Today has always been a special day for me. It’s our company’s anniversary. Today, November 1, 2013, we are 17 years old. I’ve been here for 12 of them and every year I am challenged to sum up how I feel about this place.

I think it’s the fact that Jan started her company with a vision to take care of the people and the rest will take care of itself that’s made this place so special to so many people. To me, AKHIA has never been a job. It’s always been an opportunity. A privilege. A family. An infinite education.

And while it’s one thing to talk about doing these things, it’s another to actually do it. For 17 years now. From the minute I started at AKHIA I’ve always felt that Jan just wanted her employees to be happy. Every day I feel she makes it her goal to teach us something, to educate us in some way. Not necessarily on the day-to-day but how we can learn to be better, in everything we do in all aspects of our life. The best way to teach that? Well, in my opinion it’s always been to lead by example. Jan has never once asked me to do something she wouldn’t expect from herself. And she has never done something that compromised her beliefs, her values or the expectations clients or employees have of her.

But as you know, I could fill many blogs about the ‘life lessons’ I’ve learned during my time here. Which is why I thought this year I’d tap into some of the incredible talent here to help me share what they’ve learned:

Jessica Forrester, Senior Copywriter

I’ve learned to never under estimate the power of a positive attitude. Attitudes, whether good or bad, are incredibly contagious. It’s so inspiring to come into work every day and be surrounded by people who truly love what they do and really want to work hard for this company!

Kelly McGrath, Account Director

The most important thing I have learned during my time at AKHIA is that it truly is a team effort. When you hear people say ‘it takes a village,’ that is exactly what you get at AKHIA. I have never met a more dedicated group of funny, caring and intelligent people in my life…so why is it that we can’t empty the damn sink and put the dishes in the dishwasher?

Patsie Dionise, Director, Content Development

AKHIA has taught me so many things it was very difficult to choose just one! But all of the lessons can be boiled down to one: always trust my instincts. Jan gave me this advice long ago and it took a long time to sink in. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. When in doubt, do a gut check and turn to others in the agency for advice. After all, our strength is in our people!

Not sure if its related, but I also learned how to appreciate wine over the last nine years :)

Ryan Collins, Social Coordinator

I’ve learned that a business is defined by the people who work for it. Those people have a choice: they can be welcoming and accept talented professionals into their mix as one of their own, or they can shut others out. The spotlight is on AKHIA as a business with a brain AND a heart.

Lukas Treu, Content Architect

I think the most important thing that I’ve learned since being at AKHIA would be this:

There are a lot of places you can work in the world. Some jobs will pay you a lot of money. Others will make you feel powerful. But you don’t need fame and fortune to have a fulfilling career… You just need to find a place where you’re challenged, appreciated and trusted to get your work done. A place where you feel supported, but not overburdened by oversight. A place where you admire the people you work with, but never feel that you’re looked down up. A place like AKHIA.

Amanda Kleinhenz, Social Strategist

The most important thing I’ve learned during my time at AKHIA is that co-workers may change, clients may change, office space may change – but company culture never changes. It’s what led me to AKHIA 6 years ago, what brought me back 2 years ago and what keeps me loving what I do every day.

Beth Wladyka, Assistant Account Executive

One of the most critical things I’ve learned in my time here (and something I see every day!) is the importance of valuing everyone’s individual opinion. Coming in at an AAE level, you don’t necessarily expect your ideas to be heard or implemented, but that’s never been the case here. Being in an environment that welcomes each person’s diverse ideas has not only encouraged me in my account work, but it’s a crucial life lesson as well. Cheesy though it may seem, it’s a simple concept that is too frequently overlooked in this hectic world – never count someone out; everybody has something of value to share!

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Congrats Jan. Happy anniverary AKHIA – or should I say Happy “Janiversary”?