TURN UP THE CREATIVITY AND DIAL DOWN COMPLACENCY: THE SOUNDBOKS WAY
Author: Gabriella Anesio
In this interview, Frederik Laursen, Global Creative Team Lead at SOUNDBOKS, talks about how the company is so much more than just the product it sells; he also sheds light on what it’s like to work at SOUNDBOKS and the importance of feedback…P.S. his favourite artist is Stevie Wonder (or OG Pharrell Williams…the debate continues).
SOUNDBOKS, founded in 2015, sells more than just speakers – it also sells a lifestyle that’s entirely unique and premised on the utter joy of people. Founded by three teenage friends with a passion for music and partying, SOUNDBOKS evolved from one of the most famous Danish music festivals – Roskilde Festival.
The three founders realised that something fundamental was missing on the market: a high-quality speaker that doesn’t require one million cables and a power outlet – how else are you meant to blast grime in the after-hours from your tent to keep the party going? Starting from a 19 year old’s garage with a bunch of friends, SOUNDBOKS now has a presence in Denmark (where it all started), the US (where the company has expanded to), and China (where production takes place), with 16 different nationalities making up the company.
The speaker that speaks volumes
Companies sell products or services, that’s a matter of fact. What companies can also choose to sell is a lifestyle: a brand that is more than the product itself. That’s what everyone at SOUNDBOKS is trying to develop and sharpen.
“SOUNDBOKS, as a product in itself, is so much more than just a speaker – when people buy this product, it enables them to live a specific sort of lifestyle: it opens new doors, they meet new people, they become the life of the party. It’s, therefore, a social product. A speaker is something you rarely use on your own – it’s something you use with other people. It gathers people, creates a community. We’re trying to create a lifestyle brand around the “host”, aka the owner of the SOUNDBOKS who becomes a leader of the community, inspiring those around them.”
The speaker isn’t just a technical gadget, it’s a catalyst for a thriving social life, and, therefore, a booming social community – all thanks to a box with 66 x 43 x 32 cm dimensions.
A company can be so much more than just the product it sells. Take Apple as an example; if one really wants to delve into the specs and numbers, there are competing brands that outperform Apple on a technical level, but what those other brands have failed to do is create a brand which makes purchasing a product more than just purchasing a product.
Buying an iPhone or iMac empowers people in a way that concerns more than just the gadget in question – and this is what the people at SOUNDBOKS are doing, too.
“We had people reaching out to us telling us that they didn’t used to have many friends, but that now they’re being invited to lots of social events because they have the speaker. We heard so many of these stories that we quickly got inspired and decided to make the brand more than just the product – the speaker was just the catalyst for so much more.”
Creating a SOUNDBOKS community in and out of the office
As Frederik says, SOUNDBOKS doesn’t only aim to inspire communities outside of the company, but there is an active effort to ensure that the SOUNDBOKS team itself stands as a community to be proud of.
Having started off as just a group of friends working together, the company has now developed a hiring strategy to ensure that it stays this way – a group of friends that can hang out together, eat together, and even travel together (as Frederik did with some of his colleagues to Greece not that long ago).
“One of the most important things about SOUNDBOKS is not just the community we have created through selling the speaker, but the community we have created inside the company itself.”
So, even though the company started out as a group of friends, this is actually still the case today, just with more people, nationalities, and ideas bopping around the office.
There is another aspect to the hiring process that, just like the speakers, speaks volumes. Hiring for potential, not experience.
“My videographer is a prime example – he was my first hire, five years ago, straight out of highschool with no experience except some videos he created for himself. But he was this diamond in the rough. There were other applicants who had ten years of experience, but he was just the best in terms of his potential and trajectory. He has learnt and grown so much since. Because we have given him so much, he has also poured all of himself into SOUNDBOKS because he just wants to carry on learning.”
It can be tempting to view years of experience as a measure of potential of prospective employees – it’s a number, it’s quantifiable, and, thus, there must lie meaning in it; this can certainly sometimes be the case, but not always – and it’s thanks to people like Frederik that chances are given to those that can’t necessarily flash big numbers or an extensive list of references.
At the end of the day, years of experience does not equate to worth or superiority – worth lies within someone, not in a number on a piece of paper.
Feedback is not your foe: start embracing it
There are several different ways of phrasing the word feedback: constructive criticism, advice, evaluation, suggestion etc. What feedback DOES NOT mean, but is most often associated with, is a personal attack.
Frederik and the SOUNDBOKS team are doing everything in their power to break down this stigma surrounding feedback. Instead of associating it with something negative, they’re encouraging people to find the value in it, even if it’s just one part of the entire piece given.
“Personally, from the beginning I knew I wasn’t perfect – this has made receiving feedback a lot easier. So whenever anyone ever gave me feedback, I just saw it as an opportunity for learning. Every piece of feedback, no matter the form it comes in or who it comes from, has something in it that you can use for something. Instead of trying to come up with excuses or explanations, figure out what parts of the feedback are relevant to you.”
There’s a great lesson in this often overlooked because of the temptation to just entirely disregard all feedback given in the heat of the moment: feedback is not an objective truth, with every part of it acting as a prescription for change in your work.
Rather, even if there’s just one tiny part that makes you at least think, makes you potentially realise the value in someone else’s perspective, this is enough to stop complacency and push you to maybe reconsider certain aspects. Feedback is almost never about scrapping an entire piece of work – sometimes it’s just about encouraging small changes, a different approach, or pushing the work even further.
Even if you can never reach the stage, like Frederik, where you actually enjoy receiving feedback, the least one can do is stop interpreting feedback as a synonym for “this is sh*t”.
“You’ll never be at a point in your life where you’re perfect. You should never settle – then you get boring and lazy. The best way to grow and learn more, pushing yourself and your work further, is by receiving feedback.”
If you’re interested in reading more about company culture, leadership and the like, check out the other posts on this blog here. You can also reach out to Nicolai Vittrup on LinkedIn, or use the contact form on this website to leave any comments or questions. To learn about everything SEO, PPC, and web-related, explore the content produced by Webamp.