Walking through the front door of customedialabs in Larissa,
Greece, I thought I had accidently entered a wormhole and ended up in a tech
start-up in San Francisco.
Having lived in Greece for nearly four years I have spent my
share of time in a variety of offices and some can feel like a time warp to the
pre-digital age. Let me explain . . . older offices are often crammed with huge
binders full of records, overflowing piles of paperwork and huge handwritten
logbooks listing all transactions.
So, imagine my surprise upon entering the spacious and
contemporary offices of customedialabs. It was a breath of fresh air in this
country renowned for antiquity. The atmosphere was both energetic and relaxed,
a combination the Greeks do expertly. Fueled by a variety of Greek coffee
concoctions the employees seemed to be buzzing with creative collaboration.
Now, imagine a typical interview . . . the initial recounting
of your resume, then the questions every employer seems obliged to ask and the
answers you have rehearsed because every job-hunting site insists you need to
come up with a clever way to package your greatest weakness as something
positive. Got it? Now forget it.
Meeting with John, the creative Director, and Anthea, the
Head of User Experience, was the antithesis of a typical interview. I was
invited to the office for a “visit”, realizing it was an interview only when
Elvira, the Operations Director, joined us.
Gone are the days of finding the square peg for the square
hole. Instead, we discussed the mission of customedialabs and its approach to
finding and developing the interests and strengths of its employees and where I
could possibly add value to its efforts. At times it felt more like a
brainstorming session than a job interview. The approach is a holistic one and
obviously effective considering the continuing growth of the company.
Meeting the CEO
A few days later I had the opportunity to sit down with the
CEO, Manos, who was visiting from the United States. Remember that typical
interview format? Don’t just forget it; throw it out the window entirely. We
may as well have been sitting in the café across the street than in the office.
Manos’ kinetic excitement about what he is creating with
customedialabs is palpable. He speaks in a stream of consciousness, producing
ideas and new possibilities as he goes. His enthusiasm and innovative vision is
something Greece could use more of these days.
Underpinning it all is the philosophy of finding people who
can think for themselves and giving them the flexibility to figure things out.
Not only figure out the task at hand but also figure out what they are
inherently good at and enjoy doing. When I expressed concern about my lack of
experience in the field he replied that I would figure it out as I go. The only
way to fail would be to give up.
So, as you have probably guessed, I’m now working for
customedialabs, hence them allowing me to post on the blog. I’m looking forward
to adapting my strengths to suit the company’s mission and, above all else,
just figuring things out. It is an idealistic model for a company, but really,
isn’t idealism often the best place to start when creating something inspired?