Surprise parties and lunch with robot gorillas: How 4 Chicago teams celebrate success

by Michael Hines
May 30, 2018

If you want to better understand the culture of a tech company, look at the way its teams celebrate wins. Whether it’s throwing a surprise party, banging a gong or creating a Slack channel just to share success stories, celebrations provide a great window into what makes a company tick.

We recently took a look through that window, asking employees at four Chicago tech companies about their teams’ most recent wins — and how they celebrated.


dscout Chicago tech company

Companies partner with dscout to gain real-world insights from consumers at scale. These insights are gathered from “scouts”: regular people who share their in-the-moment reactions to services and products via surveys, photos and videos. Director of Success Jaymie Wahlen’s team celebrated one of their last big wins this fall with a surprise lunch that featured animatronic gorillas and faux thunderstorms.


Can you describe a recent win your team had?

During the fourth quarter of 2017, we were working toward the biggest product rollout in our history. It is a total structural redesign of our platform and methodology we were calling Diary 2.0. The customer success team was knee deep in guiding clients through the beta period. We were collaborating with product and engineering to make sure final tweaks and decisions were client-focused and supporting our research participants as they began using our new app and interface. The dscout team successfully launched Diary 2.0 at the start of the new year. The release was a huge improvement for our customers and has ultimately made our team more efficient in delivering support.


How does your team celebrate wins?

As the beta release continued to hang in the balance and the Chicago winter loomed large, I wanted to do something different and surprising. We had often joked about Rainforest Cafe, which is down the street from our office. The team received lunch invitations with the location listed as TBD. As we walked past the Rainforest Cafe, I made a swift right turn for the front doors. When the team realized our destination, their reaction was priceless.

We had a blast sipping on elephant-shaped collector cups and shouting over the periodic “thunderstorms.” Naturally, the conversation landed on childhood birthday parties, so we all took photos together, pretending to be third graders at the best birthday party ever. We'd recently hired four team members, so it was great to continue getting to know each other. There's something about the absurdity of animatronic gorillas that puts people at ease.


Jellyvision Chicago tech company

Jellyvision’s employee communication software is designed to make critical, but often boring, life decisions — think picking out a health insurance or a retirement savings plan — more engaging and fun. Senior marketing manager Jenn Kloc weighed in on one of her team’s biggest recent wins, while HR manager Hibben Rothschild shared how the Jellyvision team celebrates day-to-day victories.


Can you describe a recent win your team had?

Kloc: We just wrapped up a big account-based marketing campaign that was a collaboration between marketing, account management and creative. It's a direct mail piece that contains this whole neat kit centered on a book of HR-themed horror stories, and we're sending it to customers to get them interested in new products. The creative team wrote the stories and designed them like a real young adult novel. We printed the book cover onto a giant sheet cake and bought some fancy drinks, then surprised the creative team with a book signing party.


How does your team celebrate wins?

Rothschild: We love to have fun and try to incorporate humor into everything we do, especially celebrations. For example, two members of our marketing team were recently promoted, so the team and folks from other departments they regularly work with headed out early for food, drinks and games. The sales team has a few Slack channels to celebrate wins, and there’s one channel for our business development reps to post every meeting they set with a little story about how they got it. Their teammates congratulate them with gifs and emoji. Our account executives have a similar channel where they post the deals they close, tell the stories behind them and give props to the folks who helped.


Label Insight Chicago tech company

Label Insight helps manufacturers and retailers in the food industry provide increased transparency to consumers. The company’s big data platform captures and sorts product data, letting shoppers know if those products contain allergens, meet certain dietary restrictions, contain ingredients that were ethically sourced and more. Jamie Mayer, food and beverage data analyst, said the most recent big win the team celebrated actually didn’t have anything to do with the business.


Can you describe a recent win your team had?

We’re fortunate to have a close-knit team that feels like family, and a culture that celebrates personal wins as much as our business wins. This month we think it’s a huge win to grow the Label Insight family by two!


How does your team celebrate wins?

We threw a surprise baby shower for our two expectant moms earlier this month to celebrate our growing Label Insight family. The entire company rallied around our moms-to-be, showering them with gifts and desserts.


Punchkick Interactive Chicago mobile development firm

Punchkick Interactive works with companies to develop mobile strategies, apps and responsive websites. Its clients include Harley-Davidson, Allstate and Marriott. According to account principal Connor Mason, all major team success are celebrated as a company in an effort to spark conversations and increase the spread of new ideas.


How does your team celebrate wins?

When we have a big win, it’s always the result of hard work on the part of a huge number of team members. It’s really important to us that everyone in the company gets to share in the excitement and know how much their contributions toward our common goals are appreciated by the whole team.

We dedicate a company-wide huddle to celebrating every major success. This way, everyone who contributed in any way to a success can showcase their hard work, and others who might be seeing the work for the first time can be inspired and spark new conversations. Plus, we’ll frequently record a short video of our entire team cheering a win to share with new clients. We want to make sure their teams feel just as excited as we do.


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