My First 60 Days As A “Nexie”
My first day as an official “Nexie.” I had no idea how quickly 60 days could change my work life.
Having spent my career mostly in the “for-profit” world, I certainly anticipated that this new “nonprofit” world would be a positive experience. I knew that being able to focus on doing good for the world would be unbelievably refreshing. I was feeling good about the first few days, and yes, I was in the proverbial “honeymoon” period, so feeling good was expected — right? I had all of the standard “newness” of a new job — new people, new staff, new computer, fresh clean slate, etc., so feeling “good” should not have been surprising. You know, it’s like the first day of school.
But that was not the surprising part …
A bit of background. I have had a relationship with Nexus Direct for about 15 years. I certainly didn’t know at the time that when I first encountered the company (I was on a sales call with one of my reps who called on Nexus) that years later I would actually join the team. I also had limited access to the organization as a whole, as I was a direct mail supplier to Nexus and only dealt with the Production team. They were great, professional, and I always knew that they required super high-quality. (I dubbed it “Nexus Acceptable Quality,” as opposed to “Commercially Acceptable Quality” — a title only reserved for Nexus and one other account in my many years of production.) We had the standard supplier history — things go well, things go not so well (it’s production after all). Nothing was really that different from many of my clients over the years … but in reality, Nexus is VERY different, and now I know why.
The company, the culture, the people were not just “new” to me, but they were (and are) incredible. Let me start with the company as a whole and give you some background as well. Nexus Direct is a direct marketing fundraising agency with a myriad of client types. Within the nonprofit vertical we work with many Veteran Service Organizations, homeless shelters, and hospitals to name a few. They (well now, we) do an amazing job helping nonprofits raise much-needed funds and grow as organizations. We manage this through data-driven, omni-channel marketing programs that tie in all aspects of digital, print, and telemarketing for organizations here in the U.S. and around the globe. Our executives are all experts in their fields, and now, being on the inside of the organization, I know why Nexus is so successful, as we just celebrated our 16th year.
The organization is led by an awesome Leadership team that has welcomed me with open arms. The entire team truly works together, plays together, and helps nonprofits grow together. The Nexus Leadership team is the epitome of a great team — true communicators who lead with focus, vision, communication, and a true sense of what Nexus does for our clients. No one person rises above the other, and all voices (company-wide) are heard. Our clients benefit from this, as their missions become ours, which is unbelievably inspiring. The Leadership team has razor-sharp focus on all our clients, with the same focus on staff. It is very clear that everyone at Nexus has a role and a part to play. Everyone is important, and their ideas and thoughts are important as well.
Sounds unbelievable, right? Well it’s not. Joining a company at any time can be exciting and daunting on some levels. Joining a company during COVID-19 puts organizations to the test.
We are all working remotely, and Nexus has been remote since March 11. The company has totally embraced all of the remote technology available. We live on Zoom and Teams, and while it is challenging to go from one call to another, it totally works, and we are certainly in the Nexus rhythm. We have onboarded three new employees during the coronavirus and do a great job in welcoming them, complete with all of the onboarding processes that would have been in-person but now are online.
With the tension that remote working can bring on, Nexus also instituted a four-day work week. We have a Monday team and a Friday team so that there is always a team “in” the office and clients are fully covered. Days swap out monthly between teams, and each team member details a coverage document when out on that much-loved additional day off. The four-day work week is something that you need to experience in order to truly appreciate it. Many businesses and organization have had “summer Fridays,” where between May and September Fridays end at noon or even 2 p.m. I have never been in a position where I was able to participate, but here at Nexus it is not only scheduled but actually encouraged that you use your day off as a day off. I sometimes am drawn to my computer on my day “off “ — but that’s just me. We are in the middle of pandemic after all, and I am home not going anywhere, so a couple of hours getting some additional work done is pleasant for me. But it is not required, and that freedom is beyond blissful. We work hard, and work is intense, so having three days off and four on really allows that intensity to be totally client-focused and client-driven. Our client focus sets us apart and allows for results that, more often than not, exceed our clients’ expectations.
Everyone may remember that before COVID, many companies had an unofficial “Happy Hour” where employees met after work at a convenient watering hole to hang out on a Thursday or Friday to critique the week. The highs and lows were rehashed and reviewed, as was what could have been done better and what was coming up in the week ahead. I had missed those in the first months of COVID — but not anymore. Nexus is on its 26th virtual Happy Hour. Yes, a virtual Zoom call where it may be 3, 6, or 15 employees that get on AFTER work to chat with the people they have spent the last eight hours with. It can be super personal or super work-related. It allows us all to get to know each other and grow the relationships that are vital in our remote work world today.
These connections and relationships are also what makes us a better company and helps us help our clients. We have some clients that are working with some of the most disadvantaged people in the world. Helping them raise urgently needed funds during this time is vital for them and, frankly, what makes us all get up in the morning. I mentioned “doing good for the world,” but in actuality it’s not just doing good, but truly going above and beyond for our clients each hour of each day. Their missions become ours, and as we work to help them, we are also helping ourselves, understanding how fortunate we all are in all aspects of our lives. We are not only grateful for our work and our families, but grateful for the most basic needs of life — food, clothing, health, and even things that many take for granted, like running water and basic shelter to name a couple.
Nexus as a company understands that the world is quite different now, and not only supports staff in this manner but has had unbelievable results for our clients in this very different, ever-changing world. Because of the data-driven process that is at the heart of who Nexus is, our results for our clients in these past five months are nothing short of remarkable. At the end of the day, we know our clients and their donors, we know how to speak to them and, yes, even in the world of coronavirus we asked, and they donated. Our clients were thrilled and beyond grateful.
So, I’ve ended my first 60 days. It does feel like much longer — in the best of ways. I’m loving the people and the entire process and will admit I am looking forward to seeing everyone in person one of these days. I feel so very fortunate to be a member of this phenomenal team and have an opportunity to learn and grow and help the world. It’s the best feeling ever!