Hack to the Future: Hack Day 2018

Data-Driven Marketing Things we notice

Every 3-6 months at Rival IQ, we all press “pause” on our work and come together for Hack Day, a one-day marathon of Rival-related projects (and a hefty dose of tasty treats).

Each team member picks an idea or solution to tackle or learn, from designing new features in our software to office construction projects to solving nagging administrative problems, and clears their plates to make it happen. The only rule? Your project has to be done (but not perfect!) by the end of the day.

To learn more about how Hack Day works and why it’s important to culture at Rival, I chatted with Seth Pollack, who heads up Hack Day as our resident culture aficionado. Below are a few favorite sound bites from our conversation.

(As you can see, Seth likes culture, and also lunch.)

“Part of the power of Hack Day is taking away some of the constraints of a regular work day. Without those constraints, what are you able to achieve or learn?”
–Seth Pollack

No meetings. No phone calls. No email. (Don’t worry, dear customers, our Customer Success Managers were still on call!) What do you do with a wide-open workday, where your only job is to bring an idea to life?

On Hack Day, the office was a great mix of focused folks with their heads down and rambunctious cross-team collaboration. Everyone committed to the end-of-day deadline and wanted to have something to share at our presentations the next day. A mid-day food truck field trip gave our team a chance to stretch our legs and chat about what we were working on.

Rival’s leadership team takes culture seriously (which you can read about here, here, and here.) We love this infographic from the TINYpulse blog about how team building (like Hack Day) benefits everyone, including the bottom line.

The importance of Team Building from the folks at Zing Events.

Making space to create is really important to founders Seth Pollack, Seth Bridges, and John Clark. They opt to carve out these days a few times a year because they know that creativity has a powerful effect on workplace culture (and on software). According to a recent article in Seattle Business Magazine, the most engaged companies have five times higher shareholder return over five years than their less-engaged competitors. By giving everyone at Rival IQ the chance to learn something new, or tackle a project that will make their lives at work better, our founders are telling everyone, “We care about what it feels like to work here.” Awesome new product features are just a fringe benefit.

“The idea is to capture the creativity and excitement of everyone on our team.” 

Being brand-new to the team, I wasn’t sure how I’d create something meaningful for Hack Day (my coding skills are pretty rusty). The team was really inclusive, and encouraged me to think beyond a new software feature to something that would be creative and interesting for me. I wound up teaming up with fellow marketer Cassandra to create a mini-documentary about Hack Day. We flexed our muscles in iMovie, QuickTime, and Wistia, which was a great learning experience. Check it out here to see our team in action.

“Learn something, try something. Sometimes it succeeds, sometimes it fails.” 

If you’ve ever customized a dashboard or published a social post from within Rival IQ, you’ve experienced the outcomes of past Hack Days firsthand. Our recently-released Explore tool, which lets you see how top brands in fashion, beer, higher education, and more perform on social, was also a Hack Day creation. (It was part of a particularly competitive Hack Day that was structured like Shark Tank, where teams pitched different projects and our discerning founders selected one to develop.)

Here are a few examples of Hack Day projects from this year (some hopefully coming to a Rival IQ dashboard near you!):

We’re hard at work tweaking our Hack Day projects and integrating many of them into what we do every day at Rival. The whole team is already looking forward to our next Hack Day (not to mention the end-of-day cheese and beer celebration). We’re always looking for inspiration about how workplaces promote curiosity and creativity, so if you’re up to something awesome, drop us a line.

Blair Feehan

Blair is a content marketer based in Seattle who relishes helping companies large and small do one thing: tell their stories. She specializes in content creation, messaging, branding, and community engagement to get the word out. When she’s not writing, she can be found running a small arts and community nonprofit based in the Central District.

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