Koi-Fly was conceived in the memory of two men who were thinkers, drivers and successful business people. My dad, Wally Grant, was born into a lower middle-class family on the North Shore of Massachusetts. His hobby was running to school, books on his back, timing himself between telephone poles to see if he could get a faster time each day. He became Beverly High’s Student Body President, an All-American athlete, a decorated Harvard football, track and lacrosse player, a Harvard Business School grad with honors and, subsequently, a completely self-made, extremely financially successful businessman. He died in 2010, leaving the legacy of his own Hedge Fund: Grant Fund, as well as many venture capital start-ups that he helped strategize and fund. He had a love for entrepreneurship, his 4 kids, sports, people of all kinds, and animals. Dad had koi fish in his reconverted barn’s foyer that he nurtured and cared for like his own children. When he died, quite suddenly of lung cancer, my brother and 2 sisters tattooed a koi fish on their bodies. I named a company for him.
My Co-Founder and partner in life (Eric’s) dad worked at Boeing as an Aerospace Engineer. He took part in the Apollo program, helped craft the tail rotor for the Comanche light attack helicopter and worked on the Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, now an integral working force in the armed services. He was a meticulously smart man and had a saying that Eric and I repeat often, “Patience and Perseverance.” He helped the world fly.
These two men are the namesakes for our company, Koi-Fly. We strive every day to make them proud by remembering the example of their diligent spirits while pushing to become as distinctly successful as each of them were in their own rights.
In addition to our disciplined, tenacious work ethic, Koi-Fly’s Mission is based on 5 Core Principles.
I. Happiness at Work:
A decade of research suggests that happiness at work—defined as pleasure, engagement, and a sense of meaning—can improve revenue, profitability, staff retention, customer loyalty, and workplace safety. Many of the studies are preliminary. They aren’t cross-cultural or long-term.
But they strongly suggest that positive emotion increases creativity and problem-solving ability and aids in fighting stress.
Positive psychology, in its current form, was born at the University of Pennsylvania in 1998, when Martin E.P. Seligman, then a Penn professor and president of the American Psychological Assn., made the study of positive emotion the theme of his tenure and developed a master’s program for its study. Since then, hundreds of happiness-and-business researchers have taken on assignments at companies as various as Toyota Motor, Ann Taylor Stores, BP’s Castrol Marine, and Standard Chartered Bank, as well as the Scottish city of Glasgow and the United States Navy. Most graduates of Penn’s master’s program have fanned out to academia or big corporations. But a few, including Koi-Fly, are taking the discipline to entrepreneurship.
Recently, I achieved a Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology. I did this to ensure that Koi-Fly Creative Productions will be a company case study in positive leadership. All that we do and achieve here, internally and externally will stem from positive tenets.
II. Sense of Purpose:
Studies also suggest that businesses succeed when their cultures are imbued with a sense of purpose—for owner and staff.
Much work in this area has come from David L. Cooperrider, who heads the Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management. His workshop method, called Appreciative Inquiry, asks participants to reflect on, write about, and share aloud why their job and company matter.
“There’s a huge fusion of strengths, and every voice becomes part of designing the future of the company’s business,” says Cooperrider.
At Koi-Fly we create beautiful, meaningful projects. We translate vision to beautiful video in such a way that your customer will not only watch your video, but emotionally experience it. Our purpose is your meaning. And we live it.
III. Radical Candor:
“Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom.” -Thomas Jefferson
Kim Scott, a former Google director and professional career coach, believes that good feedback requires two components: caring personally and challenging directly. Combined, these elements create radical candor: meaningful, personal guidance that’s honest, bold, and straightforward.
When one or both of these elements is lacking, our well-intentioned feedback leads to interactions that fall short of our goals, sometimes with disastrous consequences.
Following the lead of Kim Scott, Koi-Fly will create ‘bullshit-free zones where people love their work and working together.’
She says, “Radical candor is humble, it’s helpful, it’s immediate, it’s in person — in private if it’s criticism and in public if it’s praise — and it doesn’t personalize.”
The “radical honesty” movement was founded by a psychotherapist named Brad Blanton, who insists that everyone would be much happier if we were all completely honest, as in no lies–no matter how small and white they may be. It’s a pledge to see and verbally acknowledge things exactly as they are, to the best of your ability. If you have a habit of stopping short of saying what you really think, turning things around will take time, but the results can be shockingly refreshing.
At Koi-Fly we believe that being totally truthful as quickly as possible, especially about our mistakes and weaknesses, will lead to a rapid rate of improvement and movement towards success. This method becomes a crucial step towards finding out what to do about challenges that we face and not letting them stand in the way of accomplishing goals.
Ray Dalio from Bridgewater stated in his manifesto to his corporation,
“Truth —more precisely, an accurate understanding of reality— is the essential foundation for producing good outcomes.”
The tenets of mindfulness can work in just about any small business. I’d even argue that the smaller the business, the greater the impact because each person’s role is that much more essential to executing the overall company mission.
One of our co-workers, Pax Tandon, MAPP is a recognized mindfulness expert. She executes an effective program within Koi-Fly to educate and train Koi-Fly staff. The study and practice of mindfulness promotes active listening and greater observation and data gathering skills. This helps us interact more effectively with each other and our clients. When we hear and understand each other better, we work more effectively and less stressfully.
Personally, the study and practice of mindfulness has allowed me to develop a more acute awareness of what I’m thinking and feeling in the present moment. Staying present as a company, enables us to more accurately gauge internal and external client’s reactions, body language and tone of voice. The study and practice of mindfulness improves the ability to observe and gather data from the environment. Being hyper aware of your surroundings begets sensitivity to the perspectives of others. There is power in increased perception. So, the Koi-Fly staff meditates before some of our meetings and work sessions when we are feeling frenetic. With our breath focused, we try as hard as we can to stay in the present whenever possible.
V. No Assholes:
The No-Asshole Rule was created by Stanford professor Robert I. Sutton and explained in his landmark Harvard Business Review essay . Sutton described how assholes in the office aren’t just a nuisance, but a serious and costly threat to corporate success and employee health. The book based off his essay reveals the huge TCA (Total Cost of Assholes) in today’s corporations. He explains how to spot an asshole (hint: they are addicted to rude interruptions and subtle putdowns, and enjoy using “sarcastic jokes” and “teasing” as “insult delivery systems”), and provides a “self-test” to determine whether you deserve to be branded as a “certified asshole.” In addition, he offers tips that you can use to keep your “inner jerk” from rearing its ugly head.
At Koi-Fly we have instilled this rule as law. We will strive to swerve away from assholes on the road to success which will enhance our happy workplace, for sure.
Hard Work + Happiness + Purpose + Candor + Mindfulness – Assholes = Success
All of the principles that I speak of above contribute to the beautiful, meaningful and shareable, high-quality product that we produce for our clients. Our heart is in this. You will see, feel and hear our passion for this work when you hire Koi- Fly Creative Productions for your visual marketing needs. We create experiences, not just visual media. Try us and we will help you show the world the story that you want to tell.
Stacey Grant, Co-Founder and Executive Producer