Welcome to Leaders In Play! We interview people who take having FUN at work very seriously. We know, it seems like a crazy concept, but incorporating Play At Work has been proven to improve employee engagement, creativity, recruitment, retention, and provide countless other benefits that help create healthy company culture. So, without further ado, enjoy our first installment of this interview series!
Meet Sam Arpino. As the Talent & Culture Manager--or, as she calls it, the Head of Fun--at DoSomething.org, she is the lightning rod who is responsible for maintaining a dynamic, youthful culture by hiring and retaining the right people who fit the company’s core values. She has built an incredible culture program with her highlights including a sterling internship program (complete with their own fun scavenger hunt) and impactful diversity initiatives.
DoSomething.org empowers and mobilizes their community of 6 million young people to make a difference through organized civic action campaigns. With a mission to engage young minds in a meaningful way, Sam has a blast building a caring, energetic team that can take on any and all challenges with aplomb and vigor.
Location: New York, NY
Role: Talent & Culture Manager
Describe a normal day in your role.
A normal day is jam-packed with lots of things --some planned, some unplanned--but all related to People at DoSomething.org! I have the fortune of overseeing People Ops at DoSomething, the largest organization for young people and social change. On a daily basis I'm interviewing people, sending acceptances (the best part of my job!) and rejections (the worst part!) to people who want to work with us, and meeting with hiring managers to determine needs on their team.
I'm likely meeting with our Director of Finance & HR to discuss budget or hiring plans, and our COO to discuss any personnel concerns or updates on my strategic projects for the quarter. It's exciting and ever-changing, but always includes lots of communication with some of the best coworkers I could ask for!
What does Play At Work mean to you?
We've all heard that we should take our work seriously but not take ourselves seriously. This is so much easier said than done! That said, I think you learn a lot about the ways you want to contribute to a team and an organization, and the legacy you want to leave behind as a leader, when you try to live by this. Holding myself to a high standard while also being true to my (very, very goofy) self is important to me, and I think it sets a standard for others - especially as someone in People Ops.
What’s your favorite childhood game and why?
Not a game, but I've always loved performing. I'd been doing karaoke long before I knew what karaoke was! I remember corralling my friends and family around my little microphone setup so I could wow them with my (really, really bad) singing skills. It made people laugh, and it made my shy friends a little less shy. I think this means my favorite childhood game was taking any chance I could to be silly and put on a good show!
"Holding myself to a high standard while also being true to my (very, very goofy) self is important to me, and I think it sets a standard for others"
How do you Play outside of work?
I'm a Brooklyn native, so this city is my playground! My favorite thing to do on the weekends is take the train to neighborhoods I haven't visited in a while--or ever, the city is massive--and just explore. You'll never feel so small as the moment you realize you live in a city so effervescent and dynamic, it's impossible to keep up. The other side of that coin is, at any moment, you're surrounded by unavoidable change and millions of unique lived experiences. Every day I live here is a day for inspiration and joy.
Name a fun coworker. What makes them a fun person to work with?
Our Editor-in-Chief, Ben Kassoy, might just be the most fun person I've ever met--both in and out of work. He brings the most authentically vibrant energy to everything he does, and his energy is contagious. He'll break out into dance in the middle of the office, and it's impossible not to smile when you see him being his authentic self. He's also an incredible ally and friend; his ability to bring both fun and supportive versions of himself to work is remarkable.
Who or what do you draw playful inspiration from?
I'm lucky to work at a youth-focused organization, so youthful energy is all around me! Getting out of my own head as a professional and stepping into the limitless energy of a "young person" (at DoSomething, that means anyone under 25), it becomes easy to draw playful inspiration for even the toughest situations!
What’s one fun thing you want to do by the end of the year?
I didn't travel much as a kid, but I've learned that I really love traveling with my close friends as I've gotten older. I have yet to go to Europe--I'd love to do that by end of year since one of my best friends is getting her PhD in the UK right now!
The Leaders In Play series features professionals who aren't afraid to have fun while getting the job done--the ones who can boost team morale, spark ingenuity, and inspire Play At Work among many other attributes that make them key players in their offices. If you have someone in mind who fits this description and would like to see them featured, email Angel at firstname.lastname@example.org.