Core Value #2: Character

A few weeks ago, most of us Oranges flew down to sunny Sarasota, FL for some face time. Since we’re mostly a virtual company, it nice to put actual faces and hand shakes (and maybe some hugs) with avatars, screen names, and typing styles. My favorite thing about the week’s events, other than learning some new drinking games, was the time spent on creating a vision, mission, and values. When Doug asked for volunteers to write a blog post about our values it was easy to say yes. In fact, Neil Lancia, our Marketing Guru, and I both raised our hands for a post on Character at about the same time. And really, who better to write about character than a milkman and a guru? Without further ado, here are our thoughts on Character and A Small Orange:

I found some great, extremely applicable definitions for character in the good old Webster’s dictionary (stay awake, I promise they’re good):

  • a symbol (as a letter or number) that represents information
  • the complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person, group, or nation
  • a person marked by notable or conspicuous traits

Webster’s did a great job, but we couldn’t leave well enough alone. Here’s our interpretation of how character should and does shape our company:

  • Inspiring – Character means you’re doing the right things, not just talking about them. It’s a “lead by example” situation. As we each rock the face off our individual duties, we’re also lifting up everyone else to do the same. When we do the little things right, the big things take care of themselves.
  • Honesty – This one is huge for me. If you haven’t seen the movie The Invention of Lying with Ricky Gervais, go watch it now. The basic premise of the movie is no one has ever told a lie. Ever. Everyone also bluntly says whatever is on their mind. This leads to some comic hilarity. Mr. Gervais’s character realizes he can lie, and goes from an unknown, unsuccessful nobody to the most influential person in the world. If we’re as honest (with our clients, our employees, everybody) as much as his character lies, we’ll end up becoming the most successful, influential hosting company in the world. Consistent honesty is rare. It’s rare and it’s valuable.
  • Knowledge – Oh, the depths of knowledge contained in the minds at our company. Whether it’s server administration, the intricate workings of the interwebs, whimsical programming languages, or the effects of medieval music on popular culture, we’ve got it covered. Having knowledge is one thing, but sharing it takes things to a whole other level. Sharing our knowledge allows us to empower one another and our clients.
  • Geek Charm- In one way, or another, everyone who works at A Small Orange is a geek. Is it really that surprising? After all, we are a web hosting company! We grew up in front of computer screens, and “having passion” doesn’t even begin to describe they way we attack our hobbies and interests with fervor. We don’t care what others may think of us- we’re geeks for art, games, technology, photography, charity, literature, and life.
  • Integrity- To put it simply, integrity is the opposite of hypocrisy- we do what we say we’re going to do. You don’t earn a reputation for customer service like ours without integrity. We treat our customers they way we’d want to be treated, and we do our best to maintain the highest quality service possible. We strive to be a green company, and we express our corporate and social responsibility in more ways than one.
  • Being Awesome- Let’s face it, being awesome isn’t easy. As a matter of fact, it’s nearly impossible. What most people fail to realize is that being awesome isn’t under your control, and if you try to be awesome, you’ll usually end up just sounding like an arrogant douche. We follow our passions, and we do right by people. We learn from our mistakes, and together, we do great things. If people think that’s awesome, well… we’re cool with that.

A Small Orange isn’t the kind of company that wants workers to toil heads-down at their desks all day. We recognize that character is built, and that’s part of the reason why we give each employee four paid community service days per year. We also sponsor events that benefit the open source community, like WordCamp Boston and San Francisco and DrupalCons in Chicago and London. Character is what makes each of us interesting, and we’re proud of the fact that our employees are encouraged to truly be themselves.

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