Companies love to sell employees on their “company culture” when they’re listing their benefits packages, and coming from the marketing technology sector, I’ve seen them all. I’ve seen plenty of ping pong tables, basketball courts, and — my personal favorite — Foot Pool. No company before MilesHerndon, however, has offered me the gift of flight.
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This past weekend, the MilesHerndon crew piled into our cars and drove down to Martinsville, Indiana. For the past few weeks, one of our Account Managers, Jason Cooper, had been sprinkling a fun fact into conversations around the office to gauge interest.
“You know, my dad actually owns these really motorized gliders. They’re called Ultralight Trikes.”
We were all instantly hooked. Jason invited us out to Martinsville to meet his parents and have his dad fly us around. It’s a bizarre sentence. Even as I type it, I struggle to believe it. Nevertheless, it happened. We showed up around mid-evening to a grass runway conveniently tucked in between two corn fields. As some of us lined up to fly, others lined up to marvel.
The actual process of taking off was surprisingly intricate. You started by gently climbing in, trying to avoid turning the trike over in the process. Next, you get your Top Gun helmet, completely equipped with an in-flight radio. You would then buckle your seatbelt and let Jason’s dad cozy up to your lap.
Finally, as Jason’s dad turned on the fan and the wheels started rolling, you take the final and most important step, pray that this thing works.
Takeoff was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I’ve flown in plenty of planes, I’ve gone skydiving and I have no fear of heights, but the go-kart-like nature of the trike makes you instantly uneasy. As you climb in altitude, however, you start to ease into it. We made it up to about 500 feet and it felt absolutely liberating.
I look down and see nothing but corn. I look right and I see the vast treescape of Morgan County. I look left and I can see the skyline of Indianapolis, far in the distance. That same skyline where we spend the entirety of our work week now appears distant, blurry, and indistinct.
Yet back on the ground, the important things are still in focus. Not only are my co-workers there having a good time, but so are their families.
Company culture is often discussed, but rarely understood. I’ve experienced my fair share of it at different companies, but there’s no mistaking the family-like feeling at MilesHerndon. While many organizations try to fabricate a company culture, I’ve been genuinely impressed throughout my time at MilesHerndon with how authentic the community is.
I mean, to put this in perspective, Jason took us out to meet his family. He let us eat, drink and play in their hangar. He let us fly with his dad. I don’t have this much connection with most of my friends’ families, let alone my co-workers.
I think that’s because, fundamentally, these aren’t just my co-workers. This is an organization that is focused on being a family, and that’s a greater selling point than Foot Pool could ever be.