If redpepper has one thing going for it, it’s culture. It’s no secret that the quality of work going out the door is top notch and the office space is pretty rad, but the culture that floats around these parts is the glue that keeps it all together. It’s not just the icing on the cake; it is the cake.

It’s a growing trend for creative agencies, tech companies and startups to bellow from the rooftops about how much they value culture and how great theirs is. You could be forgiven for thinking all of these places seem like their own version of Disney World, expertly curated to meet all your modern work/leisure needs, but let’s get real here: a keg doesn’t equate to culture. A “games room” doesn’t give your company personality. Catered lunch doesn’t define your values. Sure, these are great perks, some of which we are lucky enough to have at redpepper, but these things alone do not — and never will—constitute company culture.

The secret to our positive company culture is in how we communicate, not just with the guy sitting at the next desk, but across the entire agency. Weekly Alignment is one of the cornerstones of redpepper life, and the key to communication throughout the company. Every Monday afternoon at 4:15, we all get together and highlight the accomplishments of the previous week, giving shoutouts to the folks responsible, and point to the work coming up in the week ahead. This might seem like no big deal, but if you’ve had your head buried in a single project for a whole week, it’s nice to know what everyone has been doing and what work is coming in the door. This defines redpepper’s culture by establishing a clear, welcoming, and open line of communication throughout the company, and keeps everyone on the same page. From the people who crunch the numbers to the creative team, a clear thread of transparency and trust running through the agency helps us maintain a positive working environment.

Slack is used by millions of teams worldwide, but how many of them have a channel called The Appreciation Station? Having a place where we can all give each other a shoutout for doing great work and good deeds is a massively positive force in the work place, especially when you get a shoutout and everyone starts reacting with the zap emoji. ⚡️⚡️⚡️ (Even the coldest of hearts must feel something after a couple of those.) redpepper’s positive and inclusive team environment is dependent upon giving credit where credit is due and being encouraging to one another. They say it’s the little things that count, and this is one of them. Giving someone a tiny tip of the cap can really have a massive impact on their self esteem, their work, and in the end, positive company culture. Don’t get me wrong — this isn’t about going around telling each other we’re great 24/7, but having an outlet where you can make someone’s or everyone’s day a big bit brighter with a quick sentence is pretty special.

redpepper has built one of the most creative, supportive and empowering teams I have ever been part of. It’s how these people shape the space around them that makes this company so special, not the beer on tap or the indoor putting green. Anyone can buy beer on tap, but very few companies can nurture true culture the way these folks do.

So, if you come to redpepper from the Vanderbilt intern program or you come as a recent graduate, come with eyes wide open and ears perked up. Maybe you’ll discover the advertising agency world isn’t for you, and that’s totally cool. If you take anything away from your time at redpepper, take away the culture. Take it to your next gig and the gig after that. With every opportunity you are given in your career, you have the chance to be an agent for change. I doubt many places beat to a similar drum as redpepper, so if you like what you hear, take that drum and make sure it gets heard wherever you go. People will thank you for it.

Blair McMillan, tech intern, Glasgow, Scotland. Find me on the socials @yourweepal

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