Learn fast, get sh*t done and be cool: How Hawke Media maintained its culture during hyper-growth

Written by John Siegel
Published on Oct. 25, 2017
Learn fast, get sh*t done and be cool: How Hawke Media maintained its culture during hyper-growth

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The first few years for most businesses are often filled with trial and error. But as startups come and go, one Santa Monica company has found a way to soar, while still maintaining a culture that emphasizes working hard, and — of course — playing hard.

Since launching in 2014, Hawke Media has grown from seven to 120 employees, adding customers like Red Bull, Verizon Wireless and HP along the way. Though that sort of breakneck, entrepreneurial success might sound like a dream, every new hire can move company culture in one direction or another. 

But somehow, the cohesion the team had when it was only seven strong didn’t dissipate as the company grew 17-fold.

How did they do it?

“One thing that our COO [Tony Delmercado] really preaches is to hire people you can work with and enjoy doing so,” said Marissa Jimenez, director of email marketing. “Aside from your skills and, obviously, how they pertain to the job, it's really getting a sense of people that have the same attitude and want to really put their best foot forward. At the end of the day, it's really special when you can come to a place and you know that you're going to get along with the people that you're spending so much time with."

A group of people who all get along is a nice bedrock for a company to have, but when it comes down to it, that team also has to have the ability to get things done. For Hawke Media, their month-to-month, à la carte “outsourced CMO” service means that multiple teams have to work together and provide results. 

“There's definitely a lot that brings you together when you're working really hard,” Jimenez said. “It can be tough to keep up, but when you do, there's this great sense of pride. It’s just really nice to work with people whom you can trust — and go celebrate wins with.”

Aside from emphasizing the right fits for the company culture, Hawke Media tasks its employees with adhering closely to three core values.

“There’s a neon sign on the wall that reminds us every day: learn quickly, get shit done and be cool,” Jimenez said. “It’s the digital space, after all, so it's always changing and you need to learn fast in order to keep up. We’ve got clients who have a lot of deliverables, so setting expectations and hitting your mark is crucial to everyone’s job. ‘Be cool,’ doesn’t just refer to being a nice person — it also means you have to keep a level head throughout the day. Be solution-oriented and figure out how you can learn from whatever mistakes you might have made.” 

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Jimenez, who has been with the company since the early days, said the importance of learning fast is something she can attest to.

“I started out on a trial period doing a little bit of email marketing and influencer marketing,” she said. “I didn't have much email digital marketing experience behind me, but the team was so supportive that I was able to stay afloat. There has been a lot of change since then, but the opportunity for learning and for growth has been super valuable.”

Located just a few blocks from the 3rd Street Promenade and the Santa Monica Pier, the company's prime Santa Monica location adds another dimension to the workplace chemistry Hawke Media has worked so hard to create.

“We have a really unique environment here,” said Jimenez. “A lot of people are genuinely friends, and I've made a lot of really strong friendships here. And we hang out after work, or on our breaks at work, or on the weekends. And it really seems more like a family than just my co-workers, which is something that I don't think I've ever experienced in another job.” 


Images via Hawke Media.

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