I recently sat down with the co-founders of L4 Digital and asked Brandon Albers, Keith O’Neill, and Bruce James to reflect on the past 12 months — a 12 months that have included explosive growth both in revenue and company size. With several recent awards, we took a few minutes to take stock of the accomplishments and what they mean to both the management staff and the organization as a whole.
1. With L4 Digital’s rapid growth over the past 12 months, what does it mean to you to see L4’s first appearance on the Inc. 5000 honoree list in the top 1000 at position 818?
It’s incredibly gratifying to see L4 Digital ranked at 818 for our inaugural appearance on the Inc. 5000 list. It validates the hard work of the L4 team since the beginning and everyone should be proud of what we have accomplished. It’s an awesome feeling to know we grew to this size organically. We focused on building a business, not aiming for an exit.
Being put on a list with “big, successful, companies” is also a reminder that we need to focus on our culture and our principles even more. Success is working hard side by side with people who share our values, enjoy collaboration and teamwork, and the financial results and notoriety are just a symptom of true success. “True success” is having fun every day, building amazing products, and appreciating the people we spend time with.
2. How does this accolade impact your growth plans and strategy for L4 Digital over the next calendar year?
Strategy is always worth evaluating, and we’ll do that as a management team regardless of growth. L4 was founded on the belief that “great people make great products” and that belief in hiring great people and building the best team of digital product professionals is what has fueled our growth. The awards we have received in the last few months (American Business Award “Stevie” – Fastest Growing Tech Company Under 100 People, Seattle Business Magazine – Best Companies to Work For, Puget Sound Business Journal – Washington’s Best Workplace, and Inc. 5000 – Fastest Growing Companies) validate that we are not only building a great company focused on creating market-leading digital experiences, but also creating a workplace and work environment that people love
3. High growth requires a strong team so it’s no surprise that you’ve also been recognized as one of Puget Sound Business Journal’s Washington’s Best Workplaces. What have been some of your keys to success in building and retaining a happy workforce in a competitive marketplace?
It really boils down to one word: trust. We agreed early on that our values would center around results. Not just the final product we’re building, but how committed we are to giving our best with regard to quality of work, transparency, collaboration, accountability, respect — these values define our team, and when we find people that are as passionate about those values as we are, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.
As a company founded on the belief that great people make great products we have always been focused on making L4 a great place to work. Our marketplace is competitive for sure, but there are still few companies that truly offer this working environment, and great people deserve a great environment (to build great products). The Seattle area is full of great digital product people with those values. Our challenge is to make sure they know about us and to make sure we keep to our plan.
Our success has been focused on people by providing them with a collaborative fun work environment and offering exceptional benefits for the team. We have focused on being sincere, truly caring about and valuing our employees, and walking that out in everything that we do. We offer great benefits: Work location flexibility (most employees work from home one day/week), excellent healthcare, profit sharing, 401K with matching, open PTO, internal innovation lab, quarterly events, monthly happy hours, continuing education allowance, etc. We not only want to have happy employees, but employees that are thriving at work and in their lives.
4. Visibility, transparency, and accountability are often cited as effective in building a great work culture. How does L4 Digital embrace and practice these values?
It’s a never-ending challenge. Easy to write these words on a board and call them our values, but living it as a company of many people is a huge challenge. Especially when you’re growing, work is piling up, new people are rolling in every week, etc.
The key to practicing these values is to check them as often as possible. When we build or update process in our work, we need to check the process against our values… not just the necessary steps to complete the tasks. When we interview and engage with our team in 1:1’s or reviews we need to make sure we are talking about the importance of these values, not just the hours billed, quality of products, etc. When we adjust or define new strategy for the work we’re doing, our values are the foundation, not just how much revenue or profit we can earn. Monthly company meetings, quarterly offsite events, an open office environment, and a culture of collaboration all help. L4 is a results-based environment, focused on actual value, not just the appearance of value.
5. What advice would you give to others employers in the Puget Sound area looking to build world-class teams of high performers? What lessons have you learned along the way?
Remember to put people first. A business is nothing more than a group of people working together so make sure you focus on creating a culture and environment where employees are empowered to succeed. Don’t forget what brought you all together in the first place. Your team comes to work with you because of who you are, your vision, and your values. Keep the team happy by never letting them down with your persistence and focus on them—they will pay you back 10 fold with amazing results.
Culture is a reflection of the founders and initial team— it’s walking out your beliefs, not kegs and foosball. Focus on walking out your values and culture will define itself; it’s then up to you to communicate it as you grow.
L4 Digital is recognized by the Puget Sound Business Journal as one of Washington’s Best Workplaces … and we’re hiring! Please have a look at our open positions and get in touch if you want to join a fun, energetic team in downtown Seattle.[mc4wp_form]
Image courtesy of Sean Pollack for Unsplash.