When Hiring, ContextMedia Remains Close to its Mission
Posted on September 9th, 2015
How does ContextMedia scale quickly while enhancing its culture with every hire? In the past year, ContextMedia has added well over one hundred jobs to its Chicago workforce, and will add hundreds more over the next year. Meanwhile, the team remains mission-driven, and is committed to building a team that shares that passion.
As long as you make sure to always keep the mission top of mind, always look for the character, we’ll be able to not just hit the goal but make sure we’re doing it and sustaining our culture,” said Kate De Voto, talent director at ContextMedia.
To read the full feature in the Chicago Tribune, including a conversation with CEO Rishi Shah, click here.
The Four Question Interview
Posted on September 4th, 2015
Director, Member Experience and Operations
When I first started interviewing candidates, I thought I was really clever. I would throw mind-bending questions at each candidate in order to test their chops.
One day, I was in the middle of an interview, and it was not going well. The candidate, who was both qualified and excited about the company, was getting noticeably frustrated at some of my questions. I realized that while these questions were interesting to me, they did not serve the purpose of vetting whether this candidate would do well at our company.
This rocked me. I was growing professionally, but I was still interviewing like a kid. How could I know which questions to ask, and what the right answers were? Just as it was the candidate’s job to prepare for the interview, it was my job to find out if they could do the job well. I needed a new approach.
Later that week, I was having a conversation with a colleague. He asked me, “As a manager, what do you look for in people on your team?”
Without hesitation, I responded, “I find out what they are passionate about and what they think they are good at. I want to show them that their job is aligned with what they already love to do.”
I immediately realized that instead of looking for the subjectively “perfect” answers from candidates, I should instead look for something more tangible: what I sought in people already on the team. From there, I developed four questions that I ask every candidate. Here they are:
1. What makes you, you?
There are a million directions the candidate can go with this question, none of them wrong. I’m looking for self-reflection. I want to find out how a candidate thinks through the question and articulates a response. Is it a list of experiences or a conversation about their family? Do they use the opportunity to describe their achievements or to share obstacles they’ve overcome? No matter what the response, I’ll get a pulse on their attitude and values.
2. What do you like to do?
I am looking for alignment with what the job entails. If I find no alignment between what they like to do and the role, I will be honest with them about it, making sure they completely understand the task at hand.
3. What are you exceptional at?
This is another self-reflection question, and I am looking to see what skills they think they bring to the table, especially after they’ve learned what the job is. Often, their response is different from what they are actually good at. This helps build a coaching and training plan to get folks up to speed quickly if they join the team.
4. What are you absolutely, positively passionate about?
I recently had a candidate say that his passion was volunteering and helping others. He described this passion as a “calling,” yet he hadn’t volunteered in over a decade. I don’t care what your passion is as much as I care that you have the guts to take action towards that passion.
We never want a candidate to try to fit whatever ideal they think ContextMedia represents. We want authenticity. If you are straight-laced, be that. Tell us about it. If you like PBR or riding a scooter or both of those activities at the same time, that’s really cool, too (please be safe). I believe that if we hire passionate people who are aligned with our values and the job at hand, they will be an all-in contributor, and will fight tooth and nail to help fulfill our mission.
We’re building this team right now. To take a look at our opportunities, check out our careers page.
Why are so many female founders coming out of Northwestern University?
Posted on August 20th, 2015
While undergraduates at Northwestern, ContextMedia co-founders Shradha Agarwal and Rishi Shah started their first venture together, the Northwestern Business Review, a bi-annual publication that focused on socially responsible for-profit businesses. While they were working on an article for NBR, they came up with the idea of ContextMedia, and the rest is history.
While Shradha was a journalist by training, the opportunities at Northwestern helped pave the path towards co-founding ContextMedia. A recent article published by Chicago Inno points out that Northwestern has the highest output of female founders amongst all Chicago-area universities. Shradha commented, ”The diversity [at Northwestern] allows you to gain perspective, embrace new things and build confidence in your own abilities. This also creates the perfect environment for finding co-founders who have complementary skills, exploring new industries, joining student organizations on themes unrelated to your study major, and pushing yourself to a new challenge. “
To read the full feature in Chicago Inno, click here.
The 5 Values You Need to Win
Posted on August 20th, 2015
On July 30, Joakim Noah visited ContextMedia’s headquarters to have a conversation with our CEO, Rishi Shah, about hard work, leadership and what it takes to be the best. I’ll get the simple questions out of the way: 1. Yes, he is scary tall; 2. No, he does not have a summer home in Cleveland; 3. Yes, he did invent the man bun.
As Noah spoke with Rishi, he explained, “Lead by example. Only you know if you’re the best you can be for your team.” In his 8 years with the Bulls, Noah has led the Bulls to seven playoff runs while being named a two-time NBA All-Star. In 2014, his work on the court earned him the Defensive Player of the Year Award. Along the way, he has become a figurehead for the Bulls and established a reputation of passion and hard work.
While the difference in height between the two of us is both comical and upsetting (see above), we may be cut from the same cloth, because Joakim’s passionate approach to the game embodies ContextMedia’s values. Here’s how.
There is no substitute for hard work. Noah has established himself as a role player that gets the job done, no matter what it takes. In an interview with CSN, Bulls Guard Jimmy Butler said, “Jo makes everyone want to play harder. Dive on the floor, take a charge. Because when you see how emotional he is, you know that he’s really into the game. You want to go to war. You want to battle with a guy like Jo.”
Hold your team accountable. Noah has an innate ability to get his teammates hyped. When the Bulls are down a few baskets in the 4th, Noah plays a little harder and inspires the rest of his team to keep up. While speaking with the Sun-Times, Derrick Rose explained, “[Noah]’s energy and presence on the team is huge for us. He’s a hell of a character, a hell of teammate, a hell of a person, and he’ll do anything to win – which rubs off on people. “
Getting to the top takes humility. During Noah’s tenure with the Florida Gators, he dreamed big, but did not take success for granted. Before the start of the 2006 NCAA tournament, Noah commented to the Florida Times, “When we’re playing well, we’re very, very tough to beat. We’ve also proven that when we’re not on top of our game, we can also lose to anybody. If we have our PHD — if we play poor, hungry and driven every night — we’re going to be fine.” The Gators went on to outwork every other team they faced to win the 2006 NCAA Championship, which would be the first of two that Noah would win at Florida.
If you aren’t having a good time, what’s the point? Every play communicates Noah’s unwielding passion for basketball and the Chicago Bulls. He claps his hands, beats his chest, and screams at the top of his lungs to let both his teammates and opponents know that he is not going to give up. When Noah isn’t playing, he is at ease – an indication that he truly loves the work that he does. He is known as a jokester, and had our team in stitches when he visited the office.
We believe in servant leadership. Off the court, Noah devotes his time and resources towards creating a positive impact on the lives of others by tackling some of the most difficult and urgent issues in Chicago. In our offices, Noah spoke talked about his newest initiative within the Noah’s Arc Foundation, Rock Your Drop. Proceeds from the sales of the Drop of Consciousness pendant go directly to supporting organizations that promote violence prevention and youth empowerment in Chicago.
To see more photos of Noah’s visit to CM, click here.
The Marathon of Execution
Posted on August 7th, 2015
Director, Member Experience and Operations
Last year, I signed myself up for an ultramarathon. I signed up for the opportunity to run 50 kilometers, in what was far and away the most ambitious physical goal in my entire life. When I shared my plans with friends and family, some called this goal “ambitious,” while others lightly described the task as “torture.” Most of all, I heard from others that this would be “impossible.”
Take a second to visualize an ultramarathoner in your head. Are they hairless and aerodynamic, or maybe even sun-kissed from years of roadwork? Do you see them? The person you see is the exact physical opposite of me, I am not petite. Still, on November 1, 2014, I crossed the finish line with my tired hands raised (actually they were dangling in a awkward way). How’s that for impossible?
A few months have passed, and my knees have nearly recovered. In that time, I have found ways to apply what I learned running an ultramarathon towards executing at ContextMedia. We are shooting for the stars, and when we write our goals out on paper, they can appear more difficult than a 50 km run. However, for the past five years we have continued to hit them.
So how do you make your ambitious goals happen? Here’s what I learned:
Define the big picture
At first, 50 km seemed staggering. I benchmarked the distance against previous experiences: that’s two marathons, a round trip to IKEA, etc. Then I took a step back. I needed to conceptualize this goal, and understand that it was possible.
At ContextMedia, we go on quarterly leadership retreats to define our big picture goals, and every quarter, the goals get more ambitious. But the first step in our journey is to say them out loud and align on them. Getting overwhelmed is avoidable if you allow yourself some time to think about the goal from 10,000 feet. You can do this and still keep your feet on the ground.
See your goals as an opportunity, not a problem
While running an ultramarathon may seem like an exercise in solitude, I actively sought the opportunities for everyone involved. For my wife, I would finally be getting those washboard abs that I’ve been promising her (kidding, unfortunately). In all seriousness, the ultramarathon was meaningful because I leveraged it to raise money for a charity I cared about, LaunchU. Having more stakeholders involved increased the impact while helping me hold myself accountable.
In setting a goal, define the opportunities for every stakeholder in its pursuit, and never lose sight of them. While this may seem time consuming, it can be achieved by getting everyone into the same room for a few minutes. As you map out your strategy, the impact on each stakeholder must be at best, net positive, and at worst, net neutral. If you find yourself with a net negative, rethink it, executing against that plan will only lead to dissatisfaction across stakeholder groups, including employees, crushing morale. You will be blown away at the amount opportunity not just for the company, but for everyone on your team. This is crucial to getting everyone on board.
Build an execution-focused strategy
Strategy doesn’t have to be an ugly word. You aren’t going to be running 50 km any time soon without a training plan.
Similarly, at a high growth company, you have to stop, calibrate, and come up with a gameplan. Just ensure that whatever your strategy is, every step includes a plan of execution with attainable and tangible goals. I always wrap up our meetings with an action plan with deadlines – it’s my way of ensuring that things will get done. Consistency in execution will set you apart.
Build for flexibility
At various points in my training, I missed a day here and there because of injury, illness, or the surprise visit from the family. This can cause anxiety, and it’s easy to feel like you are derailed, and one step further from the goal.
To prevent this feeling, leave some slack in your plan. There will always be unpredictables, don’t get caught up in planning purgatory trying to define every possible scenario. Create your strategy with room for flexibility and get moving.
Don’t execute for grandeur
There were training days when I was hyped on adrenaline and wanted to run further. Similarly, I remember being 5 miles into a 10 mile run, and, exhausted, became overwhelmed at the thought of running anything more than 30. When this happened, I focused on each of my steps, the road in front of me, and the goal I had set for myself at the start of the run. Alright, I’m completely in love with this phrase, so I’m going to say it again: consistency in execution will set you apart.
When executing towards a goal, make sure that you are grabbing the low hanging fruit while setting yourself up for success in the next step. At ContextMedia, we need to add hundreds of jobs over the next year. It’d be easy to hire our next 200 applicants, or to feel overwhelmed by our ambitious target. Instead, we seek to hit our weekly goals, week after week, month after month. Focus on the path, not the end goal, and move forward one step at a time.
Be comfortable not knowing what’s next
At the start of my journey, I had a cache of embarrassing google searches in my training research. Starting from the beginning, this included, “Should I run an ultramarathon?” and “How do I train for an ultramarathon?” No shame. I’d never done this before, so why would I know what to do?
As the fastest growing company in our industry, we are going into unchartered territories, and don’t always have the answers along the way. In times like these, you just need to take a step in the right direction towards your goal, and it will lead you back. When in doubt, follow the path of least resistance to solve the most pressing problems; but the bottom line is that you have to keep moving.
Dust Off Your Resume and Work with ContextMedia
Posted on August 6th, 2015
In case you haven’t heard, ContextMedia is hiring! ContextMedia has doubled in size every year, and is on track to end the year with over 250 employees. In a recent article on Built in Chicago, ContextMedia was named one of the 6 top tech companies hiring in Chicago. In the feature, Talent Director Katie De Voto explains what ContextMedia seeks in its ideal candidates.
“We are the fastest-growing company in the industry and hire individuals with the grit, tenacity, and nimbleness to succeed in a growth-stage company. ”
To get more insight into what ContextMedia looks for during hiring, and to see the full list of companies selected by Built in Chicago, click here.
What You Need to Know About Point of Care
Posted on July 29th, 2015
When ContextMedia was founded, the term “point of care” was not yet a buzzword within healthcare – it was used to describe the doctor’s office, hospital or pharmacy. Nearly ten years later, companies like ContextMedia are using technology to transform the reach and impact of point of care, which has grown to encompass any patient interaction during treatment. In a recent article published in Medical Marketing & Media, “Point of Care: Point of Where?” Rebecca Knutsen speaks with ContextMedia EVP of Business Growth, Ashik Desai, about the past, present, and future of point of care. Click here to read more.
Fortune Names ContextMedia as One of the 20 Best Workplaces in Health Care
Posted on July 28th, 2015
CHICAGO, IL | July 28, 2015 – ContextMedia is honored to announce that Fortune has recognized the company as one of the 20 Best Workplaces in Health Care. This ranking comes from an anonymous survey of nearly 30,000 health care employees. ContextMedia is proud to have a meaningful impact not only on the outcomes of 121M+ patient visits a year, but also on each employee that joins the team.
“We’re humbled by this recognition, because innovating in healthcare to improve patient lives is already an honor each day,” said Matt Garms, General Manager of Membership at ContextMedia. “To be recognized as a top healthcare workplace is a testament to our growing team’s passion for our mission, hunger for climbing higher mountains, and the fun that we have together every day as a work family.”
“Health care organizations have a responsibility not only to their employees but to their patients to provide workplaces that support and bring out the best in their people,” says Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work® United States. “Great workplaces are constantly monitoring and analyzing their employees’ workplace experiences and then taking action to improve them. Ranking on this list a great indicator that these companies’ efforts to create great workplaces are resonating with their staff.”
To see Fortune’s full list of the Best Workplaces in Healthcare, click here.
How to Join the Fastest Growing Sales Team in Chicago
Posted on July 23rd, 2015
ContextMedia has grown into the fastest growing sales team in the industry. Amidst this high growth, ContextMedia is committed to creating a family that is humble yet ambitious, and communal yet competitive. In a recent interview with Built In Chicago, Executive Business Liaison Philip de Guzman breaks down what ContextMedia looks for in candidates looking to join the sales team. “Our team isn’t just trying to hit their quotas every day; we want salespeople who get up in the morning motivated to improve the lives of the the millions of patients we impact.”
ContextMedia recently launched its sales recruitment site, and it’s never been easier to apply. To learn more about what it’s like to work on ContextMedia’s sales team, visit us here.
Work for ContextMedia and Live Healthier
Posted on July 22nd, 2015
ContextMedia currently impacts over 10M patient visits a month, and delivers information to help these patients live healthier. Meanwhile, ContextMedia is committed to helping its employees live healthier as well. The Wellness Team at ContextMedia provides complimentary programs to employees to promote physical and mental well-being, including in-office yoga, meditation and mindfulness programs, and sponsored bike share membership. Chicago Inno recently published an article detailing office perks for tech companies in Chicago and featured ContextMedia. Click here to see what we have to offer.