Happy 9th Birthday, eHarmony (A Look Back from Employee #11)
eHarmony will celebrate its 9th anniversary on Saturday, August 22, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to give you a look into the early days of the company. I’m Joe, and for eight years now I have been working for eHarmony. Yes, eight years; the same amount of time it took me to graduate from high school and college. Why, you may ask, would someone commit so much of his life to one company? The answer is two-fold. One, I immediately recognized the potential for the company to be successful and have a social impact that was so immeasurably good that I had to be part of it. Two, the growth and development of eHarmony has taught me, challenged me, and changed me for the better.
Each year has been different than the one before, and in the last eight years I have never been professionally bored. I still love my job and I can honestly say that the success of eHarmony has validated my choice to stay. 236 people on average each day get married as a result of using eHarmony. We could literally wallpaper our entire corporate headquarters with the photos that people have sent us. I am enormously proud to tell people I work for eHarmony, and when I do, they always tell me they know someone that met someone special using eHarmony. So how did it begin?
In March 2001, I interviewed with Dr. Neil Clark Warren and Greg Forgatch, the co-founders of the company, for a position in Customer Care. I turned out to be the third Customer Care agent for eHarmony at that time, and the 11th employee at eHarmony. The fact that I was interviewed by the founders was not because we were a small company but because they cared that much about who was going to be talking to their customers. I am honored that I made it past their screening and have tried every day to live up to their trust.
In the early days of Customer Care, we realized that our service was different. eHarmony is something very emotional for people. By the nature of our business, as a customer care agent you have to be skilled in computers and you have to be skilled with people. I learned so much about the industry that we are in, and by all means that industry was developing around us, from the customers of eHarmony.
I was helping one of those customers in August 2001 and that customer turned out to be a reporter for the Washington Post. I had been helpful to her and she wrote about it in her article. My career in public relations began the day that I helped her. In 2001, our Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications, Marylyn Warren, came to me to say thank you for doing such a good job with a very important situation. She asked me if I would help track and communicate with the eHarmony success stories that were beginning to show up regularly. She rightly saw the tremendous potential that our success stories had to communicate the eHarmony concept to the media and the general public. The plan was not to have us tell people how great eHarmony was, but allow actual people who had benefited from the service to share their story. Oh boy did it work.
The first eHarmony marriage happened in February 2001. I remember when we first heard. There was an immediate all-company meeting (approximately 13 people). We were filled with questions: Where were they from? How old were they? How did they hear about eHarmony? The excitement was thrilling. I remember looking at Dr. Warren as he confidently smiled. He had told us all that we had something that could change the world, and on that day we saw the first drop in a tremendously large bucket.
The e-mails kept coming and the success stories began to grow. I had the extreme honor of helping select the first couples to participate in the now-famous eHarmony commercials. Those couples taught us so many things that would shape the future of the company and how we marketed the service. The couples in eHarmony commercials are REAL couples that found each other through eHarmony. We thank them all for giving back to the community from which they came.
The impact of the successful commercials was felt immediately in the business. Recognition brought new users into the system. And, with more people came more success stories. Soon it was more than I could handle alone. In the early days, I kept an Excel file with the stories and contact information for our success stories. Ironically, that file is now referred to as “Joe’s Historic File.” A short time later we built a separate database to accommodate this information. Now there are four of us who routinely monitor and maintain this database. The stories that are in that database are what we call eHarmony’s “gold,” and we truly treasure them.
Eight years have gone by very fast. I appreciate all the people that I have worked with. My job would not be possible without them. I sincerely feel that I have worked for one of the best companies in America and I am confident that the eHarmony story, as it continues to be told, will be something larger in significance than just another business.
Happy birthday, eHarmony.
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