March 19, 2012 / ORIGINAL THINKING IS HARD
March 19, 2012
Entrepreneurs come from all over the world, but most share an innate passion for questioning the constraints of ideology and discipline, and identifying practical solutions to problems by combining ingenuity, resourcefulness, and dogged determination.
YOU NEVER KNOW WHERE A GOOD IDEA IS GOING TO COME FROM
I’m fascinated by the different types of people I meet in the world and the way their personalities show in what they do. People with passion, energy, ideas and an unquenchable thirst for life inspire me the most. I’m fueled by their energy, fascinated by their ideas and inspired by the way they live life to its fullest.
While working with Starbucks, I had the lifelong pleasure of meeting a man with more energy and verve for life than an army of optimists. Richard Tait is filled with passion to constantly push boundaries, explore new frontiers and voraciously bring new ideas to life. Richard Tait, creator/founder of Cranium, and more recently the sports hydration drink Golazo, is an amazing example of an entrepreneur at heart. I recently spent time kicking a ball around in Seattle with Richard where he shared his entrepreneurial story of chasing the American dream and pursuing what makes him tick.
START YOUNG AND DREAM BIG
Richard has been a self-described entrepreneur since he was 4, selling fish door-to-door in his native Scotland. Richard’s humor and industrious attitude gave him the perfect entrepreneurial foundation. After coming to the US and studying Business at Dartmouth University, the lights on his American dream began to look a bit dim. He had dreamt of working with Apple, but after being denied several positions on multiple occasions, he settled for working for Microsoft as a Project Manager—this was in 1988, long before the PC or takeover of the Internet. Being at Microsoft for the next ten years led Tait on an amazing adventure one could never have anticipated. And after an astounding ten year journey, Tait knew he was ready for his next big thing, he just wasn’t sure what that was.
RAINY DAYS AND PASSIONATE SERENDIPITY LEAD TO BIG IDEAS
It was a rainy Seattle day, the perfect reason for a few buddies to challenge their board game skills. After being thrashed in a game of Scrabble, followed by a glorious comeback in Pictionary, Tait sat back and contemplated the whole experience. He was amazed that both games were overwhelmingly dictated by the players whose skills aligned with the game. After realizing that very few board games offered a challenge for a variety of skill sets, he saw an opportunity. He knew that there must be adults and children alike wanting to partake in friendly competition with a variety of skills, where everyone has a chance to shine. From that simple insight, Richard began to sketch out the blueprint for the revolutionary board game, Cranium.
At that time the game market was full of negativity and Tait wanted to create something radically different, an entertainment company full of pizzaz and positivity. He and his partner began building prototypes at night at their local Kinko’s, conducting focus groups in peoples’ living rooms, and in short order, Cranium was created.
After manufacturing 27,00 games and creating an out-of-the-box distribution relationship, the board games were sold in unusual places such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Starbucks, and it worked. If you ask Tait how he got there, he’ll tell you it was by constant ducking, diving, determination, and the power of word-of-mouth. The key to his success is that he never forgot his customers were his sales force, and he approached every aspect of his business with them in mind.
BOREDOM CAN BE A GREAT MOTIVATOR
Entrepreneurs often find themselves unsatisfied, bored, or wanting more. Fast forward to 2008 after Cranium’s monumental success and sale, Tait found himself asking what next. As he sat in his office watching Mexico and China battling around the soccer ball at Quest Field, his next big aha moment struck. Inspired by the 60,000 people and the roar of the crowd and drums, he decided to create a passion brand for soccer. Tait started to think about a brand that was all about engaging with the people who embraced soccer the most.
By talking with soccer players and coaches and watching them during and after games, Tait found that players want a product that energizes them while offering hydration benefits. He also found that they don’t like putting unnatural products in their bodies. After watching players at a soccer game mix Red Bull and Gatorade to get their hydration and energy fix, he saw an opportunity—and that’s the genesis for Golazo, an all natural sports energy drink. Golazo, which means “big goal” in Spanish, contains 10 natural ingredients and gives athletes the hydration they need while offering an extra boost of energy they often crave. Tait has big aspirations for Golazo and is on a mission to win the hearts and minds of soccer players everywhere.
PASSION AND RISK ARE A POWERFUL COMBINATION FOR SUCCESS
Tait has a profound passion to share his entrepreneurial spirit, hoping others will adopt the courage and determination needed that pushes them to take risks others aren’t willing to. Tait encourages anyone with the unique opportunity to intersect their personal passion with a professional pursuit, to go for it. Not surprisingly, Tait derives a great deal of inspiration from Steve Jobs. “Why would you be in the Navy when you can be a pirate?” is a philosophy Tait adopted from Jobs and lives throughout every bone in his body. He has been a pirate his whole life; he would rather rebel, pioneer, and try something new. He lives in a community of breaking rules, rather than conforming to them as most entrepreneurs do.
It is with this spirit, a healthy impatience, and a dogged determination that pushes Tait, and other entrepreneurs alike, to take risks that others cannot fathom. Like Tait, we encourage you to take a risk, push boundaries, and make your dreams come true. Pursue your passion with your professional path, and if you get knocked down, get right back up. Be a pirate, not a sailor.