Employees new to Think Company are quickly introduced to “Uncle B.” While not introduced to him directly, he’s referenced in meetings, joked about at happy hours, and mentioned on calls.
So who is Uncle B.? Is he our founder? Our mascot? And when does he come into the office?
Who is Uncle B.?
We’ll cut to the chase: Uncle B. isn’t a real person and never was. Even though you’ll see a purple bust of Uncle B. around Think Company offices, he’s an idea—the personification of Think Company’s values and best attributes.
The concept of Uncle B. came spontaneously, as many good ideas do. Early in Think Company’s history, a few inaugural Thinkers were out to a lunch or happy hour, and when our CEO moved to pay the bill, he said, “It’s on Uncle B.” It was a natural way of shifting the credit away from himself to Think Company—then known as Think Brownstone.
Until that point, our founders had joked internally about a mysterious benefactor who was credited with anything positive that happened in the company. But when our CEO used the name Uncle B. (short for “Uncle Brownstone”) at that lunch, something just clicked.
Uncle B. was generous, intelligent, trustworthy, and always knew the right thing to do. He became the invisible benefactor at every company lunch, new-hire coffee, and after-work happy hour. He was the embodiment of our values—so much so that we named an award after him.
The Uncle B. Award
Each quarter, a Think Company employee receives the Uncle B. Award. True to its namesake, this honor is bestowed on the employee who most exemplified our company values that quarter. Employees nominate each other, and it’s become an excellent way for us to celebrate excellence on our teams and in our organization.
The award, like Uncle B., was an idea that happened spontaneously. In the fall of 2013, our teams had been working on a project with highly complex code. A problem had plagued developers in the code for weeks, and it looked like it would be a few more weeks before the issue was resolved.
One night, an employee—who wasn’t on the project and only heard about the issue during a meeting—stayed up late working on the problem and wrote 4-5 lines of code that solved the issue. While we value work/life balance and don’t want employees working late too often, this team member’s effort was so above-and-beyond, and their solution so simple and elegant, that we felt we needed a more public and enduring way to recognize someone so clearly putting our core values into action.
The Uncle B. Award was given to this employee at the next quarterly meeting and has continued since. The winners used to take ownership of Uncle B. for a quarter, displaying him on their desk, sometimes even at client sites, and would bring him back for the next quarterly meeting for him to meet his next owner. As we’ve become more national and distributed, that didn’t work as well—so now, all winners receive a small purple bust that’s a 3D printed version of the original statue. These may or may not be going for big bucks on eBay.
Uncle B.: Our values, personified
We still reference Uncle B. when picking up the tab at lunch or happy hour. He’s still the scapegoat for every act of generosity and kindness that can’t be directly linked to an employee’s efforts.
The Uncle B. Award is bestowed on a Think Company employee every quarter as a way of acknowledging all the ways they’ve embodied our values. It’s a way of celebrating the good things that bring us together, and inspiring us as we move forward.
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