My guest for Episode #43 of “the My Favorite Mistake” podcast is Dave Raymond, author of the book The Power of Fun. So what does Dave know about fun? He's had an incredibly fun career. For one, he was a somewhat accidental pioneer as a sports mascot — he was the first person to perform as the Phillie Phanatic, doing so for 16 years, in 48 states and five countries. Here is a photo of the Phanatic in 1980:Embed from Getty Images
He started Raymond Entertainment Group 20 years ago, where he has designed and rehabilitated hundreds of character brands for Fortune 500 companies, sports teams, and colleges and universities — Including Victor E. Green, who I’ve seen at Dallas Stars games and Gritty, the new Philadelphia Flyers mascot. In 2005, he founded the Mascot Hall of Fame. Davie is also a motivational speaker (doing a lot of virtual work now).
In the episode today, Dave shares his “favorite mistake” story which involved him and the Phanatic not showing up for an event — and how the Phillies team leadership helped him learn a valuable lesson. We'll also talk about how he became the Phanatic, as a marketing intern with the team, the reception that he got from the fans, and whether the animosity with the late Dodgers' manager Tommy Lasorda was real or not. Scroll down for a few videos of the Phanatic at work.Embed from Getty Images
We also talk about his recent work and why people should be having more fun in the workplace. Can you have a process for creating fun?
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Automated Transcript (Likely Contain Mistakes)
Mark Graban (0s):
Episode 43, Dave Raymond, the original Phillie Phanatic and the author of the “Power of Fun. “
Dave Raymond (8s):
I don't know if they're favorite mistakes, but I surely have mistakes on top of mistakes stacked up in my life. So I may be a month long interview, okay?
Mark Graban (23s):
I'm Mark Graban. This is My Favorite Mistake. In this podcast you'll hear business leaders and other really interesting people talking about their favorite mistakes because we all make mistakes, but what matters is learning from our mistakes instead of repeating them over and over again. So this is the place for honest reflection and conversation, personal growth and professional success. Visit our website at myfavoritemistakepodcast.com. For show notes and a chance to win a copy of Dave's book, go to MarkGraban.com/mistake43, and now on with the show.
Mark Graban (1m 2s):
Hi, welcome to My Favorite Mistake. I'm Mark Graban. We've got a really fun episode ahead today. We are joined by Dave Raymond. I'm going to introduce him, tell you a little bit more about his background. The first thing I'm going to say in his email signature, he says he's the “emperor of fun.” That's a great title. So Dave, thank you for being here. How are you?
Dave Raymond (1m 24s):
Well, I'm great. And thank you for including me. I, I think it's nice to share to the people are checking in today that when you told me the format of your show, I said, well, how long is your show? Is it a week? Because I could share, I don't know if their favorite mistakes, but I surely have mistakes on top of mistakes stacked up in my life. So, so I may be a month long interview, but I'll let you pick…
Mark Graban (1m 47s):
We'll have you back on the show sometime, but yeah, that's the biggest prep challenge. I think we all have a ton of mistakes. So what's a favorite one. I think we might get two stories from Dave today and, and those two stories to, to introduce him. You know, there are a couple of different aspects of a very interesting career. So Dave Raymond is a pioneer as a sports mascot. So you might be wondering, Hey Mark, why are you so casual if you're watching me on YouTube here? Well, Dave was the first person to perform as the Phillie Phanatic. And I'm really happy to be wearing a t-shirt with a cartoon drawing at least of the Phanatic of course, associated with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Mark Graban (2m 32s):
Dave performed as the Phanatic for 16 years. He did. So in 48 States and five countries, which two States did you not make it to?
Dave Raymond (2m 43s):
It was a South Dakota and Wyoming. That's, it's kind of funny to, for you to throw that at me because I've been asked that quite a bit. So
Mark Graban (2m 51s):
Yeah. Good. No, that's all right. So then Dave has had a second career. If you will. He started Raymond entertainment group, a company 20 years ago. He has designed rehabilitated hundreds of character brands for fortune 500 companies, sports teams, colleges, and universities, including the one that stands out to me in particular. I've lived in Dallas for a while. And I remember the introduction of Victor E. Green, the mascot for the Dallas Stars. So thank you for doing that as well. Dave,
Dave Raymond (3m 23s):
My pleasure…name named after the, the title for the color, the very specific color that they, that they have in their logo and their brand sheet, which by the way, was extremely difficult for us to die and capture that exact color. So it's kind of appropriate that they decided to name the character after victory green, because it wasn't victory. When we started, it was a challenge. They're a great client of ours and they've done a fabulous job with Victor.
Mark Graban (3m 50s):
So I think there's, there's so much we can delve into Dave also founded the mascot hall of fame in 2005. Did you induct the, the, the Phanatic and the inaugural class
Dave Raymond (4m 1s):
We did. And that was, we had no process. You know, we were doing this to start at somewhat of a way to, to show people how valuable mascots were. And so we figured they needed their hall of fame. So we inducted the Phanatic, the Phoenix gorilla and the San Diego chicken. Well, we felt nobody would argue those three, well much to our delight on PTI. Pardon the interruption with Kornheiser and Wilbon on ESPN. They fought for their, their minute round for a minute. They had our Mascot Hall of Fame logo off. We just kick this off. And the two of them were arguing about why that didn't belong. And then the chicken did others. And I'm sitting there just smiling ear to ear as they're screaming at each other about something that we thought there'd be no argument, but there is, and there continues to be with every induction class.
Mark Graban (4m 49s):
Yeah, well, that's brilliant. I mean, that's what I mean. They show us, it's just about arguing sometimes for the sake of arguing. I love the, I love, love the show, but so I'm going to ask Dave questions about these different aspects of his career. He's also a motivational speaker. He does a lot of virtual work. Now he's the author of the book, The Power of Fun. So I don't know, we can call today's episode my favorite mascot.
Dave Raymond (5m 16s):
Mark Graban (5m 17s):
Sounds like a mistake. I did that in personal. I did that intentionally.
Dave Raymond (5m 23s):
You're wearing the brand. You I've got an all over here, the book, the, you know, we're, we're, we're an effort to brand and be consistent. And thank you.
Mark Graban (5m 31s):
So we're going to have fun talking about mistakes and all sorts of things here, Dave. So you, you've got a story first, Dave, about your time as the Phanatic, if you, if you could start with that favorite mistake.
Dave Raymond (5m 45s):
Well, it was, you know, my dad who was the head football coach at Delaware. He's the one that ironically, you know, got me a job. I always believe he used to make fun of me as a kid. And, and tell me how great my gift of gab was. And then of course, he'd say now sit down and shut up. And then he was in, he was the epidemic to get me a job where I had to be a mute, right? So I've had some, You know, some great, obviously inspiration in my career, but you know, I'm, I was brought up in, in a home where Delaware football was not just a game. It wasn't a sport, it was our life. And it also meant that if my dad's teams weren't winning, you know, we may not live in Newark Delaware anymore.
Dave Raymond (6m 26s):
He may, you know, be, let go and fired in that. And so for us, it was passionate and that's really, my whole life was about going to those football games and living and dying on that field at Delaware stadium and watching his teams. So I get the job with the Phillies and immediately it becomes successful. And I had all kinds of commitments that a 21 year old wouldn't be used to. Now, my dad had taught me about loyalty. He taught me about showing up on time and doing the things and proving to my employer that I was valuable. And once I did that, I, I would value in return. So great upbringing. But with the schedule came in and very early on in 1978, when I saw there was a Saturday appearance where I was going to miss a Delaware football game, I just didn't show up to the Phillies of the Phanatic appearance.
Dave Raymond (7m 14s):
And I can't miss my dad's football game. I mean, you know, so I did that and the next day, Bill Giles called me into his office. Now this is my boss's boss. He is, he was the brilliant mind behind the Phanatic. It never would have been born without Bill. And he said, Hey, I see you didn't show up what happened. And I said, and I kind of put my head down. And I said, well, Mr. Jones, I went to my dad's football game. So obviously was something I adhered to and he stopped. And he said, so you just didn't go to the, the appearance because you had, you wanted to see your dad's game yet. And he said, well, let me explain something to you, David, there were 370 people that came to this appearance in a small little business that were expecting the Phanatic to be there.
Dave Raymond (8m 1s):
Those are Phillies fans, but they're also people that are looking to something that we're supposed to provide. So as, as, and I understand the importance of your father's games, I, I, you know, I'm, I'm in a sports background. This is what we're living here, but you cannot do that sort of thing. And I thought I was going to get fired. I really did. I thought that was it. You know, they'll find somebody else he said, but here's what we're going to do. I am going to deduct the $300 of the fee that would have, would have been brought in from that appearance, from your paycheck and my paycheck. Not extremely large at that time, they said, I just want you to understand this is the thing I want to understand is people really are passionate about the Phanatic.
Dave Raymond (8m 42s):
They're falling in love with you, and that's because of your work. So I want you to be just as passionate about your work as you are about your dad's football games and we have a backup for you. So if you, if there are appearances that you don't want to make, just work with Chrissy, who is our scheduling person and it be enlightened leadership and continued to get from the Phillies and specifically from Bill Giles and the ownership, the Carpenter family was amazing. And it wasn't until I started to work outside of the Philly's environment for other major league teams or for other partners with the Phillies that I discovered, wow, I'm working in a really different environment.
Dave Raymond (9m 22s):
And, and so the seeds of, of powerful fun and, and building a great culture and appreciation and recognition, the Phillies did that naturally. And I was blessed to learn that lesson early, that I could make a mistake, frankly. I was encouraged to make mistakes, not like that, but encouraged to make mistakes, grow and develop the Phanatic's personality. And I was allowed that that quarter, I was allowed that flexibility and those collaborative meetings with Bill Giles, who ended up being the owner of the Phillies happened frequently. So I was a low, I mean, in the early going, I was an intern, I was a low level employee that my boss's boss was collaborating with me.
Dave Raymond (10m 4s):
It was incredible. And I'm glad that mistake happened because I learned it early. And I learned how not to disappoint the Philadelphia fans. Yes.
Mark Graban (10m 10s):
I mean, I guess there's a lesson in, in not taking something good for granted.
Dave Raymond (10m 16s):
Oh, well, that's no question. And I, and I was, you know, the, the, the, the trite adage of I was young and stupid, but I think that, you know, a lot of our young generations don't get the benefit of learning something early that will, will pay them dividends throughout their entire life. So my only advice is, you know, try to recognize the mistakes early that have shaped you because they're really valid.
Mark Graban (10m 42s):
Yeah. Well, that's, that's great advice. And, you know, I want to ask you a few questions about being the Phanatic. Like for one, you mentioned being encouraged to make mistakes, I guess the great thing about that character, if you trip or stumble, you, you just play it off, like it's intentional comedy, right?
Dave Raymond (11m 0s):
There's no question. I think so I've been blessed and credited with creating a personality that has entertained over 80 million fans and counting. And that's a wonderful blessing to have, plus the, the love, the beloved feedback from Philadelphia fans. But it, the reason why I was able to create that was that the, the Phillies gave me very little direction. They said, go out and have fun. It has to be G-rated fun and, and figure this out. And we'll, we'll help you develop. So like you said, I, the very first time I came out within the first few minutes, I actually tripped and fell because I got tripped and people laughed, you know, like, like Robin Williams just, you know, did a great routine.
Dave Raymond (11m 46s):
And I went, okay, wait, I gotta fall down more. I already had in my mind that I needed to be frenetic. What I had naturally and authentically was the heart of the Philadelphia fan, because I was one, I knew the insecurity. I knew the den of iniquity north of us, that we were always trying to overcome. I understood, you know, victory being snatched by defeat so many times in the Phillies' history. And, and I was living and breathing that. So I'm, I'm mashed together slapstick comedy with my favorite shows, the Three Stooges or my cartoons from Warner Brothers and just mash it up, made sure it was G-rated entertainment. And, you know, was given the ability to, to build this personality on my own.
Dave Raymond (12m 29s):
And, and that is, I think the reason why it's, it's been so successful
Mark Graban (12m 33s):
Long-term. Yeah. And so, I mean, how did you get that job? Did you have like education as a mime or theater or dance or dance, or did you, how, how, how how'd you get this job? You kind of luck into it or what happened?
Dave Raymond (12m 46s):
Well, I got the job because I was low man on the totem pole. And I like to say I was the only one that was stupid enough to say yes to this idea. And that was because of my dad's, you know, my dad's focused on go show them. You're valuable, you know, I would say yes to once I got the job as an intern, I forgot about coach and football because I went, wow, I could, I could work for my hometown baseball team. I mean, sports marketing was not, you know, an education selection, right. It's some business, but I was studying to be a teacher and a coach because I wanted to be a coach like my dad. So I get this job in two summers of like, I'm in, you know, I'll do anything you ask me. And it was supposed to be a two year internship, but in '78, they called and said, do you want your job back for the '78 summer?
Dave Raymond (13m 32s):
And I said, yes, will you stay for the games? That was a perk. Right. And they said, we're going to pay you to stay for the games, you know, just go to New York and get fitted for the costume. Yeah. And that's where the confusion came in and I started to protest and they said, no, look, just go to New York and get fitted for the costume. And that's all they cared about. We've got the design done, we've got the costume being built. We need a performer to say yes, to go into New York and get fitted for the costume. And then we'll figure it out from there, which is truthful the way a lot of their ballpark entertainment, their value added entertainment was created by the current pop culture and what's going on and how can we engage more than just baseball fans? So this cartoon character concept came in and I truly was someone who would have said yes to anything.
Dave Raymond (14m 16s):
I would have been kite man. Okay. Which would have been a dangerous approval. But I, I said yes, immediately, because, and then, you know, once it was all together, I realized I was getting no direction. And that's when I went to Bill Giles and said, what do you want me to do? And he said, you need to go have fun. It's got to be curated fun. But if you're not having fun, this isn't going to work well. I mean, can you imagine the empowerment that I got from you're going to get paid, that you're working for your, your favorite baseball team, you're gonna prove your value on something brand new. And I was just so motivated and lost all of my fear and with that direction.
Dave Raymond (14m 56s):
And it truly was the inspiration, not only behind the success of the Phanatic, but the success of Gritty, you know, which we, which we were engaged by the Flyers to work on that project. And it's the same, it's the same process that has, you know, morphed into my book and the lessons that we learned that I learned as a 21, 22 year old
Mark Graban (15m 18s):
And Gritty was unveiled for the Philadelphia Flyers. Just maybe what, two years ago.
Dave Raymond (15m 23s):
I think we'll go in on the third.
Mark Graban (15m 26s):
Yeah. So people go check out Gritty. And I got to go to a Phillies game like a year and a half ago and they sell t-shirts. These are knockoff t-shirts. So I'm not incorrect, not encouraging copyright violation, but there are t-shirts with both the Phanatic and Gritty and, you know, it's similar. Like they have,
Dave Raymond (15m 44s):
That's the one that got some copyright inspection, but, but I believe it's been approved now. So they, they ha there there's some wonderful images that they are, that both teams are doing well. Yeah.
Mark Graban (15m 56s):
And there's, there's licensing opportunities, which is the business here today. But I, I've got to ask though, you know, Philly fans are notorious for being tough. And there's a, the incident where they supposedly booed a Santa Claus at an Eagles game. I mean, what was the reaction of coming out there? I remember the Boston Red Sox about 20 years ago. I hope this wasn't your project. I should have researched this in advance. The red Sox unveiled the mascot, Wally, the Green Monster. And he was booed and kind of put in hiding for a while and I think is eventually become more accepted.
Dave Raymond (16m 34s):
He's he's a, he's a staple. And he's, and, and the reason why it worked was what we talked about. There was some authentic storytelling behind the concept, as opposed to what we did with the Phillies in the beginning is we, we just showed up and we told the story afterwards because people were asking, and that was a great lesson to learn, but you know, the Philadelphia fans w we get a bad rap. Okay, you'll hear the fans the time we get a bad rap. Yes, yes. We did this. Yes, we did that. Yes. I was there. I saw that. Right. But you could virtually find mirror incidents around the country, in any sporting facility, but for some reason, over the decades, the Phillies have earned this reputation as a boon Santa Claus and the Easter bunny.
Dave Raymond (17m 18s):
So, yes, that was part of my fear. But what overcame that fear was the surprise, which surprise, surprising fun is always powerful. And the unit of the character is something that you wouldn't expect. You unique and surprise are two nice principles to follow. When you're trying to look for success with any type of branding or marketing. And then, you know, again, I understood the heartbeat of the Philadelphia fan because it was authentic. It was, I was one of them. So if I saw a Mets fan with a Mets hat, I knew exactly how to treat that person. Now I treat them like somebody in, in Philly's fandom that would go overboard. I treated them in a way that, where I could, you know, get a little bit of re great response from Phillies fans, like taking the Mets hat and flipping it on the field.
Dave Raymond (18m 6s):
Right. Oh my gosh. It took that mat hat and flipped it on the field. And then the, the, the van being like, Oh my gosh, my Mets hat. Well, then the Phanatic would jump off of his chair, rundown, go onto the field, accidentally step on the hat, but then pick it up and recover it, dust it off and give it back to the Mets fan all the while that we are, you know, building some bonds through this, this wonderful, you know, slapstick comedy that connected even Philadelphia fans to opposing fans when we did it. Right. So it was really pretty easy to win them over because they weren't expecting it. And then anything I did became a surprise. Yeah.
Mark Graban (18m 43s):
And I've got to ask, I want to ask two other questions about your Phanatic experience before we talk about some of your other businesses. Dave, a friend of mine from college, Jen Burke wanted me to ask a question because she and her husband, who's also a friend. They are Phillies season ticket holders. She has a Phanatic golf driver head cover. I'm butchering the words. I'm not a golfer, but it's in her golf bag. She, she loves the Phanatic. And so she wanted to ask like, w was there anything that surprised you about the longevity of the character and the longevity that you had all added a related question, the longevity that you had inside as the Phanatic.
Dave Raymond (19m 29s):
Yeah. And, and, you know, it's 43 years ago, you know, April, April 25th of 1978. So 43 years of the Phanatic with two main performers. I mean, Tom, we're going is one of my best friends is, is now the current best friend of the Phanatic. And, you know, that's pretty spectacular. So if you had asked me at 28, 21 years old that we were starting, this, I would have told you, Oh no, no, this, this will just be like one of those promotions we've done like kite man. And maybe he'll come back every now and then, but it's, it's not going to last for a long time. Most of us, other than bill Giles. And some of the other people that were on board with the concept felt that it was just going to be kind of a flash in the pan.
Dave Raymond (20m 11s):
And the fans were going to react bitterly in a negative fashion. And w and it wouldn't work, but they would, they would actually, you know, be thrilled for that to happen too, because sometimes those mistakes like kite man became famous and infamous, and, and the fans would look for the next failure, because that was part of what was surprised about going to a Philadelphia Phillies game. So I, yes, I was surprised by the longevity, but now again, by district deconstructing, these, these steps in this process, it's obvious to me why it had, has lived on because it was authentic. It was supported. It was some in Bill Giles and his staff to push forward with this and to get it done and not to worry about people say, wait a minute, I'm up, it I'm up.
Dave Raymond (20m 58s):
It can't be a mascot for the, he would say, well, why not? Of course it is that, you know, as long as, you know, David evolves this as an authentic Philadelphia Phillies fan. So, you know, that was, we, we, the steps that we took that made the Phanatic last for 43 years, and trust me for hundreds of years from now, as long as baseball is still being played in Philadelphia, the Phanatic is going to be part of it. And that, that's how, you know, it's a billion dollar brand extension, you know, when, you know, not just revenue, but the goodwill is hard to calculate. So at least a billion dollar brand extension that was all created because of some fearless fearlessness, some surprise, a unique quality to it.
Dave Raymond (21m 40s):
And most importantly, authentic storytelling.
Mark Graban (21m 43s):
Yeah. And those are great lessons to carry forward into other industries. Oh, before the last Phanatic question, when, when Dave says Muppet, like I know enough of the history here that the Phanatic was literally created by Bonnie Erickson who worked with Jim Henson and she created Miss Piggy and other famous Muppets characters. So it's
Dave Raymond (22m 4s):
Statler and Waldorf, the two old men that argue in the balcony, those are, those are definitively Bonnie's creation. She worked on a team of people that created Miss Piggy. But if you were to do, if you were to Google, Bonnie Erickson, and there are some pictures of her as a, as a young woman, her hair was the inspiration behind Miss Piggy's hair. And if, if you look at her hair with the flips and the curls, it's so funny that, and even the color really is, is where you she can claim credit, certainly to Miss Piggy's hairdo.
Mark Graban (22m 36s):
Yeah. So the other question I wanted to ask you, you know, very recently last baseball legend, Tommy LaSorda was Dodgers manager. And I went back and I watched the video that I've seen before of, of an altercation that you had on field Tommy. And it's hard to tell how serious that was. I mean, was that, was that, was he really angry with you or was that all in good fun?
Dave Raymond (22m 60s):
Well, I'll tell you that this is great because I was interviewed on WIP about this and, and, you know, condolences to the time of Tommy's family and his brothers. I mean, he is from Norristown. And I said, the only, the only bad thing is that suffering that the family is going through. But, you know, I rejoice in, in getting the opportunity to know Tommy. So, so John Marks on WIP said, Oh, okay. So he was okay with it until he wasn't, which I bumped that with yes, four years, all the way back to 1979, when I first got to know him in Japan, when the Phanatic was the mascot for Major League Baseball's tour of Japan, where all star team from American league and an all-star team from the national league went and played, you know, these demonstration, these, these fun games in front of Japanese audiences, and they were filling the stadiums.
Dave Raymond (23m 50s):
And Tommy LaSorda was a God in Japan. I mean, he, he was the brand extension for American major league baseball, and they love and continue to love baseball in Japan. So I would make fun as the Phanatic would make fun of Tommy and the fans, the Japanese fans would go absolutely hysterical. It's like making fun of the poem, you know, and they were, they couldn't believe it. And they were, they were gasping. And then they were laughing. And when Tommy realized that he was a showman and he understood the timing, and we did this whole routine in front of the Japanese audience, which continued to reoccur the following years in Philadelphia, when the Dodgers came and he was all a part of it, it would have to be a little more intense because he was trying to lose weight.
Dave Raymond (24m 33s):
During that particular time, we hadn't had pasta for a few weeks and he came in there and he was trying to stop me from, he didn't know how I was getting his Jersey to dress up the affidavit dummy. I like Tommy. So he was getting colluding with their clubhouse manager, not to bring multiple Lasorda jerseys on the road. So he thought he had prevented it. So I went and bought a Jersey, had it embroidered for that particular night. And I think it was the perfect storm. And, and like Johnny Mark said, that's when he didn't, he loved it, got along
Mark Graban (25m 6s):
Until the effigy had a big pillow stuffed in its belly. It seemed
Dave Raymond (25m 11s):
It did. And I, I should've just removed the pillow and said, look, you have lost your weight, you know, but we made up and he listened. He was very genuine in his kindness towards me. You know, he would say, you know, David, I love you. I hate that for that. So I took that as a compliment that I was able to be such a good performer, that I was able to separate my entity from the Phanatic's in his mind. And he almost used to say to me, how's your dad. And Tommy lived til he's 93. I lost my dad three years ago. This December, he made it to 92. And I always appreciated that, you know, he, he was in, you know, Tommy was a manager of a major league team and he always recognized what I lived with and what my dad would go through being a head football coach.
Dave Raymond (25m 57s):
And so I I'll miss him. I think that the thing that I said numerous times during that, that period where he passed was that baseball we're weeding out that those tremendous personalities that seem to have been diluted because of analytics and the new way that they, you know, teach baseball, coach baseball, managed baseball, you know, we, we, Earl Weaver, Jay Johnstone, Tug McGraw, they're all gone. And, and we need that. And, and he was the best ambassador in baseball because he, he had that great personality. He was a showman, but he also understood what a beautiful game it was.
Dave Raymond (26m 39s):
And he inspired the, the crowd to see that beauty that I think we're missing. Yeah.
Mark Graban (26m 44s):
So we're going to talk about fun, different aspects of business. But at first, I mean, I, I grew up, you know, Earl Weaver was huge when I was a kid and I was a huge baseball fan. And one element of fun. That's sort of been a re removed by this clinical instant replay is the theater of an Earl Weaver coming out and turning his hat around and yelling and kicking dirt. I mean, that, that was fun.
Dave Raymond (27m 9s):
I think it was. And it, and it is a important part of the game to, to, to really capture the minds of young people, especially with the instant gratification of many of the things that are capturing young people's attention today, whether it's gaming or whether it's sports like hockey or, or football that are more fast paced and, and being a baseball, there's a beauty to the, you know, the relaxed atmosphere at times throughout a baseball game, as you move up towards the, you know, the eight, seventh, eighth, and ninth ending, and, you know, you can teach a value for that. And one of the things was, you will never know what's going to happen because of the umpires control over decisions.
Dave Raymond (27m 56s):
And I really, I hate to sound like an old guy and it's like, well, it's not like it used to be Johnny, never going to be like that again. And, you know, smoking on my pipe and, and, and extolling this old gray wisdom, but I'm talking about fun and excitement for kids today. And that's, we need some of that.
Mark Graban (28m 16s):
Well, and so when you think about fun in business, I mean, one other thing that came to mind, though, if you got under the skin of the visiting team's manager and you create a distraction that was fun, but that seemed like that might be some shred of business advantage for the Phillies.
Dave Raymond (28m 32s):
Oh, that's a great, that's, that's a super question, Mark. And I don't get asked that often, you know, and I wouldn't want to overspeak my ability, but I, inside of my mind was, yes. I think the distraction is a positive thing. It is a home field advantage, and you can do it subtly so that they were playing along. Because most of the things I did with players were inspired by the opposing players, wanting to interact with the Phanatic, you know, once the game started, that that sort of interaction was left to the umpires and the base coaches. But certainly you didn't bother with a starting pitcher because it was like, like a football game to the starting pitcher, the way they have to get ready for it.
Dave Raymond (29m 15s):
But the rest was open business, you know, I'll, you know, all kinds of things, pregame that, that I could do. And I always felt like that. Yeah. If you could just get them off their game a little bit, why wouldn't that potentially be something that would be positive now, some of the players would say like, Dave Parker, I love to smack you around because those fill in the blanks would boot me. And I love it when that made me better. So with Parker, I had to be careful. I didn't want to enthused to get him to lose a huge guy. Oh, he, there were some big guys on that whole pirates, very big human beings.
Mark Graban (29m 52s):
So we, you know, we, we use this phrase in the workplace, you know, people talk about, you know, this is serious business. I know this is a passion of yours. And, and, and you talk about, and you have your book, the power of fun. I mean, why should we be having more fun at work? Is it a mistake to be so serious?
Dave Raymond (30m 9s):
Well, I think that the problem, you know, it's funny, the beauty of my message is also the great problem with my message, the word fun as a standalone, especially with leadership goes right to the consensus. And I've learned in business that the best business opportunities that are good financially on paper, but difficult for a consensus opinion like Uber, okay. That was good on paper. They realized financially it could be a big success, but when they explained to somebody that you're going to basically jump in a car with a stranger and not exchange any money, you're going to give them a credit card or, you know, a way that they can get into your bank account to take money from you. And they'll take you wherever you want.
Dave Raymond (30m 49s):
And they wouldn't be a professional driver. Like what? That's crazy. Right? So the word fund, the consensus is, Oh, it's when we're slacking off, we're taking a break. We're not focused on business. We're, we're having a vacation. We're drinking a few adult beverages with my friends and everybody that's consensus. The non, the way we start with our clients is I want you to tell me how fun can save your life, because if we can truly get an, and there's plenty of opportunity in my experience to show how earn can save your life. And I'm not making a joke, it is absolutely true that fun can save your life. Then we start having them think of fun in the serious consensus realm.
Dave Raymond (31m 30s):
So we say the powerful fun, if done properly, and following the steps, the output, the ROI is serious, fun, fun that you've worked on, on that you've innovated with. You've rehearsed. You edit, you, roll it out. You get group consensus feedback from everybody so that you tailor it to fit the area. And that's what we do with our corporate clients. We are building serious fund for you. We are going to show you the process and there's no fooling around with the process. You've got to follow the process, but the beauty of the powerful fund in terms of process, it is also fun to do it, but you can't cut corners. You got to show up, you got to research and you have to understand your stories and the stories of your customers.
Dave Raymond (32m 11s):
And, you know, there's a lot of work and research that goes into powerful, fun, which for leadership it's, this is serious fun, and we need your help to make it work.
Mark Graban (32m 23s):
So it's not just fun for fun sake. It's fun for the sake of the business.
Dave Raymond (32m 28s):
Oh my gosh. That's amazing that you said that — when I first started, I was a founder of a company called The Fun Department that that was still is doing well. And we were going to be a team building company, which now we're more of training and development. And we, I would, one of the reasons why I started speaking about the power fund was leaders that hire us would say, well, we want you to come in and tell our folks why we're doing this. And we use fun for fun sake, many times in the beginning. And we finally had a communications lead at ING Direct come to us and say, you can't say fun for fun sake. You can do it. So what I used to do, we tell the leaders, it's not fun for fun sake. We're not going to sell it that way.
Dave Raymond (33m 8s):
But once I got in front of the employees, I said, well, you know, your leaders believe in this, that, and the other thing. And, and all of that's true, but guess what? We're doing fun for fun sake. And that connected to the employees like, Ooh, okay, there, there's a result that our leader has approved, but we're just going to have a little rebellious what it does. And, but it's rebellion when a leadership has approved and that's what we were going to do. So we only use fun for fun sake, as a way to say, we're doing this for you, your leaders care about you. They want you to enjoy your time. And that's really all that matters. But by the way, it's going to do this, this and this for the bottom line, but you don't have to that.
Dave Raymond (33m 48s):
You just have to have fun.
Mark Graban (33m 50s):
Well, and I think, you know, fun for a lot of companies has been good business. You think of Southwest Airlines internally and exterior, externally facing with passengers. They are fun. Many other airlines are super serious. And if they tried doing something fun, it would seem weird. And off-brand even if it was better.
Dave Raymond (34m 11s):
I agree. Well, and Tony Hsieh and Zappos, and, you know, we lost a leader in this area and Tony Hsieh, but it was his whole concept was authentic storytelling. He wanted his people to feel comfortable to be authentic. And, and that really still lives and breathes in delivering happiness and Jenny Lim, you know, who was, you know, stewarded that company, they've all been knocked off their pegs a bit with Tony's passing and untimely passing. But they've, you know, I've, I've seen the internal messaging about what they're doing because the fund department is one of their preferred vendors. And, you know, they, they, it's, it's an amazing DNA that has been created that can't change.
Dave Raymond (34m 55s):
It only can evolve and adapt. And that's what they're doing. And I think that if any leadership wants to know, what's the bottom line benefit, it really is employee engagement through them, understanding that you care about them. That that is the strongest way. I just listened to Chester Elton in a podcast. And he is a phenomenal leader in, in culture. And, and he hammered that over and over again. It's, it's about appreciation. You engage your employees by telling them and demonstrating to them that you care about them. And that may not be in a giving them a raise that. So one of the things you do is tell me what, what you're motivated by, what motivates you to do this. So, and, and so fun the way we deliver it is fun.
Dave Raymond (35m 39s):
Isn't necessarily going to play a game. It's allowing people to express themselves with something on their desk. You know, it, it can be fun is about something that might bring a smile or laugh or surprise you because of the situation. Might, you might not think of fun as part of it, but, and the fun saves your life is just fun. That delivers some distracting moments to an individual who's struggling mightily and needs a break. And it has no concept of how to do it. And these intentional activities in the process of powerful fun, give them that ability to personalize that and to do it daily. And that's how you go from helplessness to, you know, rising above.
Dave Raymond (36m 19s):
And eventually when you're thriving in life, you've used the same process to continue to thrive. It's it's phenomenal.
Mark Graban (36m 26s):
Well, Dave, the final question is really more of just I'm somebody I want to share with you and get your reaction to before we wrap up. So I've in my career, I've been fortunate to work with a lot of former Toyota people who worked in Japan and Australia and the U S and Canada. And there there's a corporate culture. And you think of, you know, Toyota, you would think of them being a very serious company. Japanese kind of business culture is portrayed as being very serious, but when it comes to creativity and continuous improvement, the one phrase that I've heard used a lot in relation to Toyota is having a playful spirit. And that was surprising to me the first time I heard it.
Mark Graban (37m 8s):
What, what's your reaction to hearing about someone like that in a company?
Dave Raymond (37m 11s):
Well, let me tell you how much I love the Toyota brand. My daughter just turned in our Toyota Sienna to finally buy a new car and it had 205,000 miles on it. And when she turned it in at the dealership, because we kind of gave it to her as a gift. So you can turn this in as, as part of your down payment. My, my wife had a tear in her eye because she said, you know, how much memories we have in that Toyota. And the only way we were able to keep that car as how well it performed. Yeah. So a playful spirit to me is, is a beautiful way to describe, you know, kind of fun in a non-consensus way. You can be a serious business person and do all the hard preparation work at your job while still enjoying it through this playful spirit.
Dave Raymond (37m 55s):
And that's the way you connect with customers and coworkers and leadership connects with their employees. They can be simple things that you do. It has to be authentic and you need to do it daily. And it has to be ingrained in the DNA of the company. So for instance, if you don't have great atmosphere that you're working at your desk, the heating, the air conditioning, the pay, it's all a mess. And the boss comes out and says, Hey, here's a hundred dollars. It's not going to work. It's just because, well, what a great a hundred bucks, but I'm getting, I'm getting underpaid by a, a thousand dollars and I don't have the right tools. And you were asking me to do more than I possibly can do with the tools you're giving me. So it needs to be authentic. It needs to be daily, and it does not have to cost a lot money or time to do it can be very simple and playful spirit describes that.
Dave Raymond (38m 44s):
Well, it's something that you've internalized as part of your DNA, it's who you are.
Mark Graban (38m 49s):
Yeah. That's very well said. And Dave, this has been such a pleasure to hear kind of, you know, the evolution of your career and how well you articulate fun. And again, like you went from being the silent character to now that you can use your voice, you can articulate so much more.
Dave Raymond (39m 6s):
It's very funny. And my dad, as he saw me making this pivot said good for you. You just needed some time to be quiet, but anybody lay anybody that wants to know more about what we do is go to DaveRaymondSpeaks.com. It is a easy read, and you'll get to know what we have to offer, and we'd love to help out anybody who's interested in learning that process.
Mark Graban (39m 25s):
So I hope people will go and check that out. And again, the book is called The Power of Fun. So that's something I'm going to go take a deeper read into beyond the sample and hope everyone will go check that out. And th this has been a lot of fun. So thank you for sharing, being so generous with your time, Dave, and, and having such great stories and illustrating the power of fun. Thank you for that.
Dave Raymond (39m 48s):
Thank you for including me and I, and I love your format. Well, we'll get together over the next few months. I'll share all my…
Mark Graban (39m 55s):
Well, you said there was one other story. I may well have you back on the show sometime if you're willing to do that, we've got plenty of them.
Dave Raymond (40m 5s):
You're giving me a great platform to, to, to exorcise all of this, all of these mistakes that I need to know.
Mark Graban (40m 13s):
I won't charge you by the hour like a therapist. Wwell Dave, thank you so much.
Dave Raymond (40m 20s):
My pleasure, Mark. Have a great afternoon.
Mark Graban (40m 22s):
Thanks for listening. I hope this podcast inspires you to pause and think about your own favorite mistakes and how learning from mistakes shapes you personally and professionally. If you're a leader, what can you do to create a culture where it's safe for colleagues to talk openly about mistakes in the spirit of learning, please subscribe, rate, and review the podcast. Our website is myfavoritemistakepodcast.com. See you next time.