Hey, I’m Danny Mahoney and I just started working for Brand Fuel a few weeks ago.

After joining, I was incredibly lucky to find out that there were opportunities beyond work that would immerse me into a host of different, cultural, and just downright fun activities alongside new colleagues. In the first week, I realized I had the fortune of getting to really know my new co-workers through a volunteer activity with The Great Raleigh Clean Up where we cleaned up the business neighborhood (Glenwood South) near our office during work hours. This provided a fantastic way to just jump right in and immediately start building some friendships across teams beyond my own.

And then came more opportunities to connect. It became abundantly clear that just by showing up with a willingness to participate in company activities, I could be a part of providing colleagues and customers a chance to witness what an organization is truly made of, which is what compelled me to write this.

After the neighborhood cleanup, I found myself immersed in activities like:

  • An in-depth tour with Sam Ratto, owner of Videri Chocolate Factory through Brand Fuel’s “Splits” Program where we support local businesses.
  • We rocked out at The Pour House with one of my favorite bands, Dr. Bacon, with co-workers.
  • And we even volunteered and then enjoyed a benefit concert from a block of front-row seats the company purchased for our team at Band Together’s sold-out fundraising event.

I now realize serendipity came together for me. Brand Fuel doubled in size since the pandemic so there were job openings. It’s close in proximity to my home. And there are growth opportunities. Most importantly, the organization recently earned its B Corp Certification, which is important to my values. I decided to capitalize on mental time away from the screen through these activities. It was super appreciated that my new employer was willing to invest time and resources to allow me to help my local community or pay for entertaining experiences meant to be shared with co-workers – while simultaneously boosting responsible and local businesses.

Yet, there is one stand-out moment amidst all of this “new kid” at work chatter. With my early October start date and an understanding of the company’s 24-year tradition of their most creative Halloween contest at The Waffle House (yes, you read that right), I began scheming on my costume with hopes that it would be one of the first opportunities for me to make a lighthearted company-wide impression.

To do this – I utilized an old college trick when a friend and I were satirical versions of each other. However, this go around, I needed some extra OOMPH. I chose to be our Co-President/Owner, or rather, “Danny being Danny.”  I knew there was a possibility my mimicking costume could be met with contempt and regret. Truly, my job could have been on the line.

But I went for it, trying to jump into (other) Danny’s time machine, envisioning my future, coupled with a way to truly highlight my company commitment to Brand Fuel’s 24 storied Halloween contest. How did I do it? I shaved a bald spot on my head to mirror Danny Rosin the co-owners.

Fortunately, it was very well-received by employees and customers alike, leading to fantastic engagement, a delicious bowl of bacon hashbrowns at Waffle House and the precarious effort garnered me first place for “Most Creative Costume” as voted by Brand Fuel followers on social media. A small bonus was that I found out that my girlfriend has proper fade bald spot-shaving skills. I also get to shriek, “TWINSIES” whenever I see the “other” Danny, who took the effort in great spirits, smiling large when he saw it in person.

My simple but powerful takeaway and advice for new employees anywhere is to jump right into any new environment, get involved and invested and be willing to risk failure and alienation at the expense of standing out a bit. Discretional company outings that have been invested in are one of the first places that you can show ambition, intent, and even your personality to your colleagues and superiors. Ultimately, building and investing in these new relationships and experiences will foster positive connection, stronger culture and deliver a little fun at work.

P.S. I strongly recommend making sure you have a well-fitting hat before shaving a bald spot in your own head. I’ve got another 3 weeks to get back to “normal.”