As Traffic Manager, I conducted weekly company meetings, usually every Monday morning, where we would review the week’s work ahead of us, share personal accomplishments, and talk about client projects, a hodgepodge of content, but always aiming to inform and entertain. We called the meeting unWeekly (playing off the "un" in our name). The meeting would last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour and was held in our huge auditorium space which we called TEDome, a space aptly renamed (from Thunderdome) because it is where we held the annual (sometimes bi-annual) TEDxAtlanta, organized by our company and started in 2009 after our president began attending the annual TED conference.
I had a format for the meeting, segments that everyone could expect to happen every week, and surprises to anticipate. With such a vast space (it seats 200+) and two-story ceilings, it was essential that I be miked; so I was outfitted in an uber cool Britney Spears headset. Each meeting started with a song through our sound system. I had a sign-up sheet for the song to be played each week. I made sure the music was played loud to get everyone in a good mood. Sometimes the music was accompanied by a music video; sometimes the song would go with a theme for the week (one related to the season, or one I made up). Here is some of what was played —
Hold On by Wilson Phillips
Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F) by Katy Perry
Happy Valentine’s Day by Outkast
The Power by Snap!
Funkytown by Lipps Inc.
MmmBop by Hanson
Hot Cheetos and Takis by Y.N.RichKids
1st of May by the Bee Gees
Heaven Is a Place on Earth by Belinda Carlisle
Daydream Believer by The Monkees
And when one person didn't get me their music choice by the deadline, I did what I promised I would do if rendered music-less come Monday morning. Nelson it was. Oh no you dihn't. Oh yes I did.
I gathered some pix from past unWeeklies that made me smile, fondly remembering our old space and how much fun I had hatching ideas.
For Halloween 2011, I made the entire space dark except for candles on every surface. Police tape blocked off the curtained entrance to TEDome. Once everyone was seated, the music began. Vic Mizzy’s The Haunted Organ from the movie The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. Halfway through the organ piece, Molly, our receptionist, rolled a corpse, me the emcee, into the space. I was on a morgue table, covered with a sheet, one hand dangling down, a few spiders on me, and my bare feet sticking out, one toe with a toe tag. At the end of the music, I sat up and began the meeting.
In the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, I made nametages that I, Consuela, handed out at the beginning of the meeting with Mexican names for everyone.
For the official start of summer, I created a lifeguard chair by putting one of our auditorium chairs up on a work table, taped on a beach umbrella, crafted a lifesaving floatie, and led the meeting decked out in sunglasses and twirling a whistle. I threw a few beach balls into the crowd for fun. I love being an idiot.
One of my grandest meetings was always for Independence Day. I captured the Lee Greenwood God Bless the USA laser show at Stone Mountain and had it playing on the big screen (in subsequent years, at one attendee's request I added The Charlie Daniels Band The Devil Went Down to Georgia). The laser show ended in an on-screen fireworks display. The usual auditorium chairs were replaced with lawn chairs and blankets and our big fake felt rocks. I had coolers with cold sodas around. Gave everyone American flags and glo-stix. It was magical.
— I visually chronicled a pregnancy. Molly was quite the trooper, posing for the weekly picture that was shown on the big screen every week along with a googled image of what her baby looks like at that particular stage.
— We announced a puppy addition to our dog family (a slide show of a stick couple and how they wanted to add to their family, culminating in the actual puppy being announced and brought into the meeting with squeals of delight and lots of baby talk).
— We heard talks and saw images from trips to Dragon*Con, volunteer efforts, family vacations, a presentation of a Yale University Master's Thesis on color, witnessed Super Bowl bets that resulted in the losers (2 guys, good sports) who had to sing Karaoke to Shania Twain's Feel Like a Woman.
With hundreds of auditorium chairs to use as props, I was constantly putting them in different configurations. One week following a big travel week for lots of our peeps, I put the chairs in rows of 3 chairs and 2 chairs with an aisle down the middle. And had two uninhibited volunteers act as flight attendants greeting people when they arrived on unAir Flight 207, and then walking up and down the aisle before the meeting began checking on the "passengers." When one person chose James Taylor and Carole King You've Got a Friend as the opening music, I put the chairs in pairs scattered all over the room. And when everyone sat down, I asked them to hug the friend next to them. Stupid stuff like that made for some fun times.
Before the Easter holiday, it was only right to supply bunny ears.
And for Presidents' Day, I couldn't help but channel the inner politician and address the crowd with a JFK/Clinton fist-with-thumb-sticking-out to make my point. (I look like a plump, unfashionable Sarah Palin.)
I miss those days.
Here's to Favorite Fridays.