The reason I came up with ACHTUNG is that I believe that the SEO Hacker team needs a guiding light to propel the company to success.
And in order to achieve true success, the teams and individuals working in the company has to have instilled values. Principles that the team lives and breathes as we work together in pushing the company forward.
Just to be clear, ACHTUNG is not, in any way final. I believe that values has to be shaped from a company’s past, present and future. And as with all futures, there are things that are unforeseen and uncertain.
So here goes.
Accountability in Freedom
We believe in a working culture that is not stemmed on bureaucracy, strict rules and corporate red tape. Our company deals a lot with art and creativity. And art is quite unbridled in nature. This does not mean, however, that we can do anything we damn well please with our work.
For freedom to be a tool for success, it has to come hand-in-hand with accountability. We believe that in order for an individual in our company to have true freedom that will result to the success of the team and ultimately, the company, it has to be in the bounds of accountability.
We do not believe in blocking social media sites and ‘fun’ sites like 9gag and tumblr because we believe it could be valuable sources of information, creativity, and not least of all, stress relief. We do believe, however, that we should not exploit these freedoms for our personal use or purposeless entertainment.
There lies the problem: These freedoms are so easily exploited during company hours. The thing about freedom is that if it is exploited by a teammate, it can be so easily justified to oneself to exploit it as well. The effect then turns into a vicious cycle.
So we have embraced systems to help avoid that pitfall. To be accountable.
One of them is our Skype login. This is to keep everyone in the team in the loop on each others whereabouts and availability. Another system is Hubstaff. We are all paid for our time spent making the company grow. Hubstaff enables us to check ourselves if we are taking care of our freedom by committing our time to the success and growth of the company.
One of the things we really believe in is that a leader is to lead from the front. People are used to having their leaders “on top” or “above” them. It is a common practice in our world today to let the leader or manager have special perks. Consequently, this drives people to shy away from telling them off whenever they find something wrong with the leadership or management style of the leader.
If there is one thing that we want to change in the way the leaders relate with the team and vice versa, it’s this: Confront indiscipline.
Whether it’s the new hire or the team lead, or even the CEO himself, if there is something wrong, tell him off. Be confrontational. We find that 99% of the time, if there’s something that’s wrong with the leadership or management style of a person, it leads to the detriment of the success of the company.
For the leaders, this means that you shouldn’t expect anything from your people unless you are also willing to undertake it yourselves. Lead from the front, don’t manage from behind.
When it comes to discipline, we are all at a level playing field. No one is above and no one is below. Everyone has to play by the company rules.
We believe that the moment we stop innovating is the moment we die – slowly. Like a battered old brontosaurus waiting for its own extinction.
A hacker is a good analogy for the kind of innovation we do. The moment a hacker stops innovating and settles for ‘just programming’ he will soon find himself at the back office of a non-IT company doing IT work that he doesn’t really like.
I know that it’s an exaggerated picture but it’s not really an impossibility. A hacker is only as good as when he is learning, innovating, and ultimately applying all of that – to what he really loves.
Learn, test, apply, repeat.
Trust in Difficult Times
We believe it’s easy to trust a company and the people in it when everything’s well and good. The thing is, there’s nothing special about that. Everybody naturally does that.
The outliers are the people who are able to trust the company and the people in it when the going gets tough.We believe these people are the ones that are most loyal, driven and committed.
These people are extremely valuable.
They are the ones who will build the company and run with the ball when it’s their turn to make the game.
Without trust, the morale drops, gossip increases dramatically and the team chemistry goes haywire. Trust is the building block of an awesome team.
It is the stuff we are made of.
Unity in Diversity
We believe in a team that accepts all forms of diversity – religion, race, discipline, family background, work ethics, and so on and so forth. Everyone has a fighting chance in making the team and playing big.
We believe in having one purpose, one goal and one company culture that is not mutually exclusive with our differences as individuals. Freedom and diversity thrives in the company but in order for it to be used positively, it has to be directed by unity and accountability towards one goal: To drive the company to success.
Our teams have very different people playing in their respective fields but the one thing that these people have in common is that at the end of the day, they have one big goal they are shooting for.
If there is no unity in our diversity, we might as all go solo – and miss the most exciting time of our lives doing great things with great people.
Imagine a team where everyone works because they are passionate about what they are doing. Where targets are always met. Clients are always happy. And everyone is growing in their career.
That is the kind of team we want to be. We believe this is possible through our team’s values.
Managers cost a lot of money. Managing a team cost a lot of time.
So the question is: Who needs managers?
Answer: People who lack the discipline to work, hit targets and finish things.
In short, people who are not passionate and driven about what they are doing.
We believe that passion should be the core driver of individuals in our team to eliminate the need for supervision. Whether an individual finds passion along the way, or already has the passion for the work to begin with.
It is a core essential of a driven and productive team player.
God Above All
This company quite literally started with God. It started with a blog about Christianity, dating, philosophy, apologetics, and so on and so forth. A blog that started with extremely few readers.
Stumbling upon SEO changed all that. Not soon after, by God’s great grace, readers came pouring in. Slowly at first, then it became an increasing drip and then grew into a steady stream. I was able to turn it into a service – and then into a business.
But this isn’t the reason why we should put God above all. The real reason is that, even if God didn’t start SEO Hacker with a blog, even if God didn’t even create SEO Hacker, He is still a good God. An awesome God.
And the fact that we’re alive and kicking is reason enough to thank Him.
This value encompasses each and every value we have in ACHTUNG. For most of us, this is where we derive our character, work ethics and the way we treat our teammates. We put a very heavy weight on faith because we believe that not everything in this world stems from knowledge – especially when there are lots of things still not known to mankind today.
Ultimately, without God in the center and core of our company, we would rather not have this company at all.