Celebrating with Audrey! (And the Story of how Fast Company Failed Me)

Last week, our very own teammate, Audrey Denney, won the right to advance to the general election for California’s 1st District’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Many of us stayed up way too late to watch the California primary election results come in. Of course, there have been rounds of congratulations across our virtual workplace.

Vivayic prides itself on its diversity of thought. That’s how we bring new perspectives to our solutions. Our team is made up of people from many backgrounds, across many states, and from many political perspectives. But there is no question that we are all cheering for Audrey. The Audrey we know is an authentic, caring, brilliant, genuine, hard-working woman who believes in America, lives by her faith, loves her friends, and follows through on anything that she commits to. It was not a surprise that Audrey, who entered the race in January with no name recognition in her district, succeeded in inspiring thousands of people to share in her vision for the future. That’s the kind of leader she is.

Audrey, who entered the race in January with no name recognition in her district, succeeded in inspiring thousands of people to share in her vision for the future. That’s the kind of leader she is.

In fact, I clearly remember the day last fall when she called me and told me that running for Congress was something she wanted to do. My immediate reaction was two-fold, “How brave to put yourself out there.” and “I bet she’ll be successful.” After that call, though, my next thought was, “How will we, the leaders of Vivayic, handle this?”

I’m a voracious reader of Fast Company and Harvard Business Review. I don’t recall a single article with advice for business leaders on how to manage a situation where a valuable member of your team runs for a national political office.

Since Doug, my co-CEO, and I are both educators and not business-school types, we did what we do every time we run into new situations. We lean on our values, our purpose, and our operating principles. We figure out what seems like the right thing to do given who we aspire to be as an organization. Our mentors and friends in the Small Giants community taught us this critical lesson of business leadership, and it’s never failed us.

One of our core values is finding the balance between Excellence and Practicality to ensure a focus on meaningful results. We worked with Audrey to identify the account relationships where her continued involvement was critical to success and which tasks we could shift to other team members. We use agile design thinking in our solution approach and that same approach served us well in this situation. We tried something, we monitored the response, and then we continued to revise plans until we reached a place that was successful for Audrey’s campaigning needs and our need to continue taking care of our clients.

The team was wonderful in supporting Audrey and in shifting assignments to provide her the flexibility needed to campaign and in sharing their love and support

Through it all, we communicated transparently with other team members about our go-forward plans. We hold an operating principle of “Create a Rockstar Culture” and reminded ourselves throughout that we could find a way to make this true. It just might look different than in more typical times. The team was wonderful in supporting Audrey and in shifting assignments to provide her the flexibility needed to campaign and in sharing their love and support. It was a wonderful demonstration of our core values of Initiative and Empathy. I’ve no idea when Audrey had time to sleep. She managed to produce her usual high level of results while going town-to-town and door-to-door to share her ideas for the future and listen to the public’s concerns.

Now that she’s a candidate for the general election, there will be more conversations about how we adapt. And, while I’m still waiting for that article from Fast Company, I’ve full faith in my team to pull together and support Audrey, while ensuring we continue to provide the service and results our clients expect from us.

And, in November, we hope to celebrate in a really big way.

— Seth Derner
Co-Founder and Co-CEO