Get Weird!: 101 Innovative Ways to Make Your Company a Great Place to Work


"How can companies recruit, retain, train, motivate, and reward great employees—especially in a tight labor market? How can they win new customers and boost sales? The secret is to lighten up and get a little weird! Creativity and productivity can go hand in hand, as this chock-full-of-ideas book amply shows.

Like a Christmas stocking crammed with treasures, Get Weird! overflows with irresistible techniques for innovating and problem-solving. It explains how to start thinking "outside the box," then presents 101 ...

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"How can companies recruit, retain, train, motivate, and reward great employees—especially in a tight labor market? How can they win new customers and boost sales? The secret is to lighten up and get a little weird! Creativity and productivity can go hand in hand, as this chock-full-of-ideas book amply shows.

Like a Christmas stocking crammed with treasures, Get Weird! overflows with irresistible techniques for innovating and problem-solving. It explains how to start thinking "outside the box," then presents 101 adaptable ideas, each in a reader-friendly two pages or fewer. For instance, readers will learn about:

• Whaddya Know? (learning through puzzles, quizzes, and games)

• Hire-Times (post-interview fun—a night-on-the-town with host employees)

• Wall of Fame (display of individual successes)

• Rock Me, Baby (give techies and GenXers the rock-concert tickets they crave)

• Galloping Gourmets (take-home gourmet dinners for employees and their family).

Slightly off-the-wall at first glance, the book is firmly rooted in solid performance theory. Managers can use it to find quick, effective, fun solutions to work challenges."

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Editorial Reviews

Workplace performance expert Putzier offers 101 ways to make the workplace a more enjoyable and productive environment. In a lighthearted manner, he discusses how to change the tone and culture of a company with quick and often inexpensive ideas in order to improve employee morale, creative thinking, and work output. Other topics include attracting and retaining the best available talent, enhancing the company image, lowering stress, providing recognition and incentives, and implementing training and development strategies. The book lacks a bibliography. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814471142
  • Publisher: AMACOM Books
  • Publication date: 5/21/2001
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 906,052
  • Product dimensions: 5.91 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

John Putzier (Prospect, PA) is president of the consulting firm FirStep, Inc., which provides strategies to improve workplace performance. He is a prolific and popular speaker.

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Table of Contents



Part I. Tapping Your Natural Weirdness

Part II. Weird Ideas to Win Today’s Talent (a.k.a. Recruitment)

Part III. Weird Ideas for the Care and Feeding of Today’s Talent (a.k.a. Retention)

Part IV. Weird Ideas for Changing Your Company Culture (a.k.a. Fun and Games with a Purpose and a Profit)

Part V. Weird Ideas for Perks, Pay and Pats on the Back (a.k.a. Recognition and Incentives)

Part VI. Weird Ideas for Educating Today’s Talent (a.k.a. Training and Development)

Part VII. Weird Ideas for Enhancing Your Company Image (a.k.a. Sales, Service and Public Relations)

Part VIII. Where’s 101? (a.k.a. It’s All In Your Head! Idea Submission Form)"

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First Chapter

Get Weird!

By John Putzier


Copyright © 2001 John Putzier
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-8144-7114-5


Whatever happened to the good old days when employees just showed up, shut up, and did what they were told? All they ever expected was a cheesy gold watch after thirty or so years when they just couldn't do it anymore. Where I come from, that was called the "work ethic." It was a thing to be admired and revered.

News flash: It's dead! And before you start mourning, I think you might want to have a party instead. If the work ethic wasn't dead, I believe a mercy killing would be in order. Just take a look at Webster's synonyms for work: labor, travail, toil, drudgery, grind.... Hats off to all our ancestors who were willing and able to make the sacrifices necessary to afford us the luxury of working to live, instead of living to work.

With an economy that now values brains over brawn, mind over muscle, the old definitions for work and success have been turned upside down. The world of work is changing. Those changes are coming rapidly and dramatically, and they are only just beginning-24/7, flex-place, flex-time, flex-life, free agents, contingent workers, virtual employees, dot.coms out the wazoo, portable careers, Internet everything. A new language, a new lifestyle, and a new workplace are emerging and redefining the employee-employer relationship. Entering this brave new world of work is the only option left for organizations if they are to survive and succeed in this age of revolutionary change.

This book is not deep. It is, however, quite wide. It is also not long. But it is long on content. These are not apologies, but clarifications of its purpose and its value. Having attended and addressed hundreds of seminars and professional conferences of all kinds, I have constantly heard people say, and have even said myself, "If I can just get a couple of good ideas from this that I can take back and use at work, it will have been worth it."

If this is true, and if you consider how much one can invest in such conferences (registrations, airfare, rental cars, lodging, meals, lost time, etc.), you should be delighted at the return on your investment in this book. In that same spirit, I have also come to realize that time is a highly valued commodity today. Therefore, you will not have to wade through any wasted words to get the point. If an idea needs only a paragraph or two for you to get the gist, that's all there is.

The bottom line is this: Working adults just want answers. They want solutions to problems. Cut through the theory, skip the history lesson, save the sales pitch, and just tell me something new and practical that I can use. Give me something that works. Give me an idea that I can implement tomorrow without spending a fortune or having to get tons of committee approvals. That is what this book is designed to do.

Management consultants, trainers, and speakers learn as much from their clients as those clients learn from them. That's not a sin; it's just plain smart. If we don't learn as we go, our value to our clients diminishes. After a while, however, we tend to adopt more and more of our clients' success stories, and then we leverage them and package them as accumulated wisdom to impress future prospects and clients, who teach us even more and the beat goes on! It has been said that "a consultant is someone who borrows your watch to tell you what time it is; and then keeps your watch." This book is my attempt to return some of those watches.

Professional speakers, trainers, and consultants are also messengers of success (their own and others'), and this book includes some of the best ideas and practices that I have seen work in just about every industry or profession imaginable over the years. Some of the other ideas are original, untested personal brainspurts (you'll get a definition of what a brainspurt is in Part 1) that may have never been used but that are certainly worth tweaking, trying, and sharing.

For those of you who are as old as I (that's none of your business), I think you will agree that few, if any, of us would have had the chutzpa or the stupidity to recommend some of these crazy ideas back in the 1970s or 1980s, or even the early 1990s. We would have been quickly ostracized or been the unfortunate recipients of outplacement, a reduction in force, a downsizing, a rightsizing, or some other corporate euphemism for "You're fired!"

Yes, we may have wanted to recommend these ideas, but until now, most employers have been in the driver's seat for eons. Today, the situation can best be seen graphically in the ancient symbol of the yin/yang.

My fellow old closet hippies probably know this already, but one of the concepts that the yin/yang represents is the coming together of opposing forces, such as life and death, man and woman, black and white, and so on. Another well-known tenet of this Eastern philosophy of opposing forces is that in every crisis there is an opportunity (more specifically, the Chinese say that "Crisis is opportunity riding a dangerous horse").

So why do I bring this up now? Because the current prolonged skilled labor crisis has finally created the opportunity (born out of the necessity) for employers to try almost anything to attract, retain, and motivate the best and the brightest. Employers are no longer in the driver's seat, and that can be good news for everyone.

The recent and current trends toward making workplaces more fun, more flexible, and more compatible with different peoples and lifestyles isn't happening because a whole bunch of bosses suddenly woke up one day born again and hell bent on creating more benevolent organizations. They had to open their minds and their wallets if they wanted to stay in business.

A perfect, bellwether case in point is the advent of domestic partner benefits, i.e., life, health, and other benefits for same-sex partners of employees (also known as "spousal equivalents"). The introduction of domestic partner benefits was one of the first and most significant major changes (and a sign of things to come) to be introduced into the traditional corporate value system, and it has now become an accepted practice in many organizations with a high demand for highly skilled workers. It was a turning point in the field of human resource management, and there is no turning back now.

The bottom line is that this prolonged talent shortage crisis is the most significant opportunity for you to revolutionize your world of human resources since they started being called human resources. Who cares if it isn't rooted in benevolence? Just ride this dangerous horse into the brave new world of work!

This skilled talent shortage is not just a result of a business cycle. It is predicted to last well into the twenty-first century, requiring companies to go to extremes to attract and hold onto employees. According to a year-long study conducted by a team from McKinsey & Co. (a study involving seventy-seven companies and almost 6,000 managers and executives), "the most important corporate resource over the next twenty years will be talent: smart, sophisticated business people who are technologically literate, globally astute, and operationally agile."

To further quote McKinsey, in their report "The War for Talent," "the search for the best and the brightest will become a constant, costly battle, a fight with no final victory. Not only will companies have to devise more imaginative hiring practices; they will also have to work harder to keep their best people."

It used to be that small companies tried to emulate the big boys (the large, old, established organizations) and tried to model their growth strategies after them. But today, big companies are trying to act small. They are now competing against start-ups and entrepreneurial companies where people have lots of "elbow room" (multifunctional responsibility), lots of "head room" (where they can make decisions on their own, without having to battle a bureaucracy), and the potential to make lots of money!

As a career human resources practitioner and consultant, I must offer this caveat about using the ideas in this book to change your company. These ideas should not be mere add-ons to your existing operations. If they are to make a real difference in your company, you have to adopt them as an essential element of the way you do business. Do not become a member of the "program/idea of the month" club. If you want your company to be outstanding, you must be willing and able to stand out. I have seen too many companies that want the benefits of seeming to be different, without the risks that come with actually being different. Make it a mindset, not a program.

You may scoff at some of these ideas and say aha! at others. And you shouldn't expect to use every idea, any more than you would expect to use every concept you hear at a conference. Some are industry-specific; others are more universal. However, I do suggest that you abandon your traditional industry or professional perspective when reading this book because many truly creative ideas come from places you have not looked in the past.

You will also discover that this is much more than just a reference book. Part 1 introduces you to the creative thinking and problem-solving process and is put there to give you some of the tools and techniques that were actually used to discover and develop a lot of the ideas in this book. Think of them as ideas for getting ideas. If you read these tricks and techniques first, and practice them as you go, you will find yourself tweaking and enhancing the ideas in the later parts, and then you will start getting your own original ideas, which I want for my next book. I want my watches back!

Since I am a staunch believer in incentives and pay for performance, I am offering you an opportunity to capitalize on your newfound creativity by submitting your own ideas for possible inclusion in a future publication. Specifically, Idea #101 will be your own. If your idea is good enough for inclusion in any future manuscript I submit for publication, you will receive a free, autographed copy of Get Weird!

Finally, it is important that you understand the theme of weirdoes and weirdness. Normal people may take these words the wrong way. A weirdo is anybody who is not like you. That's why there are so many of them out there. To "get weird" is to "be yourself," sometimes at the expense of how others may see you. To quote Arno Penzias, who won the Nobel Prize in physics (for discovering staticlike radiation that provided watershed evidence of the Big Bang), "If you are a truly creative person, you know that feeling insecure and lonely is par for the course. You can't have it both ways. You can't be creative, and conform too. You have to recognize that what makes you different also makes you creative."

Thus, people who excel in a particular field or area of expertise, or who are very high-level thinkers in a given subject, can appear "weird" to the rest of the world, and vice versa. Weirdness is a two-way street. Understanding the concepts of weirdoes and weirdness is tantamount to understanding diversity to the max. It is the synergy (yin and yang) of high performance and individuality.

Another way to understand and advance this mindset is to abandon the concept of society and its organizations as a melting pot, which is a term rooted in the advent of the Industrial Revolution. What does a melting pot represent? It represents all different types of people brought together, heated up, and melted into an indistinguishable amalgam.

A better analogy for today would be to think of us as a stir-fry, or a tossed salad. Can you see the difference? You would never put the vegetables and the meat and all the other ingredients into a blender and turn them into a liquid blob, would you? Of course not. You still have all the different ingredients, but each one continues to maintain its individuality (flavor) while enhancing the overall experience. You can still taste the tomato.

In Part 1, "Tapping Your Natural Weirdness," you will be introduced to some of these concepts and, I hope, will learn that being a weirdo and being able to tap your natural weirdness are both wonderful things for which to strive. In the remainder of the book, you'll find innovative ideas that result from the fearless creativity of people who have embraced weirdness and used it to make their companies great places in which to work.

So fasten your seatbelt, unzip your forehead, and welcome to a brave new world of weird ideas!


Excerpted from Get Weird! by John Putzier Copyright © 2001 by John Putzier. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2001

    Conversational, thought-provoking

    When John Putzier was a child, his mother told him he was weird. For most kids, being told they were weird might be traumatizing. Not John. He prided himself on being weird-different. Over the years of his career in human resource consulting, professional speaking, and college teaching, he has prided himself on being weird-just a little bit different, off-beat. The power of being off-beat is encapsulated in a quotation I learned in my growing-up years, 'It's the usual thing, done in the unusual way, that captures the attention of the world.' John certainly has captured the attention of the world with his work. And how he shows us how to make this happen in our lives as executives, managers, and human resource professionals. Weirdness is doing things differently. The results can be very positive, both in your confidence and in the results you can achieve. Putzier spends the first part of the book explaining this and setting up the reader to receive and consider 100 thought-provoking ideas. This section is titled Tapping Your Natural Weirdness, aka [also known as] Creative Thinking and Problem-Solving. The double title theme continues through the other parts of the book, enabling the reader to comfortably transition between Putzier's weird titles and terminology that will be more familiar. One hundred ideas are presented in the balance of the book, categorized in seven sections. Titles of those sections are Weird Ideas to Win Today's Talent, aka Recruitment; Weird Ideas for the Care and Feeding of Today's Talent, aka Retention; Weird Ideas for Changing Your Company, aka Fun & Games with a Purpose and a Profit; Weird Ideas for Perks, Pay, and Pats on the Back, aka Recognition and Incentives; Weird Ideas for Educating Today's Talent, aka Training and Development; and Weird Ideas for Enhancing Your Company Image, aka Sales, Service, Public Relations & Personal Satisfaction. Idea 101 is in Part 8, where the author suggests that you have other ideas in your head that you can add to his list. Remember, Putzier is endeavoring to stimulate your thinking, not just give you pat answers or magic pills. There are several additional features that add value to this book. The Table of content includes a phrase under each idea listing to quickly explain what the idea entails. An alphabetical list of ideas appears at the end of the book as an unusual, but helpful, index. The book is easy to read and serves as a fine read-through in addition to a good reference book for follow-up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2011

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