Is your birthday celebrated at work? If you’re close to your colleagues, you may be surprised with a card and gifts. Or, depending on your workplace culture, you may enjoy a birthday lunch where colleagues take their break to spend time with you. However, not all of us are so lucky. We get that not everyone likes to be made a fuss of on their birthday. But if you want to cultivate a strong culture and celebrate your team, here’s our guide on how to start great birthday traditions in the workplace.

1. Do your workplace birthday research

First of all, make sure to ask all employees their birthday preferences. Would they like their birthday acknowledged or celebrated, or not? People should be able to opt in or out. Just be sure to look for opportunities to celebrate those that opt out in other ways later on (e.g. give them praise after showing good work).

2. Be organised

Noone likes a last-minute run-around the office with the team birthday card. Besides, who can ever think of the right thing to write to someone on a card when put on the spot? Be sure to record all birthdays in one central place so no one (that wants to be celebrated) gets missed. Start a birthday thread in Slack (or whichever project management platform you use). Or go with a tried and true planner or notebook to record the dates so they’ll never be lost. (What do you know… we’ve got a few stationery recommendations up our sleeve here).

Too often the birthday calendar and celebrations get palmed off to the receptionist. But celebrating your team should be regarded as an important priority by leaders and management. If you want extra buy-in from team members, invite them to be ‘culture leaders’ and look for opportunities to get others onboard.

3. Use the workplace birthday to express gratitude

A company we know celebrates birthdays by gathering its team of a dozen staff members around a platter of treats. Then, they share their positive thoughts about the person whose birthday it is. While this idea might seem daunting, it’s great for boosting morale through expressing gratitude for others.

It can even be worked around the personalities and closeness of your team. For example, you can ask everybody to say one word that describes the birthday person (think ‘funny’, ‘creative’ or ‘hard-working’). Or, for more bonded teams, you can open it up to their favourite memories of working with that person (like a birthday card message on display!). If you’re going to try this method, it’s important to do it with sincerity. And remember – keep it positive!

4. Don’t hold back on workplace birthday decorations

What you’ll need: streamers, confetti and balloons. Enough of each to “over-decorate” the desk space of the office person (this looks best when you don’t spread the decorations outside of their personal work area). To do this, you’ll need the element of surprise, so stay back to decorate the evening before their birthday or do it early the morning of.

5. Think outside the box, boundaries and borders

If your team is working remote and is unable to celebrate together in person, don’t despair! Call everyone together for a birthday-themed trivia party online. There are plenty of apps that allow you to do this. Just have some trivia about the birthday person handy when you create the quiz.

Now this idea might be a HR-nightmare for some companies, but giving employees their birthday off work never disappoints! If this simply isn’t possible, do some advance planning to alleviate deadlines and stress for the birthday person on their day. Ask for volunteers to step in and assist them with their work projects. Free up space to allow the birthday person to take a long lunch break and/or leave early for the day.

Our favourite brand birthday campaigns 

We’ve seen a lot of well-known businesses take their creativity and love of birthdays to a larger scale and build marketing campaigns for their company and customers to enjoy. Here are some of our favourites to inspire you to think big.

  1. For Facebook’s 10th birthday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted about his plans for the company’s next decade, and personalised Look Back videos launched for Facebook users. Ahh, the memories.
  2. Remember the rolls of LifeSavers sweets? They celebrated their 100th birthday back in 2012 with giving codes on specially marked packs. Customers were encouraged to enter the codes to donate to a select nonprofit. Giving and fun!
  3. Imagine being an employee of Marmite and being given a limited edition gold jar for the company’s birthday! These jars were exclusive to employees until Marmite released Marmite Gold (with real, edible gold flecks) to the public on their 110th birthday some years later.

Whether you eagerly await your birthday each year or you’d rather let it slip by without a word, we hope this article has given you some ideas on how to think big, celebrate others and keep building that strong workplace culture. And if your birthday is right around the corner – Happy Birthday! We hope you have a fantastic day.


Leaders are known by the influence they leave on the communities they serve and the staff they lead. When faced with adversity, the skills as a leader will be challenged beyond what can be imagined. In the last few months, leaders have been pushed to the limits as the COVID-19 virus became the forefront of all human life.

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Leadership presence is a quality that takes time and energy to build up. When it’s done correctly, it can propel you into positions you’ve been dreaming of for years. However, when it’s done incorrectly, or if it’s not managed well, it can keep you stuck in unrewarding roles. Here are five ways you can start to strengthen your leadership presence in 2020.

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You want the best for your kids, but what exactly is that? It’s tempting to give them the chances you wish YOU had growing up or encourage them to choose what you think would be best for them. It’s also tempting to raise them in the ways that experts say is best, but your children are unique and that advice might not be relevant to who they actually are. So, let’s take a look at how to raise children to be leaders.

First, we’ll ask, what is being the best parent you can be for them? To raise children to create the life that they truly would like to live. It takes vulnerability, honouring, trust, gratitude and allowance (for them and you). To raise your children to be leaders, you have to be a leader too. This can be done by:

Honouring kindness

My youngest son (now 22) was invited to join Mensa at age 12. He refused. He locked himself in the toilets at school because the teachers were pushing him too hard. As a young child, my eldest son was diagnosed with learning difficulties and put in special education classes that tried to make him fit into a system. However, that system did not fit him.

Forcing anyone to be what you desire is dishonouring. Ask yourself, what is the kindness that will make the greatest difference to your kids?

Encouraging curiosity, which ensures creativity

Encourage them to explore whatever makes them curious. Making mistakes is a way of receiving more awareness from every choice. Allow them to take risks that may not work out! That’s curiosity and creativity in action.

Children become disheartened when they are made to ‘choose’ something that doesn’t stimulate them. When they make choices that may be making their life difficult, I ask, very kindly, ‘How is that working for you?’. This allows them to address the question from a space of curiosity and capacity for a change.

If a child is resisting and reacting to being controlled, they are distracted from the awareness you are inviting them to. If you allow them to hold the reigns of their life, they can get clarity and make educated choices.

The education system is linear, but your child’s world is not. My eldest son (now 25) loves knowing how things work. He recently became obsessed with flying and building drones. This fascination created connections with a tech inventor, that is revolutionising the way power is created and used in the world. Together these leaders are changing the face of the energy industry globally. Creativity is generative energy that creates true leaders.

Building trust and letting them choose

Kids innately know what they enjoy and would like their future to be like energetically. Think back to your childhood. What were you fascinated by? What place does that have in your life now? Allow your children to follow their interests.

How many choices do you make for your children because ‘you know best’? What would it be like if you showed them how to trust their awareness and follow their intuition?

When a child trusts themselves, they’ll instinctively know who to trust as they become a leader. Being able to back yourself when no one else does, is what creates a true leader.

Offer total presence and awareness

As a child, I was OCD, ADHD, Autistic and couldn’t sit still in a chair. I failed at school because I couldn’t be linear. For a long time, I made that wrong, however, my sons are showing me how well this worked for them. I allowed them to be who they are, even if it made no sense to anyone else.

Of course, there are many paths to being a conscious, creative leader and these are some of the choices that have worked for my family. What are you aware of that would make the greatest difference for your kids? Ask them what they know too and get excited for the day that their awareness surpasses yours. Thats when their leadership capacity will begin to create an even greater future.

About the author of how to raise children to be leaders

Moira Bramley is a leadership and parenting expert, and certified facilitator for Access Consciousness, including the Wealth Creators Anonymous program. Moira is also an experienced investor and has many investments in property and shares, including a start-up led by her eldest son.


Megan Hess is one of the world’s most well-known fashion illustrators, having illustrated portraits for the New York Times, Italian Vogue, Vanity Fair, Prada, Cartier, Dior and FENDI. Not only is Megan a talented artist, but she has also written and illustrated seven best-selling books, is a mum, an artist in residence to multiple international venues and has built a global business. She is a leader who inspires!

Megan was kind enough to share her experiences in starting a business and her reflections on being a leader.

Megan Hess Drawing

How did you land your first client? Were they in fashion?

I studied Graphic Design because it felt like a ‘real’ job in the art world, but I really always wanted to be an illustrator. I just never knew that it was a possible career choice! After working as an Art Director in Ad agencies for several years, I packed everything up and moved to London. It was in London that I worked in a million different creative jobs and my final job there realised that I had a burning desire to be an artist.

At this time, I was the Art Director for Liberty Department Store. While I loved art-directing fashion, I loved illustrating it more. I started to do very small illustrations for Liberty and from this other art directors saw my work and little commissions began to follow. After about a year I found myself with non-stop work. I wasn’t earning a fortune, but I’d never been happier, and I knew I was going to do this forever.

As my clients got bigger and better, I was able to be a little more selective, and just work on briefs that I knew had a great creative opportunity. Then in 2006, I got a call in the middle of the night from Candace Bushnell’s publisher asking if I would illustrate her next novel ‘One Fifth Avenue’. This was when things took off at rapid speed for me. Her book became a New York Times bestseller, and I met with Candace, and she asked me to illustrate all her previous books including the cover of ‘Sex and The City’. Once ‘Sex and the City’ was released I was contacted by TIME magazine in New York to create portraits for them.

Following this, I began illustrating for Tiffany & Co, Chanel, Dior, Cartier, Vanity Fair, Italian Vogue, Bergdorf Goodman and Ladure. Ironically, at the same time as my work finally took off, I had my first baby!! It’s funny, I always tell people that I haven’t really slept since 2006!!

 

What was it like to go from working on your own to hiring staff and having to be the leader in your team?

At first, I was terrified of hiring staff because I had worked on my own for so long. But as soon as I had my first employee, I realised I should have hired someone years ago! My business dramatically grew, and I was suddenly able to get back to focusing on creating. It was the best business decision I ever made.

 

What do you look for in an employee about to join the Megan Hess team?

I always start with personality. I believe if someone has a great personality and is intelligent, they have the capability to do anything. My team is small, so it’s important that everyone gets along and respects one another.

It’s very important to me that everyone feels safe and loved. Even though it’s work, we all spend a lot of time together so everyone feeling good is so important. I’m so proud to say I work within a group of women that feel like family. I’m very lucky.

 

What achievement are you most proud of?

Getting paid to do what I love for a living and being a Mother. I see that as a huge luxury to be able to do both, and it’s something that I’m very grateful for every day. I’ve also been able to donate many pieces of my work for charities and causes all over the world, and in some small way, I feel proud that one of my drawings may have helped someone where.

As Creative Patron of Ovarian Cancer, I’ve also had the privilege of working with the most inspiring team of people trying to raise awareness and funds for the development of an early detection test for Ovarian Cancer.

Megan Hess Book

As your career has grown, you’ve worked with some incredible brands. How did you first initiate these client relationships?

I am very grateful to all the amazing brands that I have worked with. For me, it’s been years of building those relationships. Each new project attracts a new client, and I have been fortunate to have been commissioned by such diverse and creative companies all over the world.

 

What areas of leadership are you most confident in and are there aspects of it that you struggle with?

I’m a big picture person. I don’t like to micromanage. I’ve always believed in the theory that it is best to work with people who are faster, smarter and much better at certain things than me. I know my strengths, and I love to let my team manage and take ownership of their roles. I’ve learnt that autonomy is very important for people to grow and for a company to grow.

Megan Hess Desk

How do you find owning your own business and being a mum? Does your home, office etc always look as good as on Instagram?

Ha! Well, sadly no although I wish it did. Actually, my studio always looks pretty good because we all make an effort to keep it ready for both chic clients who drop by and last-minute photoshoots. My home is sometimes completely tidy and lovely, and other weeks I have piles of washing, dishes and school projects everywhere!! It’s a normal household full of lovely chaos!

 

You have such a diverse business including prints, commissions, books, homewares/styling and more. Can you describe your creative process?

I hand draw all my line work with a custom Montblanc pen and ink, then I either leave it black and white or add colour with gouache, watercolour and digital means. Some of my illustrations are very fast. I usually post a quick sketch on my Instagram account each morning (@meganhess_official) and I only ever give myself 10 minutes for that – because I have so many deadlines to get through! Most of my work can take anywhere from an hour to several days. It just depends on the complexity of the illustration.

If it’s for a client, it starts with a brief, and I always give myself a good amount of initial time to dream and get inspired about what I’m going to draw. Sometimes I’ll do initial sketches or create a mood board of concepts and ideas. Then I’ll discuss with my clients where my direction is heading. Then it’s to the physical drawing phase, and I’m usually in absolute joy creating the final image.

See the magical work of Megan Hess.

 

Anastasia BenvenisteAbout the author
Anastasia Benveniste loves anything digital or creative and is passionate about human rights. She gets enormous amounts of personal satisfaction through her work in digital communications, as it allows her to share people’s stories. She has a Masters in Design Communication, and her favourite academic experience was spending a semester studying at Yale University. Outside of work, she loves art history, painting and anything monogrammed! www.benvoa.com