It all started in October 2014. Our salesman Dan was chatting with a prospect during a first meeting and mentioned that he was going to dress up as a chicken for Halloween. The prospect jokingly said that she would pay money to see that. During the next meeting, Dan wore the chicken suit to the meeting. Needless to say, we ended up signing them as clients.
Around the same time, we were working to solidify a concrete set of company values. In honor of Dan’s heroic effort, we added, “we wear our chicken suits” to the list.
What does “wearing our chicken suits” mean to us as an organization? It means:
- We do whatever it takes to be successful, whether that’s wearing a silly costume to a meeting, inviting prospects for drinks in our pub, sending our creative team to have an onsite brainstorming session at the start of the project, or working overtime to finish a piece on an “impossible” deadline.
- Basically. We take our job seriously but ourselves… not so much! This means you should be vulnerable, honest, and able to be true to yourself and express the real you when working with your peers and customers.
Achieving Success By Going the Extra Mile
The truth is, when you’re an early-stage startup like we are, there’s no room at the table for people who just want to phone it in. Every single member of our team has been carefully selected for his or her skills, drive, and most importantly, passion. Collectively, we’re invested in achieving success for the organization, and we’re committed to doing whatever it takes to get there.
For example, our client BULGARI approached us earlier this year with a project they wanted to do for the launch of their new haute parfum line Le Gemme. Unfortunately, they only had a couple of days to turn around the piece for Bloomingdales, who was running the content. Our creative services team cleared the decks, dug deep, and delivered a beautiful interactive walkthrough including video, images, copy, and music in just 48 hours. The project was a huge success in large part because of our team’s willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty.
Doing Serious Work Without Taking Yourself Too Seriously
The other aspect of wearing your chicken suit involves being able to take your job seriously without taking yourself seriously. Wearing a ridiculous costume to a meeting is an extreme example of this, but there are countless other ways to show that you can laugh at yourself and own your mistakes when they happen. For example, I once fell on my ass in front of the team at Estee Lauder while giving a sales demo, but I laughed it off instead of letting it throw off my presentation.
This way of working goes hand in hand with another of our core values, “We respect each other.” Because we treat one another with respect across the board, we’re able to laugh at ourselves instead of worrying about being judged if we do something stupid, silly, or strange. Trust me… a lot of the latter two happen in our office on a regular basis. It’s part of what makes our working environment so enjoyable.
Without the typical hierarchy of power and unwritten protocols you find in a lot of corporate environments, we’re able to communicate honestly with one another. There’ve been a number of times where I’ve seen an employee biting their tongue in a meeting when they obviously have something to say. Instead of letting the moment slide, I usually call them out on it. People are then able to discuss the point and resolve the issue instead of letting disagreements fester or ideas go unsaid.
This honest communication and ability to laugh at ourselves ultimately feeds into our ability to be successful. So you can see how the chicken suit really does work as a metaphor for how we achieve success.
How You Can Wear a “Chicken Suit” in the Workplace
Not every company has the same values that we have. But you can still find ways to “wear your chicken suit” in your daily work. Here are a few suggestions.
- If you want to be successful, work hard. It’s so obvious it almost doesn’t merit saying… but I’m going to say it anyway. Putting in extra time, energy, and effort will yield better results almost every time. And even when it doesn’t, you’ll feel better about the work you’re doing if you’re giving it everything you have.
- Don’t let your ego get in the way. This is a difficult thing… an extremely difficult thing in some workplaces. But in my experience, you will be a much happier, productive human being if you set your ego aside and learn to not take things personally in business.
- Be yourself. There’s no reason to hide who you are under layers and layers of propriety. The business world is no longer prim and proper, address your superiors by surname, kind of world. People—whether they’re customers, vendors, partners, or employees within your organization—want to work with other people they can know, trust, and be real with.