In today’s lightning-fast consumer-driven economy, organizational loyalty often takes a back seat to bigger paycheques and higher profits. Companies rise and fall; startups are sold. The average lifespan of an S&P Company used to be 60 years in the 1950s, now, it’s down to 20. CEO’s of startups are planning their exits before they even enter the front door. That’s not you; a quick exit doesn’t interest you. Your goal is to grow a business that becomes a legacy of creating leaders all living comfortably. How can your company buck the exit strategy trend and become that rare generational success?

Recently, Dovico celebrated its 26th birthday. An unheard-of age for a tech company not called IBM, Microsoft or Apple. While Dovico may not be as “successful” as those industry giants, success is very subjective.

Dovico’s success does not come from its revenue or its ability to produce record profits. Its success stems from being financially stable gainfully employing and empowering 30 people to be leaders in their lives.

Employee turnover is not frequent with Dovico. Many employees have been with the team for 20 or more years. What keeps Dovico’s staff onboard isn’t big dreams of a big payoff on exit, or glittery job titles and perks. It’s a sense of ownership everyone has when they come to work every day.

At Dovico, team members lead their role in whatever direction they chose -provided it is for the greater good of the team. With this strong culture synergy, anything is possible.

A birthday gift from our CEO

In celebration for Dovico’s birthday, CEO Yves Doucet delivered an inspirational message to the team during our Monday morning Facebook Live meeting. His thoughtful gift of wisdom reminded us that our little company is more than just profits and job titles, its about leading with our hearts and enthusiasm.

Dovico CEO, Yves Doucet poses with our birthday cake.

After 26 years in the time tracking and time management industry, Dovico profoundly understands the value of time. Here are seven points of wisdom from our CEO that serves as the foundation of our company, and are keys to us ageing gracefully:

Find a healthy balance

Your business works much the same way as your body. For it to function at its peak, you should find the balance between cardio, strength and food. We already know how each of those affects the body, but what do they have to do with business?

Cardio – Your energy to move forward comes from having a healthy heart and lungs. The more you use them by exercising and trusting them, the faster you move.

Coming to work every day with a broken heart, filled with blame and excuses makes it impossible to lead and grow. No business can form a lasting legacy if the culture within it doesn’t lead with their best intention. Use your heart often in decision making and your business will flourish.

Strength – As we grow older, our muscles, if not used, will breakdown. Without proper muscles protecting them, our bones will break if we fall. So, as our bodies get older, it’s important to practice strength exercises to maintain muscle mass -and bone density.

When those in a company fail to push their limits and focus on what they do best, they don’t become stronger. A company whose key leaders are feeble will crack the moment when times get tough, and things start to tumble. The older the company gets, the more difficult it can be to recover.

Food – You already know the benefits of a nourishing diet. Eating great food makes you feel energetic and clear-minded. It reduces your urge to be lazy and enables you to open doors in your life that you never thought possible.

With your company, eating great food is like getting an excellent education. Feed the brain! Learning new things inspires everyone and ignites creativity. With an established culture of perpetual curiosity, a company becomes hungry for more knowledge, challenges and growth. This is another key for a company to age with grace.

In practice: Dovico provides its staff with free audiobooks as well as a well-stocked library of physical books. Funding training courses and sending the team on career-related seminars and conferences are also a high priority of the company.

Dovico also provides, free of charge, near-daily noontime yoga practices on site. This handy benefity makes pushing your physical and mental limits easily accessible, but it also clears the mind to focus on our craft for the rest of the day.

Oh, on the food topic, Dovico also stocks the kitchen daily with healthy snacks meant to fuel the minds of hard at work. Feed the people great food and they will avoid the junk!

Practicing non-attachment

Monk funny attachment comic

As we get older, we carry the baggage of memories. Some of the baggage is bad, but regardless of the sentiment, we become attached to the way things used to be and it becomes part of our reality. Our identity becomes tied to the past, and it holds us back from moving forward in the future.

So often, many companies become attached to past accomplishments and failures. Instead of taking another risk, a company becomes stagnant by convincing themselves that “this is the way we’ve always done it.” Every company suffers from that rut of perpetual comfort. Becoming attached to the way things were, sets a company up to grow old. Old in their thinking and old in their actions, this isn’t the way to grow a business to last the test of time.

In practice: Dovico switches its team’s offices up from time to time to keep things fresh for each member. Nobody grows an attachment to their office space, and this simple act of office change-up causes just enough disruption to trigger new thoughts and more innovative thinking.

YAR (You Are Responsible)

As a grown adult, there is nobody more responsible for your life other than you. The only way for you to improve and grow to be a wise and age-defying legend is to take responsibility for all of your actions and most importantly: your reactions. If you wrong someone else, or if they mistreat you, take responsibility for part of the outcome, there’s always a lesson to be learned.

In business, if everyone isn’t taking responsibility for what they do or what’s been done to them, then nobody learns. Customers and outside interests quickly discover a company with a culture of blame. In a culture of irresponsible people, nothing gets done, and service fails. When service fails, so will the company.

In practice: Dovico promotes responsibility by creating a safe environment for people to fail. When team members have the safety to know that they can take a risk, it becomes easier to own up if they know they won’t get reprimanded. It’s why each team member has a physical “Get out of jail free” card. This card allows anyone to take on a risky project or task -without fear of being fired if it fails.

Focus on your habits

You become what you practice the most. And what you practice the most is what you are willing to stand up and defend. Even if you have bad habits, most often you will stand by them by creating excuses as to why you continue to do them.

A company that lasts the test of time leaves no question to its customer as to what it stands for. Over time, that business has habitually delivered on what promises it stands to uphold. Understanding what your company stands for is a key to grow a business that lasts and one that ages gracefully.

In practice: Dovico is not ashamed to proclaim that their main product, a timesheet tool, is not very exciting. But over the years, the team has stood up to make time at work exciting by adding meaning. Dovico stands by their culture of growth, respect, community, love and innovation in everything they do and habitually exercises all of these attributes every day.

Finish what you start

When the chips are down and times get tough, having the courage to finish what you start is the key to understanding what you are capable of. Finishing, even when failure is inevitable, gives you a sense of accomplishment, pride and meaningfulness. Sometimes, finishing the race is the only win you get, even if its last place.

When your company ditches projects halfway to pursue other more lucrative projects, it can leave you wanting more. Soon, you’ll drag your feet, waiting for the next big project to work on. Eventually, you will never finish anything, and your company’s feeling of accomplishment will fade.

Nothing is learned by quitting halfway through. Let’s be honest, if you never finish anything, you can’t expect to grow a business with unfinished work. How will you ever get paid?

Dilbert project status

In practice: Over the years, Dovico has had its share of project nightmares. While it was often discussed to cut bait and move on to something else, wisdom prevailed and finishing the project became the only option. We finished just so that we could learn every lesson that that project was trying to teach us. Failure is the best teacher, quitting is never a failure. It’s worse, it’s incomplete.

As recent as our latest version, after almost 5 years in the hopper, we almost walked away from it. Electing instead to go back to what we felt comfortable with. At the time, Dovico was in the midst of a significant culture shift and developing our newest version got caught up in the whirlwind. But with blind courage, we decided to release it anyway and see where it would take us and it paid off. Now, we have something to be proud of if even that pride at the time was crossing the finish line. In retrospect, we learned a valuable lesson.

Measure thank you’s

How do you know if you’ve changed? You don’t know. Aside from physical changes, all you see is yourself at this moment. The only people who know you’ve changed is everyone around you. They see you, and then they don’t. You go about changing, and then you meet them again in the future, you’ve changed and they’ve changed! Those people have the basis in which to compare you. And if you did it right, they will thank you for changing them with your change.

When your customers give appreciation, it means that you have given them value, something to take away. Yes, you could measure profits and other KPIs as a yardstick to change within your company, but what did you change? Companies who age gracefully understand that “thank you’s” received from customers are the only KPI that matters. It means they have made a difference, inspired a change, in someone else.

In practice: Dovico celebrates every “thank you” that we receive from our customers. You can sense the excitement and the energy to help our clients increase when that token of appreciation comes in. Motivation to serve others puts meaning into the work that we do, so when we know we’ve done the job well, it’s amplified to the entire team. We’re all in this together!

Don’t take yourself seriously.

There are 7.7 billion people on this planet. Don’t take yourself so seriously! We’re all humans after all, and we all work the same on the inside. When you take yourself seriously, it means you are much too inwardly biased and change-resistant. You were put on this ever-changing earth to make others better through your ability to embrace the changes as you go along.

To be a business that stays fluid by embracing change and serves to help others, the culture within it has to see the humour in it all. Having the ability to laugh at yourself growing up in the change, keeps your company feeling ageless. Before you know it, you’ll look back and hopefully laugh at the stumbles along the way.

Happy dog asking why so serious

In practice: Dovico strives to maintain a fluid working environment by having no set of rules in place. Team members are allowed to breathe and feel responsible for their direction within the company, without the restriction of the almighty rulebook. In some respects, we are all intrapreneurs.

Of course, by legal requirement, the only regulations are surrounding criminal activity and such, but aside from that, at Dovico, the company culture dictates the rules of work. Each team member sets their hours and place of work. They can pick their vacation and take personal time off as needed. And most importantly, everyone is encouraged to share personal victories. We are in charge of our destinies within the company.

Relationships grow a business into a legacy

For your business to stand the test of time, to create a legacy and form a movement, there can’t be a divide between what is personal and what is business. Your business has to be personal; a bonding relationship, and like all lasting relationships, there cannot be an exit strategy.

Grow a business founded on a culture of growth and stand up for what you believe. Your habits will make or break you and for heaven’s sake, laugh at yourself once in a while! Change is hard, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.

If you would like to watch Dovico’s CEO, Yves Doucet’s “Aging Gracefully” message, follow us by liking our Facebook page. Check out how we’ve aged gracefully after 26 short years!


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About the Author

Jeff Nagle is our wordsmith and blogger. When he’s not cooped up in his office with the door closed writing, he’s working out at the gym, reading, or training for a marathon. Sometimes he attempts to do all three at the same time!

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