Who: Ian Steyaert, VP of development and executive producer at notHarvard.com
Sign of the Times: "I manage 40 people. I track their professional goals — and how they balance work and life."
Ian Steyaert, 33, has been working on a leadership challenge that will sound familiar to everyone who operates in the Internet economy. In February, he joined notHarvard.com, an "eduCommerce" company based in Austin, Texas — and plunged into a culture where speed wins every time. How does Steyaert keep his team working fast without driving everyone crazy? He lets his employees pick their perks.
"When it's the employees — and not me — who come up with ways to make the work fun and the hours bearable, the ideas take on a life of their own," says Steyaert.
A case in point: Steyaert's charges helped set up the Web Lounge — an IKEA-decorated space where people can hold meetings, or watch a movie. NotHarvard.com employees also instituted a weekly show-and-tell session, as well as a biweekly "theme day." "Since we're democratizing education on the Web, it makes sense to democratize the benefits of working at our company."
A version of this article appeared in the September 2000 issue of Fast Company magazine.