We watch very little TV in our house. One of the shows we used to watch often was The Amazing Race. Good clean fun, language, themes, and get to see the world too. Teams of two people travel the globe with unknown challenges and opportunities along the way. Our daughters like it (11, 15 yrs.), as do my parents (Late 70’s).
Last week I was set to deliver two of Odyssey Teams CSR Leadership programs; Life Cycles where you teams build a bike for children in Niagara Falls, Canada and Helping Hands in Santa Monica California. The race began on Monday.
Flew from Sacramento to Washington DC to Buffalo NY then drove a rental car to Niagara-on the- Lake Canada. Tuesday morning drove to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Niagara Falls, (BTW I believe there are literally thousands, not just 7).
I recently led our Bridge the Gap program to 117 Senior Leaders from Shell Oil. This was our fifth engagement with the group as they have been embarking on changing their individual leadership tendencies as well as the culture of their extended teams.
While in the past, the group participated in our CSR philanthropic team-building programs such as Playhouse Challenge, Helping Hands, Life Cycles (Build a Bike), this time the goal was to have each person contribute in a unique way to the overarching goal.
…and in the midst of it all practice new behaviors, step into the unknown/uncomfortable, and collaborate while putting their influence on their one of 117 pieces of the outcome.
With only a hint of the final product and thumbnails of what to emulate as a leader they realized afterwards that…each piece matters. Leadership is an art. Tasks had varying degrees of difficulty. Natural strengths/talents had to be set aside for new actions. Positive moods and collaboration were vital to execution and success of going from current reality to their target. They were anxious to see the picture.
I haven’t spent two nights in the same bed for over 11 nights. No moss on this stone. A mix of leadership training and cultural development programs in Ft. Lauderdale, Atlantic City, and Las Vegas and a couple of family adventures too. That changes tonight with 4 nights at home, the travel was worth it for sure.
Last week we delivered our highly requested Life Cycles where teams build a bike for children in this leadership session for 280 participants from SafeNet. They chose Life Cycles over our other philanthropic team-building programs; Playhouse Challenge, and Helping Hands, because they wanted to make a big difference in the local area – Atlantic City.
This was my first trip to Atlantic City. I arrived after midnight. The cab ride from the airport was quick and took me through empty, lonely looking streets with neon lights above. The Trump Taj Mahal hotel had a similar look and feel as I checked in at the front desk and walked through the quiet casino floor and hallways.
Back from Christmastime and New Years with family. Then back from Barcelona for a global (36 countries represented), Life Cycles program and two more Life Cycles in Cincinnati Ohio and Half Moon Bay California…I’m back to blogging.
Usually at all of our philanthropic team-building programs – Life Cycles where teams build a bike for children; Playhouse Challenge; and Helping Hands – the session begins with the ‘owner of the meeting’ (our client partners VIP) introducing us to the group. What happens next is always interesting.
Does the crowd applaud robustly, or perhaps more like a polite ‘golf clap’ or sit in silence with mouths agape (not too unlike a trout in a stream)? It is always different and always a mystery. What has stemmed from it all is an observation about support.
“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 (bike building) 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!
A nice thing about leading Odyssey’s philanthropic team-building workshops such as Life Cycles (the original program where teams build a bike for children) or Helping Hands, (build-a-hand kit), is that we don’t have much business Thanksgiving week. Thus, I get more time on the couch.
When we were packing up and saying our goodbyes to my mom & dad for a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend…my mom pulled me aside and said – “Todd, yesterday when you were sitting on the couch with Maggie (our 11 yr. old daughter), and listening to her as she shared what she created and was interested in. I thought to myself…I never had any moments like that with my father. I just wanted to let you know you are a fabulous dad and those moments are precious.”
I was caught with a mix of gratitude for the acknowledgement, though sad my mom never had moments like that with her father. To me that is one of the best parts of parenthood – slowing down, meeting our children where they are, and being open to hear and connect with them. I think at some level that is what we all need. Couch time.
You are a gem, Nancy. You get it.
It’s just brutal to hear another of the dozens of “Team Building” companies who copied our invention of the bike-building program has left a foul flavor after delivering their version of it. Unfortunately, when managers, VP’s, and owners of teams look for “Team Building” there is the risk that they will do an “activity” that has nothing to do with who they are, what they do or where they are going. There are too many “Team Building” companies that don’t build teams.
See recent blog on this.
There is incredible power in the use of metaphors and business simulations as a way of rustling up powerful discussions (and actions) specifically related to the effectiveness of a team, but it has to come from a commitment to training and the use of “activities” as a development process. It has to connect with who they are, what they do, and where they are going, or it is a waste of time and money.
Dealing with Stress? Pressure? Getting the chip to the end-user with a commitment to quality? Dependence on others? Collaboration?
People’s votes are heard around the world at Odyssey’s Teambuilding Philanthropic programs such as Helping Hands, Life Cycles and Playhouse Challenge. In a recent week span we delivered programs in Brazil, Singapore, Canada, and California.
Participants in these team-building programs were the opposite of silent and apathetic. They listened (maybe initially biased or jaded) to what was presented, they were open to new possibilities, they took up calls for new action, and they created goodwill by doing good works.
During these corporate team building (and charitable events) they shared different perspectives and respected the valuable differences and strengths in their midst. By their voices and actions they voted for how they want their ‘world’ to be at work, home, and beyond.
Environment and Opportunity!
220 people changed the lives of 44 youth and vice versa. This all took place in a warehouse in East Los Angeles via our capstone Philanthropic Team Building Life Cycles Program.
As the lead facilitator I had some work cut out for me. The physical environment/meeting space was a challenge. It felt like I was trying to do surgery in a swamp-infested jungle with mosquitos buzzing around everywhere and pythons dropping down from the trees. However, the participants were outstanding…optimistic, engaging, and willing to take on whatever we put on the agenda. The result was a huge victory for all involved.
Small Team Builds Hands and Changes Lives
When I was asked to do our Helping Hands philanthropic teambuilding program for a group of six people, I reluctantly agreed. My favorite size groups delivering Helping Hands, Life Cycles Build-a bike program and our others has been in the hundreds of participants range. I wasn’t sure how the build-up activities and conversations would go before assembling the LN-4 Prosthetic Hands.
This small group was from Cisco – Latin America and they just blew me away. Yes, the Latino culture lives up to its reputation of being a passionate culture.
These six have much to teach the rest of us about teamwork and leadership from a place of thinking deeply AND feeling deeply. They came to the states for a larger meeting with cohorts from North America. They wanted to align on desired outcomes and make a difference for others in the process.
What a difference they made for three people whose lives will be changed by receiving the new LN-4 prosthetic hands they built during the Helping Hands program. Most surprisingly, however, is the difference they made on me. I am digging small programs now just as much as the large ones – with the caveat that they’re ready to think deeply and feel deeply as this group did.