Day of Awesomeness: A Tradition of Volunteering, Surprises & Stick-On ’Staches >



Here at BrightWave, we like to be playful at heart, to take a few risks, to delight our co-workers, clients and community—just because. Enter: Day of Awesomeness.

As the name so righteously implies, Day of Awesomeness is a part of the BrightWave DNA in which once a quarter our (already awesome) team members spend an entire workday just doing something to brighten other people’s world. That’s right, brighten—as in, inspire big, goofy smiles and childish shrieks of laughter in whatever way they can dream up. This could mean preparing meals at the local food kitchen—or surprising your co-workers with a waffle and pancake station, complete with desk-side mimosa service.

“The idea was simply spend time doing something awesome for your team, clients or community. We talked about making it intentionally broad, which brings both challenges and opportunities,” said BrightWave CEO Simms Jenkins. “I think it ties into the notion we want people to take risks, think critically and be doers.”

What makes Day of Awesomeness uniquely BrightWave is its open-ended, make-it-your-own nature. “We’re wide open on the purpose,” said VP & Creative Director Jessica Higgins. “We want people to be creative, to see what they come up with.”

This is totally different from a mandatory community service project—the beauty is that we get to know a little something about our team members based on what they choose. One of the coolest aspects is the quarterly meeting in which the crew recaps what kind of awesomeness they got into.  “It totally helps connect our team in some non-traditional but meaningful ways,” said Simms.

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And, so far, the clever stunts and kind-hearted gestures have not disappointed. For example, Interactive Art Director Scott Day, Data Architect Zach Norman and Production Manager Melissa Cornett orchestrated a surprise Fiesta Cart for the office. They were inventive, borrowing a cart from the building maintenance guy, covering it with a tablecloth and filling it with chips, cheese dip and—ole!—margarita fixings. Add a few woven sombreros and slap on a few mustaches—and you have a surprise fiesta on your hands. People have demanded that it become a standing tradition.

“I’m glad to be at some place where we can pull something like that off,” said Scott. “We need an element of nuttiness around here. It gives everyone a much-needed break in their day—it gives us a minute to just be happy.”

Oh and that pancake and waffle station, that was totally real. Simms and Chief Client Officer Brent Rosengren set the tone for the whole Day of Awesomeness thing, donning tuxedo-printed t-shirts and manning a surprise breakfast station one morning. Simms wanted to serve something to the employees himself so he made the rounds, mixing mimosas and bellinis for the crew. “It made me feel happy getting the surprise reaction,” said Brent. “A couple of people literally stopped in their tracks.”

The other side of Day of Awesomeness, or D.O.A. as we’ve come to call it, is volunteering in our community (no, we’re not just party-loving booze hounds, people). Designer Dara Porter has taken the opportunity to pitch in at nearby Midtown Church, cleaning out and painting a common area. She’s also teamed up with a small group of BrightWavers who took the day to make meals at a local kitchen around the holidays.

Groups of six signed up in two shifts, getting a crash course in cooking on a grand scale—with one group making around 2,000 lbs. of sweet potato casserole.

“I love to cook myself, so actively cooking for other people was amazing,” said Dara. “It’s just nice to be engaged with the community—and to see how people are making lives better right around the corner.”

Seriously, to get all cheesy for a second—and not in the Mexican Fiesta Cart kind of way—the takeaway so far is that even though Day of Awesomeness is about brightening other people’s day, in the end it’s the good deed-doer who gets the most out of it. Getting a little misty-eyed? Us too.

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