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"Why Choose Between Fun and Content When You Can Have Both"

Hire people based on their love of your product; not based on their skillset

The best “job” I ever had was with Ask Mr Foster Travel Service; a subsidiary of Carlson Companies at the time. I loved that job. I love to travel and had the opportunity to do just that; and often at discounted prices. I didn’t know a thing about the travel and tourism industry on day one but I enthusiastically learned; because of my love of travel.

When I lost a whole bunch of weight with Weight Watchers I enthusiastically joined their team as a facilitator and leader of meetings. I loved the product/service and was excited about it. It became very easy to motivate and excite others to lose weight.

I also worked for Lone Star Industries, a cement manufacturer and Avon Products, the cosmetic company. Those jobs were just that……jobs. I had no interest in cement or lipstick. Couldn’t care less about cement that dried in record time or lipstick that dried on your lips for days.

But here’s what I tell my clients and my audiences….if you don’t like your company offerings get out now or start loving them. All these years later I do believe there is something to be said about hiring/retaining people based on their love of your product and downplaying their skill sets. Skills can be learned. Satisfied customers turned employees will always be looking out for your best interests.

Remember, the best employees love what you have to offer.

Great employees know how to MultiCustomerTask and treat one another with respect

The other day I went to get my eye glasses adjusted at a LensCrafters store in Waterbury, CT. The store was quite busy and the employees were doing their best to keep everyone happy all at once. If there was ever a case of MultiCustomerTasking (is there such as word) the three employees working in this store would have been the role models.

But there was one thing that stuck out on my visit. Apparently one of the three employees was very new and the two young ladies at the back of the store could not say enough kind things about this gentleman. They were going on and on and on about how quick he was picking things up, what a fast learner he was, how responsible he was, take charge, took initiative and a great addition to the team.

WOW! Was I hearing this right? You get so used to people trashing other employees and getting catty that I thought maybe Harold Camping had been right; the world did end the night before and I was on the other side.

So I asked the two ladies if they share these great comments with the young man. They told me they were doing it all day long. YES!!!!!!!

I can’t remember the last time I found myself in a retail environment where I witnessed something like this. Two thumbs up to the team at LensCrafters. Someone is doing some great hiring.

And here’s a challenge for you today………..Who can you praise in your workplace? And would you be willing to do it for others to hear?

A better employee experience; engage them from the beginning

Thsi is part of an exercise that you can find in the recently released Recess At Work System; a fun approach for improved morale, engagement & productivity. You can learn more about the system by clicking here.

You can save 15% by using the code RECESSitate at the checkout.

Question: Why is it that the people sitting around trying to engage a workforce are not including a good cross-representation of the workforce in those discussions?

RECESSitation Idea:

Give everyone a blank sheet of paper. One person will read the following questions to the group and give them a moment to write a short response on the paper. Why not have some fun and give out colored markers or crayons to write their answers.

  1. This is a great place to work because………….
  2. I could contribute more to my employer if………….
  3. In order for me to improve my skills I would need…………
  4. The things I like most about my job are………..
  5. The things I would like to see improve at my job are………….
  6. If I could have any job in the company it would be…………
  7. My latest contribution to the organization was………..

You are encouraged to add additional questions.

Now crumple up the papers and throw them into a pile. Pull them out one at a time and record the responses question-by-question on flip chart paper or dry-erase board. Enjoy a healthy, lively discussion.

Stay in touch with books that promised you the world but did not deliver

If you’re like me you’ve bought books that were going to change your life, make you a better employee, a better boss, a better parent, achieve great riches, become a better athlete, learn a language………do I need to go on?

And if you’re like me most of those books did not achieve those things – or at least it didn’t happen the way the book or author led you to believe. There were probably some great pearls of wisdom or some nuggets that helped you move forward, and your intentions were good, but alas…..things did not happen as fast or the way you had hoped. 

Then there were the books that people gave me because they wanted me to promote their business or perhaps I was quoted in the book or a story/chapter included something about me. Nice, but I usually don’t run around going “Look. Look. I’m in here!”

Right now I’ve got six books sitting on my desk; these are books that have made a difference; I keep them on my desk as reference/textbooks. They do change over time. But the rest, they sit in the closet (see picture) and I look at them wondering if I will ever do anything with them. You hate to throw them out; after all you spent money on them; or someone gave them to you as a gift; or maybe the answer to life really is inside one of them.

And then I realized maybe the answer to life for someone else was in those books. Or maybe they are a great way to reconnect with a friend. Or what a way to let a client know you are thinking about them. Or an employee to engage with a customer? Or maybe you had a brief conversation with an audience member who shared some interest, dream or idea with you and in your closet is a resource or something that might be of use?

So usually two times a month I send someone a book. That’s 24 in a year. I probably won’t run out of books before I die but hey, it’s a good feeling to know I’m making room for the next book. It’s an even better feeling to know I may have just made someone else a very rich, happy or successful person.

Workplace flexibility not flexible hours might create a better employee experience

I read lots of articles, blog entries and tweets about the importance of offering employees flexible hours in order to improve employee morale, employee engagement and productivity; and create a better employee experience. And I agree. I have seen the benefits first hand and have had many conversations with employees and employers who embrace such a policy.

But what if we went one step further……………

What if the policy was just “Offer Flexibility.”

You are given a job or a task with a date it is due:

  • You work the hours you want
  • You work from where you want
  • You utilize the resources that make the most sense for you; without compromising the organization
  • You seek guidance and help from people outside the organization (without giving away proprietary information, trade secrets, etc.) where you think it would be helpful
  • You pop in to the office to update and seek mentoring and guidance when necessary

Could it work? Sure it can. Look at all the successful virtual companies out there; some where employees are hired over the phone and never even meet the boss face-to-face. It also gives the employee a feeling of being somewhat of an entrepreneur which so many companies say they are looking for when hiring.

Will this work for everyone? Of course not. Some employees need structure or need to show up somewhere for the camaraderie and socialization that an office provides. But for those who are entrepreneurial spirits and project oriented this has great power. It might also provide a heck of a real estate savings.

So here are two questions to think about:

  1. As a boss, are you willing to let go of the reigns and give it a try?
  2. As an employee, do you think you have the discipline to deliver without a structured environment?

Do you have “The Worst Job in the World?”

I was watching a video this morning where a young man called his job “The Worst Job in the World.” (You can watch the video here.) It got me thinking about what is the worst job in the world and who has it.

Several years ago I read an article about a job that involved pulling a sheet through the jungle to collect ticks. That sounds like a possible “worst.” There is the Dirty Jobs show on television; those might apply. I’ll bet a lot people might classify their job, at times, as the worst.

What I liked about the video was that the young man acknowledged it is not a great job and decided he wanted to do something about it. He didn’t wait for others to do it for him. He and his peers made the job fun. They turned something boring into a performing art of sorts.

In the end I’ll bet we could all find a reason to classify our job at times as the worst. If you’re feeling that way what can you do or have you done to change it? I’d love to hear from you.


And speaking of worst jobs……The Recess At Work Day System is a great way to inspire the creative juices to make your workplace a bit more fun and productive. Save 20% if you order by May 13, 2011. Visit the Really Fun Products link

The new games rules: 5 strikes and you’re out!

Back in early March I wrote a piece about Verizon Wireless and how 15 years of Customer Loyalty was killed with one bad customer experience. You can read that piece here.

So my 5th piece of crap Samsung Fascinate stopped working this morning and once again it was determined not to be a user problem but a manufacturer problem.

However Verizon did the right thing this time. Without the slightest bit of hesitation the tech support person said “let’s get you out of this phone once and for all.” No gimmicks. No having to speak to 18 supervisors. No suggesting we go for #6. Yep, 5 strikes and you’re out! (As a reminder #1 was purchased on 12-20-10.) A few computer strokes later and it was done.

But here’s what I loved about Amber:

  • She didn’t feel tied to a policy
  • She was willing to make something work despite the fact that my account was eligible for nothing in terms of an upgrade
  • She seemed genuinely excited about helping me and solving my issue

At the end of the day it comes down to this:

  1. Employees first – let them feel empowered to do what is the right thing; even if it might not be the policy. There are always exclusions/exceptions.
  2. Customers second – we won’t put up a fight and get all annoyed with you when your employees are genuinely working to solve our problems and use some common sense.

Now of course it did take 5 strikes before someone said enough is enough. But hey, my loyalty level just rose a whole bunch of notches because someone pretty down on the chain of command “gets it!”

And I suggest any leader/manager/CEO/business owner think about this a bit from time to time:

Are any of your policies holding employees back from being great and offering a truly amazing customer experience?

If management doesn’t want to hear from employees do they really want to hear from customers?

You walk into a business you frequent regularly. During your experience you get into a conversation with an employee about a policy that you may or may not agree with. You make a suggestion for that employee to pass along. To which the response from the employee is:

Management doesn’t want to hear from us, it is best that it come from you (or something to this point).

Then it is suggested to you that you go home and call some number or visit some website to share your idea/suggestion/frustration.

Well here’s what I start thinking:

  • What has happened at that company that employees feel that information they pass along goes nowhere?
  • Is it that the employee is lazy and just doesn’t want to be bothered with taking down some information and passing it along? Perhaps it is taking away from his or her texting time
  • Has the employer started assuming these were employee complaints/suggestions and not those of a customer?
  • Do I really want to do business with a company that makes employees feel this way or with employees that are just lazy?

For a company to be great three things need to occur:

  1. You have employees who care about their jobs, love their jobs and feel like their ideas and opinions matter
  2. You have customers who love your products and your employees.
  3. You have a management team that is engaged with employees and customers

Is your company great? Or do you need some help? Perhaps I can help.

Today we got a new Corporate Buzzphrase “Involved or Incompetent”

Imagine if you showed up to work one day and started derailing the credibility of a coworker by either saying they were involved in some corporate cover-up or you felt they were incompetent.

So much for ever getting that promotion. So much for being invited to the CEO’s house for a weekend retreat. Heck, you might even find yourself looking for a job. At the very least they are words that will follow you for your remaining time at that company. You sure as heck ain’t getting the Employee of the Month Parking Space or the Most Engaged Employee Award.

So CIA Director Leon Panetta is saying that Pakistan was either involved or incompetent regarding Osama Bin Laden’s whereabouts. Harsh words. Words that you know are going to come back and haunt him or require him to defend. But the reality is that he said what he is truly feeling at this moment; based on the information he has available. And if he’s wrong a great wordsmith will come along and make it all better; kinda like the employee who says words out of turn. He or she sits there and says well what I really was trying to say was……

Do people speak too soon? I guess. Do organizations hold back information forcing us to make opinions and accusations that are unjustified? Probably. Does communication in general suck in a lot of organizations? You bet it does.

But what if he’s right? What if you’re right about that coworker?

Saying what’s on your mind is not a matter of right or wrong; it’s a matter of opening up dialog to find answers, new ideas and new successes. So whether you’re involved or incompetent it’s all good; as we’ll find out soon enough.


June 16th is Recess At Work Day!


Do you have your


Since its inception in 2004 the 3rd Thursday in June has been designated as Recess At Work Day. Acknowledged by Chase’s Calendar of Events (the Official Bible of Unofficial Holidays) and worldwide media, Recess at Work Day has evolved over the years. It has evolved because of people like you; people who have embraced the holiday and used it to make your organization a better place for employees, volunteers and members.

What started out as a day of fun in 2004; a day of schoolyard games; has morphed into a day to recharge teams, celebrate success, and offer a chance for some learning. It has evolved into what I call an opportunity to RECESSitate any group, team, customers or business.

Look Who Has Participated:

Over the years I have hula hooped at Harford Hospital, celebrated the successes of school cafeteria workers, and enjoyed breakfast while delivering a fun professional development program for McDonalds Corporation. As you can see Recess At Work Day is good for any industry who understands the importance of morale, engagement, and productivity; any organization that values its number one asset – its people. 1-800-MATTRESS seized the marketing opportunity and invited their customers to come take a Recess and try out a new mattress.

The definition of RECESSitate is to undergo a period of learning, recharging or celebrating; versus the definition of Resuscitate which is to bring back from the dead. That’s what Recess At Work Day is all about; that’s what this system is all about. It’s about RECESSitating your organization before the need for resuscitating. The benefits of RECESSitating or a RECESSitation as I like to call it, include, but are not limited to:

  • Improved employee morale
  • Increased employee engagement
  • Higher productivity
  • Stronger work teams
  • Better Communication
  • Stronger Leadership/Grooming Leadership
  • A more fun workplace

And given the last few years, don’t you think your organization deserves some time to have a little fun with a purpose? To have their hard work and loyalty recognized.

The CEO will kill me if we’re outside playing:

In response to people looking for Recess At Work Day ideas that have organization value (words the CEO likes to hear) while also being fun I have developed the RECESS AT WORK IMPLEMENTATION SYSTEM. Included are 12 opportunities for you to do just that; 12 Recesses, RECESSitations, employee morale boosters, employee engagement strategies, creativity & innovation ideas, or whatever you choose to call them. No, you don’t have to do all 12 at once. Let Recess At Work Day be the beginning of something bigger; perhaps a year-long approach to RECESSitating your company; to making it an even better place for employees as well as customers.

There are so many ways to use this system:

  • Use it one activity at a time; perhaps to tackle an organization challenge
  • Give different departments an activity that might help them move forward, break through a barrier or bond
  • Let one department choose the activity for another department
  • Challenge a neighboring company in your vicinity to a little competition/collaboration
  • Commit to a monthly or quarterly Recess to recharge, celebrate or learn something
  • Use the shorter activities as a meeting ice breaker

Are you getting the idea?

Committing to periodically (perhaps monthly) incorporating a RECESSitation when it looks like your company is heading towards needing a Resuscitation might be just what the morale and turnover statistics need.

June 16th will be here before you know it. Don’t be one of those companies who send me an email that day saying I wish I had known or I wish I had some ideas. I’ve done that for you and am offering you a savings if you pre-order now!


RECESSitate today and you might not have to Resuscitate tomorrow.

It’s time to Learn, Recharge and/or Celebrate.

But most importantly, it’s time to have some fun instead of talking about it!

Happy Recess. And please do not hesitate to contact me with comments, thoughts, ideas, successes, or just to say hi!