Back in 2011 during my span as the Marketing Manager for a growing legal technology firm in New York City, I had developed back pain. To me, the obvious cause was the byproduct of sitting at my desk for many hours day-in-and-day-out.
At the time, I didn’t really exercise apart from walking about a half a mile from the Path station to the office and vice-versa. My hefty commute from New Jersey also involved hours of sitting on the train atop stiff polyurethane seats without any lumbar support, which certainly didn’t help.
One afternoon, upon remembering that my coworker had an enormous balance ball in his office, I asked if I could borrow it. I sat on the ball and literally felt relief within minutes. So much so, that I decided to order myself an appropriately sized ball and use it in lieu of a desk chair.
Our office environment consisted of cubicles, and my cubicle was situated on a corner, adjacent to a high trafficked area. I found that most people did not know how to react to my ball. I’m sure oddball was a common word that came to mind when they saw me. I, on the other hand, preferred the term baller.
Did I field many interesting facial expressions, comments and even ridicule when colleagues would pass and see me on my ball? Yes. Did I let it bother me? No. In fact, quite the opposite— I would cheerfully smile and sing the ball’s praises and then advocate to the individual that he or she should also get one.
Months later, I scheduled a meeting with my friend Sean Morgan, Founder and CEO of his internationally acclaimed media monitoring company, Critical Mention. Upon walking into Critical Mention’s bullpen, I saw a sea of balance balls instead of chairs. My initial thought was that I belonged in such a work environment amid like-minded ballers. Indeed, the site of my fellow chair conscientious objectors, also made me realize that I was onto something.
Now that it’s 2016, I have seen an increase in adapters of balance balls for office chairs. One might even argue that it’s not uncommon anymore. Yet, when I dared to become a baller amid conditioned chair-folk, I must say, it took balls.
Sometimes perhaps the oddball can indeed become the trendsetter.