“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” – Simon Sinek, Start With Why
For most AP employees, our annual “Summit,” where we gather everyone together in the Boston area for a few days of intense collaboration, communication and celebration, is an eye-opening experience.
Although we have received numerous awards for our incredible company culture and for being an industry leader in affiliate and performance marketing, it’s at our AP Summits where the culmination of how that’s done is realized.
It’s also where our company’s Vivid Vision – the “what” and “why” of Acceleration Partners in 2020 – is revisited.
This year, Bob Glazer, AP’s founder and Managing Director, kicked-off our opening session by highlighting what we’ve accomplished as a company since releasing our 2020 Vivid Vision for AP in September 2016. Thus far, the outcomes are truly remarkable.
- To be at over 100 employees by 2020. We’re now at 89, attracting the best and brightest from the affiliate, digital and performance industries.
- To move the industry towards Performance Partnerships®, a concept Bob wanted to define and clarify in a book. Performance Partnerships was published this year and is now a best-seller in both the Global and Direct Marketing categories.
- To be a global company with a team in Europe and partnerships across Asia, South America and Australia. This year, we expanded to the UK and are running global affiliate programs for clients in Asia Pacific, Latin America and Australia.
- To become the leader in developing and managing strategic, large-scale Performance Partnership® programs. Just last month we won for “Most Effective Large International Agency” at this year’s International Performance Marketing Awards for the high-quality service and brand-alignment we deliver global category leaders.
- To excel at finding and engaging thousands of the most influential publishers in the world. This year, we formally created a Publisher Development division and AP Influence, the only program of its kind that connects category leaders with influencer marketers and pays them on a performance-basis.
- To be recognized for our company culture by industry organizations and publications. We’ve received five highly-respected company culture and best place to work awards this year alone.
- To be known for giving back to our local communities. Throughout the year, AP team members gathered for a variety of meaningful causes and volunteered their time, resources and knowledge.
After a review of our Vivid Vision, presentations on our global expansion strategy and our customer service methodology, six AP team members gave ten minute TED Talk-style presentations. Topics included:
- How to confidently present oneself
- Time management for work and life
- The importance of morning routines for greater happiness and productivity
- Keys to building strong professional relationships
- Professional growth opportunities while working/traveling abroad and
- Work/Life Integration- How to manage it all as a working parent
AP Gives Back
In line with our Vivid Vision and commitment to giving back, we wrapped-up Day 1 sessions with group community service activities. Team members spent the afternoon doing everything from playing games with residents at a nursing home, giving blood and raking leaves to writing cards to members of the military and first responders, working at different thrift stores and organizing building materials and donations for Habitat for Humanity.
While the affiliate and digital marketing talent within AP is well-known in the performance marketing industry, what was revealed on the evening of Day 1 is just how vocally talented and creative AP team members are.
During AP karaoke night, individuals and groups came together and belted out crowd-pleasing favorites, including “Supersonic,” “Getting’ Jiggy wit it,” “Despacito,” “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Feel Like a Woman,” “Wannabe,” “Killing Me Softly,” “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” “Don’t Speak,” and many others.
We all had a blast singing along and dancing like no-one’s watching (They were, of course. And taking pictures …)
The competition was fierce as winners received coveted prizes. All were sponsored by our fantastic partner, Mediarails, including a gift basket full of goodies from Washington State and a 5-night stay at an Airbnb in Italy!
We started off Day 2 in breakout sessions for creative collaboration, learning and team-building. Then, the entire company gathered for a “Town Hall” meeting where employees were able to ask candid questions to Bob and Matt Wool, AP’s General Manager. Bob and Matt answered each question, which ranged from personal inquiry to the future of AP, thoroughly and transparently.
After lunch, Bob gave an inspiring closing session. In it, he revisited AP’s Vivid Vision for 2020 and spoke about keys to success in both work and life. Specifically, he shared some of his personal and professional goals and some routines and strategies that he’s implemented in his life to bring them to fruition.
One such concept that Bob focused on was around how we each define success and achievement for our lives. About a week prior to AP Summit, Bob sent out an email to everyone in the company asking them to share their top five personal dreams/goals/ambitions with him.
Specifically, he asked: “What are the five most important things that you want to achieve/accomplish in your lifetime? Or said another way, if you are looking back on your life at 80, what will you have wanted to accomplish where you could say 100%, ‘I lived a great/successful life?’”
The inspiration to ask this question came from a book Bob introduced in his closing session titled, The Big Five For Life by John P. Strelecky. Bob emphasized that, for Acceleration Partners to have our best year yet in 2018, each AP team member must have their best year yet.
He also made mention of how he plans to make himself available to AP team members to discuss their goals and how he/AP can help them accomplish them.
Bob’s closing presentation set the stage for his and AP’s philosophy around work-life integration, which, in addition to our remote work environment, is something that significantly sets AP apart.
Too many companies achieve big, audacious goals by putting stress and pressure on their employees and rewarding team members who put their work before everything else. As a result, employees often end up feeling exhausted, trapped, resentful and uninspired. In the process, their most important life goals and passions gather cobwebs. This mentality may make for a profitable company, but not a truly successful company.
The closing session — and the AP Awards Dinner later that evening – re-emphasized the value Acceleration Partners gives to the concept of taking time in our lives to put ourselves first and do things that matter to us; that make our time on this earth meaningful.
After two full days of thinking, strategizing, motivation and revelation, it was time for some playful perspiration. Teams gathered on the front lawn of Tupper Manor in colorful shirts, bandanas and costumes to participate in lively and zany competition.
Organized by one of AP’s most creative team members, team-spirit abounded with activities such as a cookie-eating contest, structure-building and variety of hilarious relay races.
An Epic Event
An important part of AP’s Vivid Vision is for there to be a lot of excitement around our annual Core Value awards. This was definitely achieved at this year’s AP Summit. To make the award ceremony even more special, Bob asked last year’s Core Value award recipients to read the heartfelt sentiments that fellow team members wrote on behalf of the award nominees. It was so meaningful and moving to hear what people had to say about their colleagues and why they felt they were worthy of one of our core value awards.
This year also marks Acceleration Partners’ 10th anniversary!
To celebrate and spotlight this remarkable milestone, Bob and the leadership team went BIG.
New and existing AP team members had no idea that they were about to experience first-hand just how passionate Bob and AP is about inspiring people to want and do more in all areas of their life.
In addition to it being an important part of Bob’s closing session, the “what are your top five” question also correlates with our 2020 Vivid Vision of having “a member of our team designated as our ‘Dream Manager’ who is committed to understanding and making AP employees’ dreams come true.”
To unite AP’s 10-year anniversary with helping AP team members live a meaningful, fulfilling life, Bob selected 10 reoccurring themes from the life goals that were shared with him.
He then made them come true.
Quite a few AP team members listed a fitness challenge in their top five life goals (e.g. triathlon, marathon, etc.). As it happens, Bob’s been working with an excellent personal trainer and coach for quite some time. He decided to hire his coach to work one-on-one with the select group of team members who listed a fitness challenge as one of their life goals. The trainer will help them develop a customized program that will fit their specific needs and give them each personalized attention.
Another group of team members listed “Write a book” as one of their top five life goals. So, Bob reached out to Scribe Writing, the company that helped him write Performance Partnerships and hired them to do a workshop for the select individuals who have that as a goal.
One of our team members in Colorado wrote that one of her top five is to “Drive a race car.” She just so happens to live near the Pikes Peak International Raceway. So, AP set her up with one of their Performance Driving Xperience classes.
Another team member wrote: “Hike Yosemite – my aunt lives just outside of the entrance and I promised her when her house was built that I would get there and hike with her.” AP is sending her to Yosemite to do just that.
This year, a team member received a guitar from her boyfriend and one of her goals is to learn how to play it. AP is getting her guitar lessons so she can.
One team member wrote that a top five goal is to “Face my fear of heights and skydive.” AP’s sending her skydiving.
For one of his top five goals, a CA-based team member wrote: “To get my private pilot’s license (Plane) – Although AP is a great job, being a pilot would be the dream!” AP is sending him to Flight School in Santa Barbara.
Another team member wrote that one of her top five life goals is to “Guest lecture at a University on the topic of Affiliate/Performance Marketing.” AP was able to secure her a guest lecture spot at MIT’s Sloan School of Management in 2018.
At AP, we enthusiastically encourage our team members to travel. In fact, we had a sign-up sheet at this year’s Summit for team members who are interested in working in one of the countries we’re expanding to. The leadership team figured only 2 or 3 people would be interested.
17 people signed up.
In addition to providing work-abroad opportunities, AP also encourages team members to travel simply to see the world and experience other cultures. One team member shared that a top five goal is “To travel with my wife to Denmark for the art, architecture and general aesthetic of Copenhagen.”
In 2018, AP’s sending him and his wife to Copenhagen.
The final dream that AP made come true at this year’s Summit was to help one of our team members join the board of a non-profit that is very close to her heart. Bob reached out to the President of the Board of Directors and shared with her this team members’ goal. The president generously extended her an invitation to attend their next board meeting and apply for a board position. This team member is now on her way to fulfilling one of her life goals and making a difference in the world at the same time.
MAKING ACCELERATION PARTNERS A BEST PLACE TO WORK
Acceleration Partners is well-known and recognized for being the industry leader in affiliate and performance marketing. While we are extremely proud of that, we are also just as passionate about being an exceptional place to work and making a difference in the lives of our employees.
Our company vision is to drive the digital marketing industry to be performance-based and change the work-life paradigm. To us, this means making it possible for our team members to have meaningful, uninterrupted, “all in” experiences at each end of the work-life spectrum.
It’s why we designed our culture at Acceleration Partners to be flexible. This structure offers employees the freedom and autonomy to achieve results for our clients, attain personal goals and attend to inevitable life issues.
This year’s AP Summit brought what we say about our vision into reality for many of our team members. As one team member wrote to Bob post-Summit:
“The culture at AP is certainly what drew me to the company, but until this week I don’t think I fully understood or realized how much you follow through on what you believe, specifically in regards to work-life integration. I’ve never worked for a company that cared so much about my personal success, or that believed that personal and professional success are so completely intertwined. Instead, I’ve always felt pressured to put work first before everything else in my life in order to achieve success, and have sacrificed other important areas of my personal development as a result. Your holistic view on this is so refreshing and so needed.
Thanks for following your dreams and living your life with purpose – as a result, you help to make big things possible for so many other people. I feel so happy and privileged to work at AP, and am looking forward to contributing to our success in 2018!”
You can learn more about our Core Values, company culture and our performance-driven approach to affiliate program management at www.accelerationpartners.com.
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