When I started Imagine more than 15 years ago, I had four principles that I used to define what success is.
- It had to enable me to grow - professionally, financially and personally.
- It had to be a place where its employees could grow - professionally, financially and personally.
- It had to make a mark by impacting the businesses we worked with, enabling them to become better by positively impacting their investors, employees and customers.
- The community around us must become better off because we were there.
I’ve used these principles to guide just about every decision I’ve made since we started. While certainly there have been days (and weeks and months) where I’m sure I could have done better, it is directly responsible for many of the non-typical things we’ve done:
- When I started the business (and everyone was located in one office) a requirement for employees was to “donate” a day of the month to the community, whether that was volunteering at a child’s school, leading a community Meals on Wheels, dedicating multiple days to build houses in Annapolis for Habitat for Humanity, and/or many other areas of contribution. Since we became remote, we no longer require that day. We do continue to provide the flexibility for such contribution and one of the key criteria we look for when hiring is people who look to contribute to things bigger than themselves.
- We’ve never counted hours or limited time off, believing that the people at Imagine would be the ones who best know how to spend their time. While this is nearly trite today, we’ve had this policy since 2004.
- From day 1, we’ve provided fully paid health insurance for every full-time and non-dependent part-time employee.
- A few years ago, when two of our employees became expectant parents, we made the decision to provide parental leave. (We even sent a cleaning crew to their houses a couple of times so they’d have a bit more time to relax, and maybe catch a nap.)
I’ve always believed in the importance of corporate culture, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize the role values play in defining that culture, and, more importantly, what it means to live by those values. Years ago I read an article by Jim Collins, author of Built to Last and Good to Great where he wrote that values are those beliefs you live by, even when it’s a disadvantage to do so. He wrote (and I’m paraphrasing here) “If you claim innovation is a value and you only innovate when it benefits you, it’s not a value - it’s a tactic.”
It’s for this reason that we have decided that, until their policies change, Imagine will no longer participate or support Facebook (or Instagram & WhatsApp). This includes:
- We will be suspending the Sales Genius Network Facebook Group
- We will no longer post any updates from Imagine to individual, group or company pages
- We will delink Facebook accounts from business assets
- We will not implement any paid or non-paid campaigns on the behalf of clients
- I, personally, will no longer log on to Facebook
Make no mistake, this is going to hurt a bit. The Sales Genius Network is the biggest initiative for us in 2019 and we had quite a plan to build the group on Facebook. We realize we’re going to lose some revenue opportunities and may even be unable to work with some clients because of our unwillingness to support Facebook campaigns.
Personally, I’ll miss being on Facebook (and I’ll really miss it). I’ve been on Facebook for 12 years and in that time I’ve rekindled friendships with people who I haven’t communicated with in decades (including seeing two friends that I hadn’t talked to since I was at summer camp - oh yeah, I also got to see one of the first Tesla Roadsters when we got together). I’m active within several groups within Facebook and I’ll miss the opportunity to get the pulse of what’s happening and to contribute to the conversation.
The last few years I’ve seen Facebook go from being a near caricature of the faceless, fake “new industry” company to something much worse. Facebook’s current failure to address issues surrounding data privacy, the role of social media on human psychology and, recently, the news that they do not, and will not, fact check political or issues ads has led me to ask myself with increasing frequency, “How can I still participate on Facebook (let alone generate engagement and revenue for them) when so much of what they do is the antithesis of what I, and I believe those who work at Imagine believe?”
For this reason, until we see Facebook take meaningful action to address these issues, we’ve made the difficult choice to walk away.