Building Community, One Meal at a Time
The subject of diversity is a hard one to tackle. How do you build a company of human beings working towards a common goal when you’re treating them like statistics?
We see article after article on how the tech sector lacks diversity, with the industry filled to the brim with dudes that look like this. Fortunately, this has not been my experience with Twist. Walking into work each morning is less like walking into a frat house and more like walking into exactly what a classroom should feel like: people of different backgrounds and perspectives converging on a common subject and learning from one another. Brian, our QA engineer, speaks five languages and helps our COO Christina with her Portuguese and me with my French. Anastasia, our digital marketing wizard, shares her mastery of excel as she explains the political climate in Venezuela, where her mother is from. Each day at work is an exchange of different skills, knowledge and perspectives all compounding together in a common belief: Twist.
Our diverse team has become essential in developing a new way to think about the light bulb, revolutionizing a product that has become so ubiquitous we have stopped noticing it. But light is essential to our well-being — it sets our own moods and the mood of our homes. As we set out to build a brand and product that’s mission is to enhance your lifestyle, allowing you to set the mood in more ways than one, we do so with the foundation of the different people we have brought to the table as our core team. Not just diversity in skin color and gender, but in lifestyle, experience, perspective and opinion. While Mike was born and raised in New Jersey, Aki was born and raised in Japan. Dan was born in Seoul and Anastasia has lived in six countries. In other words, we all come from different walks of life, and this allows us to develop a lifestyle product to enhance the lives of many, not just the few. To create experiences that meet a variety of needs, not just the needs of one group. As each team member finds their seat at the table to work towards something we can all be proud of, what better table to bring this all to than one with food.
The Twist team is made up of foodies and it is a fact we have enthusiastically exploited. We launched something called Twist Tuesdays, where every other Tuesday one member chooses a restaurant that reflects their culture and/or background. Christina has taken us for Lebanese food. Anastasia has taken us for Guatemalan food. Dan has taken us for Korean food. Brian has taken us for Dominican food. There is something to be said for dining with friends, some of which are trying something new, making each meal a shared experience and one that creates a respect for where we all came from.
By taking the time to sit down together, to “break bread” if you will, not just every other Tuesday, but at lunch, as well as coffee breaks and late night pizzas, we have woven Twist into a quilt of trust, support and community. The threads comprised of smiles over ice cream on sunny days, laughs over team lunches and the clinking of glasses after another Twist Tuesdays has allowed us to construct a company with people in mind, not a checklist, right from the beginning. It is more than building a culture, it is establishing a common respect and appreciation for the people we spend every day with by understanding where they have come from and who they are. It is allowing everyone to feel comfortable enough to let their ideas permeate through each part of this amazing journey of launching and growing Twist.
It is difficult for a company to scale and keep such a tight-knit community intact, but I’m not worried. As we grow and the table gets larger, different people will continue to bring their different cultures and perspectives to help us all expand our palates, our minds, and our products. This is something we will always celebrate at Twist and will continue to be at the core of our culture.
Incredible ideas are born from people, not statistics, and what do people do? People eat.