Posted: December 17, 2014
Secret Santa exchanges, homemade baked goods and photo holiday cards are all great ways to celebrate this season of giving. These are all things that you’ll find at the VisionPoint office during the month of December. However, this year’s festivities came with an unexpected gift from two thoughtful and creative VisionPointers.
Our annual holiday party took place at Diane’s house. All of our VisionPoint team members and their loved ones gathered to enjoy some delicious food, partake in holiday crafts and of course take a few (or maybe more than a few) goofy pictures.
The highlight of the evening for me was a surprise gift from Dwight and Zac, who presented the outcomes of a top secret project they'd been working on over the past few weeks. Dwight and Zac celebrated the holiday by recognizing each VisionPointer with a namesake that reflects not only their job (i.e. what they do for our company), but their role on the team and what they really mean in the grand scheme of things.
As a company that's never been too hung up on job titles, I loved this sentiment because here at VisionPoint, we genuinely enjoy working together. And Dwight and Zac hit the nail on the head by describing the unique value that each one of us brings to the team.
Diane (President & CEO) - Alpha
Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals, Alpha has a value of 1. But in today’s English, Alpha is used as a symbol of âthe beginningâ or first in a series, and in zoology, Alpha is used to denote the dominate wolf in a pack.
A wise person once said "The strength of the wolf is the Pack", recognizing that each individual wolf brings value. But what makes the pack a successful unit is the leader’s ability to bring everyone together as a stronger united front.
Anyone who knows Diane has heard her say that the best part of her job is the people (her pack). Diane Kuehn is our chief, our commander, the leader of the pack. She’s strong and confident, a hard worker and extremely productive. She’s an intellectual problem-solver. But more than that, she’s also motherly, never forceful and rarely angry. She’s our protector and provider and a symbol of strength and patience to us all.
Diane is the protector of her pack and thus, she’s our "Alpha."
Here at VisionPoint, we're all empowered to do our jobs and do them well. We’re all good at what we do. And we show it. No one’s more proud of the successes of individual team members than Tony Poillucci. Anyone who’s ever traveled with Tony knows how much he likes to brag about his colleagues. But even though we’re all good at our jobs, nothing we do here is because of one individual’s success. There are times when even the most capable VisionPointer needs to bring out the big guns...times when we need to EXCEED expectations and really bring the heat. It’s during those times-- an uncomfortable conversation, that big pitch or a conference keynote --those are the times when we bring in "The Ringer."
One of the reasons Tony has become The Ringer in our company is because of he’s constantly seeking perfection. In fact, we knew that whatever title we gave to Tony would not be good enough! And, like he's done several times over the past few years, he'd take it upon himselfe to change it. Thus, we came prepared with several alternative titles to get him started: Head Coach, Maestro, Our Made Man, Skipper, the list goes on....
Gail (Executive Assistant & Office Manager) - First Sergeant
In military terms, the First Sergeant is the life-blood of an Army. There can be no substitute of this position nor any question of its importance. When First Sergeants are exceptional, their units are exceptional, regardless of any other single personality involved. The First Sergeant holds formations, instructs Platoon Sergeants, advises the Commander, and assists in training of all enlisted members.
Even when certain elements of her job go unnoticed by the rest of us, Gail Knoles works tirelessly to make sure everything she does is completed with perfection. Whether its payroll, taxes, finances, HR, certifications, supplies, the list goes on. Gail's diligence and commitment to professionalism is the life-blood of our company and that's why we bestow upon Gail the title of "First Sergeant."
Matt (Account Director & Content Strategist) - The Good Cop
Anyone who’s seen ANY cops and robbers movie (or Law and Order) knows the Good Cop/Bad Cop routine. One wears you down, and the other gets you on their side by demonstrating patience, empathy, kindness and consideration. Matt Walters is the essential good cop. No matter the situation, the feedback we always hear about Matt is, âhe’s such a nice guy!â He’s always quick with a compliment (an insightful one at that). More than anyone else we know, Matt lives his life with the motive of making the world around him a better place, and the people who interact with him happier people. Whenever we want to let anyone know just how much we care, we show them the nicest guy we know. We bring in Matt, "The Good Cop."
Carissa (Account Manager) - Silent Assassin
An assassin gives their life to eliminating adversaries. Those adversaries are often political targets or rogue agents â but for this VisionPointer, those adversaries are website redesign projects. Silently, and without warning, website projects are eliminated, without abandon, before our very eyes.
Don’t let her smile fool you, Carissa Niederkorn is our "Silent Assassin."
Clara (Account Manager) - The Charmer
Clara MacDonald was born and bred in the south and is always quick to let you know it. Constantly aware of the subtle nuances of society, she's a shining example of southern hospitality and even brings a certain nurturingâalmost motherlyâapproach to her work. But what really sets Clara apart from others is her uncanny ability to get people on her side (because she’s just SUCH a sweetheart)! With every new relationship, every new challenge, every new project...Clara demonstrates her southern charm (like the true aristocrat she is). It’s for these reasons that we bestow upon Clara the title of "The Charmer."
Tara (Project Manager) - The Steel Curtain
In the 1970’s, the front-four of the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line was given the nickname âThe Steel Curtainâ because they were the BACKBONE of a Steelers football dynasty which won 4 super bowls in 6 years. The Steelers were so good that in 1976 the team recorded five shutouts, allowed only two touchdowns and five field goals (for an average of 3.1 points per game) over 9 games. The Steelers let NOTHING get past them!
If that sounds familiar, it's because Tara Hardy doesn't let anything past her either. And thus, we bestow the title of "The Steel Curtain."
Jason (Project Manager) - First Mate
If anyone’s ever watched Gilligan’s Island you know that Gilligan is the First Mate. It’s worth pointing out that Gilligan is affectionately referred to by the Skipper as âLittle Buddy.â That’s because Gilligan does what he’s told. Not that Jason is a bumbling fool âhe’s actually quite the opposite âbut the moniker of First Mate means that he’s loyal to his Skipper and crew and does whatever is necessary to reach the shore. And if disaster did ever strike, he’s prepared to go down with his ship. That’s why Jason is our "First Mate."
Micaiah (Project Manager) - The Natural
In 1984, Robert Redford starred in a movie called The Natural. Some of you may have seen it. In the story, which is an American Classic, an unknown talent played by Redford comes out of seemingly nowhere to become a legendary baseball player with almost divine talent. He joins a team on the cusp of something great, and together they go on to win the pennant. What’s interesting about this character is he makes it all look easy...he’s a natural.
Micaiah Norby joined our team about 6 months ago and quickly (and naturally) assimilated herself into leadership roles on several client teams. Not only has she proven herself a natural fit for the role of Project Manager, she’s begun to show signs of divine talent in other areas too. She’s prompt, always on time, an expert communicator, organized, funny and unafraid to swing for the fences. Micaiah, that’s why we’re calling you "The Natural."
Justin (Integrated Marketing Strategist) - The Protege
VisionPoint Marketing celebrated its 10 year anniversary in 2011. At the time, Justin Herberger was a lowly intern soon to graduate from Appalachian State. Back then he was lovingly called "The Awkward Turtle Intern," a name he probably hoped he’d never hear again (sorry, Justin).
But the truth is, what Justin has become in 3 years is the most remarkable evolution we’ve ever seen another human being make. Not everyone realizes that Justin is doing a job that’s typically performed by someone at least twice his age and with 1.5 times his experience. Justin knows more about integrated marketing strategy and execution than anyone in the business, and without him and the services that he can provide, we’d be a dramatically different company. Justin is a shining example of a true student of his craft. We say in our VisionPoints that knowledge is both given and received, and NOBODY practices this tenant better than Justin which is why we bestow upon him the title of "The Protege."
Caroline (Digital Marketing Specialist) - Mountain Climber
In mountain climbing there are times where there are no handholds in reach. The novice mountain climber may give up, but an advanced climber will make a leap across the empty void to the next distant handhold â a moved referred to as "a dyno." Anything less than complete commitment and this move will fail, and the climber will fall.
Sometimes at VisionPoint, we need someone who is willing to make that leap, and simply BELIEVE that they will make it to that hand hold. Even dating back to her time as an intern, Caroline has taken on new and unknown tasks by storm and made them her own. She had faith that she would make that hand hold, and find her way to the top. Thus, we bestow upon Caroline the title of "Mountain Climber."
Nosika (Director of Technology) - Defense Secretary
As any Account Manager knows, scope creep is a budget’s kryptonite. It can take a successful and profitable project by storm and wrap up so many hours that our great-great grandchildren will be inheriting QA items.
Then, along came our saviorâequipped with functional requirementsâto defend our projects against this nasty predator. Nosika Fisher's role in defense doesn’t stop with scope creep. She also guides her husband (see her coffee mug), and daughter against the cold and flu. Because of all these things, we exalt Nosika by awarding the well-earned title of "Defense Secretary."
Chris (Web Engineer) - Shapes and Colors Consultant
Most of you will know Chris Francart by his official role as a Web Engineer. But did you know that Chris is also a civil engineer? That’s right, before devoting his life to website architecture and full-stack development, Chris designed and built roads and residential subdivisions.
Anyone who’s ever worked with Chris knows how much he loves shapes and colors. In fact, he’s at his best when he’s consulting with clients to recommend the best shapes and the best colors to put on their sitemaps. Not to be confused with Chris’s complementary position as the office’s head of duties âor duty headâ we hereby name Chris our "Shapes and Colors Consultant."
Steven (Web Developer) - Southpaw
In boxing terminology, a left-handed fighter is referred to as a Southpaw. It’s considered unorthodox because to a ânormalâ fighter, a Southpaw’s punches come from the wrong side. Just when we thought we all knew Steven...he hit us with a left hook. For example, in addition to a budding developer, Steven is a pianist, a writer, holds a degree in psychology and even played D1 football in college. A true renaissance man. Because he brings so much more than can be expected, we affectionately bestow the title "Southpaw."
As you can see, Zac and Dwight put a lot of thought into this very special gift for the team. It seemed only fitting that we return the favor by coming up with new titles for the two of them. Matt and Tony took the liberty of crafting a description for two of our most seasoned VisionPointers.
Zachary Henderson (Business Development Manager) - Heartbeat
Ask any medical professional, and they'll tell you that the most important indicator of life is a pulse. A pulse is vibrant, warm, familiar, reassuring, effortless and above all, constant. In good times, the pulse simply beats on, quickening and slowing as the body needs, unnoticed and usually unpraised by the members whose very life it symbolizes and sustains. In hard times, it becomes almost all that matters.
Since joining the VisionPoint team, Zac Henderson has been our pulse. His warmth, energy and encouragement have sustained us from our core. He quickens his pace to support us when we need him, slows down to listen when the moment calls for steady presence. He beats on without a thought for praise or recognition, understanding his purpose to be inextricably linked to the teammates for whom his presence is so vital. That's why we're thrilled to award Zac the new title, "The Heartbeat."
Dwight McKnight (User Experience Specialist) - The Motor
A company is a lot like a beautiful car. There's a lot to be said for those elements that catch your eye, like the paint scheme, the body detail, the wheels or the interior. Ironically, though, it's what you DON'T initially see that makes the car go: the engine.
It's no overstatement to say that there is almost no aspect of our Website Design and Development process that doesn't invove Dwight McKnight. He's an information architect, a designer, a usability expert and an outstanding strategist in his own right. When Dwight's pistons are pumping, we not only surge forward, we become what we were always designed to be. Without him, no matter how great we look, it'd be darn near impossible for us to go anywhere at all. That's why we are very affectionately appointing Dwight as "The Motor."
Maybe the gifts we give at VisionPoint are a little goofy and don’t always come in a box. When it comes down to it, it really is the thought that counts and a lot of thought and dedication goes into what we do every single day.
From everyone here at Visionpoint, we hope you have a wonderful holiday and we wish you all the best in the new year!