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| Friday, October 25, 2013
A Little Wacko Can Go a Long Way
We recently held our quarterly all-staff meeting at our home office in Atlanta. With the football season cranking up and the Chick-fil-A® Kickoff Game around the corner, we encouraged our entire corporate staff of about 1,100 people to wear their college team colors and support their alma mater. Most wore either a nice polo shirt with their college team’s logo on it or simply a business casual outfit in their alma mater’s colors. There was a lot of red and black (Georgia) and white and old gold (Georgia Tech), and some orange and navy blue (Auburn). This group still managed to look polished and presentable.
Then there were a few of us who took it up a notch (or down a notch, depending on how you look at it) and donned a football jersey tucked into a pair of khakis. I took that route. It was a little less polished, but it was all in good fun.
There was a final category of participants who were without question in the minority. They were best represented by one particular staff member who attended Notre Dame. I had seen him on my way through the building. When I mentioned his name in the meeting, an enormous gold and blue flag suddenly emerged from the back of the auditorium and began waiving back and forth. I called him up the front so everyone could see.
Besides the giant flag like those you see a cheerleader carrying when a team scores, he wore an Irish derby hat and large green beads around his neck. Like some of us, he had on a dark blue football jersey, but it wasn’t merely tucked into a pair of khakis. His pants were gold slacks with small, embroidered Irishmen spread all over them. Matching armbands were around his wrists, and his shoes were leather penny-loafers he’d spray-painted gold for the occasion.
I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but I think you get the picture. He clearly went above and beyond. And while he gave us all a great laugh, we ultimately admired him for it. We admired his ability to be a little wacko. As ironic as it sounds, he represents the kind of people we ought to take more seriously in our companies.
My friend Bernie Marcus once told me that for a company to continue being successful, it needs to embrace “wacko ideas” once in a while. Often, this is the only way to remain innovative and continue growing. It’s great advice.
Don’t shy away from wacko ideas. And don’t turn away the wackos like our in-house Notre Dame fanatic. Not only can people like him make your days more fun; their wild minds can take your ventures to the next level.