by Karen Robbins, President, Stewart Transportation Solutions
If you’ve spent some time on our website, you may have noticed a few penguins here and there. No, it’s not an accident. Penguins are a part of our company culture. In fact, there’s quite a story behind our relationship with penguins.
It all started a few years ago when I came across a company that specializes in employee recognition, Baudville. They have some really cool stuff on their website, but it was the many different teamwork pins that caught my eye. Each one had a story, but the one that stuck with me the most was the story of the Australian Fairy Penguin.
The flightless fairy penguin of Australia stands less than a foot tall and is clumsy on land where the fox is its natural enemy. Alone, one penguin wouldn’t survive for long. So after each day, in the water, they gather where the surf meets the shore waiting until the last penguin joins them. Then, shoulder to shoulder, they march up the beach to their burrows. They support each other, they rely on each other and everyone except the fox wins. We’re a stronger team because of you.
I immediately thought about our team and how hard they work. I thought about how sometimes, the things they do together as a team are so enormous (moving 10,000 people five times in one 22 hour day) and challenging (moving 9,000 people in over 200+buses to Red Rocks Amphitheater in the Rocky Mountain Foothills) and in such undesirable conditions (heat over 110 degrees; cold under -10 degrees and rain & storms that, yes, brings tornadoes and microbursts) that they are a lot like the Australian fairy penguin. Or, any penguin for that matter!
Penguins are known for their loyalty, their devotion to their clan and their ability to create friendships for life. It doesn’t hurt that they are cute and almost always, without a doubt, make people smile when they see them. That’s our team, too.
I gave out the penguin pins to our entire staff that year. I told them the story and how I thought of each of them as penguins because of their trust and loyalty and their friendships to each other, to us and our clients. I give the pins to the newbies we hire and to people we meet that want to be a part of our culture – even if just for a little while.
And for a silly reason or maybe a really great reason – it stuck. Penguins were suddenly everywhere and the team started sending videos and pictures of penguins they saw somewhere on the road or shopping on a Saturday afternoon. Penguins are on wine bottles, on coffee cups, clothes and jewelry!
The penguin became a symbol of our culture – the little bit of glue that is a fun reminder that we don’t leave anyone behind and we always help each other out. And, if that doesn’t happen for one reason or another – we call each other on it and remind ourselves that penguins stick together through thick and thin.
The penguin has come to symbolize so many things that are good, happy and right in the world for us and our team. And don’t you think that we can all use a little bit of that every day?
So, that’s the deal with the penguin!