“…If you were to show up for a tour today, you might find a popcorn machine or a coffee machine dressed up as a robot in our lobby. As you passed through different departments, you might find an aisle of cowbells (“more cowbell?”), a make-shift bowling alley built by our software developers, employees dressed up as pirates, employees karaokeing, a nap room, a petting zoo, or a hot dog social. You might see a parade pass by because it’s the perfect day to celebrate Oktoberfest.
Our employees know that our number one priority at Zappos is our company culture. While all of the things I just mentioned have come about organically (most of them I don’t even know about until they’ve already happened), a few of the things we do are more purposeful and planned.” – Pg. 148-49 Delivering Happiness (online and the book)
Personally, I’m a huge Christopher Walken fan so that any company that has a “more cowbell” theme in their office immediately scores high with me. Some critics may argue that this kind of atmosphere is not “professional” and a company with employees like this shouldn’t be taken seriously. If Zappos going from upstart in 1999 to $1 billion in annual sales last year doesn’t convince you otherwise, maybe you can tell that to the hordes of evangelists for Apple, which recently surpassed Microsoft to become the world’s biggest tech company in market share. Apple’s home campus in Cupertino, CA features a Monopoly themed office, pool table in a break room, wireless headsets for employees, ping-pong tables, a Wii break room and a cafeteria with a wood fire oven that will make pizzas to order. Apparently taking the effort to create a little fun and weirdness didn’t hurt either company in the long run.
Extending God’s business card to teens that might be at risk or in the middle of devastating personal trauma is serious work, maybe even life or death for them. That is an issue that does not, and should not escape us. My experience from the Marine Corps taught me that the harder you work, the harder you have to play. So as our nonprofit starts to figure out who we are and go through the startup growing pains, we need to remember that we’re not doing this to be miserable, that will not help uplift anyone we come into contact with. We must remember that creating a little fun and weirdness of our own is essential to build internal cohesion and to whether challenges ahead.
What does your company do to take the edge off with a little fun and weirdness? How would you bring that to us?