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I came into the office today thinking I need to write something about the Halloween party we had on October 29.  I ended up spending an hour looking at photos from that party and simply not being able to contain my happiness.

This year, Allonhill invoked a tradition that came from the Murrayhill Company.  We had a very big, grand, over-the-top costume contest. 

I didn't invent the idea.  At Murrayhill, I was very inspired by the book "The Southwest Airlines Way: Using the Power of Relationships to Achieve High Performance," by Jody Hoffer Gittell.  A few weeks ago, I attended the Denver Business Journal's Powerbook Awards luncheon, at which I was a runner up (along with some very impressive people, like Cole Finnegan, former Denver City Attorney and until recently a mayoral candidate (and hopefully a future mayoral candidate), and Meriner Kemper, head of UMB Banks, who has shown us all a thing or two about picking a target, aiming, and moving to it with single-focus.  The keynote speaker was the CEO of Southwest Airlines, Gary Kelly.  He made reference to the Southwest tradition of a Halloween costume contest.  We already had ours on the books by then, but I hadn;t really come forward with it as something big that everyone should participate in.  Kelly reminded me why it was important, and I came back determined to give this company the gift of community, and to show it with enthusiasm that pulled them all in.  I've got a stack of Southwest Airlines Way books in my office, and anyone who wants one can say the word and have one.  it is the Gold Standard for culture-driven companies, in my book. 


Why costumes?  Because they disarm you.  Executives dressed as Gumby and Pokey make you laugh. A General Counsel who thinks he's Zoro is a powerful message, one day a year. 

Diana Mead, President, and David Brown, Chief
Administrative Officer (Gumby and Pokey)
John Andriola, General Counsel (Zorro)


It's also good to be silly, as my twelve year-old, Natalie, reminds me all the time.  I was silly; we were all silly, and we were all silly together.  I came as the Queen of Hearts, and I wore a gorgeous ballgown that everyone agreed (because I insisted it was the case) was SO me. 

Allonhill's executives addressing the staff (Sue as the Queen of Hearts, David Brown as Pokey and Diana Mead as Gumby.


I had a lot of fun with people who are fun and funny, and who work hard to help us in our very daunting mission of reinventing the mortgage industry.  I brought a bunch of cherry tarts, because I know the rule that says if you feed them, people generally have a good time. 



We had an absurdly clever panel of judges, including Hannibal Lector (Shawn Gravelin), a representation of how not to dress on casual fridays (Eric Knab), and something dark and very scary (Harlan Morgan). 


Shawn Gravelin as Hannibal Lecter
Eric Knab as how not to dress on casual day Harlan Morgan as something dark and scary



They showed themselves to be worthy of the job when they named the Scariest Costume winners: the rubber duckies.  We gave out rubber duckies to commemorate our Allontown website, which has a little rubber duckie who does some tricks.  Molly Bash, Emily Pierce and Jessica Greiner donned rubber duckie outfits for the contest.  Although they did not scare me, I applaud their creativity and courage in wearing orange tights and a duck towels, and I agree, they needed a prize. 









My personal favorite was Bill Brown, who dressed as me.  The reason I give it my top vote is that Bill told me his wife, Thereza, was in a flummox and would not give him a kiss goodbye when he left for work that day.  She told him he was making a big mistake, and the implication was, it could jeopardize his job.  I love a risk-taker, and Bill Brown showing up in a hot little black skirt, pearls and a leopard purse is about as big a risk as anyone could take.  Thank you, Bill, for taking a stand.  I believe that with you and people like you on this team, we can change this industry.  And please tell the wife it will be okay, as long as you tell me who does your hair. 


We have a lot of photos that you can see below.  I remain aglow with the sense that this group of people has a common mission, and an esprit de corps that will help us through the challenging times ahead.  I do think we will change this industry.  I know, from recent first-hand experience, that it will come over the objections of people who participated in the meltdown, who do not want things to change.  These are not my clients, but they are players in the industry who influence  policy.  My clients want things to change, so investors will buy bonds and Americans will be able to buy homes with the money investors make available to them.  But we have a very tough year ahead of us. 

Notwithstanding the challenge and the opportunity to take the easy way out, we will not budge from our position.  You will not see me endorsing an “everything is good as is” position. 

I feel better saying that, knowing I have Hannibal, Zoro, Gumby, Pokey, the Animal Control Guy, a human portrayal of the song "Born to Run" the Toothless Tooth Fairy, Dracula, Allontown, the Rubber Duckies, the Blue Bouncy People, Amadeus, Disco Man, the Hundred Dollar Bill, and Bill Brown, among many others, standing beside me.  Words cannot describe how much I appreciate your support.

Rachel Morgan, Natalie Corrado, and Shaw Morris (As Sue Allon and Diana Mead with their boot camp instructor at The Ashram) Diana Mead showing the plans for our new office remodel project
Dan Gallery, Director of Sales (As Animal Control; his 14 month-old daughter was dressed as a skunk) Madeline Gallery as a skunk
Katharine Hanks, Director (As the song "Born to Run") Joe Sueper, Director of Software Development (A Hundred Dollar Bill)  
 Diana Mead awarding Mike Margolf, Director of Due Diligence (Dracula), a crystal cube
Robin Harris, Due Diligence Manager (The Toothless Tooth Fairy) Michael Richardson (Disco Stu)
 The Blue Bouncing Guys
A real Blue Bouncing Guy