Inspiring Leaders Learn to Laugh at Themselves

I sat down a few months back with Paul Spiegelman, the founder and CEO of Beryl and the author of “Why is Everyone Smiling?”at Beryl’s headquarters in Bedford, Texas.  Paul Spiegelman is a truly inspiring leader, someone who has nurtured one of the top workplaces in the world. Beryl is known for its family-friendly, employee-centric workplace culture. Their focus on culture, on taking care of employees in need, and on creating a fun workplace has reduced their employee turnover rate to around 15% (compared to the average annual employee turnover rate in the call center industry of 80%). And they’re phenomenally successful to boot, which Spiegelman credits largely to the Beryl culture. In fact, Spiegelman goes so far as to suggest that employee engagement is the leading indicator of future business success.

Beryl’s CEO is unapologetic and passionate about asking employees to have a positive attitude. And he knows that to maintain a great culture, adding fun can’t be viewed as “the flavor of the month.” Although no one is ever forced to participate in fun events at Beryl, a key principle is that everyone must be given the opportunity to participate.

For the sake of injecting fun into the workplace, Spiegelman has dressed up as a matador, roller-bladed in an outlandish disco costume, been dunked in dunk tanks and has starred in some very wacky videos. But here’s a crucial point in this success story: Paul Speigelman is not naturally funny or even very outgoing. He’s very humble and he’s an introvert. So his inspiring leadership isn’t personality dependent. The culture isn’t driven by the force of his charisma. Yet, he has learned over the years to laugh at himself and to take himself out of his comfort zone to help engage employees. And most importantly perhaps, despite the fact that he himself is not a naturally gregarious or funny person, he recognizes the need to build a fun culture, and has championed others in the organization to help fuel their amazing culture.

Michael Kerr,  Humor at Work,  www.HumoratWork.com

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