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Building an Extraordinary Team: The heart of the matter

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  • by: Alexis Prousis

Digital age recruiting is difficult, when you're a high growth mobile technology company. It's extremely important to find the right match of experience, personality, and dedication in a candidate. But I like the challenge because I enjoy working side-by-side with extraordinary people.

It harkens back to my days growing up in a big family in Cincinnati, Ohio. I had the luxury of experiencing youth with eight grandparents, (all 4 grandparents and 4 great-grandparents)—one great grandma lived until I was in Junior High—my grandfather had four brothers, and my mother had 10 sisters and 3 brothers who all lived on the same four blocks. Even though they saw each other every day, attendance for Sunday dinner was mandatory. The whole family, aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins gathered together after church to cook meals, fix each other's cars, and shoot the breeze.

As a tech founder, those early experiences with family reinforced the importance of having good people surround you; how essential it is to delegate and assign tasks and then trust in other people's core competencies; and how to communicate with respect while making sure everyone is properly instructed and have the tools they need to succeed.

For example, all my uncles were capable mechanics. Grandpa Harvey however, was the most adept at recognizing talent in others. He organized the car maintenance after church every Sunday, ensuring that each person was assigned to the task they knew best, whether it was changing oil or a tire. In the kitchen Auntie Flossie, farmed out the tasks for dinner, correcting people along the way, while never belittling her brood. I observe similar qualities in Catherine Kirk, Digital Factory's Executive Vice President of Strategy and Operations. Her ability to organize, schedule and admonish with empathy are exceptional.

In the world of tech startups, a founder usually attends every event, whether it's a pitch to investors, a trade show, or client presentation. It can really wear you down. Over the past year, I've learned to duplicate my efforts by trusting the people on my team who are proficient and well resourced. Our CIO Vikas Wadhwa is so in-tune with Digital Factory's technology and business model that when I can't attend an event he can close the deal as if he were my clone.

These are just a few outstanding people at Digital Factory who make us a cohesive team. I'm excited to add two more people who I trust will exceed my expectations. Jim Marcus, Director of Creative Services and Digital Content; and Terrand Smith, EVP of Business Optimization. They get it. They see our vision for Digital Factory. They understand why Digital Factory's micro-fencing technology is a game changer and their enthusiasm is evident in the hard work and passion that they have already brought to the firm.

I consider someone family if they have integrity, loyalty, work well with others, and finally, if they get it— i.e. if they see the big picture. You can't choose blood relatives, but as a founder of a tech company you can pick your team. I've been extremely selective about who I recruit at Digital Factory; going to great lengths to ensure that the people I onboard possess certain characteristics that I've experienced amongst the senior generations in my family: integrity, cohesiveness, and vision.

The biggest lesson I've learned from my ancestors is at the end of the day it takes teamwork to get it done. That's what we do at Digital Factory. We show and prove—together. We are results-oriented but people-centered, which is the perfect combination in our line of business.