#BizVoiceExtra: Hanapin Hits No. 1

Hanapin is a happening place!

I discovered that firsthand with an entertaining visit to Hanapin Marketing, a digital marketing agency that specializes in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. The Bloomington-based company earned the top spot on the 2018 Best Places to Work in Indiana list (small employer category).

“We love to show off our space!” declared a grinning Jamie Newton, senior communications manager. The work environment is open, with very few closed offices. Walls and décor are colorful, much like employees’ personalities.

Images of a dark-haired superhero adorn desks, bookshelves and walls. His identity is quickly revealed: he’s the mascot for Hero Conf – the world’s largest all-PPC conference. Hosted annually by Hanapin, it consists of events in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

In addition, Hanapin publishes the monthly “PPC Hero” blog, geared toward PPC practitioners.

“I always say we never take ourselves seriously, but we take the work very seriously,” reflects president Jeff Allen. “It’s a very humble culture. You would never guess some of the talented people we have around and the some of the really big, important things they’re doing because they’re having fun, enjoying it and hopefully not stressing out too much about it!”

Hanapin was founded in 2004. When Allen joined the team in 2011, there were 13 employees. Today, there are approximately 70.

Among them is millennial Kass Botts, a paid social account manager.

“There’s a community aspect to Hanapin,” she comments. “I love doing the digital marketing work for sure, but what makes Hanapin special to me especially compared to other companies I’ve worked for is that there are a lot of things to get involved in internally and interdepartmentally.”

Fun activities such as cave exploring and a “Yoga With Goats” session help build rapport.

“Were there literally goats?” I ask Allen.

“Yes!” He replies with a laugh. “And a mini-horse.”

Read more about Hanapin’s winning culture in the May-June BizVoice®.

#BizVoiceExtra: A Good Challenge to Have

Call it a pleasant problem – and one I had not considered previously despite this being the 13th year of the Best Places to Work in Indiana program. You’re a winning company and you have a lot of team members who want to take part in the annual awards celebration. So what do you do?

A few organizations in the past have indicated a lottery-style system to determine attendees. During the roundtable discussion in our current issue, representatives of two of the winning companies this time around broached the topic.

Joshua Plank of WestPoint Financial noted he was sad to be missing out in 2018 due to an out-of-town commitment, but that the company table often includes “a couple of recruiters, maybe one or two partners and then typically younger people so they can see it and be a part of it. They think it’s the greatest thing ever.”

Pamela Carrington Rotto of J.C. Hart says her team takes a similar approach.

“The event, of course, is huge and we try to get a variety of folks from across the organization there. That’s always really fun and exciting for people, and it’s a great way for associates who are emerging leaders to kind of get in and see what that looks like and to be a part of it.”

The third roundtable participant is Matthew Griffin of The Garrett Companies, a Best Places winner in its first year of eligibility (recent growth helped it soar past the 15-employee minimum). While the expansion has been impressive, it is also taking place at a controlled pace.

“It has been rapid, but we still feel like we’re growing strategically. We are in a very favorable market for multi-family (real estate) development across the country,” he shares. “Our investors and our bank lending partners would like to do more deals with us and we’ve strategically said, ‘No, we’re going to do this much capacity because we (won’t be) able to perform the way we’re performing now.’ ”

The Garrett Companies, welcome to the “who’s going to attend the celebration” dilemma. It’s one that many others would like to face. And to see if that could be your organization in 2019, learn more (and apply this summer) at www.bestplacestoworkIN.com.

Griffin, Plank and Carrington Rotto provide insights on what their organizations do to establish strong workplace cultures, how they cope with industry-based turnover challenges and much more in the May-June BizVoice®.

#BizVoiceExtra: International School Impresses

I’d heard of the International School of Indiana long before I had the chance to visit for a story in the current edition of BizVoice®, but really didn’t have any idea of the school’s mission as it was founded in Indianapolis over 20 years ago.

Now I can’t stop relating to it.

As you can read here in the story in our March/April edition of BizVoice, the school was created in 1994 to offer an international education option for families of foreign executives and since that time has become known for offering one of the most rigorous curriculums for students in Indiana. The high school has a 100% graduation rate and a 100% college acceptance rate and last year’s class of graduating seniors (there were 42 of them) was offered $6 million in merit scholarships.

I toured both the lower school (ages three up through grades five) and upper school (grades six through 12) and walked through classrooms of pre-kindergarten children learning Mandarin, Spanish and French and was blown away by the poise and passion of high school students speaking about their experiences with the school.

Seeing today that the city of Indianapolis has received a final license from the World Trade Centers Association to establish a World Trade Center in the city makes me think of the International School. While the school was established nearly 25 years ago, the founding mission is still relevant in offering an international curriculum to students in Indiana (whether local students or those from other nations).

I was also reminded of the school when I recently visited a friend in San Francisco and met numerous people – from my friends’ housemates from Russia, to one of our Lyft drivers from Algiers – who were multilingual.

While I was accidentally interviewing (yes – it’s a hazard of my job) that Lyft driver from Algiers, I asked him what language is dominant there and was thinking the answer would be French. It was but, in addition, he listed two others I’d never heard of. English is his fourth language.

The students at the International School are also able to learn up to four languages, right here in central Indiana. It’s the only school in the Midwest with a trilingual option, in addition to English.

As Indiana continues to make a name for itself around the world, seeing the impact of the International School up close and personal was enlightening and – as I’ve mentioned – sticks with you.

#BizVoiceExtra: BSU and the President’s Office

Sitting down and having discussions with business, government and community leaders is a part of this communications/BizVoice editor gig that is truly enjoyable. And conversations with university presidents or chancellors are always intriguing. Most, as expected, are excellent communicators. Some (no, I’m not going to name names) give you the impression the talk might be at a higher level than the actions to follow.

I enjoyed a recent sit-down with Geoff Mearns, the 18th president of my alma mater – Ball State. The focus was to be on university-community engagement. It shifted a bit to K-12 when legislation currently making its way through the Indiana General Assembly would place Ball State in the role of managing the troubled Muncie Community Schools. (Read more on both here).

Mearns is impressive – not just in our talk but in the views of many in Muncie and beyond. A trial lawyer for 15-plus years, he says the most important skill (in that job and his current one) is listening. He’s doing just that and taking the initial steps to move BSU in the right direction as it prepares to look beyond the 2018 celebration of its 100th anniversary.

Although Terry King served in an interim role for nearly a year and a half, Ball State is coming off the still mysterious departure of Paul Ferguson. Yes, these situations when a relationship at such a high level does not work out are tricky, but as a journalism graduate of the school, it was extremely disappointing to see the lack of transparency/communication when Ferguson was suddenly gone in January 2016. In fact, he had been in our Indiana Chamber offices less than two weeks earlier for a BizVoice roundtable.

On the positive side, Beverley Pitts was a longtime BSU administrator who served as interim president for a portion of 2004 before Jo Ann Gora began a decade-long tenure. Pitts went on to the same role at the University of Indianapolis from 2005-2012. Here is a conversation we shared upon her retirement. Her journalism background – and those strong communication abilities – may have played a part in my admiration of her leadership.

A note on another BSU president. John Worthen moved into that spot in 1984 (the year I graduated) and served until 2000 (bringing some much-needed stability). And then he stayed in Muncie. The basketball/volleyball home is now Worthen Arena and I’m told the former president is frequently on hand to cheer on the Cardinals.

New Blog Series: #BizVoiceExtra

There’s a phrase most writers know (and loathe, even though we understand the necessity of it): “kill your darlings.”

While it doesn’t literally mean to kill anyone, the point is that you will write things that are so witty and smart and wonderful that you have probably lost objectivity on whether the words or phrases are useful to the reader.

The only solution is to kill them! Delete. Rewrite. Either way, make sure you’re not just writing for yourself – you’re writing for the reader.

I wish I had all the room in the world – or, within the pages of our bimonthly business magazine, BizVoice – to keep all my lovely darlings and every interview and nugget of information that I find fascinating when working on a story.

Side note: It probably causes my editor, Tom, a little heartburn when I say, “Can I have a little more room, pleassssssse?” (It happens nearly every edition. Sorry, Tom!)

But we have so many great stories to tell about the people and companies making Indiana a special place to work and live that I want to share as much of that with our readers as possible.

In an effort to tell more of those stories that didn’t get into the magazine, I’m starting a new series here on our blog (and this social media manager is giving it a hashtag, of course): #BizVoiceExtra. While it’s not a total workaround of “killing my darlings,” this means I can expand on some topics that readers also might find interesting.

Look here for stories and photos you won’t find in BizVoice from me and hopefully my fellow writers (they don’t know I’m going to rope them into this yet, ha!).

Our March-April edition of BizVoice drops this week! Keep an eye out for some intriguing stories focusing on education and workforce, Indiana Vision 2025 progress and a trip through Indiana’s political history with another entry in our yearlong Road Trip Treasures series.

I’ll have a few of the #BizVoiceExtra stories from our new edition in a few days. Check back soon!