We work and we play. Read about both here.
Red Nova Labs' Ping Pong Community
As the day winds down here at Red Nova Labs and people begin drifting away from their computer screens, the titular ping and pong of a table tennis ball against wooden paddles inevitably draws me downstairs to squeeze in a couple of games – and, okay, one more – before I head home for the evening. The lunch hour, similarly, is filled with a rapid succession of ping pong games sandwiched between eating and the return to work.
We love our ping pong here at Red Nova Labs. At times the rare silence between games becomes more distracting than the noise made during play. It’s even in the picture at the top of our blog pages. And its popularity makes sense. It’s good exercise. It’s a way to bond with our coworkers. And it’s yet another way we constantly push ourselves to get better.
“The great thing is that we have people of all different skill levels and everyone is always getting better,” said Director of Engineering Tim Banks. He’s right. I hadn’t played ping pong since college, but upon arriving here at the beginning of December, I quickly felt my skills returning. I experimented and learned new techniques I had never used before. I thought for sure I’d find myself rising through the ping pong ranks, but I encountered a problem: As I was getting better, so was everybody else.
“Before coming here, I didn’t even know what a penhold grip was,” said WebWorks Account Manager Peter Soto, referring to a manner of holding the paddle in which the thumb and index finger wrap around the handle as if holding a pen. “I just saw [President Robert Zhou] using it.”
It’s a microcosm for our company as a whole. We never stop forging ahead. We never sit back and think, “There, that’s good enough.” Even when we focus on the second half of our “Work hard, play hard” philosophy, we’re always striving to better ourselves and those around us.
Indicative of our collective obsession with the game is the RNL ping pong leaderboard that Banks set up about a month ago to record our respective efforts. As of writing this post, Matt Grizzell stands high at the top, with a phenomenal record of 25 wins to just 4 losses since we began tracking games.
Of course, it’s not all about competition. Another way in which our ping pong community reflects the nature of our larger organization is our openness to new ideas and new people. While we have our ping pong regulars – Banks and Zhou have logged 38 games against each other on the leaderboard and have undoubtedly played many more – the ping pong community is fluid and inclusive. A game of doubles is always welcome. Just this week I played my first game against Content Writing Manager Amy Daniels, who rarely ventures to the table. Even the Storage Hounds and the StorageFront sheep like to sneak in a game on occasion.
Win or lose, everybody has fun. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first time player, everyone’s just another fan of the game when they step up to the table with their paddle in hand. Perhaps that’s why the game has drawn so many of our employees since its arrival last year.
“I remember when I got here, and I said, ‘A ping pong table would be awesome,’” said Banks. “And [CEO Dan Miller] said, ‘We already ordered one. It’s on its way.’” He spoke almost with a kind of reverence about the day the table arrived. It was a Friday, he said, and when it came, he and some coworkers stayed late to set it up, drink a few beers, and, most importantly, play ping pong. That simple story was the beginning of what has become, to many of us, a core element of RNL’s identity – the ping pong table around which we gather, day after day, to show ourselves how great we can be.