Above & Beyond CEO: my cockapoo is my secret work weapon

Above & Beyond chief executive Zaid Al-Zaidy on why a dog is essential for keeping everyone in the agency grounded

With his sixth sense and natural flair for sniffing out balls wherever they are (under desks, in bins, under leaves), Benje is my secret work weapon.

But Benje isn’t just a dog – he’s the equivalent of agency-Horlicks, playing a key role in client-greeting, staff morale-boosting and general warmth-spreading. Moreover, by inviting people to stroke his beautiful black mane, he is able to break the human convention of personal space, which in turn helps liberate the soul and imagination of the agency.

Benje’s breeding is perfect for "advertising". He is a cockapoo, with notorious poodle intelligence and the relentless happiness and unflappable eagerness of a spaniel.

He is hypoallergenic. He is black, thereby adding another dimension to our agency diversity score.

He breaks awkward silence and unites enemies over common ground, thereby reminding us all not to take life too seriously. He doesn’t smell or fart a lot like my former boss’s dogs did.

Recently, he performed wonders by turning a ferocious client into a docile being with whom we could actually reason.

And he makes me look good in the office because, as an ambitious chief executive, I’m forced to put aside most of my corporate bullshit and behave normally.

And this effectiveness is endorsed by experts.

According to Stephen Colarelli, a psychologist at Central Michigan University recently interviewed by The Guardian, dogs are good for workplace health by lowering stress, heart rate and blood pressure. 

A canine in the workforce leads human colleagues to be perceived as more friendly and approachable. And they are likely to increase co-operation and other positive behaviours too.

Perhaps Benje’s greatest contribution to the agency is that, because he doesn’t understand bad moods, dilemmas, hyperbole, narcissism, cynicism, office politics, irony, spin or sarcasm, he helps everyone keep it real and reconnect with life’s more simple pleasures such as cuddling and, for those who like it, a good face lick.

Zaid Al-Zaidy is the chief executive of Above & Beyond. 

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