My first “Play the Game” experience was a total success!

In 1955, when I was 8 years old, the Elementary School in Takoma Park, Maryland announced a newspaper collection drive open to all students. The Prize for bringing in 370 pounds of newspapers was an American Flag that had flown over the US Capitol Building. To me, earning an American Flag with such a history was a truly worthwhile objective and I was hooked!


When my weekly haul of newspapers was weighed, the record was kept on a Paper Flag that hung in the hallway next to the entrance to Mrs. Geer’s 3rd grade homeroom class. For every 10 pounds, I earned one Red or White Stripe on the American Flag until I reached 13 stripes for the original 13 States. For every 5 pounds thereafter, I earned one Star on the field of Blue. With just 48 States in the Union in 1955, I needed to collect 130 pounds for 13 stripes and 240 pounds for 48 stars for a grand total of 370 pounds.

Every Saturday I pulled my little red wagon around the neighborhood to collect newspapers. Each week I added a few more neighbors to my route, asking them to save their papers for me to collect. When my wagon was full, I’d pull it home and carefully stack the newspapers in the garage so they wouldn’t fall over which would upset my Dad.

Each week my Dad and I would load the newspapers into the trunk of his big black Buick and off we’d go to the school to unload my haul of papers and get them weighed. I made steady progress and my Hallway Flag was a brilliant example of a scorecard for Play the Game. Just one other boy in my class was collecting newspapers so our flags were quite prominent outside our homeroom door and we were both very proud of our achievement.

As the year rolled along, I became impatient to earn my flag. Therefore, to increase my haul, I had to go further from home each week to find new customers and enroll them in my challenge. Guess what – they loved the idea of my collecting and they avidly collected their papers for me. It was hard work but I had to meet my goal.

But because there was a Play the Game chart that was so publicly obvious for tracking my weekly result, I could always calculate how much more I needed to meet my target. Thus, in retrospect, I was using the two rules of Play the Game: I knew EXACTLY what I wanted and every week I knew EXACTLY how much I had collected and therefore EXACTLY how much more I needed. Knowing just those two parameters made the game easy to play.

To this day, I still have my Paper Flag and I still proudly hang my American Flag with just 48 stars on every American holiday. I even flew it on my sailing trip across the Atlantic in 1978, but that’s a “Play the Game” story I’ll write about another time.

Now, more than 50 years later, I realize that I learned an important lesson about making AND KEEPING a public declaration – and that the simple “Play the Game” chart allowed me to track my performance to WIN what I so dearly wanted. And thanks to my wife’s dedicated way of planning, we still make scorecards that allow us to PLAY THE GAME! The rules are simple and IT WORKS, so why not pass on this fun game to your kids?

About Tim: Tim Ditzler is a devotee of effective meetings and having people’s dreams come true.

Having sat through umpteen thousands of meetings – at his own business and while serving on boards of non-profits, trade association boards, even club meetings – he became a devotee of effective meetings. He realized that the goal is to get in & get out quickly and be clear about who agreed to do what by when – with no wasted time or effort. The simple ingredients are: Clear annual and monthly goals, an easy way to keep track of results and the ability to generate a year-end summary of what has been achieved.

So Tim designed Producing Results Online® (PRO), a web tool for tracking team and personal results – annually and monthly, even quarterly and weekly for really motivated users. Now available in 4 languages, it is a cutting edge web tool that supports the Best Year Yet System for Producing Results designed by his wife, Jinny Ditzler.

His love of designing creative uses of the computer began at age 13 when he designed a computer game that calculated bombing targets for guided missiles given a range of choices for initial launch velocities and angles of elevation. That led to several jobs in computer service bureaus, eventually starting his own computer service business in 1979 to provide merge/purge, high volume laser printing and targeted database marketing.

Tim has sailed across the Atlantic in a 22 foot Westerly with a college friend, taking 50 days from Boston to Gibraltar. Since then, he and his wife Jinny have run five marathons side by side, led Lew Epstein Men’s and Women’s Clubs, and taken care of their family. To find out more about Best Year Yet and PRO, visit

REMINDER! There’s still time to register!
for a FREE July 27 Webinar, “Playing the Game” by Karen Morey

Achieving desired results is a product of having the right mindset, taking actions consistent with that mindset, and having a process of follow-up or accountability. To do that, you must know exactly what it is you want and exactly how you are doing, at all times!

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