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In my time at The it Crowd, I have learned a lot about its unique work culture. My dog, Bear, can come to the office with me (when we’re back to normal), everyone LOVES and runs on caffeine, and we tend to lean on the competitive side (in a good way). Team health challenges are a thing here at The it Crowd, with prizes like cash, a cruise, PTO, and more! The stakes are always high to win, but the pride of winning reigns supreme when it comes to incentives.

What I love about The it Crowd is that our mission as a company is not just to “do work” but do work that is purposeful for both our team and our clients. The health challenge is meant to be just for fun, but these challenges help the team to grow as people. It’s not just working out x times a week, or eating only vegetables, but it also encourages our team to work on good habits like meditation, outside activity, fueling the mind with podcasts and books. All the things we wished we had time for or slack in, are criteria for which we have put on our health challenge. Some criteria for which we can earn points for:

  • Eating fruits and vegetables
  • Reading a book (50 pages minimum)
  • Listening to a 30-minute podcast
  • Meditation for 20 minutes
  • Making your bed
  • Flossing
  • Taking daily vitamins
  • Waking up early & planning the day
  • Going outside for an activity
  • Doing an act of philanthropy
  • Writing letters
  • Doing laundry & folding within 24 hours
  • Writing down three things you’re grateful for

When the shelter-in-place mandate was placed in Dallas in early March, our team transitioned to semi-permanent work from home set-up. We were cooped up, and we had a lot of extra time, setting up the perfect conditions for another health challenge: quarantine edition. The stakes were unknown, but the competition was stiff. To qualify for points for the day, we had strict rules of photographic documentation of points and logging points within 24 hours. And trust me, we were keeping each other in check. It was all in good fun, but it helped us get off the couch/makeshift home office and take a walk outside to clear our minds after a busy day.

If you’re reading this and haven’t already predicted the outcome, yes, I did win (gracefully, of course). I completed a two week fitness program, read two books, enjoyed daily 1-on-1 walks with my Dad, and tried meditation for the first time. My sister also notably commented that she’s never seen my bed made. The challenge was an outlet to channel the goals I’ve always wanted to achieve, so that alone provided satisfaction. While these habits and goals are ongoing, it definitely helped that we had a mystery prize to keep me motivated.

For those close to me, my favorite treat in the world is an Asian beverage called milk tea, sometimes referred to as “boba tea,” or “bubble tea.” As the prize, I was gifted a milk tea a week for an entire year. I have spent an embarrassing amount of my own money on this treat a year, so needless to say, I was thrilled.

The challenge ended around the time that when there was a dramatic national shift in attention towards the Black Lives Matter movement. Myself and my team members felt very passionately for the cause. I spent time educating myself, having hard discussions with family, signing petitions, and donating my own funds to activist organizations. It is something I know I will continuously need to work on to educate myself and to initiate action so that I can be the ally I want to be. With so much heartbreak in the world and work that still needs to be done, my leadership has graciously allowed me to donate my winnings in total to a charity of my choice.

I chose to donate to NBEC (National Birth Equity Collaborative), an organization that seeks to provide research to promote healthier birth experiences and health outcomes. There are so many ways where the Black community has gotten the short end of the stick, and as a former pre-med, one cause that I’m particularly passionate about is the care of Black mothers. “Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s partly why the overall rate of pregnancy-related deaths has climbed over the past two decades, making the maternal mortality rate in the United States the worst in any industrialized country, according to a 2016 analysis published in the journal The Lancet.” In a country with so many resources and wealth, it is heartbreaking that anyone should not have the health resources they need to have a child. It is devastating and outright wrong that Black women are statistically more at risk of death than any other demographic in the U.S. I am happy to concede my prize to this cause, and know that there is so much more that I can do. If you’d like to read more about the Black maternal mortality rate in the U.S., click here.

Overall, I’d still consider myself a winner in this challenge. I have grown immensely during these months in quarantine, and the challenge helped me to use the extra time to focus on the things in my life I find most important. I’m grateful to work at a company where so much is invested in building better people.

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