Ugh. "Fall back" is right. It’s dark before I leave the office and getting darker every day. The increasingly frigid weather means my days of biking to work are numbered. Everyone has a limit, and my hard limit is 35 degrees, no snow or ice. But pretty soon, slushy 20-degree days will be the norm.
There’s just something about that back-to-school timeframe that makes us want to get back on our grind—in a good way. Hustling. Motivated. Ready to crush it.
What are you grateful for? Something important like hitting a big anniversary with your significant other and realizing you still totally dig each other? Something smaller like that seasonal donut or latte you indulged in (followed by a great workout)? Barely catching the train and getting to work on time? Realizing your career has taken you on a winding journey and you’re happy where you are right now?
Gratitude is powerful. It helps positively frame our thoughts and offers perspective.
Understanding expectations before you start a new job seems obvious. You read the job description, you know the title, and you asked “what does a normal day look like?” Isn’t that enough?
In my previous life I had six jobs over fourteen years during which I spent a lot of time managing my career and thinking about what I should do (and learn) next.
I’m the CEO, so if I don’t live our company’s core values then who will? Since the Zog brand was founded in 2002, there have been multiple iterations of our core values. Over time they have become our vernacular, our vocabulary for giving feedback, as well as our guidelines for making decisions and guiding daily behavior. We have put considerable thought into the Zog core values, so it’s no coincidence that my company’s core values are not so different from my personal core values.
Company Definition: We facilitate other people’s fun and have fun making it happen.
Personal Definition: Life is too short to not have fun. If not now, when?
Company Definition: Through the spirit of camaraderie, we share ideas, efforts and resources to accomplish our goals.
Personal Definition: Sometimes you need to lead and sometimes you need to play your role on the team.
Company Definition: We care about the company, each other and the work we do. We care about our customers, their experience and the communities in which we play.
Personal Definition: We treat each other with respect.
Company Definition: We do what we say, meet our commitments and provide a consistent customer experience with relentless organization.
Personal Definition: We do what we say and keep our word especially when it’s hard.
Company Definition: We take ownership and do whatever it takes. We are go getters who identify and creatively solve problems.
Personal Definition: We take initiative to solve the problem.
Company Definition: We are committed to getting better every day in everything we do both as individuals and as a company.
Personal Definition: We keep doing our best and trying to get better each day.
These personal core values have not been formally imposed upon my family. (I’m not that awkward, though some may disagree.) They’re not written on a wall or explicitly incorporated into family dinners. Rather, I use them as guiding principles for how I want to live, how and when I feel the need to provide constructive feedback and how I want members of my family to treat one another.
Here are three ways I incorporate core values into my personal life:
- Youth sports. I coach six teams each season for my two super active boys (see photo above). I create a positive experience for every player so that they learn to love team sports and the process of getting better. And it works! My retention rate is > 95% over the past seven years.
- Listen to your coach (Caring, Team Player, Continuous Improvement): This is about respecting your coach/teacher/elders and allowing others to learn, as well.
- Try your hardest (Reliable, Caring, Own It): Whatever you do, whether it’s sports, music, acting, school, volunteer work, relationships or your job, don’t mail it in! If you’re going to show up, give it your all.
- Have Fun (Fun!): No one I coach is a professional athlete. Let’s enjoy the experience.
2. Our language and actions
- That’s not the way we speak to XYZ (Caring): Caring about each other includes using caring language to speak with one another.
- We do what we say (Reliable): We stand by the commitments we make explicitly or implicitly (e.g., school assignments, commitments to other people).
3. General parenting
- We’re not helicopter parents (Own It): My wife and I know that we need to teach our kids resilience and resourcefulness, so we let the kids solve many of their own problems. For example, one month after our then fifth grader chose French as his foreign language, he came to say that he hated French and wanted to switch to Spanish. While we easily could have contacted the school for him, we didn’t. Instead, we asked him why he wanted to switch and asked what he thought he should do to make it happen. He went to his house advisor and middle school director and made the switch happen himself!
- Everyone in the family has a job to help us become a successful team (Team Player): This is especially true for the mundane like chores, helping each other when not asked, taking care of your own responsibilities, etc.
- Family traditions are created together (Fun): We discuss what each of us think would be fun to do together and vote. We’ve organized game night, card games, traveling to watch March Madness in another city every year, letting the kids plan family vacations, and more.
If you have comments or questions, please leave them below.
If you believe that what we believe and want to join us, check out our career and part-time opportunities at https://www.zogsports.com/join-the-team.aspx
About the Author
Robert Herzog, Founder and CEO, ZogCulture and ZogSports
I believe life is better with real personal connections, caring communities and a sense of play. I founded ZogSports after my close call on 9/11. In 2012, we launched ZogCulture to help create playful experiences at work so that employees can connect, be part of a community, and infuse play into the DNA of their company’s culture. We are directly impacting over 150,000 people per year across the country and have donated over $3.4M to charity. In 2017, Zog made the Crain’s Best Places to Work list (again!) and earned the prestigious B Corporation “Best For the World — Community” award.
If you’re interested in this sort of stuff, I have an MBA in Entrepreneurial Management from Wharton and a BA in Economics (which I rarely use) from Brown. I live and play in NYC with my awesome wife of 15+ years and two super active, sporty boys.
Interested in playing in a ZogSports league? ZogSports is America’s most popular social sports community, with over 125,000 players forming millions of new friendships every year. Sign up here to play.
Interested in bringing play to your company? ZogCulture creates playful employee experiences that create connections and builds community at work. Learn more by visiting our site or email Danny@ZogSports.com to inquire about bringing Zog to your office.
Many of you have heard me tell this story. In July 2001, I got a new job as the VP of Operations for Marsh & McLennan’s internet group. My office was on the 96th Floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower. On the morning of September 11th, there were dozens of little things I did on my way to work that I didn’t usually do: I hit the snooze button twice, dropped off my laundry, picked up my held mail (and stopped to toss the junk mail), took the local train instead of the express, and numerous other small decisions that caused me to arrive at work five minutes late.
Core values have received more attention in the past year than ever before. More companies are recognizing that improving their office culture is a strategy that leads to sustainable success and at the center of a company’s culture are the core values in which they truly believe.
I was 22 years old. It was my first job post college. I already missed the camaraderie of college and playing intramural sports, but this was my first real job (and a tough one at that — at global consulting firm Mercer). I needed to focus 100% on work. Make a good impression. Show them how committed I was. Didn’t I?
Summertime and the livin’ is easy, though just because the sun is blazing and the rooftop frosé is singing a Siren’s song, it doesn’t mean the work stops.