by Rob Antoniak, Chief Customer Officer at TripShot

Supporting Transit Tech Company Morale One Cheesy Dad Joke at a Time

Leaders can empower their teams by being true to themselves

An Intense Few Years

While it only feels like a fortnight and I can’t really call this work, today I am celebrating three years as a TripShotter, aka working at TripShot! The past three years have been positively intense while filled with joy, fun and love from my colleagues. As a TripShot family, we have thrived and persevered through the pandemic, economic ups-and-downs and here again as we face intense unrest in the world. 

Intense is a word that’s been swirling in my mind since transitioning out of 2021 and into 2022. 


the quality or state of being intense, especially: an extreme degree of strength, force, energy, or feeling…

…something a young bootstrapped tech company, like TripShot, exudes while supporting the world’s largest tech companies as they return to their campuses. This intensity brings great responsibility to keep it real. For me keeping it real means weaving in some levity and humor throughout the day. During my career I have found making fun of myself, being authentically vulnerable, and using some clean dad jokes can bring levity and balance to nearly any intense environment. 

Bringing the Cheese

When I joined TripShot as Vice President of Business Development, I instantly felt at ease when my fellow TripShotters fondly, or for some tolerantly, embraced my dad jokes and my attempt to bring levity when things get intense. In fact, some TripShotters immediately coined my approach as “cheesy” and began issuing me many cheese-based nicknames, which I in turn embraced. Little did I know this would formalize soon after.

So, in 2020 when it came time for the Founders to realign responsibilities and me to rise to the challenge of Chief Customer Officer, aka CCO... all the TripShotters were quick to internally formalize the "C" in Customer as "Cheese.” I was affectionately called out as the Chief of Cheese, Chief Cheese or Chief Cheese Officer, a brand that I now hold with pride.

So what does it take to be the Chief Cheese Officer? Well, first it takes teamwork and collaboration. As was the case yesterday when I had writers’ block and enlisted the help of my friend, colleague and slightly newer TripShotter Chana Brooke, Director of Product, who will celebrate three years next week! I asked her, “In your opinion... What would be one of the top three attributes of being a chief of cheese?” She was not short on a supply of ideas and the Slack thread blew up… together we compiled a list of baseline requirements to be a successful Chief Cheese Officer. 

  • Like most really good cheeses, know yours… stinks! 
    Be humble - Patrick Lencioni, Author and Founder of The Table Group, says, “Humility isn't thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” Be willing to look the fool, ask dumb questions, listen and put others before yourself. 
  • Know when to be smooth and when to crumble. 
    The last two years has shown us that we need to expect the unexpected. Whether there’s a live meltdown of a colleague’s kid in the background during a sales call, a cat jumping on the keyboard, or just a crack in the emotional shield at the most unexpected time. Rather than just being a cause for concern, we can consider many things we’ve faced and look at them as life’s celebrations and opportunities to build trusting relationships. A fun real-life example is this post from magician and professional acquaintance Zach Farber, Salesforce Account Executive. 
  • Be really cheesy and know when to melt. 
    Being truly cheesy usually comes at the expense of your own perceived or real image. Embrace the opportunity to make fun of yourself, perhaps highlight a failure or a fear. Personally, I find when I can do this, the intensity can drop, lightening the mood and refocusing the team on our goal.
  • Have some good ole clean dad jokes ready.
    Be clean, no really! You don’t want HR calling you, so keep it clean and only make fun of yourself. Like, when shouldn’t you trust in what your Chief Cheese is saying? When it’s too Gouda be true!

Be Human

Virgin Group Founder, Richard Branson said, “There’s no magic formula for great company culture. The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated.” TripShot's culture is thriving because that’s what we all do - no games, no facades, just direct human-driven decision-making.

Following the stress of the last two years, we can all use a little love, comfort and humor. Being true to oneself can be liberating and empowering in every walk of life. Every member of your team, especially leaders, should try it. The results will amaze you. 

In fact, when you embrace treating people how you like to be treated and ask for help writing, you might just get the honest truth as I did from Chana, who said “Tolerating the Chief Cheese is an ‘acquired taste, and maybe not for everyone. However, a good Chief Cheese is flexible, has diverse tastes and is always prepared to be whipped, crumbled or roasted all for the ‘grater’ good of the team.” I think my cheese might be rubbing off on others ;-) 

I wouldn’t trade this experience for any other in my lengthy career! The next three years here at TripShot arm-in-arm with our customers and partners should be quite exciting and dynamic. Most importantly, I am hopeful that the joy, fun and love for each other over the last several years carries us to great places together as one TripShot family in the years ahead.