We are what we do; we do what we value
Eric Pakurar | 11 months ago | 3 min read

A brand is what it does. It’s an empiric truth about marketing. Since we’ve got to walk the talk for ourselves, we here at Dirt articulated the values that drive us and define the actions our company takes, rather than just letting them be felt or intuited.

(Or worse, just assuming that everyone is on the same page about values. Makes an ass out of you and me, so the saying goes.)

You might argue that a company’s values are not something that needs to be made public—that it matters what we do as a result of these values more than the values themselves. I would tend to agree.

But one core part of the Dirt model necessitates this public post. We’ve built Dirt specifically to be able to reach out to our trusted network of independent and freelance talent — agencies, media, publishers, developers, designers, vendors, researchers, freelancers, and more — and bring them in on a fluid and as-needed basis. We do this transparently (no shady white-labeling or mark-ups for our clients!).

Photo by Tim Mossholder

It occurred to us that if we hold the values that we do, then we will need to make sure that our partners hold them too. So that’s what we’ve started doing. Each contract that we write between us and a partner will include the necessary legal stuff, sure, but it’ll be paired with an agreement on values too.

If the official legal contract is the head, this second values-based agreement is the heart. It governs the nature and style of our working relationship and makes sure we’re both playing on the same field. It sets expectations up front for each of us, each respecting the other’s areas of expertise and responsibilities. It helps ensure we treat each other decently, and that everyone gets the right credit for doing what we each do best.

Here is a link to the Dirt Partnership Agreement, which explicitly lays out the implications of our values on our working relationship. This is a public declaration that we at Dirt will expect every single one of our partners to sign it and act according to these values—and our clients will too. We don’t think it’s too much to ask. Many of our partners, simply by virtue of being good and decent people, already subscribe to them without having to sign any agreement. But setting expectations up front matters in building a strong, high-performing team. Holding everyone accountable matters.

For the record, here are the five Dirt values that drive everything we do (and our partners too). Check the link above to see how they manifest as a Partnership Agreement for our partners:

Humility. We recognize we don’t know everything but have the curiosity, empathy, and smarts to figure it out.

Perspectives. We seek out voices and experiences that are different from our own. Especially and explicitly those of underrepresented communities. Creativity (and business success) comes from the collision of opposing ideas.

Guts. We have a bias towards action. We welcome opportunities to push ourselves to uncomfortable places and don’t mind getting it wrong — sometimes.

Doing what’s right. We are dedicated to making a positive impact — for our clients, for the world, and for our business too.

Thanks to Eric Pakurar