Loving Who You Work With Makes a Difference.

ysn-luckystrikeI love my co-workers.  Seriously – it’s one of the perks of being an entrepreneur. You have the freedom to surround yourself with people you like, respect, admire and even find really cool.

Aside from genuinely liking what you do for your J-O-B, it’s just as important to like the people you do it with.  In fact, many recent studies show that Millennials also known as members of Gen Y, place liking their co-workers as one of the top most important considerations for them at work.  And people of all ages report that liking their boss, can make all the difference between professional bliss and misery as well.

Over the past few years, we’ve had some extraordinary people work with us and some amazing times hanging out together. Some of the times we were working, others just hanging out and having fun.  But because this concept of socializing with co-workers has been such a controversial topic over the years in offices across the world, I thought we’d share how embracing this has shaped our culture and made us a stronger team, that often feels more like a family.

When I look back at all the highlights with our staff, I can’t help but remember the time the Yale A Cappella group came to perform for us at the office, the field trips to Chicago and Dallas where we flew the team out to run speed networking events with hundreds of students, the time we jetted off to Singapore to survey kids from 50 countries then danced all night at the hottest club in town. Learning to throw a nerf football down our long corridors with Josh using a sidearm throw so it didn’t smash into the fluorescent lights.  (Which only happened that once.) There was that time we all gathered at Christopher’s loft for a private Jazz night with some stellar local musicians, and the crazy adventure Scott and I went on after with Katie and Monique to their favorite karaoke bar until 1 in the morning. Then there was the venture to Hollywood to see Joey’s 10 piece band perform where we finally got to see what the Capitalist Hippie Complex buzz was really all about. Holidays we try to make fun too.  Once we hosted the whole team at my house for dinner and I spent two days cooking up a storm.  Just before Christmas, we had Jessica’s mom Pam come in and set up a totally decked out gingerbread house workshop in our conference room.  Last year we took off to a local pumpkin patch at Halloween and carved pumpkins all afternoon. (Just for future reference, don’t leave them in your office window unattended for too long though, since as we discovered, they eventually dissolve into a soupy mess!  Gross.)

Even during crazy intensive product development “symposium weekends” we have fun.  During the last one, Monique kept us laughing (and awake) every few hours with a series of different challenges, games and prizes (we’re still wondering how Will won so many). Another time we practically collapsed at Jerry’s Deli at 3am with Russ and totally overloaded on blintzes, onion rings, matzo ball soup, and loads of ice coffee as we deliriously debated whether to go back to the office and pound through a few more hours or break to sleep then meet up a few hours later to keep going.  Speaking of work benders, I’ll never forget the time Katie, Bianca, and Jessica came in on a Sunday at noon and worked through the night (with a 2am run to Denny’s) to get our new site launched, only leaving the office after the switch was flipped at around noon on Monday.  Believe it or not, other people who weren’t there said they were jealous that they missed all the fun and made us promise to let them in on the next all nighter, even if they were just there to hang out and support us.  I’ll never forget that one.

YSN is different for a lot of reasons.  But when you’re in the business of helping people explore, grow, indulge in their passions, pursue their dreams, and find true joy in their jobs and careers, it really is critical to walk the walk. People can tell the difference, especially when you write and speak and evangelize these ideals in blog posts, articles, speeches and on TV all the time like we do! (And you all know me and integrity – I would NEVER preach all of this stuff if I didn’t think it was true!) Plus, why hate going to work if you don’t have to?

Jovie, Bob, Nancy, Randy, Samantha, Jake, Lauren, Jen, Ian, Nori, Sony, Yiannis, Amber, Beth, Mark, Hary, Peter, David, Chris, Linda, and Amanda…The group has morphed, grown and contracted over the years, but we stay connected to most, love them all, and will always think of them as family.