Every Monday at 11AM, River Direct (RD) has a company-wide meeting to discuss campaign strategy and media performance for the previous week. The entire RD staff squeezes into our main conference room to discuss media and the overall DTC marketplace. We are a small agency with a very family-oriented culture, so the meeting is also a great time to catch up with one another.
Unfortunately, that weekly gathering came to an abrupt halt with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the initial weeks of COVID-19, there was naturally a great deal of uncertainty. River Direct employees started to work from home, and everyone had a lot of questions, but nobody seemed to have any answers.
How long are we going to work from home? Should I wear a mask, don’t wear a mask, how many times a day should I wash my hands, what should I use? Am I going to get sick, am I going to lose my job, are our clients going to stop advertising? What’s going to happen to my family and friends?
All valid questions and concerns, but at the end of the day, we still had a business to run and clients that depended on us. But how do you motivate your team during a pandemic?
EASY, a good old-fashioned wager. As VP of Client Services, I wanted to keep things fun. Give our media team a seemingly UNREALISTIC GOAL and BET them that they couldn’t reach it. But what do you bet your team when they think the world is coming to an end? Money, stock options, gold bullion? BORING! So, without thinking it through fully, I said, “I will give myself a MOHAWK, if you are able to increase our billings (insert crazy percentage here)!” At first, I immediately regretted what I said, but with the crazy number I threw out, I wasn’t TOO worried about it.
The media team had just one week to increase our overall billings, which is not a ton of time by any means. By the end of the week they had gotten within 5% of the goal and almost won the bet. A smart man who loves his hair would have learned his lesson and walked away. Not this guy, I doubled down. They came so close on the initial bet, so I felt it was only sporting to give them another shot. Our budgets were surging, and our clients were also doing very well. But push as they may, the team came up short once again. Since our budgets kept growing, I decided to roll the dice one last time, but this time, the team needed to hit an even higher goal. I thought: There was no way that was going to happen. So far, my salt and pepper locks had evaded the cold steel jaws of a Phillips trimmer.
Once again, I anxiously watched the budgets grow by the minute. I knew my hair was gone when someone added two huge high-profile airings on a prime network. The team started chirping, “Get those clippers ready!”, and “Can’t wait to see your new do!”. I pulled the budget report one last time, and sure enough, our team surpassed their goal. When I told my wife I lost the bet, she just snickered and looked at me like I was a child. Being a man of my word, I got my first ever mohawk, and I kind of liked it!
Fast forward to the Monday Zoom meeting, everyone had their cameras on except me. I thought that maybe they forgot about our bet and nobody would notice I had mine off. Not so much. As soon as I logged on, everyone said, “Turn on your camera, let’s see it!”. I clicked “Start Video,” and there I was, a grown man with a mohawk on a Zoom meeting in front of the entire company.
It’s never fun to lose your hair as a result of a wager, but in this case, it was a fun way to motivate our team and keep things light.
At the end of the day, a lot of great things came from this silly little wager. We hit our highest budgets to date this year, everyone qualified for a nice incentive, our clients had great results, and I got the haircut I always wanted, but was too scared to get. Most importantly, it was a great motivator and fun distraction that took our minds off of the pandemic for a brief moment… so it was ALL WORTH IT!
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