“For some reason ping pong became very natural to me so I started playing all the time. I played ping pong even when I didn't have anyone to play ping pong with. The hospital people said it made me look like a ‘duck in water’ whatever that means. Even Lieutenant Dan would come watch me play. I played ping pong so much, I even played ping pong in my sleep.”
Ping pong certainly doesn’t come as naturally to me as it did for Forrest Gump. Yet, as poor as my ping pong skills may be, I have always had a ton of fun playing. My grandparents had a table in their garage growing up. I used to love beating my younger siblings in games, while my dad and grandpa would serve up constant reminders that I was only good at the game when I was matched against young children.
Believe it or not, I only just learned that ping pong isn’t even the true name of the sport, but instead is just one of those ubiquitous brand names that people have come to use in place of the actual name of the product. Confused? Think of Popsicles, Speedos, Kleenex, and Band-Aids. None of these are the actual name of the product they represent; they are simply names trademarked by brands that have CRUSHED the marketing game to the point that calling their product by another name just sounds wrong. Think about it: How weird would it feel to say, “Please pass me a frozen fruit treat on a stick,” or “I scraped my knee - do you have any adhesive bandages I could use?” It just makes sense to ask instead for a Popsicle or a Band-Aid. Even if you are referring to some generic, off-brand product, everyone knows exactly what you’re talking about!
I was surprised to find that Ping Pong is also a trademarked name. The actual name of the sport itself is table tennis. I couldn’t help but feel pretentious if I even entertained the thought of inviting someone to a game of table tennis. It feels much more casual and friendly to challenge someone to a ping pong match. Sorry - I digress…Back to the topic at hand! (For the record, though, I will be using the term “ping pong” from here on out to avoid feeling pretentious).
When we moved into our new office last year and learned that it came with a club room furnished with a ping pong table, I knew the new space was going to be a perfect fit for our team.
Over the course of the last year, we played occasionally. Sometimes over lunch breaks, sometimes after hours. Beers were involved from time to time, but regardless, it was always a good time with healthy competition.
One day recently, I was invited to join the efforts of developing the culture within our company. Now, our company already has a pretty rad culture - among the best of places I’ve worked, but we all know how easy it is to fall into the trap of just checking in, doing great work, and checking out.
Genuine company culture takes effort; it takes intentionality; it takes time and money. Healthy culture doesn’t just happen accidentally. Luckily our CEO, Eddie, recognizes that and makes creating that culture a priority within our organizational budgets.
My inaugural endeavor as part of the culture team was to set up a company-wide ping pong bracket. With March Madness still lingering in our memories, our competitive spirits were high. We decided to play a doubles tournament, double elimination. A match winner would be determined by winning the best 2 out of 3 games played to 11 (have to win by 2, of course!).
We used the free service Challonge to randomly determine our seeds and our schedules and to track our progress throughout the bracket. I highly recommend it for any of you considering setting up your own bracket for any competition!
Using some of our culture budget, we are offering prizes to the top teams, and we will also be making the final match a happy hour social event for all participants and attendees to enjoy.
We’ve only just begun, but it is encouraging to see the team get excited about this contest, and to dream about the future plans we have to continue to develop the culture here at COLAB.
Make sure to check us out on Facebook to see who ends up winning the bracket and to see what kind of mischief we get ourselves into in the future! In the meantime, I encourage you to dream about how YOU can build culture within your own companies and families, and please share your ideas with us!
Until next time!
Jordan Maslyn, Developer