April Fool’s Day Hall of Fame Nominee

Posted 04.01.2011

I live in fear of April Fool’s day because I am married to one of the all time great April Fool’s joke perpetrators. 

Fordtempo Early in our marriage, I worked at a bank about 50 miles from our house. Every day, I parked my Ford Tempo (You don’t see many of those on the road anymore. There’s a reason for that.) in roughly the same spot on the fourth floor of the parking garage across the street from the bank.  At the end of the afternoon one day, I walked back over to the garage to get in the Tempo for the ride home.  It wasn’t on the fourth floor.  “That’s weird,” I thought, “I must have parked it on the third floor for some reason today.”  Walked down to the third floor.  No Tempo.  Walked back up to the fourth floor to double check.  No Tempo.  Then down to the second floor.  Then up to the sixth and seventh floors of the garage.  No Tempo.  After about twenty five minutes of walking and searching up and down the floors of the garage, I realized the unfathomable.  Someone had stolen my Ford Tempo!  A Ford Tempo!?!

Finally, I walked down to the first floor to the parking attendant’s booth and said, “I think someone has stolen my car.”  She said, “Are you Scott Eblin?”  I said, “Yes, but how do you know my name?”  She smiled sheepishly and said, “I have something for you,” and then handed me an envelope and a single red rose.  I opened the envelope and the card inside said, “I love you.  Look on the roof.  Happy April Fool’s Day! – Diane”  A few minutes later, I was on the roof of the parking garage and there, sitting by itself because nobody ever parked on the roof, was my Ford Tempo. 

Armed with an extra set of car keys and two little boys in car seats, Diane had driven 100 miles round trip to play that joke on me. She’s had other good ones over the years but that one raised the bar so high that every April Fool’s Day since my spider senses are on high alert for what she might do to me.

So, you’re asking, what’s the leadership angle on this? Here’s the point. If you do something memorable enough for your team, it can pay dividends for years to come. You play a role in creating memories that they’ll talk about with each other for the rest of their careers. You build loyalty through shared experience. You create a sense of expectation about what could happen next.  The goal is to create experiences that lead to people starting conversations with the phrase, “Remember the time when…”  As I wrote a few months ago here, it’s a lot like what former James Madison University president Ron Carrier used to do for his students on campus. What you do to create memories doesn’t have to be as complicated (or as evil) as moving somebody’s car to the roof. Simple, but creative and remarkable acts of service work well too. (I hope you’re reading this Diane.)

What remarkable thing did a boss do for your team that you’re still talking about today? Oh, and by the way, what’s the best April Fool’s joke that someone ever played on you or you played on someone else?