Random Happy Hour

My friend and work colleague, Steve, moved away for a few years but is now back and working with us again. I'm happy because he's a great human, a pleasure to work with but, most importantly, he's a social butterfly like me. (Well, I guess the great human part is more important, but not for this story.) The difference between us in the latter category is that he's much better at following through with events.

A few months ago, we set up an event called Random Happy Hour. The idea was to invite a bunch of different people within the organization, hang out in a relaxed setting and get to know each other better. We called it "Random" but it wasn't entirely. We invited our "usual" suspects, people we wanted to get to know better, people we wanted to introduce to each other and people with well developed internal networks. We then told everyone to invite whomever else they wanted to.

The first Random Happy Hour was fairly small but went well. We had good conversations and introduced some people to each other that hadn't had a chance to meet. Oh, and our CFO picked up the tab. Bonus! Oh, and Steve got caught in a work meeting and couldn't make it. Bummer!

We just had our second Random Happy Hour last week and it was much bigger and also quite fun. I won't say better than the first one because they each were great but it was a busier time. I was struck by how our random technique managed to gather such a diverse group of colleagues.

The group represented:
Two different countries.
All of the business units in the company (we have a lot).
The gamut of experience from one person who had just done New Hire Training that day to a Senior Manager who has been with the company longer than the new hire has been alive.
Ten different departments.

Just some of the gang.
(Next time, I'll get the group pic earlier and maybe even get in it.)
We went to a The Lodge - Sasquatch Kitchen in Tempe. It was a 10 minute drive from the office so no one had to go too far out of the way. They reserved an area for us that was next to the corn hole game, right outside the door from the pool tables and also near a Belgium outdoor game that was something like horseshoes and shuffleboard combined. Good food, great service and nice drink specials.

These four were willing to let their corn hole match end at 1-1.
Who knew I worked with so many Socialists? ;)
My heart overflowed at watching the mingling, discussions both light and deep and interactions within the group. There were personal tales, anecdotes about the colleagues in attendance and shared tribal lore. I truly believe that developing relationships between colleagues that go beyond just work relations make us a better organization and events such as these contribute to bringing us closer together.

I was nearly verklempt when we said we would plan a Random Happy Hour every quarter and there was a clamoring for one every month. Which was followed by restrictions on what day, what week and where which immediately decreased the level of verklemptness. (Yes, I'm making that a word.) To all of the special requests, I'll just say "You can't always get what you want unless you're the planner." :)

I'm grateful to have these times to remind me how lucky I am to work with these people and for our company. I'm also grateful to have Steve back and making these events happen.

A final tidbit on a personal highlight that really stood out. My friend T was telling a group of us how he and his wife moved to Arizona after college and that this was his first "real" job and that he's been here 25 years. The new hire was suitably impressed. Then, someone asked me how long I've been with the company and I replied "Seventeen years". The new hire exclaimed, "What, were you twelve?"

That was awesome in itself. The cherry on the sundae was that T is chronologically several years younger than I and she didn't even blink at his story.

Hearing stuff like that never gets old. Just like I will never get old.

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