Working at AVO

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Please review this document carefully. It’s important.

Thank you for your interest in working at AVO. While we understand you may be eager to jump into the next step, we’d like to take some time to share a bit more about our company, our mission, our culture, and our values. Not only is this an important step in the hiring process, it may be the most important step. Here’s why: 

First, our culture and values define our business, and these qualities live through our people. In order to thrive and create change, it is essential that our people are tightly aligned with our culture and values.

Second, our jobs and the companies for which we work: they’re not just what we do, they are part of our identity. Employment is a two-way street, and as such, we expect you to be as thorough in your evaluation of us as an employer as we will be of you as an employee. Understanding our culture and values is the first step in deciding if AVO is a good fit for you.

This all warrants an important note: The following comes without judgment. 

What do we mean by that? These are just the culture and values which we’ve defined for ourselves. They’re not universally good or bad, right or wrong, but they’re ours. As such, if you don’t feel well-aligned with them, it does not imply that you are a terrible employee, incapable, lazy, bad, stupid, or that you’ll never find a good job; all it means is that AVO might not be the right fit for you, and you will find more success at another company with which you are more compatible.

Working at a company that is a poor culture fit is a miserable experience; you’ll be unhappy, unmotivated, and unsuccessful, and it is very disruptive to the rest of the team. Those who have lived this themselves or experienced it with a colleague can attest to this. So please be honest with yourself in your evaluation.

With all that said, if you read the following and don’t feel it is a good fit, it’s okay. We wish you all the luck in the world and hope you find a company with which you are more compatible.

On the other hand, if you read the following and think, “I’ve found my crew,” then we look forward to hearing from you.

Creating change

We’re living in an amazing time of opportunity and possibility, but we’re also facing many significant challenges that will shape our world and the world for generations to come. It is imperative that we work smarter and collectively to address these important issues; we all have a part in writing our story.

There are many brave individuals working to make the world a better place—providing services for the less fortunate and aid to those in need—but we do not subscribe to the notion that creating positive change is only for those in social work. We all have talents that can be harnessed for good. This does not just mean volunteering services for a non-profit; it means keeping a focus on doing what’s right and best for each other. It means doing work that is in the service of others. It means to give of ourselves towards something bigger than ourselves.

Doing so means designing products that genuinely improve peoples lives, not compromising customer care for short-term gains; it’s developing marketing that helps people make smarter decisions, not ads that manipulate people for profit; it’s making short-term sacrifices for long-term good, not compromising the environment to meet quarterly cost-cutting objectives.

We firmly believe that when we, collectively, focus on creating positive change, we can have a far greater impact than anything one of us can achieve individually, and those who genuinely seek to participate in creating a strong future will grow as they change the world.

Our vision
Our name, AVO, comes from the Latin phrase amor vincit omnia, meaning love conquers all. This is a philosophy that we carry through all of our work as we seek to apply our collective intelligence, passion, and focus on solving important problems.

Our vision is to use our collective intelligence to create a long-lasting positive impact on the world, or as we say, to “do good, better.” In the end, our story is not about our work but rather how we empower others to change the world.

Our values

At AVO, our values are incredibly important, as they help define our culture and our business. While it is neither possible, nor useful, to be so rigid as to list every single possible quality we value, we instead outline our values to serve as the North Star in guiding decisions and actions. This starts with our two core value statements and continues with our six pillars which further define our values: Curiosity, Critical thinking, Caring, Courage, Communication, and Conscientiousness.

Core Value Statements
Our two core value statements are “do good, better,” and “helping people help people.” In a sense, these statements broadly define the “why,” “how,” and “what” of our business. 

“Doing good, better” encompasses two core principles. The first is “doing good.” This means that we should be intentional in creating work that serves a higher purpose and has a positive impact; it should not make long-term compromises for short-term gains. Continuing with the statement, our work should be exemplary. Many seek to give back, and too often, they can cause more harm than good. If we’re working on important problems, it’s imperative that we do not settle for mediocre; we need to do better. Smarter, stronger, faster. More  thoughtful, more intentional, more objective. We can’t just understand the problems themselves; we must also understand the context within which these problems exist, looking beyond surface symptoms to root causes and solutions. We need to be better than those seeking to destroy, and we need to be better to raise the bar for those following with similarly aligned missions.

“Helping people help people” essentially describes what we do: we support clients who are working to create a positive impact. This value guides us in the type of clients we take on—those who are helping the world through their own products and services—and serves as a reminder that as consultants, we work in the service of others. In the end, our story is not about our work but rather how we empower others to change the world.

Value pillars

Curiosity

Desire to learn

  • You have an insatiable desire to learn, discover, and problem solve.
  • You are always exploring, learning, and seeking to understand new topics.

Growth mindset

  • You believe you can master any skill you commit to learning.

Critical thinking

Objectivity

  • You’re able to evaluate information objectively.
  • You understand your biases and how they impact the way you process information.
  • You seek to understand the context within which problems exist to better identify root causes and evaluate solutions.
  • You like breaking down problems into conceptual models.
  • You are open to changing your opinions with new information.

Strategic/Visionary

  • You leverage different perspectives to discover patterns and connections that others don’t.
  • You’re always exploring new, unique ideas to help solve problems.

Caring

Quality/Performance

  • You believe that your work matters and invest your energy accordingly.
  • You care about the quality and outcomes of your work.
  • You deliver exemplary quality work and are intolerant of mediocrity.
  • You consistently raise the bar of excellence for yourself and your peers.
  • You’re slightly obsessive about the details because you believe that details matter.

Hard worker

  • You work hard and fully invest yourself in your work.
  • You enjoy working hard and find ways to learn and challenge yourself through any project.
  • You’re always seeking to improve.

Accountability

  • You hold yourself to a high standard of integrity and accountability.
  • You work well with independence and autonomy.
  • You are uncompromisingly trustworthy.
  • You take responsibility for your actions and don’t pass blame.
  • You make thoughtful decisions despite ambiguity.

Committed

  • You are reliable and demonstrate consistently strong performance.
  • You put the good of the team ahead of yourself.
  • You make your colleagues better.

Conscientiousness

Passionate

  • You are passionate about your work and building something bigger than yourself.
  • You believe that anything is possible and you can make a difference in the world.

Serve others

  • You see your work as a mission, not a job.
  • You always seek to help others and give back first.
  • You value team success over individual success.
  • You make time to help colleagues.

Humility/Humble

  • You’re able to balance your expertise with your limitations and don’t make assumptions.
  • You seek to understand the perspectives of others, including those with whom you disagree.

Integrity

  • You are kind to others, even in the absence of external pressures.
  • You nurture and embrace differing perspectives to make better decisions.
  • You intervene if someone else is being marginalized.
  • You seek to elevate and empower others.
  • You treat people with respect independent of their status or disagreement with you.
  • You do what’s right, even when it’s not easy.

Courage

Challenge status quo

  • You challenge prevailing assumptions and suggest better approaches.
  • You’re always seeking opportunities to help and improve existing systems.
  • You share your opinions and speak up, even when it is uncomfortable to do so.
  • You question actions inconsistent with your values.

Strategic risks

  • You’re willing to take calculated risks.
  • You learn from failure and move forward with new knowledge.

Communication

Simplify complexity

  • You are able to simplify complex concepts into easy to understand models.
  • You are a visual thinker who can communicate complex ideas visually.
  • You understand how the way information is presented impacts how it is received.

Social Q/EQ

  • You have high Social Q/EQ and collaborate well with others.
  • You adapt your communication style to work well with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
  • You seek to understand what others are trying to communicate beyond what they’re able to verbalize.

Respectful

  • You provide candid, timely feedback to colleagues.
  • You are concise and articulate in speech and writing.
  • You listen and seek to understand before reacting.
  • You are known for candor, authenticity, transparency, and being non-political.

Our culture

Culture is incredibly important to the success of any organization. Culture defines the character and personality of an organization—the sum of its values, practices, perspectives, customs, beliefs, interactions, behaviors, and attitudes—but it is also something more than that: culture defines the expectations of the organization as a whole.

Culture of excellence
In a world where too many settle for “good enough,” we hold ourselves to the highest of quality standards. We genuinely believe in the importance and value of our work, and thus, have an obligation to deliver excellence every time, even on the little things.

Culture of transdisciplinarity
Transdisciplinarity lives at the core of what differentiates us from other agencies. Distinct from multidisciplinary work, which contrasts disciplinary perspectives in an additive manner (e.g., a multidisciplinary team may have a strategist, a writer, and a designer who work together, but independently, towards creating a report), transdisciplinarity combines multiple disciplinary perspectives to form a new holistic approach.

While members of a transdisciplinary team may have assigned roles, such as strategist and designer, their work transcends their title and becomes part of the whole. This means that when a strategist is developing a report, they’re simultaneously thinking about design and how the information will be conveyed—both verbally and visually. And when building a report, a designer may evaluate the content and recommend certain information be amended, a copy block gets visualized as a graphic, or that the report is reorganized for greater comprehension and flow. This can only be possible with transdisciplinary work, where our strategists are not only strong thinkers, but also strong writers and designers, and similarly, our designers are elite strategists and writers.

Beyond delivering higher quality work, transdisciplinarity is a key component of innovation and critical thinking. From Leonardo da Vinci to Steve Jobs, many of our world’s most innovative thinkers were some of the world’s best transdisciplinary thinkers. For example, Da Vinci’s explorations in science informed his art, which informed his engineering, which in turn, informed his explorations in science, and so on. Innovation frequently comes from the ability to connect the dots between seemingly unrelated areas and then applying that knowledge to create new models that solve problems.

Culture of learning, exploration, and ideas
Learning and exploration are an incredibly important part of our organization. We often say a consultant’s most valuable skill is their ability to become an expert on any topic in 24 hours. Our work relies on our ability to understand new, complex topics—in both breadth and depth—so we can create better strategies and solutions. Sometimes this means studying the history of an industry in order to understand current trends and the trajectory of said industry, understand the environment within which a product will be used to devise the most effective way to design features, or expanding our minds on a breadth of topics to develop useful connections between seemingly unrelated areas.

We are frequently circulating books, lectures, tutorials, and new ideas. On a given day at the office, you’ll often find whiteboard sessions brainstorming new models to address problems or discussions on the intersection of business, design, and global health. This type of free-thought and exploration is critical to problem-solving, and it’s a core part of our culture.

Culture of science and art
The behavioral sciences and economics are at the hub of our model, but they are more than just a philosophy, they help define our approach. Whether consulting on behavior change, designing a user interface, or doing research design, we take a highly academic, scientific approach to our work. This requires both forethought, discipline, and attention to detail.

Because of our focus on human behavior, we also have a strong focus on design, particularly as it pertains to the organization and communication of information. While we are not a “design shop,” we are very intentional in leading with design as a communication tool. Whether creating a user interface or writing a 200-page report, the way information is visually conveyed has a huge impact on the way the information is interpreted and understood. While we don’t require that all employees are black belt designers, all employees should be visual thinkers with a good sense of design.

Culture of sophistication
“Wackiness” has become a symbol of creativity and free-thought in the marketing agency space. While we don’t condemn those who subscribe to this practice—there is certainly a need and a place for these types of agencies—it is not us. Where those agencies bring a level of energy and eccentricity, we’re focused on sophistication, intelligence, and precision.

Culture of service and purpose
Whether delivering a launch strategy, sales presentation, trends report, or product usability audit, at the end of the day, we are a service business, supporting our clients and helping to improve the lives of their customers. This is important to understand because it directs how we interact with our clients: we are here to help and aid in their success. Sometimes this means providing manpower to complete an assignment. Other times it means providing the honest feedback that they may not want to hear. And it often means spending months on projects only to stand behind the curtain while others are applauded for our work. It’s what we do; our job is bigger than any one project, it is to help empower others to change the world for the better.

Our team

The types of people we hire:

  • Individuals who are fast learners
  • Individuals who can think objectively
  • Individuals who are visual thinkers
  • Individuals who are critical thinkers
  • Individuals who are analytical
  • Individuals who are conceptual thinkers and develop models
  • Individuals who are problem solvers
  • Individuals who excel at communicating complex ideas
  • Individuals who are doers
  • Individuals who are the best at their disciplines

Are you aligned with our values?

Curiosity

  • Do you possess an insatiable curiosity and an obsessive compulsion to learn?
  • Do you get pumped by little discoveries (e.g., creating an awesome new formula in Excel)?
  • Do you teach yourselves new things for fun, like how to code, graphic design, photography, or advanced Excel?
  • Are you a tinkerer who has to get your hands on the latest gadgets?
  • Do you love to learn, read, and watch tutorials and documentaries?
  • Do you acquire more books than you’ll ever be able to read in a lifetime?

Critical thinking

  • Are you a person who values “doing what’s right” above “being right?”
  • Are you able to view the world with a degree of objectivity that most don’t?
  • Are you a skeptic (and not a cynic)?
  • Do you change your mind when new perspectives become available?
  • Are you open to being wrong?

Caring

  • Do you have exceedingly high expectations for yourself and others?
  • Do you always overdeliver and go the extra mile?
  • Are you constantly frustrated by the pervasive poor quality of work you see and how no one seems to care?
  • Are you the person who carries your team?
  • Are you constantly seeking to improve?
  • Does it bother you if images in a presentation are misaligned, even if it’s just an internal presentation?
  • Were you the overachiever who took all of your your school projects to the next level?
  • Are you the person who stays late to help your peers finish their work?
  • Do you live your values?

Conscientiousness

  • Do you have a drive to make a tangible difference in the world?
  • Do you believe that what you do matters?
  • Do you believe that you can do anything you set your mind to?

Courage

  • Are you comfortable speaking up and explaining your view when you disagree?
  • Are you unafraid to take risks in order to do what is right?
  • Are you willing to standup to authority when you believe they are making a mistake?

Communication

  • Do you work well with others, as well as by yourself?
  • Are you a visual thinker, able to express complex ideas and concepts visually?
  • Do you feel you have an intuition (or learned acuity) for understanding people, behaviors, and trends?
  • Do you have a unique ability to simplify complex ideas in a way that makes them easy to understand?
  • Do others seek out your advice? And do you seek out the advice of others?
  • Do you believe that the way something is presented can alter the way that information is received?
  • Do you get annoyed when data visualizations have inaccurate or meaningless relationships?
  • Do you think about how the “receiver” will interpret a message when creating a communication?

 

Who isn’t the right fit?

  • You are a weekend worrier, trying to get everything done ASAP so you can maximize your social life.
  • You place great personal value in knowing more than others.
  • You love feeling like the smartest person in the room.
  • You excelled in classes you loved but slid by in classes you hated.
  • You want an eccentric or wacky work environment.
  • You want a work environment with video games, ping pong, and kegerators.

Our hiring process

We understand that applying for a new job can be stressful, strenuous, and time-consuming. For that reason, we want to be as transparent as possible about our hiring process. This process helps ensure that we hire the best team members that will thrive and help our team succeed.

Step 1: Application + Survey

Applications will be reviewed for skill requirements and organizational alignment. After applying, select applicants will be asked to submit a brief survey so we can learn more about them and better evaluate how they align with our values and culture.

Step 2: Phone interview

Based on survey responses, we will conduct phone interviews with select applicants. The purpose of the interview is to make an introduction, learn more about the applicant, explain the remainder of the hiring process, and set expectations for the role, including requirements, responsibilities, compensation, and benefits. 

Step 3: In-person interview (Currently virtual)

Select applicants will be asked to come to the office for an initial in-person interview. The purpose of this interview is to learn more about them, their past experience, their future goals, and start to gauge whether they would be a good culture fit. 

Step 4: Case study + Working session (Currently virtual)

Select applicants will be asked to complete a case assignment, which will vary based on the role. Case assignments may include a position paper and/or a case study. Applicant will present the case study and participate in an in-person collaborative work session.

  1. ~1000–word position paper
  2. Case study based on the specific role

Step 5: Screening + Decision

We will check references and conduct other screening, if applicable. A go/no-go decision will be made.