Small Biz Spotlight
BlueprintNYC: Putting people first
By Jessie Wagoner
BlueprintNYC is a marketing, media and event planning company known for making every event an experience. Clients flock to BlueprintNYC for their creativity, passion and cutting edge approach. Whether it’s a product launch for 6 or 6,000 people, providing compelling training for an organization, developing a custom meeting and event app or producing a TV network upfront for advertisers, BlueprintNYC makes each client’s vision a reality.
What is the secret to their success? It could be the high priority they place on employee satisfaction. It may be the unique ways they nurture and encourage employees. There is also a chance their passion for creativity is a contributing factor.
BlueprintNYC founding partners DJ Hanson and John Sideris explain putting people first—professionally and personally—has only benefited their company, clients and employees.
“We have so much fun at what we do,” Sideris said. “First, we love our clients. Having a great trusting relationship with a client is more important than anything because with that you can accomplish great things together. Beyond that the goal is really to have fun because what is the point of doing work if you can’t have fun doing it?”
When creating BlueprintNYC, Hason and Sideris had a desire to create a company with a holistic point of view. They wanted to create trusting relationships with clients, foster creativity and have fun in the process. Their approach worked and it was soon time to expand, adding employees who shared the same mindset.
“When we started our company five years ago we both wanted to create a company that approached things differently—really holistically,” Sideris said. “We found that by doing that we really created a more dynamic, more powerful, immersive experience that is hopefully more engaging and more targeted.”
So what makes a great BlueprintNYC employee? Someone who is passionate about their work, enthusiastic about life and committed to having fun. Hanson and Sideris approach every new hire as a teaching opportunity and they are incredibly diverse in their hiring. Former babysitters, nurses and teachers have all found a home at BlueprintNYC because even though they may not have had event planning experience or developed corporate education programs in the past, they have the mindset that fits the company model.
“We aren’t really looking to fill positions with people that have particular skill sets, but rather people who really share the same mindsets as us,” Sideris said. “People who are passionate about life, passionate about work, passionate about having fun. Really just people who are generous and supportive and loving in general.”
With a diverse team of 40 employees now on staff, the NGLCC-certified company is working hard but still having plenty of fun. Following the recent Presidential election, many on staff were feeling a bit downtrodden which led Hanson and Sideris to launch the 183 Days Challenge. The 183 Days Challenge was their way of rallying the troops and restoring hope. It has worked—in a big way.
“The 183 Days Challenge really came from our need and desire to really invest in our people—to help them develop and grow and be the best they can be,” Hanson said. “I think we are all better for it.”
The duo encouraged all of their employees to do something they have always wanted to do but have put off. The employees set their goals and are now in the process of completing those goals within the 183 days. Some employees are training for half-marathons, another gave up smoking, others are learning to cook and Sideris is documenting it all.
The 183 Days Challenge has empowered their employees. Much can change in 183 days and the challenge serves as a reminder to each of them that each day matters. Choices, even small ones, made day after day can lead to big results.
The initiative to create an employee nurturing environment doesn’t end after 183 days. The challenge is just the beginning. In an effort to encourage employees to be more engaged in the community, the company gives each employee an extra three days off each year to experience something new or do something for the common good.
Groups of employees have taken a day to explore Ellis Island together. They have attended Women’s Marches and the March for Science. One employee took time to stuff Easter baskets and deliver them to children in the hospital. Sideris and Hanson aren’t picky about how the employees use their time, they simply want them to be engaged and active.
“We want to make sure we give our people a safe haven,” Sideris said. “And not just a safe haven but a place that really empowers people and makes people feel valued.”
Their approach has led to the creation of a dynamic and creative team. Employees are given the time and encouragement to have fulfilling personal lives which in turn makes them more passionate and energized about their work. As an added bonus their employee retention rate is incredibly high.
Ultimately, BlueprintNYC owes much of its success to putting people first.
“It is people first for sure,” Hanson said. “We think it creates the best environment to work in and the best results in the work we do. The best part is we have fun doing it.”