The 6th Sense

Not All Culture is Created Equal.

“When you combine a hunger for creativity, a reliance on collaboration and the courage to fail big with a supportive, loyal group of people that are 100 per cent hustle, you start to see something timeless emerge: a culture around which everything else revolves.” – John Noe

Everyone knows culture eats strategy for breakfast. A winning corporate culture is the difference between a good idea and a great idea. Culture is that thing that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning excited to get down to business – instead of having to go to work. Culture makes Mondays exciting.

At Rokkan, we’ve carefully nurtured our culture and maintained it in the face of year over year growth. That’s a tough order – weathering change, time, new people and POVs. But we’ve managed it through a strong leadership team, collaboration and the courage to try big things until we succeed, often times despite the risk.

So what is our culture? We go bowling, have BBQs, go for dim sum and have happy hours. That’s not our culture – those are employee rewards for living and breathing our culture. Our culture is something different. Above all, it’s a relentless, passionate love for our craft. It’s a work ethic that doesn’t stop at the limitations of a client brief or a failed idea. It’s a dedication to our clients and their success, and it’s a respect for colleagues that goes beyond support. Everyone that works here truly enjoys each others’ company and looks forward to spending time together. We’re family.

We are not trying to create culture to entertain employees – we’re trying to cultivate an intense dedication to helping clients transform their brands. And that requires consistently hard, fearless, creative work. Our clients pay us for our thinking, not to smile and nod. I often tell new employees this is going to be the hardest job they’ll ever have, but also one where they will accomplish more and be rewarded and valued in unprecedented ways. We listen to and inspire our teams, and it pays off. I love getting notes from clients telling me about how fantastic their account lead is or how glad they are that we challenged their brief and pushed them beyond their initial asks.

Our purpose is to serve brands through transformative change as tightly unified partners. Together, we are co-creators of a common vision, not just an agent that executes instructions. It’s our culture that allows us to make the leap from vendor to partner, and as our clients and campaigns evolve, I hope our culture does too. I want Rokkan to become even more open minded, more generous, more collaborative, more supportive, more ambitious and more persistent. That’s the recipe for client success and employee happiness.

But as our culture evolves, our values will not. We should forever be rooted in the foundations that started us 17 years ago in a Jersey City living room. Modest and determined, reliant on credit cards and coffee, we made websites for weight loss pills and protein powder, scraping up enough money to get lunch at Wendy’s. Together. That’s the origin of this place. That’s what led to our culture of hustle, humility and hardcore obsession for our work. That’s what keeps us going.

And at the end of every week, once we’ve mastered that culture, we bowl.


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