Mia Vasser is the Culture Manager on our Talent & Culture Team at CallRail. She initially came to CallRail as an office assistant, and has since transitioned into spearheading CallRail’s efforts of building culture as we continue to grow. We sat down with her to talk about her most recent initiative: the Culture Ambassadors Board.
Instead of tucking ourselves away in a private meeting room, Mia insists that we chat in CallRail’s Town Hall over lunch instead. This decision in itself is indicative of the kind of soul she is and the energy she shares. She’s open. She’s passionate about people. And she never shies from an opportunity to gather. It’s also very telling of the pace at which CallRail is moving right now –– very quickly.
We only have a few moments to chat before she returns to her busy schedule.
Let’s talk a little bit about your background. How did you get into corporate culture? What inspired you to pursue culture-building as a career path?
“I’ve always had a passion for people — I just didn’t know how to translate that into a career path. I love storytelling, especially visual storytelling. I went to school for television and film production, thinking that would be the path I wanted to take. And it was rewarding, I did it for 12 years, but I got severely burnt out. In the midst of that, I decided to start my personal journey, ‘Go. See. Do. Love.’ and moved to Australia.”
Go. See. Do. Love. is a global mission dedicated to transforming people and communities through the power of unconditional love. Mia fondly refers to the movement as a ‘lovevolution.’ Her work with this mission encouraged people to become active in their communities in hopes of simply spreading something she believes the world needs: more love.
Her adventures in Australia were only supposed to span about 30 days, but she ended up settling there for nearly a year and a half. Her time there was a turning point of self-discovery, self-love, and loving others. “I ended up doing incredible missionary work, and that just incited something within me to care for other people,” she continues.
“When I travel, I live with the locals. I know a lot of people say that, but I embrace the culture. The culture is really vivid for me. In ways, I’m searching for identity in my own culture, so it’s enlightening when I visit places and am welcomed by these different cultures. I’m so fascinated by the food, the family, the unity that brings it all together. It draws on a strength of mine: I’m a ‘people-bridger.’ I’m an empath.” Ironically enough, her eyes glance over at the word “empathy” pasted on the wall beside us.
The words “inclusion,” “flexibility’, ‘open-minded’, ‘driven’ and more are pasted along with it. Mia has been working on an internal brand identity project, encouraging employees to leave sticky notes of “we” statements that they believe to be true about CallRail. As she works to nail down CallRail’s culture identity and statements, she’s using this exercise to ensure those words are those of the employees. “We want them to come in and say this is what we want to be known as, instead of the top-down approach.”
Mia moved back to the states and got back into film for a year, but she still felt that something was missing. She found CallRail on a whim during her career transition period.
“The great thing about CallRail is that it afforded me the opportunity to explore, and to really figure out what my path could look like. I had no idea that managing ‘culture’ existed. I just knew the components that I really liked and I started researching and putting things together and discovering that this is an actual career path. Thankfully, I have an awesome Talent & Culture team. I’m really grateful to be here.”
Mia has helped CallRail to build an award-winning culture. Check it out: we were named to Inc.’s 2018 Best Workplaces list.
What inspired you to create the Culture Ambassadors Board?
“One thing I saw that was missing here at CallRail was a formal representation of the employee voice,” she starts. She explains that as an organization grows, there can be a gap in communication between the employees and their leaders. She feared that should there be concerns, employees would turn to other mediums to express themselves and usually at that point, it’s too late. She sees the Board as a proactive means of solving problems before they grow.
“There should always be a platform or an avenue where people can talk to representatives, kind of like a government town hall meeting, where you can voice concerns that are then translated to the changemakers. It’s very important that employees feel heard and appreciated, and it’s a significant part of building the culture here at CallRail. It’s very much a testament to our efforts of our culture being built for the people, by the people.”
Talk a little about the program structure. How did you decide on this structure?
“First and foremost, I didn’t want to have just one person representing a department. I wanted a balanced view of perspectives. To me, that includes multiple people from various walks of the CallRail journey. So, someone new, someone that’s very experienced, maybe someone that’s a minority, and so on.
Here at CallRail, we’re reflective of the community that we live in. Atlanta is very diverse—so it only makes sense to build a culture that resembles that diversity.”
She knew that everybody couldn’t always attend every meeting, and that played a huge role in deciding on the Board’s structure. “So, the magic number was 3. We have 3 representatives from each of our 7 departments. This makes room for the representatives to really galvanize their team, understand what’s going on and encourage them to bring any issues before the Board.”
Board members were first nominated by their department. Then, those nominations were evaluated by the Talent & Culture team and adjusted accordingly to fit the ‘someone new, someone experienced, etc.’ requirements. The evaluation of the nominations allowed the Talent & Culture team to balance out the votes and build the Board effectively.
“We meet every fourth Tuesday of the month. Right now, we’re still in the developing stages and don’t have everything down to a science. Before the first meeting, I sent out a survey to gauge what employees like, what they don’t like, feedback and takeaways to pull out key themes that we should discuss. That process allowed us to lead a more targeted conversation. As an organization grows, leadership is further removed from the moving pieces. So this instills a sense of inclusion. It brings us back together.”
What was your ultimate goal with launching this program?
“I know this may sound sappy, but I just want us all to get along!” Mia wants to continue fostering the distinguished culture the earlier days of CallRail has birthed, and preserve it with formalities that hold everyone accountable as CallRail grows.
She explains that it can be naïve to simply assume that people will always know how to get along as we grow.
“Everybody has different perceptions of what life looks like. So, if there’s a baseline across the board of what we are, it will make for a stronger workforce here at CallRail. Because we’ll be more passionate –– not that we aren’t already, but it will encourage a new depth of passion. I know that that isn’t a really thought-provoking answer. But, my heart at the core, I love love. So, I would just love if everyone could work on one accord.”
How does a program like this contribute to the evolution of the concept of a workplace as a whole?
“The biggest thing a program like this contributes to is employee retention,” she starts. Companies spend a ton of money hiring, and you don’t want to lose that talent. “Secondly, it has a huge impact on employee happiness. Happier people are healthier people.”
That isn’t just talk. It never is with Mia. She recently set up a week full of activities for Mental Health Awareness week, including chair massages, meditation exercises, and even time to decompress and color during your lunch break.
“People have lives outside of CallRail. It’s a gesture to help them know that we value, hear and understand them. With efforts like this, people can lead healthier and more fulfilled lives.” At CallRail, we optimize for happiness –– and it shows! We work hard, and we value balance. And we’ll always stand by the belief that happy people are the most effective and passionate people. We’re passionate about the things we build, the businesses we help grow, and the community we live in.
“It’s rewarding to be contributing to the shift of the concept of a workplace altogether”, she says. Mia is helping to blaze a trail along an uncharted path. CallRail is helping to rewrite the narrative of truly enjoying your career.
“You know, my parents’ generation was all about just getting done what needed to be done. You work for 50 years and then hopefully you can retire and enjoy life. But now we’re shifting the mindset. I don’t have to wait 50 years to enjoy what I’m doing right now.”
Want to help us build something great? We’re hiring.