Building Elix's Corporate Culture
by Daniela Schwartz
Each Sunday in their contemporary office in Ross, California, Elix staff members convene to work diligently on their projects. Ambitious teens shuffle around, collaborating with one another. Ideas are shared amongst the group and from there, thoughtful discussions break loose.
Similar to other thriving companies, Elix functions with strong leadership. The executive team’s confidence is critical for keeping up the morale. During one Sunday meeting, CEO Isabella Liu organized a friendly competition, challenging staff members to find the best way to confirm an interview with a Stanford professor in under ten minutes. The staff was split up into four groups and brainstormed a variety of ways to secure the interview. After ten minutes, the groups shared their plans. The staff voted, and the best idea was used. Competitive group problem solving is a common practice seen in the Elix office. It motivates the staff and results in creative and useful ideas. Following this exercise, for example, Elix was able to get in touch with Russell Siegelman, a professor at Stanford, former venture capitalist, and former VP of Microsoft. Siegelman generously helped the company create their social impact business curriculum.
Walking into the Elix workspace, the maturity and high productivity is immediately evident. The young adults are there to succeed, and age is not a limiting factor. Though the productivity of this teen-run company rivals that any conventional organization, there is a distinct teen spin on the company’s culture.
“I think it’s easy to strive to be just like the standard corporate cultures of America, what’s harder is building a team environment that reflects Elix’s youth and ambition. Tackling this issue with my management team has really boiled down to the way we chose to communicate. In our meetings, we start by talking about meaningful quotes. Rather than emailing, our ‘virtual watercooler’ lives on in our group chats. We play basketball during our lunch breaks and order pizza to regroup. Elix’s culture isn’t that of boss and worker, but instead one of leader and friend. Our culture is what you get when your company is more playful, personal, and purposeful.”
This theme is reflected in Elix employee’s satisfaction with the company as a whole. In a company wide employee survey conducted in May, 75% of Elix employees reported that on a 1-10 scale (10 being “Fully agree”) they felt that their ideas are being heard and considered at a 9 or 10 level. What’s more, over 75% of Elix employees reported that they enjoy working for Elix at a 9 or 10 level.
Perhaps the most telling sign of a healthy work place was this: when asked if they felt motivated and excited when working on Elix, every single employee said “yes.”