Dr. Michelle Stafford sits down with Spencer Rubin, the owner and founder of Play.Fit.Fun, a kids action organization. Listen to learn about the importance of getting kids to be active every day, which has benefits that go well beyond the physical. They also touch on Spencer’s regular column in the Beaverton Resource Guide called The Catalyst Business Newsletter.
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Dr. Stafford: Hi, I'm Dr. Michelle Stafford here at World of Smiles Pediatric Dentistry with our podcast Mixed Dentition and I'm here today with Spencer from Play.Fit.Fun. So Spencer, tell me a little bit about yourself and your business.
Spencer: Well, about myself personally is I grew up locally and went to Wilson High School. So I'm Southwest Portland guy not far from Beaverton.
Dr. Stafford: Nice, nice.
Spencer: I've got three kids, 21 year old and a 19 year old down at University of Oregon and a 15 year old who's a freshman at Southridge High School. Married to my wife for over 20 years, she's from Chicago and I live in Beaverton now, and I run my company that I founded back in 2012, Play.Fit.Fun.
Dr. Stafford: That's great and tell us more about Play.Fit.Fun.
Spencer: Play.Fit.Fun started when I was ending my initial career, which was in the radio business. I was in marketing and sales and things like that and I started a promotion that was kind of a traveling field day, all designed to get kids active and moving.
Spencer: And I'd been coaching my kids in sports and I was just watching kids just change in regards to how they moved or most especially how they didn't move. It's just because of technology and we were coming up very static society.
Spencer: A third of kids were overweight and a third of kids were obese, still are. And so that concerned me. So I started this promotion and it was a mix of a traveling field day on weekends at like high school football fields and people would come out and play actively together and we would bring in PE teachers in high school sports coaches and athletic directors to record public service announcements that we would also run on the radio.
Spencer: And a PE teacher mentioned to me an idea that he had once had before he got his PE teaching job, but it's more of a daycare and we didn't want to be in the daycare business. So just kind of lit a spark with me. And we started Play.Fit.Fun which is what we call a kid's action organization.
Spencer: And our mission is to get kids active, moving, playing actively. I was at Montclair elementary school this morning, we have two schools rather than an afterschool program. We have two schools that are before school.
Spencer: So it's kind of like, me and you going to the gym before school or before work and working out, going for a run or something then we're ready to work all day.
Dr. Stafford: I love that, I love that.
Spencer: And so we worked with about 20 kids this morning, and it's kind of like, we call it PE, bumped into field day and then got put into a blender with team building. We don't do regular sports, it's a lot of your favorite PE games and sometimes our own little evil twists that the kids love.
Spencer: Sometimes we literally plagiarize other PE teachers, and we share ideas and they like what we do and we like what they do and we kind of help each other out our mission, getting kids active, trying new things, engaging each other socially because we don't use technology. They have to literally find a partner, work with them, play with them there's none of this stuff going on.
Dr. Stafford: Great.
Spencer: So after school programs, camps last Friday there was no school in Beaverton. So we ran a camp that day and had 60 kindergarten through sixth graders there and then a whole bunch of high school kids locally from Beaverton volunteering to coach them.
Spencer: And apart from that we also donate a lot of our time to special needs groups like autism or kids with down syndrome and they get kind of lost in the shuffle of activity in sports and things like that. And a low income and homeless kids we like to donate our time to as well.
Dr. Stafford: That's great.
Spencer: It's fun. If you would've told me a long time ago that I would be playing the rest of my life apart from obviously the rigors of running your own business and I would've told you, you're crazy. But I'm really in a special place right now, I love what I do.
Dr. Stafford: Well, I love what you do too. I think it's so important to get kids outside and active and a way from screens, but also just socially interacting. So important to build those skills from a young age, and I really appreciate what you do.
Spencer: Thank you. And the social skills, when people look at what we do, if they get on our website or our Facebook page, and they see the pictures or the videos, if they come and watch one of our classes, you see the physical right there.
Spencer: It's easy to spot. Like if a parent wants to sign their kid up and they come and watch us first, they see the physical, they see the throwing games or the tag games or even dodge ball games or something that we might be playing.
Spencer: But what they don't know until we might have a conversation later on is the mental and social benefits. The neurotransmitters that are released when you're physically active are so powerful in terms of chance taking and brain function, confidence, positive attitudes, suppressing negative thoughts, things like that are awesome.
Spencer: And then that social skill thing, I'm not anti phone and I'm not antisocial media, I like to say that up front but the inundation of that in our society has a lot of kids and adults doing this and not engaging each other.
Spencer: And the more you do this and practice this, the better you get at it. But it's not good for you anywhere, socially, mentally, physically, anything. And then when you actually go to practice social etiquette, you are not very good at it anymore. Our social graces have kind of gone this way.
Dr. Stafford: In fact, you write an article for the Beaverton Resource Guide kind of about manners and social graces and I just love that. I actually am a huge manners person, I expect it of my children. Please and thank you are so important and kind of a lost art. Tell me more about your article that you write.
Spencer: Sure. It started out when I was in the radio world, I would write it weekly. It was called the Catalyst, and I just felt like I wanted it to be a catalyst to wake people up. It was never meant to be innovative in the sense of all these new business or social or management or sales focused concepts.
Spencer: It was meant to always be a dust rag, wiping off the dust of particular interpersonal skills that might make an employee or a salesperson or a manager that much better. It's all human related stuff in terms of what we do in business to be successful.
Spencer: And so sometimes it might be manners focused, sometimes it might be something else, but it does talk a lot about human engagement. The loss of our social skills, and it might focus on a manager or an owner and their employees and how they can better improve, or it might focus on how you engage your customers.
Spencer: Like one of the recent ones we talked about was the lost art of the courtesy waive. Did you see that one?
Dr. Stafford: Yeah.
Spencer: It was just basically me watching people that I would let in traffic or let go in my turn and then they go and they might be on the phone or they might be busy and there's none of that in the mirror this or out the window that and I think that's a big thing.
Spencer: It's a small thing, but I think it's a big thing because if you think about it from the business concept, when a customer comes in, in the dental business or in a retail business or a restaurant.
Spencer: There's a lot of competition in the world and we get so busy with all of our electronics and life and craziness in our schedules these days, which are really compact and just really packed full of too much stuff.
Spencer: We tend to forget that last little engagement or that first little engagement that might push us over the top with making a connection with a human being. As they're going out the door, we have one last opportunity of personalizing something or saying thank you or have an amazing day.
Spencer: But a lot of our employees, as soon as they're done with us, customers are back down on a screen, whether it's for personal or business use and there's no-
Dr. Stafford: Have a nice day, great to meet you.
Spencer: We love you and thank you for giving us your money and all that stuff. So it's fun writing that we send it in there once a month and hopefully people enjoy it and hopefully it's one little brick in the wall that might help a manager or an employee or a business owner remember what they used to do. Remember what we humans used to do.
Spencer: Holding a door or something and pushing you over the top a little bit with keeping your customers. It's like employees, we all struggle these days hiring and finding these great employees, and a lot of times we forget to put the efforts into the amazing employees or customers we have and retain them.
Dr. Stafford: There's a lot to be said for appreciation in the workforce and just sometimes it's just a matter of saying thank you for coming today or hey, today was a hard day. I really appreciate how hard you worked. I couldn't agree more that, that appreciation and that gratefulness and just that little like-
Spencer: It's an acknowledgement thing.
Dr. Stafford: A little wave, I like it.
Spencer: Everybody likes to be acknowledged. If you acknowledge and thank for going out of their way to do business with you, or if they ran a special errand, and you can just be done with it. Or you could send them a thank you note, a thank you email, a thank you text or something and acknowledge the extra effort they put in or the simple effort of walking through your door and choosing you.
Dr. Stafford: Right.
Spencer: They chose you out of all, in your case of all the dentists in the world and there's a lot of you guys, if they chose you that's a big deal. That's a huge deal but I feel like sometimes we forget that and I don't think we take it for granted, maybe some do but I think generally we don't. We just forget that last little exclamation mark that we can put on the beginning of a relationship or saving one before they just go look at another shiny bauble somewhere else or something like that.
Dr. Stafford: Well thank you for that. I really appreciate your article and-
Spencer: Thank you.
Dr. Stafford: Making that difference. Holding the door open for someone, I always wave at people and sometimes my kids and I both wave.
Spencer: I still fear the wrath of my mother. My mom raised my sister and I, after our dad passed away when we were seven back in the late seventies and she was a strong woman and she took over a family business, paid a mortgage, raised two kids on her own.
Spencer: I like to say she ruled with a belt and a wood and spoon. That was before those types of things would have been ruled evil in today's world. That was just basic corporal punishment back in the day.
Spencer: But she was a very loving mom and she raised us with manners and right ways and wrong ways and things like that. So I still fear miss stepping and having like a lightening bolt come out of the sky and land right next to me as a warning or something like that. So I know what's right but I also still try and please my mom every day.
Dr. Stafford: That's okay, I think. Well, thanks for coming on our podcast Spencer.
Spencer: It's a great service, thanks for doing it.
Dr. Stafford: All right. Well, thank you for all who joined in today and have a wonderful day.