By Gina Foshage Feb 01, 2017
If you attend an N2 event, visit our Home Office, or stop by our booth at a career fair, you’re going to see a Koala. Not a live one, but a picture, perhaps a life-sized cardboard cutout, and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a human in full Koala costume, complete with giant mascot head. And it’s not just because we really love marsupials.
It’s because our CEO, Duane Hixon, believes in fun. Back in 2012, when N2 Publishing’s team was feeling the stress of holiday deadlines (the whole company takes two weeks off in December, which means we compress production schedules in the weeks leading up to the company-wide vacation time), Duane went looking for a way to lighten the mood and remind people of what’s really important this time of year. He purchased a full Koala Bear costume and duct taped a large “T” down the front. All that was left was to introduce Koala T. Bear to the team.
Koala T. hanging out with his friends at the N2 Home Office
COO Marty Fukuda remembers when Duane debuted the costume – by getting in it himself, of course. “He played the dance song that was super popular that year... ‘Gangam Style’ and danced around the design studio in the costume high fiving people and stuff. I don’t think everyone quite got it at first, but Koala T. Bear has really caught on since.”
Thanks to that awesomely awkward first dance, which luckily was caught on video, Koala T. Bear became an institution at N2 Publishing. He reminds us of the Culture Deck slide, “People solve problems, and people make great products.” Koala T. products, one might say (see what we did there?).
At our Home Office, the love for Koala T. Bear is apparent. A life-sized wooden cutout of Koala T. has a permanent home in our main stairwell landing. Each season, his habitat is decorated and Koala T.’s personality evolves more and more. Right now, he’s proposing to his girlfriend over a Valentine's date. But we’ve also seen him trick-or-treat as a vampire with two ghost friends and host a killer barbeque over the summer. His face graces the cover of our benefit guide and the cards we hand out to potential applicants. He is a daily reminder of our fun side.
The Koala T. Bear Mascot costume has been worn by many N2 Publishing team members. At monthly meetings, for internal videos, at events like our annual Field Day, and sometimes just for fun, Koala T. Bear will show up. He’s always the life of the party.
I myself have worn the coveted Koala T. costume and it is a blast – as Koala T., I’ve danced on stage before team meetings, posed for pictures and greeted people. Heck, I’ve even hung from a tree in the Koala T. costume. The head made balancing a challenge, but we got the picture and eventually, me down out of the tree.
We don’t believe in washing the Koala T. costume. Some may say that’s gross, but Duane says it’s about luck: like the football players who refuse to wash their jerseys after a win, we don’t want any of the good karma to leave the Koala T. costume. Thank goodness superstition doesn’t mention anything about Febreeze.
While organizations around the world may spend time monitoring the health of the koala population, we know our Koala T. Bear will be around forever. He is a staple of our culture – a testament to our dedication to have fun and our confidence to be weird. So, while our business grows and our processes change, one thing remains constant: we will always have the opportunity to shove our heads into a koala mask and dance around to Gangam Style.
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