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What is the American dream? That’s a question that many Americans are searching for and it’s no different at appendTo. Mike Hostetler, CEO of appendTo, recently blogged about the differences in company culture and how that’s allowed for “Hacking the American Dream.”

In “Hacking the American Dream,” Mike walks us through the early days of appendTo and how previous experience and early decisions in how to run the company has formed the company into one that is ready to take on the marathon of business.

Along the way, we made several important decisions. We decided to build a company that would be 100% virtual. In today’s world, its a growing consideration for all industries, whether you’re a law firm, a Fortune 100 organization, or a local marketing agency. We committed to run our development company infrastructure in the “cloud”. We decided to pay for health insurance for everyone, covering 100% of the premium cost for all full time employees and their families.

As more and more people joined appendTo, relationships began to form. Our team grew and our capabilities grew. We committed to a transparent style of leadership, agreeing to make the hard decisions as leaders, but honestly sharing our thought process and doing our best to put the health of the company and the employees first.

We operated with the key philosophy that we were running a marathon, not a sprint. This drove our policy of maintaining realistic work hours within the company. As such we work 40-45 hours a week. Client’s didn’t always like or respect this policy, but we knew from experience that mandated rest promotes productivity for knowledge workers. We’d all worked at jobs where the value delivered went down as the hours we logged went up.

This approach of putting people first allows appendTo to build better products and better relationships. Our culture has been affected in a positive way by these choices. Mike further explains.

The trick is to find something we are all passionate about. It’s not easy getting two people to be passionate about any specific thing, let alone eleven. This is why the conversation drifted to the similarities everyone at appendTo shares and the factors that draw us to work there. Our shared passions boil down to two things:

  • We are passionate about Front-End Web Development and JavaScript
  • We are passionate about working to live, not living to work

The lightbulb went on when we realized that appendTo was an organization that not only believed this, but was actually a place that followed through with making these passions a reality for each employee.

The juxtaposition of this realization against the story of other exciting start-ups floored me. General wisdom states that most start-ups are built for one of two end points, a grand exit of some sort or die trying. In appendTo, we’d built an organization geared to serve the employees while maintaining stability, and we’d succeeded.

At appendTo, our employees

  • have the freedom to work anywhere in the world, as opposed to going to a specific location every day.
  • don’t have a million dollars in the bank, but have a job that pays the bills and puts food on the table.
  • have the freedom to work on projects that they find interesting.
  • work with talented and passionate people that motivates and inspires.
  • can turn off connectivity and actually relax because they know that the team has their back.
  • work encourages healthy relationships, with friends and family.
  • don’t have to choose between providing for family and spending time with them, we get both.

These are traits that make for a company that builds long relationships with our clients.