Have you felt crabby this week? It might’ve been because you didn’t nourish your lobster brain.
Let me explain.
In nature, when a lobster wins a battle, its brain and claws actually increase in physical size. This victory causes their bodies to release endorphins that trigger this biological change.
For lobsters, celebrating their wins means celebrating growth—literally.
That’s why, at Marketwake, we remember to nourish our “lobster brains” by celebrating our wins, too.
The celebratory nature of our agency has always been part of the company culture, but I was curious: Where did it all begin? And how does our CEO, Brooke MacLean, know so much about lobsters?
To find out, I sat down with Brooke to ask her some questions. In return, I received some incredibly insightful (and unexpected) answers as to why Marketwake is big on celebrating (like, really big).
We covered everything from self-confidence to the importance of international travel for inspiration, so read on to learn more from our fearless leader.
“When you think about the finale of a sports season, you think about it as the end of the road. But what most people don’t think about is the dozens of practices and all of the games before that [final one] where they get to practice their craft and celebrate those small victories that all lead up to the ultimate goal. So they’ve really gotten to celebrate their effort…in the whole process along the way. And each of these small victories is a [necessary part of] the process to win in the final game.
“But when you look at corporate life, you don’t have those milestones. You don’t have those games every week, you don’t have this moment in time where you know you’re going to win and you get to celebrate. You just grind. You answer emails, you come in, clock in, and clock out. You’re in this hamster wheel of doing and you don’t get a reprieve of knowing whether you’re doing a good job or not. So [Marketwake’s emphasis on] celebrating wins is to create these small game moments where we get to celebrate a win.”
“Sometimes it’s hard to know what good work looks like unless it’s pointed out. So that’s another aspect of celebrating wins: the ability to be able to take a moment and say something is good. Otherwise, you’re only noticing what bad looks like. And if you only point out what bad looks like, you end up facing it, orienting towards it, and it becomes somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy. But if you point out the good, then people will orient themselves towards that and instead emulate things that went right.”
“It’s not a linear or cyclical process, really. It’s in the moment; it’s more of a feeling you have. It’s also about being empathetic and sensitive (in a sensory way) to someone’s state. Our job isn’t just to walk around and motivate people all day long. You have to have some intrinsic drive in order to work well here. But to see when someone puts their all into something [and it doesn’t go as planned], or maybe notice that they’re having a down day, or seeing that they tried something and it failed… Using celebration in those moments is important to restore someone else’s confidence by saying you got this, you’re getting in your own head, leave it behind you. You can’t be afraid to say you know what, good or bad, we are going to put it behind us and focus on the future.”
“Several, actually. But one stands out:
In the animal kingdom, it’s very common for animals to fight for dominance. Lobsters in particular are very unique in the way that they fight for dominance. Two males fight for dominance and, as you might assume, one goes away the winner of the fight and one is the loser. Nothing too out of the ordinary. However, what happens with lobsters is that the physiological impact of a win or loss ends up influencing the trajectory of the rest of their lives. When a lobster wins, their brain and claws actually increase a little bit in physical size, because their bodies release endorphins because they just won. We call this the ‘lobster brain’.
So these winning lobsters go out and they face their next fight literally bigger and stronger than they were before only because they won their last fight. Unfortunately, the lobster that loses experiences the opposite: Their brain and claws shrink just a little bit, but enough so that it impacts their ability to win their next fight. So lobsters end up on this self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts of continuing to lose or win depending on their very first fight.
And what I realized from this story is that humans can behave in a very similar way. So that got me thinking: What can a celebration of a win really do for someone’s confidence? If you are celebrated for doing small things well, will you go into your next and bigger tasks and have a higher rate of success because of that positive reinforcement? And it turns out, that’s exactly the kind of effect it has. So really what we’re doing when we celebrate wins is just helping our people to grow their lobster brains. We want to help everyone go into the next battle, the next blog, the next email, ad build, what have you, equipped with tools that are going to help them do the best they can, again and again.”
“We put a piece of ourselves into our work, whether it’s a singular email design or a huge web build. And I want everyone here to be proud of what they create because it’s a piece of themselves going out into the world, and that’s a really big deal. That’s not a small thing. You are creating something that others will experience, and be influenced by, and that’s always something worth appreciating with some celebration.”
“I’ll be honest: Being in professional services is a hard, thankless job. It really is. Clients don’t really care. They’re not going to necessarily shout us out and thank us, and they’ll probably take credit for our work, all of which is totally fine. But that’s why internal recognition of our work is so important; we need to give each other that recognition instead of expecting our clients to fill those gaps for us. It's the job of Marketwake’s culture to fill that gap for us.”
“Celebrating is integral to Marketwake’s success and personality as a company because we like to have fun. What is work without a little bit of fun in it? I don’t believe that work-life balance is real, so then why not reframe it and ask: What does work-life integration look like? It means who you are at work matches very closely with who you are at home, and all of that is linked in a very powerful way. So celebrating wins is really just a fun, authentic way to recognize the growth of an individual at Marketwake.”
“Travel to me is so much bigger than just getting to see a place. It is a memory that will literally stay with you for the rest of your life. When you ask someone to recount some of the best memories they’ve ever made, they are often travel-oriented in some way, where someone has experienced something they’ve never experienced before. So how can we bring those same good memories of new experiences, ideas, and views, back into something that can be repetitive, while also creating memories that will last the rest of our lives? That’s travel.
“Travel involves getting out of your everyday and your comfort zones, and realizing you can take risks and collaborate with other people. In Belize, for example, we had to get onto these really tiny planes to get from island to island, and some people were terrified at first. But in the end, it became like our bus; we all just hopped right on, no issue at all.
“So seeing in just 3 or 4 days how people’s minds changed about the planes, the idea was that when we returned maybe they’ll take that mindset back with them. Maybe they’ll think, huh, maybe it’s okay to test myself here too. The same lessons you learn traveling can apply to your every day.”
“And that encouragement to constantly venture into the new is something always worth celebrating. I’ll always celebrate someone’s willingness to give something a shot because what they can learn, we can learn, and I can learn from that could have astronomical impacts on the business, and I don’t want anyone to ever feel like they don't have the ability to take a shot that might have that kind of far-reaching impact.”
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