How do you maintain an open and creative work atmosphere where all players are equal and ideas are king? You name your agency after that idea so that every conversation, every mention, and every printed object sings that story. When the founders of Elevendy were looking for their company name, that’s where they looked. For the latest issue, Advanced Photoshop Magazine caught up with Elevendy to parse through their process, their people, and the work that they do.
Dave Cox, CEO and founder of Elevendy, explains that “Human beings are most creative between the ages 2 and 8,” before we know the rules and pressures of society. “Anything is possible for kids. We want to make that our rally cry.” Elevendy is a word independently created by innumerable children when learning their numbers, exploring language. Untethered from pedestrian, oppressive behavior and arbitrary rules of decorum, children reach into the fog of language and pluck out an impossible word, “Elevendy.” A word that is understandable to whoever hears it, regardless of how much “sense” it makes. That’s what Elevendy, the agency, traffics in. They communicate experiences and ideas before trying to figure out if they’re being “correct.” You can’t innovate without first considering the impossible.
This is just common sense to Dave. “Everybody has value throughout the process,” so it’s counterproductive to stifle anyone’s voice at any point. When everyone is honestly working towards making every project better, every time, the next best idea can come from anywhere and anyone. “We won’t settle for less than the best,” Dave is clear to state.
That’s why every “Eleven Day” (the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 11/11) the agency comes together as a group and destroys all the awards they’ve earned that are less than gold. Sure, it’s always great to be recognized, but Elevendy treats them as encouragement to go further, that they’re on the right track. Dave explains the mindset that they meditate on when firing arrows into those “This was a great honor but we don’t need to keep it and aspire to get second place again.”
Dave’s emails all end with a simple and inspiring quote, “Anything less than the best, is a felony.” This little bit of genius isn’t from Abraham Lincoln, Steve Jobs, or the Sufi poet Rumi. This is Vanilla Ice, whose lyrics have been frozen in to Dave’s brain since the sixth grade. During Dave’s own formative years he was exposed to the Rapper’s lyrics and despite their assumed expiration date, the words live on through Dave. Because if you’re going to accept any idea from anyone, even the brightest wisdom can come from Vanilla Ice.
Used with permission from Pete Forester
Pete Forester writes all content for the blog at Bernstein&Andriulli and is a contributor to Complex Sneakers