Our tours of Menlo Innovations' factory floor have now gone virtual. We'll spend 90 minutes together sharing Menlo's history, values, culture and practices - and how we've transitioned to where we are today.


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March 2023 Menlo Bits


Andddd we're back!

In person tours of Menlo are up and running in our new space! 

We excited to announce that we are once again offering in person tours of Menlo, free to the public! The third Thursday of each month from 3:30-5pm we will open our doors to show you around the Menlo Software Factory - now in our new office! 

Our first session is Thursday, April 20th from 3:30-5pm and will even be led by our CEO, Rich Sheridan!

You can learn more and register here.  Spots are limited, so be sure to sign up fast. 

For those looking to bring a private group to Menlo for a tour, feel free to reach out to us at experience@menloinnovations.com to book your tour. 


Work-From-Home Heroes
Pairing is caring -- and the best way to get the job done

When you think of perfection, there are a lot of things that might come to mind: a score on a test, your wedding, that "cute wittle face" that your cat makes, or maybe Toy Story 2's Tomatometer score. Speaking of Toy Story 2, did you know the project was put in jeopardy when routine file maintenance accidentally resulted in an irreversible command to delete 90% of the movie's assets? Quite literally, animators saw pieces of the film -- starting with parts of Woody's outfit -- disappear before their very eyes.

Of course, panic didn't set in immediately: there was a backup of the file. Unfortunately, at the time Pixar didn't have regular testing of their backup protocols and it turned out that the backup was unusable. At that point, the panicked questions had to be asked regarding whether the film had a future and, if so, what that might look like. Truly, this could've been the premature end to the Toy Story franchise we all know and love. Fortunately, a woman named Galyn Sussman had been on maternity leave and had a fairly recent version of Toy Story 2 on her computer at home that allowed for the easy restoration of around 70% of what had been lost. The movie was saved!

While in today's world it would be easy to make the moral of this story about working from home, we like to take from this that crucial business protocols need to be regularly reviewed, revised, and tested. Here at Menlo, we're continuously trying to improve our core processes to ensure we're delivering the highest quality product we can. To give a recent example, lately our team has been placing extra emphasis on reviewing, revising, and testing our cybersecurity protocols!

P.S. If you're wondering what happened to Galyn Sussman after this, look at the producer credits for Disney/Pixar's 2022 film Lightyear.

Read more about the wild Toy Story 2 recovery saga here!

From the Bottom Up
Why you should learn from small businesses, not just giants

For people with entrepreneurial dreams, it can be easy to have your head in the clouds and your eyes trained on the successful giants who came before you. The problem with this, however, is the same problem you get in real life when you're looking up to the sky: it's easy to trip since you're not watching where your feet are going.

Andrei Neboian wrote an article discussing how he realized there was a lot to learn from people like gym mat resellers on Amazon, not just the people you see in flashy magazine articles with huge amounts of VC money funneling into their startups. When you have small amounts of capital, Neboian asserts, you have to face the realities of the business world. In the end, Neboian summarizes five key lessons that he believes entrepreneurs should keep in mind as they grow their businesses:

1. Keep things simple, even if others tell you that it's complicated.
2. Focus on your profits early because they are the blood that’ll keep your business alive.
3. Sell your products early because small failures early are better than colossal failures later.
4. Learn things yourself before paying for help.
5. Celebrate your achievements, and don’t stand in the shadow of other startups.

Even though it's been over 20 years, Menlo still feels close to its startup roots. We're still constantly trying new things, adjusting as the industry evolves, and learning what we want Menlo to look like with each day. We also love to give back to the startup community in our area! Menlo is a proud friend and sponsor to our across-the-street neighbor, Ann Arbor SPARK, which helps support business development in Ann Arbor.
Find out more about what an Amazon gym mat reseller can teach you by clicking here!

Keep the Momentum
Success begets success... if you really reflect on it

Culture in the workplace is a crazy thing. On one hand, it can be the heartbeat of a company that drives purpose and makes employees more productive. On the other hand, it can be infectious in a way that's necrotic and toxic, crippling a company.

In an article by Andrew Martins, he dives into the fact that it's immensely difficult to judge individuals' cultural fit with a company, and also why it's important that companies try to do so. Not only does having employees with values that align with a company's values help create its "personality", it also helps to foster more engaged employees. Engaged employees mean less turnover, more intrinsic motivation, and a better place to work, so getting the hiring and onboarding process right is crucial. Additionally, Martins argues, judging cultural fit shouldn't just end when hiring is over: it needs to take place throughout the onboarding process and the rest of the employee lifecycle.

We couldn't agree more. Here at Menlo, we check for cultural fit before we even take more than a cursory glance at someone's resume. As our COO and cofounder is famous for saying, the traditional interview practice is "two people sitting across a table lying to each other". If you ask someone whether they're a team player, who in their right mind would say no? But if you instead put someone in a position to demonstrate being a team player, you'll find out how they really act when faced with the opportunity. This is part of the reason why our Extreme Interview and subsequent hiring process focus on testing the "kindergarten skills" we value, and letting potential new hires experience real work as soon as possible. They can see if they like what we do, and we can see if we like what they do!

Read more about the importance of cultural fit here!


Are you our next Menlonian?

We're hiring!

We're growing our team! Our next Extreme Interview is coming up on April 13th. If you are interested in an in-person Software Developer role in wonderful Ann Arbor, we would love to hear from you! Check out our Careers page and let us know you're interested by submitting your resume or another expression of interest by April 3rd. We will follow up with invited candidates.


Chief Energy Officer

Author: Suzy Siegle

Recommended by: Richard Sheridan, CEO

Rich recently had the pleasure of writing the foreword for a dear friend's new book, Chief Energy Officer. Below we've attached a few excerpts from that foreword for you to enjoy!

"... You are holding in your hands a book about guarding YOUR flame, written by an energetic leader who has learned many techniques for guarding hers. I first met Suzy Siegle a decade ago and immediately could sense the capacity she had for lighting up a room with her smile, her positivity, her imagination and her ideas. It was an infectious energy. You couldn’t help but try to match her smile when you were with her.
You will learn that Suzy has learned many techniques through trial and error for keeping that energy focused and alive.
This is not an easy journey. Yet, it is an important one. The things that worked for Suzy, or me, may not work for you. That’s OK. What you will have is a living breathing example of one Chief Energy Officer who has taken some of that energy to help create more. Because, like joy, positive energy is infectious (and Suzy will teach you that negative energy is too).

... You don’t pick up a book like this and choose to read it because you want to stay the same. You are seeking the same sort of change I was seeking, that Suzy Siegle is seeking. As you begin this journey of becoming your own version of a Chief Energy Officer, I want to offer one small piece of advice …
The world is a big place, with lots of challenges and if we try to tackle it all, you will be overwhelmed. So remember:
You don’t have to change THE world. You just have to change YOUR world. Start first with who YOU are and how you show up in the world every day. This book is a great place to start working on yourself. Your change with be noticed by others. They will see you change and they will want to be more like you. Your personal change will begin to infect others. You will begin to change those around you. Those that interact with you and your peers will want to know how to do it. You can tell them your story and point them to this book as a starting place.
Today is the day. Now get on your way!"

Get a copy for yourself here!

DIY Sound Proofing
This month's experiment expands on last month's experiment with soundproofing, specifically focused on improving the ability for remote pair partners (or clients) to hear in-factory team members. Headsets work well for this, but often limit who can be involved in a conversation. In-office team members can often find themselves playing telephone if an in-person pair drops by and they need to relay information to and from their remote pair partner or quickly change out mic/speaker settings.

Developer Sarah Ball tested out a number of configurations that were scrapped: 2 different types of directional mics, a directionless mic/speaker, and an improvised sound proofing wall. The current best working version she's been enjoying using lately is: a wireless lavalier mic clipped to her shirt (which focuses in on her voice and deprioritizes background noise) and a Jabra for a speaker. This lets other people hear her remote pair partner and if someone else needs to talk to her pair partner she can easily hand off the mic to them.



Menlo Bits

The Menlo Bits is Menlo's monthly newsletter, filled with all the latest in science and technology trends as well as what's been happening at Menlo.