Only at an amusement park!

If you have been in the amusement industry for any length of time, you know that you start to collect things – all sorts of things.  Memorabilia, trinkets, or tokens to remind you of your journey so far.

As I am typing this,  I am looking at an old Whac-A-Mole mallet that my friend Abby gave me when we worked at Canobie Lake Park together.   In my office at work, old ride signage graces the walls and reminds of where I came from.  One of my favorites is one that says “For your safety, do not talk to the operator.”  I put that one next to my computer!

This past week, I obtained another treasure that will forever accompany me no matter where I go.  It’s something I don’t think I would have ever gotten if it weren’t for this crazy industry we all love.

I blogged about it on my section of my wife’s blog.  Click here to check it out.


Firetrucks and what??

I am really am surprised sometimes how some ideas are connected in our brains.  On my way to work the other morning, I happened to see a firetruck barreling down the highway, lights flashing, horn blaring.  My first thought, of course was, where are they going?  Car accident?  House fire?  Cat stuck in a tree?

Then it hit me.  The idea I never thought I would have put with seeing a firetruck on its way to an emergency.  panning_firetruck


When I mention it now, sure it makes sense.  The firefighters work as a team to avert disaster, etc.  But my focus was someplace else.  The synapses in my brain were working overtime because of what I saw on the highway as the firetruck sped by.

In perfect form, the other cars on the road slowed down and pulled over to let the truck pass.  It was actually quite inspiring to watch.  Each person driving each car new exactly what to do, and they did it when they were supposed to do it.  If only our teams at work could perform so flawlessly!

Maybe they can.  Lets look at why this played out the way it did.

They knew what to do. No matter where they learned it, each driver knew the procedure for what to do in that situation.

They shared a common goal. Its one thing to know what to do, its another to want to do it.  Each driver may have had different reasons for getting out of the way, but they all shared the desire to accomplish the same goal.

They carried out the action correctly. Each driver did what they needed to do in concert and cooperation with the other drivers.  In the snapshot of behavior I witnessed, there was no honking, swerving or single-finger gestures that got in the way.

The really amazing thing to me is that in all likelihood, none of these drivers knew each other.  They’ve never communicated and I doubt they have ever collectively sung Kumbaya around the campfire. They kind of defy the modern logic of what it takes to work as a team.

This REALLY got me thinking because when you explore dysfunctional workplace teams, it often comes down to communication.  It seems that a lack of respectful communication and an unwillingness to accept people for who they are is what contributes to a majority of the dysfunction.  THEN, as leaders we are called upon to reverse those effects with “team building” to get people to work together again.

So for teams who actually talk to each other, lets add another key the three points listed above.

They must be respectful of one another.

We should probably start there.  Then the rest won’t seem like such an emergency.

Spoons – part 2

In a previous post, I got to tell you about Dave Tkachuk’s obsession with quality and I hinted at the generous nature of he and his wife as bosses.  It’s time to explain that statement.

As I look back at my time with Tkachuk Associates, it was definitely a transitional phase.  I had worked at Canobie Lake Park for 10 years and wasn’t sure where my career was going.  I had a degree in audio engineering from Full Sail, and I thought maybe now was the time to put that to use.  I saw that Tkachuk was hiring, so I applied.

I got the job and enjoyed the process of learning new things and meeting new people.  It didn’t take long, though, to realize that something was missing.  As weird as it sounds (although not to most of the people reading this), I noticed thatyc I really missed not seeing a roller coaster in the parking lot when I pulled into work in the morning.  That made me realize that missed the amusement industry terribly and I had to return.

Of course, this revelation had to coincide with the announcement that Dave and Nancy had made arrangements for me to attend the CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association) expo in Las Vegas in a few months.  They liked what I had brought to the company and saw this as a great way to learn a few things and expose me to different aspects of the industry (kind of like us going to IAAPA).  If I could measure the pit in my stomach when hearing this, I think would be close to the size of a basketball.

But I had to tell them how I felt.  I had to tell them before they spent all this money on me that I just wasn’t cut out for this business and I would be looking for a way to get back to the amusement industry.  So I mustered my confidence, and I spilled the beans.

Here’s where the generous-ness (if that’s a word) comes in.  They weren’t mad.  They didn’t worry about getting a refund for the tickets or expo registration (not in front of me, anyway).  Instead, they thanked me for telling them the truth and for being considerate of their plans.  They told me that I could stay on as long as I needed and that if things didn’t work out, I would always have a job with them.  Wow.

By the time the trip rolled around, I was still there, so instead of being out of work for a week, they had me keep an eye on the office while they were gone.  This way, they said, they didn’t have to worry about missing calls and deliveries.

When I finally did leave, Dave and Nancy presented me with a little plaque that read, “The future belongs to those with the strength to believe in the power of their dreams.”

Thanks, Dave and Nancy, for being SO generous!