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Mugs of Paradowski

On my first day at Paradowski, I got lost and stuck in the kitchen. Over the years I’ve learned that this is a fairly common occurrence and one of the many quirks of our office.

After being let into the main office by a kind coworker, I began to get my bearings and observe more of those quirky features. Some very familiar to agency life: The Pooltable, The Bar, The Telephone Booth that looks cool and must now serve as a conference room while we continue to grow (book it or leave, Clark Kent!). And others which are, I believe, exclusively Paradowskian: A wandering rover robot, a drawing whiteboard robot, an exceptionally thorough production robot named Matt Kubiak... we’re all doomed.

But on that first day, after learning the secret code to get back in, I once again found myself in the kitchen. Stuck staring at a communal collection of inspirational, expletive-filled, ridiculous-looking coffee mugs that, to newly-employed me, seemed like a microcosm of the culture I had just joined. I was immediately excited to add my own mug to this cabinet of wonders, and I did — A cliche “Advice From A Canyon” tall boy (“dig deep!”), and a highly-Instagrammable Schuyler Sisters “Work!” mug that I’m happy seeing in the hands of theater fans and haters alike.

Picking a mug from the cabinet became a tiny moment of reflection. What kind of day did I want to have? Probably a “Make It Happen” mug day. Which coworker contributed this cup? I wonder what they’re working on right now. How the F did this thing get so many brown ring stains? I bet it’s seen a lot of amazing work happen here. (Also… put that one back.) 

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Mostly, I wondered if anyone else wondered about these things, too. Surely everyone has added one or picked the design that matches their current mood. I’ve worked with most of these people for four years — I can definitely make some assumptions about this audience.

You’re wrong, overly-contemplative Katie. How many times have we sat in meetings, making assertions about an audience we have worked with for years and years, only to find out with the help of actual data that we were totally presumptive about how they behave or what they believe? (And that’s best-case scenario… sometimes you end up with a Pepsi Protest ad and it’s just too late.)

So, when in doubt, measure it out. Enter Kelly Stephenson and Matt Maus, Paradowski’s dynamic duo of data collection and analysis. Matt went to work collecting mug usage observations for several weeks around the office. We designed a survey to identify behaviors and beliefs by department, by beverage preference, and apparently, by level of sass.

Here are the results.

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Have you ever contributed a mug to the Paradowski cabinet?

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Youch! My first misconception revealed — most people are not adding their own mugs to the cabinet. I actually came to find out that Accounting Manager/Does Everything Person Erin Reid had picked up most of the mugs from Goodwill when PC moved into our Webster Groves office several years ago. But there were a few friendly folks who did add mugs, and a few friendly, albeit forgetful, folks who probably need to stop by the kitchen on their way home.

But, for the most part, people do enjoy picking a mug from the cabinet:

Do you bring your own coffee mug from home?

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And most of us do put some thought into our choice:

What makes you select a particular mug from the Paradowski cabinet?

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In summary, I learned a lot about my Paradowski peeps. We don’t all hold the exact same beliefs, we don’t all behave the same way. We do have similarities in the way we begin our days with curiosity and humor.

And we do need to add a kid- and client-friendly cabinet of plain white mugs.