Learn how a simple act of respect not only resolved a stressful situation but also transformed the culture within a company, fostering understanding, recognition, and a desire to help.
The Unexpected Call: A Mistake and an Upset Franchise Owner
I was in my company’s call center and someone had made a mistake. I could tell because a franchise owner, who had called to speak to an agent, sounded upset. Mistakes with event bookings can be very stressful to owners, and it was all crashing down on a call center worker who was brand new to the company. I remember thinking “please, just don’t make her cry.”
What actually happened on that call blew my mind. Far from breaking down, the agent remained poised and calm. She respected the owner’s feelings, took the issue seriously, thanked the owner for bringing the issue to her attention, and took the steps she needed to address it.
Challenging Beliefs: Rethinking the Scarcity of Respect
For context, I was raised to believe that you had to earn respect, as if respect is a scarce resource. Respect was talked about like money, like a few people had a lot of it, but that most of us didn’t have enough, and that we were going to struggle to earn enough for the rest of our lives. In that call center, I learned from my agent that respect doesn’t follow the laws of scarcity. Neither of the people on that call had to “earn” each other’s respect, the way I had learned they should. One respected the other, and they got respect back. Respect is an infinitely renewable resource. It’s something that we can generate from within ourselves and that we can give away freely.
Amplifying Respect: Modeling Behavior and Changing Conversations
The late George S. Thompson spoke of respect as one of the most powerful tools available in his profession as a police officer. He was an imposing 6’2”, had a PhD in English, and a black belt in judo, but he valued his ability to be respectful above any of these advantages. In his book, Verbal Judo, he explains that even though he had the physical ability, the moral authority, and the legal right to force people to do what he asked them to do, every time he used those abilities, it was the worst decision he could make. Thompson believed that it was always more effective to treat people with respect, exactly what my call center agent had done.
I am not overstating that her attitude and that of the team that followed her completely transformed the way that not only our franchise owners talked to our booking center, but how everyone at our company started talking to each other. Our culture shifted. Even our franchise owners, like the caller I overheard, began talking to one another differently. When we model for others by giving the respect that we would like to receive, that respect comes back to us amplified. Respect is something that we can demonstrate in a wide variety of situations. Everyone craves to be recognized, to be understood, and, ultimately, when people are recognized and understood, they’re open to being helped.
Acting with Respect: Cultivating a Calmer and Better World
At the end of the day, that’s all that call from the franchise owner was, a cry for help. Very often, people are upset and angry because they’re afraid that no one cares enough to help them. One of the most important things you can do, then, if you do care, is to act out of respect. I believe that the more respect we put into the world, the more respect there will be for all of us, the calmer people will behave, and the better the world will be. It certainly has been that way at my company.
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A friend of mine recently reached out to me and said that she was concerned about how much her child was playing video games. She was afraid she was losing her child to them. Now, for many parents, that’s a common concern, and it may be a concern you have. My advice took her by surprise, because what I encouraged her to do was appreciating your child’s interests and lean into them. I asked her if she had ever played video games with her child, and she said no. I encouraged her to make the effort to sit down, give it a try, and see what happened.
Minecraft’s Hidden Depths: Uncovering the World of Engineering in Gaming
Her child was playing a game called Minecraft which is extremely popular. When my friend jumped in, she was shocked at the complexity of what he was building in that game. She told me “Oh my gosh, he’s learning engineering!” It turns out, in the game of Minecraft, there’s a material called redstone you can collect and use to build simulated electrical circuits. People have built devices like calculators, even computers, using the tools available in-game that function like their real-world counterparts. She had no idea the depth of the world he was exploring and the complexity of what he was constructing. She said it reminded her of a lot of the type of creative work her employees did at the graphic design agency she runs.
Transformation through Understanding: Changing Conversations and Strengthening Bonds
The experience radically changed the conversations she was able to have with her son. She could see and understand what he was building. He used to quietly hide away in the corner because she wouldn’t understand it, but now he couldn’t wait to share with her what he was doing and what he was learning, and a whole new world opened for both of them.
I’m not saying there aren’t any legitimate concerns about our children gaming, but I’m not so much worried about how much time children spend playing video games. I’m worried instead about the quality of play and the social dynamics.
Leaning into your child’s interest isn’t necessarily about playing more games with them, though I do encourage that, but it can also be looking for opportunities to use the game to get them out of their room. Enroll them in a local video game league.
Expanding Horizons: Utilizing Gaming for Social Engagement and Learning
More and more cities are adding esports programming, for example. Esports is competitive video gaming, but there are also casual gaming programs, at libraries, for example. There’s an increasing number of groups that are trying to provide safe, secure environments for kids to play together online, because it’s important to know who the children are interacting and playing with. I’m a fan of local gaming because it gives you the best chance to play with other kids. You could actually hang out with them from those connections.
Another idea to think about is that, for many kids, gaming is about more than just playing games. Typically people that play with technology are also interested in learning how it’s made. There are opportunities to learn how to do animation for video games, art for video games, programming for video games. There’s a very popular franchise in Arizona called Ninja Coders who will teach you how to code video games. That’s only really scratching the surface in the industry; games also involve writing, cinematography, sound design, music, the artistic use of game mechanics themselves, there are so many creative and technical interests wrapped up in a typical video game that you could use to redirect your child’s interest into something they can get paid for in the future. More and more schools are offering summer camps and programs that use these interests to engage kids in developing valuable skills. Instead of resisting and trying to pull back from gaming, lean in and redirect your child’s interest.
Exploring the Massive World Together: Encouraging a Journey of Discovery
Create more social opportunities for play, maybe inviting other players over to your house so they can play. Something we’ve seen in our work in the video game industry is that when we get gamers together and get them to play together, especially in the same space, the amount of energy and connection and comradery that unleashes is tremendous. You don’t have to have a Gametruck party or a Gameplex party or a Bravous event to do that. You can do that in your own home by sitting down and playing some games together with your kids. We had an amazing Thanksgiving last year which I’ll write about another time where we got our entire family, including my wife who wouldn’t identify herself as a gamer, into a video game together, and it was an awesome experience. When you see your child developing a strong interest in gaming, even if you’re not worried about it, I would encourage you to lean into that interest and see what’s there, because there’s a massive world that may be waiting for both of you to discover together.
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As a business owner, I have learned the importance of sharing both company (GameTruck core value) and personal values. Dr. Sabrina Starling’s advice resonated with me, prompting me to reflect on the values that guide my business and personal life. Among them, the value of “Applying what you learn” stands out. In this blog post, I will explore how this value drives innovation and positive impact in my business and beyond.
Dr. Sabrina Starling encouraged me as a business owner not just to share values from our company culture but also my personal values. It made a lot of sense to me. It’s intuitive that a business owner would strongly impact the culture of the company they founded. So I sat down and created a list of 8 values that are important to me personally. Once I started looking at them I could see that, yes, I do see those values playing out in my business virtually every day.
The Value of Applied Knowledge
One of the values I wrote down reads “Apply what you learn.”Coming from an engineering background and a family that values education, I have always prioritized learning. However, knowledge without practical application holds limited value for me. While interesting facts and trivia entertain me, I find true value in using knowledge to make a difference. This mindset stems from my responsibility as a business owner to deliver value and positively impact the lives of others. By going beyond mere entertainment and actively seeking ways to apply new knowledge, I can drive innovation and create meaningful change.
Applying Knowledge to Make a Difference
Whenever I learn something new, I immediately ask myself how I can apply it to improve my world or the lives of those I care about. This broad category includes my family, colleagues, and clients. As I consume information, I constantly question its usefulness and potential applications.
Adopting Time Feriss’ Process
Inspired by Tim Ferriss, I have incorporated a useful process when reading physical books. I draw a box in the front of the book, listing page numbers next to it to serve as an index for ideas and highlights. By the end of the book, I ask myself how the acquired knowledge should impact my practices and habits. This reflection helps me create an action plan rather than simply gaining new information.
Promoting Knowledge in Others
As the learning chair for a non-profit organization, I always consider the takeaway value for the audience when inviting speakers. My aim is to generate movement and change in their lives and the causes they care about. This approach aligns with my core values, emphasizing the importance of applying knowledge rather than letting it go to waste.
Bringing together all my knowledge and experiences has led to remarkable innovations. One such achievement was the design and construction of the first mobile video game trailer, which fostered a shared gaming experience. Unlike previous endeavors that isolated players, I envisioned a setting where everyone could see and participate in each other’s games. This vision gave birth to GameTruck, a successful franchise that has entertained millions of kids and adults over the past fifteen years.
Applied knowledge is a core value that fuels innovation and impact. As business owners and individuals, we have the power to leverage the knowledge we acquire and translate it into meaningful actions. By embracing this value, we can drive positive change, create innovative solutions, and make a difference in our lives and the lives of others.
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