Last week, Snoop Dogg announced that he’s getting into the breakfast cereal game and we learned TikTok knows what’s in your DMs. With all that excitement, we knew we needed to step up our game and start off this week right! So, we sat down with Geeks Who Drink CEO Christopher Short to ask a handful of questions about what he does all day. Let’s go, let’s Meet The Geeks!
We have a few new hires so, for starters, could you give us kind of the Cliff’s Notes version of the Geeks Who Drink origin story? I wasn’t there for the origin-origin. I entered the story around a year into the formation of Geeks Who Drink. [John] Dicker and Joel [Peach] started the company in 2005 and the name came in 2006. My first quiz was in January 2007, right before Geek Bowl I — which I would’ve gone to if I’d found out about it more than five days in advance. So yeah, I was a quizzer at that time at McCabe’s in Colorado Springs. Some of my coworkers at the newspaper dragged me out, because I guess I had something of a reputation for being a know-it-all already.
A year later at Geek Bowl II, I spent the whole night verbally abusing John Dicker during every scoring break and, on that basis, he decided that I’d be a good Quizmaster. The rest of the story kind of wrote itself from there.
How did your role evolve between then, when you were a Quizmaster, and now? Along with being a Quizmaster, I started writing rounds. I’d moved back to Indiana in the fall of 2009, and I was six months into being a substitute teacher at a rural school district in Indiana when I got a call from John Dicker saying ‘Hey do you want to be Chief Editor?” That was how a lot of those hires went, like basically ‘You’re the only person I know in our company who has editorial experience and I think that you can handle it.’ Our corporate culture is extremely loose and I always joke that my first performance review was 12 years later when [I was asked] ‘Do you want to run the company?’
But there were some highlights along the way. I hired Aaron Retka — who was my Quizmaster back in the day — to be Managing Editor, and we started picking up more associate editors too. There have always been limited resources, and yet I personally have a dedication to never using limited resources as an excuse. It always has to be as good as it possibly can, and you just use all of your abilities to make it amazing. Because that’s what your paycheck is for, basically?
Wow, so that’s what our paychecks are for. Good to know. Yes. And I also auditioned for Jeopardy! two or three weeks after I started as Chief Editor. There was a 12-month period where it became clear that my life was going to be about trivia from now on. But who’s going to question the fates?
What does a so-called ‘typical’ day look like for you? It’s probably easier to tell you what I focus on when the next task isn’t right in front of me, and that’s handling the branding, marketing, and copy. I’m still an editor, and that’s never going to be beaten out of me. I like to touch any material that’s about to go out the door and chip in with copywriting. Quizmasters might be surprised to know that I usually write the cover story for the newsletter. Obviously we have a great number of other people who are able to communicate extremely well, but I always assume that they’re busy! But that kind of communication was my favorite part of being an editor in the first place, and it’s my favorite part of being CEO.
Do you still host any quizzes? I hosted all of last fall, really, at 6th Street Dive in Lafayette, Indiana, which is a fantastic venue. It was supposed to be a four week engagement while we found somebody else, but I was there for 19 weeks. I’m still a sub there too. It was a great experience and I hadn’t done it for a long time, partially because of where I live and partially because as soon as anybody else is available, then they stop asking me! At the time, we were still working out the kinks of our digital answering system (DAS) and I had no idea what to expect, but that first night, it went so smoothly that nobody commented on it — not even me. I thought ‘We really have something special going, this kind of Geeks Who Drink 2.0.’ Hosting is an easier and I daresay more pleasurable job than it ever was in the Before Times. And also I remembered how much I love being able to verbally abuse people and have them applaud me.
The past couple of years have been a little bonkers and a lot stressful, but when you look ahead, what are you most excited about for us as a company? During the rebuilding process, so much of this role has been putting the team together, finding out who’s onboard, and surrounding myself with people who are smarter than me at the things they need to be smart about. So as much as I know you’re looking for a specific answer, the PR part of me wants to say there’s nothing that I’m not excited about. This is still kind of Act One for Geeks 2.0 and, to an extent, things can go anywhere from here.