Cranium Grand Poo Bah, Professor Profit Collect Kudos for Changing the Rules

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Richard Tait and Jack Lawrence put Cranium culture, values at forefront.

“Innovative,” “groundbreaking,” “outrageously fun” and “award-winning” are all used to describe games from Cranium, Inc. Now, its leaders are getting the same accolades.

Cranium, Inc. today celebrated Grand Poo Bah, co-founder and CEO Richard Tait and Professor Profit and CFO Jack Lawrence for recent honors that celebrate their passion, creativity and ability to change the rules with phenomenal results.

Tait — along with Apple’s Steve Wozniak — was recently inducted into the Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame. Lawrence was announced a regional winner of the 2005 Financial Executive of the Year Award by The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and Robert Half International Inc. (RHI).

“Core to our cultural values at Cranium is having the courage to follow your own path,” said Whit Alexander, Cranium co-founder and Chief Noodler. “We have an incredible sense of clarity and aspiration for what we want to accomplish, and to see Richard and Jack celebrated for doing what comes naturally to us is incredibly satisfying and humbling. We’re on to something — we see it, these organizations recognize it, and hundreds of thousands of families embrace it with each Cranium game, book and moment they make their own.”

BACON, BRAINS AND BUZZ: THE GRAND POO BAH’S PATH TO CEO HALL OF FAME

As a paperboy in Scotland, Richard Tait’s entrepreneurial senses were just starting to spark. On Sundays, the Scottish enjoy their morning paper with a cup of tea and a sandwich called a bacon butty. The problem? Most people buy their butties on Friday, making for a tasteless treat by Sunday. Even as a schoolboy, Tait saw and seized the opportunity to change the rules around what his customers could expect from him by adding fresh bacon butties to his Sunday morning paper delivery. It worked. The bacon butty business made the paper route a smashing success, and Tait discovered one of seven values — delight our customers at every opportunity — that would drive his success as an entrepreneur and co-founder of Cranium, Inc.

It is Tait’s innovative spirit that prompted college students nationwide to start a grassroots campaign to nominate him for induction into the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame. In true Cranium fashion – the brand’s success is built on word of mouth buzz — the campaign was a success and in early November, Tait was not only inducted with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and MCI and FTD founder Jack Goeken, but was also named Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

“When I was a boy in Scotland, I knew there was something special in the human experience of reading the paper with a roll and cup of tea,” said Tait, who was also recently named second most powerful person in Seattle by Seattle Magazine. “The first thing that paper route taught me was to put myself in other people’s shoes, understand their needs and trust my antennae. I still do that at Cranium today, and it’s why hundreds of thousands of families are rallying around our promise of Everyone Shines. It speaks to them, answers their simple need for laughter, learning and togetherness and, in turn, makes them passionate ambassadors for our brand.”

PROFESSOR PROFIT’S WILD RIDE: MAKING FINANCE FRIENDLY AND FUN

As Professor Profit, Jack Lawrence oversees finance, operations, information technology and human resources at Cranium, Inc. With the mantra “Every dollar counts!,” he implements structures and systems true to the Cranium culture, making fiscal responsibility friendly and fun.

Eschewing traditional revenue reports, Lawrence marks every million dollars in sales by wearing a brain helmet and lapping Cranium headquarters on a scooter. He also demystified company finances with a system called PULSE, a metaphor for how Cranium constantly takes its pulse using practices that make tracking financial progress engaging for everyone. As a result, Lawrence has woven fiscal excellence and understanding into the core mores of the company. Managing his team through individual accountability and shared responsibility, Lawrence creates an environment where listening — to employees, to the PULSE — breeds success.

“One of the values we embrace at Cranium is to create an environment that celebrates everything we stand for,” said Tait. “Jack has transformed our organization by making financial metrics and operation excellence a core part of our culture. This isn’t just Jack’s personal mission. He’s made profitability personal for all of us and pursues it with passion and a unique sense of fun. It’s this special blend of operational excellence with consumer sensitivity that has helped Cranium secure more than $35 million in venture capital and fueled an industry-defying 70 percent revenue growth over the past two years.”

Because of this unique approach to the chief financial officer role, The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and Robert Half International Inc. (RHI) recently recognized Lawrence as a regional winner of the 2005 Financial Executive of the Year Award. He was honored by the Pacific Northwest Council of the IMA, comprised of twelve chapters in the five northwestern states of Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. Lawrence was chosen from nominations submitted throughout the region for executives demonstrating exceptional achievements in the finance and accounting fields. The national winner will be announced Dec. 2, 2005.

About Cranium?, Inc.

From the simple desire to give everyone the chance to shine, came the original game Cranium, which quickly became the fastest-selling independent board game in history. Today Cranium, Inc. fuels a worldwide phenomenon celebrated by millions of Craniacs in more than 20 countries and 10 languages, with 13 outrageously fun experiences for kids and grown-ups. Founded in 1998, Cranium is widely recognized for its innovation. The only company to ever receive three consecutive Toy Industry Association “Game of the Year” awards, Cranium has sold more than 12 million games and won more than 60 industry awards worldwide.

For more information, visit http://www.cranium.com.

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Heather Snavely
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