Better Than Most is a regular feature of The Business of Giving, examining the best places to work among social good businesses and nonprofit organizations.
Denver: And for this edition of Better than Most, we’ll be going to the New York headquarters of Endeavor Global, who is leading the high impact entrepreneurship movement around the world. We’ll begin with their Co-Founder and CEO, Linda Rottenberg who will tell us about their motto and then we’ll hear from some other members of the team.
Linda: Endeavor’s about entrepreneurship. It’s about markets. It’s about demand. So, we said, let’s go where the private sector pulls us in and says, we need entrepreneurs in our country. Can you help us together as a partner? That’s what we’ve done. We’re now in 30 countries around the world, and that’s how our model still operates today.
Nathan: So, we ask every candidate who comes through, typify yourself. If you’re to put yourself in a category for each level: You’re either a bird, a cat or a dog, who would you be? I think what that encapsulates about Endeavor is first the wackiness of it and there is this pervasiveness and relaxed culture and fun and not taking yourselves too seriously but there’s also something about it that can be really profound about how you view yourself, how you view what’s important. What’s the greatest misconception that we have when we’re talking to you, and it requires a certain level of self-awareness, and it requires again a certain level of thought which I think is really quite profound, and it also gives people an opportunity after, they’re putting up a front for an interviewer which of course everybody because in an interview, it gives people an open place for them to reveal who they really are.
Carmen: One of our colleagues actually had this idea of binding all of the profiles that our associates work on throughout the year and then presenting it at the end of the year as a holiday gift to all of our employees. Super cool way to capture all the work that goes into it and really celebrate work that you spent so much time on. Everyone cares about. Linda still reads every single one of these profiles but often you can forget that you wrote 20 different business case studies. So, it was a nice way now that we do every single year which is a fun exercise.
Jessie: The second thing I would say is, this really is an incredible opportunity to learn and grow whether you are getting exposure to industries, markets, sectors, just different businesses in and of themselves but also just also culturally and more socially getting exposure to so many different types of working norms. I will have a call with Indonesia in the morning and then speak with Egypt in the afternoon, and then end my day talking with Atlanta. You get all this exposure to different cultures but also ideologies and identities as a result. You have this incredible growth opportunity. We sometimes joke that Endeavor is a mini MBA. I truly stand by that.
Jimena: When you apply to a job you’re doing, a ton of research online, and you’re getting familiar with the organization as best you can, and I stumbled upon this YouTube video of the Endeavor Global office doing a lip-synch to Hello by Adele, changing the lyrics to Endeavor words, and Dustin can speak to it more because he was actually here when they filmed it. It gave me such a cool view to what the culture of the company was before I even got here because it showed me that people here like to have fun and laugh at themselves. It’s cool to even see that before you even get here.
Austin: Endeavor also has a program called Our Sabbatical where after a year and half of working here, you can travel to any of our offices around the world and work out of that office for a month. Last year, I went to Argentina for a month and just found a group of 20 new friends both in the office and built a group outside of the office.
Dustin: It was pretty incredible how aligned people are naturally because it’s such a purpose-driven brand, and people go into it on the same page from the get go. Out of those core values, the one that I found the most interesting or really is the core of the brand that we don’t really talk about very much but it just came out over and over again, was trust. People just trust each other at this company. They trust the mentors. They trust employees across the countries. They trust the core members, the partners. Everyone just trusts the other to do the right thing to help where they can. It’s amazing working for an organization like that.
Lili: But also when I meet people from Brazil or Lebanon, it’s a great conversation starter to be like, “Oh, I actually know what the top five companies are in your country, and I know a lot of the story of the entrepreneur behind them, and did you know…” Not only that but also often, I run into people in different countries where they think that Endeavor is from that country because it’s such a distributed network, and they take so much ownership of what we do.
Nathan: Building on what my colleagues said about language and the importance of language and repeating mantras. I’ll add another one to the mix and that’s entrepreneur first. To me, that’s obvious. Everybody has their mantras like, doesn’t really make a difference, and it really really does because there’s a north star. You always need a biblical law that everybody throughout the organization especially one as dispersed as Endeavor can refer back to.
Carmen: So, one of the books that we’ve passed around, I think maybe half of the office has read it and how a lot people reference is Radical Candor by Kim Scott. It’s something that we’re trying to figure out day to day. How do we continue to bring that in really purposely into every aspect of our work job whether that’s feedback to your peers, to your colleagues in other markets, even to entrepreneurs who we have to work with to figure out how to continue just building a really open channel of communication. I was personally super proud to have seen that jump in how the team feels.
Jessie: Approaching every conversation with a sense of humility, a sense of trying to understand where the other person is coming from, what is their reality? So whether its… I think that goes past the staff but also to our entrepreneurs. We don’t necessarily have all the answers but we know that if we listen well enough, we can figure out who is the right person to connect them with in order to help them scale their business.
Jimena: I think in 10 days or so, it’ll be my one-year anniversary of becoming a US citizen. Last year, when I went into test, got my whatever you get; certificate or I don’t remember what it is; I came back from that and my manager Dan got everyone a bunch of apple pie to celebrate. That was just a great moment. it was something that I definitely did not expect because my birthday wasn’t anything. Obviously, it’s a big deal but it was awesome to have someone do that for me for something that means a lot but it’s not necessarily tied to work, and we have a lot of those moments.
Austin: At my old job,, I was very used to asking for permission and always asking, having someone check my work, having someone give me the permission to send something off to a client. Here’s there’s a sense of ownership that I think is very different where we are coordinating with some of the top founders, some of the top entrepreneurs from around the world. As an associate, an entry level positing here; I’ve rarely had people checking me which was pretty unique to me.
Dustin: one employee decided to create what they call Endeavor Fellows Program, and that fellows program is where the top talent around the world present together to go through traditional professional development in three different modules across the year and even more importantly, in the professional development part of fellows is the community of the fellows’ group of that class we call them. It just amazes me; I went through the fellows program the second class, and it was one of the most…it was one of the best experience I’ve had professionally in my life. I love learning the traditional stuff you learn but also just building that community. Even now to this day, I graduated that class three years. I still have the WhatsApp channel with that group that can pop up anytime and ping people from a dozen countries around the world. It’s been our own little family. It’s such an amazing program.
Lili: I also have a really really good team where I didn’t think I was capable of things and yet, my teammates were like, yeah you can write the python code. You just have to learn Python. So, I did. They helped me pick up Spanish. Sort of things that I learned to adjust here. I felt empowered the whole time. Yet, at the same time, I don’t ever think that I had a work persona and a personal persona which may not be the case for everyone. Some people are more private but I’m not that private. I really appreciate that I don’t have to be anyone else.
Denver: I want to thank all those who participated in this piece, Jessie Miller, Nathan Cohen, Jimena Sanchez, Austin Wood, Dustin Po, Carmen Feliz de Vera, and Lili Torok.
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