April 26, 20131 Comment

11 Tables Drawing Game! The Answers

Behold, the entirety of our new piece of artwork, "11 Tables."

TXI 11 Tables Drawing scaled

And all the TXI references, moving clockwise from the upper left corner:

  1. Green roof, symbolizing our commitment to environmental causes
  2. Arnold Schwarzenegger, aka designer Jon Fernandez
  3. CEO Josh Golden shooting rubberbands
  4. Moran Home Brew, courtesy of Paul Moran
  5. Delivery Director Alicia Drucker and her pack of index cards
  6. Marketing Director Kate Garmey, aka the Disaster in Heels
  7. Finance Director and money whiz Tina Stump
  8. Our string logo
  9. Rails, of Ruby on Rails fame
  10. Steampunk devs, aka Mike Laurence + Jason Pearl, creators of Deepworld
  11. Copyeditor Kathryn Achenbach + an insane pair of shoes
  12. Designer Daniel Strabley putting random labels on things
  13. Sunset view from our office
  14. Clients Zocalo and Dickson graffitied on the wall
  15. Bertrude, the Costa Rican parrot and unofficial company mascot
  16. Fishtank from the old office
  17. Pythons, like the language
  18. Developer Byron Galbraith in his kilt
  19. The Motherboard
  20. Client YMCA
  21. Nerf Armory
  22. Cheese Dispenser + Meat Faucet Conference Rooms
  23. Our friendly neighborhood Starbucks
  24. Client Services Director Greg Baugues has been known to ride a cow when necessary
  25. Developer + partner Erik Schwartz and his transformer bike/nerf gun
  26. Motorcycle enthusiast and finance guru David Hartmann
  27. Bowling Alley Conference Room, complete with tables made from bowling alley wood
  28. Developer and modern dancer Annie Wang
  29. Developer and percussionist Jason Hanggi
  30. Developer and sombrero-wearer Jon Buda, fresh back from Mexico
  31. Developer and Dr. Seuss lover Andrew Horner
  32. Georgia Tech grad and Agile Lead Noel Rappin
  33. Developer Bradley Schaefer, formerly of StubHub
  34. The corner of Jefferson and Van Buren, home sweet home
  35. Client Strange Cargo, selling tees
  36. Macs growing on an Apple tree
  37. Developer Chris Stump, sitting on a stump
  38. Developer and resident Dr. Dolittle Gabrielle Dewitt
  39. Barefoot developer Micah Gates
  40. Client The Spice House, dishing spices
  41. Artist Ethan Orbach as the Bespectacled Guy on the Street
  42. Bowling Night!
  43. CTO Matt Lineen takes aim with his death stare
  44. Delivery Principle Subha Sriram, mother of triplets
  45. Developer and standup comic Dan Rench and his family
  46. Star Wars Movie Night!
  47. Business Analyst and popcorn aficionada Melissa Enguidanos
  48. Technology Practice Lead Doctor John Gore
  49. Intern and Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman Peter Park
  50. Intern and Weasley brother Nate Hartmann
  51. COO and flaming ginger Mark Rickmeier
  52. Developer Woody Torres, aka Woody Woodpecker
  53. The Table XI kitchen
  54. Technology Practice Lead Rich Wu, watering the plants and getting the coffee
  55. Partner Emeritus Jordan Ho, taking photos of food
  56. A lobster, the obsession of Mainer Kate Garmey
  57. Rockstar Chef Aram Reed
  58. Mobile developer Ed LaFoy, who's never been on a plane
  59. Office Manager Ellen Brast, handing out $5 hour bounties
  60. The Rozelle painting above Ellen's desk
  61. 11 tables scattered throughout

Congrats to Kentaro Ebersole, who guessed the most correctly!

For close-up sections of the drawing, check out parts one, two, three, and four of our game. Thanks for playing!

April 18, 20131 Comment

Iterating to Excellence: A Look Back on 11 Years

perksTable XI recently celebrated its 11th anniversary, which has been the source of both celebration and reflection. We certainly couldn't have made it here without the help of some of our first clients, like The Spice House, Dickson Data, and Chicago Dryer. But we also couldn't have accomplished what we set out to achieve without the team, many of whom have been with us since our early days.

Last month's Table Talks centered around the theme of "Innovation." I used the opportunity to deliver a presentation on business hacks using company perks. Sure, some things like company retreats to Costa Rica and freshly prepared lunches make Table XI a great place to work, but what many people don’t understand is that they also help solve real business problems.

But it’s taken a lot of tinkering to get where we are today. We’ve tried a lot of things that didn’t work—ask anyone here about the noisy ping pong table we once introduced—but we expect some things to fail and some to stick. When we build software, we never presume we'll deliver the final product on the first go. Rather, we deliver in increments, get feedback, and continue to iterate. Why should building a business be any different? We’ve just applied these same agile methodologies to management.

If you’re curious to know what did stick, take a look at my presentation below (and check out the rest of the Table Talks on Innovation on our PechaKucha channel).

March 25, 2013No Comments

11 Tables Drawing Game! The Final Round

It's your last chance to play our drawing game! This is the final section of "Eleven Tables," which we commissioned from artist Ethan Orbach in honor of our 11th "golden" birthday this month. Find the TXI references (including employees, clients, and other office jokes) and leave your guesses in the comments. After this week, whoever has the most correct answers will win a free chef-cooked lunch at our office, so make sure to check out parts onetwo, and three if you haven't yet. Next week we'll reveal all 65+ answers!

Your weekly hint: One of our staffers spent this summer getting nerducated.

Good luck!

TXI 11 Tables Drawing 4th Quadrant scaled

March 18, 2013No Comments

11 Tables Drawing Game! Part 3

It's Monday, and that means it's time to reveal another clip of "11 Tables," the drawing we commissioned from artist Ethan Orbach in honor of our 11th birthday this month. See if you can spot the TXI references in the scene below and leave your answers in the comments (and check out parts onetwo, and four if you haven't yet). There's just one section left after this, and then we'll reveal all the answers. Whoever finds the most references gets a free chef-cooked lunch at our office!

Your weekly hint: Can you find the allusions to our conference rooms?

Good luck!

TXI 11 Tables Drawing 3rd Quadrant scaled

March 11, 2013No Comments

11 Tables Drawing Game! Part 2

In case you missed our announcement  last week, Table XI turns 11 this March! This is a big birthday for us, and to celebrate it we've  commissioned a new piece of art for the office from artist Ethan Orbach. Each Monday this month we'll be revealing a snippet of Ethan's "11 Tables" on our blog. You'll find the second piece of the puzzle below. Here's your weekly hint: All Table XI employees, including contractors, are represented in the complete version.

Update: Here are parts three and four.

TXI 11 Tables Drawing 2nd Quadrant scaled

And as an added incentive, the person who gets the most answers right over the course of the month gets a free chef-cooked lunch at our office. We may even let you pick the menu. Yum.

Good luck!

March 4, 2013No Comments

11 Tables Drawing Game! Part 1

Table XI turns 11 this month! In honor of our "Golden Birthday" (get it?) we commissioned a new piece of art for the office from artist Ethan Orbach. At our recent retreat to Lake Geneva, we broke into teams and had a contest to see who could find the most company references in the drawing—all told there are more than 65, including creative depictions of employees, clients, and other office jokes. (Artistic license was very much encouraged.)

We had so much fun, we wanted to give our friends a chance to play. Each Monday in March we'll post a section of the drawing. See if you can spot the TXI references, Where's Waldo-style, then leave your answers in the comments. At the end of the month we'll reveal all and unveil the entire drawing.

The contestant* who gets the most answers right over the course of the month gets a free chef-cooked lunch at our office. We may even let you pick the menu. Yum.

Good luck! (And don't forget to check out parts twothree and four.)

TXI 11 Tables Drawing 1st Quadrant scaled

*Sorry, TXI employees, you're not eligible to play. Quit your griping, you get free lunch everyday.

February 27, 2013No Comments

What to Do in Lake Geneva: The Table XI Retreat

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This year, for Table XI’s annual company retreat, the frozen shores of Lake Geneva and The Abbey were calling. Though it may not have been as lengthy (or exotic) as 2012’s week-long trek to Costa Rica, we still managed to fit a lot into four days.

Our biggest goal with our retreats is always to give our people the chance to get to know each other better outside the restraints of project teams and a regular workday. This has only become more important as we’ve grown substantially over the past two years, and it’s always enjoyable to see people who don’t cross paths on a normal basis hanging out playing Werewolf or putting together a LEGO Death Star. On Saturday afternoon, I noticed a card game going on involving a couple employees (both old and new), one of our contractors, and some significant others—none of whom had ever had much interaction with each other before. It’s great to see these kinds of connections form over the course of a long weekend. People also bonded over a trip to the Yerkes Observatory, Frozen Turkey Bowling (this is a real thing that’s exactly what it sounds like), meals both company-sponsored and not, and an evening of S’mores around a campfire.

The other point to taking these retreats is to give ourselves a chance to work on the business as opposed to in the business. During the days we broke our team into smaller groups for professional development and company planning sessions. In particular, we made a lot of progress around targeting our marketing and account management efforts and selecting the right tool for our delivery operations. We did a deep dive on our customer profiles, identifying key patterns and practices that will not only help us serve our current clients better, but also let us pinpoint client prospects we think will be a good fit with Table XI.

Finally, we went over the business’ finances with the entire company. This is always a key component for me, since our newer employees are often surprised and appreciative of this level of transparency and candor. I’ve always maintained that giving people the greater financial context for why we make certain decisions is crucial to the health of the company as a whole, since it empowers the individuals working here.

All in all, I’m happy with our Lake Geneva excursion and the progress we made on a macro level. Stay tuned over the next several weeks for some more detailed retreat follow-ups, including a shot of our new commissioned artwork “Eleven Tables,” and some pretty hilarious photo galleries and videos of people doing things like throwing frozen turkeys at bowling pins.

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February 21, 2013No Comments

We’re Off to Lake Geneva!

Our projectors are packed, our laptops are stowed, and we are counting down the hours until the bus arrives to take us to The Abbey in Lake Geneva for the weekend. While not, perhaps, quite as exotic as Costa Rica, this year’s company retreat will still give us the chance to step back from day-to-day work and look at Table XI’s bigger picture. Plus, frozen turkey bowling. You can’t do that at the Equator.

On the docket this year:

  • Discussing strategy and goal setting
  • Standardizing best practices across the development team
  • Learning data visualization techniques and how best to apply them
  • Improving the client experience

We’ve also set aside time for interdisciplinary teams to work on company pet projects that fall by the wayside during the hustle and bustle of everyday work life. Some of these include developing an online game, identifying new products we can take to market, and finding ways to meld our client relationships into company events and culture.

But it won’t be all work, all the time. We’ll be visiting the nearby Yerkes Observatory for some winter stargazing, hitting the lanes for the aforementioned frozen turkey bowling, and partaking in other activities like ice skating, ice fishing, and anything else that involves ice (it is Wisconsin in February, after all). On Saturday night Table XI is taking us all to a dinner in which everyone will be wearing their new Trunk Club duds, so stay tuned for pictures of our devs like you’ve never seen them before. Fancy!

In the meantime, we’ll be updating our Twitter and Facebook pages throughout the weekend, so stop by to see the latest in Lake Geneva entertainment.

March 28, 2012No Comments

10 Things We Learned in Costa Rica

We swam, we surfed, we SQL queried. Between the beach and the tiki hut office, there was lots to glean from our time in Costa Rica:

  1. Contrary to popular belief, developers are not allergic to sunlight.
  2. Hammocks make good desks.
  3. A day iterating on Facebook's API is a day well spent.
  4. When you want a good photo, ask a Schwartz.
  5. Jason Pearl builds cloud-based games and Imperial pyramids with equal levels of dedication and ingenuity.
  6. Chef Aram has ninja knife skills. And now we all know how to chop an onion properly.
  7. Just say no to traveling on the day two major airlines merge.
  8. Just say yes when someone asks you if you have a phone in your pocket before they throw you in the water.
  9. Meetings are more fun when they happen in pools.
  10. The two rarest things to see in the wild: sloths and a John Gore smile.

 

Check out some other highlights from our trip:

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March 7, 2012No Comments

Costa Rica Is Pura Vida

Before our trip, I found myself in conversations with clients and friends, trying to articulate why we were bringing all our employees, their significant others, and their children to Costa Rica for a weeklong corporate retreat. Most were congratulatory at being able to provide such an experience; many requested jobs; a handful, I suspect, if even for a moment, thought this might be a junket.

The reality, however, is that the trip is an extension of who we are as a company. It’s a progression of our flexible hours, catered lunches, and ability to work abroad—perks that allow us to compete for talent in our industry and find employees who are more than just employees. We endeavor to provide an environment that elevates an individual from trusted colleague to friend.

Our recent growth—including 11 employees last year—as well as the departure of two long-time staffers necessitated a renewed focus on our team and where we're headed as an organization. In much the same way we encourage clients to meet at our office and step outside the day-to-day of their existence, we wanted to do the same.

[portfolio_slideshow]

We used this time to review development best practices and testing strategies. We intermingled teams exploring the depths of the Facebook API, cut our teeth on mobile platforms, exposed developers to new languages, and leveraged unfamiliar tools like mailgun and Refinery CMS, which will have immediate utility for our clients.

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