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Strength through Vulnerability to Promote a Culture of Trust

kokou adzo



Melinda Jacobs Subatomic and Perkio

We talked to Melinda Jacobs of Subatomic on how they find the subatomic particles that engage and motivate the audience as well as how Perkio is the go-between that helps businesses and employees co-create long lasting wellbeing. Here is what she said about them.

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times? 

Melinda Jacobs: Thanks for asking. We are doing as well, doing our best to navigate the uncharted waters we’re in.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Subatomic and Perkio.

Melinda Jacobs: I fell in love with games when I was young and became fascinated by the way they impact us, as humans, on a cultural, societal, and psychological level when I entered academia. Games engage and immerse players in a manner that is incomparable to most other interactive experiences. Game designers understand that they are building a system and embracing the attention to detail that is required to captivate players. We founded Subatomic in 2013 to use this design philosophy to create similar levels of engagement in digital experiences for other industries.

Having advised and led companies for years, I’ve seen a concerning trend growing, especially with the current COVID era: new challenges due to remote work, lack of boundaries between self and work, expectations for overtime, and dismissive stances toward mental health is leading to increased cases of burnouts, high turnover, low productivity and general unhappiness in organizations. Businesses can and must do more to support people working for them. This is why my most recent endeavor, as one of the founders of Perkio, is to help businesses put wellbeing at the core of their company culture.

How do Subatomic and Perkio innovate? 

Melinda Jacobs: We embrace a culture of curiosity and a passion for problem-solving.

While many companies see innovation as a product within itself, we see it as a retroactive assessment. Our goal isn’t to “innovate”; it’s to remain curious about the way the world works, maintain a close relationship with our customers and partners, and be playful in the way we approach solving the problems we find. 

How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

Melinda Jacobs: Although in Subatomic, we’ve always had remote clients, we’ve had to adjust to working remotely as a team, especially within Perkio. 

We’ve found new ways to reach out and connect to each other, check-in with how everyone in the team is doing, and make sure to be compassionate about the situations we’re all struggling with at the moment. The past year has definitely brought more attention to mental health and the importance of finding ways to connect people and create safe environments. 

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

Melinda Jacobs: The hardest part of making difficult choices is making a decision and fully committing to it. It is tempting to stay with a “foot in all doors” to stay as “flexible” as possible. However, this can often be detrimental to success. Saying no can help you and your team stay focused on (and know) what’s really important. Following your values and beliefs is always more effective than simply aiming for the abstract concept of “success.”

How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself, Subatomic, and Perkio in the future?

Melinda Jacobs: Personally, I practice meditation, sports, and self-compassion. Especially in this COVID era, I make it a priority not to place unreasonable pressure on performance – for myself or my team. I trust them and myself to be doing the best we can do, with the best intentions. This trust is essential to success.

I also believe in the power of vulnerability. We don’t always have to have the answer, it’s okay to be struggling with mental health, and not everything is going to work out the first time. Failure is a part of success. I think it’s important to show others that there is strength in vulnerability in order to encourage a culture of trust and openness in organizations. 

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Melinda Jacobs: They are many companies operating in HR and focusing on wellbeing, and we are very happy to see that! That means things are changing in the right direction. 

At Perkio, we focus particularly on anonymity, catching implicit bias, and immediately launching tailored initiatives to increase employee wellbeing. What makes us special is that we combine the best of many worlds to bring one complete solution, and we never compromise on keeping the employee’s interest at the very core of everything we do. 

Your final thoughts?

Melinda Jacobs: Be brave. Be playful. Figure out your values, figure out what you believe, and pursue it. And perhaps most importantly, be kind and compassionate to yourself and others. It’s a hard time, even outside of COVID-19’s impact.

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Kokou Adzo is the editor and author of He is passionate about business and tech, and brings you the latest Startup news and information. He graduated from university of Siena (Italy) and Rennes (France) in Communications and Political Science with a Master's Degree. He manages the editorial operations at

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