Stands for “Career Limited Move.”
Now you get it — and yes, we’ve all seen them. About 15 years ago, my consulting firm CDI created “Clammy Awards,” celebrating those moments when employees do something basically harmless that is worth laughing about. The Partners decided that those stories would be celebrated in all-staff meetings as a way to laugh at ourselves, in a world of fast-paced, high-pressure times. It also leveled the proverbial playing field, because Clammies were everywhere, from the most seasoned executive to the first-year Associate. I loved it. And as I took on bigger and bigger roles, I happily stole the idea and took it with me to new organizations.
Still puzzled? Here’s an example.
A client dinner with a very important senior client. With my fellow partner were a couple of the team members. One of the Associates was happily diving into the food, and perhaps was a bit too focused on the culinary options and missed the conversations. He grabbed a wheat roll from the breadbasket, and being polite, passed the basket to the client and said “bread”? Of course, had he been listening, he would have heard the Client just announce that he was incredibly allergic to wheat products, resulting in breathing problems, and he had to be careful. The timing could not have been better.
Harmless, but hilarious. And the entire firm cracked up when that story was told and the Associate got the Clammy Award.
At my last place of employment, I implemented the Clammies when I took over the President’s role, and in my current role, we’ve done the same thing. I love the fact that senior people are frequently highlighted — it keeps everybody laughing, and is a great statement for the newer employees that even, for example, the SVP of Strategy makes mistakes — like sending an invoice to the wrong “Ed” — mis-labeling the email address and sending it to a client, rather than the finance guy internally.
Some of my favorites from over the years you ask?
- The senior marketing lead who in his attempt to placate a rather boisterous client, agreed to join the group on the dance floor. When the client turned around and asked to be spanked, we’re left with a fascinating “Clammy Moment.”
- The senior associate out to dinner with his boss, that person’s boss, and that person’s boss (as in, 4 levels around the table), decides to order the special that the waiter announced, without asking the price. What came was a large plate priced at $75 while all the other dinners were in the $15-$20 range. Needless to say, some good ribbing, and lots of abuse.
- You want one of mine? Ok. Standing in front of the Executive Committee at a major client, making hugely important M&A recommendations out of one of our consulting gigs at CDI, I was trying to explain how the major paper networks were branching out into the suburbs to get deeper into local content. So I tried to say “and they are spreading their tentacles into the local markets.” But I didn’t say that — I said “and they are spreading their testicles into the local markets.” Yes, I do turn red. Bright red. At least I got the CEO and his top Executives to fall off their chairs laughing. Yup, a Clammy for Engler. And don’t ask how testicles spread — just leave it alone.
- My all-time favorite, you ask? Leaving the GM Design Center in a caravan of two cars racing to the airport in Detroit. Right before the lead car’s eyes, a massive accident unfurls, with cars veering across the highway and smashing into the barrier. The associate in the front seat leans to the driver and says he needs to call the folks in the other car to make sure they’re ok. He dials the first name on the list, the SVP (his boss). Gets voicemail and leaves the message “Dude. Did you guys avoid that accident? Are you ok? It looked awful.” A race to the airport, drop off the car, race to the plane, the door closes, and all is fine. Until the SVP gets off the plane in Boston and turns on his phone — to get 5 hysterical messages from his wife wondering if he’s ok and where is he? Turns out that voicemail was left on the home phone by mistake, not the cellphone. Oops — serious Clammy. (In fact, the SVP’s wife wanted one better — “fire that guy now!” she bellowed, methinks only partially joking.)
So it was last week that we had a new one. My admin had been working on a dinner meeting with one of my senior clients, and apparently was sharing my eating preferences (like, don’t take me to a sushi place — ever) over the phone to my client’s assistant. I guess it was shared loudly enough that one of our devilish creatives heard it and thought it was funny — and decided to share “Glenn’s Culinary Quirks” with the agency. Next time I saw her I commented on her enthusiasm over the dinner plans, and she said “you never know what you’ll overhear. After we heard about your dining preferences, we started talking about the real definition of a douche-bag.”
One of her co-workers quickly and bravely jumped in to try to help, saying that “whoa, those were two completely disconnected topics. The second one had nothing to do with you.”
As I looked back at the original culprit who was turning that crimson shade of red, I heard several people gleefully say “CLAMMY” followed by a lot of laughter.
There. It’s working.
I'm Glenn Engler, the CEO of Digital Influence Group, a full-service digital agency with social at its core. Husband, father, sports junkie.
- Glennengler: Meet the peeps. Here's intern extraordinaire, @Alex_Horvitz. Gatsby, Reese's, and Flying. Seriously. http://t.co/MJJ96QxZ4h 16 hours ago
- Glennengler: Science & Tech, meet Liberal Arts. Good pov via @geoffreyamoore #education #talent http://t.co/GZaWXdjBtY 16 hours ago
- Glennengler: @Alex_Horvitz @diginfgrp We'll file that under #win 2013/05/20
- Glennengler: Welcome @Alex_Horvitz to @diginfgrp. We're psyched to have you for the Summer. @TuftsUniversity keeps churning out good ones, huh? 2013/05/20