If you think levity and lightheartedness are important to corporate America, join the crowd.  In particular, join the folks at Microsoft Finance North America. 

I worked with this group recently in Seattle, Washington and, like most of my favorite clients, I learned at least as much from them as they learned from me.

(Read the related blog entry about my trip to Microsoft)

I was totally impressed with this organization. (If you read my blog you know that I rarely say that.)

Why?

•  I was impressed with the transparency of the organization.  I was impressed how everything was “on the table” …. I heard candid discussions on the recent (and odd) TV commercials, the aborted attempt to buy Yahoo, the fact that Vista’s popularity is lower than they’d like.   Contrast this openness with many of my other (unnamed!) clients who spend more time instructing me about what I cannot talk about than what their folks need to hear.   [For example, I once worked for a client who had JUST gone through a huge set of layoffs.  They forbade me to discuss the layoffs … as though their folks might forget that 50% of their friends were no longer there and they themselves were worried about their job security.  Oye!]

• I was impressed by the people.  They are good people who love their families, work exceptionally hard, and are very loyal to each other and their company.

• This group was fun loving.   They like each other, and it showed.  They were easy to make laugh.  Ready with fun anecdotes and conversation.  They were a far cry from what any of us might expect from folks who work in the high tech industry for a finance department.   Many times I’ve worked at corporate meetings where people are forced to socialize with each other. It’s clear that they don’t want to be socializing… but they have to be there so they are.  Not so at Microsoft.  Their obvious enjoyment in each other was fun to watch.

• They were eager to ramp up the fun.  They were ready to share best humor practices with each other and with me. I often have to work hard to break the ice with a new corporate group.  Not this one:  MFNA was ready to laugh from minute one.

• During my program, I joked about clown noses, and taught a few funny ways to use them at work to handle stress.  We arranged to make sure everybody had a nose to take with them.  As you can see from these photos, they didn’t go to waste.

Near the end of our time together we split into groups and brainstormed ideas about safeways to create more levity and humor at Microsoft.  [We spend so much of our time at work, it makes sense to create fun. How can we do it?]  We heard a bunch of great ideas…but check out one group’s very specific ideas about how to increase the levity at the office.

1.       Friday Jokes

2.       Laugh at every meeting

3.       Happy Button

4.       Monday stories of weekend adventures

5.       Share embarrassing stories

6.       Dance in the focus rooms

7.       Dance every time you hear or see a “GO DO”

8.       Baby picture ID badges

9.       Word Bingo _  Drowning the puppies – (who ever imagined  we would here these words together!)

10.   Hawaiian shirt day

11.   Match the story to the person

12.   e-flowers/emoticons

But what was my favorite part?  It came 10 days after I left Seattle when I heard that CFO John Rex bought a Nerf Gun to attack his team.  (And, as a follow up, his awesome assistant, Amelia, bought guns for the rest of the team so they could create a defensive strategy.)    ”Hey everybody!  Let’s buy Nerf Guns!

Humor, levity and lightheartedness help us with morale, creativity, energy, communication, and — in the end — productivity.  It was unbelievably cool to share this message with Microsoft Finance.  But it was even cooler to see that they “got it.”

Thanks So Much, MFNA!

Brad Montgomery
Microsoft Fan, Washington Motivational Speaker, Nerf Enthusiast

PS.  Microsoft gets so much bad press.  I suppose it is impossible not to have some detractors if you’re that big, and that omni-present.  [After all, how many companies have actually changed the entire world besides Microsoft?]  It’s impressive.   When you’re there in person, working with the individuals who make up a part of this massive organization, it’s hard not to leave impressed.

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2 responses to “Brad @ Microsoft v. 3.0”

  1. motivational speakers seattle says:

    You are expressing your mind in a funny way. That’s great!

  2. seattle motivational speaker says:

    you are funny and elegant. I loved it!

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