Are you of the age where mobile phones and the Internet weren’t as prominent in your childhood? Do you remember how you used to pass the time without looking down and scrolling? For three new members of the Hyper Island alumni, those nostalgic past times combined with an insightful creative education at Hyper Island led to the making of a business idea that has become their full-time focus. Read on to find out more about how a fun play-thing has now been developed into a new analog tool for the modern team.

Hi you playful professionals,

We’re excited to get familiar with everything around Playfessional, but first, tell us a little bit about yourselves. Simply put: Who are you?

We are a diverse group of men with entirely different backgrounds and life experiences. We met at Hyper Island as we were all studying the Business Development program in 2019, and we connected around the balance of having fun, while still able to focus on collaborating to solve big tasks. And yes, the first person we hire will be a woman!

Francisco: Studied a master’s degree in Business Communication at Barcelona University. He has lived in 5 different big cities around the world, working in all types of team-related work you can think of.

Anton: Studied Business Administration and Service Innovation at Copenhagen Business School, while at the same time freelancing for design and web development projects. During the winter seasons his time was spent in the Alps managing diverse teams. He is now based in Zurich as a Global Management Trainee at EF (Education First).

Robin: After almost dropping out of high school, he started to work with sales and business development within the wine and digital media industry for several years before co-founding a VR & AR start-up in 2015.

During their time at Hyper Island, they all fell in love with the science of team, culture, and innovation processes.

You were all studying at our Business Developer Program in Stockholm, but graduated just a couple of months ago. How does it feel to be out of the ‘Hyper Island bubble’?

Robin: I felt a little lost in the beginning. I no longer had a place to go to during the days, the boys were located in other countries, and most of our classmates had started in jobs immediately. Then, after some time reflecting on the journey and looking forward, it turned into being more of a gratefulness for what I had been part of and now enjoying every day to the fullest!

Francisco: At first, it took me some time to digest and realize that I wasn’t a student anymore; out of the bubble, everything looked different. In this world of hyper-technological connectivity ,building bridges is essential. So, after graduating from Hyper Island, I went to Amsterdam, where I started building a robust network. Surprisingly, I found a vast number of Hyper fellows, mainly from Manchester. The Hyper Island network is priceless, and I would never have such a strong network if it weren’t for Hyper.

In what way did Hyper Island have an impact on you?

Robin: I think I speak for all three of us since that’s how we connected, and I know we all missed it while working out there in the “real world”. It is everything from feeling the power of being vulnerable, embracing failures, and using collective intelligence in all types of processes of how to build effective teams and create a culture to innovate change. Together with being more empathetic, where we as humans come from, to how our brains work, to be able to lead yourself and then lead others.

Anton: Agreed! To add to that, the significant shift in mindsets, behaviors and with a massive arsenal of mental models and tools to apply in different kinds of situations.

Why did you decide to join forces and start playfessional?

Anton: All of us had the ambition of leaving Hyper with a side project started to develop on. Then, after having been part of and connected for seven weeks in the same project, the idea was born. After some months of several workshops around why this idea was good, how we would do it, and what it could lead to, it was a no brainer! Together with how we came together in the first place—around fun & focus in work—playfessional had to be created, no questions about it!

In what ways do you think that playfulness is so important for team development?

Francisco: There are two big needs in team building: trust and empathy. To build some trust, team members need to be more vulnerable. To create empathy, as individuals, we need to understand each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and interests. Bonding with your peers is one of the best ways to increase productivity in the workplace. Not only does it boost morale in the office, it also allows organizations to work better at solving everyday workplace issues.

Robin: When people relax, daydream, and joke around, those are all markers for a shift in the brain, which allows the creative combination of two novel elements that have never been put together before in a useful way. That is the operational definition of creativity, of innovation. All innovations come from seeing things in a new way, and people are more likely to see that when they are playful. Because playfulness is another indicator of that very open brain state.

And anyone working with anything connected with creativity (like, almost everyone!) should know about the science behind being playful: it makes us more creative and creates more quality in whatever we do!

Your main tool is ‘The Loppa’. In Sweden, this was something you played with as a kid. How come you chose this as a tool? For the #tbt vibes?

Francisco: Not only Sweden, the whole world played with it! There is nothing more comparable than being a nostalgic Chilean kid from the ’80s. There are just so many analog toys and games for reminiscing; among many was the popular Fortune Teller Paper that I was playing all the time with my friends and siblings.

When Robin and Anton came to me with the original idea to use this tiny yet powerful toy for teams, I just exploded with joy, and I saw the massive potential in it. During this journey, we have seen people’s reactions when they play and use The Loppa, and the happiness that it brings to them is priceless.

What have been your biggest learnings so far?

We all agree that team is everything! And being a team of three procrastinators, it can be good to multiply by3 the time we think a task will be done.

Moreover, we believe that you should never underestimate yourself; everyone has a particular capability. You need to find it and push yourself beyond the limit. Working on our project, playfessional, we realize that we can get as much out of it as we want, depending on how we are willing to invest our time.

Any tips on how to be a more playful professional on a daily basis?

Do you want to be more creative, connected, productive, focused, and happy in your workplace? We challenge you to be silly, to laugh, and play using some fun exercises with your colleagues since life is too short for taking everything too seriously!

Too many humans get stuck in stress, anxieties, and whatever else when science points us in the other direction—if we only dare to be more playfully vulnerable. We spend long hours at work with the same people every single day, so keep yourself professional while allowing yourself to be more playful. Be playfessional!

For more success stories of Hyper Island’s alumni, follow the Student and Alumni section on our blog here.

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Article updated on: 15 March 2024