I’ve worked for a handful of startups in my career so far—all pretty similar on paper. All in Boston, all in tech, all selling marketing and sales solutions, and I’ve been a part of the marketing team for all of them.
The term “startup culture” gets thrown around a lot to lump together what life is like at all these early-stage companies, with the implication that there’s beer on tap, team outings on boats, bros in backward hats and flip-flops, and a gong to ring on the sales floor.
Well I’m here to set the record straight, so here we go…
Pretty much all of it is true, and it’s been true of pretty much every startup I’ve been at.
The unlimited vacation, the flexible work from home schedule, the cold brew tap, so and so forth- it’s all pretty standard, and it’s why a lot of people love it.
And that’s why I loved it, to be honest.
But the dirty (not so secret) secret of startups I’ve seen from my experience? Despite all of that, startup life can be pretty cutthroat. There were times in my career where I would wake up and dread getting on the train to go to work. The pressure, the pace, the expectations—I’m not going to lie, it can be super daunting and tense at times—are not as much fun as the “startup culture” brochure might advertise.
So I remember when I first stepped into the Alyce office for my interview, and as I expected, I saw a few things I was used to: a few backwards hats, the gong near the sales pod, etc. It all looked pretty familiar to me, and I thought I more or less knew what I was in for.
If I’m being honest, when I came in for my interview, I wasn’t even actively looking for a new gig. I was pretty happy where I was at, but a former boss and mentor of mine who was at Alyce (now my current manager) had chatted with me and I decided to meet with the team, even though I didn’t have any real intention to make a move.
But while I was interviewing, primarily with the executive team, two things kind of caught me off guard: unprompted, every single person talked about how much they enjoyed working with the rest of their team, and even more than that, everyone just seemed… ridiculously happy?
Every single person used the term “we” when talking about the successful things the company has done.
Every single person seemed genuinely excited to be in the room talking with me. Every single person was extremely complimentary of the other executives I interviewed with, and the other members of the team. Something about the passion, energy, and charisma that every single person shared was almost infectious. It wasn’t the intense, rushed vibe I had expected at all.
I remember leaving the interview, about four hours long, and instead of the typical exhausted feeling I would normally have after a long day of interviewing, I was feeling strangely upbeat, and excited.
My dad works in the Seaport of Boston, so I met up with him for a beer directly after the interview, and I told him, “I can’t really describe it, but it just felt like a place I’d be happy and look forward to going to work every day.”
And I was right. From day one, everyone I met truly embodied Alyce’s core values, but none more than “Give First, Give Consistently.” Giving first doesn’t mean literally giving something tangible, but instead means thinking of others first- how you can help someone, how you can make their life easier, how you can lift other people up and make someone else’s day a little bit better. It’s not an action, it’s an attitude, and that’s what I realized I was feeling in my interview, and that’s what I’ve been feeling at Alyce ever since.
From our interns all the way to our CEO, I’ve never worked with a group that has gone out of their way to keep team goals in mind first, and set personal goals and motivations second. When everyone has that mindset, and everyone is truly in it for the good of the person next to them, it has a cascading factor that helps lift everyone up.
So right now as I’m writing this, the sales team is on a team outing on a boat, some of our team is taking advantage of unlimited vacation over the summer, I’m lounging in a big comfy chair in the front of our office rocking a Hawaiian shirt and flip flops. It’s pretty sweet, not going to lie.
But what’s really going to get me excited to come into work tomorrow, what really gets me up in the morning, is knowing that every single day I’ll be working with a group that gives first, gives consistently, and embodies that attitude every single day.