Companies want better communication. They really want to improve collaboration amongst their team members. You hire smart people so they can create amazing results. When they collaborate, you see terrific contributions and buy-in. Today’s guest is Brad Griffith, co-founder with GameTime.co. Brad shares with me a specific strategy that aligns his team together and improves collaboration. Tune-in to the interview so that you can improve collaboration within your culture.
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Brad Griffith: The Transcript
Target Audience: Brad is the CEO at Gametime. Focusing completely on the mobile experience, Brad wrote v1.0 of the Gametime iOS application in 2012 and now leads a passionate team focused on mobilizing the ticket buying process for fans.
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
Put a lot of ideas on the table and like go around the room and say, Hey, I’m over this next time period, call it three to six months, maybe six to nine months. Like what is the most important thing? What’s the single most important thing for the company to accomplish. And we have a big conversation about that. And then underneath that like what are the x things that we need to do to get that bigger objective done? And so it’s really, instead of like top-down, here’s what Brad thinks is the best thing for the company. It’s like, Hey, let’s put all the ideas on the table and it’s like the best one funds through a conversation and then A get to a better answer and B, the more aligned on how we got there and why we’re getting there.
Welcome to grow think tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs. The fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host, my name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?
Gene Hammett: [00:58]
Growing fast means you’ve got to either work your butt off, which you’d probably do anyway, or you’ve got to have a team that really does align around the work that’s being done well. You know, it takes more of a team than you doing it all of yourself. And if you think you have to do it all yourself, you become the bottleneck to the company growth and it just won’t work. I wanted to reach out to someone that I feel like had a really good handle on how do you create a collaborative team and what are the kind of the processes around that and what very specifically could you do to create this collaboration with the team. So I found Gametime. They’re one of the top growing companies on inc in 2017. There were number three on the list in 2018 they were number one 99. Still impressive because it’s grown so fast now. They’re doing millions and millions of millions. They’re really changing the dynamics of the sports world with last-minute ticketing options. And so Gametime has something that you really should pay attention to, but they also have something inside their culture that really is powerful that you can use inside your own culture, which is about collaboration. How do you take it to the next level? Well, here’s the full interview with Brad when we talk about really what it takes to create a rallying cry and get everyone contributing their ideas and everyone really pushing forward, aligned together.
Gene Hammett: [02:21]
Thanks for tuning in here to Growth Think Tank. Really excited about sharing this with you and before you run, I have done so many interviews in the last few weeks. I have such an exciting time to share with you that those interviews have been organized into the 12 core principles of fast-growth companies. So all you have to do to get that, it’s got a GeneHammett.com/Worksheet so you can get the 12 principles and I’ve been able to go in there and find which episodes will align to each individual episodes. When you subscribe to Growth Think Tank, you will find exactly what you need so that you can move forward. And many of them haven’t been published yet, depending on when you’re hearing this. But you can, you can tune in to the date that means the most to you. So here’s the interview with Brad.
Gene Hammett: [03:05]
Hi Brad, how are you?
Brad Griffith: [03:06]
Hey, good Gene, how are you?
Gene Hammett: [03:08]
I’m excited to have you here at the Growth Think Tank. I’ve been telling our audience a little bit about you and about the company, but you’ve got something interesting and this kind of comes from my background, but I’m going to let you tell it. What is game time and why does it matter?
Brad Griffith: [03:23]
Game time is the fastest and easiest way to get last-minute tickets on your phone. And it matters because we believe the world gets better when it’s easier to connect in real life with friends, family, your community. The vision of game time is to unite the world through shared experiences. And we think it’s a unique situation where you’ve got a couple of hours with some people, you know, some people you don’t know and you’re having a shared experience with them. And we think that’s the type of experience our world needs more of to get to closer relationships.
Gene Hammett: [04:10]
Well, I really appreciate you sharing that with us. I’m going to take just a moment here to tell our audience about my background, how it relates to you. I ran an international sportswear company for almost 10 years and I had been in the ticket business for a long time and I was, dare I say a ticket broker at one level, but I really did create experiences for people at some of the largest sporting events in the world. Um, for example, I took 8,500 people to Beijing. I took I plan to take 10,000 people to the Vancouver Olympics until my partner, uh, who I had contracted. You know, I don’t know what the right, I’m not supposed to talk about it too much, but he didn’t fulfill his obligation on the inventories. So I was left holding the bag for 10,000 tickets and I never [inaudible]
Gene Hammett: [05:01]
I never was able to continue that business and bring this up for context. Is because Brad actually did what I wanted to do. I, I honestly didn’t have the courage and the confidence to break away from my traditional business of just like brokering tickets and all of that, making a lot of money to create a very similar experience to what you’ve done through the mobile app. Making it, streamlining that, the ticket process and everything. So really, I’m excited to talk to you today, Brad. Cause you picked up where I left off and we didn’t even know each other. So I really appreciate you making this cause someone really needed to change the way we buy tickets. The whole processes has been broken for a long time.
Brad Griffith: [05:45]
Yeah, I mean for us it was about the user experience. Like how do we make that faster and easier? It’s just the people will go more. Um, and the founding story was really about that. Right? And so the founding story was my brother and me, 2012, we were going to go to a giant’s cardinals and LCS game back when the giants were perennially winning world series. And we found some tickets on a mobile app, um, when we were originally gonna Watch on TV about two blocks away from the stadium. And so we, you know, bought the tickets and the app said, hey know you just have to print them. And so panic sets in, run over to the bar, say, hey, we really need to use your printer. A bar guy responds, well, it’s the busiest time of year. It’s October, the grapes are in the playoffs again.
Brad Griffith: [06:39]
So, it doesn’t really work for me. You know, we convinced him over about half an hour of um, of convincing and he leads us downstairs to his like very dark like office area, like fires up his desktop computer and logs on and then we fire up internet explorer, log under our account, run quickly through the dialogue boxes to hit print and uh, you know, and actually print some color because we forgot to uncheck the don’t print and colored box. And so it costs like another buck a page. Right. And so epic disaster both like financially and time-oriented. And so, you know, we pay him back for the, for the, for the time you spend and the bucket age and we sprint to the stadium. And so we’ve missed Tony Bennett sing the national anthem and the first inning because it took us 45 minutes to render barcodes on pieces of paper and we looked at each other.
Brad Griffith: [07:34]
My brother and I are like, wow, that was probably about 30% of the value of those tickets had expired. And you know, back in the envelope called 40,000 seats, call it 50 bucks a seat or $2 million. 30% of that is a pretty big number that we could return to the fans that are just going up in smoke. Today would, an economist would call it a deadweight loss, right? Like no one got the benefit of us losing that value game goes on, right? Giants are losing dries and coming back or high fiving each other. Parents are winning. We’re high fiving people. We don’t know. Right? There’s this experience that you’ve no doubt had at these events that is like this connection that is about the shared experience and this like journey that you’re on that we thought we needed a lot more of in the world in 2012 and we certainly I think need more of in 2019 as we’re divided across a number of dimensions. So there’s sort of this dual-pronged approach to creating something that would offer a lot of value to the fans, return a lot of value to the fans and then also make it easier to you know, have these shared experiences that my brother and I and others were having around this you know, live event. And so there was this, yeah, I guess dual-pronged approach to creating the company and what we saw would be a better future.
Gene Hammett: [08:53]
Well, I want to give some context above, you know, how fast you brown to this, and you can correct me if I’m wrong on this and I’ll look at my notes. But Gametime was the third fastest-growing of all of the companies, privately held companies in the INC list and don’t know what the revenue is, but not that important because you continued to back that up. There were one 99 in 2018 you had almost 90 million in revenue and I would assume you’re continued to grow from there. You get about a hundred employees. It’s sawed that about, right.
Brad Griffith: [09:26]
Yeah, so the 90 year quoting was a 2017 figure and a hundred employees are about right. Yeah, that’s right. So it’s been a fun ride. I think the fans agree with us that like, hey, build a better mobile experience and we’ll really appreciate that. And so that’s been fun to see.
Gene Hammett: [09:49]
Well, you’ve got, you know, there’s technology thing going, which is not easy. Like I know there’s a lot of moving parts to figure out all of these things, standards change, and whatnot, but you have, you had to build a team. It’s not just you and your computer in the background. Like there are people involved with this as you brown and you’ve had to become a leader that really aligns those people and really engages them to think differently about all of the innovations you guys created.
Brad Griffith: [10:20]
Yeah, I think that’s absolutely right. Like teams tend to do better than individuals. There’s this, I think this mantra or this like, idea that the sort of Steve jobs like character who is omniscient and is maybe tyrannical in some ways is like the right way to lead or at least that was a little bit more prevalent here, you know, two, three, four years ago. And so a lot of people emulated that style. What I’ve found to be better is to really be an extraordinarily collaborative with a group of smart people to get to the best answer. And so I guess the way we do that is put a lot of ideas on the table and like, go around the room and say, hey over this next time period, call it three to six months, maybe six to nine months.
Brad Griffith: [11:17]
Like, what is the most important thing? What’re the single most important things for the company to accomplish. And we have a big conversation about that. And then underneath that, like, what are the x things that we need to do to get that bigger objective done? And so it’s really instead of like tops down, here’s what Brad thinks is the best thing for the company. It’s like, Hey, let’s put all the ideas on the table and select the best ones through a conversation and then a get you a better answer and be the more aligned on how we got there and why we’re getting there and why that’s the most important thing. So I think that’s what I’ve learned is that although maybe the media can be excited about a particular paradigm sometimes that’s not the best way to lead. Or like I would say most times that’s not the best way to lead in order to get to the right answer.
Gene Hammett: [12:12]
Well, I appreciate you sharing that with us because, you know, we do lift up, you know, the rare occasion that you have someone like a Steve Jobs. It really is, you know, great to be able to see someone that has that visionary thinking. But the reality of it is most of this is done through that collaborative standpoint. You guys have really kind of honed in on that. I appreciate you talking about the team being involved in the major objectives for the next period moving forward. Do you focus on six months or nine months or is it, how specifically do you guys get in that process?
Brad Griffith: [12:48]
What we found to work best is a six month time horizon. The reason I think that works are it’s hard to reorient something behind a quarter, a call it three months. But things also tend to change so fast and they’re changing maybe faster than they ever have before. And so nine to 12 months tend to be too long. And so we’ve really, I think circled around the six month time horizon as being the best way to Orient a group of people to get something done. And certainly we have the vision and the mission that I alluded to that tend to be more like 30-year objectives. Maybe the vision is more like 30 years and the mission is more like five years or so, but it’s key to have those north stars as well as the near term rallying cry. That six month is, I think the sweet spot between the rate of change and getting people, I guess excited about the new direction.
Gene Hammett: [13:57]
Well, you kind of set it right there, the rallying cry. I mean, and I dunno if that’s a name you use internally, but did you brand that as like, this is the rally cry meeting for the next period?
Brad Griffith: [14:09]
Yeah, so we technically call it a thematic goal, which I think is a little bit less exciting than the rallying cry, which maybe has some like battle symbolism or something to it. But yeah, they’re both in the direction of like, what is the single qualitative thing that’s most important for the company over the next six months? And then sort of breaking that down into three to six other objectives and then breaking those down into more quantitative metrics of like, hey, how will we know that we’ve accomplished these other.
Gene Hammett: [14:51]
So, Brad, I’m going to play devil’s advocate peer because I know businesses are growing fast. You know, you’re doing a tremendous amount of growth and revenue and you have kind of a lot of things going on. How in the heck can you narrow it down to just one?
Brad Griffith: [15:06]
Hmm. Yeah. What the idea is if everything is important, then nothing’s important, right? If you say, Hey, we have 20 things that we need to get done in the next six months, everyone’s like, oh we’ll probably only get eight of those done. So which age should we do? And people go off into their silos and they like to try to decide and then what you have is, you know, six different functions working on whatever they think of those 20 are most important. So it does, it does tend to work better to come up with a single like guiding light Northstar that everyone gets behind. And then you can assign into the functions if necessary, but it does work better if the, even the defining objectives that next layer underneath that are cross-functional. So yeah, I think that the single statement is if everything’s important, then nothing is important.
I want to stop right here for a second. Brad just said, if everything is important, nothing’s important. And you may have heard this before, I don’t know who to attribute it to, but I want to stop for a moment and really look at that and dissect it. If everything is important in your business, because we’ve got increased customer service, you’ve got to increase the product roadmap and get things out faster. You’re gonna increase sales. We got to get more traction and marketing. We’ve got to grow our user base. I could go on and on and on. And in your business, you probably think about all the different things you have to do. But if everything’s important, then nothing is important. You’ve got to figure out what the biggest factor is to your growth, what will move the needle and how do you align everyone around that together. There’s gotta be something that you can identify as a team and really align together around it, create your goals, create your, your work projects and create everything around it. And as you have your standup meetings, whether they be daily or weekly you are checking in on that and you’re moving forward and everyone knows which way they’re going. There’s a really big concept for you creating a collaborative environment but also really creating the kind of focus you need to grow fast. Now back to the interview with Brad.
Gene Hammett: [17:19]
You also doing their qualitative. So our quantitative, you really want this to be somewhat measurable. Is this kind of like a smart goal system?
Brad Griffith: [17:30]
Qualitative is at the highest level. And then even that sort of what we call the objectives below it are also qualitative. And then at one level below that there’s, there’s metrics, right? So that, that third level like, Hey, did we accomplish these defining objectives? Those tend to be more quantitative. So, um, I think it’s key to start qualitative at the top because that’s I think when people come to work for, and also it tends to be a little bit more emotional. It’s like, hey, we need to have this impact on the world. We need to, you know, do this one thing that will position us all for success. I think that yeah, that tends to align people better than you know, some number that you’re tossing out there. And the numbers need to support a more mission-oriented or vision-oriented. The top-level rallying cry is how it’s worked for Gametime.
Gene Hammett: [18:38]
You also mentioned your kind of dynamic of top-down versus a collaborative approach or the team approach and you know, there’s one element but with teams I really want to bring out here is those that are a part of that big decision and the direction of the company are more engaged or more take more ownership of it. Have you seen that happen across your teams?
Brad Griffith: [19:01]
Yes, definitely. Right. I think there needs to be one big discussion about what’s the best answer is. And even if you know, the EXEC team comes to the table with seven different ideas, uh, as long as those are surfaced and there’s a conversation about each one of them, even if their ideas and selected I think they are like, hey, okay, I get it. Those logical people, smart people can disagree about what the best path is. At least, you know, we had the conversation in my version of it was considered. I think that’s very powerful for aligning the team on a go-forward basis as opposed to, hey, I had some ideas, I didn’t get to surface them. I don’t really agree with this one that we chose because mine wasn’t heard. That tends to be the outcome if you don’t have the conversation.
Gene Hammett: [19:54]
I guess I’m curious like I could see this could go on as long as you would let it go on. Is this done in chunks or is this a half-day kind of experience that you’re able to just like talk about it and then you’d come out of it with that one goal?
Brad Griffith: [20:11]
Yeah. So the process we’re also experimenting with, you could do it in like an hour for the next, yeah. So you could set this like rallying cry for the next six months and you could do that in an hour. And we’ve done that before and my sense is that’s probably too tight of a timeframe. You should probably do it for an hour, sleep on it for a couple of days, maybe a week, uh, come back with another version and talk about that one. For an hour. I would maybe even do that three times to get to the writing. I think a lot of people would disagree with that approach or like they might say what is the point in having the earlier conversations? if there’s no like, outcome or direction of those earlier conversations. What I would say to that is that what you’re going to do or where you’re going to focus on for the next six months is an enormous investment of company resources and could make or break the whole thing. So it’s worth it to be very intentional and very thoughtful about what those about what that, I think taking a little bit more time with it this time period than we did six months ago. [inaudible]
Gene Hammett: [21:37]
well, I like the space between, because it really does give you a chance to sleep on it and let the mind really see where this is. And if you’re doing this as a team and you’re coming back multiple times, you know, the key here is to let people know that like this is, you need to think about it between you get next time we show up and how this affects your role, how this affects us as a team and a company. and that’s what you’re, I guess you’re doing, you’re asking them to really kind of lay play in their subconscious.
Brad Griffith: [22:09]
Yeah. I actually used to think, yeah, play in your subconscious. I think that’s exactly right. It used to think sleeping on it was like, hey, we just need to delay this decision but, but, but sleeping on it actually like helps you really filter and really like I think to identify the pieces that have come together in the puzzle and maybe the pieces that haven’t come together in the puzzle overnight. And I do tend to wake up with different perspectives than that I went to sleep with. So I think sleeping on it was actually really powerful. Like subconscious as you’re saying way too. I guess to mod the discussion a bit in a direction that you think would be more helpful. So yes, I think, I think that is absolutely part of a good process that we’re working through now. And yeah, our hope is we’ll get to a really good answer.
Brett just talked about having one-hour meeting three times space in between. I wanted to go a little bit deeper with that. You know, studies show that if you’re in the office working on spreadsheets, if you’re working behind the computer, you may have some ideas. But most of those best ideas happen when you’re not in front of your computer. You’re probably not in the meeting. I don’t know where your best ideas come, but mine typically come when I’m working out, when I’m really, my mind is somewhere else and thinking about something completely else and then all of a sudden it drifts into this issue, this challenge, and all of a sudden I come up with something that I think is really elegant. Usually, you have to stop my run reg out my phone and send myself emails. I don’t know what it is for you. Maybe it’s in the shower. Maybe there’s some other practice inside your world where your subconscious mind is working on this and you are, you know, not focused on it and say, I’ve got to come up with a problem right now. That’s what we’re talking about. You’ve got to create the space in between. And where this is really big as a leader is you’ve got to create that, not just for you, but for your team as well. You’ve got to see that you’re going for a walk. Is that a bad thing? That’s not them goofing off. It could be just them decompressing and really getting grounded for a moment around what’s most important. So they come back refreshed and recharged. Maybe it’s meditation or whatever it may be, but I want you to think about that as a leader. Are you allowing the space for yourself and are you allowing this space for others to really come up with better ideas? I’ve done a lot of work around this with teams, but you have to make sure you take the space in between to really find those ideas. Now back to the interview with Brad.
Gene Hammett: [24:39]
So, Brad, I want to take this and kind of bring it home with the idea of after the third meeting, so to speak, you are, everyone’s aligned together. Hopefully, everyone’s had there, their voices heard, hopefully. And even if yours didn’t win, everyone’s committed to this new level of success. So two-part question. How do you end the meeting to make sure that everyone’s aligned and then how do you operationalize this throughout the next six months so that everyone is continuously you know, aligning their work to that idea
Brad Griffith: [25:14]
Yeah. So at the end of the meeting, okay, yeah, you need to just state what the rallying cry is and what elements need to support that rallying cry. That’s what you do towards the end and go around the room and say, how are we on board with this? Like one by one and get people’s affirmation that they’re on board and then from there, yeah. Then you tend to do these functional plans where it’s like, okay, given this framework, here’s what my function needs to do to best support that framework. and you know, you can get to the sort of like Gantt Chart, here’s the timeline for what we needed to do here. That, that supports some other functional thing. Right? You can get very detailed with this stuff and you should. Right. But I think it starts at that highest level that we’ve been talking about. And then falls into these functional plans, that support that higher-level idea. And then occasionally you’ll ever need to create cross-functional teams that, uh, need to build some projects that would support that idea. Some of the, I mean, we call those tiger teams here at game time. It’s like, Hey, there’s two engineers, a designer, a person operations, and like a marketing person, like all this team, they need to support that or one of these defining objectives. It was getting in the weeds here. But yes, you highly operationalize these things and you need to draw resources from around the company to make sure we’re working on the things that support that higher-level framework.
Gene Hammett: [27:00]
When you think about, you know, having a work culture that’s very collaborative, what other benefit has it had as, as you, as a team and as a culture?
Brad Griffith: [27:12]
Yes. So, so let me tell you this story. So in 2017, I was very into the details, right? As you would be if you were the, like, sort of like the founding engineer of the company, right? You’re writing all the code, you know, like the those are the details. And I came to this conclusion, call it February that like me being extraordinarily detail-oriented would not actually lead us to the best place a lot of people would call that micromanaging. Right? So got up in front of the company was very emotional. Like, Hey, I gotta like to get away from the details better for all of us. It’s better for you. Everyone who works here, it’s better for me, uh, trying to lead the organization. And so that was like this emotional company stand out that came away with, which was like, okay, everyone’s like, yes, we’re all going to be at a better place here.
Brad Griffith: [28:00]
And that’s like, I think the story of like how we’ve made so much progress since then is hire a ton of smart people who are better at the details than me quite frankly. And can get us to a better place underneath the framework that I was just alluding to, which is this like rallying cry and like, here’s what we need to do it or neath it. Like it’s better to guide from like, Hey, here’s where we need to go too. You guys do the details. So anyway, I think the reason I tell you that story is like maybe every leader goes through this situation where things like the need to change at some level. And that was the moment for me, which was like, Hey, we’ve got to come up with a different way of working together with such that we can all get to the place where we’re trying to go. Yeah, 2017 was I think a hard time specifically the first quarter or so. But we’ve come out out of it much stronger in from a growth perspective, from a company performance perspective and impact on the world perspective. So, really excited about what we’ve done since then.
Gene Hammett: [29:05]
Well, I appreciate that. And I think a lot of people that are listening in here can really relate to that because there are probably things that they’re still holding onto. You’ll have that they need to let go of. And really, you know, get the team engaged around the things so that you work on the visionary and really around the people and development of that. So Brad, really appreciate you being here talking about Gametime and the impact you guys are making a really impressed and thanks for being here at the Growth Think Tank.
Brad Griffith: [29:33]
Yeah, thanks, Gene. Really appreciate it.
Gene Hammett: [29:35]
Wow. What a great interview. I love talking to them about what does it take to create this with the team. If you’ve ever had a team that really worked well together and you just knew each other than, you know what it feels like. You’ve probably been on teams where it wasn’t that way. There’s some tension or some friction inside there. And I’m not talking about arguing, I’m talking about the way you guys really handle, make decisions and move forward together. Well, this episode was all about increasing the level of collaboration in your business and in your culture. Now hopefully you’ve got something out of it. This rally cries a great idea. I really love the concept. Finally, I want to wrap this up with Brad talked about his shift as a leader and letting go, and that really is a big part of who you are as you grow as a leader. So I put this content together to be able to help you evolve as a leader and evolve as a team, create growth strategies that really comes back to you as the so continue to evolve and move through life’s defining moments. Make sure you reach out. I’d love to get to know you and really see how I could serve you and your team as you continue with this work. As always, lead with courage. Awesome.
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
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