The Value of a Corporate Playgroup; What I Do Every Friday at Four O’clock

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Adults At Play
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My schedule is unpredictable. Between travel, project deadlines, and family commitments each week brings something new. And I like that. However, there is one hour of the week that always remains constant. Friday’s at 4:00 p.m. Every Friday at 4 I have my Corporate Playgroup.

As a resident of the Midwest I’ve been plagued by the Polar Vortex. And, as an adult, I’m going stir crazy, but my children are worse. They need entertainment. Lately, their entertainment has included torturing each other. Having their friends over to the house has been a source of relief. The kids can vent their pent up energy. They play make-believe, work on arts and crafts, and build cities out of LEGOs. Playgroups are a creative outlet for kids. They share, learn, and have fun. Shouldn’t adults benefit from the same togetherness? That’s why I have a Corporate Playgroup.

It’s started about 2 years ago. At one time Hubspot hosted their “Live Weekly Marketing Update”. Every Friday at 4:00 three of us would settle into the Knowledge Room (that really was the name of the conference room) with some beer and open minds. We’d listen as Hubspot discussed trending topics from that week. Our little group would debate these trends and then would spend 30 minutes sharing an external marketing campaign or story we found relevant or compelling. It was a great way to wrap up the week, joke about our stressful projects, and gain inspiration from sources outside of our organization.

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Our little group of three quickly turned into 5 people, then 6 people, and pretty soon we had others from sales, development, and HR joining our Friday at 4 playgroup. I recognized that marketing was not a topic relevant to marketers alone. Sales wanted to contribute to the conversations, HR had marketing related challenges to overcome, and our developers wanted to better understand the business drivers behind our requests. And conversely, I gained insight into other areas of the business. I learned what our reps were hearing from prospects in the field, I could better gauge awareness when HR would talk about recruiting events, and I became a more effective manager by understanding all the steps required to build and create what we were demanding. Most importantly though, I made some great friends.

These colleagues became trusted advisors. People whose opinions I valued. Eventually Hubspot discontinued their program, but we still met every Friday at 4. We continued to share our weekly takeaways, funny videos, and continued our collaboration. But, just as our playgroup grew, it eventually began to dwindle. We lost the first of our playgroup to a fantastic social media position with the University of Notre Dame. Then, in early summer, I bid my farewell followed shortly by a few others. When I left, I vowed that Fridays at 4 would continue. They were sacred.

Now, 8 months later, we all still meet, over the phone, every Friday at 4:00 p.m. And what’s great is not only do we still meet, but our playgroup has evolved. Because most of us have moved on to new companies, we’re all working in various industries and touching different parts of marketing. I get to hear about all the awesome projects my friends are working on. Their work in content marketing, social media, and demand generation is exciting. My playgroup is not only a time to catch up and share work, but it’s also a fantastic source of inspiration. I’m so very proud of my friends.

So, if you ever invite me to a meeting on Friday at 4:00, you’ll know why I’ve declined. That’s my time for education, inspiration, and fun. Not that we’d complain if Hubspot brought back their show 😉 Additionally, our playgroup is not exclusionary, we always welcome new members from all walks of business.


Marilyn Cox

Marilyn Cox is the Director of Marketing for Second City Works - the B2B division of the famed Second City.

You know the buzzwords; inbound, outbound, content, demand gen, lead gen, martech, social media, account-based, advocacy, customer success, sales enablement, and analytics.She studies it, plans it, executes it, experiments with it, and loves it.

Through discovery, creation, and innovation she's learned to say "Yes, And".Like business, her career is one big improvisational act.

She leads all aspects of the brand and culture, developing and executing a clearly defined, integrated marketing communications strategy.Marilyn is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, training, and managing all marketing functions to achieve objectives of growth, awareness, customer success and making work better.

Marilyn exists to empower sales and support the customer. When not geeking out over marketing analytics, she can be found daydreaming about her unrealized dream as a professional wrestler with the WWE.
4 Responses to "The Value of a Corporate Playgroup; What I Do Every Friday at Four O’clock"
  1.' Rick Lipman says:

    Brilliant idea from a brilliant mind.

  2. Marilyn,
    Thank you for sharing your Corporate Playgroup concept! I really like the casual approach to collaboration – it doesn’t have to be hard, yet many people make it so hard that it collapses before any meaningful collaboration has a chance to take shape. I guess that’s the point of “business is child’s play,” eh? 🙂 I’m going to try to seed this at my company – from my remote position, the insights of others are especially welcome. I’ll keep you posted!


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