Culture Is Real, And It Matters

"Culture becomes an iterative process where you keep looking back at what you did, and then you make changes when you see things you don't like. One of the unique beautiful gifts that new employees and new eyes can give you [your company], is that they see things much closer to how they really are than the people that have been steeped into culture for a long time and have sort of just accepted all of the illusions and delusions that build up over time. When you get someone with fresh eyes in, they can see what's working and what's not. Culture is real, and it matters. And you can't just program it up front, it has to run, it has to be actually lived to be real."
- David Heinemeir Hansson, creator of Ruby on Rails, co-founder and CTO at Basecamp

Hear from Jed Ramsey, Sales Development Rep. at TopOpps on his experience as a startup employee and his take on startup culture.

Where are you from? I'm originally from Topeka, KS, but moved to St. Louis after living in Columbia, MO for the past 5 years.

University? College of the Ozarks, in Point Lookout, MO

How did you get connected to the startup community, and specifically, your job at TopOpps?
Startups have always intrigued me. I specifically got connected when a contact at TRex pointed me to the PluggedIN HQ site. I asked around about TopOPPS specifically, and heard a lot of very positive things.

When did you start working at TopOpps and how has your role evolved? 
I started in August '16. My role hasn't necessarily changed, since I'm still fairly new. However, I've evolved professionally and can already see a dramatic improvement in my sales abilities as I've gone through training.

What do you like about startup culture? 
I like the fact that you're building something together, and everyone takes ownership in it. As you see the milestones, the accomplishments, everyone takes pride. The camaraderie is quite amazing.

What are you currently working on? 
In general, we're a CRM plugin that tells sales teams how to best use their sales data. We recently added on a tool that's very "sales rep-centric", and are adding some finishing touches.  So far we've received great feedback from our market.

What’s next on your list to learn? 
Personally, I'm trying to find those little, subtle changes that are going to take my skills to the next level. For me, it might mean developing stronger email communication to supplement my verbal sales skills.  I'm always looking to those have been quite successful in my role, and the next position up, for what made them achieve the things they have.

What’s your favorite part of your job? What do you like about working downtown St. Louis? 
My favorite thing is the people I work with, and the camaraderie as we take joint ownership in seeing TopOPPS succeed. And working downtown, my coworker friends and I will take advantage to walk to Friday lunch at one of the many great food places.

What feedback or advice would you give to a jobseeker who is considering working for a startup? 
I think taking time to talk to people and develop relationships, and find out what they're doing really helps. Go to events, such as Sales Hacker, or Hackathon, that foster startups and serve as great places to meet like-minded people. PluggedInSTL is a great resource, with frequent job postings. Read sales books, or taking free coding courses online--sales and coding skills will always be in demand.

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