The top 8-ish reasons why I (still) love working at ThoughtExchange

In late 2017, I published a blog post about my experience as the newly hired VP of Revenue at ThoughtExchange. Only eight weeks into the gig, my explanation as to why I was lovin’ it had the giddy feel of newlywed infatuation.

So you might ask: How’s it going after a solid year of marriage? Short answer: Better than ever! I thought I’d celebrate our “paper anniversary” by updating my earlier post on the top eight(ish) reasons I love working here. Here’s some of what I get to do at ThoughtExchange:

1) Make a difference – We make a measurable and meaningful difference for our customers every day. Because just about any company can make that claim, we always find it’s more powerful to let our customers tell it in their own words:

“ThoughtExchange has helped me define for our school district what a true partnership looks like. When two organizations have a shared vision and values with mutual benefit, the possibilities are unlimited. Thanks, Jayme, for being a thought partner in our journey to reimagining education.” – Dr. David Vannasdall, Superintendent of Arcadia Unified School District

Update: This testimonial is from a valued customer in public K-12 education, where ThoughtExchange has had a presence for almost ten years. Over the last year, we’ve connected with enterprise and higher education customers and are now starting to see impacts beyond K-12. For example, this year we enabled a healthcare organization to tap into employees’ thoughts on the workplace culture they want. We also helped Canada’s largest cinema chain to gather staff ideas about how to radically improve in-house training programs. The effects of uncovering what people really think go beyond the traditional bottom line: ROI is measured both quantitatively in cost savings, and qualitatively in increased employee engagement and retention.

2) Be part of the growth – ThoughtExchange is growing across multiple sectors. We support leaders in the education, health, government, nonprofit and corporate sectors. We’re particularly excited about that last part. Businesses both large and small are quickly seeing the benefits of investing in their most valuable resources, through strong and sustainable employee engagement.

Update: As mentioned above, we’ve had tremendous success in connecting employee voices with corporate leadership. I’m honored to be part of a transformation of senior leaders who have the courage to listen, and in turn, are truly empowered to act.

3) Disrupt the norm and innovate – We’re the first to admit that we’re disruptive. We provide an agile, AI-driven solution that disrupts traditional engagement methods using unsustainable analog models. Our team is continually building on our blend of innovative software, services, and technology to help leaders in any sector drive meaningful stakeholder engagement that builds trust, empathy,and inclusiveness.

Update: Heck, yeah! Amongst other innovations this past year, we’ve developed real-time multilingual participation for mobile applications. This new feature gives equal voice to exchange participants in over 100 languages. We’ve also supercharged our blog post to instantly translate exchange data into accessible insights. Better insights, better decisions.

4) Join a thriving culture – Those who know me know how much I value a winning culture. At ThoughtExchange (where skiing is built into the collective DNA), we rally around the saying “soft powder, sharp edges”. That sums up this company’s commitment to an empathetic culture balanced with a ruthless commitment to excellence.

Update: Knowing the tenets of a culture and living them on a day-to-day basis can be two different things. Often as companies mature from scrappy start-ups, there’s a danger of integrity slip. I’m happy to report that senior leaders at ThoughtExchange continue to balance the soft powder of vulnerability—like soliciting critical feedback through constant communication—and the sharp edges of decisiveness—like shifting strategic direction, even when it hurts (especially when it hurts!)

5) Work with cool people – The people who work at ThoughtExchange are truly awesome in how they live the company culture. One example of that culture is how I was hired. Because we use agreement-based decision making, we have a radically different approach to hiring. While it might seem like a drawn-out process to some, it was valuable to meet many team members early on and get their up-front agreement that I would fit in around here. Agreement culture also means people here truly care about and support each other in their well-being. How radical is that?

Update: Still true! The photo above in this post shows a few of us taking a group break on the mountain bike trails of Rossland. I’ve expanded my collection of Smithers Group Selfies© to include nearly everyone in the company of 130+ employees. Simply put, I feel blessed to work with such an intelligent and decent group of people.

6) Truly own my role – Another spinoff of the agreement-based hiring and culture is that I came into my role already having the trust of my team and a clear picture of what I needed to deliver. Because of that, I was able to quickly start driving results in my first 60 days on the job. And my role was really well defined to match expectations with my experience and passion to learn and contribute in a bigger way. So far, so good!

Update: The ownership piece of leadership is something I live with every day. It’s also something I challenge my team with, no matter what their role is. The commitment required to move beyond responsibility to ownership is both exciting and, frankly, nerve-wracking at times! We’re on that journey with our customers every day. As American author John A. Shedd wrote almost 100 years ago, “A ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what ships are built for.”

7) Be backed by a board that believes – A company’s board of directors makes a lot of decisions that directly impact your job on a day-to-day basis. In keeping with the theme of cool people and great culture here at ThoughtExchange, we’re blessed to have a group of seasoned investors and leaders on our board who truly believe in the company. Their experience, advice, connections, and fundraising abilities are crucial to our success as a high-growth company.

Update: We’ve recently secured an institutional investor. To date, we’ve raised over $20 million in angel investment and venture capital. With our aggressive growth targets on track for the year, 2019 looks promising in terms of adding even more seasoned directors to our board.

8) Work wherever works for me – Location, location, location, they say! While we’re headquartered in beautiful Rossland, BC, I can choose to work from wherever I live (or want to live). That could be small-town life in the Kootenays, or the big city and one of our offices in Vancouver or Port Moody. That flexibility is one of the things that makes “going to work” at ThoughtExchange so rewarding.

Update: Our Nelson office continues to grow, and we now have three offices in our Rossland “campus.” Plus, did I mention how stoked we are to be in the newest WeWork in Vancouver? Nearly all of our employees have offices within a commutable distance, to use as they choose.

8a) Gratitude Wednesdays – Okay, so this is a bonus reason why I love working here! Every Wednesday in Slack is #gratitudewednesday, an opportunity to recognize and thank people in our working lives. Below is a sample post I recently addressed to everyone who works at ThoughtExchange (Te):

Hello Te – Grateful shout-outs coming in hot!!! 1). Grateful for an amazing 1st year at Te! Thank you all for the anniversary thoughts yesterday – it was a great moment reading them last night. 2). Almost all of the Sales team is traveling right now, and killing it. Check out my exchange in the Sales Channel on what the insights are in real time with prospects and customers (powerful stuff). 3). Much gratitude for Nigerian-born Lyft driver for getting our CEO and me safely and on time to the airport in Chicago – wow. Traffic. 4). To all of Te for rallying / personalizing goals as we embark on Q4. 5). Appreciation for what we heard while exploring new revenue partnerships in Chicago. Senior leader’s exact words last night “Holy smokes! Your company is about to take off.”

Gratitude and appreciation, indeed! We all dream about doing work that’s genuinely fulfilling. That means something different to everyone. For me, I’m happy to report that a year later, I’m still finding fulfillment at ThoughtExchange every day. I’m continually inspired and excited by the amazing people I work with and the meaningful mission we’re on together.

If you’ve read this far, chances are you’re keen to learn more about the reasons you might love working at ThoughtExchange. Please reach out to me or our Director of People, Alex Chapple. As a fast-growing company with lots of opportunities, we want to hear from you!

About the Author

Jayme Smithers

Vice President of Revenue Jayme is responsible for the Sales, Marketing, Customer Success and overall Go to Market (GTM). Jayme is passionate about ThoughtExchange because the power to engage communities and corporations with the right insight creates momentous change. Prior to ThoughtExchange, he has successfully built and scaled high performance teams by leveraging systems and processes to ensure the customer is at the heart of any decision. Outside of ThoughtExchange, Jayme enjoys the outdoors with his wife Tove, their sons Henning and Maro and their two dogs, Caesar and Gertrude. Jayme is active in philanthropic efforts and supports the Strachan Hartley Legacy Foundation where he raises donations for local charities to make a difference in the lives of youth through sport and education.