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It’s a special honor to make Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work list for the fourth year in a row. This year’s #2 ranking is our highest yet!  It will probably come out too sappy and too personal, and my writing skills will prove too poor, for me to put that into real context for anyone reading this. But, I’ll take a swing at it.

I care about culture. I care about it earnestly and work on it with intention.

And then, of course, there’s the whole thing about this particular award coming from Outside Magazine and what the outdoors in Idaho means to me, and to so many of us at Drake Cooper. I guess this list is the perfect cocktail of two things about which I care deeply.

Four years ago, when we made the list for the first time, I wrote a blog  telling the story of how I’d clipped out an ad in Outside Magazine, circa 1994. How that ad found it’s way into a frame and onto a spot on my wall in my house just down the street from Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, TN. The ad was for a wild state with a wild river and it called to me. I set out to find this place and to one day explore it. A few short years later, when I somehow found myself moving to Boise along with my wife of less than a year, we fell in love with this remote outdoor mecca and Idaho became home immediately. It wouldn’t be till many years later, meeting Bill Drake, the owner of the advertising agency that produced that ad, that the story would come full circle.

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Living in Idaho, means adventure. Working in advertising is also an adventure – and it can be all consuming. So we focus on the culture of our workplace, and we do our best to uphold it. But what constitutes culture anyway? What makes one good and another bad? To me, at the heart of culture is shared values that an organization agrees to uphold. And trust. Lots of mutual respect and trust. What’s not culture, particularly now in the Millennial-driven new found love of culture-at-all-costs, are things like dogs at work, yoga at lunch, IPA of the day and group bike rides at all hours. Those things, while awesome(!), are NOT a culture. Those sorts of things are the benefits of a strong culture. The hard work of creating and maintaining a solid culture is often confused with the outcomes of it.

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If I were to try to describe what culture IS for Drake Cooper, it would sound like this:

At Drake Cooper, our culture is based on a shared belief system of values that outshine titles and roles. We are in the business of creating things. Ideas. Products. Services. Notions. And we derive real meaning in building stories and connecting people to brands. Our passion is the motivation for the work we do. It’s in that spirit that all of us must value people as much as profit as ingredients to sustainability and happiness.

We are not bound by the industry we are in and willingly go to extraordinary lengths to create and invent. We value and celebrate the unique, the distinctive, and the free spirit that comes with our world. And in an industry that has no rules, we make up our own, with the simple goal that our work makes a difference.

No job here is small and the big-hearted and enthusiastic find a home among us. We agree to collectively strive to make this the best place we’ve ever worked and to create jobs as big as our spirits. We build brands for the ambitious because we ourselves are ambitious.

We’re honored to be on your list, Outside. Now, excuse me while I jump on my bike.

-jc

Here’s some background on how companies are selected :

Outside’s “Best Places to Work” project celebrates innovative companies setting a new standard for a healthy work-life balance. The list was compiled with the help of the Outdoor Industry Association and Best Companies Group. The yearlong selection process began with an outreach effort that identified a wide range of non-profit and for-profit organizations with at least 15 employees working in an office in the United States. Participating companies were sent confidential employee-satisfaction surveys and employer-questionnaires to collect information about benefits, compensation, policies, job satisfaction, environmental initiatives, and community outreach programs. The experts at the Best Companies Group then analyzed the results and selected the companies that best enable employees to pursue active lifestyles while also supporting their social and environmental contributions.