Although that is when it was created, no socks were shipped until the end of 2012. Since 2013, we have only shipped the socks we made in those original two orders.
This is not a normal company. Actually, even saying the word “company” gives me the willies. It took me about 10 years to go from conceptualizing Chivaz to finally leave working for other “companies” and spend most of my time on Chivaz (full disclaimer, I still do some marketing contract work because I have to pay bills. Damn you unemployment benefits for running out!!).
I had to get out of the “matrix” of other companies because I just felt that after a company was bigger than about 4 people, politics would start coming into play. Once a company was 20 people, a whole slew of issues would get in the way of the goals of the founders. True, there would be a ton more output than just one person alone, but there would also be a lot more bullshit.
Creating a “culture” starts to become really important as companies continue to grow. I worked for a company with 10 people, 20 people, 50 people, 100 people, 200 people and over 2000 people in my day. Let me just say, it is really hard to instill a culture. Some of these companies did better than others. When you sit across from the CEO and VP of marketing, they set the culture by example. Once those C-level people are on their own floor or in an office that you don’t even see on a daily (or ever) basis, the company culture becomes something that gets out of control. Sometimes this can be amazing (I’ve heard) and sometimes it can truly suck.
After starting Chivaz for real at the end of 2012, I had a partner. Even with one extra person I struggled to have the right culture in the company. This is why people get paid amazing amounts of money to manage corporations. It is not easy convincing people that their hard work for the “company” is really good for them. Especially people that have been worked hard and been burned by the system before.
A great CEO has a lot of similarities to a sheep herder. They understand the value of the flock and spend their effort keeping the sheep together working as one. At the same time, they try to make sure that the culture is not producing too many “black sheep.”
black sheep is an idiom used to describe an odd or disreputable member of a group, especially within a family… these sheep stand out in the flock and their wool was traditionally considered less valuable. The term has typically been given negative implications, implying waywardness. (from Wikipedia)
Let’s just say that convincing me to spend 8–10 hours a day away from my home sitting in meetings and spending my brain power on someone else’s passion project it almost impossible. I am sure other people, especially people that love getting consistent paychecks (i do sorta miss that) are easier to get working, but I think I have become numb to working in a cubicle.
I used to see my friends at Google and Facebook and their sprawling campuses with amazing food and activities and be envious of what they had. It must have been great to go to work. And you know what, it is great for a lot of people. But the longer I have done Chivaz the less I find those “campuses” enticing.
I love being home with my family. I love going for a run in the afternoon without people looking at me oddly. I love setting my own schedule. All of these things make for loving being an entrepreneur. But what I love most of all is that when I spend five nights in a row working until the wee hours of the night, I get to see the results of that. I am not running my own business to avoid hard work. In fact, I am working harder now than I ever have. I just like knowing that this work is actually having some kind of effect on the bottom line.
Chivaz is currently still only me. The culture is completely set by me. At some point, I will need to hire someone else. God help this person. I am not the easiest to work with and I will want someone to be as passionate about this job as I am. I also want this person to make a real difference within Chivaz. I want to embrace their thoughts and ideas and let their work add value for every minute they put into it.
Do you know how hard it is to be super passionate about someone else’s work? Finding someone will not be easy. I am hoping that they are young and hungry for hands on experience and making a real difference.
When I get into micro-management, I am super annoying. Just ask my wife or son. I am much better off when I trust in others to do a great job. So those are the kind of people I am looking to work with. Hard-working, passionate and trustworthy.
The Chivaz culture is exactly in line with the brand. Everyone is a goat. We each bring something unique to the table. We might have some rough edges, we might not always agree on things, we might sometimes feel like we need to escape from our pens and get out, but at our core we are not sheep.
I am not trying to say that no other companies out there embrace individuals that stand out. I am just saying that most companies will give you a handbook on your first day full on rules and policies to make sure that you don’t stand out too much.
There has to be a happy medium between sheep and goats when it comes to building a company culture, but for now Chivaz is just one goat. One hard working, passionate, sock loving, individual admiring high climbing goat. I can’t wait until I can find a few more people to join this Trip!
If you read this far and you think, wow, I could work with Chivaz, shoot me a message. There are not a lot of people that can do it, but I am sure that one or two people out there would make a great fit. I’d love to hear from you!
I am talking everyone from sales and finance people to brand ambassadors…