I never imagined company culture would lead to one of the biggest personal accomplishments.
Company culture has been a hot and trendy topic over the past several years. I first got a taste of the emerging emphasis early in my career during the dotcom days, and I felt that it was such a refreshing change from the classic corporate environments that I was accustomed too. When I started considering DSi and my current role, I quickly saw that the company understood the value of creating a modern, exciting culture focused on its people and growth, and I wanted to be part of it.
DSi has been recognized both regionally and nationally as a leader in developing company culture. “eDiscovery about people” is our mission, and it is demonstrated daily by our benefits, programs and vision. Our employees, clients and community as a whole are the ultimate benefactors of the program that has been developed and continues to mature. Some of the most notable aspects of DSi’s culture include unlimited PTO, monthly community-related activities, Better Book Club, TinyPulse, Applause Awards, the Hall of Fame, and our Quarterly Planning sessions. Out of them all, the Discover You program (AKA ‘Better You, Better Us’) has had the most impact on my life.
The Discover You program encourages employees to set a personal goal, draft a plan for success, identify an accountability partner… and then make it happen. Upon the completion of your goal, the company celebrates with you and rewards you with a gift. Sounds easy, right? Did I mention that you will do this all publicly? The entire company is aware of your goal and encourages you to push yourself and succeed. Technically, you now have dozens of accountability partners! Some of the amazing success stories from our Discover You program include Brian McGraw completing his CISSP (cybersecurity certification), Blake Sadler doing 27 new things in her 27th year of life, and Ron Tienzo converting an old school bus into an RV.
Humility, fear of failure, vulnerability and my private nature made me reluctant to participate in Discover You when I first started working at DSi. I was encouraged on numerous occasions by company president John Burchfield to get involved in the program with a goal that was important to me, regardless of its size or magnitude. We often suggest having at least a “fun size” goal submitted if someone is just getting started or if life is too hectic at the time to take on a bigger challenge (for instance, Melanie Graves became a blood donor). Once I started submitting goals, I found it to be less intimidating, addictive and fun. Some of my successful goals have been completing two reading challenges, quitting smoking two years ago (after many false starts!), and becoming a Big Brother in the Big Brother Big Sisters program. These all still continue to this day. While I am very proud of these accomplishments, they are not quite as daunting as what I started in November 2016.
A combination of health issues, bad dietary habits and lack of exercise resulted in my massive weight gain. This was difficult for me, as my energy was low and the thought of shedding the weight required seemed impossible. I was extremely uncomfortable discussing this with many people, especially my coworkers. But I decided to use my fear and the program as tools for success.
I submitted a goal to lose 112 lbs. over a 14-month period. Go big or go home, as they say! But when you think big, great things can happen.
It actually took me less than 11 months to achieve my goal. At the one-year anniversary of starting the goal, I had lost 135 lbs! Many ask how I did it, and while there were a number of lifestyle changes that resulted in my success, I give an equal amount of credit to the Discover You program as a whole. I feel 20 years younger, my confidence is soaring, and I feel like I can conquer anything. I have less fear and can comfortably be more vulnerable. To say the least, it is a truly amazing time in my life!
Company culture is not just a buzzword for us at DSi. We put it into action to truly change the lives of the people around us. DSi has invested in a full-time employee and ‘Cultural Warrior,’ Justin Moses, who has done an outstanding job designing and managing these programs. I believe that we can expand these programs outside of the workplace and implement them in our clubs, churches and homes.
What’s next? I currently have three goals submitted: to lose 72 lbs. in 12 months, perform 52 random acts of kindness/service in 2018, and play organized ice hockey before I’m 50 (Sean Henry, if you are reading this, do you know of any good hockey trainers in Nashville?). I know that I can accomplish these goals with a plan, accountability, support and hard work. I just need to figure how to get over the boards during a line change without hurting anything important!
Lance Thieshen is the vice president of operations at DSi, where he oversees the forensics, processing, imaging, scanning, application support and evidence department teams. When he’s not working or watching his teams play, you’ll likely find him near the water or in the Great Smoky Mountains with his two sons.