Mike Veeck, co-founder of Fun is Good, will lead the Arenas sector as the Keynote at VenueConnect in Chicago and will show the audience how to discover what brings us joy and how to put it into practice in all that what we do. Mike’s message creating a fun and successful team is applicable to both work and personal scenarios. When we find our joy and passion, great things follow, in both our work world and in our personal lives. It makes perfect sense, yet it’s often hard to make this happen. In a very entertaining session, he will make us think and laugh in the same minute – and provide great advice we can implement immediately.
If the name Veeck is familiar, it should be. Mike’s father, Bill, who while owning the St. Louis Browns Major League Baseball team famously sent a “small person” to bat, was known far and wide for tweaking the staid system of professional baseball. Like father, like son, as Mike has toiled in the minor leagues with teams all while holding true to the family credo of having fun.
Mike took some time to talk about his session, Fun Is Good – Creating Joy & Passion in Your Workplace and Career. He will also lead a breakout session on Marketing Through Creativity and Building Strong Partnerships.
Fun? Is our job supposed to be fun and how can that happen?
A big emphatic YES – our jobs need to be FUN! Research shows that when we laugh, when we’re engaged in what we do and have fun, we’re physically and mentally healthier and we’re more productive. And this holds true professionally and personally. As employers we need to create an environment where fun and passion can flourish … and as employees we need to seek out organizations that respect and foster that environment.
In many companies we work with we find that people are so dissatisfied and actually angry. We try to help them with that. Why do we take ourselves so seriously? Why did we stop laughing and enjoying each other? I believe in hard work … we absolutely need to take our job responsibilities and our customer interactions very seriously – but not ourselves. When a culture is fun, open, and communicative, it encourages, even celebrates mistakes – and that’s a place people want to be and do business with.
You come from a “fun” family well known for many things in the world of Chicago and before that St. Louis baseball. Any surprises that come from one of your talks, and please don’t say you bring a “small person” on the stage!
I learned many things from my Dad! While he so respected the sport of baseball and took seriously the players he put on the field, he equally loved creating a place of joy for fans. He created a safe environment for families to escape for a few hours, forget about their trouble,s and get caught up in the magic of a game. I try to emulate that every day in the ballparks I’m privileged to operate – sometimes successfully and often times not. Maybe hosting Tanya Harding mini-bat night or hiring mimes to perform instant replays were mistakes … but hey, I tried, people laughed – and then I apologized. I’m sure I’ll have a few more mistakes from this summer to share with attendees in Chicago.
Why do so many find it so hard to make work fun, from top management on down? Are there stereotypes that fun does not equal productivity?
You’re right – many “adults” we talk to believe that having fun is frivolous and should be reserved for children. Nothing could be further from the truth. The joy and curiosity that kids exude and their willingness to fall and happily get up again, are the exact traits we need across every organization. This behavior fosters the flexibility we need to stay in front of customer expectations and the creativity we need to build the next great promotion and partnership. The successful/productive people I know want to do business with partners that laugh, have fun, and are pushing the boundaries of creativity.
How does this apply in the arena world where employees work ridiculously long hours?
I get it – significant time away from family and friends is tough. In my humble opinion, to build this fun and engaged environment and to ask each other to put in crazy hours comes down to transparency and respect. When we openly communicate what has to happen (turn the building around in 12 hours) and more importantly WHY it has to happen (what it means to our business and to us personally), then we create a transparent culture where co-workers can choose to “buy-in to the big picture.” A key word here is choose, because when we’re transparent and communicate our WHY, some may get it and choose to “sign up” while others may “opt out” of the big picture we’ve created. This transparency leads to healthy, respectful conversations … and soon a fun and engaged culture. Wow – that sounds way too serious for me! Ha, ha!
What are some takeaways you would like from this session as well as the breakout session on marketing/social media?
Truly, I just want attendees to laugh a little bit and to get out of their comfort zone. I know when they do this, they’ll get a hundred great ideas from their peers in Chicago!