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Inspired BlogOpen Letter from CEO Ric Elias

Recently while on a family vacation I was asked, “What does Red Ventures do?” and I asked my kids to answer.  After a futile effort by both of them, I asked my wife Brenda to give it a try. She rolled her eyes and said that no one in our family – including my own parents – would be able to explain what we do.

Sound familiar?  It’s a problem everyone at RV can relate to. So, as my family and I boarded a long flight home from South Africa, I decided I would try to tackle this challenge…

Where we’ve been:

First a little bit of context: In the early 2000s, as the Internet was coming of age, consumers stopped relying on traditional marketing and advertising campaigns to drive their purchasing decisions. They began going online to do their own research and to evaluate different providers before buying. Many companies weren’t prepared to take advantage of this shift, so we saw an opportunity to fill that void and build a great business. We caught that first Internet wave simply by being in the right place at the right time.

Our original business unit is now called “red,” and its primary focus is full-funnel customer acquisition. We create websites optimized to get customers to call in, ensure they’re at the top of online search results and complete the transaction in our world-class sales center. The journey required us to build and rebuild a number of proprietary technologies, which allowed us to deliver fully-integrated digital marketing campaigns in a way that disrupted the business of marketing agencies, call centers and ad tech companies by creating an end-to-end solution under one roof.

In addition to red, we’ve established two other standalone business units under the Red Ventures umbrella. RVi focuses exclusively on the insurance space, and RV Movers focuses on companies that operate in the movers space. We also have dedicated teams to leverage our current capabilities while building or acquiring new ones in order to create digital solutions in industries where we are not yet active.

Where we’re going:

Large, legacy businesses are realizing that they don’t have the time or the skills internally to develop the digital DNA and expertise required to compete in the future. Red Ventures is in an enviable position to fill in this void. 

We’ve always felt that we’re in the bottom of the second inning of a nine inning game. Since moving into our new structure and opening ourselves up to more stimuli from the outside world, we’re more convinced than ever that it’s true.

What we believe:

More important than what we do is why we do it, and for someone to truly understand who we are and what unifies us as Red Ventures, they must understand what we believe.  

We believe everything is written in pencil and that in time it will be either obsolete or proven wrong.  We believe in focusing on the climb (inputs) and not on reaching the peak (outputs). 

We believe in home-grown talent and are very committed to meritocracy with a heavy investment in learning and development for those who are culture carriers and strong performers. We believe in the constant struggle to get better every day and in winning the right way.  

We believe we must behave like we are running out of time and constantly feel like we are jogging up the escalator. We believe we have little time to worry about the past or about what we can’t control. We believe that the world is changing faster than most humans and companies are able to handle, so for us failure is always an option, but never an outcome.  

We believe that our many failures are stepping stones instead of roadblocks, and the only goal is to avoid any terminal ones. We believe that most of our success has been due to luck, but throughout time we have built a secret weapon – a culture of adaptability.  

We believe that we are all line employees and that our leaders jobs are to maniacally focus their teams on getting better every day. We believe that our stars are those who focus on problem solving and ultimately are able to get important things done. We believe that people should feel free to say what they think, not what they think leadership wants to hear.  

We believe that if someday you feel like it’s time to give back then you probably took too much along the way. Therefore, our focus is investing now in our employees and in the communities we operate in. 

We believe that just because something is a fact doesn’t make it a reason. We believe we must have the courage to pursue opportunities and ideals bold enough to scare us.  

We believe we should take our work but not ourselves seriously, so fun is an important aspect of our work. We believe in an employee-first culture where growth and the discomfort it produces are why people stay longer than they planned.  

We believe that the bigger we get, the smaller we need to act, so we constantly change the way we organize our work. We believe that growth hides many sins and we must not get complacent about our culture or our performance. 

We believe that our culture is constantly evolving and our goal is to empower our employees to be the authors of who we will be.  

We believe that our true purpose is to do all we can to positively alter the trajectory of the lives and careers of those that we touch. We believe that as long as we are clear and focused on this, our journey will be like no other.

We believe in leaving the wood pile higher than we found it.

-Ric Elias, CEO of Red Ventures

Follow Ric on Twitter @RicElias

About the Author:
Ric Elias | Co-Founder & CEO
Ric Elias

Ric Elias is CEO and co-founder of Red Ventures, a portfolio of digital companies headquartered in Charlotte, NC. In 2009, Elias survived Flight 1549, the "Miracle on the Hudson,” which led to his viral TED Talk, "3 Things I Learned While My Plane Crashed." In 2011, Ric was named Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year, and in 2016 he was inducted into the Carolinas Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. Ric has founded several social impact initiatives including Road to Hire, a 501(c)(3) that connects young adults with on-ramps to professional development and high-earning careers. A native of Puerto Rico, Ric attended Boston College and Harvard Business School.

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