A Fargo-ne Approach to Employee Engagement

Imagine a sales team working for a trip to Hawaii. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But when they don’t quite meet their goals, they are sent to Fargo ND instead.

This is a true story about employee engagement and sales performance made all the sweeter by the fact that it’s about Just Born, a candy company with great brands: Peeps, Mike & Ike, Hot Tamales, and Peanut Chews.

What I find most fascinating about this story is how Just Born made it work as a unique approach to employee engagement:


  • The sales team was involved in the decision-making. Employees chose both locations, so they knew what was in store for them if they met or didn’t meet their goals.
  • The trip strengthened team-bonding as it was set up as an “adventure” in which the sales team enjoyed special tours and fun events to immerse themselves in the Fargo experience.
  • As a demonstration of leadership commitment, top executives shared in the experience. Just Born’s co-CEO’s, Ross Born and David Shaffer, also traveled to Fargo.

All-in-all, a fascinating approach to employee engagement, albeit a risky one as Paul Hebert explores in his blog post the possibility that it might reinforce under-performance. Given my familiarity with the company and its leadership [disclaimer: I know David and Ross socially], it’s not an issue for Just Born. They strive to live the company’s values.

So score one for Just Born for creatively engaging their sales “peeps” … and getting a sweet public relations bonus in the process.


One reply on “A Fargo-ne Approach to Employee Engagement”

I wouldn’t see it as reinforcement of under-performance. They did raise their sales levels, but not as high as needed to go to Hawaii. I would see it as a tiered bonus. If they raised their sales levels 2%, Fargo; 4%, Hawaii.
Perhaps that is semantics.
It is also crucial to note that management joined them on their frigid Fargo adventure. I believe this to be the main point. Instead of management blaming others for bad performance, they consider themselves part of performance, good or bad.

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