Tales From A Hungry Life

March 2, 2016

Play Nice

by Maria Schulz

Just the other day, I read an article in The New York Times called “What Google Learned In Its Quest To Build The Perfect Team.” It describes the years of research, and millions of dollars spent, basically pondering the question: “why do some teams thrive while other teams die on the vine?”

There's no "I" in team

There’s no “I” in team

So what was the outcome of their research? Well, the research team discovered the ups and downs of both the teams that failed and the teams that thrived.

The teams that failed were usually led by people who talked over everyone else, had internal power struggles, didn’t know and didn’t care about their teammates’ personal lives, and never felt safe sharing their ideas. Most members of those teams couldn’t wait to get out of their team meetings and back to their desks. Very little was accomplished.

blah blah blah

blah blah blah

On the other hand, successful teams listened to each other. They didn’t talk over one another. They felt safe in their surroundings and could share information about themselves. They were creative and inspired to contribute. The people in the group took turns, joked around, and had leaders who didn’t demean them.

They look happy

They look happy

Wow…did Google really spend all that money on this research? I know that Google is the kind of place that wants to quantify everything, but are we really so socially inept that we don’t already know this?

This is the sort of thing that people should not just apply to work, but to every area of their lives. Who wants to be around someone who just talks over you, never gives you the room to have an idea or share it, and attacks you? The answer is no one, and yet in our society, we seem to value the big bully who “gets the job done,” even if he leaves a trail of discontented and angry people in his wake.

It’s real simple: whether you’re looking for a successful workplace team, spouse, circle of friends, or leader of the free world, most people will say they want someone who creates a safe place for them. They want a person who understands what their needs are and listens to their concerns and ideas. That should be the goal, right?

Ready? Here we go...

Ready? Here we go…

It’s like what every kindergarten teacher, everywhere, used to tell us.

  • Let others get a word in edgewise.
  • Take turns.
  • Don’t hog the toys.
  • Don’t say mean things.
  • Stop yelling.
  • Say you’re sorry.
  • Forgive and forget.
  • Pay attention
  • Share the crayons.
  • Everybody likes different things.
  • You’re not the only one whose opinion matters.
  • Listen to each other.
  • Learn something new about each other every day.
    Surprise yourself

    Teamwork pays off

  • Don’t put up walls. Build bridges.
  • Work together.
  • Be considerate.
  • If someone forgets their snack, give them some of yours.
  • Play nice.
  • Remember: we’re all in this together.

It’s not rocket science. Empathy, consideration, and compassion can create teams that thrive. It’s not enough to have smart people running things. You have to have smart people with people skills. Short of that, you have to have smart people who realize they have no people skills, but work at it.

Recipe: Cupcakes!



Here are 12 of the top-rated cupcake recipes from Cooking Light magazine. You’ll find Lemon-Scented Blueberry Cupcakes, Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting, Chocolate Chip Angel Cupcakes with Fluffy Frosting, Amaretto Apple Streusel Cupcakes, and more. They are less caloric and delicious, so you can have your cupcake and eat it too.

One of the best jobs I ever had was with a group of people that celebrated birthdays. Every day, someone had a special sign created for him or her by our very talented artist (named Rich) and hung on his or her cubicle. Then, everyone would bring in some home-baked goodies and leave them on tables under the sign, so everyone could celebrate with the birthday boy or girl.

Birthday cake

Of course, everyone put on about 15 pounds once they started working there, but it was always fun. It made people feel valued, respected, and appreciated. Our teams were filled with creative, compassionate, thoughtful people who did great work together.

So, Hungry Lifers…what’s your take on Google’s million dollar baby? What would you tell someone who wanted to know how to make their work group/marriage/circle of friends/politicians work well together? What’s your favorite birthday goodie? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!



  1. Maria, you made that original article which looked like a big snooze very entertaining and boiled its message down perfectly. And you celebrated Garden City’s supportive and fun environment…two thumbs up to you! My advice for a happier world, micro- and macro-, is the age-old “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” And anyone who does unto me with a cream-cheese-frosted piece of carrot cake is gonna get the same!

    Comment by bethgoehring2015 — March 2, 2016 @ 10:33 am | Reply

    • Thanks, Beth! Garden City was special. I’m sorry I didn’t realize it as much as I should have then. You’re right, you can never go wrong with the Golden Rule. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — March 2, 2016 @ 10:39 am | Reply

  2. I never went to kindergarten but it sounds to me that when you went you had teachers who were more interested in learning to live and play together rather than competing. Today all we do is test and then see who did better. Scores indicate the quality of the course and the higher score you get the more you are recognized. When I worked the system always was pitting one against the other. Promotions went to the individual who “WON”, competed best. And when you push competition you usually get the guy who is bigger, stronger, the most intimidating squelching the ideas that may be better but can’t be allowed to be heard because then the “leader” can’t get the credit which leads to promotions and larger salaries. Sports any entertainment industry show this. The guy who hits the most home runs; the person who brings home the biggest box office because of their fan base get the most money and accolades until the next person comes along and does it better and the ones replaced are asked “What have you done for me lately?”. But everyone contributes. A movie isn’t only the stars, director it is the writers, the designers, the sound engineers, the editors the costume designers. I could go on and on but whatever we do it always is a team effort, cooperation that brings success. With our mindset in today’s society I doubt if Jesus Christ himself would have been a success. Imagine telling our children “To be the greatest you have to be the least!”. Jesus clearly would have to change his whole approach, maybe that’s why he came when he did and decided not to be physically present now. By the way I like this blog very much.

    Comment by bglou — March 2, 2016 @ 11:19 am | Reply

  3. Ah…such a great memory of GC–and especially Richie. I never worked in another place that had such a culture of “birthdays count”; it makes me wonder how it all started… Working well together means ignoring titles–especially the “junior this” and “senior that” ones. And the dessert–chocolate chip cookies, of course!

    Comment by doreenmoran — March 2, 2016 @ 4:46 pm | Reply

    • It was a great place to work, filled with wonderful people. You were a big part of that for me, so thank you! P.S. Chocolate chip cookies are always the answer. Doesn’t matter what the question is,

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — March 2, 2016 @ 4:50 pm | Reply

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