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Oct 22, 2015
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Just about every company in existence was started by someone (or several people) who saw an opportunity to make money in the marketplace.

Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

But one company – a high tech software firm based in Minneapolis – was started by three guys (who each self-identify as “nerds”) with the singular goal of creating the kind of company where other nerds like them would LOVE to work.

3 measures of success

As a result of their simple foundational premise, The Nerdery (age 12) has not only become a frequently awarded Best Place to Work by the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, it’s also a highly profitable firm that Inc. Magazine has listed as one of the fastest growing companies in America.

With locations now open in Chicago, Kansas City, and Phoenix, this is one high-tech company that’s firing on all cylinders. The founders and leaders know very well that their booming growth and tremendous success is tied directly to:

  1. The quality of the people they attract;
  2. Their proficiency in getting those people to consistently perform up to and even beyond their potential; and,
  3. Their ability to keep those people on their payroll for as long as possible.

In other words, they hire, inspire, and retain more than 500 employees who are on fire at work.

What The Nerdery does differently

A quick glimpse at this fascinating organization reveals how they’ve tipped the old school model of employment on its ear:

  • Each of the more than 500 “nerds” at The Nerdery consider themselves to be Co-Presidents. They even wear that title on their company bracelet.
  • At the Nerdery, seniority doesn’t rule supreme. In all cases, the best idea wins, regardless of whose idea it is!
  • From gardening to chess to Bad Movie Night, there are more than 50 social clubs to join at The Nerdery. Each club was started by one of the nerds who had a passion for that interest outside of work.
  • The Nerdery has a resident brewmaster, and they keep four kegs on tap all day, every day. And they offer free soft drinks, juices, snacks, cereal, etc. in their always-open employee cafeteria.
  • To get hired, it’s not about your age, your college degree, or your work experience; it depends solely on whether or not you can pass the N.A.T. (Nerdery Assessment Test).
  • Don’t put Fido in the kennel; bring him with you! The Nerdery is a pet-friendly workplace. And everyone knows that nerds love dogs.

A great workplace culture? It’s a no brainer

Compensation, alignment, atmosphere, growth, acknowledgement, autonomy, and communication. When searching for a company that personifies all seven pillars of a great workplace culture to conclude my new book On Fire At Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in Their People without Burning Them Out – The Nerdery was a no brainer. (Can you say “no brainer” when you’re talking about 500 brilliant nerds?)

I could go on and on, but instead, follow me on a guided tour of this award-winning workplace culture in this video:

On point

Today’s top workplaces are winning the war for the best talent because they are intentionally focused on being the kind of workplaces that the best talent is intentionally looking for.

This was originally published on Eric Chester’s blog Chester on Point. His new book, On Fire at Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in Their People Without Burning Them Out, was just published this month.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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