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Updated by Stan Phelps on Jul 13, 2023
Headline for Green Goldfish Project
Stan Phelps Stan Phelps
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Green Goldfish Project

The Green Goldfish Project is a quest to find 1,001 examples of marketing lagniappe for employees. Happy employees = Happy Customers. A green goldfish is the little signature extras given to employees. They help differentiate a company, increase employee retention and drive positive word of mouth.


Trust Pay @HCLTech

The Green Goldfish Project is a quest to find 1,001 examples of companies that put "Employees First":

#1 - HCL Technologies

Recognition for added value. Vineet Nayar
developed a clear point of view on compensation
and recognition during his twenty years with
HCL. “The industry used to pay 30 per cent
variable compensation to the employee linked to
the company’s performance. We found the idea
quite ridiculous, because if you are a software
engineer you have no meaningful influence on the
performance of the company. So we said we will
turn all that into fixed pay – ‘trust pay’ as we call
it. Now, having established that, we switched to
value: We said now we will start measuring you on
the value created for the customer.”

HBR video:

20 percent time @google

#2 - Google

According to Jonathan Strickland in ‘HowStuffWorks: How the Googleplex Works’, the company allows its employees to use up to 20 percent of their work week at Google to pursue special projects. That means for every standard work week, employees can take a full day to work on a project unrelated to their normal workload. Google claims that many of their products in Google Labs started out as pet projects in the 20 percent time program.

YouTube video on 20% time:

"The Offer" @Zappos

#3 - Zappos

The offer is part of the four week new hire paid training. The training immerses the group into the culture and Zappos’ laser focus on customer service. At the conclusion of training, everyone is offered $3,000 to leave. According to Fast Company Co-Founder Bill Taylor, “It’s a small practice with big implications: Companies don’t engage emotionally with their customers–people do. If you want to create a memorable company, you have to fill your company with memorable people. How are you making sure that you’re filling your organization with the right people? And how much are you willing to pay to find out?” In case you’re keeping score at home, roughly 2-3% of trainees have taken the offer since it was rolled out.

YouTube video on 'The Offer' -

Thinking inside the Box @Reebok

#4 - Reebok

Some organizations have a company gym. Others may subsidize or pay for gym fees. Reebok took this to the next level in 2010 by converting a brick warehouse at Reebok’s headquarters into an employee exclusive CrossFit “box’’ or workout center, with six coaches and extensive equipment [named CrossFit One]. About 425 employees at Reebok are taking part in Canton. This benefit reinforces the company’s new mission: to get consumers moving. Participants lost over 4,000 pounds collectively during 2011.

YouTube video on CrossFit One:

Empowering Employees via Education @ColliersIntl

#5 - Colliers International

"When we launched Colliers University (CU) in 2002, it was truly a novel concept within the industry. Built on the premise that learning is a competitive advantage, CU has grown to include more than 1,000 classes and has helped accelerate the professional and personal success of more than 7,000 Colliers professionals. The curriculum offers a 360-degree approach to learning with courses in commercial real estate, business and personal development. CU is not only a culture driver for the company internally; it is an outwardly competitive recruitment tool, raising the bar in terms of the expertise of our professionals. This expertise directly benefits our clients and their success through better results and memorable experiences. "


YouTube video:

On the 7th year . . . Sabbatical @Kimpton

#6 - Kimpton

Kimpton is in the business of pampering guests, and it doesn’t skimp on its staff, either. The San Francisco-based operator of 55 luxury boutique hotels—including three in Manhattan—provides one-month paid sabbaticals to managers and executive chefs who have been with the company for seven years. A mentoring program pairs senior-level managers with up-and-coming managers for one year; this year, the program emphasized developing minority leaders.


YouTube video on being part of the Fortune 100 Best Places to Work:

The Community 40 @umpquabank

#7 - Umpqua Bank

Taken from a comment by employee Heather Primeaux.

We are given and encouraged to use 40 hours of paid time each year to volunteer (which I can and do use to volunteer at my kids' schools and for field trips).


YouTube video on Umpqua Bank:

100% health care plan @rackspace

#8 - Rackspace

Keeping Premiums to Zero

Employees -- or "rackers" -- help companies fix technology problems by giving "fanatical support." The company pays 100% of the employees health care premiums.

YouTube video on Rackspace: Fanatical about Support


The stork is covered @AlstonBirdLLP

The stork is covered @AlstonBirdLLP

#9 - Alston & Bird

The law firm builds a $25,000 fertility benefit into employees' health plans. The allowance includes coverage for treatments from in-vitro fertilization to less traditional options like acupuncture.


Helping with Travel in a Time of Need @NuStarEnergyLP

Helping with Travel in a Time of Need @NuStarEnergyLP

#10 - NuStar

As part of its employee support network, the fast-growing energy company makes the corporate jet available in times of crisis. In 2010, when an employee working on a construction project in the Caribbean needed medical attention for a pre-existing ailment, NuStar jetted him back to the states to see his personal physician. The company also dispatches the plane when needed to send employees to support a coworker in need -- flying employees from headquarters, say, to support a colleague in another location who had a death in the family.


Serving those who serve @SqueezeIn

Serving those who serve @SqueezeIn

#11 - Squeeze In

Hi Stan!

My name is Shila Morris and I am one of the owners of the Squeeze In, along with my husband Chad, and parents Gary and Misty Young. Squeeze In is 3 (soon to be 4) breakfast lunch restaurants in Truckee California, and Reno Nevada. We very much believe in the power of laigniappe and focus most of our attention on giving the 'wow' experience to both our guests, and our associates.

I think a good example of how we offer 'green goldfish' to our associates is that we are closed only 2 days a year. Thanksgiving and Christmas. However on Thanksgiving, we open the doors to one of our locations and have an exclusive employee thanksgiving breakfast for not only our staff, but their friends and family as well. They can come in, bring whoever they want, and relax while we the owners serve up their drinks (lots of mimosas and bloody marys), cook their breakfasts, and clean up their mess, while they get to enjoy a totally free, totally private event. Its a way for us to show them that we know how hard they work, and what better day to show appreciation and thanks. Its a very well recieved event, and something everyone looks forward too.
Good luck on your quest and feel free to check out our website to find out more about our family and business.

Shila Morris


Professional Development by the Book(s) @SqueezeIn

Professional Development by the Book(s) @SqueezeIn

#12 - Squeeze In

Stan, thank you again for the work you're developing to help small businesses! You're making a difference!

In our small restaurant company, the Squeeze In, we have four General Managers, and there's a tremendous amount of work on them daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. They rise to meet the demands of managing people, budgets, assuring an excellent guest and associate experience, scheduling, ordering, safety, cleanliness -- all the stuff restaurant managers do.

We've asked them to go above and beyond and have rewarded them handsomely to do so: For six months, each manager was given a book to read (most were selected from NYT Best Seller management / leadership business books) and was asked to do a book report. We provided a question set to answer and a section for open ended comments. This leadership reading was done on their own time and was purely optional, but every manager participated willingly. Yes, we rewarded them: Each manager received a $50 bill for turning in their comprehensive book report on time and a special bonus for completing all 6 reports.

Each manager read all 6 books, turned in their reports on time and each of them received an iPad2 at a ceremony recognizing their achievement and effort. Company owners also read each of the books (and others) during the six-month period, which gave us all common language and was useful as we developed new initiatives and programs during a period of company growth and expansion.

The book reports themselves provided much topic development and workshop material for our twice annual General Manager retreats and have given us new insight to each of our individual managers. Don't think we could have gained such deep and meaningful insight -- not to mention the inculcation of valuable leadership ideas and skills -- without such a structured approach.


Row, Row, ROWE your Office @BestBuy

#13 - Best Buy's Results Only Workplace Environment

At most companies, going AWOL during daylight hours would be grounds for a pink slip. Not at Best Buy. The nation's leading electronics retailer has embarked on a radical--if risky--experiment to transform a culture once known for killer hours and herd-riding bosses. The endeavor, called ROWE, for "results-only work environment," seeks to demolish decades-old business dogma that equates physical presence with productivity. The goal at Best Buy is to judge performance on output instead of hours.

Hence workers pulling into the company's amenity-packed headquarters at 2 p.m. aren't considered late. Nor are those pulling out at 2 p.m. seen as leaving early. There are no schedules. No mandatory meetings. No impression-management hustles. Work is no longer a place where you go, but something you do.


YouTube video by the U. of Minnesota:

Partnering for Performance @OriginalWD40

#14 - WD-40

President/CEO Garry Ridge and Ken Blanchard reveal exactly how WD-40 is "Partnering for Performance"

Watch video here:


The Coasters @JNJStories

The Coasters @JNJStories

#15 - Johnson & Johnson

While this seems small, at least to me, it has meaning……

When I worked for Johnson & Johnson, we were encouraged to contribute to the United Way. When we did, we were given coasters for our desk. Yes, it's small. But the coasters were substantial. Heavy. Brass. With insignias. Very nice.

Twenty years later I still have the coaster and use it. When I do, it often reminds me of the importance to contribute to the community.

Well, that's my story.

Best regards,

Barry Curewitz….
accelerates revenue growth by conceptualizing and launching new offerings and marketing plans.

O to the i-Pad @O_Magazine

Sweet #16 - Oprah Magazine

Submitted by Bryan Welfel

Hey Stan,

It’s great to hear there is more to come! I followed the progress of the Purple Goldfish project closely and am starting in on the book this weekend. As for the Green Goldfish project, I think I have one for you…

My close friend told me about her friend’s first week working at Oprah’s magazine. In addition to being an awesome gig, she got a $10,000 check and an iPad on her second day there. I first assumed that it was a good sign on bonus; however, she explained that it was not. Rather, it was just incredible timing; it was a onetime thank you gift Oprah gave to all the staff despite how long they have been with the company.

This story makes me wonder about a few things:
- TIMING OF REWARDS: Is it better to have consistency in rewarding staff for their efforts or does a reward given at a random time keep employees on their toes in a positive way?
- DIFFERENT EFFORT LEVELS: The gift was explained as a reward for doing great work; however, for someone why should an employee that was there for a single day of training get the same reward as one who was there from the beginning? Does this seemingly unfair reward cause ill feelings among employees?
- THOSE THAT JUST MISSED IT: Did this adversely affect employees that were hired shortly after?

YouTube video:

Cruising @NewBelgium

#17 - New Belgium Brewery

Submitted by Owen Clark. This is a little outside the box, but New Belgium gives their employees a free cruiser bike on their one year-anniversary with the company. The bike is similar to the one on the cover of the brewery’s flagship beer Fat Tire. The bikes have developed kind of a cult following in Colorado, fostering the image of New Belgium as a hip sustainable company and one of the coolest places to work in the state.

YouTube video showcasing the Cruiser:

A Wellness Mobile @StewLeonards

#18 - Stew Leonard’s

Submitted by Jack Campisi

As part of an on-going commitment to preventive healthcare, Stew Leonard’s will launch a pilot program tomorrow offering on-site physicals for Team Members at the Norwalk store. The Stew Leonard’s “Wellness Mobile” will be led by Dr. Igal Staw, a local Norwalk physician who has served the community for more than 30 years.

“Stew Leonard’s surveyed our Team Members and we found that a lack of time and not having a trusted doctor locally kept many from getting their yearly physicals,” said Jill Leonard Tavello, Executive VP of Culture and Communications at Stew Leonard’s. “By bringing Dr. Staw directly to our store here in Norwalk, we hope to keep our Team Members healthy and reinforce the importance of preventive care.”

On June 3, the first eight Team Members will report to the Wellness Mobile, located in a private trailer behind the store, for blood work, an EKG, and preliminary paperwork with a staff member of Dr. Staw’s office. On June 7 and 8, Dr. Staw will perform the physicals as well as take time to meet with each Team Member regarding their healthcare-related questions. If the Wellness Mobile is a success in Norwalk, Stew Leonard’s plans to expand the program to their other stores in Yonkers, N.Y. and Danbury and Newington, Conn.

“Recent research shows that well over 40% of premature deaths in the United States can be attributed to lifestyle choices,” said Dr. Staw. “My work at Stew’s Wellness Mobile will of course focus on early detection of treatable medical conditions, but the real emphasis will be on assessing each Team Member’s risk for chronic disease and how they can lower that risk through smart, healthy choices in their everyday lives.”

The Wellness Mobile is just the latest example of how Stew Leonard’s has taken an active approach to preventive health care for their more than 2,500 Team Members. On-site cholesterol and blood pressure screenings, mammograms, and flu shots are offered throughout year and discounts on weight loss programs, smoking cessation aids, and fitness center memberships are also provided to both full and part-time Team Members. Additionally, between now and August 31, Stew Leonard’s will give Team Members $500 in Benefit Bucks – or money towards their deductible – to encourage them to visit their doctor for their annual check-up.

YouTube video: 10 years of being on the Fortune 100 Best Places to Work:


Paid . . . paid vacation @FullContactAPI

Paid . . . paid vacation @FullContactAPI

#19 - FullContact API

Taken from a post from ABC News on Yahoo news:

The CEO of Denver-based internet start-up FullContact API said in a market that is competitive for top talent, he wants to keep his employees happy and refreshed.
The flip-flop wearing founder offers his employees $7,500 for what he calls "paid, paid vacation," however there are rules.
"One, you actually have to take a vacation to get the money," Lorang said. "Two, you have to disconnect from work, so that means no calls, no emails, no tweets, no work of any kind."
Even Lorang admitted he has trouble following his rules.
"I suck at it," he said.
A picture of the CEO and his fiancee Sarah at Egypt's great pyramids captured Lorang checking his email.
Not surprisingly, employees said they loved having the company pick up the tab for their vacations.
"It's a real break for your brain," said Robbie Jack, a FullContact API employee. "You come back refreshed and reinvigorated and more excited about the stuff you were working on when you left."
If the idea of having a boss pick up the tab for a dream vacation is tantalizing, good news: Lorang is hiring.
"We're probably going to hire about 12 folks in the next six months," he said.

Full post here:


Newborn Bonus @facebook

Newborn Bonus @facebook

#20 - Facebook

FB gives employees $4,500 when they have a baby. A little bonus for a new addition.


The power of the pen @CampbellSoupCo

The power of the pen @CampbellSoupCo

#21 - Campbell Soup Company

Taken from a post at HBR by Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell Soup Company:

In Doug's words:
"Look for opportunities to celebrate. My executive assistants and I spend a good 30 to 60 minutes a day scanning my mail and our internal website looking for news of people who have made a difference at Campbell's. For example, as of this writing I just learned about a woman named Patti who just got promoted in our customer service area, so I made a note to congratulate her.

Get out your pen. Believe it or not, I have sent roughly 30,000 handwritten notes to employees like Patti over the last decade, from maintenance people to senior executives. I let them know that I am personally paying attention and celebrating their accomplishments. (I send handwritten notes too because well over half of our associates don't use a computer). I also jump on any opportunities to write to people who partner with our company any time I meet with them. It's the least you can do for people who do things to help your company and industry. On the face of it, writing handwritten notes may seem like a waste of time. But in my experience, they build goodwill and lead to higher productivity.

Full post here:


Balancing work within life @MARS_Chocolate

Balancing work within life @MARS_Chocolate

#22 - Mars

Taken from a PDF from Mars called The Five Principles:

The Mutuality Principle applies equally to all parts of our business.

Associates are valued as individuals for their talent and resourcefulness, and are rewarded fairly for their results. Because we recognize that we all have
different needs depending on our stage of life, we accept that associates may choose work style or career options that represent their own most appropriate balance of work within life.

Full PDF here:


Hand tempered chocolate pralines at Maison de Macarty

Hand tempered chocolate pralines at Maison de Macarty

#23 - Maison de Macarty

From a tweet by @cowboychef from Maison de Macarty:

“Hand tempering some more chocolate today and making some pralines for the staff at The Joint..Lagniappe works both ways, fellas!!! xo”


Lending a helping hand @ATT

Lending a helping hand @ATT

#24 - AT&T

Colleagues supporting and helping each other out:

Taken from a tweet by @diiwin of AT&T

“Drove 13 miles just to drop off a customers work badge off so he wouldn’t have to come back. Now that’s some lagniappe right there ”

Breakfast Tacos and Margaritas @WeberShandwick

#25 - Weber Shandwick

Submitted by Keith Green and taken from a post by Mihaela Lica Butler:

Weber Shandwick Dallas is this year’s best place to work, according to the Dallas Business Journal. The company won the recognition after an independent survey of Weber Shandwick Dallas employees covering topics such as personal growth, professional opportunities and employee recognition.

Weber Shandwick provides employees in its Dallas office with numerous benefits, including breakfast tacos, margaritas (hopefully not for breakfast) and Putt Putt tournaments. There is also a health program that reimburses employees who invest in health and wellness activities (if they still manage to go on after all those margaritas). Last but not least, employees are offered opportunities to pursue professional goals through additional paid days off and tuition reimbursement.

Full post at:

  • Stan Phelps is a Forbes Contributor, IBM Futurist, and TEDx Speaker. His keynotes and workshops offered at focus on how to create meaningful differentiation to win the hearts of both employees and customers. He’s the best-selling author of: Purple Goldfish -12 Ways to Win Customers and Influence Word of Mouth, Green Goldfish - Beyond Dollars: 15 Ways to Drive Employee Engagement, Golden Goldfish - The Vital Few, Blue Goldfish - Using Technology, Data, and Analytics to Drive Both Profits and Prophets, Purple Goldfish Service Edition - The 12 Ways Hotels, Restaurants and Airlines Win the Right Customers, and Red Goldfish - Motivating Sales & Loyalty With Shared Passion and Purpose. Connect with me at or +1.919.360.4702.

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