Godspeed Richard Tait

Richard Tait (1964-2022)

I had been lucky enough to meet and discuss entrepreneurship and life with Richard Tait just enough to consider him a friend.

He was a dedicated father. My heart goes out to his children.

Revisiting the notes from our coversations and emails through the years. I wanted to share Richard’s lessons.

Tait’s Eight Principles

As a serial entrepreneur, Tait has honed eight principles that have helped him grow successful businesses and endure the trials and challenges of entrepreneurship. It is a journey, a way of life he said. It is tough. It can be very lonely. He defines success not by how many times you are knocked down, but how many times you get back up.

1) Have a mission

A clear sense of mission is vital to ask people to dedicate their lives to create history. At Cranium, it was to give everyone a chance to shine. It was a cause that made it easy to recruit people. At Golazo, it was about creating products that are true to the game and the fan. With Golazo, similarly to Cranium, the mission is that everyone is born to score.

2) Change the rules

Before Cranium games were sold at toy stores. Cranium was the first non-coffee product sold at Starbucks, the first game sold at Barnes & Noble and the first game to be sold on Amazon. The company changed the rules through an act of desperation. Tait and co-founder Whit Alexander had missed Toy Fair, so they took the game to where their customers were.

3) Know what you are good at

Tait said plainly, “Do not stop until you are the best in the world.” You, as entrepreneur, must create world-class products and services. Know what you are best at and then commit constantly at this level. At Cranium, the term CHIFF was coined. CHIFF, an acronym that stands for “Clever, High- quality, Innovative, Friendly, Fun”, became a mission and a mantra. Everyone, even suppliers, understood the statement and how it defined the company strategy. Golazo defined its CHIFF as “Golzao-style”.

These six values include:

  1. Passion for the beautiful game,
  2. Play where we can win,
  3. Respect for Latino heritage,
  4. Pause before you pass,
  5. Platform for human potential,
  6. Born to score.

Every product and project that the company does must be “Golazo- style.”

4) Make hiring priority number one

People who join the company must fit and actively engage in the culture. Cranium had a philosophy of hiring for smarts and renting experience. A hard lesson was learned that the opposite is true for operations and finance. Everyone must pursue the dream, live the mission and culture and go for it. Tait built Golazo around the dream and is defining the culture.

5) Your customers are your sales force

Customers came first at Cranium. They responded and many became “Craniacs”. Birthdays, proposals and weddings were themed around the game. The company would do ridiculous things for its customers.

Tait’s stories range from sending bike messenger to deliver a game to a grandmother sending in a game idea that ended up selling 800,000 games. Tait employed word-of-mouth strategies before the term became commonplace. Golazo took a similar word-of-mouth approach building the brand through amateur 3 on 3 tournaments and Golazo Ambassadors on local college campuses.

6) Avoid hairballs

Tait’s favorite book is Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie. The book is a guide to how to stay creative in a large company. MacKenize and Tait developed a rapport during Tait’s transition from Microsoft before starting Cranium. That relationship left a lasting impact on him. “He taught me to trust in my creativity.” Tait believes that every would-be entrepreneur should read this book only to understand that the challenge is not to be in the reaction business, but rather the avoidance business.

7) Do good as you do well

Giving back as you succeed in business helps tremendously. Tait recounts a terrific story where Cranium had donated more than $1 million to afterschool programs. One of the beneficiaries was a young girl who played violin. For that hour, there were no distractions, no older brothers, no homework, just her and the violin. The way she took the violin and made it play made that hour the best hour of her day. Tait recommends giving back because it is good for those you help and you.

8) Lead with passion, a sense of discovery and speed

“Speed is your friend.” You must push yourself hard to succeed in business. It can also be lonely as well. Tait believes that every entrepreneur will need to recover from the inevitable knockdowns.

Tait takes chances and believes in himself. His self-confidence radiates and is infectious. He believes to invent is why he is on this planet and he encourages everyone around him to find their own leader within. “I am in your corner,” he wrote me in an email — five simple words of encouragement that continue to inspire me.

Godspeed

MLB MLBPA Pension Reform from 1985

Early Wynn from 1985:

“Modern ballplayers tell us, ‘Too bad, you should have invested better. But on salaries of 10 to 15 thousand dollars a year, how many in­vestments could you make? They could at least triple the pension for the old guys and give us hospitalization.”

“When I went to the players union last year looking tor more money for my old-timers, I was told, ‘We don’t want to discuss it now. Let’s discuss it just before the next Basic Agreement comes due in 1989.”

“I said to the union, ‘I can’t wait that long, fellas. By that time, an­other 150 people who need your help will be dead.”

@sportingnews, May 16, 1985 p.16

Today there are just over 500 former MLB alums remain.

Bitter Cup of Coffee List

By any measure, these former ballplayers have demonstrated a legacy and responsibility built on equity, loyalty and fair play.

The story is this: In the 1980 MLBPA CBA agreement, players from 1947-79, who were not vested, were cut of out receiving pension and benefits under the new agreement. It gets a little complicated from there; however, there are about 600 still alive. Both MLB and the MLBPA can correct this.

See https://bittercupbaseball.com to learn more.

The Bitter Cup List Spreadsheet

https://onedrive.live.com/view.aspx?resid=63D91647F7D8BED0!133674&ithint=file,xlsx&authkey=!APVP7sJDYc4gDrs

While this issue has been overlooked, there have been recent articles on the subject:

1)           Bill Madden, NY Daily News https://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/ny-mlb-cba-negotiations-right-a-wrong-20211106-vloym33ojjfxnkzij6qma7b4xm-story.html

2)           Mike Woodel, Capital Journal https://www.capjournal.com/news/though-without-mlb-pension-bruno-relishes-post-baseball-life-in-sully-county/article_2e56a630-f927-11eb-959e-0b02b298ff17.html

3) Doug Gladstone, Cleveland.com

https://www.cleveland.com/opinion/2022/01/it-may-be-too-late-for-don-dillard-but-525-major-leaguers-still-need-pensions-douglas-j-gladstone.html?outputType=amp

One-Hit Wonders

My first contributions to Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) have been published in SABR’s latest book, One-Hit Wonders. This book details the brief biographies of 70 players who accumulated just one major league hit.

Craig Cacek had a cup of coffee with the Astros and went a self-described “0 for America.” His only base knock was in 1977 in Montreal. Craig played 11 professional seasons in the minors behind perennial All Star Bob Watson in Houston and later Hall of Famer Willie Stargell in Pittsburgh. He never got another shot. After walking away from the game for more than a decade he found baseball redemption in men’s league baseball. I truly enjoyed his interview.

Jason Davis was a pitcher for the Indians, Mariners and Pirates. He had a career day in June of 2004 when he pitched in front of 100 family and friends and crushed his only hit, a home run in a win over the Braves in Atlanta. With all but one of his seven seasons in the American League, he only had nineteen plate appearances. I remember seeing Jason pitch at the end of his Indians career and his brief stint with the Mariners. For Jason’s biography I was able to connect with major league scouts and legendary sportswriters.

SABR One-Hit Wonders

Carroll Shelby

Recently had the opportunity to visit Shelby American in Las Vegas. Loved this bit of entrepreneurial spirit.

Full Timeline Article: https://www.motortrend.com/features/carroll-shelby-life-1923-2012-timeline/

April 1962: CSX 2000, the first Cobra, is painted a pearlescent yellow by Dean Jeffries and shipped to the New York auto show, where it appears in the Ford display. “I think I paid him $200,” Shelby recalls, “Actually I don’t think I paid him at all. Maybe I traded him something for the work.” With dealer orders and deposits coming in, Shelby American formally commits to building the Cobra.

May 1962: Shelby promotes the new Cobra by offering test drives to the automotive press. The May 1962 issue of Sports Car Graphic describes the Cobra’s acceleration as “explosive.” CSX 2001 (the second Cobra built) is shipped by from England to New York and is prepped by Ed Hugas in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. CSX 2002 is shipped out to Los Angeles and built into the first race-ready Cobra.

June 1962: Shelby American deals with start-up problems resulting in slower than anticipated production. The AC chassis the Cobra uses requires extensive re-engineering for Shelby’s intended application. Meanwhile, CSX 2000 is repainted a new color each time a different magazine test drives it, giving the appearance of many cars in production.

Grand Park

Mt Rainier with lenticular “cap” cloud

Grand Park is a high alpine meadow that was formed by an ancient lava flow. From this northwest corner of the national park, there are some amazing views of the mountain and few visitors. In this photo, a lenticular cloud caps the volcano. These clouds develop when fast moving air is forced over a physical obstacle and are common at Mount Rainier.

“Mojo” Reads

Originally posted this is 2009. Awful quick circle.

I have had a lot of conversations with very talented people that seem lost in this new economic reality. Understandably many are upset about their respective employment situations; however, as a whole they seem to be forgetting what has made them great. Here are some recommended reads for some positive “mojo”:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
I first borrowed a copy of the Alchemist in 1996 while backpacking in Australia and devoured it in a single day. I hated to return it. Since then I have recommended the book countless times and given away many copies as gifts. It is worth checking out Coelho’s blog where he posts daily and even links to pirated copies of his work.

The Radical Leap: A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership by Steve Farber
This is a great short read about leadership. First read in 2004, I have taken the time to re-read it about once per year and see how I measure up.

The Magic Lamp: Goal Setting for People Who Hate Setting Goals by Keith Ellis
I recently came across this book. Would recommend. It is authentic and can help you get you from A to B.

Hang in there and read on.