Cake Projects at Work

I prefer the way I feel while I eat cake over the way I feel after I eat cake. – Jim Gaffigan

The Party Invite

You hear rumors about a ‘big’ initiative that is going to be launched soon.  A project team of high-performers from across the organization will be assembled, led by a senior-level leader.  This could be just the project you need to show your skills and get promoted!  You hear a ‘ping’ and there it is:  the calendar invite from the leader of the strategy team, inviting you to participate!  About five minutes later, your manager stops by, ensures you’ve received the invite, and congratulates you on the opportunity!

The Cake

As you enter the conference room, you see people from a variety of departments, many that you know, all top performers in their areas. You all get a special portfolio, a tablet computer, and neat, colored lanyard for your ID badge.  Fun!  You also learn that you’ll be working in a special ‘project area’ full time for the next three months to accomplish the work.

As you get into the project, you couldn’t be happier, more engaged, or motivated.  THIS is IT!

The After-party

After three months of long days, working evenings, a few Saturdays, and traveling to some remote locations, the final project celebration is here.  There are senior leaders, directors, managers, and (is that a reporter?) the project team assembled.  Speeches are giving, awards handed out, much applause for a job well done!  Didn’t know you could drink champagne in the office, but the bosses are doing it, so why not?

The Clean-up

Now you’re back at your regular job.  You hang up the colored lanyard at your desk.  Some teammates ask you how things went.  The stories you have to share!!!  Then it’s back to the email inbox, your standard set of meetings.  You really miss that project team, the work, the attention!  Then, depression sets in.  Thankfully, nothing clinical.  But motivation and engagement aren’t what they used to be.  You want more cake!  But not this feeling afterwards.

Cake at Work Every Day

You can’t have cake projects every day at work.  No way would you ever get your ‘real’ job done.  So, how can you get that “I’m eating cake!” feeling from your current assignments, until the next big ‘cake project’ comes along?


Let’s review what you liked most about the cake project:

  • The work:  exciting, cutting edge, organization-wide.
  • The team:  motivated, engaged, and focused.
  • The urgency:  just like working in the West Wing!
  • The attention:  senior leaders depending on your team.

Waiting for that invite to a ‘cake project’ isn’t any way to live your work life.  Shouldn’t your current job provide exciting work, a motivated team, some urgency, and gain the attention of senior leaders?  Of course!  Time for you to make some choices that will give you your daily cake.

See if you can bring some cake to work every day in your organization!


(originally published on LinkedIn, July 7 2016)

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