At AppDirect, our team is a veritable melting pot of unique interests, both inside the workplace and out. During the busy workday, however, there’s little time to talk about these hobbies and skills. That’s why AppDirect Lunch and Learns—L&Ls for short—are the perfect avenue for team members to step into the limelight and share their interests.
Here’s how it works: On Fridays, a catered lunch is served in AppDirect’s awesome, spacious kitchen. Shortly after, team members gather in the main work area to watch a volunteer give a brief presentation, usually about 15 or 20 minutes, about a personal or work-related topic.
Eric Lew, a member of AppDirect’s Special Operations group, manages the L&L initiative, from encouraging signups to scheduling presentations, and everything inbetween. He takes pride in the tight knit community the program helps foster. “If we didn’t have Lunch and Learns, it would be difficult for people to share their cool hobbies and workplace insights,” he says. “I gave a presentation on photography and connected with a bunch of other photography-inclined team members I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.”
L&Ls usually cover one of four topic areas: technical, personal, product, or business. Recently, L&Ls have begun to extend beyond the internal team to include people from other companies, such as Stephen Feloney, Director of Product Management at Appcelerator. He recently came to the AppDirect office to talk about developing products.
For team members who give L&L presentations, we give them more than just a pat on the back. They also receive an achievement badge, Scout style, for talking about their knowledge and passions. You can always see who has done an L&L—and who hasn’t—by checking out the badges team members display at their desks.
Another interesting aspect of the L&L program is that it’s an important way to reflect AppDirect’s core company values. As Eric points out, “We really emphasize humility here at the company, and the Lunch and Learns merge the two seamlessly. The AppDirect team is the humblest I’ve ever worked with, and humility often leads to modesty,” Eric says. “L&Ls provide a platform for people to talk about the things they’re knowledgeable about and the things they love to everyone in the office without feeling as if they’re boasting.”
Aside from the L&L program’s ability to build relationships, Eric believes the initiative also creates a more efficient workplace environment. “Any opportunity to know one another on a personal level always makes the workplace a fun and productive place to be,” he explains. “Just as people’s interests are always adapting and growing, the L&L program helps AppDirect’s culture grow as well.”