A division of Brooklyn United, Brooklyn Digital Foundry directs and produces engaging video and visualization pieces to connect brands with online and offline audiences.
I sat down with Brian Lemond and posted three crucial questions on belonging:
1. Good brands are bought, but great brands are joined. Why do you think your employees join yours?
Both of our businesses,Brooklyn Unitedand theBrooklyn Digital Foundry, have grown up as DIY operations. They were
founded on simple things: curiosity about the marriage of design and
technology; a desire to make something; and a commitment to busting as much ass
as it took. The key thing supporting our brands’ growth, both from a
client-side and a recruiting/retention side, is we’ve stayed true to those
origins, that ethos. That consistency allows us to be very sincere when
presenting the companies, and our audiences recognize that sincerity and want
to connect with it.
We often say in the studio that today’s marketplace is about showing off your
true self, and having faith there’s an audience for that. We’ve translated that
into a handy catch-phrase: Be You. Be Loved.
2. The great workplaces of the world have soul.
What do you do to humanize your culture?
The most visible thing on this front is, ironically, a dog
named Oscar. A lot of offices in theNew York Digital District(NYDD), aka DUMBO, Brooklyn, are pet-friendly,
but we wouldn’t trade Oscar for anything.
More officially, we humanize the studio culture by treating people well. We
recognize our employees have two agendas: doing a good job for us and realizing
their own dreams. We produce better work and have happier employees the more we
know about both sides of that equation. So communication is a huge concern for
us and we’re always looking for ways to improve our dialogue within the studio.
We encourage sharing of information both formally and informally, we make sure
periodically the team puts down their mice, laptops, and tablets and chills
out, but most importantly, we ask questions and listen to the answers. I think
as a result the studio ends up being a reflection of everyone in it; the
culture is grown rather than passed down from the top.
3. Belonging is a basic human craving. How do
you remind employees that they’ve found a home?
We want to be a part of something, but we want that something to be going
somewhere or accomplishing something. In our studio, the indicators/reminders are the very things that define any
community — shared experience, recognition of individuals, historical
awareness, celebration of accomplishment, and so on. That’s the macro view. At
a more granular level, that translates into the simple things like actually
caring about each other. When you ask people questions, they can tell when you
don’t care about the answer. I’ve worked in offices and with people where that sense
of community, that interpersonal connection, was not present. Guess what? I’m
no longer at those places and I didn’t bring those people with me.
We spend a great deal of time and energy, much of it just being extremely
patient, looking for the right people to join our team. When we find them, we
do our level best to let them know we don’t take them for granted. My hope is
if we’re clear and open enough about how much we value them — their ideas,
their time, their contribution — they’ll feel they’ve found something like a