My GGOB Story
The year was 2011, and I was living it up as a young single 20-something in Springfield, MO. I was a proud community college graduate holding an associates degree in ‘electronic media production’ with a slight obsession with attending large-scale music festivals.
You know the ones, Coachella, Bonnaroo, The HangOut Music Fest. I lived for them and I was always planning out which one I would attend next, always keeping in mind what my small hourly call center wage would support.
But I wasn’t like my other music festival loving friends. They were always more concerned with how they’d sneak in their bottle of booze or they were mapping out which bands they would see and on what stages. I was the one always questioning the planning and logistics behind the actual set up of these large scale events wondering how people ever managed to plan something so massive.
As we’d wait in line, I’d ask myself questions like, “How long does it take to set all these stages up? Where do they find all these security people? Who manages all the trash and waste during the event?” or, “How on earth do they plan out the performance schedules?” That’s when I knew I wanted a career in events. I determined that in order to get where I wanted to be, I needed to weasel my way into working for one of the big production companies who put these things on, but first...I’d need “experience”.
I started looking for a job thinking a local hotel would be a good place to start. I could pick up a shift as a banquet server to help me learn the back end of events and give me experience on how they’re run on a smaller scale.
I began my job search on Craigslist (yes, I know...Craigslist...but remember this was 2011.) and I came across an ad for an “Events Assistant”. After reading the job description and glancing through duties I thought - “Yeah, this seems legit. I can do this.” So, I applied and somehow I stumbled into a job working at a place called The Great Game of Business®.
“The Great Game of what?” my little 20-something brain asked. I literally had no idea what this place was or what they did but I needed the experience and the people who interviewed me seemed pretty nice so it would do for now. And it was a good “pit stop” for me on my journey toward planning big musical festivals, right?
Fast forward nearly 8 years later and I’m now a 30-something business owner who hosts a business mastermind group teaching OTHER female business owners about business. WHAT?!
As the events assistant at Great Game™, I was responsible for the backend logistics and taking care of the folks who attended training events at Great Game’s headquarters in Springfield, MO. I lovingly referred to myself as “the girl who makes the coffee” and I was happy to do it. I’m a people person, a social butterfly my mother would say, and I really seemed to impress my boss as I excelled at my position.
Granted, for the first few weeks, (okay, maybe months...I’m a bit of a slow learner) I had basically no understanding of the financials during the weekly staff meetings, they called Huddles. Did I mention I had no business education whatsoever? I did learn how to count back change working as a server at Applebee’s, but I only knew two “entrepreneurs” growing up, and well...let’s just say they didn’t set the best examples of how to run a business.
During Huddles, I was always fascinated by my colleagues and how they were all so confident and how they all knew everything about the business. Now my questions in my head started to shift. I’d sit and wonder, “How do they DO that? How do they know what’s going to happen before it happens? Where do these numbers actually come from?” Little did I know they were about to teach me exactly how they did it.
I would sit quietly in our Huddles secretly hoping no one would call on me or ask me a question. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to talk—because let’s face it ... I always do. But I felt like I had no place even being at the table with all those brilliant minds.
It wasn’t because of the people. Oh no, they were seriously probably the best group of humans I’d ever met. Even though they all knew I was a deer caught in the headlights— they never once made me feel bad when I finally worked up the courage to ask a question. Actually, it was the complete opposite. When I did ask a question, they seemed genuinely excited to teach me, using every question as a learning opportunity. I could tell every person there wanted me to really understand how the business worked. How we made money. About our competition. About the market. And more importantly, they wanted me to be part of the conversation.
Mind you, this type of engagement was a far reach from my experience as a trainee in the restaurant and communication (aka call center) industries. It wasn’t out of the norm for managers in these industries to seem almost annoyed that you'd even speak to them let alone ask them a question. But not here. Not at the Great Game. They brought me in and actually taught me the financials of the business. I went through training like the Yo-Yo Workshop, High Involvement Planning, and The Great Game Experience. These pieces of trainings opened up a door to a world I knew nothing about.
Not only that, it took me a while to realize as the events assistant, I basically had a front-row seat to the conversations being had in each of the different groups of leaders and executives who would come to Springfield, MO to learn about The Great Game of Business. These people would come to learn how WE did business. I was a fly on the wall. I got to hear business leaders asking important questions during our events. And even better still, I got to lean in and listen to the brilliant answers and the guidance of my bosses, the trainers, and facilitators of these events. How lucky was I?
I sometimes joke about how I’ve absorbed years of leadership knowledge by osmosis. Honestly, at times, I didn’t even know it was happening. I caught on after one family Easter gathering where I saw my uncle, a small business owner of a good 30 years, and asked him (to my own surprise), “What’s your succession plan?” Imagine my shock hearing those words come out of MY MOUTH! What? What did I just say? I laugh thinking about it now. But back then —to be me—a person who never really had one inkling about business ... not even a speck of interest—lean in and actually be interested in his response? What happened to me!?
I’ll tell you what happened to me...The Great Game of Business and the people who work there happened to me. And for that, I couldn’t be more grateful.
From attending Huddles to planning events to organizing conferences to managing social media...I was given some of THE BEST opportunities. I realize I probably didn’t deserve all of it and that’s why I will always sing the praises of their mission. Over seven and a half years I met some of the most influential minds in business and now I am able to call many of them my friends.
A New Chapter
Last month I “parted ways” with my Great Game family in search of growing my own business. It’s small potatoes right now but somehow I know I will be a success. They opened my eyes up to possibilities and taught me business in a way that makes me fully believe I will do great things.
The teachings and the wisdom I gained is something I will never forget. I started a job with people who were my teachers and became family. And even though I didn’t realize it was happening at the time, I ended up with some amazing business mentors who have encouraged me to take my knowledge and share it with others.
I’m part of that BHAG to reach “10 Million Lives in 10 Years” and I have every intention of doing what I can to close the gap.
Dedicated to my GGOB family. Thank you forever.