The Magical Marvel of a Birthday at Nebo

baby crying on birthday

We talk a lot about our culture here. (I mean seriously a lot.) But one small, unusual — yet meaningful — thing we do here is around birthdays.

Every Friday, we have an all-agency meeting at 2:30, also known as Beer Friday. The fact we have it every Friday — no matter what is happening — in and of itself is unique to any agency I’ve ever been at. We cover the normal stuff, like agency news, account updates, hirings or folks leaving and so-called “kudos” for a job well done. But my point to this post (at least, I think I have one) regards birthdays.

See, like most every agency, we celebrate folks who have had birthdays that week. And we do the awkward thing where we call them up in front of everyone and have 85 or so people sing to them. It is, sadly, mostly out of tune. (When Brian has his way, the singing is kicked off by Google Home.)  

But we also have a birthday tradition that seems uniquely, quirkily, well, Nebo.

If it is your birthday, then to celebrate it, you can have whatever food you want. And I mean whatever.

Obviously, most folks go for the typical birthday cake option. And with that, we make it happen.

You want carrot cake? We’ll get you an amazing one. Red velvet? No problem. And for cakes, we have a couple of go-to, kick-ass bakeries that we rely on, like Metrotainment. Some folks get creative. They don’t just want a cake — they want THE cake. Like the super-fancy key lime pie we had shipped in from Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe in March.

We’re also accommodating. We’ve done vegetarian and/or vegan. We’ve done lactose free. We’ve done gluten free. We’ve also done all of the above at once. And thanks to Dulce Vegan, it was amazingly good.

For folks who don’t like cake, we’ve brought in fruit tarts from Alon’s. And the cookies from Insomnia are always a hit. We’ve also done the requisite ice-cream cakes and cookie cakes, of course.

I mean seriously, it’s like the kid’s birthday party of your dreams come to life.

From here, things start to get, let’s just say a tad odd.

See, not everyone has a sweet tooth. Some folks like savory. This has led down some interesting paths. The meat and cheese trays from Star Provisions were like something from a dream. And I was a huge fan of the ridiculous sushi spread from 8 Sushi.

Thanks to multiple birthdays in the same week, sometimes you get odd pairings, like the assorted baked goods for one person coupled with cheese dip and guac for another (and some alcohol thrown in for good measure).

Other people have gone down a different path and wanted breakfast for their treat. One person (possibly Nebo cofounder Adam Harrell) has an enduring passion for chicken biscuits. But not just any chicken biscuits — Bojangles Cajun chicken biscuits. So he got a spread worthy of his love.

I personally embraced my roots and went for bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese.

And as you can see, you can have whatever you want, BUT we are gonna shove a candle in it.

One thing worth clarifying: this isn’t just for the birthday boy or girl. We buy enough for everyone to enjoy. So we aren’t talking a little cake. We’re talking a big ol’ cake or possibly two. It’s pretty decadent and also super fun and silly.

And it’s a great way to make each and every person here feel special and to give them a way to share the things that make them happy with everyone who works here.

So far at least, no one has “abused the system” and asked for something too utterly ridiculous. And we do have a budget limit, but we try not to talk about it.

It’s like most things at Nebo. We work under the assumption that everyone who works here is an adult and is working toward the greater good. So we treat them accordingly and expect them to do the same toward everyone they work with. The same goes for our unlimited vacation days. In 13 years, we’ve only ever had one person push it too far. Other than that, people get their work done and take time off as they need it.  

So happy birthday to each of us, and it’s like Miss Antoinette once kind of said, “Let them eat gluten-free chocolate cake.”

Written by Todd Slutzky on June 8, 2017


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Written by
Todd Slutzky