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An Ode To Joy – in the workplace.

My brother, Barry, passed away recently.  A world famous architect, he is credited with the design of over 600,000 homes worldwide.  He had been named one of the world’s top 100 architects by Architectural Barry Berkus 2Digest, and one of the ten most significant figures of the 20th century by Residential Architect.  He was quite a role model as a big brother, five years my senior.  Several years ago, I wrote the following insight about his ability to create a work environment that was full of joy, so much so that it seemed more like play than work.  There were only a few thousand readers then, and there are more than 25,000 of you now.  With your permission, here is that post again – as relevant today as it was then, and far more poignant.  Here’s to my brother, and to joy in the work place…

Have you ever noticed how slow time passes when you are in a troubled environment?  Conversely, sometimes you look up at the end of a great day and wonder where the time went.  Over the years, I have discovered that the difference is not just applicable to the good times, but to the environment, created by the senior executives, that filters throughout the organization.  Every time, a corporate work culture encouraging humor causes employees to enjoy their work, spend more time with associates, and laugh many more times through the day.

At one point in our mutual careers, my brother located his growing architectural practice just a mile from my record company in West Hollywood, California.  I would visit his office and immediately notice an atmosphere of “joyous creativity” throughout the organization.  Every cubicle was decorated with whimsical drawings, posters, kid’s creativity, and more.  As I walked through the facility, I could hear laughter emanating from cubicles, almost constant as a background song of simple joy at work.

[Email readers, continue here…]  Those visits were wonderful times to recharge my batteries, and I was not even a part of the company.  Imagine how they affected the attitude and creativity of those working there.  Think of how clients loved to associate with their counterparts in such an environment.

Try as I could to reproduce such an environment, my company was too spread out, the background noises of manufacturing too loud to make the same environment possible.  The best I could do was touch individuals and small groups with that same joy of the journey, adding humorous opportunities for lightening up as often as possible.

But after all these years, I will never forget the magic of that architectural office, and how much everyone there wanted not to let it ever slip away.

Take every opportunity to lighten up, to ease the often-self-imposed pressures of constant work, to unlock more of the creativity of your workforce through the use of appropriate humor.  What a lift that brings.

  • Dave, thank you very, very much for these very beautiful words. In the 30 years that we know each other, you have always portrayed a joy of life and always brought sunshine with you. Your wisdom has made my workplace a joy that just speeds by.

    Thank you for shareing your beautiful relationship and life experiences about Barry with the rest of the world.

    Dave, your life has touched so many people in a positive way that you have truly paid it forward. You have truly changed my life in many, many ways.

    I wish that I had known Barry better.

    Les Spielman

  • Dan Hoefflin

    Well done. Good people and their good works are a blessing to us all.

  • Dave, all of us on the MSI team thank you for sharing the “Ode to Joy” you received from your older brother. One of MSI’s 12 Guiding Principles is “We are about having Fun”. It is very refreshing to read about the “joyous creativity” you felt visiting your brother’s company. What a wonderful feeling, to be “happy, joyous and free” in the office, with friends, and at home. An environment we are all “challenged to create” here at MSI.

    Thank you for reminding us the importance of “joy, laughter and fun” in the work place…and “at all times possible” living our daily lives.


  • Ken Lu

    Thank you Dave, for this touching tribute to your brother. It is hard to lose a loved one, but it is heart warming to remember the joy shared and the lessons learned. Be well.


  • Bob Bennett

    A very nice tribute to your brother and great advice, as always, for the rest of us.

  • Michael O'Daniel

    Dave, thank you for sharing this wonderful glimpse of your brother. Any leader who recognizes that creating an environment where people look forward to coming to work each day is a wise person and way ahead of the game. We often take ourselves way too seriously and create a “no crisis too small” atmosphere. So, dear readers, please resolve in this new year to do at least one totally silly thing each day. Even though it doesn’t appear on the balance sheet, laughter / joy is indeed a priceless asset.

  • A good reminder indeed to have fun at work! This year we’ve made a commitment to enjoy what we do and enjoy working with each other. That translates to specifics such as finishing a task well no matter how small it is, have each other’s backs, do not bend over to customers who are unreasonable even if that means to loose a sale… A couple of weeks into new year, we’ve already seen positive results.

    Thank you Dave for the posting and it seems that your brother Barry had left such positive marks in this world…

  • Thank you, Dave. Great reminder to seek joy as a tool to succeed.
    I met you one time at “the Godfather’s” event at the House of Blues. Had no idea that I would be blessed with your emails of insight and inspiration.
    Thank you again,

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