Excel™ Culture

Culture is what defines our company and embodies who we are to our core. We believe we have one of the best culture’s in the universe, while also unique and different than most. It is critical that everyone who joins our team be a good fit and embraces our culture.

Our company exists to solve one big problem. Buying great insurance can be painful, confusing, and expensive. We aim to solve that problem by connecting consumers to great insurance products through an opti-channel routing experience, placing the needs of the consumer at the forefront of all decisions. To do this, we use predictive modeling comprised of data science (DS), machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI) to match consumers with the most optimal products and services to best meet their needs.

Vision, Mission, and Values

Vision: Buying great insurance should be simple.

Mission: To make buying great insurance easy, transparent, and hassle-free. In other words, surprisingly simple.

Values: Honesty, Passion, Intelligence, Innovation, Realness, Impactful, Compassionate, Digital-First

Values Defined

  • Say what you think even if it is controversial
  • Be candor and direct, and nonpolitical when you disagree with others
  • Only say things about fellow employees that you will say to their face
  • Be quick to admit mistakes
  • Inspire others with your thirst for excellence
  • Care intensely about Vanilla’s success and it’s clients
  • Celebrate wins and be tenacious
  • Let your enthusiasm shine through
  • Make wise decisions despite ambiguity
  • Identify root causes and get beyond simply treating symptoms
  • Think strategically, and articulate what you are, and are not, trying to accomplish
  • Intelligently separate what must be done well now, and what can be improved later
  • Bend the rules when needed
  • Respond to change over following a plan
  • Don’t get stuck in your own thoughts, be limitless and expand the horizon
  • Embrace and manage change to be innovative and competitive
  • Create new ideas that prove useful
  • Keep nimble by minimizing complexity and finding ways to simplify
  • Fully understand meanings and context before speaking the truth
  • Respect other opinions even if you completely disagree with them
  • Own your actions and consequences
  • Be yourself, everyone else is already taken
  • Treat people with respect
  • Be open-minded and fair to opportunities and people
  • Accomplish amazing amounts of important work
  • Display consistently strong performance so colleagues can rely upon you
  • Take smart risks that pay off
  • Seek what is best for Vanilla and it’s clients, rather than what’s best for your own individual interests
  • Treat people with respect independent of their status or disagreement with you
  • Maintain calm poise in stressful situations
  • Be a team player and work well with others
  • Share information openly and proactively
  • Place others before yourself
  • Use technology as first means of solving problems
  • Focus drives action, don’t get distracted by inefficient non-digital solutions
  • Digital is the wave of the future, embrace it and be the master of change
  • Recognize and develop better ways to utilize existing technology more efficiently

Performance Standards

  1. Team-building philosophy
  2. Freedom and responsibility
  3. Context versus control
  4. Highly aligned, loosely coupled
1) Team-building philosophy

Surround yourself with people that you respect and learn from

Loyalty goes both ways

  • People who have been stars, then hit a bad patch, get a near term pass because we think they are likely to become stars for us again
  • We ask for the same, if the company hits a temporary bad patch, we want people to believe in us and stick with us
  • However, unlimited loyalty to a shrinking firm or to an ineffective employee is not effective

Smart work versus hard work

  • We expect a team player to show up to every game and from start to finish (meaning showtime commitment)
  • However, we don’t measure people by how many evenings, weekends, or long hours they are behind their computer
  • Effectiveness is way more important than efficiency. A person who is very efficient but not effective makes no impact on the company
2) Freedom and responsibility

People thrive on being trusted, freedom, and making a difference

Talented people don’t need to be micro-managed

  • Talented people perform best within clear context, freedom and moderate control
  • Talented people act like leaders and don’t wait to be told what to do
  • Trustworthy people are self-disciplined and don’t need to be watched over like a hawk
  • Responsible people will take out the trash and do the right thing when no one is looking

People over process

  • Too much process can kill creativity. Creativity without enough process can create chaos.
  • There has to be a fine balance between process and freedom for innovation to thrive and goals to be achieved
  • People are the lifeblood of our business and we heavily rely on your creative intelligence to think before you act
3) Context versus control

Clear context enables others to make great decisions without control

Setting appropriate context

  • The best managers figure out how to get great outcomes by setting the appropriate context, rather than by controlling their people
  • Control is important in emergencies, during the learning stage, or for the wrong person in a role
  • Provide insights and deep understanding to enable sound decision making

Context versus control terminology

  • Context: Strategy, metrics, assumptions, transparency, objectives, clearly-defined roles, knowledge of the stakes
  • Control: Management approval, committees, authorization, top-down decision making
4) Highly aligned, loosely coupled

The goal is to be big and fast and flexible, all at the same time

Highly aligned

  • Strategy and goals are clear, specific, and broadly understood
  • Team interactions are on strategy and goals rather than tactics
  • Requires large investment in management to be transparent and articulate perspectives

Loosely coupled

  • Minimal cross-functional meetings except to create alignment on goals and strategy
  • Trust between groups on tactics without previewing/approving each one so groups can move fast
  • Leaders reaching out proactively for ad-hoc coordination and perspective as appropriate
  • Occasional examinations on tactics necessary to increase alignment