April is a big month for Stable Kernel. This year marks our 4th anniversary and in an age when 90% of startups fail, we know each hard-earned year of growth is worth celebrating. There’s no shortage of pundits espousing theories on the 90:10 startup failure to success rate so I won’t regurgitate their thoughts here. However, I will speak to the important and ongoing process of defining and building something our employees believe in because we are confident it is one of the key ingredients that makes stable|kernel a great place to work (and by extension, makes us a great partner to our clients).

What’s in our name?

Do you know what a stable kernel is? And why it’s significant? Joe Conway, the founder of Stable Kernel, chose the name of our company because it speaks directly to what we believe we should be doing together:

The kernel is an invisible piece of software that sits between the operating system and the computer’s hardware. Most people don’t know it exists, but in order for everything else to work, the kernel must be perfectly stable.

So we’re Stable Kernel, that invisible piece that makes everything you want to do work. – Joe Conway

In April 2013, our company was named and a clear purpose was established.

In the beginning, our company was just a couple of engineers collaborating on code that would solve the hard problems our clients faced, and our name spoke almost exclusively to the coding work being done. However, like most successful startups, we began to grow rather quickly, adding business, design, marketing and operational experts to our team. As our company became more complex, metaphorical “stable kernels” – cornerstones for culture, process and strategy – became increasingly important in supporting our evolution.

Recognizing that our company’s values (integrity; respect; staying hungry; learning and sharing) are the metaphorical stable kernels that allow diverse people to work well together, we took great care in defining, adopting and practicing them through a 12-month, custom-built curriculum. Through informative lunch and learns, an “app-mazing race” scavenger competition, a communication-focused improv class, several book club meetings, volunteer sessions with the Atlanta Community Food Bank, an afternoon breaking out of escape rooms and more, we incorporate our core values into everything we do. And the process of doing so? Well, it has been a bit magical.

Related: Integrity – Showing Our True Colors

Moving beyond our name

With the name “Stable Kernel” reflecting our purpose, it only seemed right to have some sort of mascot to reflect our spirit. A spirit animal (or patronus to you Potterheads), if you will.

And so we began the quest to choose an animal that embodied our culture. The badger was considered (mostly as an homage to Joe’s reverence of the University of Wisconsin), the noble elephant was suggested (who doesn’t love all that an elephant represents?), but neither seemed quite right. What about a squid, we wondered? They are a pretty good symbol of what we’re about…

Soon, s|k’s managing partner Jason and I found ourselves sitting around a table with one of Atlanta’s beloved philosopher/artists, Black Cat Tips (a.k.a. Kyle Brooks) and his delightful wife Maria, mulling over the possibilities of our spirit animal. As it happens in invigorating brainstorming sessions, one thing led to another and soon Kyle, a self-proclaimed “country talking, long beard, story telling man” was sharing his vision of a mythical “sky squid, floating through the air and dropping little bits of technology in his wake.”

We were sold.

IMG_9353.jpgKyle Brooks in his studio

Several sketches, some entertaining email threads and much canvas and paint later, the Sky Squid was revealed to our team in honor of our 3rd anniversary. From his spot in the center of Kyle’s masterpiece in our lobby, he is the first to greet us and the last to see us out each day.

While the Sky Squid was intended to speak to our internal audience, he’s a gregarious creature who has managed to get in front of some non-kernelers (in fact, his sticker-form likeness travels far and wide, generating smiles and amused curiosity). Now, on our beloved Sky Squid’s first birthday, it seems the time is right for a more public introduction.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you a clinical breakdown of the Sky Squid!

The Anatomy of a Sky Squid

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  • 1.1    Just like the Sky Squid, Stable Kernelers are in constant intake mode. We pull in all the knowledge we can absorb and then push it out as we share it with colleagues and clients. A Kerneler’s mind is often at work on solving problems – even when sleeping.
  • 1.2.   A Kerneler’s passion for what we do lights us up as if we’re glowing from within.
  • 1.3    A Kerneler’s specialized eyes enable us to see things other professionals would miss. This keeps us alert to new opportunities and helps protect our clients from harm.
  • 1.4    Kernelers love our work, our colleagues and our clients so much that we have full hearts dedicated to each.
  • 1.5    We grab tightly to challenges in the same way a squid uses its suction cups to grab onto what sustains it.



 Additional clinical analysis:

  • 2.0 Squid are believed to be the fastest of all invertebrates in the world.  Stable Kernelers have the expertise to solve problems better and more efficiently than most other professionals.
  • 3.0 Squids and Kernelers are incredibly diverse (the colossal squid is the largest invertebrate in the world and the smallest, the sepiolid squid, is less than one inch long and weighs less than a quarter of an ounce). Diversity within the same community makes us all better.
  • 4.0 While squids and Kernelers are both very self-sufficient, they are also adept at working together to conquer shared challenges.
  • 5.0  While it sounds mythological, some squid’s characteristics actually allow them to take flight. In much the same way, a Stable Kerneler’s unique skills, outlook and commitment allow us to soar above the rest!

If you have a lot in common with the Sky Squid, we’d love to meet you (we’re actively hiring).

Jami Sieder

Chief People & Culture Officer at Stable Kernel

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