When I saw Richard Branson hanging in his hammock on Necker Island, his home in the British Virgin Islands , I thought again about how much fun he always seems to be having. W e’re working hard …. but are we having any fun?
Who’s Having Fun?
If I asked you for the name of 3 executives you believe are having the most fun, who would you name?
Herb Kelleher, the long-time Founder and CEO of Southwest Airlines (now retired), comes to mind, regaling his colleagues in a chicken suit and singing to passengers during boarding.
Google seems like a fun place to work with all of the gadgetry, and gourmet meals at all hours. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founders even converted a Boeing 767 into their personal luxury liner, and their stock’s done pretty well, but I’m not sure we think of them as “fun”?
If You Could Come Back as Someone “Fun”, Who Would You Be?
If you could come back as someone “fun”, who would it be?
One of my favorites may be someone you don’t think of as a business executive despite his significant interests in the restaurant and entertainment industries.
We know Jimmy Buffett better for his music but he always seems to be having fun. When you listen to Cheeseburger in Paradise or Margaritaville, you know Jimmy’s having fun. When you see him being interviewed, he’s always laid back, sitting on a beautiful island somewhere with a guitar and an adult beverage, surrounded by his Coral Reefer band and all the Parrotheads fit to print.
He’s spent his life spreading fun, too. He possesses that air of comfort and humility that translates to an aura of total relaxation, a focus on living in the moment and not much else.
Probably why so many of us like Maui.
Yes, There is Someone Else I Can’t Leave Out
On behalf of many men of the last few generations, I’d be lying if I omitted Hugh Hefner.
Besides being one of the godfathers of the sexual revolution, he’s famous for a sybaritic lifestyle that offends some and delights others. He just turned 90 so he must be doing something right.
Albeit at a much slower pace, he’s still conducting business in his robe and silk pajamas. Who hasn’t read about the legendary parties and celebrities who visit the Playboy Mansion, or the garden pool that threads through the house and is stocked with fish of the mermaid genus.
No nagging nabobs of negativism hang around there. (If we used a secret ballot to vote for Mr. “Fun”, Hef would have few peers.)
[pullquote]Most of the time I don’t have much fun. The rest of the time I don’t have any fun at all.” ~ Woody Allen[/pullquote]
You’re Having Fun … but are You Creating Fun?
So, Hefner is having fun but is he creating fun?
The magazine and its TV channels may create “fun” for some, but more likely for the customers rather than for the company.
Not like Herb Kelleher or even Charley Finley, the legendary former owner of the Kansas City, now Oakland “A’s”, who had a blast with gimmicks like orange baseballs and a mechanical rabbit behind home plate to hand new balls to the umpire.
Is Your Company Having Fun?
Richard Branson clearly belongs in the top three.
He is not only having fun – his only official office is a hammock on a sunlit porch at his private Necker Island home. No laptop for him, just several leather notebooks and few colored pens.
From his hot air balloons to his attempted rescue of the Concorde, he’s a fearless promoter, dressing up in a bridal gown to promote his Virgin Brides apparel company. He also got a lot of publicity for his Virgin Cola by driving a tank into Times Square and aiming it at the Coca-Cola sign, which burst into flames as a result of some pre-arranged pyrotechnics.
What Would Your Book Title Be?
Even their book titles are consistent with their public personas.
It’s probably no coincidence that one of Branson’s books is titled “*Screw It – Let’s Do it: Lessons in Life*”.
Herb Kelleher wrote “Nuts: Southwest Airline’s Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success“.
Hefner’s contribution should come as no surprise; he wrote “*Hef’s Little Black Book*”.
Are You Taking Yourself Too Seriously?
How does this translate into a value we can celebrate in building our businesses?
It’s more than an occasional company picnic or an after-hours pub-crawl.
It’s not just a ropes course or a team-building cook-off.
While those events might be the ruffles and flourishes of a fun-promoting company, its core is a leadership team that’s serious about its mission but doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Here are a Few Ways You Can Tell.
Ideas are welcomed from every corner of the company.
There are no sacred cows.
A collaborative culture flourishes.
The air is lighter, recrimination is absent.
Most importantly, people are united around a common mission that transcends profit and growth objectives.
They’re fired up about the company, they love working there, they know they count – and they’re having fun doing it. There’s a palpable spirit of adventure, of a higher purpose at work.
Are we having fun yet?
Question: What are you doing to create fun in your company? You can easily add your comment below, or by visiting our Facebook Page or @Exkalibur on Twitter. I visit them every day and look forward to discussing these ideas and concepts with you.