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It’s hard to come across those types of opportunities that self-motivate and challenge you to excel, not just in the workplace, but in everyday life. When I first got involved in the escape room industry, I was working a full-time job as a recruiter for an HR firm and doing freelance writing gigs on the side.
This was a completely new thing to me – I had been out of the science industry for two months after working as an analytical chemist over the past three years at several medical device, pharmaceutical, and nutraceutical companies. I was also fresh out of my graduate program, having studied writing for entertainment and wrote my thesis on game design. I felt working for an escape room would be natural for me due to my deep appreciation for fun activities and games.
And boy, was I really in for it.
My involvement with Brainy Actz has been nothing short of a thrilling rollercoaster of a ride, with not even the slightest indication of slowing down. I’ve experienced so many challenges, overcame several obstacles I once thought insurmountable and, after hosting hundreds of groups from families to companies to girl scout troops as well as performing many other tasks, I’ve somehow managed to find a passion and gain the sense of purpose I’ve craved over the last four years in only one year’s time.
It didn’t all come at once, though. And for that, I’m extremely grateful.
There were countless things I had to learn quickly early on about this business that took some time to sink in. I’ve made mistakes, some big and some small. There are certain things that I wish I could’ve done better, but have had to live with the results.
But, it’s all part of the learning process (and I’m still learning).
Without further ado, here are some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from working at an escape room:
1. Show honest and sincere appreciation.
Note: I technically learned this principle first-hand before reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, but nonetheless, if you haven’t read his book, I highly encourage it because it will change your life.
Customer interactions can be a fickle thing at times. You could execute perfectly, make no mistakes, and still not achieve the complete satisfaction of your customer. Now, you’re probably asking yourself, ‘where did I go wrong?’
Sounds familiar, right?
We can convey the features and benefits of our product/service and all the reasons why people should use them, but if not expressed in a genuine way, things could go south really quickly.
John Dewey, a renowned psychologist, educator, and philosopher, once said: “The deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important.” This goes hand-in-hand with achieving complete customer satisfaction. Flattery will only get you so far, but by giving honest and sincere appreciation, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish.
2. When in doubt, smile.
I’m generally a happy person, so smiling comes natural to me. Even when I’m having a crappy day, I try to maintain a positive attitude because my mood can have an impact on people, especially customers.
You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase “actions speak louder than words.” Well, something as simple as a smile can express a lot in terms of customer interaction and can positively impact them. When you make someone’s day and uplift them, you can’t help but feel good inside.
Just don’t do it like this:
3. Don’t be afraid to fail.
As with anything you do, failure is bound to come in one way, shape, or form. Growing up, I’m sure some of us (myself included) were taught that failure was unacceptable – that we didn’t just fail at performing the task at hand, but it also meant that deep down, we were failures.
This is not the case. Not at all.
Failure is essential in the cycle of growth. Think of every successful individual and picture how he or she got to be the success they are today. Most of them were probably not overnight successes – no doubt, they put in some hard work early on, made many mistakes, and learned how to capitalize on their small achievements to elevate themselves to a greater level.
All because they refused to give in, even at the thought of failure.
4. Always prepare for the worst.
That’s not to be confused with “expect the worst.”
Over the course of working one month straight with no days off, I once had a nightmare that during one of my shifts, I experienced Murphy’s Law on a level, according to Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z, of over 9000.
To give you an idea, all the groups I hosted were “Debbie Downers,” our escape room tech malfunctioned, and puzzles and props were completely destroyed or lost.
Pretty much a total mess.
There’s so many things that could go wrong, but it’s important to keep a level-head and prepare for any worst-case scenarios. Plan ahead and remember to take detailed notes on any new issues that may come up.
5. Multitask at a minimal, but only on small, trivial matters. Focus the majority of your brainpower on single-tasking.
Notice, I mention only multitasking on a small scale regarding frivolous details. Toxic multi-tasking is not encouraged and should not be exercised when handling more prominent subjects.
It’s sad and ironic to think of something so highly sought out and valuable (even to this day) as the complete opposite: an outdated, obscure way of thinking that’s detrimental to one’s mental health. I honestly can’t count how many times I applied for a job and one of its main responsibilities included the “ability to multitask effectively.”
I get it though – the common perception is that the more things you’re able to handle at once, the more skillful and competent you are.
But, here’s the downside to that: your brain isn’t designed to multitask at a high level. It’s very exhausting and can lead to a drastic decline in sharpness and mental acuity (there’s a good reason why it’s illegal to text and drive).
Try getting things done sequentially instead of all at once. If you’re having some trouble, follow these three easy steps:
· Take several 3-5 minute breaks from daily tasks.
· Focus your attention by putting away your cellphone, silencing emails, and closing all social media programs.
· Create a to-do list.
6. If you can adapt, you’ll be way ahead of the game.
As with any business, adapting to change is important because it shows that you’re keeping up with your respective market and are up-to-date with new trends.
In the escape room industry, we’ve had to adapt in all sorts of different ways: altering our approach in targeting clients, offering new products/services, creating different themes/room designs, and researching/integrating new forms of technology in our puzzles. We want to keep the experience exciting and fresh for our customers, so we understand that in order to do so, being versatile and adaptable is not only beneficial, but crucial.
Don’t shy away from change because, who knows? It can be just the thing you’re looking for.
7. If you’re genuinely interested in other people and try to bring value to them, then you can sell anything.
Over the past year, I’ve attended a myriad of networking events, ranging from general interests to more concentrated niches, and let me tell you, the most common approach I get goes kind of like this:
“Hi, I’m Bob. How’s it going? Are you interested in purchasing real estate?”
Just right off the bat. No beating around the bush. Just getting his point across from the get-go.
Now, I’m all about not beating around the bush, but usually these half-hearted approaches do little or nothing to arouse interest from me, let alone any normal person. This person could be sincere by all means, but only in regard to his or her own interests and not the other person’s.
Piggybacking on the first lesson I talked about, the key is to show genuine interest in other people and try to bring value to them before receiving anything in return. If you’re able to look at another person’s point of view and genuinely arouse an interest from them, you’ll not only win friends, but may develop a customer loyalty for your company.
8. Celebrate your milestones.
This one often gets skipped, but it’s important to give praise and recognize achievements once you’ve accomplished them. However, that’s not to say splurge all the cash you’ve earned during a night out with your buddies.
There’s always more work to be done and, if you want to strive for better, then you need to keep learning and improving.
Just remember: count your blessings, celebrate your accomplishments, and keep pressing forward.