Where is Waldo at Work?
Life as the COO of a rapidly growing and rapidly moving agency made it hard to sit still. Literally. The demands to address issues quickly and immediately often resulted in me performing a brisk jog with one hand holding a laptop and the other my phone. Occasionally I had to stop mid-stride to see an alert and then immediately pop a squat on the floor to flip open my laptop to respond as quickly as I could.
This entire situation made it almost impossible to catch me at my desk. In fact, I sometimes found it more convenient to just take over the closet empty I could find, resulting in my employees having to ask their boss the awkward question. “So… when can I have my desk back?”
What was more entertaining was the game of finding out where I was at any moment in time. To that end, I created a Slack channel named #waldo so that people could ask where I was and others could respond based on my latest whereabouts. It was a favorite channel for those that had to find me frequently. This started the joke/mild threat that I would someday show up as Waldo.
And then one day, I did.
I bought a cheap Waldo Halloween costume on Amazon for about $40. I then showed up at work super early and wrote an email. The message contained a selfie with me entirely dressed up as well as the contest. The game was simple. Throughout the day, take a selfie with me in as many locations as possible. The funniest, most obscure photo would win a lunch with Waldo.
The reaction was immediate and more than I could have ever expected. Times were tough and tense in the fast past agency life. That stress seemed to melt away, even if was just for a day when they opened the office door and saw their boss dressed up as a cartoon character. Participation was widespread and active all throughout the day. One employee remarked how it was the best day she had in months. Another had a wife going through a severe medical condition that was putting her life in jeopardy. And yet just for a moment, the situation was so absurd that he burst out laughing and came by to thank me because “he needed that.”
I wish I could say that I came up with this idea on my own, but I actually have to think the best boss of all time—Michael Scott. You see when his fictional team had to face the terrible news of a shutdown, he realized that he had to protect his employees in the only way he knew how… through a ridiculous game of Belles, Bourbon, and Bullets to solve a murder mystery in Savannah.
Anyway, here are a few of my favorite shots that were captured on that day. And congrats to Steve Lowe for the winning shot (see the very bottom).
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About Rick Manelius
Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.