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Baseball and writing about baseball are my passions and being passionate about something is the heart and soul of the new book by Mike Veeck (and Pete Williams), "Fun Is Good: How to Inject Joy & Passion Into Your Workplace & Career" published by Rodale Press and to be released early next month. The book is part business philosophy, part autobiography, part confessional, part homage to his late father Bill Veeck, part salute to his 12-year old daughter who is fighting blindness as the result of retinitis pigmentosa, part a baseball love story and all fun. Because fun is what Mike, like all the Veecks, is all about.
Mike writes, "Somehow in our haste to seize the American dream, we've sucked the fun, passion, and creativity out of the workplace." How many of you feel that way? I guess that's why so many people say that work sucks. But as Mike points out, "Fun isn't just good; it's a necessity." "If you're not having fun, it's nearly impossible to project the upbeat, positive attitude necessary to service clients effectively."
We know that's the trouble with baseball, don't we? Somehow it has becoming way to much about greed. We could handle it if were about drugs, sex, and rock and roll, at least that's fun. Mike writes that when his father Bill Veeck died in 1986, "we had him cremated so he wouldn't constantly be rolling in his grave."
In the workplace it's about passion, the right attitude and being happy at what you do. Mike encourages change and risk taking because if you're unhappy you can't afford to stay where you are. In addition, your role whether you are an Indian or a chief is to help create a workplace atmosphere that is fun, positive and risk taking. He writes, "How effectively you interact with coworkers sets the tone for the organization," because if you take a genuine interest in the people around you, you never know where it might lead.
I was particularly struck with this philosophical statement, "If you approach things with optimism and with the mentality that any obstacle can be overcome with good humor, preparation, brainpower, and a little bit of luck, nothing is outside the realm of possibility." It is that statement that clearly drives Mike's wonderful daughter. The book is filled with interviews and vignettes from business leaders in which they express, in their own words, how the importance of a "Fun is Good" philosophy has driven the success of their company. None is more powerful or moving than the section written by Rebecca Veeck who truly sums up much more than the philosophy of the book when she writes, "Fun is Good because that's the way life is supposed to be. It's the main feeling that we're supposed to have. I mean, if you're not having fun, what's the point?"
I will be giving this book to my daughter Elizabeth on her birthday on April 11 (the same date as Veeck's eldest, Night Train Veeck) because as she prepares to graduate college and face the real world she needs to know that if you treat every day like Opening Day than life will be fun, and fun is good.