It all started with Baconnaise.
I was in my first startup and we’d recently been acquired by a larger company out of Los Angeles. We were a scrappy bunch but we lost our founder and the COO was transitioning out. Things were changing and changing too fast! Conference calls and introductions broke the ice but there was still a lot of apprehension. A visit from their project managers did nothing to assuage the fears that the new corporate overlords were going to just make sweeping changes to process and positions alike.
It was hard not to view my counterparts from the new company as the competition. Certainly there wouldn’t be budget to keep everyone and they had the home turf. It was a tenuous time for us.
But then the bacconaise arrived. I don’t remember now what the significance of bacconaise was at the time—likely an inside joke that they picked up on, but there it was, in a package shipped from the main office in LA. They sent us… bacon-flavored mayo?
I tried it, and it wasn’t that good. But what was good was the thought. These gals (Hila and Ranit) tried. They picked something and made a gesture. They took a chance to reach out to make friends. And you know what, it worked! It didn’t break down the walls in one day, it didn’t result in lasting relationships, but it greased the skids and it made something that could have been awkward into a merging of cultures that was balanced and meaningful. Conference calls became more comfortable and collaboration and trust increased quickly between our teams.
Looking back, my admiration for Hila and Ranit’s effort wasn’t expressed well. Maybe they’d been through something similar, maybe they were just clever or empathetic, but there is no doubt that they were and are good people who just wanted to be known. I don’t know that I ever shared this appreciation with them. Maybe I should send another jar of baconnaise!