Welcome to a special edition of Judge of the Week! Usually, we feature one rock star judge. This time around, we’ve got a whole rock band!
We found out who the top recipient of Exemplar recognitions were for Wave 6 in each region. Some of them have been profiled in previous editions of Judge of the Week, and some of them very well may be profiled in future editions. We wanted to not only highlight some of their accomplishments, but also ask each of them what tips they had for the rest of the Judge community. So without any further ado, here are the top Exemplar honorees in each of the program’s 26 regions!
L2 Paul Johnson earned recognitions for subjects ranging from a seminar he gave about mentorship, the warm hospitality he extended to other judges at Grand Prix Sydney, and his contagious enthusiasm and passion for judging.
His advice: Always. Have. Fun. If you’re not enjoying judging and can’t have a laugh with either the players, or other Judges, or even the TO, take a step back and look at why you’re doing it.
While there can be incredibly serious stakes on the lines, it all comes down to the fact that this is a game, and should be enjoyable. I regularly receive compliments on my energy and enthusiasm at Grands Prix and the reason I can keep my spirits up for 3 days straight is because I’m genuinely enjoying myself!
L3 Dustin De Leeuw earned recognitions for subjects ranging from his work on the new Team Leader certification, his organizing social activities like escape rooms for judges and stimulating discussions with rules and policy questions for a WMCQ staff.
His advice: Always be yourself, and be honest with yourself. Nobody forces you to judge, so apparently, you do it because you like (parts of) it. So focus on what makes you happy about judging, and share that joy. Don’t try to imitate others; rather be an amazing you than a mediocre copy of someone else. But stay close to other judges, as they will inspire you and amplify your pleasure in judging.
I believe that’s the key to being exemplary: be the best example you can be of someone who found something they love, then puts all their energy and passion into it. For me, Magic is a game played by people, much more than a game played with cards. It makes me happy to see players and judges have a great day, and I’m happy I can facilitate that. For me, the cards are just a means.
What’s your passion in the Judge Program? Who else shares that passion with you, or is a role model for you? Talk to those judges, and see what you can learn from them, and what you might teach them. Don’t copy; discover what’s already inside you. Listen to feedback from others, and be generous with feedback yourself. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and definitely don’t be afraid to admit mistakes. I learned the most by writing tournament reports confessing all my errors, then reading the feedback others gave me. Accept what other judges offer you.
Be you. Be awesome.
L2 Leonardo Martins earned recognitions for subjects ranging from his efforts in bolstering the Brazilian judge community, the advice he gives, and the mini-conferences he has helped organize.
His advice: One of the core values of the Judge Program is self-improvement. Try to improve at every aspect you can, no matter if it’s only to help at your local FNMs, or at handling complex investigations, or even at helping other fellow judges to improve themselves. We, as judges, have access to an amazing pool of content and people willing to help, both things that out there in the real life would cost a considerable sum of money, basically for free. Talk to other judges, don’t be afraid to ask questions, get out of your comfort zone and try new things, new techniques, help your local community whenever possible, but also remember, have fun. If you’re not having fun judging, you’re doing it wrong!
L2 Chris Lansdell earned recognitions, particularly for the charismatic and humourous way he ran on-demand events at various Grand Prix.
His advice: The best advice I can give to any judge is to remember that Magic is a game, and games are meant to be fun. Especially when dealing with Regular REL events, players are there to have fun and we can help that happen. I like to think of myself as a facilitator of fun, reminding players of the relaxed atmosphere and letting them know that it’s ok to joke around and enjoy themselves. Try to approach every announcement or interaction with a player with a smile and a pleasant demeanor. Have puns at the ready. People love puns, without exception. Oh yes they do.
Similarly, this applies to other judges. We might be at events to work, but if we’re not having fun, we’re doing it wrong. Helping other judges relax and get past something that is troubling them can also make events more fun. Keep smiling, offer high fives, ask them if they’re having a good day. The effort expended is minimal and the reward is many times greater!
L2 Yi Shen earned recognitions for subjects ranging from his work training new judges and for bringing players and judges closer together.
His advice: I always focus on mentoring. Recently I helped some L1 candidates in different areas via prerelease events. I contacted TOs and L2 judges (some of who can judge prerelease event rather than play) in several cities first. And then all the L1 candidates chose which city (or card store) they would like to go to. All the information of L1 candidates was sent to the head judge of that prerelease event they chose. And after these events, both of them gave me some feedback. These L1 candidates could improve their skills by following the head judge continuously.
L2 Milan Majerčík earned recognitions for subjects ranging from coordinating Czech and Slovak PPTQ coverage, pointing out errors and showing deep knowledge of logistics.
His advice: Be active and be vigilant. Whenever you come across an issue or a deficiency – be it during your events, your Judge Region affairs, in the whole Judge Program or your everyday life – ask yourself: “Is this my opportunity to do something meaningful? What can I do to make it better?” And even if you are not absolutely sure about the answer, do not be afraid to turn to others, for example, your Judge colleagues. Magic Judges are amazing beings and they will try to help you with your struggles, just by their nature. The Judge Program consists of some of the most clever people I have ever met.
Moreover, you should even try to twist the situation a bit and turn it into another opportunity to fulfil the general goal, which is “not to get a bigger piece of the pie, but to make a bigger pie for everyone.”
On the other hand, keep your balance. We are all addicts to something. Do not let anything make your life unbearable.
L1 Theodoros Millidonis earned recognitions for subjects ranging from his series of articles about judge conferences, the amount of energy he brings in his interactions and a seminar about reviews.
His advice: Try to be positive, open to ideas, and willing to go the extra mile while performing any activity you take on. Don’t be afraid to admit to mistakes being made, and be eager to learn something new every day. It is very important for one to be able to evaluate one’s strengths and weaknesses. I have found out that it is precisely through utilizing my strengths, and trying to improve my weaknesses, that I am able to make a positive contribution towards the Judge Program.
L3 Charlotte Sable earned recognitions for subjects ranging from her tumblr, her excellent preview of an Eldritch Moon card and her empathy and community building.
Her advice: My best advice for judges is this: Always go into an event you’re judging with a goal. It can be easy to have a goal like “run a great event and don’t mess up” when you’re the only judge at a GPT or PPTQ, but at larger events like GPs and SCG Tour weekends, it’s a lot easier to just be there without a goal or a plan. The problem with just being at the event without a goal or a challenge for yourself is that it’s all too easy to come out the other side with nothing to really show for it. You put in an acceptable performance, you didn’t screw up, but you didn’t grow either. So go into every event with a goal or an area you want to push yourself to improve in.
L3 Kevin Desprez earned recognitions for subjects ranging for giving advice on disqualification investigations, his blog and the level of feedback he gives to other judges.
His advice: Never forget that the Judge Program built its success on a peer-to-peer feedback system. Accept feedback, because you may be wrong. Challenge, no matter who’s your interlocutor, because you may be right. Give feedback, because they may be wrong. Accept pushback, because you may not be right. In a civil way, always!
Every individual has a unique vision. It may not be entirely correct, but can’t entirely be discarded. What others think can’t be ignored. Listen to them, learn from them, make up your mind, be open.
The world isn’t black and white, it’s not about who’s wrong and who’s right. It’s made of a myriad of contextual opinions. Confronting them is how we made the Judge Program as strong as it now is.
L2 Simon Ahrens earned recognitions primarily for his leadership in a L2 mentorship program.
His advice: Find something you care about, work on it and have fun doing it.
L3 Sergio Perez earned recognitions for subjects ranging from his logistics prowess, his efforts to collect statistics on Day 2 Team Leads, and an in-depth discussion on how L3 candidates should approach the checklist.
His advice: I think there is no “magic trick” to be recognized by your peers, but just enjoying what you do and enjoying helping others. If you like judging and everything you do, you help others when they might need it and you thank them when they help you, recognitions will probably just happen. And if they don’t, it’s also fine, because when you enjoy judging, recognitions just become a secondary thing. They should be a possible outcome, never a goal itself.
My best philosophy tip would be: think on others and make them enjoy and learn, and you’ll probably enjoy and learn yourself too. 🙂
Italy and Malta
L3 Riccardo Tessitori earned the most recognitions of any judge this wave. He received them on subjects ranging from a workshop he held on Hidden Card Error, his plan to the distribution of product and goodies at Grand Prix Montreal, to giving excellent customer service as a floor judge.
His advice: CIAO to everybody, I would like to offer two short but (to me) very important and deep tips; one is technical and one is psychological.
1) If you practiced Karate or another martial art, this will be easy to understand: pay attention to details, look for perfection in any action, in any movement, in any detail; whatever you do, perfection is in the details.
2) Always, really always remember that we deal with *people*. Whatever we do, whatever our task is, we interact with people and we must approach them as people, with feelings, with opinions, with a different point of view.
L2 Keigo Osumi earned recognitions for subjects ranging from work translating Magic policy documents, his attention to detail when helping run events and his willingness to discuss just about any judge-related subject.
His advice: At first, do that if you need it done. Some judges says “Why don’t we have some Japanese documents?” We have some documents waiting to be translated from English to Japanese.(For example, the Annotated Infraction Procedure Guide/Annotated Magic Tournament Rules). We started to translate those documents with many judges. (Those projects are continuing and we are translating the Kaladesh Update. If you want to join the project, please contact me.)
When we started the projects, our translation was not good, but our translation skill is getting better by doing many translations. If you maybe think “If I make a mistake, I am ashamed…,” ask other judges to support your activity. Fear is often worse than the danger itself..Let’s try!
Do not forget to look for “Why?” We have many questions – ruling, judging, managing event etc.- and get many experiences and answers from events, documents, and other judges. But we get used to those things over time, so we sometimes forget to look for better ways. If we ask “Why?”, we can change things better than now. I believe those are the ways that players and judges get better experiences. Please do not forget to look for a better way. (If you feel that I forget this, please note that and let’s discuss 🙂 )
Latin America – Spanish Speaking Countries
L3 Federico Donner earned recognitions for subjects ranging from having excellent team-building exercises, being a Team Lead who can push judges out of their comfort zone and jumping in to help before his shift at a Grand Prix had even started.
His advice: The Judge Program is big and has a lot of things going on. From crafting policy to optimizing side event registration to providing good customer service, there are a few areas to work on. Find one that motivates you and join a project, or better yet, start one. It’s not hard to make an impact if you’re doing what you love.
Russia and Russian-Speaking Countries
L2 Arseniy Egorov earned recognitions for subjects ranging from his teaching of a different deck-check method to the precision he brings to tasks to his willingness to pursue L3.
His advice: I would like to quote Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: “He remembered the motto curiously worked in filigree of gold. It ran: “Fais ce que dois, adviegne que pourra – c’est commande au chevalier.” The words rang in his weary brain. He had done what seemed right, come what might.” That French phrase translates to English as “Do what you must, and come what may.” I think this idea is a foundation of Exemplar judge. Also as a small tip, I would like to invite fellow judges to join judge projects; I’m sure, work outside of the events will be appreciated. 🙂
L2 QJ Wong earned recognitions for subjects ranging from a judge conference presentation about the Exemplar program, his help in communicating in Japanese,and giving great feedback.
His advice: Get involved. Give suggestions, feedback, solve problems, join community projects. Don’t be afraid to speak up or step into the center of people’s attention. It seems to be a common trend amongst Asians to want to blend into the background and not stand out.
I know how uncomfortable it can be, I still do at times. I find my drive from wanting to give thanks to the community I benefited so much for – by giving back to the community by contributing in as many ways as I can, in and out of judging events.
United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa
L2 Nick Hall earned recognitions for subjects ranging from his organization of the Manchester travel guide, his leadership at a Grand Prix side event and his diplomacy with a tournament organizer.
His advice: The big tip I have for people is to really work on their communication style and communication skills. I see a lot of people being very reactive in how they communicate, in events waiting for their team lead or head judge to come to them to ask questions, and outside of events waiting for people to contact them.
In reality, what I’d like to see is people being more proactive with their communication. In events, it allows your team lead (especially on side events) to get a longer notice period of potential issues, and frankly even an “I’m OK, nothing’s on fire” sitrep will mean they don’t send you excess judges you don’t need. Outside of events, especially with judges local to you, talk to them on social media or by e-mail. Talk to them about both your goals and their goals. It’s amazing how many opportunities can come from proactively seeking someone out, and having a conversation.
L2 Michael Arrowsmith earned recognitions for subjects ranging from his willingness to take on head judge responsibilities for a side event at Grand Prix Charlotte, his organization of judge conferences in his region and his leadership in the Judge of the Week project.
His advice: Shave your head bald. You become more aerodynamic, and are able to answer judge calls more quickly.
Lol jk….or am I?
Work hard. Volunteer to come in early, or stay for top 8. Be pleasant with everyone, even if you are not a fan of them. Most of all…have fun! The more fun you are having, the more enjoyable the event is for those around you.
🙂 🙂 🙂
L3 John Temple earned recognitions for subjects ranging from his use of electronic communication to facilitate end of round procedure, his help in organizing conferences and his leadership in the Judge of the Week program.
His advice: Commit to what you have a passion for but don’t forget that you can always say no. Whether it is a PPTQ that needs a HJ, an event that really needs that last judges, or a project that really needs a leader, remember you can just say no.
L3 Riki Hayashi earned recognitions for subjects ranging from his work on the Feedback Loop, his pushing judges to do more, and his contributions to growing the Roanoke, VA judge community.
His advice: My philosophy in judging and in life is to play the long game. (Although ironically, in Magic itself, I prefer aggro.) Interactions with other judges are fundamentally how you get nominated for Exemplar, and to me this happens through feedback. Of course that was going to be my answer.
If you look at my nominations, many of them focus on long-term relationships and continuous mentoring and feedback, rather than singular incidents and events. Erik Aliff’s nomination of me from the Spring 2016 Wave summarizes things quite well: “You demonstrate how feedback is a process of investment in people and the community as a whole.”
The degree to which I participate in feedback isn’t something that others can readily copy, but feedback is something that everyone can do. Looking through my nominations, I’m surprised by how much something I did years ago mattered to someone. Invest in feedback and you might be surprised by what blossoms from it.
L2 Jacob Milicic earned recognitions for subjects ranging from his efforts with the Judge of the Week project, an article about compassionate coaching and a stellar team lead.
His advice: Always remember that other judges offering you criticism are doing so with the intent of helping you improve. It can be difficult to accept criticism because judging is often a labor of love for us, and sometimes it is hard to put a lot of yourself into something and then be told everything you have done wrong or could have done better. Pause, take a step back, take a deep breath, and remember that you do add value and you do matter. You are being given this feedback because of the general (and generally correct) assumption that judges want do to better with each iteration.
There are many things that make up a good judge, and a lot of the less intuitive aspects often get neglected. It is okay to say no, as you need to recognize when you’re taking too much on. It is okay to take that break off your feet when your ankle is hurting rather than “power through” the event. And it is okay to forgive yourself when you make a mistake. Taking care of yourself is important, whether it be physical or psychological, and doing so gives longevity to your judging career. This is far more valuable than a single heroic effort that leaves you drained and/or broken.
L1 Charles Featherer earned recognitions for subjects ranging from his willingness to accept and act on feedback, his building a deck to teach a 6-year-old how to play Magic and his raising a question about Hidden Card Error.
His advice: My advice would be to not be afraid of putting something under a microscope. It’s said that the most dangerous sentence in the English language is, “We’ve always done it this way.” Be careful when following this advice.
Change for the sake of change can be more damaging than helpful. When you put something under the microscope – whether it is a repeated interaction, a process, or something else – take the time to first try to understand the purpose or goals behind the action. Then, look at each piece carefully. Ask questions about the process. “Is this the optimal way to achieve our goal?” “Is there a better/faster/stronger path to the goal without making unsustainable sacrifices?” Asking questions like these are key to understanding. Share in this process with others who have specific skills or knowledge. When you feel you have a new way to do something, be careful how you share it.
Don’t immediately assume that your idea is better. Speak deferentially. Offer your suggestion as a possible improvement, not as, “Your idea is dumb and you’re dumb for doing it that way.” I’ve heard many versions of the last sentence. It rarely gains the desired effect. If your idea for change gains traction, be observant. Look for ways to further refine your concept. Make sure you ask for feedback as well – your impression of how a change has been accepted is likely not the only impression. And it’s often far from the most important.
When you’re done, don’t think you’ve solved every problem either. Don’t rest on your laurels. If you continue to challenge yourself and others around you, your world will be a brighter place.
L2 Joe Klopchic earned recognitions for subjects ranging from his work leading teardown at Grand Prix Montreal to guidance he gave to a judge in connection to a SCG event.
His advice: 1) Be excited to judge, especially to help others.
2) Prepare. Think about what you’re going to be doing or responsible for, and how you can excel at it.
3) From time to time, take a mental step back from your event and figure out 3 things. What you need to do next, what the event needs to do next, and what is going wrong or could go wrong. Proactive judges result in the best events.
L1 John White earned recognitions for subjects ranging his posing questions on his regional Slack, his interactions with players and his stepping up to help with a PPTQ.
His advice: My tip is to look for opportunities. This applies while judging events, in the judge program at large, and in life. If you don’t look for opportunities, you will miss quite a few.
The opportunities don’t have to be big ones to make a big difference. The players may not notice that you picked up trash from on or underneath the tables, but they will definitely notice if it’s not picked up and their experience will be affected. Checking the table numbers and seeing that one is turned around backwards can save a couple of players from getting game or match losses because they sat at the wrong table. Pushing in the chairs that have migrated into the aisle can help players and judges navigate the venue more easily, making for shorter turnaround of rounds.
Look for a need within the Judge Program that you can fill. Are you a programmer who can make a program that will simplify somebody’s life? Are you good at planning and organizing and can help at the next judge conference? Are you a good teacher who can help train others to become better judges? Are you a writer who can write an article about something you’re passionate about within the judge program? Whatever it is that you consider to be your strength, look for a way to apply it within the judge program to help another judge.
His advice: At my blog, I have been gathering and writing pieces weekly that mostly focus on tips for other judges! Really, there are thousands of words there that can more fully answer this question than I could in a blurb here.
That said, my main suggestion for other judges is to find your niche. That could mean event specialization, judge education, community work, project work, or any number of other roles. Find something that you are both good at and also enjoy. Being able to apply your skills and effort to better the program for yourself and others is really the best thing you can do. Keep working, and keep having fun!
L2 Angela Chandler earned recognitions for subjects ranging from organizing regional shirts, coordinating judge meet-ups and contributing to the Exemplar Highlight project.
Her advice: My number one tip would be: judges should always try to remember why we do this. Whether your motivations are the love of the game, the judge program or the community in general, stay passionate and keep having fun. Our regional slogan is Attendance is Optional, Fun is Mandatory.
I am very passionate about about the Magic community, whether it be players, judges or tournament organizers. I love seeing great events being run and players enjoying the events. Because of this, I continue to dedicate my time and energy into making sure all of these elements come together in harmony in my local and regional communities.
My second tip would be to communicate within your region. Share ideas, chat on forums and keep apprised of what’s happening in your area. This not only will expose you to other judges but also to new ideas.
Thanks to all the judges above for being awesome and sharing advice to help other judges to step up their game! See you next week when we return to highlight another judge and provide the answer to last week’s Two Truths and a Lie. In the meantime, if there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!