Tag Archives: culture building

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

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


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.

What Good Looks Like

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.

“The excitement of our youth customer will last a lifetime and be a constant reminder of ‘this is what good looks like.’”

Odyssey Teams’ – The Business of Giving™ programs accomplish a lot of good. As a result of the Life Cycles program, children who have grown up in scarcity receive the unexpected gift of a brand new bicycle. Never before ridden, built especially for them, with no strings attached. The smiles and joy that result are unmatched, and the memory of that day lasts far beyond the shininess of the frame. Because of the Helping Hands project, a Philippine man who lost his left hand while operating a rice-milling machine is given a prosthetic hand free of charge. In that moment, he is handed freedom, accessibility, and improved prospects for work and provision for himself and his family. The gift of the prosthetic extends far beyond just the individual’s life – rippling out to impact his family and community.

These programs allow participants to access the potential of their heads, hands, and hearts to build a better team, a better organization, and a better world. When participants return to actual life and arrive at the office Monday morning they know what ‘good’ looks like. As they interact with coworkers, converse with clients, and add their piece to the puzzle of an end product, they are cognizant of ‘good.’ They have experienced good, felt good, and participated in good – and they are not likely to forget it.

Listen Up

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.


Consider the following situation. Walk into your neighborhood coffee shop. Order the usual. Barista hands the drink across the counter, and says, “Enjoy your latte!” Your response – “You too!”

How often do we speak without out hearing? Give responses before even processing the question posed, or offer an opinion without registering the initial statement? We make assumptions based on our own experiences and habits, and reflexively speak without taking the time to truly listen and process. Which is mildly embarrassing, but totally fine in the case of wishing your waitress a good meal. But not so ideal when the stakes are higher, the relationships more established, and the subject matter a lot more volatile.

Just as problematic is the opposite – speaking after thinking a bit too much. In conversation, our attention is split between what is being said and thinking about how we will respond – and often disproportionately towards the latter. I’m so busy listening to the little voice in my head as it figures my insightful, witty, or definitive next statement that I forget that I’m supposed to be listening to you. Equally dangerous as not thinking at all.

Headed into the next week, may we take notice of our communication patterns, and seek to improve the ways that we listen and speak. May we seek not just to be heard, but also to listen to those with whom we work, play, and live.

How Connecting Hands, Heads and Hearts Helps to Strengthen Organizational Culture

NetApp’s Corporate Culture is strengthened through Odyssey’s Helping Hands Program!
On November 14th, NetApp participated in Odyssey’s Helping Hands program in West Virginia. The philanthropic workshop helped “participants to shift perspective, build new connections with employees with whom they do not regularly work, identify the strengths and skills of their colleagues, and understand how as individuals, and as NetApp, they have an impact on our world.” Has your company had a teambuilding experience that was that impactful lately?
Check out the full story below:

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Odyssey Client, NetApp is named “Third Best Multinational Work Place”

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Odyssey client, NetApp was just given the honor of “Third Best Multinational Work Place” according to greatplacetowork.com. We are extremely proud, yet not surprised. Over the years they have been enthusiastic participants in our Life Cycles and Helping Hands programs. Throughout our partnership we have helped them deepen the individual and organizational ‘Why’ of their work. This has provided a more powerful perspective and context for answering the ‘How’ questions they strive towards:
How can we be more collaborative?
How can we be more innovative?
How can we improve quality?
How can we be more customer-centric?
How can we give more to the community?
They worked on the answer to each of these, and the by-products have been incredible amounts of bicycles built for (and given to) under privileged children and hundreds of prosthetic hands funded and built for amputees in developing countries. While other companies might do a charity event to check the box, NetApp understands the connective element to character, culture, contribution and customer. These Four C’s are the building blocks of innovation, quality, customer-centricity, and community – and NetApp is not afraid to talk about it. Odyssey Teams has provided the structure and process for them to do this powerfully.
Not surprisingly, NetApp is now where people want to work and where they want to do business.
Well done, NetApp. The world is watching. Way to use your heads, hands and hearts!

Odyssey Travels to Brazil with One of the Top Five “Fortune 500″ Companies – Part 1

Odyssey Travels to Brazil with one of the Top Five “Fortune 500” Companies – Part 1
Calling what I just did in Brazil with the CEO and his top 45 people just plane old “Team Building is like calling the iPhone just another cell phone. I did a Team Building program for a Brazilian leadership team with 90,000 employees and billions in sales, yet for the past three years they have not achieved their goals. The words for the day from the President and CEO were: “motivation, inspiration, vision, alignment, strategy, values, decision-making, prioritization and culture”. This was a tall order for a 9-hour Team Building program that led into a two-day strategy meeting. I stepped in front of the leadership committee in our pre meeting with a promise that I could and would deliver! I needed their commitment to apply the concepts of the day towards every behavior following the meeting. This was a warning that if they did not follow through, the entire meeting would be a waste. If the Team Building concepts are lost, the team mentality will also be lost.

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