That's the basic question we ask our firm on Dream Day, an annual retreat in which we gather at an undisclosed location (our way of paying homage to former Vice President Dick Cheney, who also chilled at an undisclosed location in the immediate aftermath of 9/11).
During D.D., we ask ourselves how we can become more strategic, creative and results-oriented for clients. We also dream about ways in which we can enhance our internal culture.
There are no parameters set on the dreaming. Each and every employee, from receptionist to partner, has the freedom to suggest any idea, no matter how big or outlandish.
I ripped off Dream Day from Google, which gives each employee an extra day off to dream about ways in which Google could improve. I liked the concept but knew that I, for one, wouldn't be dreaming about Peppercomm on my extra vacation day. So, for the past eight years or so, we've powered down our computers and powered up our creative juices and dreamed as a single unit.
The outcomes have been dramatic. Here are just a few Dream Day dreams that have come true:
– Hiring a full-time academic. Sam Ford joined us from M.I.T. a few years back and I'd liken his impact on Peppercomm's fortunes to RG III's on the Washington Redskins. Sam is that good (although he is fairly immobile outside the pocket).
– Creating an employee exchange program that has enabled our New York, San Francisco and London employees to enjoy three-month gigs in other offices. Next week, for example, we'll be biding adieu to London's Will Brewster and welcoming home New York's Jason Green.
– One year Ed nodded off after taking cold medicine and came up with the idea of a licensing division. At the time, we thought his brainstorm had been the by-product of a NyQuil overdose but lo and behold, today we have a thriving licensing division that is growing like a weed (and provides entry to brands we'd never be able to reach in traditional ways).
I have no idea what dreams might become reality after today's off-site. But, it's a beautiful way for the entire firm to take a time-out, dream about what could be and, most importantly, feel like they're part of shaping Peppercomm's future. As Larry David would say, 'It's a good thing. It's a good thing.'"