team-meeting (1)

Team Meetings – the Do’s and Don’ts

We have a few meetings weekly, and so far none are really productive, resulting in a huge emotional response from several folks. How can we change the emotional memory so that these meetings become productive?

Research has shown that physiology is critical to our state of mind and that the complexity of the human condition requires us to address the physical self in addition to the mental state. Some suggestions and things to try — these are very simple and they will work. I have seen this work for 23 years EVERY TIME.

> Do not let people sit in the same seat for each meeting or for more than 30 minutes at one meeting.  They become territorial of their seat and their ideas. Standing is preferred when brainstorming or when you would like to have open dialogue.  Be sure ALL seats feel like they are just as important as the next, and that each person can see and be heard.  If you are going to allow sitting, then every 15 minutes have people move to a new seat. I am not joking… this will work, and they will smile, move, engage, and feel better without you even trying. They might resist this the first time, but then they will begin to prepare for the switch and move past the resistance.

> Never promise to have the meeting over in “X” amount of time so that we can all get back to work. WHAT?! I have seen so many meetings start this way. Start each meeting with a STAND. Make a strong stand for what you expect the value from the meeting will be and why you need them engaged.  Example: “Thanks for being here team. I am thrilled we have this time together and hope we have enough time to fully understand the value of this presentation to our success. We will be going over the financial today and you all know how important this information is to our ability to project the next business move and make our life easier. I value each of your input and perspective and I invited you to be here because I am convinced we can grow our business if each of us fully understand this data.” You get the idea.  Make it sound good to be at the meeting and make a big promise and then deliver. If the leader is not passionate about the meeting then the team will follow.

> Listen very carefully to the “Beliefs of your team.”  When you hear a negative belief, you need to identify the belief in a non-threatening way and then go to work to change it.  Example: I am… People are… Life is… This meeting is…  This team is…  My boss is… This project is… and so on. Beliefs influence focus, and that creates reality for people. If people say, “My boss is great,” then they will see things that support that belief.  If I love the rain, then when I hear it raining in the morning, I am already happy and my mood is up. If people believe this meeting is a waste of time, then they will be very slow to see anything else.

> The huge emotional response is actually a good thing. Change your belief about it. They have emotion because they still care and they want it to be better. If you get to a point that you no longer see emotion, then people are becoming apathetic and they will not work to improve the situation.

-Lain Hensley


Odyssey Teams Inc. has been on quite the journey throughout the last few decades. Our programs have evolved, our team has shifted, our workspace has adapted, and our expertise has grown. We’ve experienced a number of notable occurrences on our way – and we are thrilled to announce the latest developments!

At the start of the year, we created Odyssey for Youth – a division of Odyssey Teams dedicated fully to the development of the students, athletes, teachers, and administrators of our communities. In the past few months alone, we have had the privilege of coaching, training, and encouraging hundreds of teenagers – before sending them home to have an impact on their neighborhoods.

June heralded the launch of Give Back Activities. This offshoot of Odyssey Teams is devoted fully to our programs that provide teams the opportunity to give their best back into their organization, community, and world. They create space for collaboration on a project that gives back – not just to deserving recipients and communities in need of support, but also to the cohesion and productivity of teams and workplaces. Give Back Activities combine training and philanthropy, world-class facilitation and now, DIY Give Back experiences in a box.

Our goal is for these new divisions to provide any and every team the opportunity to grow, learn, and give their best. Odyssey Teams Inc. will continue in the work we are so passionate about – equipping organizations to be their strongest, most productive, best version of themselves. We look forward to meeting your team at the intersection of real life and real work, and giving you and your organization the tools, patterns, and renewed vision for living and working at your best. We hope to be the next notable occurrence on your journey.

Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July!

1776 was a rather notable occurrence for our country, and it rightly deserves our attention and celebration. It was a new start and a chance to create something better – something more intentional. And it was not easy.Nietschze said: ‘He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.’

Our forefathers and mothers had such a strong WHY that they bore great difficulties – and prevailed. We prevailed. We are happy to celebrate them – and each of us who sacrifice and fight hard for something better. In many ways, this last year has been Odyssey’s 1776. We have worked very hard to make ourselves better. We have created new programs, hired new people, and launched a new website! All of this to give you more notable occurrences on your journey. Odyssey is now 24 years old. Our country is 239. We raise a toast to you, to us. We hope you’ll join us in a fantastic Fourth of July.

Philanthropic Team Building: Good for Your Head, Hands, and Heart

There is a new paradigm in the concept of team building, and it’s called philanthropic team building. In days gone by, it was sufficient to be selfish, even decadent, about getting to know each other outside the work setting. When it was done well, it involved heads and hands in experiential exercises and simulations. Now it’s about incorporating the heart through philanthropic team building – give back events. The response from participants has been overwhelmingly positive – all over the world.

Events like Life Cycles – the original bike building workshop, Helping Hands – the building of prosthetic hands for amputees in developing countries, the Playhouse Challenge, and the Board Meeting have revolutionized the team building industry. And it’s good for more than just your team. It’s good for your heads, hands, and hearts. And that means it’s good for the world.

– Bill John


Three Ways to Foster a Disruptive Mindset That Breeds Innovation

I recently hosted a TEDx talk in my hometown of Chico, Calif. on the topic of disruption — a subject I hold close to my heart. Disruption is the key to success in many aspects of our lives. Sometimes our best business decisions, insights and innovations comes when we are thrown out of our normal routine, forced to question the status quo or dealt nearly insurmountable challenges. When confronted with the right mindset, these disruptions are not roadblocks, they are the catalyst for creativity and a pathway for growth.

By embracing disruption, we are able to live up to our full potential and materialize our dreams. Here are three takeaways from my TEDx talk on the matter…

1. Put Your Hand in the Air
In kindergarten, we’re wide-eyed and excited to learn. With that also comes a young, fresh energy that encourages us to participate — to shoot our hand in the air and be part of the discussion. To share our thoughts and show-off our knowledge, right or wrong, because we have the support of our peers who are just as eager and uncritical. To be supported by our teachers that just want to see us grow.

But as we get older, a funny thing happens. Next time we raise our hand and get the answer wrong we get laughed at, we get criticized and our courage diminishes. The next time the opportunity to disrupt arises, an alarm goes off and says don’t do that — a past result has been auto saved. The opportunity for disruption came and we put it in the wrong category, as something negative. But really it’s a gift and as we get older that gift is offering an escape from the status quo. Embrace it — put your hand back up in the air and reclaim your confidence, replace the alarm with excitement. This is the chance to change your life!

2. Everything You Do Matters
Don’t mistake a chance for life changing disruption because on the surface it’s not grand enough. Small changes can pave the way for major changes in your future. So don’t ever settle.

Having a positive outlook on a disruptive situation that initially seems like a black abyss can also make all difference. It’s in the most difficult events and struggles that we live to our greatest potential. We can come back from them and be better than we were before. It’s not about being comfortable — it’s about being terrified and being ok with it.

3. Tomorrow, We Are all Beginners
It’s exciting if you stop to think about it. Everyday is a new day we are approaching for the first time, so we should wake-up with fresh eyes open to new perspectives.

Expectations and past experiences can predict what will happen, but pause in the moment and dream of what could be, who you want to be. Don’t be afraid to disrupt your routine because something can happen tomorrow that can change the world — yours or mine.


-Lain Hensley


Lain Hensley delivered the alumni address at the commencement exercises for his alma mater this past week. He received a standing ovation, and we have to agree, its one of the best we’ve ever seen. Take a look for yourself!


One question to start. Am I in the presence of greatness? Let me ask you again. Am I in the presence of greatness?  (There will be more times for audience participation …Stay alert!)

Wow … my Mom and Dad would be proud if they could see this. They didn’t think I would even graduate. And now this …YES! I am sure your loved ones are feeling the same as they look for you in the crowd of graduates.  I am humbled and privileged to speak to you on this most important day in your life.

Thank you faculty and staff for inviting me to be here. I am a proud Resort and Lodging Management graduate of the class of 1993, I am the son of a Chico State graduate of the Class of 1961. I met my wife in that gym right there in my ballroom dancing class and we have made Chico our home for the past 25 years, raising three kids as Chicoans. I love this place, this town, and this University.  I hope to convey a few lessons l have learned from the tests I have faced, to prepare you for what lies ahead.

From enjoying a successful 21 year marriage, running my business for 25 years, and facing and beating stage 3 cancer almost two years ago – I have learned that the game changes as of today for you, as it did for me.  You see, in school they teach you the lesson and then you get the test. In life – you get the test and then you learn the lesson. And if you do not learn the lesson the first time, you will keep encountering the test over and over and over again until you do.

Be humble and curious – and know that you will not pass all of the tests the first time.  The question will be – what you do after the failures, after you come up short, after you risk it all and discover that you made the wrong choice.  Will you make progress or excuses?  Take responsibility or place blame?  Will you become a victim or a survivor?  Will you bring less of you or more of you to the next test?

Do me a favor. Raise your hand if you have a little voice that talks to you?  Many of you are not raising your hand. Your little voice is saying, “What voice … what is he talking about? I don’t think I have one of those.” THAT IS THE VOICE I’M TALKING ABOUT.  This voice is trying to protect you. Trying to guide you through the day without humiliation or injury.  That voice can lead you to the path of least resistance and then justify why you should take it and not feel regret for living below your potential. Or it can compel you to days like today.

Remember when you walked into your first grade classroom?  You started your formal education experience with your hand held high and a willingness to play full-out!  (Example of kindergartener hand up.) Get it right or wrong something good happened next.  But sooner or later you got it wrong and they made fun of you and embarrassed you.  Your emotional memory begged you to take less and less risk, wanting to predict the results and have the guaranteed success before allowing you to take the next overly calculated risk.

The new reflex is to wait. To hold back. Eventually you are forced to lower the bar more and more until you find yourself as a senior in high school sitting in the back of the class with your arms crossed just trying to survive. You could become afraid to express your goals and face possible discouragement from others who have already given up on theirs.

The most recent numbers say that 7,000 high school students drop out each day … in the USA alone. What happened?  What happened to their hopes and dreams?  Today – you have separated yourself from the majority and answered that call to greatness. You have put the voice of security and safety in the back seat behind your goals and aspirations.  Life’s endless possibilities called to you and you made a choice to answer, to grow, to stretch, and to succeed.

I need your help to make a point right now. When I say go! I want you to point at anyone around you and say, “YOU GO FIRST!” Three times to three different people, until you see me raise my hand – then STOP! Each time you say it, add more energy and more persuasiveness – without hitting or spitting on each other. Get your finger up and be ready. If you are ready say, “I am ready.” Ready … GO!!!!  YOU GO FIRST!  YOU GO FIRST!  YOU GO FIRST! (Hand UP!)

How does this “you go first” game show up? How has this game started wars, destroyed lives, families, and companies? You go first!  How often do we play “you go first” in our own lives.  We are the one who should have the courage to take action – make the first step, take the risk?

Our reflexive safe voice says…
You go first to say I love you and then I will say I love you.
You go first to say you are sorry and then I will say I am sorry.
You go first to pay me more and then I will work harder.
You go first to work harder and then I will pay you more.
You go first to trust me and then I will be trust worthy.
You go first to be trust worthy and then I will trust you.
You go first to be a great teacher and then I will be a great student.
You go fist to be a great student and then I will be a great teacher.
And on … And on …

To gain it all you must be willing to risk it all. To love with all of your heart you need to be willing to risk having all of your heart broken.  To trust fully you must be willing to have your trust completely broken. There is no discount at the counter of success – it must be paid in full … in advance.

Many have gone first for you. First to believe that you could graduate. That you could get this done. Today, I encourage you to go first to thank them. To recognize the endless support they have given you to make this day possible.

The great leaders whom we all know, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King Jr., have many things in common. They did the work that was right in front of them and they went first.  First to see hope in poverty, first to see peace in a war torn world and first to dream of a humanity without color and division.  It is time for you to go first!

These great leaders have something else in common …… They are all dead …. I look around and it is just us now – and although one person can change the world,  we all must try. We all must be willing to go first in our lives in some small way and believe it matters.  I hope you have discovered something while at Chico State, that is so meaningful to you, so powerful, that you are willing to go first!

Do not judge the impact or importance of the work in front of you.  Who is to say that me standing here and talking with all of you today is more important than spending a few quiet minutes with my 9 year old son – teaching him how to read or how to ask forgiveness from his mother or big sisters. We will never fully know the impact he might, or might not have, on the world.

It is said, “Anyone can count the number of seeds in one apple, but only a God can count the number of apples in one seed.”  Many seeds have been planted in you while at Chico State and my deepest hope today is that you enjoy the fruits of your labor and plant seeds for us and for future generations.

(Five closing comments)

1. Pick a good partner. Be a good partner – You cannot do this alone.

2. Find someone who sees in you what you don’t see in yourself. And be someone who can see in others what they don’t see in themselves.

3. Build on your strengths, but question your reflexes.  If you follow your reflexes you will be defensive when getting feedback, you will see your flaws before your strengths, and you will quit your relationships when they get hard and most likely just before they get to the best parts. Deep love and Deep commitment can only be reached after working and struggling together – put in the work.

4. Never sacrifice what you want most for what you want in the moment.  The moment will pass and what you want most will elude you like a butterfly in the wind.

And finally – be ready to work harder than you have ever worked before. Be more scared than you have ever been AND to feel MORE PRIDE than you can imagine – at what YOU can accomplish when you lead with your heart and trust yourself more than your mind tells you not to.


Congratulations and thank you!


-Lain Hensley

Q + A with Lain Hensley

How does Odyssey incorporate meaningful activities prior to the build in particular? I struggle with people just wanting to build a bike for hours and then are underwhelmed by donation numbers.

Do not let them know anything about the building element going into the event. The philanthropic impact should be a surprise and the cherry on top. If the session is only seen as a CSR give back program, then the focus is on giving, and they will measure the value based on how much they gave. That seems normal to me. If the session is focused on learning outcomes and value to the participants, then they will be looking for the value to themselves and their team. The value that is given to the greater community is only a wonderful addition to an already valuable training session.

We start with the intellectual part of the session, incorporating simple activities or interactions simply to build on the concepts. The focus is not on activity. The activities build in complexity, and the concepts also build.  We make EVERY action have a purpose to help the participants see how the entire program is connected and relevant to their everyday life. The culmination with a CSR element or climactic activity should be when the participants are fully engaged in the learning and understand the connections between the two.  They should be seeing the learnings for themselves, and need very little spoon-feeding of the lessons at this point.

-Lain Hensley


The Barn Raising

When I was around 8 years old, my father purchased 644 acres of California land from my great uncle. It was located an hour drive from our house, and we made the trip every weekend. The land has since become a lifelong passion for my father—and rightly so, for it truly is an incredible piece of acreage. But as a kid, it looked a lot more like a ton of work. The parcel was utterly unfinished. With only a jeep road running through it, we had nothing but a blank canvas and some real family teambuilding ahead.

Over the course of the next 5 years, my father developed ten miles of roads with his D9 tractor as we spent countless hours following him with a chainsaw. My brother and I stacked brush to burn in the winter as he cut the fence line or developed and manicured cleared areas. One summer, my father decided that we needed a barn to store materials and protect the tractor. I can recall my mother, sister, big brother, and I pulling on a rope as we lifted the beams into position and stood the timbers that would act as the primary supports. To this day, I still do not understand how we managed it. The barn still stands after 40 years, and I remain amazed.

I was reminiscing with my father about all the things I learned through the work. I recalled the way that we came together as a family, a team, and a work crew to bring his vision to reality. I learned so many things as we raised that barn. As I hugged my father goodbye today, I realized that the biggest thing I learned from that barn was that I could do anything I put my mind to.  My father was a great leader and he firmly believed that we could do anything if we were willing to work hard and believed in ourselves. As we raised our barn, I could feel myself being raised right alongside.

We spent many years fishing in the pond that we constructed, innumerable hours working in the barn, and I even asked my wife of 20 years to marry me on the exact place where my parents’ house now stands. I have grown to love that land, that barn, the work. My kids are now fishing in the pond and extending the boundaries of their potential as they explore. Thanks Dad for making me work, for helping me face my childhood with a healthy balance of responsibility and play. But most of all, thanks for building that barn with only your wife and three small children. You showed me I can do anything and that the possibilities are endless with great leadership and enough trust, teamwork, and confidence.

-Lain Hensley


Many Odyssey Teams programs culminate in a closing that involves Tipping Points. Participants are instructed to author an original quote to be dispersed to their team over the course of the coming weeks as a vehicle of continued learning from one another. Here at Odyssey, we have the privilege of reading each submission as they are entered into a database. And some of them are too good not to share.

“How amazing is to be part of a team that’s getting so much larger, yet we’re feeling closer to one another.”

Community within the workplace is an often-discussed buzzword, as organizations attempt to create a foundation of cooperation, communication, and friendship between cubicles and across pay grades. Faltering community is often a logical growing pain of expansion, but here at Odyssey Teams, we firmly believe that does not have to be the case. Key elements of community are shared vision, common values, and collaboration. During an Odyssey Teams philanthropic teambuilding event, these characteristics are expounded upon, practiced, and celebrated. Your team leaves at the end of the event with a powerful memory of a shared experience, and with the tools and resources to effectively build upon that foundation – even as your organization grows and expands.


Many Odyssey Teams programs culminate in a closing that involves Tipping Points. Participants are instructed to author an original quote to be dispersed to their team over the course of the coming weeks as a vehicle of continued learning from one another. Here at Odyssey, we have the privilege of reading each submission as they are entered into a database. And some of them are too good not to share.

“You may get only one chance at a first impression, but you have multiple opportunities for a lasting impression.”

We’ve all been there. An awkward handshake introduction followed by stilted small talk during cocktail hour. The botched sales call with one too many lengthy pauses. That very first email contact with a poorly placed typo. This quote written by a participant at a recent Life Cycles event allows us all to shake off those sticky and less than ideal first moments and move forward. Hallelujah.

At Odyssey Teams, we firmly believe in the power of relationships. During the course of a Life Cycles events, participant teams have the opportunity to build a bike for a customer, and then at the end of the session, a name and face is assigned to the customer when a crush of kids come streaming in from the back of the room. Teams have the opportunity to meet their customer, talk about their favorite color and sports team and ice cream flavor, hear about how they dislike math but love recess. Relationships are forged, and the child’s life is marked by the memory of that afternoon and the lasting impression of that conversation – awkward out of the gate or not

A focus on relationships can transform work. Remembering the end recipient puts a face and name to the daily tasks. Seeking to build relationships creates further meaning and purpose. And aiming to forge a relationship allows for ample opportunities to impress, leaving that typo long forgotten and the weak handshake a thing of the past.


It's Powerful Stuff.