Learning To Live It
My first week at Apptegy, Inc.
Imagine walking into a party where you don’t know anyone.
You show up a few minutes late, so everyone is already clustered around, drinks in hand. Unlike you, they seem to know each other well, really well, because their chatter is so lively. Just as the ambient noise of all those unfamiliar voices and conversations start to overwhelm you, someone calls your name. They stand away from the crowd, like they were waiting for you to arrive. They smile at you. They walk you over to one cluster of people, and then another, and you realize that everyone knows your name. They all smile and say that they’re happy you’re here. And they seem to mean it. You realize that this party, the one that was scary and intimidating seconds before, is for you.
This describes my first few minutes at Apptegy. Granted, the party was at 8 in the morning, and everyone clutched coffee mugs instead of beer cans, but the social anxiety and relief I felt immediately after were real.
Later that day, Apptegy CEO Jeston George told me and six other new employees, “A lot of companies talk about culture. But we actually try to live it.” From my first week of working at Apptegy, I believe him.
Instead of spending my first few days of work alone in a conference room hearing about Roth IRAs and vision plans, I learned about the history of the company along with the other new employees. We got to hear Jeston talk about how the company started in the living room of his house and how the interactions with his nephew’s school inspired the idea behind Apptegy’s communication platform, Thrillshare. Before we split into our own departments later in the week, we met with someone from each department to learn about what their team does, giving us a more well-rounded understanding of the company. All of these steps seem to be setting us up to care about what we do, what our co-workers do, and who we work for — steps to making us into a strong team.
Throughout the first week, us new folks got to know each other pretty well. Drew and his wife worked for the International Mission Board for two years in Madagascar; they know seven different local dialects of Malagasy. Doug used to work at Waterloo Records in Austin and has twin daughters who love anime. Chloe’s grandma once dated Elvis Presley. Out of everything about his home country, Max misses the meat in Argentina the most.
We learned these random facts at the beginning of each session, when we would introduce ourselves to whoever came in to talk to us, but also during the downtime in between or during an office-wide coffee run. I got to learn random facts about people I had just met because Apptegy gives priority to stories like these, to details, to people. You, as a person, come before your status as an employee.
On Thursday, as if to prove my point to a T, Jeston gathered us seven in the conference room to watch a TED Talk on “The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance.” The speaker suggested five small ways to create “lasting positive change”: journaling, meditating, recording three things you’re grateful for everyday, exercise, and “random acts of kindness.” Jeston showed us this video to emphasize how if we all tend to our emotional and physical well-being, then success will follow — inside and outside of work.
But even before he said anything, it seemed like we were all already on board. James nodded along with the video, and Sydney took out her phone to take a picture of the list of happiness practices. Maybe we’ve already drank the Apptegy juice. Maybe we are just like-minded people, and that’s why they hired us. Either way, I can’t wait to come to work every day.