Mango Languages was launched to the world 7 years ago today, August 31, 2007. I’d like to take a moment to reflect upon the last 7 years with Mango.
We’ve come so far and yet we still feel like a startup. We’ve created amazing new products, been on the Inc. 5000 for three years in a row and have won numerous awards and recognition. But really, when I tune in to the most meaningful elements of the last 7 years of Mango’s journey, I think about the dream that we had and still have. I think about our vision for redefining and rethinking everything we had ever been taught about work and business. We were wide-eyed idealists that wanted to transform the grind of the 9 to 5 and turn it into the most meaningful experiences in life.
A Good Job
My first job out of college was ok. I was a Computer Engineer and I got a job as a vehicle simulation engineer. From a technical standpoint, it was very interesting work. We worked with vehicle simulators that were created via mathematical models of every aspect of an automobile. The simulator would generate signals and we could hook up actual powertrain controllers to the simulator to test the embedded systems within the controllers without having to purchase multi-million dollar test vehicles.
I looked up to all of the engineers in my group with awe and admiration. They were brilliant engineers with command of automotive engineering, electrical engineering, software engineering, mechanical engineering, and advanced mathematics and physics. Each engineer was more impressive than the next. There was one engineer named Pete that I had never met. I had only heard about him. All of the engineers that I admired and respected so deeply for their intellect and knowledge had looked up to him. They used to say to me “If you think we’re good, wait until you meet Pete. He is the master.” When I was assigned my next project, I learned that I would be working with Pete. I was both nervous and excited. When I met Pete for the first time, he looked nothing like I would have imagined. I pictured a giant. Instead, I met a man that was about 5’ 6” and weighed about 140 lbs. But, I could instantly tell that he was lit up with a very rare and awesome inspiration. He was very high-energy, happy, and friendly. Day in and day out he demonstrated a superior command of our entire lab and every technical detail within it. I remember one day I had some questions about a mathematical model in our simulator describing heat transfer in the powertrain. Pete jumped up, grabbed a book on thermodynamics and, in an electrifyingly enthusiastic way, starting explaining the equations and how they applied to automotive engineering. I wanted to learn everything I could from him. It turns out that I have forgotten all of the technical knowledge that he imparted. However, I did learn and still remember the most important thing from him. I learned the secret to his brilliance and success. In order to share the lesson that I learned, I have to share the story of the great lottery.
The Great Lottery
One day, there was a huge frenzy in the office because the lottery had grown to its largest jackpot in history. Everyone was buying tickets. Everyone was buzzing about how much money could be won. I started asking everyone around the office one very simple question. “If you win the lottery tonight, will you come in to the office tomorrow?” Everyone laughed in my face. But, I was serious. I was a naive college graduate. I actually thought that people were at work for a purpose beyond the money. One engineer, who was regarded as a genius by all of his coworkers laughed at me and said “Boy! Are you smoking something?” It was unanimous. Not one person would show up to work if they won the lottery.
The only person I hadn’t asked was Pete. So, I walked up to him and said “Pete, tell me. If you win the lottery tonight, will you come in to work tomorrow?” He paused. Looked at me. Then he looked up in deep thought. After what felt like minutes, he looked at me very seriously and square in the eyes and said “Well Jason. This is my greatest hobby. I am so passionate about the work that I do. This is very important and meaningful work. I’m sure I would take a vacation with my family. But after a couple weeks I would be right back here doing this. I love it.” In that moment, I knew what set Pete head and shoulders above every other genius in the office. He was inspired. He infused meaning and purpose into his work and ignited it with passion. Many years later, I learned the term Unique Ability from Dan Sullivan.
Finding My Own Passion
As intellectually curious as I was about vehicle simulation engineering, I was not all that inspired or passionate about it. In fact, I started to get restless and wanted to find greater expression for my own Entrepreneurial Spirit. So, shortly after, I left my job to start a business with my brother Mike and ultimately partnered up with Ryan and Mike G. Our web development business morphed into a language product distribution company, which we sold to start Mango.
The dream of Mango was to change the world. To redefine what it means to work and do business. The founders of Mango breathed life into the business by founding it upon the foundation of strong core values and a deeply inspiring purpose. Before attracting our very first customer or employee, we were clear on our values and purpose. And today, 7 years after our initial public launch, we have the same values and same purpose, and they are stronger than ever.
We always wanted to build an environment where the entrepreneurial spirit could find creative expression. At Mango, we take risks and work hard to bring a worthy vision to life. Every day brings with it new challenges and opportunities and we work together as a team to bring the worthy vision to life. In retrospect, I realize that the worthiest of visions that we have brought to life was bringing such a unique and inspiring organization into the world. At the core, we at Mango are innovators. We think creatively to change the world. That is a very powerful affirmation and it is true. Whenever we hire, we are always looking for people with that creative spark and fire in their belly. Yes, we have innovated some absolutely amazing products from Mango Conversations to our patent pending Mango Premiere and even Lingo Labels, but I now realize that our greatest innovation is that of management, leadership and business. Management and leadership, even in progressive companies, have a very hierarchical and authoritarian feel to it. We see management and leadership as disciplines to bring out the best within each member of the team. To turn work into meaningful work and meaningful work into a meaningful and purpose-filled life. Through the lens of our core value of Integrity, we’ve imagined a company where every person acts in alignment with the greater good. A company where gossip and negativity are considered abnormalities that must be rooted out. A company where each one of us is challenged to speak our own truth in a way that is totally honest while at the same time totally kind. These ideals sound great, but living them every day is the challenge that every Mango faces. We have created an environment where positive attitude is the magnetizing force throughout the entire organization. Each and every Mango knows that this means that he or she has to take personal responsibility to create a healthy environment. The world will always tempt us to go negative, but it is our ability to remain positive even in very difficult and challenging times that makes us so unique and inspiring. When we were threatened by a $300 million division of a $9 billion company, we remained positive and steadfast in who we are. We have prevailed with flying colors to the point where their own employees told us they just gave up on the idea that they could beat Mango. When we were threatened by a distribution partnership between a competitor 30 times our size and a distributor 300 times our size, we remained positive and we have prevailed. Every Mango knows that “remaining positive” does not mean that we buried our heads in the sand and ignored the brutal facts of reality. Quite the opposite in fact. Positive Attitude at Mango demands that we face reality as it is. It also requires that we never discount our own strength of character and talent. These experiences have taught us that as individuals and as a team, we are far more powerful and resilient than even seemingly insurmountable challenges. Although we are far from perfect we have an obsession with quality and we strive for excellence and kaizen (continuous improvement). We apply this to products that we produce, marketing campaigns that we run but most importantly to the quality of our teamwork, our ability to accept and embrace feedback, and how well we communicate with one another. As individuals and as a team, we are working toward personal and organizational greatness. When we realize this, we realize that all of us that are part of the Mango family have already won the lottery many times over. We coined the term “fundipline” to mean the harmonious blend of fun and discipline. Because we know what fundipline is, we truly know how to enjoy the journey to greatness. This journey over the last 7 years has been the most fun I have ever had in my life. We have done so many wonderful things together and we have so much more to do. We are all very blessed to be able to experience and enjoy this amazing journey to greatness together.
Feliz Cumpleaños Mango