"You will hear good news today."

Because of the high price, Chinese food became the latest in a long line of  "recession casualties" ( I like saying it that way because it makes me feel like I'm at war with the economy, thus providing me the illusion of control. I like things in my little world.) I was pretty bummed until I figured out that if they can cook it, then I should be able to cook it as well.  Did you know they make packets of seasoning for just about any meal you could want?  Super easy directions, combined with the purchase of a rice cooker and wok and I was on my way to making my house smell like Mongolian Beef for DAYS.   But if you're going to make it at home, then replicate the real experience: Make sure you buy the cookies.  I love fortune cookies!  While I enjoy the Kung Pao Chicken, the riceand the egg drop soup, in the end, it all comes down to the cookie.   Of course, the store bought ones aren't as good a making them at home yourself, but they definely will do in a pinch.  In fact my favorite fortune ever came from a store bought cookie. Its is currently taped on the wall above my desk in the office.  It reads, "You will hear good news today."  I use it to remind myself that no matter who's on the other end of that phone when it's ringing, I have the chance to turn every call in to "good news."

There's something magical about those cookies.  Whether you like the taste of them or not, you can't help but open the cookie to see what the fortune says.  It's a shared moment where we go around and tell each other what the little piece of paper says.  Why not take this dinner table moment and move it to your staff meetings?  There are a few different methods & options in using this team building exercise:

  • Buy the basic cookies at the store and talk with your team about what each message might mean for the week ahead
  • Order custom cookies on line with specific goals for your team for that week.  You can do this from a variety of vendors, but my favorite so far is Custom Fortune Cookies, who will let you customize up to 12 different cookies for under $30.  Also, they offer an option for chocolate dipping.  YUM!
  • If you're one of those people who is either good in the kitchen, good with crafts or has some spare time on a weekend, you could try making them yourself.  About.com offers an article with some great tips that I recommend you read before trying this at home, and a basic, but delicious, recipe for the cookies.  This gives you some great options beyond team building since you're writing the fortunes:
    • Use them as your leasing incentives for your staff.  Have each fortune be redeemable for different things like a half day off, $50 gift card to target, Come in late one morning, etc.
    • Write fortunes specific to staff members about the strengths that they bring to the team.  "Computers respect you" "Your ideas lead us down great new paths"  "Speed and Ability make you invaluable"   are just a few examples you could use.
    • Write fortunes that remind your team why they work for your company, or more specifically, YOU (Remember, people don't leave jobs, people leave managers).  What do you give them that no one else does?  Why should they feel fortunate to work with you?

These are just a few options on a cute idea that might help you keep your team motivated during this rough time.  Best of all, something like this is buzz worthy, meaning they will tell their friends about the cool thing that their boss did.  Any bit of good buzz is always worth the extra effort!

Ex Vs. UPS: Service Wins

2 Birds, 1 Stone, and until 2013 to get it done!