In the midst of some of the changes, Sean Doughtie and I traveled up the road to Savannah, Georgia to visit an exceptionally kind and welcoming Erik Reagan. Sean and I wanted to learn more about Erik’s organization, Focus Lab, which is somewhat similar to our own. We went there to talk about what we do, how we do it and what we might consider doing differently. After a short but consequential visit, Sean and I drove back to Tallahassee with a great list of books recommended by our new friend, Erik.
One of the books Erik recommended was The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues, by Patrick M. Lencioni.
We decided to adopt the book, written largely as a parable, before we even finished reading it. We made the ethos of the book, “hungry, humble and smart” our moral code and threaded it into our company’s culture.
It might seem obvious to some, but to us, it was a revelation. Most everyone can be taught a skill, but the drive to work hard with a sense of passion and purpose (hungry), while not being arrogant about it (humble) has to be part of who you are to become a valuable member of a team. Additionally, you must know how to work with others (smart), without creating chaos while doing your job.
It was a no-brainer using the “hungry, humble and smart” concept in our holiday gift this year. We started by hand-lettering each word from scratch. This part of the process alone took multiple rounds of revisions so that each of the three designers working in their distinct styles would come together to feel like one part of a whole.
Any one of us could have created all three of the designs, which would have ensured that the styles were uniform, but we didn’t want that. We wanted them to be dissimilar, yet cohesive, to further reinforce the concept of teamwork.
Once the three designs were ready for production, we loaded them up into our Glowforge, which engraved and cut the ornaments to shape. The laser, while efficient and precise, takes time to do its thing, so we planned well in advance for any delays in production. Fortunately, the smell of burnt maple is delightful when the ventilation system is working correctly.
While the laser was wafting flavorful smoke throughout the room, we were also hard at work creating the packaging.
In order to avoid confusing recipients who might otherwise wonder why they would hang an ornament reading “Get Hungry” on their trees, we added the following message to each package:
These ridiculously charming and beautifully crafted—not to mention delicious*—ornaments were hand-lettered, printed and packaged by The Taproot Agency. The designs are ours, but the concept comes from the book The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni. Being hungry, humble and smart means having passion for the work you do, finding humility when you’re wrong and being emotionally intelligent with those around you. These are virtues that we both practice and preach at Taproot as best we can each and every day throughout the year.
*These may or may not be edible, but they smell so good that, let’s be honest, you’ll probably end up eating one at some point.
Maybe because we’re particular, but more than likely because we’re control freaks, we even painstakingly reviewed a series of red strings and ribbons that would be attached to the ornaments, making sure that the pairing was just right before carefully constructing the final materials into two hundred sets.
The end result is one of which we’re especially proud, not only because it took our entire team to pull it off successfully, having made every last bit of it ourselves, but also because it reflects who we are as a company. Every part of this past year, from the especially rewarding moments to those that were unkind, have helped us learn and grow stronger. As a result, we’re better as a group than we’ve ever been, and we’re proud of the work we’ve done and will continue to do for our clients.