“Create the conditions for fun!”

These are the words of our CEO, Trish Emerson. Our leader. Our founder. And she is all in.

The Emerson team is just coming off our first in-person company meeting in three years. It was fun – true fun. It wasn’t overly structured. We didn’t do a ropes course to build trust. We had ourselves, shared space, and shared time. Just like our weekly All Hands meetings, our in-person time was a mix of acknowledgements, celebrations, strategic updates, storytelling, and laughter. Lots of laughter.

Our in-person meeting came on the heels of our latest book group discussion. As a team, we read The Power of Fun, by Catherine Price; the book was a gift to each of us from Trish. Trish recognized that, after the last few years, we all need to focus on lighter things.

Price leads us to reflect on times of the truest, realest fun in our lives. From those moments, we can mine our own Fun Magnets.

Fun Magnets are the ways (activities, people and settings) we create the conditions for Real Fun.

Don’t get me wrong—this book isn’t meant to be comic relief. Instead it is straight talk about the differences between Fake Fun and Real Fun. She defines Real Fun as “the confluence of playfulness, connection, and flow.”

Let’s check our company meeting for Real Fun:

  • Flow is “being fully engaged in your present moment that you lose track of the passage of time.” Check! Time flew by. As our group dinners went past my bedtime, I didn’t even notice. I didn’t check my watch (or my phone) once. I was fully present.
  • Connection is “the feeling of a special, shared experience with someone else.” We definitely had that. For some, it was the joy of reunion; for others, it was our first face-to-face meeting with colleagues we had only known virtually. We were so grateful to share the day in person.
  • Playfulness is “a spirit of lightheartedness and freedom.” We certainly had that. Even the strategic updates included creative, whimsical visuals and games.

I loved reading Price’s support for fun, and recognizing it in my own organization. It is an unspoken, but very important part of who we are—individually, and collectively. It’s why I feel I can bring my real self to work! And it’s something clients ask us to help them build into their culture. But no matter the project, we do meaningful work with people we love—which creates conditions for fun.