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Using Your Head

Cranium Creator Richard Tait Makes The Case For Passion, Fun, Creativity, And Profit

Life is an unpredictable journey. The old adage that “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans” is still true today. As I sat in the company of many of my friends and colleagues at the recent CEDIA Management Conference, I was struck by the intense desire we have to succeed in spite of the financial and emotional turmoil that has engulfed us in the last year. Here was a group of people willing to step away from their businesses at a time of “crisis,” because they understand the need to sharpen their skills and get even better at what we do.

As the various presenters addressed topics from financial strategies to team-building recommendations, I was struck by the words of Richard Tait (co-founder of the game company, Cranium) with whom I have a lot in common. We both built successful companies and sold them early in our careers. We both look at life from a unique perspective, one that challenges the

Richard Tait, creator of the board game “Cranium,” offered his business insights to attendees of the 2009 CEDIA Management Conference in Carefree, Arizona. corporate norm and emphasizes personal growth and progression. His story brought to mind many of the principles that somehow have shaped my own life and made me who I am today.

The first principle was the matter of passion. Passion is my number-one motivator. At first I was passionate about music. Over the years I have built a soundtrack around my life, from 1970s and ’80s punk that fueled my individuality and drive, to the soft jazz vocals of Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James that transported me to smoky jazz clubs and people huddled around candle-lit tables. Music is such an important part of my existence that I can’t be without it. Between listening at home, in my car and, at live events, I am constantly immersed in what I love.

Not being a musician myself, I never imagined there would be a way to make music my livelihood, until I found SpeakerCraft; my career path was set. Today my passion for music and entertainment is still going strong, but my passions have multiplied. I have a passion for business. I want to join my team in accomplishing great things. I want to see how effective and efficient we can be. I want to help our dealers grow with unparalleled innovation, service, and support.


As Richard spoke of the process of creating the “Cranium” board game I found the second principle we share: the desire to give everyone an opportunity to succeed, be recognized, and become fulfilled. As I look at my team I find myself directly invested in their well-being. I want them to experience the success and good fortune that I have been able to achieve. We have a culture that is perfect for individuals who want to be in charge of their own destiny. We are not tied to corporate titles or hierarchy. If a person wants to excel, there will be many opportunities to shine.

It was also readily apparent that Richard likes to have fun. He runs a game company for the fun of it. Fun is his main motivator. He promotes fun as a necessity in the workplace, not a simple diversion. People who are having fun are happier at work, they miss fewer days, they don’t constantly watch the clock, and they project an incredibly positive attitude to every customer or client they deal with. Whether we are dressing up as pirates or planning a bowling night or a Halloween party, having fun is not an option, it’s a mandate.

The prerequisite to all of this is the ability for our companies to make a profit. Without the appropriate revenue model and financial planning, this approach comes to a screeching halt. The desire to have a dynamic, exciting, cutting-edge company filled with passion and fun is only possible if the company makes money. However, the two are not mutually exclusive. Balance is the key. Making sure the bottom line is solid allows enthusiasm and creativity to continue to drive your company to new heights. Life isn’t just about what you buy and own or how much money you make. It needs to have balance in work, play, rest, and all areas you deem important.

Look inside your business. Now is the time to dial in your policies and procedures. For those of you who were fortunate enough to be in attendance at the management conference, I am sure you have a number of initiatives that you are preparing to implement. It’s all about moving forward and upward. Hone your skills and examine past results. If they do not match your expectations, then change the process. You alone stand in charge of your career and financial destiny.

Fill your business life with passion, fun, and creativity. Create opportunities for others to shine and let them share in your success. Be the leader, the mentor, and the example for your team. Business is a rewarding game. Play to win, but make sure you continue to play no matter how many times around the board you go.

Jeremy Burkhardt is president of SpeakerCraft in Riverside, California.