“The right attitude with one arm will beat the wrong attitude and two arms every time.”
One of the privileges prior to leading an Odyssey philanthropic team-building workshop such as Life Cycles (build-a-bike) or Helping Hands (build-a-hand kit), is getting a glimpse of our clients’ world, their desired outcomes for their team. We then get to craft an experience for the participants to see how they respond to people and situations. Often times they will call upon their strengths, shift their mindset and deal with the challenge at hand.
We all have a wall in front of us to climb. My friend’s nephew recently completed this beautiful, compelling, inspiring 8-minute “Sundance worthy” movie. Watch it!
With stunning cinematography, a captivating story and authentic dialogue, (A pot of gold worth of sound bites), he does what in some aspects is an inherent by product of Odyssey Teams leadership, teambuilding, and philanthropic workshops.
As a past Odyssey participant says…
“It really makes you think about not only what life has dealt you and what you are doing with those cards, but also about what kind of people you choose to surround yourself with on a daily basis.”
We pride ourselves on bringing our clients’ values to life and providing positive tangible results to extend beyond the session. We are grateful for the magic of the human spirit and how it so often flourishes during these partnerships
Go Gimp Monkeys!
The idea is that all parts of our life – and management can be seen
as pieces of a pie. If you cut a slice out of it you create a void. That void
will be filled with something.
I read a scientific study recently that people’s overall success and happiness is determined by the belief that they have some control or influence on their future and the world around them. People that held this belief were far more successful, created more desired results, and had better health.
This fact seems instrumental in what Corporations should be focusing on providing for their people. Currently the economy is tenuous, which can lead to uncertain times and draw people into fear, hesitancy and stagnation. What we have witnessed is that Odyssey programs can reestablish and ignite people’s attitudes that they can impact their world. This is a powerful belief that leads to more hopefulness, productivity, and pure motivation.
Businesses may not be able to give their employees security right now, but they can give them something (especially in this economical climate) priceless and long lasting. The inspired feeling that they do indeed have an impact and influence on the world around them. That what they do does matter significantly.
This is the first attitudinal principle that gets questioned in these kinds of times. Helping Odyssey programs like Life Cycles (bike building teambuilding) will ignite the belief that I can make a difference no matter what the circumstances. This is the key to success because it promotes an ability to transcend the current climate of fear and uncertainty. This fact has been revealed through our own experiences and observation, but also scientifically supported.
The Lifecycles, bike building teambuilding program is hands down one of the most emotional teambuilding experiences. After attending over 50 of these programs, I still find myself overwhelmed by the human aspect this program provides; and every program creates its own unique story.
One of my favorite programs occurred about six months ago when I was in Houston Texas. The recipients of the bikes were children from a foster care agency. We had a total of 9 children; four of them were siblings who had been split up into two different homes; they hadn’t seen or heard from each other in months and had no idea they would all be together. This story is the prime example of how the Life Cycles ripple affect extends beyond anything we can possibly imagine…
I was meeting the kids and their foster parents at a hotel; they were all coming in separate cars and meeting for the first time. One of the fathers and two children had already arrived. He and I chatted a bit until the rest of the parents arrived. As I got up to greet some of the other parents, two little girls who had just walked in started shrieking with joy- they had just spotted their brothers. Immediately they ran and embraced each other; then looking each other up and down started declaring “You look bigger!” “Is that a uniform you’re wearing?!” “You have a band new belt!” Then they started talking excitedly about all the changes in their lives- their new homes, new schools, new parents and new friends. When I was finally able to wrap my head around what I had just witnessed, my eyes started welling up and my heart just swelled. When you witness something of that emotional magnitude; you can’t help but be moved.
It’s crazy to imagine that this family reunion started with a phone call inquiring about a teambuilding session. Someone wanted to bring their employees closer together, and in doing so, brought a family together. It makes you realize everything you do, all your actions-and even inactions affect someone somewhere all the time, and you may not even see it.
Corporate team building putting focus on good deeds – Building bikes for kids, prosthetic hands for landmine survivors.
Written by Darrell Smith for the Sacramento Beedvsmith@sacbee.com
Published 12:00 am PDT Friday, March 28, 2008
Story appeared in BUSINESS section, Page D1 of the Sacramento Bee
Xyratex employees assemble a bicycle during a team-building exercise this month at the Le Rivage hotel in Sacramento. Randall Benton / firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Sharman did a couple of unexpected things at a team-building workshop with 44 of his co-workers from the data storage firm Xyratex. First, he built a prosthetic hand and placed it in a wooden gift box that he and his teammates decorated.
Then, after he saw a brief slide show about the land mine victims all around the world waiting to receive the device, he brushed away a tear.
Eschewing the rope climbs and trust falls that have long been the traditional exercises at such retreats, Xyratex, based in the United Kingdom, and other companies choose to cement team bonds by giving employees a project with a higher purpose.
“We figured out what it was for fairly early,” said Sharman, a Xyratex vice president, who had safely stowed the prosthesis he helped build under his chair. But that didn’t lessen the impact, he said. “It pales into insignificance, your problems.”
“Philanthropic team building” it’s called, and Xyratex sought out a Chico-based firm that has designed and facilitated team-building experiences like this one for the better part of two decades. Known as Odyssey, it helps employees and managers work better together while helping the larger community in a “mix of inspiration and practical philanthropy.”
The Xyratex employees who came to Sacramento’s Le Rivage hotel from around the world March 4, worked together to build not only prosthetic hands but also bikes that they donated on the spot to nine smiling children from Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Sacramento. “We’ve tapped into the humanity of business,” said Lain Hensley, co-founder and chief operating officer of Odyssey. ” … You don’t have to quit your job and join the Peace Corps.”
Utilizing firms like teambonding, with its twin homes in Boston and San Diego, to Oakland’s Team Building Unlimited to Repario of Lake Tahoe, Nev., more companies in California are fusing corporate team building with good works.
“It’s not just the trick du jour anymore,” said Danika Davis, chief executive officer of the San Francisco-based Northern California Human Resources Association. ” … Anytime you add meaning, it’s going to have an impact and drive the message home.”
The emphasis on good works may even be part of a larger trend in corporate giving. Harold McGraw III, president and chief executive officer of The McGraw-Hill Cos. and chairman of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, discussed the evolution in the committee’s 2007 review.
McGraw said the New York-based forum of corporate leaders now spearheads “holistic philanthropy” which, in part, “taps into the tremendous desire of employees to participate through their volunteerism.”
Odyssey’s programs are a natural fit for Xyratex, which has focused on charitable giving to children who live near their sites in Malaysia, Europe and the United States throughout its 13-year history.
Todd Gresham, a Xyratex executive vice president, has seen the program’s effects on his people.
“The IT industry has a unique culture. Many came from venture-backed organizations, and this type of (exercise) tears down walls of intellectual prowess or macho success,” Gresham said. “You see people who are very powerful in the industry broken down to their rawest levels of emotion.”
It works on a number of levels, said Dwight Burlingame, associate executive director of the Indianapolis-based Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, a leading center on giving.
Many companies use this approach to increase morale, give employees a greater and clearer sense of purpose and develop a stronger understanding of the company’s mission, Burlingame said.
“Firms are focusing in on how they can use community involvement programs to increase pride within their companies and increase morale,” he said. “To be working for a company where you have that opportunity to build team pride in a business, that can provide another factor in the sense of engagement with the employer.”
Xyratex employees, including about 450 in West Sacramento, produce data storage technology that has been embedded in systems for machinery as diverse as the space shuttle and GE Healthcare’s mammography equipment, Gresham said.
“The person you’re building that for could be your wife or your daughter,” Gresham said. “It brings home that (the customer) is not just buying sheet metal and software.”
Company executives emphasize delivering quality products that meet customer needs, so it was no surprise that Xyratex employees were anxiously awaiting signs of approval when the door swung open for the nine children who had no idea what they’d be receiving.
“Do they look like new bikes?” Odyssey facilitator Todd Demorest asked. “Who’s No. 5? They built you a brand new bike!”
No. 5 was 10-year-old Alondra Tovar.
“I was really in shock,” Tovar said later, standing next to her bicycle. “It was amazing that they gave us (each) a bike.”
That’s the payoff for Odyssey’s Hensley.
“For the 99 percent who are skeptics, there’s the 1 percent who say, ‘I want to enjoy my work,’ ” Hensley said. “We want them to say, ‘When I created this hand, I could probably do that more often, and I can probably change the life of someone two cubicles away.’ They forget. That child, that hand, embodies that purpose.”
Xyratex employees Ed Prager, left, and Penny Gillhan put together one of the nine bikes destined as gifts for children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Sacramento. Randall Benton / email@example.com
Alondra Tovar, 10, gets her new helmet adjusted, which goes along with the bicycle she received from Xyratex. Randall Benton / firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you often noticed that from the outside everything looks bright, shiny, strong, and new – like a brand new bike? Then when looking closely realize there isn’t a kickstand to hold it up, nor a person to give it support for it’s ultimate use?
People on teams need support; even if they are over there by themselves looking ‘OK’. Is it safe enough for them to say ‘help, please’? Are you in tune enough to notice they’re off their game and offer them help?
Teambuilding programs such as Odyssey’s Life Cycles – bicycle building program provide opportunities for people to practice asking for help and for helping others. People are willing to do so because the teambuilding environment is politically level and because the tasks are mostly new for everyone involved. There is ‘no shame’ in asking for help…even if it’s “How do I build a bike? Also, people don’t get an ‘I’m good, I can do it alone’ response when they are offered a helping hand. It’s safe, thus, more people are willing to offer support and wisdom and ask for it too.
So whether you’re going to build a bike or not…keep your eye on what systems or what people are in place to let that piece of potential reach its maximum. Make it safe for someone to say “I need a kickstand” or “let me help you get that bike going”.