Now it’s important to mention here that I don’t want to come across as…you know… “that guy”. While I’ve more than a few times caught myself in a lengthy rant about how amazing our team and culture is, this is certainly the first time I’ve written about it publicly and I have to admit, it feels quite strange. I find myself hoping that I do the story justice – because it’s truly something special, the way that our team treats each other, our work and our clients. It certainly feels very self-promoting to go on about it.
Our values 💎
Here are our four core values and what they stand for, if you haven’t heard them yet
Our journey to defining what we stand for🏔️
So I guess what’s next is to tell you how we went about defining these values that we live by, and how did each one come to be? Here’s how we did it…
In 2005 when Excite Media started, it was just Scott, Nathanael, and myself for the first three years. We have known each other since we were 10 years old… such a long time ago. Then in 2008, Shane joined our team as a fourth — we also knew Shane since we were 10 years old. From there it was a number of years until we took on another team member, and from there we started to grow.
Given the four of us knew each other so well, the culture took care of itself. We were workmates, but we were also “mate-mates”! When you’re working with your mates, Mondayitis is absolutely not a thing. At this time we knew that as we grew, we wanted to ensure that all of our new team members felt this too – and so, a heavy focus on our culture was born.
The trigger to defining our values
When we started to see a fair bit of growth in the company, we inherited a system called EOS to help keep us organised. EOS is a methodology that helps structure meetings, scorecards, and how you measure what success looks like. Before we could do this, we had to first define our core values – what is it that we stand for?
Doing this gives you a foundation to build your culture, product and processes around; and so this is what triggered our actually putting the values we’d been living by into words, and setting them down on paper.
So to do this, we had to shine a bright light on Scott, Nathanael and myself to truly get to the bottom of what’s important to us.
Our vision 👀
Something I openly share about our business, is that Scott and Nathanael have never had a background in (or been ultimately passionate about) Digital Marketing or Websites. They are however insanely passionate about business, and building an amazing one.
Even funnier, when we started quizzing them about who Excite Media was and what we stood for, and asked them about the initial vision for starting Excite, the answer was that they “wanted to run their own business to enhance their own quality of life”. You’ve got to give it to them for honesty. BUT, they also said that the knock-on effect was that they soon realised, “We can use Excite Media to make other people’s lives better too!” — and this is Excite Media’s vision at its core.
When they said they wanted Excite Media to make others’ lives better, this includes two main groups of people — our staff, and our clients.
For our staff, we make their lives better by:
For our clients, we make their lives better by:
So now we knew, we want to make people’s lives better. That was the core of our vision, and from there, we started to define our values.
Our core values 👏
This next step was tricky. We had been living these core values all along, but it took a bit of reflection and deep diving to actually put a finger on what they were and how we could define and then communicate them.
We asked ourselves, now that we have the vision, what are the fundamentals that we are going to achieve in the business to ensure we are working towards that vision?
It was looking at this that we came to define our four core values: dependability, contribution, care and fun. As I said, something really cool to me is the fact that we were already living by these values, we just hadn’t defined them and formalised them.
Our four core values were born early - we lived them every day..
The History of Dependability at Excite Media
Dependability is the rock we were built on. Even in those early days when it was just the four of us at Excite Media, dependability was very central to the way we work.
We used to have these stupid little rules when it was just the four of us, to keep us accountable to each other. One was that if you didn’t have the action items you committed to have done each week at our weekly meeting, you had to buy a carton of beer for everyone. Back then, when we were just starting out, a carton of beer felt really expensive.
Right from the beginning, we placed a big emphasis on dependability, and it’s the reason we were successful in launching Excite Media and turning it into a successful business. We did what we said, we were dependable to each other, and most importantly to our clients. We put the effort into delivering results and into growing our business.
When we had tasks go overdue in our task management system, we’d “ping” each other for it. We always held each other accountable. That history has radiated through into now, and when we integrate new people into the team, it’s the rock.
Of course, we’re human, and things can happen — we don’t always meet deadlines, but we always communicate effectively, and early when we can’t live up to a deadline or expectation. A big part of dependability is communicating well.
This was a really difficult one to define. We’re an agency, and in agency land, there’s always a lot of work to do. It’s fast-paced and fulfilling for people who enjoy that kind of thing.
So when we were talking about contribution, and how we define and measure this, a challenge that we saw in it was that different roles require different paces.
For example, creatives need time to think in order to be creative and do their best work. Project managers, on the other hand, are ‘go go go’ and get through a lot of moving parts really quickly.
So when it came to contribution, we had to work out, how do we take the focus off pace, and turn it more to the output of the roles?
This is when we landed on “contribution”. I like to use this analogy for contribution; If everyone is rowing the boat, everything goes smoothly. If one person drops the oar, everyone else has to row harder.
But It’s not just the workload,that contribution relates to it’s also the culture, and the other values, too.
Care comes easy to us – when we started Excite Media, we were 3 friends that cared about the success of the business, and the personal lives that we lived. We’ve now known each other for around 30 years!
Because we began as friends and then slowly expanded our team, it really created a special culture of care within our team. I’ve been told that these days you’re not supposed to use the word ‘family’ anymore in business (people on social media, especially TikTok say it’s a red flag)… but I love to say that I truly don’t believe that, because we actually live through it. I guess it comes down to how people feel about working within the business and with each other. And I’m proud of what that has always looked like at Excite Media.
We talk about care a lot at Excite Media, and all three of us — Scott, Nathanael and myself — believe that care is our strongest value. Because we see it lived every day — for our business, our clients, and for each other.
For example, if someone is having a hard day, you can bet your life that there are a pack of people at their desk asking ‘what can I do to take off your plate?’. If anyone is going through something at home and needs to take some time off, they get flooded with DMs from the team offering to help, checking in and letting them know they’re thinking of them — and that’s truly special.
Even writing this is bringing a tear!
I feel like a broken record, but again this is born from the closeness of the 4 of us at the very start. We had so much fun in the early days, and we still do!
I find it crazy that there are still a lot of old school businesses who see people being silly and having a laugh, and take the ‘get back to work’ mentality when their employees joke around. We’ve never been like that, I’m so proud to say that.
We actually get so used to the fun elements of our workplace that we forget that many of the fun things we’ve woven into our culture and daily work life are really unique novelty ideas to so many people.
Fun takes many forms in our workplace, from silly banter and jokes to our birthday wheel, birthday basketball shot / golf shot (for a chance at a cash prize), to the more coordinated fun like our annual Excite Media team olympics, Christmas parties, Halloween celebrations, staff social activities and other such antics.
Our values in the future 🔮
Recently Scott, Nathanael and I sat down to talk about the vision and values of Excite Media again. We last did the vision five years ago, and we believe it’s important to keep revising it. So we took a look at how it all stands now, and how we want to move forward.
I’m so proud to say that we walked out of that meeting knowing we’re not changing our values. They still stand just as important and just as central to who we are as they were when we created them. We’re now also working on some Excite Media mantras to contribute to those values. These mantras will help illustrate the things that we live by and the things we want people saying about us.
Getting our values down on paper was one of the best things we’ve done 👑
I truly believe that:
Putting our four values down on paper is probably the best thing we did – we even plastered them all over the walls of the office.
Once they were on paper, it made it easier for us to communicate this to the new people coming into the business. It also made it easy to take every step of every process and tie these to the values we knew and believed in.
I really can’t shut up about this stuff; I’m just filled with so much pride about our team, our values, our culture and how this translates into the amazing day-to-day that we’ve created.
I really do spew this stuff out to anyone and everyone who will listen. I’m so grateful that we have the amazing people that we do, and the amazing company that Scott and Nathanael have put their life into, for the benefit of all of us.
I did warn you I’d start ranting about how amazing our team is, but it’s true.
— Chris Taylor, General Manager, Excite Media