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Culture Spotlight: Maya of Honeybook

When you walk into the HoneyBook offices you’re immediately greeted by a welcoming space flanked with bright walls, market lights on the ceiling, and beautiful furniture created with upcycled wood.  It’s like you’ve just entered a living room filled with a family of tee-shirt clad developers huddling around computers and cups of coffee.  Music plays through the open office space while HoneyBookers mill about, working on new developments for their core product- a workflow system geared toward creative professionals.  

HoneyBook has created a stir in the tech world with VC investments totaling $46 M since its founding in 2013.  This international team certainly has a unique way of creating value for their community from San Francisco to Tel Aviv.  Pitaya had a great time chatting with Maya Wolkoon, HoneyBook’s Tel Aviv GM, on all things culture and employee development.

Maya, What gives you inspiration for your workday?

We are builders. Everyone here is building our product, while also building the company. It takes people with an entrepreneurial spirit, and those people are so fun to be around. We are constantly seeking to improve and grow our company, our product, and our future .– what’s more inspiring than that?

I’m also in an environment where we constantly push each other to be better. We try to identify and grow our superpowers here. This means we are always giving each other feedback, figuring out what our strengths are and how we can leverage them. We hold weekly Tech Talks at lunch where one person teaches everyone about something new, we host meetups where we can showcase what we’re passionate about (we recently hosted a React Native Meetup and a People Meetup) and learn from others, we give each person here $50 per month to spend on anything that will help them grow and develop, and we hold workshops for the team (our most recent one was an American Accent Workshop).

“We try to identify and grow our superpowers here. This means we are always giving each other feedback, figuring out what our strengths are and how we can leverage them.”

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What’s the best thing about working at HoneyBook? What makes your corporate culture special?

It’s hard to choose just one thing, so I’ll choose two: our people and the direct impact each person has on the growth of the company.

Many companies say this, but our people really are amazing. I’ve never met so many incredible, talented and passionate people in one place. When I walked into our first office, I felt like I was home and I still feel that way today. It truly makes the difference when you wake up everyday and want to run to the office to work with these guys. Our environment is pretty unique – when we’re at the office, it feels less like work, and more like life. Because of this, it’s crazy how much we can accomplish together.

What keeps everyone going is seeing how their work directly impacts our HoneyBook members (that’s what we call our customers). When a new employee starts, we aim to have them launch their own feature within their first month. It’s a way to immediately show their direct impact in the short term.

HoneyBook has a unique approach to corporate values – how do you make sure that new employees are indoctrinated into the HoneyBook Way?

Our core values are our guiding light and a huge part of life at HoneyBook. They help us to move forward quickly as one unit to achieve our goals. At HoneyBook, people come first, we go the extra mile, we love what we do, we are fearless, and we are family.

When new HoneyBookers start, they attend an onboarding session by our COO that’s dedicated to our core values. That’s just the beginning. Every day we talk about our values because we’ve made them part of our vocabulary. Our CEO tells stories about people who’ve lived the values recently in our weekly All Hands meetings. People give each other shout outs for going the extra mile or being fearless in our #wins-and-shoutouts Slack channel. We hold the HoneyAwards each quarter where employees nominate fellow co workers who have embodied the core values or those who have had incredible impact.  We make these awards significant by rewarding the winners with equity. In our 360 degree feedback cycle, we also focus a section on how well that person has embodied the core values.

What is amazing for me is seeing new HoneyBookers immediately live the values. We had a new group of people recently start. One of them, Gal, had his bike stolen from outside the office, leaving him heartbroken. Another new HoneyBooker, Alon, came up with an idea to collect money from everyone to get him a new bike. Our team came together and bought Gal a new orange bicycle. We also made sure to get him the best lock out there and he has dedicated parking in the office now. Alon and the rest of the team put Gal first and went the extra mile for him, because even though he was new, we are family.

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HoneyBook has offices around the world.  How do you help streamline the connections between teams in different locations?  

We have a strong emphasis on creating a culture of #oneoffice. It’s extremely important for us that both teams, despite the long distance and different timezones, feel like one team, one company.

We approach it on a few different levels.

The first and most important level is having personal relationships between the people in both locations. Our value, “we are family,” is the base of it all. We make sure that each person here travels to the SF office, spends time working there and going out with the people there for drinks/karaoke/ski weekends/live shows/you-name-it. This creates a priceless connection on the personal level that is the foundation of everything else.

Next, we make sure that teams are cross-location. Each team has members in both offices, working together on a daily basis just like they would if they were co-located.

On the department level we have a few dedicated Slack channels including the ProDev team members from both offices. We also hold quarterly hackathons (a 3-day week with work around the clock) where the entire team works together for  the same hours in both offices with video connections throughout the days and nights.

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Finally, we have a few things going on the company level. Each Monday we have an all-hands weekly meeting where each team updates about their progress, wins, and failures. This is also where we track our progress towards our goals on the company level. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays we have our 7×7 – a short, 7 minute meeting where someone presents something they are working on, shares an insight, or an interesting story. People join from the office or on Hangouts. We also have Slack channels to connect the two offices. In #oneoffice we share announcements or items that are relevant for everyone. In #hb-photos we share photos from our daily lives in and out of the HB office. We also hold occasional activities that involve the entire company. The latest one was a group brainstorming where the entire company split into groups (with people from both offices) and we all thought of ways we could make progress with a problem we wanted to tackle as a company. Many great ideas came out of it.

Lastly, each new person that joins our team goes  through an onboarding process where he or she, along with other new employees, meet together with different people in the company and learn about everything that we do. It is the same process regardless of your location.

We have a strong emphasis on creating a culture of #oneoffice. It’s extremely important for us that both teams, despite the long distance and different time zones, we feel as one team, one company.

It’s extremely important for us that both teams, despite the long distance and different time zones, we feel as one team, one company.

What’s the most awesome activity you’ve done at your company, and why was it so great? Our global Purim Party! It’s our second year in a row that we celebrated together with our amazing office in San Francisco – it’s absolutely AWESOME. A week before the holiday, we use our 7×7 meeting and tell our SF HoneyBookers about Purim, including how and why we celebrate.

On our 7×7 on Purim, we kick things off with a costume party via Google Hangout! This year, all of our support team in SF dressed up as our engineers from TLV and it was hilarious. For me it was proof that, wow, we have really created something outstanding here.

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What does a typical work day look like for you?

No day is the same  – that’s why I like my job so much. My one constant though is the morning. Everyone arrives at work, makes breakfast, catches up – the vibe is very relaxed, there’s music playing and it’s a nice start to the day before we go into crazy work mode.

I also really enjoy Monday nights. After the Weekly all hands meeting with SF we usually do something together. In the summer, we play volleyball at Gordon Beach. During the off season, it’s poker night!

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We’re inspired by all Honeybook is doing- both from a product perspective and how they’re engaging employees & business partners across the world.   If you want to nominate a company with awesome company culture for a Pitaya spotlight, please email rachel@pitaya.work with a brief description & nomination.

 

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