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Ridgeland entrepreneur Chris Burgess has found a niche for his new product, the Performance Fantasy League.

Burgess builds a fantasy sports corporate playing field

By JACK WEATHERLY

Fantasy sports have captured the imagination of the country.

Participants select fantasy teams – whether baseball, football or basketball – of real players and play games.

For Chris Burgess, a former star pitcher for St. Andrew’s Episcopal School and Delta State University who later joined the Toronto Blue Jays organization, it struck him: why not apply that to the work place.

Hence, starting in 2016, the Performance Fantasy League was formed.

After little over a year, there are about 30 client teams, primarily banks, which reflects Burgess’ background of banking.

And now Burgess is making his “pitch” in bigger markets, such as Boston.

“Banking has pretty much been commoditized,” he said in an interview. “What is the differentiator? To me, it’s the people.”

“The employees become the players,” he said. “It enhances competition. It brings fun. It’s helped with teamwork, and from what I’ve seen, it helps communication.”

That fun is reflected in team names. The current ranking of the best names is headed up by “Kickin’ Assets and Takin’ Names.”

The concept brings together members of different departments – whether operations, retail, lending or compliance – who don’t normally interact, Burgess said.

“I’ve been shocked by how effective this has been,” he said.

Trustmark National Bank has been a client of Burgess’ company Performance Delta since 2012, said Nancy Huggs, corporate referral manager for the $12 billion bank.

And in 2016, the bank tried its hand the Performance Fantasy League, she said. “It has created fun for the employees,” Huggs said.

The PFL allows the bank and participating employees to see online which teams are leading.

Burgess said participation is not mandatory, but “if you don’t participate you don’t get to share in the winnings.”

Huggs said that usually there is 100 percent participation for the cash rewards.

The advantage is that it is not “you against the world”; it’s your team against the other teams in the league.

Judy Delisle, assistant vice president and training officer for Dedham Savings in Dedham, Mass., said: “We used a Super Bowl theme. We definitely saw an increase in referrals.”

She described the PFL as “friendly competition.”

The rallying cry in the work place is teamwork.

And behind that is motivation.

The list of exponents of that school of thought is long and growing – pioneers such as Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Norman Vincent Peale and Earl Nightingale have been joined more recently by Tony Robbins, Stephen Covey and others.

But in the PFL world, you have to add fun names like the Alabama Deposit Dogs and the Loan Wolves to that list of positive thinkers.

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