Photos by Amy Gee
Meet the leaders behind Seiche: Katie Eukel and Tom Elko. Seiche is one of the 18 values-driven businesses that have come together in support of Pollen’s mission to invest in human connection. Together, they challenge Pollenites to raise $20,000 by Give to the Max Day on November 15, which they will match dollar for dollar.
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All About Seiche
“A colleague once called us the best-kept secret in the Midwest,” say Katie Eukel and Tom Elko, managing principal and creative principal of Seiche. “That’s probably about right. If you ignore ego, you can get a lot done.”
Seiche gets a lot done. They’re a strategy and creative services consultancy, working with people, organizations and movements to catalyze transformative social impact. They’re often hired at moments of change for an organization; those moments when people question whether their work is actually making a difference.
“At those moments of change, we surface vision, and we then work alongside clients to bring those visions to life,” say Katie and Tom. Each vision is a little different—sometimes, it’s helping a client realize that they could start a new media outlet. Other times, it’s a multimedia storytelling project about the juvenile justice system in Louisiana. Sometimes, it’s training public health leaders across the nation about the role of storytelling in advancing change. “We move the needle on issues that matter to our clients, and we’re focused on delivering big wins.”
Let’s hear from Seiche
Pollen: What responsibilities do you feel as a business leader in your community?
Katie: We’re a business focused on social impact. That’s not always easy to understand, and we think many businesses underestimate their true power to advance social impact. By 2050, $50 trillion will change hands in North America, marking the largest generational wealth transfer in history. How do we want that money to move? Who should benefit from that transfer of wealth? Business leaders have stakes in this, and we should be using our privilege to expand who has access to capital.
Money can flow in damaging ways, but it can also flow restoratively.
In our tiny microcosm of the business universe, we try to flow money in ways that support individuals, restore communities and advance justice.
Pollen: What’s the culture of your team? How do you support one another? How did that culture become to be?
Tom: We had a lot of conversations about culture, as we navigated the growth and development of our business.
We started a Google Doc, which allowed us to capture “aha” moments. The moments where we realized we were talking about a cultural value that was uniquely Seiche? “Put it in the Google Doc.”
This has turned into our “values” document, which we use in all of our hiring processes. We come back to it during client engagements, or when we need to make tough decisions. It’s our guiding star, and we revisit it with our full team with some regularity.
Honestly, this isn’t easy work. We’ve tripped along the way. We look at culture building work as something that’s continually evolving. Each new staff member, each new vendor, each new client is an opportunity to stretch, build and evolve our culture together.
Katie: We celebrate every time we show up to work. That sounds cheesy, but our idea of a good celebration is showing up to do the work well, each and every time.
We support each other by showing up as our full selves, each and every day. Emotion is good. Stay home when you’re sick. Pick up your kid from school. Take care of yourself, take care of your loved ones, take care of your colleagues, take care of your communities. It seems simple, but we’re continually surprised by how many organizations don’t encourage these practices, even in the social impact sector.
Pollen: What’s the biggest challenge currently facing our region?
Katie: MSP has one of the strongest regional economies in the nation, and our unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country. We also have high racial disparities in education, employment, income, health and homeownership.
Our region cannot succeed unless racial disparities are addressed. We have the talent, we have the creativity, we have the people. Again, it’s a question of how money flows. It’s a choice. We could choose as a region to invest in people, invest in businesses, invest in communities that have been denied access to capital because of systemic racism.
Pollen: What is your company’s greatest source of pride?
Tom: Honestly, it’s the work we do quietly. It’s the work we do to expand opportunity. We don’t work in a vacuum. We work with a talented network of partners, vendors and clients. It’s a privilege and one that we don’t take lightly. There’s the work we’re hired to do, and there’s the work we do because it’s the right thing to do. Both are great sources of pride, but we really smile about the work that helps someone else pursue their dreams.
Pollen: Why do you value being part of the Pollen community?
Katie: Pollen connects people in creative ways! That’s powerful work, and it’s work we’re always proud to support.
Join Katie and Tom: DONATE TO MATCH THE HIVE TODAY