Carousel30: Our Values
Sunday, August 16, 2015 | Greg Kihlström

Why does a company need values?  Aren’t steady growth and profitability enough to make an agency successful? What about the employees? Surely job security and a steady paycheck are enough to keep them satisfied?

What I’ve learned in 11 years of running Carousel30, and my prior experience at other organizations is that simply “showing up” to work is not enough.  We need to believe that what we do matters, and we need for the company we work for to stand for something beyond profitability. Moreover, our clients also want to know what makes us different and why they should choose Carousel30 over countless competitors.

Putting these ideas down on paper really helped solidify something that had always been present to me, and that I always tried to instill in our work and our company culture. The following values are those ideas distilled to their essence. While a book could be written about each, the following summaries provide an explanation of the defining principles that guide us.

We believe these ideas so much, we wrote them on our wall and they guide us daily as we always strive to be better at what we do.

Greater understanding leads to better work

Everything we do is to gain a greater knowledge of our clients and their audiences.

We take getting to know our clients and their business very seriously. While we pride ourselves on our past experience, and draw from the relevant experience we have when working on new projects, we also believe that every organization, every challenge, and every project is unique, and requires a specific understanding of that unique environment.

This is why we take such great care in the initial discovery phase of our campaigns and projects. Once we truly understand the background, goals, mission and our objectives, we can create great work. This deep comprehension of what success looks like early on in our relationship frees us to be creative in our approach and move forward in lockstep with our clients with the confidence that we are making informed decisions.

How do we know that we are successful in understanding our clients and their challenges and that this approach works? Our clients, time and time again, tell us that we “get them” like previous agencies have not. From our initial creative brief through the final finished project

The future is bright

We believe that technology is a tool to improve humanity.

Far be it from me to turn away from a dystopian science fiction story. In fact, the name “Carousel30” is based on a one such story: the 1976 film “Logan’s Run,” which features a society where 30-year-olds meet their untimely demise disguised as a “rebirth.”

Fiction aside, I’m a strong believer that technology is a powerful force for good. From the more mundane examples, such a time savings, to helping solve public health issues around the globe, to educating children and adults, or helping to save our environment, technology is omnipresent and constantly serving to assist us as we work to improve the world around us.

Of course, there are many examples of technology turned bad, and not just in the fictional world of sci fi. What I believe, however is that humanity is fundamentally good, and ultimately looking for positive changes to solve their problems, despite setbacks along the way. We have the power to make things better wherever we can focus our energy, and humanity has only truly advanced when working to achieve a goal that is based on helping others.

For this reason, I believe that a company rooted in technology has the responsibility to do good things for people. Again, some of these good things may be rather mundane. But others can be truly transformative and powerful, leaving a lasting impact on history and the world we live in.

We work hard together

This is what separates us from those that settle for mediocrity.

We believe in the power of teamwork in everything we do. Every member of our team pitches in when needed, whether it’s covering for someone on vacation, lending their expertise on a difficult challenge, or simply serving as an extra set of hands when something needs to get done quickly. This attitude means that no one in the company, from the executive team on down, is “too good” to do certain types of work.

We work together to help get a job done, and we work together because we know that our best outcomes are based on a shared understanding, a shared purpose, and shared success. Even though we hire individuals with specific titles in Creative, Marketing, or Technology, on a daily basis those lines get blurred and the real exciting stuff happens when we have different people from different viewpoints exchanging ideas.

Great ideas come from everywhere

The best inspiration and ideas can come from anyone, anywhere.

As an intentionally collaborative culture, a brainstorming team at our company may consist of our most senior staff working side by side with our summer interns. Diversity is something that Carousel30 has embraced from its inception. This idea extends to all facets from culture, experience level and beyond.

We believe that great ideas are not the sole property of the people with the most experience, or even the most direct experience with the subject matter at hand. By balancing a team with a diverse cross-section of professionals, it’s amazing what we can accomplish. A fresh perspective combined with a seasoned outlook can give a project or campaign just the right fit.

Our clients hire us for our relatable experience to the challenges they face, but they also understand that our team is able to bring new ideas and an original take on solving longstanding issues. We choose to approach this in a way that takes a diversity of experiences and ideas and the results speak for themselves.

We are here to help others

Our clients and our teammates are all partners in our successes.

One aspect of the company I’m particularly proud of is our ability to do great work that we can truly feel good about. Whether it is our longstanding support of some amazing nonprofit organizations that champion everything from environmental conservation to historic preservation, to improving public health, or our culture of volunteerism and giving back, we truly believe in helping others.

We also believe in giving our time back to others in our industry. Whether it is leadership in both national and local organizations, speaking around the world at industry events as keynote speakers, panelists and presenters, or writing for prominent industry publications, we believe in sharing our knowledge and experience with the world. By providing thought leadership in our industry we help everyone advance and our profession as a whole benefits.

Finally, we feel a strong commitment to the next generation of marketers advertisers, creatives and technologists. This past year alone, someone from Carousel30 spoke at 5 different universities, including Georgetown University, American University and Virginia Tech, participated in the American Advertising Federation’s high school program AdCamp DC, held this summer at Howard University. By participating in the education process, we get the opportunity to provide a current perspective on the industry to both students and professors and help to shape the curriculums of the future.

Personally, I believe that the “pay it forward” approach is the only one worth pursuing. When you give without expectations of some type of reciprocal response, the fuller you become as a person, as a team, and as a company. It is the “secret” to our success, and a philosophy that guides us in what we do.

You can see these values displayed on a wall in our office, but you can also see them displayed in everything we do. Over 11 years, we’ve honed our processes, won awards, created amazing experiences, but the thing I’m most proud of is the philosophy that guides us every day.

We take these values seriously at Carousel30. It is part of our culture, and part of everything we do, every client interaction, and every project we work on.

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