The importance of celebrating the wins

When something good comes from all of our hard work, we at NLX make sure to pause and celebrate the moment! Here's why.

Andrei Papancea


Throughout my career, I’ve observed that people leave jobs for one or more of the following three reasons:

  • They weren’t paid well
  • They didn’t have interesting and engaging work 
  • They didn’t feel valued or respected in the company

As CEO of a people-first company, I resolved to do everything I could to keep this from happening. After all, people are at the heart of everything in business! 

So when it comes to mitigating employees not feeling valued or respected, we proactively fight that by creating a culture of celebrating wins - both big and small. 

Celebrating wins is important for so many reasons:

  • It marks a milestone, showing progression for the individual, team, and  company
  • It fuels a sense of accomplishment and recognition, again, for the individual, team, and company
  • It can be motivating! Winning once tends to have an addictive effect to want to win again
  • It creates a culture of positivity, making work more fun

Each day, the entire team and I are working hard to make our company more and more successful. So when something good comes from all that hard work, we make sure to pause and relish the moment.

We celebrate these wins in a couple of different ways that have been super fun for the team and the staff…

  • We spend a portion of our weekly all-hands meeting sharing shoutouts submitted by our team
  • We have a “thanks” channel on Slack where teammates can give emoji tacos to one another for wins throughout the week (More on the Slack Hey Taco plugin here) 
  • We also spontaneously recognize one another’s hard work in meetings, 1:1 conversations, and in other settings

These wins aren’t always that something was done. Sometimes the wins are that we stopped doing something. In a world where you can do anything – especially in startups! – it’s important to ruthlessly prioritize what needs to be done vs. what is nice to have. The ability to recognize this is something we value and celebrate at NLX.

We also recognize effort, even when something doesn’t pan out because of circumstances outside of the person’s or company’s control. Taking a moment to appreciate someone’s efforts is a good way to pause, reflect on the situation, acknowledge the hard work, learn from the situation, and move forward. 

I think this last point is especially important because there can be a lot of “NOs” in startups. Your business is new to the market and you’re just trying to get things off the ground when something doesn’t pan out the way you thought it might. 

These efforts are also how innovation happens. There are always lessons learned, even when you fail. A lot of inventions and discoveries throughout history started out of sheer curiosity and were outputs of the journey and weren't supposed to be the destination. Thomas Edison’s quote comes to mind, “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.”

Maybe a team member tried something new – they had a really cool idea, but something about it wasn’t right. They were brave in their actions and work, one of NLX’s core cultural values. Recognizing individuals’ and teams' hard work in these scenarios is especially important because it continues to encourage people to continue to try something new. If they fail, fail fast and learn from it. You’ll be commended for trying, and when the opportunity arises to try something new again, there’s a less adverse reaction to it. 

These “hard work, but no accomplishment” moments can be tough moments to swallow, but I’ve found that celebrating wins - big and small - and acknowledging hard work creates a culture of resilience and helps preserve one’s mental health. 

Everything I’ve shared rolls up under the umbrella of how and why emotional intelligence is important in the workplace. If you’re interested in learning more about emotional intelligence in the workplace, be sure to check out AWS’ video from Re:Invent - Emotional intelligence to supercharge your success with Richard Hua. (It’s worth a watch!)

Andrei Papancea

Andrei is our CEO and swiss-army knife for all things natural language-related.

He built the Natural Language Understanding platform for American Express, processing millions of conversations across AmEx’s main servicing channels.

As Director of Engineering, he deployed AWS across the business units of Argo Group, a publicly traded US company, and successfully passed the implementation through a technical audit (30+ AWS accounts managed).

He teaches graduate lectures on Cloud Computing and Big Data at Columbia University.

He holds a M.S. in Computer Science from Columbia University.