns, this is their first professional job. For this reason, they had the first cohort of interns write an “Internship Survival Guide”, which included topics such as what to bring on your first day (i.e. license and social security number), how to dress, email etiquette, meeting etiquette, & how to book a meeting etc.)
3. Prepare them for the working world.
Throughout the week, interns are asked to keep a list of all the projects they’ve worked on and any skills they’ve learned. At the end of the summer, they meet with Ashton, reflect on their work, and update their LinkedIn and resumes accordingly.
4. Off-boarding & helping them to fulfill their dreams.
At the end of the internship, they do an exit interview with Ashton. They talk about what they learned, their biggest challenges, successes, and how the program can be improved for future interns. They also talk about their dream job and how Mojo Media Labs can help them get there (whether that means working at Mojo Media Labs or serving as a reference and making introductions to another company). Ashton also does interview prep with interns for their next job and helps them to better articulate their experiences with Mojo Media Labs. As Ashton said, “The goal is to help them find a job in whatever they want to find a job in. BerylHealth did this for me, so I want to be able to do this for others, to set them up for future success.”
4. On Time Management: What’s Urgent Versus Important
Founder and CEO, Mike Rose, is very big on the Eisenhower Matrix, which breaks down what’s important versus urgent and how you should prioritize your time. He’s such a fan that he actually has his gmail filters set up to sort emails into the four quadrants and encourages other Mojo Media Labs team members to do the same. To reinforce the importance of prioritization, he also asks team members in which quadrant they spent most of their day? (Most of your time should be spent in Quadrant 2). He’ll also ask his kids this question as well – and reminds them that video games = Quadrant 4.
Quadrant 1: Important and Urgent (crisis, deadlines, problems)
Quadrant 2: Important, but not Urgent (relationships, planning, recreation) à goes to Q1 if you don’t take care of it in Q2. (Should be spending most your time in Q2!)
Quadrant 3: Not Important, But Urgent (interruptions, meetings, activities)
Quadrant 4: Not Important, Not Urgent (Time wasters, pleasant activities, trivia)
5. Our Most Successful GGOB Mini-Game: Time Block is a Beach
Similar to Venturity, Mojo Media Labs implemented the Great Game of Business (GGOB) two years ago and it has dramatically increased employee ownership and transparency in their organization. Like Venturity, every employee owns a line item and understands how their contributions make the company successful.
GGOB encourages mini games – which are usually 90 day “games” that all team members participate in to accomplish a goal or resolve an issue that could be impacting their critical number. When Mojo Media Labs team members brought up that it was difficult to get work done without being interrupted, they created the mini game “Time Block is a Beach” where they allocated 1.5 hours of no-interruption time per day (similar to Acceleration Partner’s GSD time). For 90 days, Mojo Media Labs had 1.5 hours a day of no-interruption time and it significantly increased productivity. Plus, for everyday that they did this as a company, they got closer to their midway prize of a taco party and their end game prize of a Luau with margs, food, and games.
Mojo Media Labs has made tremendous improvements in culture and profitability from when they first started 10 years ago. Their core values are front in center in everything that they do – from how they treat one another internally and externally, to the systems and traditions they have in place to preserve and maintain their culture. They hire intentionally, on-board team members & interns with care, and help them to grow and reach their potentials, regardless of whether this includes Mojo Media Labs in the future.