In his TEDx talk, filmmaker and minimalist Marty Stano speaks about his travels through Patagonia. Nearly out of money and food, he makes camp one evening in a drainage ditch near the road. Score! He says, “[D]id I seriously just become sincerely joyful and grateful over sleeping in a dirty ditch.” Yes, he did.
When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
In The Alchemist, which changed my outlook on life, the protagonist Santiago dreams of treasure in the Egyptian pyramids and sets out to find it. Along the way, he discovers his metaphorical treasure; he becomes wiser, kinder, happier, self-actualized. This book, which the New York Times calls “more self-help than literature” (in a good way!) urges readers through its simple, powerful story to achieve their dreams. “Wherever your heart is, that is where you’ll find your treasure.”
“This is the workplace, and Cupid doesn’t belong on the org chart.” Lynn Taylor, author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant
Sending Valentine’s to clients? What could be more inappropriate? What could be more awkward? What could push the boundaries further?
You had me until “boundaries.” That’s exactly what leisureology does. Push the boundaries of what’s possible: help businesses forge new paths, differentiate themselves, and build stronger relationships. Remove “inappropriate” and “awkward” from the Valentine’s Day situation, and you’ll have the ideal chance to accomplish all of this – and show your clients some love.
What’s it like to work at Google? Fun. Innovative. Fast-paced. Fulfilling, and just plain filling (all those catered meals and the endless smorgasbord of snacks!). How do I know; I don’t work there! Most people, in fact, do not, and yet we’re all familiar with the workplace culture. That’s the power of an effective employer brand. And that’s the power you need to harness to recruit and retain your own employees. Does your reputation precede you? It needs to!
Genentech’s long-term workers can take advantage of paid six-week sabbaticals. Epic Systems one-ups that with overseas airfare and accommodations for you and a partner. NutraClick’s people are given objectives – and then set free to achieve them wherever and whenever they want. And don’t even get me started on Google.
With innovative and extensive programs like this, incorporating a leisure culture may seem overwhelming – not to mention outrageously expensive – for many companies. It’s not. It doesn’t take a Google, or a google of zeroes in the budget, to make it work. You can afford leisure; in fact, in today’s high-stress, high-test corporate climate, you can’t afford not to take action. This January, resolve to make 2015 the Year of Leisure.
Why close up shop the week after Christmas? I think this is reason enough: I received not one, not two, but six pairs of battery-powered socks. Oh, cool, you might be thinking: so you’ll stay warm skiing? Nope. These – all six – looked like something a Dr. Seuss character might wear. They were fuzzy. And batteries were not included. I need a week to get these things out of my house and exchanged for, I don’t know, self-warming socks, I guess.
But, at the same time, there are equally, and some might argue, more, compelling reasons to stay open. The Week After Christmas – or “WAC,” – is now affectionately known by the very busy and the very lazy, as the most wonderful time of the year…to work.
Something curious has been happening. I’ve been writing “All work and no play makes Paul a dull boy,” obsessively. And on a typewriter, of all things. I see the word “redrum” all over the place. Then I realize: It’s only December. If I’m coming down with cabin fever now, what will early March look like?
Time for a change! Your employees could probably use one too. How can you reinvigorate them – and yourself – during the (long, oh so long!) winter months? And why should you?
The biggest misconception about the holidays: it’s the thought that counts. You know this is BS if you have kids. If it were true, they’d be thrilled with the Mozart box set because it’ll help raise their math scores or the stocking full of Brussels sprouts because vitamin K helps with blood coagulation. That’s thoughtful, right? But people want what they want – not necessarily what you want to get them.
This can make gift giving tricky, especially around the office. Luckily, your boss has already implicitly told you what he or she wants for the holidays.
The most wonderful time of the year. Everyone’s wishing you tidings of comfort and joy while elbowing you out of the way so they can get the last reduced price Xbox. Someone just asked if you’re on your way to an ugly sweater party. You aren’t. Between the endless renditions of “Santa Baby” and the 10 pounds of sugar cookie you put on, the Christmas Holiday can be trying, to put it mildly. What should you do when the weather’s awful, your in-laws are frightful, and your credit card bill is downright terrifying?
I should have been a Millennial. Flextime. The emphasis on health, fitness, and recreation. The love of tapas instead of heavy meals. Work/life integration. These kids don’t even mess around with work/life balance. They recognize that the lines between work and life are blurred, and most see no problem with checking work email at home or catching up with a friend on Facebook while they’re “on the clock.” It’s rapidly becoming a Gen Y world; the rest of us only benefit from bridging the generational gap.
Sorry, kids. We messed up! No doubt about it: Gen Zs were born into a firestorm, into economic, social, political, environmental, and cultural volatility, but here’s what inspires hope: they know it, and they want to fix it. Not after work, not on weekends. They want their jobs to connect with and support their passions—not simply fund them.
Will Generation Z change the nature of work? It already has.
How do you know you’re a digital immigrant? You have to ask your 8-year-old child how to work your smartphone. You know more people IRL than you do online. Someone texts “SMH” or “IMHO”, and you have to Google it (if that last sentence meant nothing to you, try Urban Dictionary).
Gen Zs (those born after 2000) are digital natives, speaking Internet as a first language. They have armed themselves with the tools required by the 21st century—often at the expense of 20th century skills. The resulting Digital Divide is growing; those on the other side might want to start building a bridge.
Don’t have time for a midday workout? Can’t cut out early on Friday afternoon because you’re swamped? Here’s a tip that may help: don’t referee your employees’ conflicts! Managers spend nearly three hours a week dealing with office drama, disagreements, and skirmishes. That’s time better spent working towards business objectives. Stop handling conflict, and start helping your employees handle it themselves.
You know you’re old when your back goes out, but you stay in. When you say “dude,” thinking you’re hip; or when you think “hip” means with it. You’re old if you wait all year for a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks, and don’t realize there’s a whole secret menu of customized beverages available to those in the know. And, if you don’t know that said drinks aren’t really for drinking, but for Instagramming.
Of the many cultural differences between generations, the demand for customization is one of the most striking. Gen Y-ers don’t get what they get; they get what they want. Personal choice and individuality is essential to them – in everything from their drinks to their workplaces.
“Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, and eight hours for what you will.”
-Slogan of the 19th-century Eight-Hour Day Movement
Innovations, from the printing press to the automobile to the Internet, have knocked down real barriers of geography and time. It’s funny that we insist on putting artificial ones in their place! Take the weekend, for instance. 48 hours for fun and relaxation. Go. Now! You’re wasting time. As the lines between “work” and “life” blur, this construct imposes guilt when we work and anxiety when we don’t. So why cling to it? Why not give “what you will” more than one third of your time?
“Just don’t do it.” Nike would have sold a whole lot fewer shoes if they’d gone with that motto, but for the rest of us, strategically not joining committees, taking on projects, accepting invitations, answering emails, and overextending ourselves personally and professionally may be the key to success and fulfillment. “Essentialism” asks us to question continually whether or not we’re investing in the right activities. And if we’re not – just don’t do it.
Did you see Brazil’s goalkeeper, Julio Cesar, block a shot by Mexico’s Raul Jimenez in extra time? Despite the 0-0 score, this match was one of the best yet of the 2014 World Cup. Oh, you didn’t see it? Working? Setting a good example so your sports-loving direct-reports don’t wander off to a corner and sneak a game in on their tablets?
Here’s the reality: it’s summer, and the World Cup is on. You can’t ignore it. For some fans, and in some cultures, it’s like Christmas – if jolly St. Nick only came only once every four years and brought a sack-full of camaraderie and national pride. They say if you can’t beat them, join them. I say if you’re going to join them, lead them. Don’t just tolerate World Cup madness, embrace and leverage it.
“Hi, room service? I’d like to order stress with a side of obesity. And, why not? Some work life imbalance.” Ah, the life of a business traveler. These road warriors and frequent fliers often contend with more than traffic and jet lag: higher BMIs, elevated cholesterol and blood pressure levels, greater risks of heart disease, lost luggage. Pleasure travel, on the other hand, improves health, alleviates depression, and promotes brain health. There’s the cure for your business travel blues: incorporating leisure. The question is, how?
“’Here’s what our product can do’ and ‘Here’s what you can do with our product’ sound similar, but they are completely different approaches.” Jason Fried, founder and CEO of Basecamp, the world’s #1 project management tool.
We don’t need more stuff; we need more experiences. A new phone, a new bag, a new pair of shoes won’t fundamentally change our lives – but what we do with them can. That’s the promise lifestyle brands hold out to their audiences, a promise that encourages them to stop buying “stuff” and start living the life they want. It’s not about selling the product anymore; it’s about selling the dream. (And creating it.)
Q: Do you think I should implement summer hours in my company?
Ok, next question. Come on; I’m a Leisureologist. Of course, I think you should implement them. Preferably now so your team can start bragging to their friends as summer approaches. Truthfully, summer hours should be mandatory! They should start shortly after the last negative temperature reading and go until just before Christmas. I won’t go quite that far – you can though. Why not? Instituting a summer schedule from May 24 to, say, Labour Day or even Thanksgiving, can help reinvigorate your employees and celebrate a season that is far too short.