Unapologetically BOLD: I'm not sorry for....
Playing with Legos with Benjamin Warsinske
December 18, 2020
Who loves Legos? How about wanting to build a career of playing with Legos? Say what? Is this possible? In this session, we speak with Benjamin about why he is not sorry for playing with Legos as an adult and how it has taken him across the world and introduced him to some amazing people as he encourages people to add play to their strategy game.
Who loves Legos?

How about wanting to build a career of playing with Legos?

Say what? Is this possible?

In this session, we speak with Benjamin about why he is not sorry for playing with Legos as an adult and how it has taken him across the world and introduced him to some amazing people as he encourages people to add play to their strategy game.

[00:00:02] spk_0: this is visited in this show is brought to you by Safety FM. Welcome to unapologetically bold. I'm not sorry for If you are a person that is tired of apologizing for being you, you know, the human part of you that sometimes feels like it has to be different at home versus work versus play, Theo. Human side that just wants to be hot, humble, open and transparent about your wants, desires and uniqueness. If you answered yes, this podcast is for you. Join me, Emily Elrod as I dive into conversations with Amazing Guest about what you're not sorry for And creative and loving ways. Let's get started. I am pumped today to have Benjamin with me. Thank you so much for joining me today, Benjamin.

[00:00:56] spk_1: Thanks so much for having me.

[00:00:57] spk_0: This is gonna be a great and fun conversation. So tell people about yourself.

[00:01:03] spk_1: Yeah, So I guess, like, I would describe myself as a Lego enthusiasts or Lego maniac Number one. Um Ah. Swimmer on brand builder and and really it. It's my brand building career as a brand consultant, and and strategy has kind of come, it's come out of my love of play. and my my love for for Lego Um and it's kind of spanned over, like, you know, 12 or 15 year career so far. Um, that's kind of more through several different transitions and it's taken me around. The world

[00:01:36] spk_0: is so beautiful of your story and that's what I'm excited for. People thio here. So I guess that's what will flow into Benjamin. What are you not sorry

[00:01:47] spk_1: for? I am not sorry for playing with Lego

[00:01:51] spk_0: and because truly has taking you around the world. But I want to start from the beginning. Where did this come from? Where did the Lego play was? A childhood was an adult. Where did it start at?

[00:02:04] spk_1: Yes, So it started when I was like, three years old. I got um Ah, Lego set. I still have the original Lego set from, like 1980 six or something. Um and the beauty about Lego is that the Lego from back then still works with leg of of today, So it it all just integrates, and that's like the beauty of their system. But so I got this this Lego set of three years old and it was like this warehouse mail center like it almost like a USPS, um, center. And I just fell in love with it. I remember, just like it was had, like, two base place. And you could you could, um, rotated and like, kind of changed the look of the building. And I remember building with my dad and then just from there, it just took off. And so I just started to build towns and then cities. And then as I got older, I started to build environments and take over my parents basement. And I basically ended up like in the summers like before, Like during high school. Even I was building cities that were, like, 50 square feet. So, like think, you know, like like 5 ft by 10 ft or 6 ft by 7 ft. And these weren't just like flat towns. They were. They had, like, topography and rivers and mountains and on do you know, downtown District's and a marina and all these different elements you would find in a city on DSO. It's just kind of my, um by, like, little laboratory to build these environments. Andi kind of mimic what I was experiencing in in the real world and then kind of, um also like, trying to solve different problems. Like so, for example, I remember when I finally got my hands on the Lego monorail, which is like, uh, it came out like 1991 and I always wanted and never got it. And I finally got in college. And so I have, like, the this kind of layout, and I was like, Well, how do I in input this monorail back into the city? And how do I make that work? And so I had to go start, you know, figuring out how that the layout of the track would dio how that would change the roads, how that would change the field for the Ogoni ins on the sidewalk, how it would destroy the buildings, are about to go through buildings. All these different problems that I was just kind of exploring through play. And then, um, what was kind of funny in Seattle, where I grew up, they were actually going through the same problem of wanting to put a light rail through through West Seattle, and so they were doing the same thing. They were, you know, saying like what we need todo tired on these buildings. They were gonna change the street and we're gonna have the the path of the light rail go through here. And so I just kind of like was this connection of wow, like what I'm doing with Lego is is, you know, real world problems on. That's what kind of got me interested in city planning and urban planning and landscape architecture and kind of developing these environment the built environment for for us humans um, eso Lego was a big inspiration for that and for how, for what I studied in in college.

[00:05:02] spk_0: I love that. I think the important thing to is so many people do not stay with things that they basically they have passion for. They'd like to play like since I was a child. I know have always been told I was wise beyond my years, and I've always been helping people like That's my natural thing is just I didn't know that's just something that was me. But there's a lot of people that don't that never embrace what they're good at, but how much it could take you to the next level, which I think it's important to talk about like it literally Legos and your love of play. And also, I think of an important part is that you've talked previously with after before this conversation about how your parents allowed me to have that play, and that was extremely important. But how That allowed you to get to the next level of traveling the world. So if you don't mind, just talk about that for a minute.

[00:05:57] spk_1: Yeah. Yes. So? So after I graduated from college, I moved down to L. A on guy, worked at an architectural planning firm and started Thio work on these amazing like resort residential developments and communities in the Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt. Um, if you look up the island of happiness, that was one of the projects that that I worked on. And it was one of I was on the team that developed the master plan for Saudi of island or the island of happiness off the coast of Abu Dhabi. Andi. So that was just an incredible time. And it was It was It was also incredible because it was right at the beginning of my career. Eso I couldn't have asked for better experience uh, to actually get to design and draw and just kind of play on paper went through through pen and ink what these communities will look like and how people would would actually embrace and and interact within those environments. Andi, the funny thing is like you you mentioned that a lot of people don't stick with their passions. I at that point was still trying to bring Lego into my work, But I was being rejected, like, left and right, like my my bosses were like, What are you talking about? Like, how could we bring in leg out like it was a toy, all of these different things. And so I I kind of started to move myself further away from from Lego. So I was still a big fan of Lego. But it was something that I want to talk about with anyone at work or or, you know, even my friends didn't know my insane like Lego collection, Um that I that I have. And so then I through LinkedIn. Actually, I found I had an opportunity to move to Hawaii on become a strategic planner, and I was embedded with the U. S. Air Force specific headquarters Azaz part of their 13. And, um And again I went from thes like super resort luxury residential communities that we were developing thio strategic planning with the U. S. Air Force, which was very, very different. It was like a complete, like 1 80 completely different worlds. And what I noticed with the Air Force was we were doing a lot of workshops and and planning and trying to envision what thes thes plans would look like. And it was very hard to get the airman to open up and want to draw because they did. They didn't want to make a mistake. And I wish I had known. I wish I was certified in Lego serious play back then because I think that would have opened up so many more conversations and just everybody's ability to build and click and connect and tell stories on DSO. So working with the Air Force, that was really kind of what got me interested in culture and the organization and the hierarchy structure and the experience that that the organization gives off. The Air Force has a very different feel from the Navy or the Army or the Marines on, but it's very different from corporate America. And so I saw those those differences. But I also saw this kind of the fact that they're kind of like branded worlds. They're kind of like their own ecosystem. Eso my first, uh, projects when I when I got to Hawaii, was I was told, All right, you have two weeks to get on boarded and then you're going to Korea for the next two weeks and so way like pack up and like we fly to Korea and we land in Seoul where, like you more sin like this Korean culture, and we jump on a bus on and we drive for like, two hours on the middle of nowhere. And then all of a sudden, there's this big brick gate and says this Osan Air base and we pull through. We show them our passport and orders. And then right as we drove through that gate, we were transported back to any town USA. Everything within the boundaries of this installation felt like Americana, and that's where the this term branded world kind of popped in my head. I remember writing it down, and I was like, I don't know. I don't know what that is, but that seems like something. And that's actually the name of my my company, my creative agency. Because, uh, that example is it's like just like I was designing those reserve residential communities that were, like, kind of gated and private. The first installation is the exact same thing, and it z also similar to a Starbucks coffee house or a, um, you know, a Disneyland or Disney World. It's it's that encapsulated world, but they're that they're designing and that they want you to kind of stay. And you could even think of, like a website as the same thing or social media. They want you to stay in that platform, stay in their world on DSO. How do you then develop brand experience that keeps them there and keep them intrigued and and excited to stay? So that's, um, that's a long way of saying so. I was working with the Air Force and traveling with them around the world. It kind of led me to this other path of the brand experience and culture and teams, and on how important those are in order to deliver a better brand experience

[00:10:58] spk_0: and I think that's important to touch on to because it's a lot of work that we do. It works. B is like from the and that's where we got really nerdy at was about how engineering your environments and there are so many things that impact us that we don't know about. Like in Starbucks. Most of lighting is more of a yellow tent. Most coffee thoughts will have that, because it actually makes you feel like you're going to sleep more and you're gonna drink more coffee. There's like a lot of clients behind it, and it's that feeling and eliciting responses that we may not know about. But unless you kind of study it a little bit or your flat out nerd on E, think that's really cool to talk about how your play has came with you and you've allowed it to come with you. But how much it's impacting more people, And what would you say about that and the importance of it?

[00:11:53] spk_1: Yes, so So like I was saying before the as I moved through my career, play was actually becoming less and less a part of me, and I felt like something was kind of missing and the work with the Air Force was was fun and challenging and extremely, you know, tight deadlines and and kind of kind of crazy. But it was It was also missing that play element on DSO When I would, like, went off on my own to start my own creative agency and I got into I got to Chicago and I was I was working with clients in talking to prospects and saying, You know, I wanna help you build this branded world and the concepts were great, but they were very high level. And so it was just through through network that I found a, uh, networking event that was like, Come play with Lego and meet new people. And I was like, Well, that that sounds awesome. And so I went, and that kind of like there, I realized that you could get certified in Lego serious play, which is, ah, methodology that use this Lego to help solve these complex business problems and kind of brings everybody, um, to the like a level playing field and kind of opens people up in a in a way that that you don't really realize, Um and it kind of makes you feel safe and you're in this kind of environment. And I was like, I was like, Wow, I didn't know that existed but that's awesome. And then that could be the tangible piece for this, you know, the branding work and how all of that kind of fits together. And so it was. And then it was also the combination of really leaning into who I am and and, you know, play matters. That's kind of like my my, uh, you know, my mantra almost andan why it matters so much. And I think that all those pieces kind of together kind of pushed me to, um to lean into this a lot more on. But it's been it's been a lot of fun over the last. Last year, I guess, is when I really started toe lean into it,

[00:13:47] spk_0: and that's the cool part of it. The first time I brought this into one of my classes, of course, I'm not certified or anything. I just was like, Hey, my, we found my brothers Massive pile of Legos. Eso it. We had buckets upon buckets of Legos and so we're like, Shoot, How can we use this? And it was actually about being a human being versus a human doing. It was a lot from that. But what we found what I found is it was so interesting to see people's eyes just light up on a psychology. For me. Behind it is no offensive to my husband, but I learned to have a conversation with my husband. Is he had to be doing something, Get something a little bit extra like, Just think about it. If anybody does a man that's listening to this if your wife comes and stands like this and wants to have a talk like whereas girls were like Attack did it, uh, or a man for some reason, for my husband is like, Oh, God, she's gonna go deep And she's gonna say stuff, but I don't know how to handle it So but needless to say, that was the coolest thing to see. People open up to the plate and it's something kids again, eso talk about that on bringing your childhood being a human being, you know, instead of a human doing all the time. Talk about that for a minute.

[00:15:10] spk_1: Yeah, I think that's One of the things that I really love about it is because, like when I was hosting community events, um, to kind of like, get the word out and get people to experience like a serious play for themselves. Um, there is There's a lot of people who would show up and they would be kind of like I'm not sure what this is like. I've never played with Lego or, like I never collected play go. Is that gonna be a problem? And and then, like when we start, they just immediately kind of fall into it. And they're like like, Oh, I I know how to put all these pieces together and and the amazing thing is that there's no right or wrong. It's really like the the fact that you're thinking with your hands. It's firing like you know both sides of your brain and it's it's your hands are connected to your brain. And so oftentimes you can think faster with your hands than the words that come out of your mouth on DSO when you build a model in like three minutes, whatever that model looks like when you hold that up and someone says Okay, now show the story of the model. Your first instinct is kind of like, Well, there's no story here, But then, if you if you just kind of let yourself talk and share what that model is and what it represents and what the different pieces represent, all of a sudden there's there's this cascading amounts of detail and depth that and metaphors that come out that you wanted to otherwise get. And so that's that's really like the power behind. It's like the magic that happens on to see people who are who are like complete strangers. That I was. I called it conversations through play, and so I would I would invite a bunch of people who didn't know each other. But they may know, like me, Andi, when they would sit at the table and do these different things, that they would kind of share about themselves like one person raise their hand was like, I don't know this person sitting across the table from me, but in the last 10 minutes I feel like I've known in my entire life, and so it's that human connection and that going deeper and being authentic and I think that's the what Lego serious play allows you to dio and and so it just has so many difference, like functionalities and and it could be used in so many different ways. It's it's just an incredible tool, and and it all just kind of stems back to, um, like neuro research and neuroscience and and the human human body and how we want to connect and collaborate with each other. But we often don't communicate in the best way, and Lego kind of becomes that language that we can that we can communicate with.

[00:17:34] spk_0: And I agree with that because I think it's really cool to be able to see people like you said. It's like like they just they just connect and it's so quick. It's like how they did. They never talked and they've been working together for like 30 years, and it's like, Well, we're playing, But it reminds me of kids like my son. It cracks me up on times like he'll talk about his new friend. I'm like, Well, what's the saying? I don't know and I'm okay. So, like, kind of say he's not his friend and my stuff No, that's my friend, you know, like Thio set me straight into, let me know. But I think that's the thing that is so cool with it is that it really takes people to the next level. That's not question for you is what have you found from this? What have you like? What's an experience? And you're like, Ah, and ah ha moment for your people whenever you're facilitating.

[00:18:29] spk_1: Yes. So, uh, this just happened. I think, like last week, I was working with my clients. We were developing a brand foundation for a new start up. And we're going through, um, kind of developing the vision, the mission, the core values on, like, the brand promise and all the different pieces that kind of make up the brands that we understand who the brand is and what it represents and what it stands for on dso when we're discussing the core values. Uh, this was just really powerful. I had I had my clients build small, like taking like five bricks and like taking two minutes and building an aspect of one of the core values. And then they would go around the table and they would each share What? What that core value meant to them. And then I would have them work together as a team and connect their models so that the core value model was one. And then they had multiple aspects of, like defining what that core value means. And then we extracted that through storytelling. And so the notes that came out of that and the final product was so much deeper, and my client said at the end of it there, like this was incredible. We wanna save these models and like because they of what they what it means to us and and how we can see this physical representation off what these core values mean and how we want to live them for our company that we're building And that was that was just ah, great moment for me.

[00:19:53] spk_0: I love it because it again, I think it helps whenever you play. You're what it actually does. A lot of the comments is stress. It brings your stress down and stress can literally shut off your learning centers of your brain. Your prefrontal cortex, like you don't have an executive functioning. You don't have that planning. You don't have those things that you're your body wants toe Have they want to be innovative? They wanna be creative. And that's the beauty is whenever you take it to that to that play moment and adding things that again that you love since a child and you've allowed it to grow you into what I would say is some greatness with it to be able to follow through. And if you were never like, if somebody talk to you like that's dorm like But you had I want to talk about your parents and and how much they supported it. You and this and like, spoke life into you. I mean, this is assumption. I'm assuming that they spoke life into you and said, Hey, like Chechen haters like you, Do you so talk about that for a minute?

[00:20:51] spk_1: Yeah, I'm I'm extremely grateful for my parents, and I think they like what they did, was they? I think they saw that I had such a passion for Lego that they would buy Lego for me for my birthday's and Christmas and every chance I could get. I got Lego and they just kind of let me go nuts with it and and I think it partly was because they kind of, you know, keeps you out of trouble like it was quiet. It was, you know, like, all the all those things. Um And so the other thing is, my dad is ah, landscape architect. And so whenever I had questions like engineering questions, I would talk to him and he would he would kind of like, not give me the full answer. But what say, you know, well, think about this. Or like if you're building a bridge like, what kind of support do you need for the train to be able to pass over it? Or, like, you know, have you thought about, like, topography or how would you? How would you build this out? And how would you make it maybe a little bit more realistic versus versus, you know, a little bit more? Um, kind of like, cartoony like it. And so he just help me kind of shape and figure things out. I think the meat being curious and then having this passion and then them supporting my my passion for this really helped me learn to problem solve, learn to conceptualize, learned thio, communicate ideas. I was also a big draw are so I would draw all the time so I would be sketching things and then I would build them out of Lego. So it's almost like like Lego was like my molding clay on DSO. I think just those those things that they instilled in me have helped me just tremendously continue to pivot throughout and adapt throughout my career.

[00:22:27] spk_0: And I think that's important because it makes me think of right now. My son, I'm so blessed to get toe watch him. He has that engineering brain. My father invented a lot of stuff that makes the carpet textile. I talked about him a lot in this podcast. My dad is now taking the time because he's three d printing, and that's what my son's doing at nine. Um, and just to see him, the things that he's creating and crafting, I was blessed to get to do that at a young age and to get to see him, and I know how it's helped me be able to get to the next level. Thio use my engineering aspect to see how things were designed, but also my love for people, well, how it's important to have that mentor, that coach or somebody by your side to be able to help you along the way. And so I think it's such a blessing and shout out to your parents for the work that they allowed you to do and let you be a kid. You play. So whenever you're an adult, you still want to play. So with this find my pre final question is people are apologizing for having play and playing with Legos or doing whatever it iss. What? What would you tell people that keep apologizing

[00:23:43] spk_1: for

[00:23:43] spk_0: doing things that make them like playing with Legace? What would you say to them?

[00:23:48] spk_1: I would say Thio for, like, you know, kind of like block out what other people are saying and really lean into whatever lights you up, whatever gives you energy because, you know, especially in these times that that we're in, we need to find things that give us energy and that light us up and that make us feel great on that gives us joy, because when you when you do that, people are gonna see that in you and you're gonna you're gonna give off a much better energy on DSO. It's just gonna help. Overall, If you don't fill up your cup, then you can't be overflowing in and give to others.

[00:24:23] spk_0: I think that's important. And I actually talked to my kids about that today in a glow stick. And are you leaving the place that you enter into better than it once was before? And I think that's so imperative to shine your lie and to be a difference be It doesn't mean that you have to have rainbows and butterflies and be happy all the time. But no matter where you're stepping into, make sure that it that you show up and you make it better. And the irony is that Mr Mike is on here is well and I actually have a whole class that's devoted around him because there is a Southern is, um, that says, bless her, Bless your heart. And so after I left a conversation with Mike one time, I said, Thank you, God, for that blessing. You know how many people whenever you step away from it, are you saying thank you for that blessing like I needed this today and I think that's the importance of it. But also, I think it's very important of knowing yourself and your environment You but also how the environment impacts you. So that is an amazing, amazing, amazing talk. I want to ask Benjamin if anybody wants to find you or learn more about what you do or what you're going to dio, um, if you could tell where they could find you, just give them a little heads up. About what? What you're working on.

[00:25:42] spk_1: Yeah, I love Thio. So I would say the best place to find me is on my website branded world dot C o on, um, sign up for my newsletter. The Play Matters newsletter comes out once a week on Mondays on That kind of gives you all the details of what I'm up Thio I Yeah, that that'd be awesome.

[00:26:00] spk_0: And I'll say I actually subscribe to that as well, so he doesn't have content. That's how I know that he got his Lego shoes to thank you again and thank you for all that of tune. Dion have an awesome and blessed day Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of unapologetically bold. I'm not sorry for If this touch shoot anyway, please like and subscribe and share with your friends as we continue the message of being unapologetically bold. Bobby and hot humans who are humble, open and transparent. See you next time.