-By Brooke Halvorsen
At this company, we do things in 4’s and coincidentally, in my first career I spent time on the Canadian National Volleyball team for 4 years. Naturally, I decided to celebrate my 4-month work anniversary at 4FRONT by sharing the similarities and differences between being a Libero on Team Canada to working as a Manager of Innovation at 4FRONT. Pull up your kneepads because there are some HOT takes ahead.
Statistics About Height
We begin with an Asterix in the DIFFERENCES column. Yes, this was low hanging fruit…
- Mean Height:
- 4FRONT: 5’7”
- Team Canada: 6’1”
- Standard Deviation:
- I am not actually going to try to quantify this, but the national team fell within a neat bucket of 5’7” to 6’5” (I was on the low end of that range coming in at a whopping 5’10”… with court shoes on). Whereas 4FRONT is much more concentrated around the mean, but man are there some outliers. The new guy who I will not mention by name to protect his privacy is 6’8” (His name is Alex and he is from Portland)!
I am going to cross my fingers on this one and say that I HOPE this goes into the DIFFERENCES column. In every tryout, every fitness test, every week, every day, every practice and every injury there was a chance that myself or my faithful Team Canada colleagues could be out of a job. I would imagine that this is true for all high-level sports teams and athletes. It comes with the extreme privilege of being able to train and compete in the sport one loves and call it a living. I still loved it.
I mean, I have only been at 4FRONT for 4 months, so I have not had my first performance evaluation yet but, Brian if you are reading this, I would really love to keep my spot on the team! In all seriousness, 4FRONTers tend to thrive for years on end which is a true testament to the people, culture, snacks and great partners that make coming to the office every day so amazing.
I could write a book. Looking back on it now, I think I was in treatment every single week that I dawned the maple leaf. Most weeks I would go to physiotherapy more than once. From epic bumps and bruises as a result of nonstop diving around on hardwood floor and getting hit with volleyballs going 100 miles per hour, to two trips to the surgeon’s table for blown out knees, it was intense!
In 4-months at 4FRONT, I have endured only ONE injury and witnessed two others: Two skinned and bloody knees and one strained wrist all from our Chicago office Olympic dodgeball tournament of course.
*As an aside, competitive nature goes into the SIMILARITIES column.
DIFFERENT. The office dress code at 4FRONT is #SportsBiz casual, or in other words, the kind of business casual that often includes team gear and fresh kicks. That being said, it is still less comfortable than wearing sweatpants and volleyball attire 24/7. However, 4FRONT does smell 400% better than my former place of employment… (has anyone smelled a kneepad?!).
SO, SO SIMILAR. Passion, integrity, leadership, humility, determination, comradery, empathy, generosity. The list goes on and on. It is for that reason I felt at home right away at 4FRONT. My new colleagues, like my old teammates, are amazing and are a tribe that I feel 4TUNATE to be associated with (nailed it). They have my back in every situation whether personal or professional; everyone is passionately working toward a single common, aspirational goal; I am pushed outside my comfort zone and challenged to reach my personal best on a daily basis; we laugh together and cry together (from all the laughter); and we share one of a kind, remember-for-life level experiences together.
As an added bonus, just as Team Canada is selective in choosing the best athletes, 4FRONT consistently brings on only the best of the best client partners. Each of our partners share a very similar set of values and are just downright fun to interact with on a daily basis. I am even beginning to think of them as my extended family (but the side of the family that you really like and actually want to go bowling with). #blessed
Culture for Celebrating and Learning from Failure
This may be the toughest comparison to assign a category to. With volleyball, as with other sports, the goal is to win. Flat out, when you are competing at that level you are paid to put up W’s. Losses and poor performance were always hard to swallow, but rest assured there was game tape, stats, sports psychologists, meetings and next practices to iron out the kinks and return to the court stronger than you left it. So yes, we did learn from our mistakes, but the appetite for failure WAS NOT there.
At 4FRONT, the first thing that people see when walking into the office in Chicago is a wall with photos and captions celebrating EPIC failures (…the Win Wall is right next to it as well). This is NEXT level. The appetite for failure and constant learning/growth gives 4FRONTers the freedom to break outside of the box, think differently and above all else, be relentlessly innovative. Without epic failures, there wouldn’t be any game changing, out of the ballpark, sixpack wins. So with that, I would have to say that owning a culture that not only learns from failures but celebrates them goes to 4FRONT!
*sixpack is a volleyball term for spiking the volleyball square in the middle of an opponent’s face
Transitioning away from sport and into professional life is no easy feat. Similarities and differences aside, I cannot think of a better group of people to be able to call my new TEAMMATES.