Richard Connor: Breaking rules is bad – except when it’s fun

Don’t bet with the boss.

Don’t accept a new, boisterous title for your job, especially when handed out at the company Christmas party.

Make certain when you give the boss a great recipe for food to eat while watching football you specify the number of “fresh” jalapenos to be used.

Don’t bring your teenage child to work when you know she is going to prove to be smarter than all the employees.

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If Camille Bransom and Mark Z. Mourer had adhered to the above rules we might have begged them to stay at the Business Press instead of immediately accepting their resignations.

But Bransom gladly accepted the title of “Director of Public Affairs,” at the holiday party. Her 14-year old daughter Grace came to the office to stuff envelopes and lick stamps. It soon became clear she should have been writing editorials.

Mourer, who claims sports expertise, foolishly bet on Alabama and gave points to the boss who happily collected from him when Clemson won the National College Football Championship. It’s not the bet that put him in hot water. The whining and griping, in the office in front of everyone, was poor form.

And speaking of hot, Mark’s recipe for the perfect TV football-watching dish was so detail deficient and poorly spelled out that the boss used four entire jalapenos along with the rice and jalapeno-smoked sausage ingredients. Hot is an insufficient description of the final product, which should have been eaten with a fire extinguisher near at hand.

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Bransom succumbed to the “Sports Illustrated Cover Story” jinx. That’s the one that is placed on any individual or team unlucky enough to make the magazine’s cover. Often, those folks and teams immediately lose the next match or game.

She should not have accepted the fancy title that placed her high on the masthead list. Mourer was snake-bitten as well when he won rookie of year at the company holiday party and then “whoosh,” he was out of here.

The truth and the sad part of this story is that this week we have lost two employees at the Business Press who brought great value to our office every day. Their value: great, happy, infectious attitudes. They arrived each morning smiling and laughing.

Soon, others were, too.

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They have a devil-may-care edge to them that is beguiling. They made things “fun” here.

In business, in the office, fun is what is too often lacking. And it’s as vital as any component of a productive workforce.

Having fun at work is usually part of some vague mission statement for most companies, some of whom wouldn’t know fun if it was laughing alongside them. Usually, it’s a false claim.

Bransom did a little bit of everything while also manning our front desk. Mourer sold advertising, organized the company holiday party and managed our coffee supply system. He also has written stories for the newspaper.

 As we all know, people move on from jobs, people important to an organization, but the organizations usually survive, continue to thrive and carry on.

Bransom moved to a company two floors above the Business Press and still comes down to our shop to get her coffee in the morning.

Camille and Mark taught us something, or maybe just reminded us that you can actually have lots of fun at work. Their replacements must first be fun and have a sense of humor just to get an interview. That’s the key quality we have looked for and believe we have found in our new hires.

In the meantime, Bransom, so enamored of her former title, came up with a new one. She said we need to list her as “Friend of the Fort Worth Business Press,” which we intend to do. Mourer will be inducted in this new society this week. They will be identified as such in the masthead this week.

Both have promised to help us wherever and whenever. We intend to call in the chit.

Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at