How Lottery Lunches Help Us Build Trust

Erin Boose Nov 22 2018 4 PM | 3 min read

Our company culture boils down to six core values that make up the DNA of our team and define our ways of working. My personal favourite is Build Trust, which means that Smartlies trust each other with ownership, freedom, and responsibility. The fact that you can trust the Smartlie next to you to have the best intentions in mind for the company and more importantly, for you, is very special to me. I’m truly grateful that I can work in an environment where trust is emphasised and meaningful connections to colleagues across the globe are valued.

Trust is a must for transparency, self-organization, and fast decision-making, but where does trust come from? We believe the culture of trust starts with hiring the right people. If we hire people who put the success of the whole team before their own, we can trust everyone to make smart decisions that drive the company forward. Trusting by default weeds out the need for micro-management, bureaucracy, and heavy processes, which makes a nicer place to work for us all. Hiring the right people isn’t enough, though. You have to make sure the great people you’ve hired also know each other.

Helping Smartlies get to know each other—one lunch at a time

The Lottery Lunch is a global initiative that connects Smartlies across teams and offices and help them to get to know each other. Every week, all Smartlies are randomly matched into pairs. It’s then up to each pair to schedule a mutual time to connect in person or via a video call, if they happen to be based in different offices. Back in the old days, when our team was considerably smaller and everyone was at the same office, Lottery Lunches were actual lunches, where two people who didn’t work very closely together got an opportunity to find out more about each other over a shared lunch. Now that we are more than 300 people in 18 offices across the globe, Lottery Lunches are usually 30-minute video calls where Smartlies from different parts of the organizations meet and get to know each other.

My first ever Lottery Lunch was with Tatu, one of the very early Smartly team members. What truly struck me was the warmth and openness of a complete stranger whose only connection to me was that we are both Smartlies. Tatu and I bonded over us both having recently moved. He regaled me with a fascinating story of building furniture in the Finnish woods. My tale of hiring a handyman in New York to paint could not compete. Ever since, Tatu has been my go-to for anything from wisdom to paint color guidance.

Another memorable Lottery Lunch was at a local Mexican eatery in New York with Annabell, who is a product manager of a developer team that develops the features she liked the most while using as a client before. Our conversation covered everything from shoe shopping to recruiting to our much-anticipated Pinterest launch.

I find this tradition fascinating. We nurture our philosophy of trusting each other by default by continuously connecting with other Smartlies regardless of time zones, base offices, and teams. Lottery Lunches are a concrete step we take every week to steer clear from siloing and to foster trust among our growing team. I am so grateful to be part of  an organization that celebrates its values and works to keep them integrated in our daily work.

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Erin Boose

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