Exemplary Nominations – Wave 4

Written by Eric Levine
Level 3, Japan

Written by Eric Levine
Level 3, Japan

Hello everyone! I’m back again to talk about some exemplary nominations from Exemplar Wave 4. Now, you might be thinking “Didn’t we just put in Wave 5?” You’d be right, and that’s what got me thinking about the fantastic nominations from Wave 4. I hope you’re already thinking about exemplary behavior you’ve seen with an eye toward writing your nominations for Wave 6 (wow, Wave 6? Exemplar grows up so fast…) and I’m hoping that another round of good examples can inspire us all to write better recognitions. We chose these recognitions to spotlight not only because they are great examples for people looking to up their nomination-writing game, but also because they seemed like the tips of really awesome story icebergs – and you know how much I like a good story. Onward!

Let’s get started with a recognition from Mike Ames (L2, USA-South) to Justin Vandiver (L1, USA-South). Mike wrote the following:

Justin, you have quickly grown to be an outstanding L1.  In particular, I was impressed at how your keen observation skills prevented an issue at the Oath of the Gatewatch prerelease.  By paying close attention to game states while walking the tables, your recollection of a particular battlefield quickly and decisively resolved an escalating issue between players.  Keep up the good work!

This is a great one because it provides an example of a behavior that pretty much every judge can improve upon – watching Magic. Paying attention to specific matches instead of just walking by has been an area of focus across the program recently, and it’s nice to see that there are judges exhibiting this kind of behavior at local events. I wanted to know more, because I’m sure we can learn more from Justin’s example with more details, so I reached out to Mike, who replied as follows:

There is a consistent message of “Watch more Magic” that flows through the program. Often, this results in judges pausing at a match to listen for GRVs, uncommon interactions, or similar issues. In the situation referenced in the nomination, Justin absorbed all the aspects of gameplay while watching a game such that when a disagreement over a prior board state occurred a few minutes later, he was able to promptly resolve the dispute. Justin’s presence and focus at the table, combined with his authoritative demeanor when delivering the ruling, settled what could have become a bitter dispute.

These players and those at neighboring tables were noticeably impressed by Justin’s level of involvement in the game. I fear that judges produce the opposite reaction when we quickly walk through tables or gather in groups during rounds. This was a topic of discussion for our staff for the rest of the day, and the Exemplar recognition allows this conversation to extend beyond our local area and sets Justin’s behavior as a model.

Mike put it much better in his reply to me than I did above, so kudos to him. I’m glad the “Watch more Magic” message is still alive and flowing, and moreover, I’m glad that we have these additional details, because it sounds like Justin had a huge impact that day. Mike’s description brings into focus not just Justin’s attention to detail, but his skill in delivering his resolution to the players at the affected table. With all of that laid out, it’s easy to see how Justin’s behavior inspired other judges at the event while also giving players a great impression of the judges there, and it’s not hard to make the leap from there to thinking about how we all can be led by Justin’s example at our next events. I know I’ll be thinking about this next time I’m walking between tables at a tournament!

Next, we have a recognition from Justin Purcell (L2, USA-Northeast) to Chris Cahill (L2, USA-Northeast). Here’s the original:

Chris, you helped to establish a series of monthly judge meetups in western Massachusetts, each of which will have a set topic with a discussion leader. This should help judges who want to stay involved, and help keep the judges who aren’t able to get to many larger events up to date with happenings in the judge program. I think it will be very useful given the density of judges in our area.

I like this recognition because it’s specific without being long-winded and because it provides a cool example of an area-specific program that should be easy for other areas to emulate even after just reading those three sentences! I reached out to Justin for more details, and he had this to say about Chris and his judge meetups:

Jonah Kellman and I had been discussing running a series of Judge classes, something we’ve traditionally done every semester in the valley. We came to the conclusion that there wasn’t much interest in something like that this semester, and reached out to Chris, our Area Representative, for some ideas. It turns out he had similar thoughts, and wanted to organize monthly meetups for the judges in the area. These meetups are run as a discussion about a predetermined topic, with a discussion leader who has some experience in that area. The topics we’ve covered so far include Disqualifications, Being a Better Candidate for Events, Deck Checks, and Being Loud.

The meetups have been helpful for local judges who don’t have many chances to attend larger events, giving them opportunities to ask questions and discuss rules and policy with other judges. Chris usually stays for a while after the discussion is over to chat with judges and find out how things are going with various stores and events in the area.

Based on Justin’s description, it sounds like Chris, as Area Representative, shifted his focus from judge acquisition to judge education when the area demanded it, and he did so while taking the opinions of other area leaders into account. In doing so, he created a program where many judges had the opportunity to showcase their expertise and educate other judges while also making himself more available to address judges in person in his role as Area Representative. I’d say a lot of birds got killed with one stone here, but I really like birds, so I’ll just say “nice one!” instead.

Our last nomination was written by Billy Gilmore (L2, USA-Central) to Levi Pierce (L1, USA-Central). Billy wrote the following:

I have had the pleasure of working with Levi at two SCG Opens in the past year and each event Levi went out of his way to make sure the players in the event feel like they are wanted and cared for. I have seen Levi take the time to talk to a frustrated player till they felt heard and he has also helped players find their seat by actually walking them to the pairings board and then to their seats. The little time that Levi takes with the players is in my opinion is multiplied tenfold with player satisfaction.

My favorite part about this recognition is how inspirational it is. It showcases Levi’s exemplary work while showing the reader how they can provide the same level of customer service with little time investment. After all, it doesn’t always take a long time to show players that we care, and little things can go a long way. I asked Billy for some more details so that I could learn from Levi’s customer service mastery, and Billy replied with this:

As I had said in my exemplar I have been blessed to work with Levi at two back to back Opens last year and I was always impressed with his friendliness with the players and the desire he has to make the tournament the best for the attending players. The event I wrote the exemplar about was the Kansas City Open in November 2015. While was watching a match being played at the end of a round I noticed that Levi was talking to a gentleman that seemed to be very upset and I moved a bit closer to try to hear see what was causing the player to be upset. The more I listened, the more I realized that the player was missing something of his. During this time Levi was just sitting listening to what the player was saying, and after he was finished, Levi asked the player to follow him to the Lost and Found. It was then I was able to talk to Levi about what was happening while the player was talking to a SCG representative. Levi told me that the player was trading with some other players, and when they were finished the player’s binder was missing. I told Levi thank you for calming him down and taking him to lost and found.

The next round started before the player was able to finishing explaining what was going on, so when he finished Levi personally walked the player to his pairing board and then took the player to his table so that he would not get a Tardiness penalty. This allowed the player to calm somewhat down and start his event, and by the end of the event the player was able to get his binder back and was very thankful to Levi. I was so impressed with the customer care that I saw I talked to Levi at the end of the event and told him I was proud of his actions.

This just brings a smile to my face. Listening to someone seems like such a simple and easy thing to do, but as tournament officials, we’re often busy and may think we don’t have time to do things like this. Levi’s behavior is a great reminder that we should be finding that time – after all, the heart of customer service is the way we show the players that we care about them. Just sitting down to talk to someone who seems upset or walking with someone to an event stage or their table instead of simply pointing them toward their destination might seem like a small thing, but in reality, that can make a player’s day.

Hopefully this spotlight I’ve shined on these recognitions has helped you think about ways you can write better recognitions. Maybe it has even inspired you to set some new goals for yourself as a judge – I know that’s always how I feel after reading Exemplar recognitions. I also know there are a ton of regional blogs that are still doing Exemplar features. If your region has something like that, please leave a link in the comments so we can check out even more awesome nominations and cool behaviors. Finally, if you have any feedback about the Exemplar program or any suggestions for future nominations to be featured in articles like this, send an email to ExemplarProgram@gmail.com and we’ll take a look. Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

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