Lord of the Lunch & Learns

by Brian Martinelli

For those of you who may not be familiar with the “Lunch & Learn” process, we have product representatives who come to the office during our lunch hour and feed us for free, in exchange for getting their product in front of us for our consideration in future projects.  Tasked with organizing ANF’s Lunch & Learn program seven years ago, I play liaison between the firm and the presenter to schedule and coordinate these lunches.

As the program organizer, I quickly noted that some of my colleagues were somewhat… what’s a nice way to put this?... absent-minded when it came to their lunch attendance.  We have an Excel sign-up sheet for every lunch program, which I send out to the entire office as part of an Outlook appointment, so that everyone is able to save the event to their calendar.  A day or two before the Lunch & Learn, I see who has signed up and give a headcount to our presenter so that they may order the food.  It’s a pretty simple process. 

After the first few Lunch & Learns during my reign, I became confounded by the erratic attendance.  Surely, it was easy to keep track of whether or not you signed up for lunch, right?  Evidently not.  We would routinely have presentations where 20 people signed up but only 14 showed up.  Or we would have 20 people show up when there were only 14 lunches.  I pleaded for everyone to be more diligent, but to no avail.  I decided the only way to get through to them was with punishment. 

I’ve always enjoyed abusing my moderate amount of power. 

I developed a “demerit” system, which I used to track attendance and shame those who couldn’t follow the rules.  I freely admitted that I had no authority to dispense actual penalties, but somehow the system still worked.  People started showing up when they were supposed to.  Granted, there were still a few instances of dereliction, but overall, things got much, much better.  I still hand out demerits to this day, but I am also pleased to recognize those who are exemplary in their dedication to the Lord of the Lunch & Learns (or in some circles, the “Lunch & Learn Nazi”).  With that, here are the recipients of this year’s “Lunchies”: 

The “Clean Bill of Health” Award 

Awarded each year to attendees with zero demerits 

Scott, Bob, Amanda, Joe, Browne, Jodi, Liz, Tava, Brian, Mark, Jim W 

The “Close, But No Cigar” Award 

Awarded each year to the person with the fewest demerits out of those with more than zero 

Jim D 

The “Worst of the Worst” Award 

Awarded each year to the person with the most demerits 


The “Lunch & Learn MVP” Award 

Awarded each year to the person who attends the most L&L’s without receiving a demerit 

Jim W

Posted by Eli Cloud at 4:55 PM
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