By Egotist / /
Division of Labor founding partners, Paul Hirsch and Josh Denberg, have been busy. In addition to running an ad agency, designing funny posters and writing a new book “Stop Tweeting Boring Sh*t”, they also found time to sit down with us and talk about the latter project.
Check out the interview. Get the book. And learn a thing or two about what’s appropriate in the workplace from a couple guys who, admittedly, aren’t perfect themselves.
First, let’s start with the original poster set. How did those come about?
The original posters were hung in the front window of the agency, because our office is actually a retail storefront. We use the big front window as a place to display projects, and we just liked the idea of having funny messages about work signed off with “A message from Division of Labor.”
Then how did you guys get from a couple of fun posters to an entire book?
The Internet took over. People started posting photos of the posters, tweeting them and blogging about them. Then the press picked up and we started selling them, which got us thinking about what to do next.
So, we wrote a shit ton more and presented the whole idea to Chronicle Books, and they loved it.
You did a bunch of research for the book. What results surprised you?
Yes, we did an actual research study. We figured since the U.S. Department of Labor does a study every year we should to. So, we interviewed 850 office workers around the country with Dan Carlton, a great planner with PARAGRAPH project. The end result was our official Study on Workplace Behavior.
What surprised us? Our favorite fact is that “Nearly 2/3 of workers admit to Googling themselves. While 19% of workers think ‘Googling yourself’ sounds like masturbation.”What is it that makes people want to tweet boring shit?
Who knows? Twitter is really an amazing creation. It could just be that everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame. But since most of us aren’t doing anything worthy of making us famous, we tweet pictures of fish tacos and hope for the best.
The book contains things like email etiquette, dress-code mistakes and improper behavior at company parties. In advertising, is there really such a thing as “improper behavior at company parties”?
Nope. No such thing. We’ve been escorted from company parties by security and vomited behind dumpsters at holiday parties. Back in the day, we even survived Goodby Silverstein and Partner’s first and last annual company cruise. But that was a long, long time ago before kids and wives.
Ok, be honest – what percentage of the faux pas in this book have you been guilty of?
Many. Josh drives a Prius and has massive character flaws, page 61. Paul has hit ‘reply all’ and set off a mini controversy, page 31. And neither of us trust anyone in pleated khakis, page 71.
It seems like the book could literally be the HR code of conduct for most companies. Why isn’t this stuff more obvious to most people?
Probably for the same reason people still make sex tapes and are really surprised when their ex releases it on the Internet. It seems pretty obvious, but humans forget things quickly.
What’s the reaction been to the book so far?
It’s been great. Our moms didn’t understand the one that says, “Virgins make the best coders” but everything else has been well received.
We know you guys are busy running a business, too. But are there more stand-alone book or products in the future for you?
Yes. Projects like this are a huge part of the agency fabric and why we’re different. We tell our clients to make stuff that people will love, and we take our own advice. After all, we don’t have a holding company telling us stuff like this isn’t in the P&L.
For example, we have an app called Mod Math in beta test right now. It’s like digital scratch paper so kids can set up and solve math problems using a touch screen and keypad. So that’s next.
If there’s one single piece of advice from the entire book you’d want people to remember, what it is?
If you’re not offending someone, you’re boring everyone.