What are people really talking about? Do we make time to really talk and listen to the people to whom we are closest?
Watch the Interview
Communications Through Playing Conversations the Game with Barry Auchettl
Barry Auchettl (ock-er-tell) is a world leader in communications from the Gold Coast, Australia. Barry is the creator of Conversations: an inspirational game, which transforms ordinary talk into meaningful connections. Having a Masters of Education, he is also trained facilitator of The Virtues Project and The Blue Wren project for the prevention of domestic violence. He is currently working towards being a Non-Violent Communication facilitator. Barry is an author, international keynote speaker and runs a six month Life Vision Mentoring program, that specializes in clearing sabotages and creating authentic communication. He is also the founder of Eye Power vision improvement services.
The World’s Most Powerful Inspirational Board Game
By Barry Auchettl, creator of Conversations:
an inspirational game
What are people really talking about?
Do we make time to really talk and listen to the people to whom we are closest? In this digital age, where life is changing at such an amazing pace, do we have the tools and support to help us to effectively communicate within our own family, work and community groups? With Conversations: an inspirational game,we do now.
‘Conversations: an inspirational game’ provides an opportunity for people to have the chance to express their thoughts, ideas and feeling about specific issues. These conversations facilitate teamwork, fosters family communication and enhances authentic relationships between mates and colleagues. There are no limits to the topics of conversation, this game could prompt. Beginning new conversations is where the magic happens.
Envisage playing a board game where everyone who plays wins, in ways never imagined. Conversations: an inspirational game’ is a means by which participants are able discuss aspects of their lives in a way that really matters. While the participants are in full control of their games journey and destination, ‘Conversations: an inspirational game’ has an uncanny way of providing participants with the insights and acumens needed to deal with situations arising from the game, at that time.
‘Conversations: an inspirational game’ evolved from a dream. In the dream, the world was a place where people came together and talked authentically about what was happening in their lives, what inspired them and shared their vision.
Some of the comments about the game include:
“This is the most AMAZING conversation you will ever have”
“An extraordinary experience; everybody deserves the opportunity to participate in.”
“Inspired me beyond my expectations.”
‘Conversations: an inspirational game’ is communications tool. During the game, participants are encouraged to share aspects of themselves openly and honestly, while learning active and empathic listening skills. As a result, all participants develop increased communication skills and some deeper connections with the other players.
A question often asked is, “Why would people need to play ‘Conversations: an inspirational game’? The answer to this interesting question is to be found at the game’s end. Now, more than ever, in this digital age, people need to really communicate on a deeper level with each other. My goal, in developing ‘Conversations: an inspirational game’ and presenting communication seminars, is to facilitate open and authentic communication for others, as well as for myself. I am constantly becoming more aware of the need to start with self. Even as I was producing the game, I became aware of how easy it could be for me to retreat into old comfort zones and judge what was said by others. ‘Conversations: an inspirational game’ provides everyone with a wonderful opportunity for change. We can walk the talk.
Finally, an interesting review from a coach and trainer:
I find that ‘Conversations: an inspirational game’ allows conversation to flow much quicker and easier, and transforms what could be ordinarily, challenging silences, into gentle flows of conversational movement. I find ‘Conversations: an inspirational game’particularly useful and effective when using the game at home or in the workplace. ‘Conversations: an inspirational game’has the potential to help us all change the way we communicate with one another across all generations, globally.
Adrian Hanks, Transformational Coach and Trainer and Founder of Blue Wren
Within not for profit organizations, ‘Conversations: an inspirational game’ allows individuals within the organization, who often volunteer hours of time, a more meaningful way of expressing their thoughts about something they believe in. Their participation ensures they feel heard by others within the organization, as well as being given an opportunity to empathically listen to the other participants.
Ultimately, the question is not to whom do I converse, but who listens?
Barry Auchettl is the creator of ‘Conversations: an inspirational game’ and now lives on the Gold Coast, Australia. For more details on how his game can help your family and/or not for profit organization, visit www.conversationsthegame.com.au
Hugh Ballou: Greetings, it’s Hugh Ballou and Russell Dennis again for The Nonprofit Exchange. As usual, we have a very intriguing guest on this episode. Barry Auchettl from just south of Brisbane, Australia. It’s called the Gold Coast, Barry.
Barry Auchettl: It’s called the Gold Coast here.
Hugh: Oh yeah. Russell is in Denver, and we are having a good time. We are having to accommodate the time because our normal time for Barry would be in the middle of the night. He likes us, but he doesn’t like us that well. We are accommodating. Barry, I put a little dangler out there about Barry Auchettl. We are talking about Conversations today. We will leave that hanging for a minute. Tell people who Barry is.
Barry: Hi, Hugh. Hi, Russell. Great to meet you guys again. My background is quite varied. I have a varied background. I started off as an accountant for Pricewaterhouse. I worked through the lines of there for a few years and recognized that accounting really wasn’t my thing. It gave me a great background into business and how businesses work. I decided then I was going to go teaching. I had a calling to teach. Ended up teaching for about 15 years. My areas of expertise were accounting, computers, and religious education, of all things. I have a theology degree as well. I have a business degree, a theology degree, and a Masters in Education. It keeps me busy. About 1997, it actually happened, I left teaching in ’97 to start up my own business called Eye Power, which has now been operating for 21 years. Eye Power is about improving people’s physical eyesight, but it also looks at people’s vision of life and how the two are connected. That’s really what I have been working with in a whole variety of fashions since ’97.
Hugh: Now Conversations is the topic of this interview. Conversations is technically a game, but it’s a game with a purpose. What was the inspiration for developing it? It’s pretty intricate and complex. It’s easy to play, but you can tell there is a lot of psychology, philosophy, thought underneath the principles here. What was your inspiration for creating this tool?
Barry: It’s really a communication tool for connecting people. That’s what it is, and transforming relationships. The origin of this game is fascinating. As much as I have a teaching background and I was helping groups, by that stage, I was helping and supporting adults. I was recognizing that people weren’t communicating properly. But I had no intention. This was way back in 2001. All I did was I went to bed one night really frustrated because my work wasn’t taking off like I wanted it to. When you are a start-up business sand things are really slow, I was frustrated one night. I went, “What is going on here?” I went to sleep that night, and I literally had a dream about the Conversations game that night. I had all these things I had to get done. In the next three days, I put together the Conversations game. I don’t know how, but all the other things got done as well. I don’t remember doing anything else. I just remember working on doing the very basics of the Conversations game. Within two weeks, Neale Donald Walsch, whose Conversations with Godand founders of Humanity’s Team, a nonprofit organization, played the game and really endorsed it. He said this is fantastic. You have to get this out there.
Hugh: You need to bring it to America. We’re not talking to each other.
Barry: Look, I have been really lucky. I have had the fortune of going around the world. By and large, people are the same. One thing I have found around the world is when we take out our politics and religions, underneath all of that, we are wanting to connect to each other and be kind and look after our families and have a good life. It’s almost a basic process. What I found that the game does, and I have played it with people, I have had ten countries play at once on Zoom, it was a fascinating experience to see that we are all- This experience we are all one. We are all having the same issues, concepts, desires, wishes.
Hugh: It’s fascinating, isn’t it. Give us a couple of examples of here is what was going on, people were not connecting. They did the game. On the other end, what happened?
Barry: One of the very early ones that came to mind is the first birthday of Conversations, and I decided to have an open house and invite people around. I had one person walk in. She was from a fundamental, strict religious background. She was making sure that there was nothing spooky going on because it would affect her religious beliefs. I said have a seat, have a cuppa, you’ll be all right. I eased her into it. The next person who walked in, I said, “Welcome to the game. Would you like a cup of tea before we start?” She literally looked up to the sky and said, “Yes, my angels told me I could have a cup of tea.”
Hugh: Oh wow.
Barry: Wow, this is going to be an interesting game. It was almost two extremes in terms of beliefs that you could get, you know. This is way back. This was back in the mid-2000s, the one-year release when I printed the game in 2005, so it was 2006. I was thinking, Oh my goodness, what is going to happen here? How are these people going to get on? What happened is a miracle, I believe is a miracle. I have played this game around a thousand times. The miracle was not only did they have an argument, because I could see their different viewpoints, but somehow the game drew out of them what was similar, so much so that not only did they not have an argument, but they also exchanged phone numbers and became friends. That showed to me the potential then of what could happen with the game.
Hugh: Oh my word. I guess people need to come to the game with an open mind and a willingness to talk.
Barry: That’s right, and just be open. The game is designed in a way that people talk as deep as they are comfortable with. The idea is slightly bend people’s comfort zones, not push them out of their comfort zone. Let’s extend ourselves and see how it goes. A good example is I received two emails once. One was from a grandfather, and one was from his granddaughter. They both sent me a letter to thank me because they had their first ever real conversation with each other. They talked to each other with their family, and the traditional roles, especially as a grandparent, and I guess they talked to each other as two human beings having a conversation.
Hugh: Barry, that’s the big gap in all of our systems. We are talking to leaders that are running religious institutions, membership organizations, cause-based charities, community foundations. We are talking to people who have a very tight network of people gathered around a particular philosophy. That doesn’t mean they talk to each other. The church in America, the mainline denominations, there is a little bit of revitalization energy going on, but we have lost a lot of members. Part of it is this whole thing is we come and we sit, we don’t interact, and we go home. We don’t talk to each other in meaningful ways. Can we play a little bit of this game with you and Russell?
Barry: The game normally goes between one and two hours, but we can do a ten-minute demo, which will give you guys and everyone listening a feel of what this is about. Russell hasn’t played it, and I can see he is intrigued already, aren’t you, Russell?
Hugh: He is intrigued. Russ, you’re ready? You wanting to do this?
Russell Dennis: I’m ready to rock and roll.
Barry: Okay. The game itself as an outline, the game itself has three cycles. It has an Aspect cycle, which is an aspect of life. That might be career or health or something like that. Then we look at a Life cycle, which they call the Drama card. That was the easy part for me to do. Then we have the Inspiration cycle, which is to step out of that. That’s really what the game is all about: that whole inspiration of how to move forward. The purpose of the game-
Just before we play here, I want to take up your point about communication. I believe real authentic communication is a two-way process. One is we need to be able to speak and feel safe speaking. Authentically speak, and know that we won’t be criticized. Part of this game is when someone speaks, no one comments on them. They get to speak without anyone saying that was a good answer or a bad answer or “Why don’t you do this?” or try to fix someone. There is no fixing allowed in this game. In actual fact, we only use “I” statements. That’s part of the game. We only use “I” statements. There is no “You need to do this.” It’s for me, I might choose to meditate more, or something. That’s the first part.
The second part of the game, and it’s really important, and I used to call it active listening, about really listening to each other. I have shifted that in the last six months because I have done some work with nonviolent communication and empathic communication. I really believe now it’s about empathic listening. It’s not just listening to the words; it’s listening to what is behind the words. When we can really do that and tune in and get a feel for what the person is about and have some empathy for the person and have some empathy for yourself, you can then relate what is being said to yourself. That part, the game creates that.
The final part that I can’t create but the game somehow magically does is to create an openness and a connection with all those who play. Because somehow by having people have a physical card in their game gives them position to open up. It just seems to do that. When we do that, we recognize we are similar.
That is a real introduction. I am going to start the game with us.
Hugh: Drumroll please.
Barry: Okay. So we are going to get through each cycle and keep it really short. Our answers are down to a minute to allow a ten-minute idea we suggested. The first part of the cycle is we choose an aspect. Hugh, because you have played before, I am going to choose an aspect for you. These are so-called random. I don’t believe in random. The aspect I have for you is “Fame and Glory.”
Hugh: Fame and glory.
Barry: I will give you one of the doc points. And the doc point here is “See yourself as equal to others.”
Barry: I want you to comment on what fame and glory means for you, in context of nonprofit organizations.
Hugh: In seeing myself as equal to others. Was that the other part?
Barry: Yes. That was the point that came up for you, yes.
Hugh: Part of how I perceive that is that I like the statement “Nobody is perfect, but parts of me are excellent.” There is parts of me that are really good. I focus on those. I just take it in stride. Other people value it and say, “Ooh, that’s really good.” It’s part of who I am. It’s my way of giving to other people. Fame and glory for me is just focusing on what I do really well and maximizing that gift, that space that I give to others.
Barry: Okay, thank you. Everyone playing can relate to that. I am nodding, and I can see Russell nodding as well. I’m sure this will also relate to all the people listening. It’s interesting how this game, it’s for one person but can expand to everyone. That’s the amazing part.
Russell, I have a card for you. Your card is “Rest and Relaxation.” And the doc point, there are four doc points with each of these cards to help people with their answer. I am going to give you one of them. The one I want you to comment on is “Allow the soul time to recuperate.”
Russell: Rest and relaxation. I am a firm believer that for me, it’s important to raise my level of consciousness, whatever I am facing. That is what fuels me and gives me energy to go out and try to make a difference in the world. In order to give, I believe we live in a reciprocal universe. I have to recharge my batteries from time to time so that I am able to serve at a high level and give to other people. For me, what’s restful and relaxing is my meditation practice that I do daily. It’s a chance for me to shut down, notice what’s going on within me, and look at my day. Just not attach myself to anything, whether it’s good or bad. But just to notice where I’m at. And harvest a supreme gratitude so that I can continue to serve and recharge. Part of that rest and relaxation is turning the squirrel cage off and sensing that connection to the universe.
Barry: That’s wonderful. Thanks, Russell. Thanks for coming out and sharing that with us. First game. You jumped into it. That’s awesome. I am amazed at how close the answers can be as we get these.
I am going to choose mine to round the first cycle off. The card I have is “Humor.” That’s a good one here. I am going to read the very first point, “It’s only a game.” I think it’s a really good one for me. Sometimes I can take myself so seriously. Playing this Conversations game, it’s a very serious game. We are going to go deep, and we better not smile because it’s serious. I think it’s really important for me always to remember to bring humor. When I educate people, when I do my training, I do a six-month mentoring training around the world, I have to use humor as part of that because otherwise I get bored. I think it’s a great way. When people laugh, we learn. I have a big belief that we can go deep and laugh at the same time. It’s not a choice.
Really interesting three cards. We have “Fame and Glory, “ “Rest and Relaxation,” and “Humor” coming up for the three of us. Really interesting combinations.
That’s the first cycle. People go around. If we have time at the end, which we won’t do today, we can look at where the connections are between each of those aspects. It’s quite interesting in itself
Hugh: How many people can do this at one time?
Barry: The game has sixteen aspects. I normally run small groups between two and 32 people because 32, you pair people up and do things like that. I have actually played with 300 people at a conference, where they had me play with the entire audience. It is possible to play the game with large groups. You just do it differently. It’s part of the facilitation process I’ve done with this, and with an educational background, I have been able to create a variety of ways of playing the game. It was used in a 300-seat auditorium in New Zealand, and that got me to be the entertainment at halftime to connect people.
Barry: Let’s continue. We will go into our Life cycle. We usually call this the Drama cycle. Each would get a turn by the way if it’s a small group. If it’s a large group, we obviously couldn’t. We are going to choose one card as an example. Russell, you are choosing the card for us. All you need to do is I will read the card out, then you say what does it mean for you, and what does it mean in terms of your aspect? I will get you to invite only one of us to speak. One of the things you will learn in this game is you don’t always have to speak about everything all the time. For some people, that’s a good learning process. Oh, I don’t have to say something. I will let you choose whether Hugh talks about fame and glory with this card or if I talk about humor from that viewpoint. But what I want you to do is say what this card means to you and what it means in terms of rest and relaxation. That’s what you need to do at this point. You don’t have to agree with the card; you can disagree. These aren’t stone tablets; you can disagree with them. The card says, “I find it difficult to love myself.”
Russell: What that means to me is that person doesn’t really recognize how exceptional they are. Hugh, what does that card mean to you?
Hugh: I don’t have difficulty with that. My standards are pretty low. I accept myself. I criticize myself heavily, but judging my performance and loving myself, I have been able to think of in different ways. Part of fame and glory, and Barry, I get to conduct an orchestra this season, and that is very public, and in my community, that is part of fame and glory. I am up there, and when you are in front of everybody, they will judge you. I have gotten to a place where I do what I do, and celebrate it because I know somebody will like it. That means being comfortable in loving myself. It’s a journey of saying, I am going to let go of the flaws and love myself just how I am. That is part of personal empowerment for me.
Barry: Awesome, thank you. Russell, since it was your card, did you want to make any other comments before we move on?
Russell: I think that’s an interesting card. A lot of people may or may not choose to look at that. It’s something that’s important to look at as far as rules surrounding how we set living for ourselves. I love this. This is really deep. The way to solve things is to look within myself and start there.
Barry: One thing we will do in a game is I would probably call you in a real game to say “I” statements than “we.” For me, this means… It’s a key concept in this game to keep coming back to self. The rest of us go, “Oh yeah, I can relate to that as well.” My own personal journey, I am a little bit stubborn. When anyone tells me what to do, I tend to do the opposite.
Russell:People don’t want to be told what’s wrong.
Barry: Like we said, we all need to meditate. Oh yeah, sure. When you say, “I meditate every day,” I can relate to that, or maybe I need to do that, whatever it is. It gives people permission to come on board without the request or the demand to come on board. That’s an important process.
We are going to keep this fairly quick and move to the Inspiration cycle. Russell, I will start with you again. Inspiration is about maybe one sentence about this, let’s keep this fairly short. This is moving it up toward a higher level. The Life card shows a drama aspect, and this takes us to another place. Your card says, “What would happen if everyone did this?”
Russell: I believe that if everybody did this that there would be an increase in the level of collective consciousness for all the people who participate.
Barry: Awesome, thank you. My card says, “Give to another whatever you choose to have for yourself.” It’s really interesting because I have been doing a mentoring program. As I support other people in stepping up, and it is about raising their consciousness as well, I work in raising consciousness and frequency as I am helping them to raise their consciousness and frequency, mine increases as well. It comes back to me. I think that’s a great card for me.
Hugh, your card is, interesting one, “Affirmations work better when they are about something that is already true for you.”
Hugh: Hmm. Hmm. Hmm. At 72 years old, I’m finding that anything I do, there’s still room for growth. Working on the skills I have my top skills makes them better. The ones that are down the ladder a little bit, I do not need to mess with those. I want to focus on affirming who I am and what I do. Focusing what I am makes it better, and that my top skills, it makes them continue to grow.
Barry: Awesome, thank you. That is a quick version. That was about 15 minutes. We could have discussed that further with each other, particularly cycle two. That gives us a feel of what this is about. Before we continue the interview, I want to complete the game properly. Hugh, could you say what you personally got out of the game, in one sentence, for yourself? What did you find out about yourself from this game?
Hugh: Absolutely. It made me think about myself in ways that I would not normally do. I felt a little vulnerable, but it felt safe.
Barry: Great, thank you. Russell?
Russell: I love this game. I think it’s wonderful. The thing I notice is I happen to be very careful because of the circles I run around in. I run into a lot of like-minded people. My language in general is inclusive. But I have to be very careful to come from the place of talking from within my own experience so that I’m not putting anybody on the spot but being more inviting for them to relate in the way that is comfortable for them.
Barry: Thank you. That’s a wonderful insight. For me, I have played this game over a thousand times, and I don’t get bored. I always learn something about myself. This is a workshop in a box. You get to play a workshop every time. The key for me is what was my inspiration card was, as a reminder that I am of service to others. That comes back to me. I am recognizing my life is amazing at the moment. I am probably the happiest I’ve ever been in my life, and I am serving people more than I ever have. The two are hand in hand, so that’s pretty cool.
That’s the nutshell of the game. Congratulations, Russell, on completing your first demo. Hugh, you have played this a number of times now.
Hugh: It’s always different, Barry. It seems to always be different for me. You go to a museum, and you se a great work of art. It’s different every time I look at it. There is more depth to it.
Barry: It’s true for me. I do get bored pretty easily in life. I have done a whole lot of different things. This is something I do not know a game that I play where I was bored because you always are learning. I can play a whole game and just listen to people talk. You go, Wow. It’s fascinating to not to have to be the speaker and let people talk about what is happening and how it relates to me. I can relate to both of what you said, Hugh and Russell, in terms of my own life.
Hugh: I’m sorry, Russ. Go ahead.
Russell: The one aspect of this is it never gets old because every time you sit down with it, you’re in a different place. I think the dynamics of solving very real human problems requires me, there I go again, lesson learned, to look at where I’m at and to constantly evaluate how I can do that and how I communicate with other people. It’s all dynamic.
Barry: Where I started with that was with my own family. That was the first place I played the game. It really connected my own family. I can remember my children were already teenagers at the time. The older boys were quite talented in all sorts of things, even as teenagers, they are setting up international businesses. That entrepreneurial skill. My daughter said, “How can I be like you guys?” or something like that. After the game, they turned to her and said how amazing they thought she was and the life she has ahead of her and her talents and gifts. It opened up on a heart base to each other. My daughter is now having an engagement party here in Australia next month, and my two boys are flying in from America and England just to be at her engagement party, just to support her. It’s really connected them together for life.
Hugh: What I have experienced that is different than normal interactions is that being a musician, I have worked on my listening ability my whole life. We need to be very intentional about listening. Your pivot from active listening to empathetic listening, I believe I heard the word, is there is a willingness to understand the intent behind this. It’s a whole different paradigm. Where has that been very helpful in the games where people have been at odds? Where has that perspective been helpful?
Barry: I think it’s helpful when we recognize that we have different language. Sometimes we can get caught up on the words. I know for corporate in some organizations, one of the aspects is “unconditional love.” Sometimes I have a corporate edition, which calls it “unconditional acceptance.” I recognize that sometimes it’s just our language that holds us back in the words that we use. If we can go behind the words and get a feeling for what is going on, we are not going to get caught in the language. When we use words, especially words that can have a charge, when we talk about love or God or universe or spirit, people have different ways of expressing that. Just allowing and accepting of that that ultimately we are referring to the same thing. The energy behind it is what’s important.
Hugh: Nonprofits and religious institutions attract people around a cause. We have passion to the cause. It doesn’t mean that we know how to interact around how we work together. I think there is a big gap. We spend time texting, and we spend time on the cell phone, and emailing, and doing things on our computer, and posting on social media. We are not really having a conversation where we are listening and where we are using I statements. This takes us out of all those routines and has a face-to-face relationship. I see in nonprofits, there is a lot of important work for us to do. Government shouldn’t be doing some of the stuff they are trying to do. Nonprofits can come in and have a neutral place and do some healing and some philanthropic work that we are cut out to do. That would necessitate us being, I call it a new architecture of engagement. How do we show up as this fine-tuned music ensemble? We are in there working together. There is a special place for nonprofits in this communication area. How do you see it playing there?
Barry: Can I make a comment about that? I actually used to work for a project called Living for Harmony in Australia. It was about bringing all the different cultures together and recognizing how we can get on together than being separate. That was a project about bringing people from the straight tribes to politicians together and being open together and trying to be honest with each other. The game is part of that process of connecting people, of having a deeper conversation. It’s been played in church groups, in nonprofit groups, in corporations, in schools, in universities. It’s whenever we need to have a greater conversation, and I believe especially wen we are talking about nonprofits. A lot of people in nonprofits come in and volunteer their time because there is a higher purpose to why they are doing it. In return, sometimes, all they want to do is be heard. They want to have a voice and hear that what you’re doing matters and is important to us. We’re hearing you, we’re listening to you, and you are important.
Hugh: Russell, what are you thinking there?
Russell: I think that is critical: being able to get support for the mission in nonprofits because you have so many different audiences that you are talking to. Some of them are internal. Your staff, your board, your volunteers/servant leaders, as we like to call them. There is the community you work in. The various people who support you, whether it’s through corporate sponsorship or grant people or individual donors. It’s important to talk to people in terms that are meaningful to them without losing who you are. Having the good conversation is critical to that. It’s difficult to find that language where it works for everyone so that there is no misunderstanding. It’s what it’s all about. That’s how you bring people into the fold, or the way that I feel you bring people into the fold is that you connect with them at a deep level so that you are working toward the same things. You have that deep understanding. And it’s the ability to put what needs to be done ahead of my own individual goals for the greater good. It’s important to have good conversations around how you do that.
Barry: Definitely. Well spoken.
Hugh: The whole shift in paradigm, Barry, it takes us out of feeling like we have to have the answer to something to the place where we are exploring what the answers could be. One of the religious writers I read is Richard Rohr. He is very eloquent in talking about non-dual thinking. We want it to be good or bad, left or right, up or down, debit or credit. There is a third way, a different way, multiple different ways. Instead of being dualistic, let’s talk about the other options. Part of this, do you experience when people are playing the game, that there are times of silence, where there is some profound things going on without words?
Barry: It’s interesting because the realization. I will give you two examples of this. Part of the game, when we say don’t interrupt people, is to allow people an opportunity to sit with the card they pull for a while. Sometimes it can have a profound effect. Part of the magic of the game is not only do they get a card, but in the game, we seem to get the exact cards that we need on the day. It seems to happen that way. We have had two cases.
One case I remember, a guy got “Personal Growth and Spirituality.” It was a group of about 20 people. He threw the card on the ground and said, “I don’t want to play.” It was really good because nobody in the group reacted. They just looked at me, like what are you going to do. I said, “It’s your choice. We won’t force you to do anything here. Do what you feel comfortable with.” But he said, “I want to stay.” I said, “All right.” I thought about it. It was a choice: What are you going to do? You can stay. It felt like he needed to stay. He stayed.
We got about halfway through, and we had a break. We started playing the second half of the game, and I said, “Any questions?” He put his hand up and said, “Barry, can I play again?” And I said, “Sure. Your card is on the ground, exactly where you left it. You can go pick it up.” Spoken like a true teacher. He went and picked the card up, and I said, “Who wants to go next?” His hand went straight back up again, and he wanted to go next. He pulled a card, and what came up was that he had a rebirth in his spiritual life and walked away from it. This night was the time that he came back to it. He recognized that he couldn’t run away from it anymore. It was an amazing process. It was in the silence of no one trying to fix him and allowing him to make that choice to return to the game, to return to his own spiritual life that created a change in him. That was quite remarkable.
Since I did get humor, I had another one. A lady got “Food.” She almost walked out. She got food. “I shouldn’t get food. I should have gotten personal growth and spirituality or unconditional love. I got food. I should have gotten something more important than that. I don’t want to play.” I said, “Look, that’s fine.” Why do people keep asking permission? She got up to leave. She got to the door. At the door, she turned around and looked at the group. The light bulb moment. She said, “Maybe it’s because I had an operation on my stomach last month.” The entire group started laughing, like the connection was so strong. It made her laugh to recognize that’s what was important to her. Of all the aspects, food has the biggest charge for people because how we relate to food or how we don’t relate to food and use it as an emotional crutch and all sorts of things.
Those scenarios show me the power is what’s behind the game more than what I do or even more than what the game does. It’s almost like its own energy that runs with it.
Hugh: There is a shift for me. We are in a high performance culture, no matter where you live. We are expected to do things. We can shift from being human doings to human beings and live in the moment. Be in touch with parts of us that we haven’t been in touch with in a while.
Barry: Totally. My greatest gift, and I am grateful, is the fact I get to do this all the time. I get to open up and see and witness people opening up. The two biggest groups I get to witness is one, the person who is really quiet and doesn’t say anything. We normally get a card and say, “I don’t normally speak, and I don’t know what to say. If I had to say something, it would be this wisdom.” Then the other one is the person, you might know those people as well, are the ones who talk all the time. They come up to me at the end and say, “It was great that I didn’t have to have an answer for everything. I learned that I can actually be quiet,” because part of their thinking process is they have to have an answer for everything that is said.
Hugh: Isn’t that funny? We have imposed that on ourselves. We have to fill every minute with talking, and we have to have answers for everything. I keep seeing celebrities being interviewed, and the interviewer wants to trick them and ask these hard questions. They stumble with their answers. I think, Why do you try to answer? Just say next question. I am not answering that. Oh my
Russell: I have been trying for myself to operate out of the philosophy that there is no accident in the design that I have two ears and only one mouth. My best bet is to try to at minimum use a proportional.
Hugh: Funny. If people wanted to find out about this Conversations game, what is the URL they can go to?
Barry: The easiest one is ConversationstheGame.com, and .au, for Australia. It’s ConversationstheGame.com.au.
Hugh: Conversations is the name of the game. ConversationstheGame.com.
Barry: dot com dot au.
Hugh: Oh, dot com dot au. Gotta have them both.
Barry: Both. Dot com because it’s relating to my business, and dot au because it’s Australia.
Hugh: Whoa. Put that in the notes so people can go there. We like to keep these interviews under an hour. I think we have given people a huge amount of value today. It’s a physical game. Is there a virtual version of this game?
Barry: One thing we are looking at, and I went to CEO space. Part of what I’m looking at is to create an online version. I do play online with people like we did here. My goal is to create an online version to connect people around the world so that people can start creating relationships and building friendships and building connections with people around the world. A number of things coming up:
One is that the Conversations online is a project. If you go to the website, there is some information on that, if people are interested or interested in being a part of it.
The other one is the Conversations documentaries, where we video full games and allow people to express who they really are. One of the things I recognize is that sometimes when people have been doing a lot of media, they almost have a script for answers, and you don’t get to know the person behind the script. I think people would be really interested to know who some of the celebrities are behind the scripts. Some of these people would be more than open to say, “We have had to work through this ourselves.” Some new thought leaders would say, “We just didn’t get here. We had to come from somewhere. We have had to work through this process.” The documentaries will be there to support that. We will start those in Australia as early as this year. But there is information on both of those on the website.
There is information for people who want to be facilitators of the game. You can get a game and play it with your family and friends. If you want to play it with larger groups, there are processes I do to help people with that. I am really here to help you in whatever way, for your organization, whatever that is, to get that moving and to get your people talking to each other, to get the people they work with talking to each other, getting their families talking to each other.
*Sponsor message about Rock Paper Simple*
Hugh: Russell, before I give it to Barry for his final thought, what would you like to say to Barry or to us?
Russell: Barry, thank you for the work you have done to create this. I am pretty excited about it. It is something I want to look into. In my conversations with people, the one thing I want to highlight is they have all sorts of brilliance already. I’d love to have people tap into that brilliance because they have a lot of their own answers. I ask a lot of questions. This is a remarkable tool that can help enhance that process. Thank you very much for the work you are doing. I look forward to interacting with you more in the future.
Barry: Same here, Russell. It’s been great to meet you. My wish for the game. I am going to put my biggest wish here for the game. I know when I created the game, the dream was actually more than the game. Part of the dream, there was a grassroots approach to get the game out there. It wasn’t a Mattel toy you buy in the shop. It is people supporting people supporting people. My wish is that this game is in every family, every family gets the opportunity to play it. Every church has it in the church to help its congregations. Every nonprofit organization has it to support their volunteers and the work they do. I want every corporation to have a game so that we create a new way of doing business with each other. I want schools to have it so that kids know they are safe and can talk to each other as well. That is my real wish.
I know I can’t do that alone. I know it has to be a grassroots. If there are people out there who want to be part of this and help with that process, we already have 100 facilitators around the world. We haven’t built up America yet. There is an opportunity there to look at that. If people want to support that process in making a difference in the way that we talk to each other. I want to thank you, Russell and Hugh, for the opportunity today to show people just how amazing this game is because I really feel I am a custodian for this game. It came through a dream. I feel that sense of responsibility to nurture it and get it out there to the world.
Hugh: Barry, you are an inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing with the nonprofit community on The Nonprofit Exchange.
Barry: Thanks, Hugh.