I was recently speaking in Seattle, Washington and had a chance to finally see the Pikes Place Fish Market in action. (In case you don’t know it, Humor in the Workplace speakers have turned the Fish Philosophy into a near cliché.)
As you know (unless you’ve lived in a cave) the Fish Market is famous for a fun atmosphere — and for turning that fun atmosphere into a healthy profit. Tourists and customers gather to watch the fun as the fish mongers literally throw fish, laugh and joke with customers, and generally enjoy their work. The result for the fish market is more than fun and smiles: it’s a thriving business. A world-famous thriving business. It’s a totally cool place with a totally cool concept. (Hey Mom! I used “totally cool” twice!) It’s also been beaten like a dead horse. Ok already! Throwing fish is fun.
It’s been the inspiration for many a motivational speaker, a series of motivational videos, courses and other products. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been asked, “Brad, have you heard about the Fish Philosophy?” … I’d have…. well, a couple of bucks at least.
If the thought of reading a blog post about the fish market makes you want to hurl, stick with me….I’m headed somewhere.
Watching the “show” at the market reminded me that a fun workplace doesn’t require funny people. You don’t have to be a funny, joke telling manager or leader to create a pleasant work environment. At the Market, I didn’t see a single comedian. I didn’t hear a single joke.
What I did see was a staff that had been empowered to be (and have) fun at work.
Fun without funny?
Tossing a fish is not funny. Can you imagine tossing an albacore in your workplace and getting a laugh? (My guess is that you’d get a quick visit from HR. “Hey everybody, Janeen is just threw a grouper at me!”)
So what was so fun about the fish market if it wasn’t flying fish? In a word, the fun was in the work culture. They are having so much fun it is infectious.
My point? This fish market encourages it’s employees to have fun. It makes it safe for them to have fun. And it rewards them for having fun.
Nobody is required to be funny…yet the laughter and smiles are ever present. (It’s important to mention that in addition to laughs and smiles, the Market is well known for customer service, quality product and a staff that is willing to make every shopping experience a positive experience.)
If you want your work culture to be more fun and funny, remember that you don’t have to be funny yourself. You just have to do your part to encourage others to be fun.
Throwing fish not required.
Washington Motivational Speaker, Fish Thrower*
* Ok, not really. I’ve honestly never thown a fish. A small rabbit** perhaps, but never a fish.
**Yes, I’m kidding. (Rabbits wiggle too much to really get a good spiral.***)
***I’m joking again. It’s a bad habit. But hey, it’s my job.
****Are you looking for the site above where there was “****” There isn’t one. This footnote is just a little added bonus joke. Ha ha. Get it? Ok, me neither.
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