Love – Work – Play

Corporate America frequently banters about the statement, “We work hard, but we also play hard.” However, these days, it all seems to be about work. Every quarter, we hear about how much more efficient and profitable companies are after layoffs and cost cutting. The reality is that many people are now doing multiple jobs, which translates into less time with family and friends.This can’t be the new normal; it’s not sustainable. So, what do you do? I like to look back at leaders who are known for driving cultures that value balance. My favorite? Paul Orfalea, founder of Kinko’s. He believed that balance was core to the organization’s success. He had a three-fold motto that everyone in the company knew:

  • Love: care for the customer and your coworkers and you build long-lasting loyalty.
  • Work: focus on improving yourself and your work environment and you build a strong business.
  • Play: make it fun all the time and take time for friends and family.

Now, I didn’t crack the old company manual, but that is what the words “Love-Work-Play” meant to me after 18 years in that organization. Today, Zappos, winner of a “Best Places to Work” honor this year, demonstrates how to perpetuate a culture that celebrates individuality via company statements such as, “Create Fun and a Little Weirdness,” “Pursue Growth and Learning” and, “Be Humble.”

If your organization does not have a motto, make your own. Define the rules you want to live by. As you begin to live your own creed of balance, you will positively influence others. Put a leadership token on your desk to remind you to talk about your slogan for keeping it fun.

Mine is a pyramid-shaped key chain Paul gave me many years ago that highlights the Love-Work-Play success formula.

What are your words to live by? Share your ideas in the comments!

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15 thoughts on “Love – Work – Play

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  2. Truer words could not have been spoken! Funny how the “quirkiness” of a culture is what corporate types attempt to drive out. In a quest for “consistency” they get homogeneity.

    Part of the love, work, play balancing act was a understanding that each part made the other part better. I like to think of it like H2O – you need ALL 3 molecules to get water.

    I continue to use (and live) the Love-Work-Play motto, chiefly because I haven’t found a better replacement. In fact, over the Christmas break (I took nearly 3 weeks off!) my out of office reply informed my contacts that I was “out of the office balancing love, work & play”… One of my clients (SVP Global Operations at a $5B manufacturer said ” Alvin, That might be the world’s best out of office auto message”

    Thanks Ken fo reminding us of what a great heritage Paul created… Is it our turn?

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  5. Ken, after working with you, I can truly say that you exemplify this approach to work and life. I learned so much from you and all of the time we were scrambling to get things done, the fun was always there!

  6. Congrats Ken! The Fast Track Tools blog looks amazing is already overflowing with interesting content. I’m adding “Define the rules you want to live by.” to my list of inspirational quotes.

    It reminds me of the Patanjali quote “Success is nearest to those whose efforts are intense and sincere.” Looking forward to more!

  7. This is thought provoking and makes me want to find my own personal slogan.

    I’m reading a book right now that talks about from whom we should take advice. For example, why do we take relationship advice from our divorced friends? Or financial advice from our struggling ones? Go to the people who excel at what you want to learn. And Ken, you certainly excel at what you are advocating here – so I’ll happily take your advice.

  8. Ken,
    I love the concept. It is really fun to work hard and see progress from your efforts. That’s when work seems like play. Companies that can create an environment where working REALLY hard feels like playing are really on to something!
    Thanks for a great post.

  9. Ken – great concept which in reality is very hard to realize! The culture of Kinko’s was a rare combination of having an incredibly wealthy, eccentric, heroic, and entrepreneurial leader of a private company who built his business with his ‘friends’ during a period of incredible growth mode moving his company towards becoming a valuable public asset. If only he kept that model together! We were lucky to experience part of that culture which very few people EVER get to experience.

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  11. Hi Ken

    It is ironic that I am only now making the time to look at this because I have been too busy with work. You have definitely hit the mark. Kathy Zier and I were just speaking a few days ago about how Kinko’s formed us into who we are today and we all need to remember those key tenets of “Love, Work, and Play.”

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