Drinking the Cultural Kool-Aid
Guest Blog by ELP Student Jonah Erlich – Computer Science – College of Engineering – Class of 2020
Obsessed with finding a better way.
The inches we need are everywhere around us.
Numbers and money follow; they do not lead.
The above are a few examples of the Quicken Loans and Family of Companies (FOC) –ISMs in Action. These -isms are the foundation of Quicken’s culture and are defined on the company website as, “The ideals we live by at Quicken Loans and at every one of our family of companies. They have a lot more to do with who we are than what we do.”
This summer, I am fortunate enough to split my time as an intern between Rocket Fiber, a fiber internet company providing gigabit speeds, and Quicken Loans, a leader in the mortgage lending industry. Rocket Fiber is among over 100 companies within the FOC and benefits from shared resources, community, and, most importantly, culture.
When I began my internship, I was wary of becoming over engrossed in the FOC culture. I was concerned it would cloud my decision-making and turn me into a corporate drone. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
At the beginning of my internship, I got a copy of Quicken’s -ISMs book. This book serves an introduction to Quicken’s -ISMs with descriptions and examples. As I read, I felt as if I could relate to their -isms. The stories in the book made me think of events in my own life. However, I still felt as if I should be cautious not to be too wrapped up in -isms and the Quicken Culture.
Quicken’s devotion to its -isms is clear from the start. In fact, every employee and intern is “cordially required” to participate in -ISMs Day; an eight-hour experience (four hours for interns) dedicated to teaching the Quicken Loans -ISMs. My -ISMs Day was in the Gem Theatre, packed with interns excited and curious for the events of the day. -ISMs Day is a combination of a TED talk, rock concert, and stand-up comedy show hosted by Quicken Loans Chairman and Founder, Dan Gilbert. Dan spent the day telling stories from his careers with pictures and videos to explain each of Quicken’s -ISMs.
As the summer went on, I started to understand the value of -isms. My team members, team leaders, and mentors used the -isms in daily life. An example of this occurred in a team meeting. A fellow intern brought up an idea that initially seemed ridiculous. I immediately shot it down, but was reminded by my team members of the -ism “Yes before no.” This -ism is about approaching things with curiosity and to always say “yes” to exploring an idea. After a clearer explanation of my team member’s idea, I realized it was an incredible solution and quickly became an advocate.
Soon, I began noticing -isms in my daily life and applied them to my work. For example, I was developing a Rocket Fiber sales guide to help us onboard new team members as we scale. After hours spent working on it, I had a nearly finished quality product. Although it wasn’t perfect, I had to “take the roast out of the oven.” This -ism is associated with recognizing something is good enough, sending it out into the world, and moving on.
I am now a proud supporter of -isms. My initial concerns have been replaced with an understanding of the value of strong culture. In fact, a great -ism for this situation is “You’ll see it when you believe it,” which argues believing in something comes before seeing it, contrary to the popular idiom of “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Culture doesn’t define who you are as an individual, but what your company is as an organization, and, what leads you to success in working with your teammates. Embrace company culture. Drink the Kool-Aid.