Writer Bob Andelman called me from his car during his assignment covering Harley-Davidson's planning meeting in the Florida Keys in January. “You won't believe where I am right now: blasting down the Ronald Reagan Turnpike with 120 bikers!” he yelled over the roar of the engines. “I've ever seen this much leather in one place … this is great!”
This group, volunteers from 47 states and 14 countries who plan Harley's Owner Group (HOG) rallies around the country, meets once a year — in part to learn about event planning and in part to come together as a team, to share the Harley experience. Whether that experience means the group ride from Fort Lauderdale to the Keys, or developing names for their planning teams (my favorite: the Fat Boys). A class on event liability is called “Flirtin' with Disaster,” a simulated rally is “The Game,” and seminar moderators are “navigators.” In a word, it's a blast.
“Think about all the time these people put into their jobs,” Harley COO Jim McCaslin told Bob later that week. “They're really amazing. They are very important to us.”
What if we treated our employees more like volunteers? We can all take a cue from this fascinating company (just named Company of the Year by Forbes magazine) and have more fun in our jobs — and our meetings. In my magazine group, we start each meeting with good news — and make sure that when we get down to business, everyone's smiling. Why leave out icebreakers andwhen the fun and connections they create are part of the reason people go to meetings?
On a similar note, we've added a few chuckles to our magazine, starting with our new back page, “Last Word.” Each month, we'll take a different everyday meeting planning topic — from coffee to cruises — and just play a little.
Isn't that something we all need to do more of?