Feb 13, 2020

LUCKY 13

Triskaidekaphobia

tris·kai·dek·a·pho·bi·a

/ˌtriskīˌdekəˈfōbēə,ˌtriskə-/

noun

extreme superstition regarding the number thirteen

The number 13. It’s estimated that at least 10 percent of the U.S. population has a fear of the number 13, and even if there isn’t a fear, many still have a superstition surrounding the number and consider it unlucky. This fear was prevalent enough to merit a dictionary-official name, triskaidekaphobia, by 1911.

But what’s so unlucky about the number 13? People avoid marrying, traveling, or buying a house on a day with this dreaded number – so much so that the specific fear of Friday the 13th results in financial losses over $800 million annually. More than 80 percent of hi-rise buildings in the United States do not have a 13th floor. Many airports skip the 13th gate. Hospitals regularly have no room number 13. And it’s not just isolated to the U.S. In Florence, Italy, the house between number 12 and 14 is addressed 12 1/2. And of course, dinner parties absolutely cannot have 13 guests. In France, socialites known as the quatorziens (“fourteeners”) were available, for a fee, to attend dinner parties as the 14th guest to prevent back luck from befalling the event and guests alike.

There are many theories as to why the number 13 has gotten such a bad rap. Maybe it’s because 12 was often considered a “perfect” number in the ancient world. The ancient Sumerians developed a numeral system based on the use of 12. So adding one to try and top perfection is just a bad idea and never ends well.

Other theories point to the Last Supper. Judas Iscariot, the 13th guest to arrive at the Last Supper, was the one who later betrayed Jesus. Yet another theory traces the superstition back to Norse mythology claiming evil and turmoil were first introduced in the world by the appearance of the treacherous and mischievous god Loki at a dinner party. He was the 13th guest, upsetting the balance of the 12 gods already in attendance.

But despite studies and research, there’s no statistical proof to support the superstition.

“No data exists, and will never exist, to confirm that the number 13 is an unlucky number,” said Igor Radun of the Human Factors and Safety Behavior Group at the University of Helsinki’s Institute of Behavioural Sciences in Finland.

13 has not proven unlucky for Pixl Productions. As we kick off our 13th year of business, we actually consider ourselves the lucky ones. After 13 years, you tend to learn a. lot. We wanted to share with you 13 lessons of 13 years in business…take these to heart, and maybe they’ll help turn your luck upside down!

1. Blizzards and satellite trucks are never a good match. Once while in Hartford, Connecticut, for a Simulcast, our show found itself right in the middle of a huge blizzard. The snow fell off the building right on top of our satellite truck. The feed was immediately cut so no one would be electrocuted (because obviously that is frowned upon). We were able to restore the signal quickly and safely, and when we went live again, everyone else on the crew was happy to be stationed at a show site in a warmer climate.

2. Your team doesn’t like it when they ask you to choose between option 1 and option 2, and you reply with “yes”. I have learned that sometimes I need to stop everything I am doing and give my team my undivided attention. With 24/7 leashes to our jobs through technology, it makes it hard to shut down everything in our heads and truly focus.

3. If you know someone’s name, use it. A person’s name is the greatest connection to their own identity and individuality. From your uber driver to the flight attendant to the hotel staff, have a personal conversation with these people. This goes for anyone you cross paths with– people want to be truly seen.

4. Never ask anything of anyone that you wouldn’t do yourself.

5. Working 36 hours without any sleep is not good for the soul and makes you old quick – learn to prioritize downtime.

6. Yes, you can pick the wrong entrance song for a guest to take the stage; and when you pick wrong, you might as well knock it out of the park. A few years ago, we had pre-picked music for award winners to walk onto the stage. It’s a long story, but all music was pre-loaded because of the quick turn time on videos. About ten videos in, the talent on camera shared how they were inspired by someone doing a kind deed for a man who was dying. The entire audience was moved by the video – I must say it was a great video produced by our team. But then it was quickly overshadowed when this individual was called to the stage to be recognized as the next piece of music in the cue was Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees. You know that feeling of losing your stomach on the first drop of a roller coaster? That was basically us.

7. Pranks – you know you love them, all in good fun. We also make sure to spread the love, from our landlord to our teammates, we are always on the lookout for the next fun joke.

8. Hire millennials. The great thing about Millennials is that they bring fresh ideas and fresh perspectives to your workplace. A new generation means a new way of thinking. It’s also fun during the interview process to warn people that you are going to time their mile.

9. Responsible PTO policy – there is nothing better…well, queso might be better. Here at Pixl, there is not a vacation policy. We want our team to have balance in their work life. See item 5. If your kid is sick, stay home and enjoy the snuggles. Is your friend getting married? Be on the front row to support them. The thing is, we all work hard. When we work, we work really hard; and when we are not, we are enjoying life. So take the time you need, when you need it. And don’t sweat tracking the days.

10. Learn from everyone you meet. Some of our best partners we’ve had for years, even before Pixl. We are proud to say three partners have been with our senior staff for 13+4 years and counting (that’s 17 and counting – we just liked the excuse to throw 13 in there again!). It’s an incredible feeling when you can call coworkers, friends. And that is exactly what these people are.

11. College might be overrated. Yep, I said it. Trade school in this industry is every bit as good, if not better in some circumstances. Encourage your kids to look at all avenues of education, not just college.

12. Have conversations in person. As often as possible. Then resort to a phone call, followed by email or text. Face to face discussions is becoming a lost art. We should treasure the art of conversation more than the world does anymore.

13. And our lucky number 13 lesson – Culture is everything. When you pull together a group of people to work on any project, and they will develop a culture of their own, and it will be as unique as the people in the group. When you put a focus on culture, you’ll have guiding principles. People will know you for this. Employees will live by it. It’ll help get all employees working on the same company mission. In some sense, it’s the glue that keeps the company together. I love our Pixl culture.

It’s true; superstitions influence how people act. But they’re only in our heads – or the heads of some of us. There are no lucky or unlucky numbers. They really only become what we make of them. And we say 13 is going to be our best year yet.