Do you take yourself too seriously?


December 19, 2013 by smallarmyjeff

About a year ago, I was in a client meeting, preparing to present a bunch of “storytelling approaches” for their brand.  There were about fifteen people in the meeting, so we thought we’d open up with some quick introductions.

To get everyone in the mood for a fun presentation, we asked each person to state his/her name, role in the organization, and favorite holiday food (seemed like a safe enough opener).  We started to my left, and all was going well.  Lots of laughs, and some interesting choices from everyone — until we got to the person to my right (the head of the organization), who by this point was clearly frustrated, and stated “I don’t participate in these types of things.”  I then ended the session with my favorite – potato latkes with apple sauce and sour cream.

While I did my best to lighten the mood, we knew this would not be the “fun” meeting we had expected, hoped for and typically have when we present creative.   The mood was killed.  Instead, it seemed more like a meeting about how to handle a foreign hostage crisis than a discussion around storytelling.  We no longer work with this client.

When I wake up in the morning, I look forward to going into work.  It’s a place where I can be myself.  Where I can have open debate and dialogue with my colleagues and clients.  Where all opinions will be heard.  And, yes, a place where I can have fun.   I hope that others at Small Army feel the same.

At the end of the day, we are all human.  Regardless of what you do for a living, your work is important.  And there is definitely time for seriousness.  But, it’s OK to laugh every one once in a while too.  In fact, without it, work is often compromised.  Fun clears your head. Fun opens your mind.  And, fun makes it much easier to work with others.

So, as my 6 year old son likes to say, “lighten up, people.”  Have some fun.

OK.  Now get back to work before this fun thing gets out of hand.  (Actually, wait.  Hold on.  Not too fast.  Before getting back to work, please take a moment to share any thoughts or comments below.  I’d love to hear from you.)

I wish you and your families a very happy holiday and New Year.  Here’s to a great 2014.

– Jeff

PS.  In the spirit of “fun,” please enjoy Small Army’s special “Stocking Stuffers” website, full of highly sought-after, royalty-free stock photography that everyone can surely use in 2014.  You can even personalize them to make them your own and share them with your friends.    


22 thoughts on “Do you take yourself too seriously?

  1. I couldn’t agree more. We spend so many waking hours with our colleagues – levity is important. Glad to see you’re not taking yourselves too seriously with your stocking stuffer. Who knew Paul Dome (Mr. May on the calendar) would be the next hawt pinup model?

  2. Tim Davies says:

    Couldn’t agree more Jeff. And by the way, “Oyster Stew”. One of those traditions in our family that I just can’t seem to shake so I’ve decided to embrace it.

  3. Good stuff Jeff. Bravo for setting the example for your company. Nice guys CAN finish at the front of the pack… SMALL ARMY is proof positive. As for holiday foods, I’m a sucker for (non-spiked) Egg Nog… and RIBBON CANDY—no matter how old and stale!

    All the best to you and SA in 2014.

  4. Matt Peck says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. When asked the interview or ice breaker question “tell me about yourself” my go to reply – I take my work seriously but not myself. That’s the environment I want to work in for all the reasons you stated. My favorite, my mother-in-laws coffee cake with melted butter. Best to you, your family, and small army.

  5. Well said Jeff I feel the same way!! All of my favorite places to work (you guys included) all share that common philosophy. No matter where your working great people and a fun work in environment tend to make the super tight deadlines and super stressful jobs not so stressful, producing a better product in the end.

  6. Stephen says:

    Thanks for this! So much going on at work… it’s good to laugh at it sometimes. I enjoy the culture there and am glad we were able to work with Small Army.

  7. Alyn says:

    Thanks Jeff. I always enjoy your postings. A few years ago I made a promise to myself that no matter how tough times got, I wasn’t going to work with jerks. Interesting enough, it’s been five years and I can say I love working with every one of my clients. I’ve had to turn down the occasional project, but peace of mind and joy in my day has been worth it. And I love the Swedish Cardamon bread my family bakes. Happy Holidays!

  8. Jonathan B. says:

    As always Jeff, your emails say it like it is (or should be!) Thanks and Happy Holidays!

  9. Dawn H says:

    Thanks for sharing this with me Jeff; I couldn’t agree more! Wishing you a very happy 2013!!!

  10. Joan Bragar says:

    And… when people are having fun they learn more effectively. Fun enables us to take our assumptions and turn them on their heads. Humor is truth – delivered a little faster than the brain is expecting, or in a different context than we are used to.

    So, to Jeff, and everyone at Small Army, continue to have lots of fun!!
    And have a wonderful and joyous holiday and new year.
    Always, Joan

    PS. Brisket

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