Category Archive of culture

Value Community: It’s More Than Just Being Together

Micah Fox heads our sales department and serves on the North Star leadership team. He also works to coordinate many of our company volunteer and ministry projects. The ways he pulls us together as a team has given him a unique perspective on our Value Community core value.

Value Community: It’s More Than Just Being Together

A friend of mine spent several years working at a fast-growing technology firm in Durham. We talked about some of the things his employer put in place to improve or impact their sense of community in the workplace. In the office, they supplied a fully stocked kitchen with unlimited snacks and beverages to encourage co-workers to take breaks, be refreshed, and get to know one another. Outside the office, they organized corporate outings, happy hours, celebrations, and game nights. It all sounded great. 

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Push for Clarity: Paving the Way to Take Action

Chris Kindred is a veteran developer for the North Star Marketing team who gets the importance of our third core value. New growth always means new questions to be answered, but our Push for Clarity reveals something that surprises us, over and over again.

Clarity When It Counts

When you are in the center of a football stadium packed with fans, and everyone is staring at you—when the snap comes, and you’ve got that ball in your hands—in that moment, right there, you need absolute clarity about your job. Indecision or uncertainty could lose the game, get you badly hurt, or both. 

Dramatic american football stadium

I had the privilege of playing football at the University of Tulsa during my college days, and there were so many lessons that athletics instilled in me. By now they have deep roots and affect just about every part of my life. This issue of clarity is something that I see all the time in my work as a parent of three amazing kids and my work at the office as a developer with the North Star Marketing team. 

Are We Really Clear About What Clarity Is?

It might seem that clarity is just being clear and making sure things are understood. I think it is more than just transparency, or a basic understanding, though. I think it is about the will to overcome confusion, and about not stopping until you have what you need to take action. That probably means continuing to ask questions and refusing to stay silent when you still don’t have the clarity you need. Those things aren’t always easy, but they sure are important. 

I am a developer. I tend to see things as black and white, yes and no, on or off. The world and our work are complex, and there are gray areas. I get that. But pursuing clarity means we have to boil the gray areas down to the right black and white choices that will allow us to take action. What we call a push for clarity is a dogged pursuit of discernment, so we and our clients are focused on the right things for the right reasons. 

It also means making sure everyone who is a part of a conversation or project has the same understanding. It is all too possible for different people to be absolutely clear about what they heard or what was decided, only to find out later they had very different takeaways! Shared clarity is what we are really after, in the end. 

How the Push for Clarity Puts Discernment to Work 

In addition to playing Division I football, I also have some military experience. If you have not lived it for yourself, it is hard to describe just how much effort our armed forces put into being clear with instructions and orders and procedures. Obviously, in that context, a lack of clarity can have very real life or death consequences. 

Today, when I’m working, I often remember those lessons. If I do not understand something important during an internal meeting, everybody knows I am going to speak up and keep asking until I am clear. In the end, everyone on the team needs the empowerment that comes with being clear about expectations, roles, project needs, and all the other things that make our work together successful. We all know that anything less will cause real problems, so we accept and honor that push for clarity in our culture at North Star.

It is pretty amazing how this core value, push for clarity, both builds community and teaches us to really value community, which is our next core value. If you look long enough, part of that discernment I mentioned shows you more and more of just how connected to one another we are. It opens up all kinds of doors to honoring one another and what we’re working for together. 

Happy Two Year Workiversary, Jeff!

Two years ago today, Jeff Seevers joined the North Star Marketing team as a part of our growing roster of marketing managers. Since then, he has blown us away with his commitment to client relationships, irrepressible creative thinking about every project he touches, and his vision for our work and how we live out our mission. Jeff has been quietly working behind the scenes on high-impact initiatives for North Star this year, and we recently sat down to get the scoop on what he’s been up to, and what’s ahead.

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Kaleen Goodeill Celebrates 3 Years at NSM!

Kaleen Goodeill is our veteran marketing manager in the K-12 school industry, one of several core markets North Star Marketing serves. Today she marks her three-year workiversary on our team, and we caught up with her for an interview to hear what’s new and developing in the K-12 space. We also asked her to reflect on what she has learned in the last year as she keeps growing her skills for serving this dynamic market.

First of all, thanks for all your work, Kaleen! You do an amazing job of leading our team and so many of our school clients. Maybe start us off by sharing something you enjoyed working on in the last year.

One of the most surprising and fun things I’ve been able to do this year is step in with Micah Fox to support our sales team. As he meets with prospective school partners to discuss marketing solutions and strategy, I’ve been able to join in those calls to support him directly and share my role with those schools. [Laughs] I don’t think of myself as a salesperson, and I didn’t even expect to enjoy the sales process, but I have enjoyed this because it has tied in really closely with the thing I love most about my job. Read More

Jordan Celebrates 3 Years at NSM!

Slow, sure growth is a sign of a healthy plant with the strength and roots to flourish for many years. Three years ago today, Jordan Buckhalt joined the NSM creative services department as a budding graphic designer. It’s been wonderful to see him grow.

Jordan, what’s the best thing you learned this year?

For the last six months, for 20 hours of my spare time outside of work every week, I’ve been in the midst of a deep dive course on user experience. I’m close to my certification now, and it’s been amazing to start applying what I’m learning at work. Today, I have a much better understanding of the data that helps us understand our clients’ end-users that we design for in our work. When we can tie what we learn about them to the goals of our clients, that alignment has strong potential! Read More

Lead with Humility: Two Models for Leadership

Any honest pursuit of excellence is going to produce humility—or at least the opportunity for it. To keep pressing ahead and breaking new ground as we lead our teammates and clients means we have to look again at what drives real leadership. Ryan Cardwell, a senior developer and member of the North Star leadership team, gives us his quiet, compelling take on what it means to Lead with Humility.

Lead … with humility. I know that on the surface, these concepts may seem completely disconnected, but if we can look more deeply at their relationship we can see how they work in synergy to produce an ideal harmony.

Untempered leadership engenders an overbearing, tyrannical, arrogant, distant, cold environment. The people who suffer under that kind of unmitigated control usually respond with fear, resentment, and conflict. This is not an environment that makes a truly successful workplace.

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Commit to Excellence: It’s a Process Before a Product

Commit to Excellence is the core value we begin with at North Star Marketing. It is also where we always return to start again because our core values are not a disconnected list of abstractions we love. They are each a part of an ongoing process that informs every corner of our work. Our creative director, Rob McDorman, deeply understands this commitment and process, and we can’t think of a better, more humble spokesperson for our leading core value.

Think about shopping for a chair. At some point, we’ve all gone looking for just the right one, either for the office or some room in our house. You don’t buy the first one you see or sit in. You probably do not buy the twentieth one you try out. You probably need to sit in a lot of chairs before you find the one you want. 

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Never Sit on a Mediocre Chair: Advice from a Marketing Firm with a Commitment to Excellence

Think of a chair.
It may be a fairly beautiful chair; imagine its intricate carvings and a polish that reflects a flawless finish. But let’s face it… chairs are not for viewing; they’re for sitting.

At the crucial moment of trust, we place a significant measure of personal pleasure or pain, joy or embarrassment in the functionality of a chair. Unless, of course, you are the kind of impervious soul who enjoys ridicule, no one desires to come crashing to the floor due to a mediocre chair construction process.

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Senior Creative Joins North Star Marketing’s Graphic Design Team

Bryan Ickes - Senior Creative

North Star Marketing welcomes Senior Creative Bryan Ickes to our talented Design team. Bryan started on August 1, 2013, and contributes to a wide range of creative services at North Star, including:

  • brand/logo development
  • web development (mobile, responsive design)
  • print collateral (catalogs, brochures)
  • online advertising (landing pages, e-books)
  • traditional advertising (billboards, direct mail, print ads) Read More

Public Relations Strategist Joins North Star Marketing’s Online Marketing Team

TaylorMeyersBURLINGTON, NC (March 21, 2013) – North Star welcomes Content Marketing Manager Taylor Myers to our growing Online Marketing team. Taylor started on March 1, 2013, and engages in a full range of Internet marketing activities, including:

  • search engine optimization
  • blog marketing
  • social media strategy and marketing
  • content marketing strategy
  • extensive content writing
  • online marketing management
  • project management

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