The thing about the “Thing”

The “Thing.”

No, it isn’t the title of a scary movie. And no, it isn’t an unknown being that emerges from the swampy wetlands one cold night in October. (Though the thought of both produce far less anxiety than what the “Thing” actually is, particularly for a new employee like me).

So what is it then? Apparently the “Thing” is a holiday contest, one that dates back 20 years to the founding of The Castle Group, involving a random object that changes from year to year. To properly celebrate our 20th anniversary, Castle Spirit Week had to include a special edition of The “Thing”.

The rules? Well, there are no rules.

This year’s object – errr – “Thing?” A large plastic megaphone, of course. Fitting, particularly given our firm’s theme for 2016 – AMPLIFY.

MegaphoneThat’s all I knew coming into this exercise. So, in my typical analytical approach (some might say over-analytical approach), I obsessed about what in the world I should do with a large plastic megaphone that wouldn’t make me look like I either 1) didn’t put any effort into it, or 2) put too much effort into it. There was also the added pressure of being the “new guy.”

Fast forward to the day of the “Thing.”

It quickly became evident as I watched my colleagues file into the conference room that the thing about the “Thing” is that it is not nearly as much about the tangible object as much as it is about creativity and personal expression.

I couldn’t have had a better introduction to the team or to the environment at Castle.

Megaphones2My colleagues created everything from computer animations to lamps to old record players with their “Thing.” And the presentations were even better. There were speeches. There was music. There were poems. There were even references to fairy tale characters.

But what really shined through in each instance was the way each person’s mind worked. Each member of the team had a different approach, perspective, and interpretation of what this large cylindrical cone could be.

That’s when it struck me – taking a seemingly single-purpose “thing” like a megaphone and amplifying it into something much larger, greater, or stronger is exactly how a firm like ours attacks a project. We create meaningful experiences, meaningful relationships, and meaningful content, often from scratch and always mindful of the mission.

It’s no coincidence, then, that the Castle team is comprised of creators, thinkers, and writers. A collection of people like us just can’t help but amplify everything we touch.

By now I’m sure you’re wondering what I did with my “Thing.”

Well, I debated spray-painting it neon orange and simply turning it into a parking cone. I also thought about creating a giant candy corn with yellow, orange, and white construction paper. Either approach would have sufficed.

In the end, however, I decided to let my daughter decorate the megaphone. Two-and-a-half-year-olds love stickers, stamps, and markers. Plus, it was a fun art project that she and I had the opportunity to work on together. But we only decorated the inside.

Megaphone Decorated
My first attempt at the “Thing.” I learned that a megaphone amplifies so much more than sound.

Why only the inside? I’m glad you asked. (She asked the same question, as did my colleagues).

Because I believe that more often than not the loudest voices, the best direction, and the most thoughtful messages come from behind the scenes.

That’s why, as crazy as it may sound, this year’s “Thing” – a megaphone – ended up being the perfect canvas for a person like me, someone who quietly works in the background on situations that are often very loud and very visible.

At the same time, it was also the perfect canvas for everyone else in the room to express themselves and their personalities.

And that’s the thing that is so special about the “Thing.”

The Castle Group, Senior Vice President, Crisis Communications, Philip T. Hauserman
Written By: Philip Hauserman


Outdoors of the Castle Group office