11 Things I Know

This is a guest blog written by  Beverly Doraty, Communications Consultant & Project Manager at Ingenium.

Last week I celebrated 11 years of working at Ingenium. 11 years of working for an entrepreneur. 11 years on a team that while small in size, could rival the biggest company in ability, creativity and camaraderie. 11 years of learning stuff, like these 11 things:

  1. Strength in numbers is overrated. There is plenty of strength in 1 or 2 or 3. There is plenty of success, plenty of capacity, plenty of capability. If you know what you’re doing, sometimes size really doesn’t matter.
  2. And while size might not matter, fit sure does. Every organization (regardless of its size), needs a team made up of complementary skills, willingness to learn and the exact right balance of like-mindedness and differing opinions. These things you can easily describe. Whether someone truly “fits” within a team, is something you only know when you see it. And when you do, it’s magic.
  3. Any room can be a meeting room. We’ve had some pretty nice boardrooms over the years, some pretty funky office space where we’ve dreamed up some pretty great ideas. But some of our best ideas have been hatched in a dining room, or on an airplane, or sitting on a train, in a coffee shop, standing in a parking lot or hanging out in a hotel room in our pyjamas. Inspiration can happen anywhere. (Be honest, you’re trying to figure out the pyjama one right now…).
  4. Everyone gets by with a little help from their friends. I think there is an inherent willingness for small businesses to help one another. I’ve seen it over the last 11 years. There is a steadfast group of partners, collaborators and co-conspirators we’ve worked with who are 100% sincerely interested in helping us to be better. When you’ve been here long enough, you come to realize that Ottawa is a small, supportive community that only looks like a big city.
  5. It’s liberating to live outside a job description. There are certain things at Ingenium that I have to do. There is a role I play within the company that is necessary and unique, and carries with it requirements that need to be fulfilled and expectations that need to be met. But much of my role is not bound by words on a piece of paper. Over the last 11 years I’ve touched every aspect of the business. I’ve handled some pretty eclectic tasks. I’ve been encouraged to stretch my abilities, and to focus on things that energize me. Above all, I’ve been given the space to learn.
  6. Just because you don’t have a big infrastructure around you, doesn’t mean you don’t have kickass processes and systems in place. Even if you’re a small business, or maybe it’s especially if you’re small, you need to deliberately set up repeatable, established ways of doing things. We do this. It’s kind of our thing. Even if they can be a pain in the ass sometimes, I’ve learned it’s always worth it in the end. (See what I did there??)
  7. Work friendships can be genuine. This I know for sure.
  8. Almost everything is more complicated than it seems. If I had a nickel every time we started a project one way and then had it veer off in a different direction, I’d be writing this from onboard my private jet. But that’s what keeps things interesting. It forces us to always bring our A game and rise to the challenge, and that is an extremely satisfying thing.
  9. Every company party should have a little dancing. That comment stands on its own.
  10. In 11 years, I’ve never had to struggle to get noticed by my boss. Of course I’ve also never had a place to hide, but that’s ok, I’m down with that.
  11. Trust your gut. 11 years ago I had the luxury of choosing between two jobs. Between a large conventional organization, complete with all the fixings, and a small, near start-up company that was unlike any job I had had before. Unlike any job of any one I knew, at the time. One was clearly the safer, more responsible choice. The other one sat in the pit of my stomach telling me that I couldn’t not give it a go.
    So I went.