The pioneering spirit and joyful life of late ‘Cranium’ creator Richard Tait, in his own words

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Serial entrepreneur and “Cranium” creator Richard Tait in Seattle in 2018 on the set of GeekWire’s Elevator Pitch competition, in which he served as a judge. (GeekWire File Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Growing up as a child in Scotland, one of Richard Tait’s heroes was entrepreneur Richard Branson. After Tait co-founded board game company Cranium in Seattle, he was on a mission to get the game into Virgin stores.

“I just loved his swashbuckling personality, and I thought it was a great fit for us with the game,” Tait recalled in 2018.

But how to make the connection? The answer came when Cranium’s first employee, Adam Tratt, ran up to Tait in the office one day, excitedly telling him that Branson was at a nearby bookstore, promoting his autobiography.

“And so I shuffled across Third Avenue in Seattle, and then walked into Borders. And sure enough, Richard Branson was sitting there signing books. So I go into line with my game under my arm, and waited till I was in front of him. And I’d read his autobiography. And I knew that he loved to play games with his kids.”

Branson asked Tait what was under his arm.

“I said, ‘It’s my new game Cranium.’ And he said, ‘You know, I love games.’ And I said, ‘Yes, I do. I want you to play this with your kids.’ And then he said, ‘Do you have a partner in Britain?’ And I said, ‘No, I want it to be you.’ “

Branson and his colleagues played the game on the flight home, and soon “Cranium” was in Virgin stores.

That was just one of the remarkable moments in the extraordinary career and life of Richard Tait, the serial entrepreneur and Microsoft veteran best known as the inventor of the hit board game, “Cranium.”

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Tributes have been pouring in from Tait’s longtime friends and colleagues since his death July 25 at the age of 58 from complications due to COVID-19. A passionate and visionary entrepreneur with a reputation for being tough, Tait had a generous spirit, effusive personality, and rare ability to connect with people he encountered.

This week on the GeekWire Podcast: Richard Tait in his own words. We’re listening back to a conversation that Tait recorded with Fuel Talent CEO and founder Shauna Swerland in 2018 for her podcast, What Fuels You. It’s inspiring, insightful, and bittersweet, and we’re grateful to Shauna for allowing us to share it with you here.

Read our earlier coverage for more on Tait’s life and career, and memories from friends and colleagues.

Listen above, or subscribe to GeekWire in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen.

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