Everyone sings the chorus.

A Project Manager and Comms Strategist stand shoulder to shoulder, their faces serious. It’s nearly 8:30 p.m., but the room is overly bright from the can lights overhead. They clutch the mic between them and right on cue, they belt “I don’t wanna close my eyes, I don’t wanna fall asleep…” with as much Steven Tyler as they can muster. The rest of the agency, jam-packed in a karaoke room long after office hours have ended, chime in.

At nine a.m. this same day, the same Project Manager and Comms Strategist are clutching their coffee tumblers and starting their day with a lively conversation. The tone of this exchange is electric with strong opinions as they debate the merits of podcasts. Are they right for every brand? Are they right for any brand? Who is getting it right? Their voices are raised and coffee nearly sloshes out of their YETIs with every emphasized gesture.

We often say our agency is like a family. And we are. Except that at our house, we don’t have a sign that says “Live, laugh, love.” Our sign says “Work hard and don’t be a dick.” So we do. We debate. We challenge each other. We get up in each other’s business. Basically, we love each other enough to tell someone when they’ve gotten it wrong. It’s a lot easier to do that when you’ve scream-sung Aerosmith alongside them. Or they’ve seen you, unabashed in your swimsuit, tilt a bag of Doritos into your mouth, crumbs sticking to your sunscreened body.

The close-knit culture at Firehouse gives us the right to be transparent, honest. Which ultimately makes our product stronger and smarter. We’re willing to do the hard things that push ourselves and our teammates to better work. Sometimes that looks like telling someone that their deck isn’t telling the right story a day before the big presentation. And sometimes it looks like four o’clock tequila shots. It works because we’ve all bought-in—we know the words and we’re singing the chorus together.