More than just team lunch: an AFT tradition
By: Kyle Cobb, Co-Founder & President of advanced.farm
As a Co-Founder of advanced.farm, I have seen a ton of growth and change in our company over the last five years. One of our traditions that has changed for the better is our weekly “all hands” meeting.
When we started, the all-hands meeting was sort of always happening, with everyone crammed into the same greenhouse office inside of a barn*. As we grew to a handful of people, we started doing slightly less formal Monday morning meetings, usually kicked off by Marc’s daughter bringing us donuts (which turns out is a very effective way to get a group to focus). At some point, let’s say at 13 employees, we outgrew the donut box and opted for a Monday lunch with rotating bottom-dollar local fare. One day soon, that became a bear to manage, and we realized it was hard to cram in company strategy discussions with coworker bonding between bites of burritos. So, we bailed on lunch and opted instead for a Monday morning standup meeting. No lunch, no frills, all business and back to work.
Enter Dave Powers. An import from Boston, Dave loved our California winter weather (not the case in 2023 btw!). As luck would have it, another employee had parked his bbq outside the shop and one sunny winter Friday, Dave fired it up and cooked hot dogs for the team. The next Friday we all got hungry again, and Dave delivered again. The next week, someone new stepped in, and a new tradition had begun.
Today, we are now 75 people, and the Friday lunch tradition continues – as does the Monday morning meeting. On Monday, we come together to discuss business issues ranging from upcoming demos to how we are tracking against technical metrics and celebrating employee or team successes. It is a great way to kick off the week and give various business leaders a forum to communicate with the rest of the company (and vice versa). Friday lunch is more about socializing, getting to know one another and having fun. We serve one another (cooking for 75 people is no joke!) – typically the (unofficial) last step of orientation is being a lead or sous chef at the end of your first week on the job.
We love hosting visitors on Fridays – as proud as we are of our fantastic tech, our favorite thing to show off is our culture and our people. Visitors typically give us a chance to upgrade the menu from typical burgers and dogs to something exotic like chicken thighs (we are still a startup after all). Hot tip – if you get a final round, on-site interview, schedule it for a Friday!
Going back to something I said at the beginning, we’ve seen a lot of growth and change. Some (maybe most) of that change happened gradually after a long group effort. But there are certain things that I still see around the company that I can point to as being the product of one person’s specific actions (often improved from how they started it). Grady’s homemade basketball court (where did that hoop come from?), Charlie’s antique fruit and veg art decor, Randy’s culture cues, and Dave Powers… lunch!
* yes, a greenhouse inside of a barn.