After two weeks, I’ve gotten a better idea of how leader/follower relationships at Vaudeville Ventures function. The open-office is one big room and consists of a few tables – one big table for the design team and interns, a nook with a desk for Taylor (a co-founder and managing partner), and one big table for mostly everyone else. There are smaller tables scattered around the office and three conference rooms for meetings. For the most part, the office is collaborative, open and people are able to visit each other’s desks within a matter of ten seconds. Since Vaudeville Ventures has about twenty people who regularly work in the office, I know everyone on a first-name basis and interact with people at every level of the organization.
Work takes place within teams – there are small teams for every project Vaudeville currently has, which usually consists of one or more of the three execs, a project manager, a few strategists, and an intern. Many of our meetings involve a call with one or more remote members of the team, or calls with clients. During these meetings, I have been called on to present some of the research I’ve done and they always introduce me to clients on calls. While this may seem like a small gesture, I find it rewarding everyone at Vaudeville recognizes interns and values their input.
I interact with at least one or two of the execs on a day-to-day basis. The relationship with the execs and the employees is different based on the exec’s personality. The first thing to note about the execs’ relationship with every other member of the team at Vaudeville is that they are accessible, open, and close with everyone. Michael, one co-founder, is the main creative voice at Vaudeville. He spews his thoughts at meetings, debates and argues with people when there is a disagreement (not in a bad way), and works hands-on on many of the projects at Vaudeville. During meetings, I struggle to take notes because he says so much in such a short period of time. My mentor and a project manager at Vaudeville, Molly, has told me how part of her job is to rein Michael in and be able to glean the most important things Michael says at meetings. Michael leads through his ideas, and while his leadership style is informal, people listen to him and follow his lead because of how he commands a room with his ingenious ideas and humor.
While Molly is one of the younger members of the team, she has a strong influence on the projects she manages as well as on the office as a whole. While she isn’t one of the three “leaders” of Vaudeville, as a product manager and producer, she directs projects, communicates with clients on a daily basis, makes sure members of various projects are completing tasks and meeting deadlines, as well as providing insight on the strategy side on projects. I’ve seen how Molly’s opinion, organization and direction are valued by the execs while shadowing meetings with her. Molly’s leadership style is more hands on than Michael’s, for she uses her organizational skills and communication skills to stay on top of her own work and everyone else’s tasks on the projects she manages. There is a lot to learn from both Michael and Molly – while they play different roles in the company, their personality traits and leadership styles both have valuable qualities. Vaudeville Ventures’ style – in its office and its leadership – is more open than I’ve seen in other organizations I’ve been a part of.