Giving back has always been in Next Jump’s DNA. I could rattle off everything we have done, but the why, and, how giving back became integrated into our culture, is the more interesting story to share.
It starts with our CEO, Charlie Kim. As a young child, he moved around a lot, however, lived in Nigeria for a period of time. The fruit was terrible there, and one day, he saw his mother, painfully saving the best mango pits and seeds from other fruits, and planting them in their backyard. Excited for the opportunity to be smarter than his mom, he went up to her and said, “Mom, don’t you know that trees take YEARS to grow. We aren’t going to be here for very long… why are you doing this?” His Mom answered with such a simple statement: “because it’s the right thing to do”. As it turns out, Charlie and his family lived in Nigeria for 17 years, and ended up having the best fruit in the community, which they would share for miles around. (read more about this in a Huffington Post article)
This small message stayed with Charlie, and has helped us to build our culture at Next Jump – with our guiding North Star – to build a company that would make your mother and father proud. We want to do the little things, that help others do the great things in their lives – more simply put, Better Me + Better You = Better Us.
We are strong believers that you cannot help others until you, yourself are strong. However, once your cup is overflowing… let it spill onto others (versus upgrading to a larger cup). And as your cup overflows again, you can give back bigger and better each time. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do.
Giving back is not innate in most people, or public companies. Most upgrade to a larger cup. However, helping others has been instilled in Next Jumpers as part of our Better Me “PEMS” framework, which is our framework to invest in each employee.
It starts with building a strong Physical foundation. As you move up the pyramid through Emotional, Mental, you get to Spirtual on top – the latter, to have a greater purpose in life, and feel fulfilled. Some may say this sounds “religious” or “cult-ish”.
For the cynics out there, allow me, for a minute, to clarify, using our own business, and myself as an example. I work on our Sales and Marketing team. Every day I come to work, and want to build the best advertising campaigns for my clients. Sometimes I get short term fulfillment from closing a great contract, saving money for our customers, and growing our clients’ profits. But, short term fulfillment doesn’t make you happy, or keep you at a company for a very long time.
At Next Jump we realized this years ago when we invested heavily in recruiting the top engineers from school across the East Coast. We have a gym, ping pong tables, serve healthy food, do laundry, have happy hour every Friday…but people were still leaving. In fact, our turnover was 40%. Today, turnover is in the single digits. How did this change? We can trace it back to the investment in individuals (Better Me), plus the integration of programs to allow them to help others around them, and then the greater community, giving them a higher sense of fulfillment in life. We have programs such as Code For A Cause, Forgotten Ones, OO.com, and even Adopt a Charity.
In 2014, Next Jump was recognized by a group of Harvard Professors and an organization, Way to Grow, as a Deliberately Developmental Organization (DDO). To learn more about this watch the video here.
When we saw how this investment in Better Me + Better You = Better Us led to transformational change in our people, as well as our business (CAGR growing at 120% over past 2 years), we took a poll on what cause Next Jumpers cared the most about. Almost unanimously, what came back was Children’s Health and Children’s Education.
This leads us to where we are today. As the company has become profitable, we are taking on our largest Giving Back initiative to date: Adopt a Public School.
We want to build a company where you become a better person as result of working here. However, our more audacious goal is to change the world by changing corporate culture.
We want to start a movement. If more employees felt fulfilled in their life, imagine what that would lead to. Similarly, if every corporation adopted a school in the US, 100,000 schools could be adopted…How can all of us, do the little things that help others do great things in their life?
In May of 2015, we have begun to document our process, to create a playbook for other corporations to Adopt a Public School, and to embark on this experience with us.
When you ask Next Jumpers why they work here, you’ll often hear: “ because Next Jump cares about me”.
As Next Jumpers let their cup spill onto others you’ll hear: “I’m a better person as a result of working here”.
Imagine if your employees, your spouse, your family members, could say that? How it would impact the lives of everyone around them?