What’s the Deal with the Penguin?

by Karen Robbins, President, Stewart Transportation Solution

Adult Adele Penguins Grouped On Iceberg

It all started a few years ago when I came across a company that specializes in employee recognition. On their website they had different “teamwork pins” that you could buy. Each one had a story. I read this story of the Australian Fairy Penguin on a little blue card …

The flightless fairy penguin of Australia stands less than a foot tall and is clumsy on land where the fox is its natural enemy. Alone, one penguin wouldn’t survive for long. So after each day, in the water, they gather where the surf meets the shore waiting until the last penguin joins them. Then, shoulder to shoulder, they march up the beach to their burrows. They support each other, they rely on each other and everyone except the fox wins. We’re a stronger team because of you.

I thought about our team and how hard they work. I thought about how sometimes, the things they do together as a team that are so enormous (moving 10,000 people five times in one 22 hour day) and challenging (moving 9,000 people in over 200+buses to Red Rocks Amphitheatre in the Rocky Mountain Foothills) and in such undesirable conditions (heat over 110 degrees; cold under -10 degrees and rain that, yes, has tornadoes and microbursts) and yeah, they just might be a lot like the Australian fairy penguin. Or, any penguin for that matter!

Penguins are known for their loyalty, their devotion to clan and their ability to create friendships with their mates for life. It doesn’t hurt that they are cute and funny looking at the same time and in general, almost always, without a doubt, make people smile when they are seen. That’s our team, too.

So, I gave out penguin pins that year. I gave them to men and women alike. I told them the story and how I thought of each of them as penguins because of their trust and loyalty and their friendships to each other, to us and our clients. I give them to the newbies we hire and to people we meet that want to be a part of our culture – even if just for a little while.

And for a silly reason or maybe a really great reason – it stuck. Penguins were suddenly everywhere and the team started sending videos and pictures of penguins they saw somewhere on the road or shopping on a Saturday afternoon. Penguins are on wine bottles, on coffee cups, clothes and jewelry! You name it – it probably somewhere has a penguin on it.

The penguin became a symbol of our culture – the little bit of glue that is a fun reminder that we don’t leave anyone behind and we always help each other out. And, if that doesn’t happen for one reason or another – we call each other on it and remind ourselves that penguins stick together through thick and thin.

The penguin has come to symbolize so many things that are good, happy and right in the world and for us and our team – well, we figure we can all use a little bit of that every day.

Keep an eye out for the STS Penguins because #STSPENGUINSRULE.

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