Put Some Fun Into Your Day: Your Business Depends On It

Put Some Fun Into Your Day: Your Business Depends On It

It’s Thanksgiving Week Here In The U.S.

That means if you’re not planning the turkey or cooking the turkey then you’re certainly thinking about eating the turkey – or whatever favorite Thanksgiving treat you eat enough of to put you into a weekend-long food coma.

It’s one of my favorite holidays because basically it’s sanctioned gluttony without the hassle of buying gifts or attending tinsel-hung parties.

It also means a four-day weekend, which is really a seven-day weekend considering the lead-up mostly revolves around thinking about the weekend.

It’s in that spirit that I write this post today – for taxed brains and distracted folks everywhere, who love the lessons and insights of a good marketing post but who wouldn’t mind the occasional bit of fun.

It’s also part of my Word Carnival – a monthly group blogging event where business owners get together to write on the same topic and then promote and share the heck out of each other. And this month the topic centers on “behind the scenes”.

So rather than give you a lesson in my marketing processes, social media management plans or how I segment email lists (we’ll save those for January after the hangovers have worn off), today I’d like to share a little fun behind the scenes because when we’re down in the trenches of business and marketing it can be very easy to forget that there is such a thing.

Today’s fun comes courtesy of my office shelves, desks and drawers because I’d like to share some of the stuff I keep around me to inspire the fun.

And in case you were worried, there will be a business lesson in here somewhere, too. So you can keep reading, relax and call it productive!

The Case For Fun: Because You Are More Than The Sum Of Your Social Networks

If you use social media then you’ve probably been reprimanded at least once – whether by a boss or colleague or just yourself – to stop “wasting time” there. Sure, we use social media to market but we also use it to check out pictures of cute cats and cool cocktails, to check up on third grade friends and to prove to everyone else that we really are having a good time shoveling snow.

But even in its most fun state, social media is still work. Let’s face it – if you run a business you never really stop marketing, so everything you say and do online is open for scrutiny.

That’s why it’s so important to put the computer and smart phone down and interact with the actual world around you – the world that reminds you of who you are and not who your online avatar is.

Here’s who I am: a total geek who, at 45 years old, still loves coloring books.

And that’s why if you come into my office you will find magic markers, crayons and colored pencils, drawers full of notepapers and notebooks and yes, coloring books.

Web Search Social Crayons

A couple of months ago my mom bought me a little random gift. She does that a lot because she’s an awesome mom. Earrings, yummy food, collectibles. But this time she bought me a box of markers and coloring pages. Because she knows that’s how I roll.

So: how do you roll? What unique just-you thing do you do for no other reason than because it’s fun? Because it brings you joy? And are you doing enough of it? Are you surrounding yourself with the things you love or reminders of them so that the next time you’re in the weeds of work and business you’ll remember it’s not the only thing that defines you?

Fun Feeds Creativity

Not only do I write for this blog but I write for clients across industries from car washes to consumer products. Writing is one of my favorite things to do but it’s still work. It takes a lot of thinking, sometimes research and of course creativity.

A lot of what I call “writing” is really “sitting and thinking about what to write” or “obsessively spinning synonyms through my head until I hit on the perfect word.”

And one of the worst things I can do is try to be creative.

That may sound counterintuitive but think about the last time someone asked you who that movie star was in that one movie… you know, she was wearing a green dress? And the answer is right on the tip of our tongue… you can practically see it… but the harder you think the farther it slips until you forget completely. Until… you wake up at 4AM and suddenly the answer is there.

Through whatever oddity of the human brain, it seems that the more we focus the less we see.

Inspiration comes in unexpected ways at unplanned times. Part of our jobs as smart business people is to create an environment where inspiration can take root so when it does bloom we can feed and nourish it.

And the way I do that is with a little fun.

Our office used to be pretty utilitarian. We had file folders and cabinets, project boards and supply trays. Everything was organized, useful and completely boring.

I found myself in a constant state of “stuck”. Then one day, after realizing that we were spending more time working anywhere but in our office, Ralph and I decided to add a bit of fun. We painted one wall red. We built a Tardis closet door. We hung some cool artwork.

Web Search Social Tardis Door

 

And I went on a bit of a kitsch spree. Among other things, I now have a line of tiny glass animals sitting on top of my shelf where a boring file folder used to be. The animals come courtesy of my dad, who also buys me plenty of gifts and is just as awesome as my mom.

All of those things conspire very well to make me happy.

Web Search Social Animals

So now when I’m feeling stuck I can fill my brain with the inspiration around me instead of wracking it for an answer that will only continue to elude me.

How about you? What are you doing to fill your space and head with fun? Are you giving yourself permission to stop thinking and just be so that ideas and imagination can take root?

All Work And No Play Makes Business Relationships Dull

You know that relationships are an important component of business and that success is about more than just your ability to write a really clever ad or design a fantastic website.

But you can’t build a meaningful relationship on business alone. Relationships are about people – whole people – and that means the things you like and dislike, the things you enjoy, care about and even steer clear of. And of course about fun.

Fun gets a bad rap for being frivolous but it’s also the foundation for some of the best relationships. Think about the clients you enjoy most. I bet there is some component of fun.

I’ve shared drinks and meals with clients, jokes and cat photos. The more fun, the stronger the relationship.

More than a few people are in the loop when it comes to my obsession with Oreos and cupcakes. Even more can tell you that my favorite drink is a mojito.

If you’ve been around reading this blog for a little while, you may also be familiar with my Hello Kitty collection. It’s made an appearance in blogs, in emails and on interviews and it welcomes guests to our office whenever they arrive. One of my favorite things to do is to “discover” Hello Kitty causing all manner of mischief and then snap an Instagram, add a caption and share.

Web Search Social Hello Kitty

You may think that something so silly has no bearing on whether or not I’ll close business or make money but it does. It catalyzes a relationship that goes beyond the transaction at hand and it makes connections with people on a human level that leads to more and better business.

One minute someone notices Hello Kitty, the next we’re talking about what they cook for their families on Thanksgiving and five minutes later we’ve got a business deal.

Ok, maybe not five minutes later… sure, a connection can happen in an instant but it often takes longer than that to build the kind of depth and trust that leads to business. The point is that you need a foundation, and what better way to build one than with fun? We seek it. We remember it. We share it. If you can tap into that you’ve got a win on your hands.

Your turn: how are you sharing the fun with your prospects, colleagues, clients and competitors? Are you letting them into other spaces in your life beyond their signature on a check? Get to know the whole person in front of you and you’ll not only do better business but enjoy it more, too.

Whether you’re breaking this week for Thanksgiving or working all the way through, I want you to think about how you can put some fun into your business.

And before you enter your food coma, let’s have some fun together and share your thoughts with me in the comments. Tell me something about YOU that would be fun to know!

This post is part of November’s Word Carnival. This month’s topic gives you a peek into the inner workings of other small businesses. If you ever wanted to peek behind the curtain and find out what’s going on behind the scenes, this is for you. Find out what little inspirations, daily reminders, hidden dangers and even gems await. Read all the Carnie posts here.

Carol Lynn Rivera

Carol Lynn Rivera

I'm a business owner, content creator, podcaster and marketer. In 1999 I founded Rahvalor Interactive, a web and creative services production studio, with my husband and business partner Ralph. In 2011 we created Web.Search.Social, a consulting and marketing service line for small businesses. We also cohost the Web.Search.Social Podcast where we challenge the status quo of marketing and the Carbon Based Business Units podcast where we talk about the human side of being an entrepreneur. On any given day I wear the hat of project manager, consultant, social media manager and content marketer. My true passion is writing and in my spare time I'm busy planning my early retirement to Barcelona as a famous and wealthy novelist.
Carol Lynn Rivera
Carol Lynn Rivera
  • Love the Tardis closet door, Carol Lynn. Well done you for injecting some fun into work – it’s the best way to keep the creative juices flowing. My office space has an eclectic collection of stones and crystals (we all need good mojo), a notice board with drawings my daughter did, pens (lots of them, even though I mostly type) and a few funny/inspirational sayings.

    • I love my Tardis door too!! We are not quite done – still need a few signs but it’s fun to have. I already love your stone and crystal collection! I love collections and I love stones and I love crystals so there’s that 🙂 You must send a photo. Funny thing about pens… I never seem to have one. Crayons, yes. Pens… maybe Hello Kitty ate them.

      • ROTFL – I’ll include a photo when I do the post I was originally going to do. 🙂

  • I love fun! I just took a photo of my cupboard full of fun. Since I don’t know how to post it here, I’m going to email it to you:)

    • YAH! I can’t wait to see it. Email it when you get a chance. You could post it on our Facebook page, too 🙂

  • No self-respecting marketing person would be caught dead without a huge collection of markers and/or toys. It was always mandatory for us when I worked in corporate, to bring all these things to brainstorming meetings — especially when said meetings included the IT department. Ha! Now, my desktop is a war zone of sticky-notes, markers, journals (I think I have one for every category of idea), notecards, and art supplies. It’s a rough life, but someone’s gotta do it.

    • I love toys. I have a whole shelf of them and so does Ralph. I also have a whole attic full of them which makes me wish I had more shelves. I think more IT departments everywhere could use a good crayon. The way I see it, every office, no matter how “corporate” needs crayons, a big box of Legos and whatever other fun stuff that just makes people feel less like “grown ups” and more like the kids with the imaginations we used to be. Also after reading Nicole’s post I now advocate for jars of buttons.

  • Great article! Yes, we have to create the environment in which inspiration will arise… well said. I also always say, what is the point of not having fun with out work? Are we supposed to be waiting for some other life in which we finally get to be happy? This is the life we’ve waited for. Live it today the way you want your life to be.

    • You are SO right. This is it… here we are. There is no “other” life in which we have fun and get to enjoy things. So we had better enjoy and live right now.

  • My vinyl record collection and my record player both reside in my office, along with plenty of sci-fi and fantasy movie themed toys and action figures. I spend more time here than just about anyplace else. It needs to be fin, festive and fantabulous.

    Thanks for giving us a peek at your space!

    • Oh my gosh, I’m so jealous of your record collection right now! I gave mine away 🙁 because I didn’t have a record player and I needed more shelf space but sometimes I totally wish I hadn’t. You, my friend, are a serious geek. I say that in the most loving way! Sci fi toys indeed. Love it!

      • I think I can safely say that it takes one to know one! 🙂

  • Carol Lynn…that was FUN to read and extremely inspirational. Notice I said “extremely” intentionally. Thanks for sharing your behind the scenes fun in such a great way. I did not realize that my ritual IS what is really adding fun at the same time calming because it’s something I must have around me to feel human and alive which is my love of incense and burning oil. I have to have it and it must be burning periodically during the day…its calming and I feel great when I have a nice supply that I can choose from. I too have a glass animal around to give me love when I look at it. A tiny elephant that belonged to my mom that I just found a new place for it that is perfect! Thanks for bringing that out and so much more. Happy Turkey day…you cooking? I MUST – regardless if I have been invited or not..I have to have my own cooked meal at home…Of course I will be share socially about that too! Enjoy!

    • I love to burn candles so I can relate to your oils and incense. Isn’t it great when you realize you really do have inspiration around you? Sometimes we’re too busy to pay attention.

      No cooking for me this year – well, just a little but no crowds! I hope you day went well!

  • SandyMcD

    Wooo! You mentioned oreos. Can I claim that inspiration? When I came to the States the first thing on my agenda will be to buy a packet of oreos. Love that you love colouring in! Please publish some of your artwork for us, I’m sure it will bring a smile to our faces.

    The line I am taking away from this: The more you focus the harder it is to see. Of course!

    I’m surrounded by collection of African memorabilia, carved animals, wire and bead figurines and carved ellies in frames. Every time I look at them I’m transported for a nanosecond to that extraordinary continent and its subliminal rhythms and briefly taken out of myself.

    I also have a collection of pebbles from around the world. They are beautifully smooth. I grip them for dear life if there is a money conversation needing to be had and they calm me if there isn’t a coffee or a wine due any time soon 🙂 Thanks Carol Lynn for injecting fun into today. Happy thanksgiving to you and all your country people.

    • You may certainly claim inspiration! I hope that if you ever try Oreos, you’ll like them. After all this I would hate for it to be a huge letdown.

      Your office sounds like great fun. I love that you have so many inspirational things around you. I especially love your pebble collection! That’s something I’ve never heard anyone collect but it sounds amazing. You’ll have to share a photo of that one day.

  • My office is really my living room so I’m completely surrounded from floor to ceiling in children’s toys and sometimes with children! Not the best for concentrating, unless they’re at school but it makes things more fun (and a little frustrating sometimes!).

    What I really miss is my piano when it comes to fun. It’s still at my parents house and probably will be until we move out of this apartment. Living on a boarding school campus sometimes has it’s downsides. There’s no space for it. Playing the piano helped me relax and have fun. It sure helped if I ever felt frustrated too!

    I have my daughter at home today because she has a bad cold. When the Hello Kitty image appeared on screen she said “I want the red one. You can buy it for me”. So maybe Santa will have to add an extra present into his sack now!

    • The good news for you is that unlike a lot of us who have to go out and buy ourselves new toys, you have them built in! I used to play piano but I don’t actually own one and living in a condo there isn’t a whole lot of room for one… but I got an electric keyboard which is pretty cool. It takes up less space than my desk and it’s there for banging on when I get in the mood!

      I love that your daughter got inspired by Hello Kitty. At least you know how to make her smile this Christmas!

  • I am of exactly the same mindset! It’s absolutely impossible to be creative in a dull, boring space. I always have things around my office to amuse me (toy robots), inspire me (my goals for the future, written on arrow timelines and taped up by my computer), and keep me creative (art!). I especially love the Tardis door. 🙂

    • I love your timeline idea. That plus reading Téa’s post this month makes me want to fill my life with sticky notes again. So much for going digital!

  • I love this Carol! I can’t decide if I like the Hello Kitty bit or the TARDIS closet door more. I try really hard to share a lot about my personal activities, likes, hobbies, and so on on my social channels and I do think it makes me a lot more memorable. It’s not even a real business strategy–just how I’m used to living since I was part of that first-gen social network user group 😉 (By which I mean, Myspace, although you know, I guess there was IRC and newsgroups before that…)

    • Funny, I think us “early adopters” actually were social because that’s how it was sold to us, I guess. We were super excited to actually talk to people online. Now it’s a lot of broadcasting and all the marketers have gotten into people’s heads telling everyone to curate content and whatnot. But the personal sharing is always the best!

  • Must. Have. Tardis. Door.

    After that moment of reverent silence I will add that a big bonus to having a six year is regular coloring activities. I’d forgotten how much fun it could be, and relaxing. Now it’s mom & me time too. Given that my whole business premise is numbers made fun, I wholeheartedly agree and second the idea that fun and business do belong together. And “catching” Hello Kitty in different activities is brilliant.

    And…

    Must. Have. Tardis. Door.

    • That Tardis door was a lot more work than one might imagine! Once you get sucked into fandom you start to realize that the handle that is 5.2 inches is just NOT going to cut it when the handle is supposed to be 5.5 inches.

      It’s not quite done yet (missing a few signs) but it does make me happy!

      And yes, having a kid is sometimes useful for those times when you need toys 🙂

  • OK, Tardis door, that’s pretty sweet.

    I’m right there with you on the coloring books. When I’m totally stressed out, I have a habit of cleaning. Once there’s nothing left to clean or when I exhaust myself, I sit down, pull out a coloring book, and go to town with a box of Crayolas.

    If I’m particularly stuck, I play with my Star Trek ships (complete with sound effects). Good to know I’m in good company!

    • Toys are totally underrated! And totally wasted on kids 🙂 I laughed though because I have a habit of cleaning, too. Nothing like a little stress or client aggravation to get the house looking great.

      • I think I like it mostly because it has satisfying results and a defined beginning and end.