Before creating philanthropic teambuilding that gives back to the community through our Life Cycles program (where teams build a bike for children in local communities; Helping Hands and others, Odyssey Teams used outdoor experiences like ‘The Edge’ to help people move beyond fear – both real and perceived. And no program was more important to us than Healing Odyssey, a cancer survivor’s retreat for women conducted in the hills above Santa Barbara.
‘The Edge’ describes a literal cliff where women would hang their toes over the edge and stand tall in their harness with outstretched arms. Connected to ropes from behind, with eyes wide-open, they would lean out at a 45-degree angle beyond the Edge. Beyond the literal Edge is the Edge that lives in all of us. It is an end, a beginning, a place to avoid, or lean into, and so much more.
Odyssey Travels to Brazil with One of the Top Five “Fortune 500″ Companies – Part 2
I was struck by their ability to apply the Odyssey philosophies in the moment. They transferred the training content to specific work challenges with ease; I felt their hunger for the secret formula to world-class performance. They dove into the concepts and experience like a hungry pelican for a fish. They took notes with a feverish desire to grow and learn, asking questions of me and each other to be sure they understood and felt ready to apply. With the aid of an interpreter booth and my headset, English and Portuguese blended into a steady stream of learning and enlightenment. As we closed the session with our Philanthropic Bike-Building module, the impact of the entire experience was palpable. We ended with a sense of accomplishment and celebration.
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.
The Rebuilding of a Brand: The Possibilites are Endless
I dropped by the Apple Store in NYC after doing a program for Microsoft. I know… seems strange and almost unethical. It was research. I didn’t buy anything, but I wanted to see what all the buzz was about. As a partner to Microsoft, I asked myself, “What could I do to provide leadership and teambuilding programs for Microsoft that could support the rebirth of the Microsoft brand and the cutting edge culture that was once the norm for them?”
I walked into a store filled with almost 1,000 shoppers acting like it was the closing bell on Wall Street. Over 900 employees keep the store buzzing 24 hours a day, never closing! I was shocked at the brand, the culture and the emotion of the customer. One dominant thought filled my head, “we do judge a book by its cover”. The Apple cover is really cool and has the attention of the world. The vibe, the look, the image and emotional experience are almost overwhelming. Real I.T. geeks compare Apple users to a person that sees “50 shades of gray” as a well-written novel. Most of us don’t use our computers to their potential. The true techno person can tell you all the reasons the Microsoft platform is better, but I think the masses see it for the cover and the emotion, “buying an Apple product will make me cool.”
The challenge of Sales Managers and other bottom line movers:
The drive for results and meeting shareholder (and analysts) expectations requires growth in revenues and/or reduction costs to impact share price/value. The growth objective lands squarely on the shoulders of every sales manager, CEO, CFO and virtually everyone else in a for-profit business. The question that stirs their soul is how to achieve this growth…yet again? How to push the envelope…yet again? How do we meet the number…yet again?
The answer to this question inevitably leads to another question in the ‘how’ tree but starts to include those who can do something about it… people, the team, humans. How can we motivate people and teams into the actions required? How can we encourage and incentivize them to reach this new level? How can we create more synergy, more collaboration?
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.
Philanthropic deed four times over.
The Odyssey Team divided and conquered last week in Texas, North Carolina, Michigan and Washington with one committed company. This company’s non-profit foundation is the largest in the world and today they leveraged both good deed AND developed their organizational culture. They were psyched with the approach and outcome of the Helping Hands Program, as well as the combination of business simulation and Charity. Conducting concurrent sessions in these states with their employees was a way to get them all on the same page without having to fly them all in to the same place. They found it easier to fly four of us to four different locations than to send 200 of them to one location. Collectively, we built about 60 LN-4 prosthetic hands and built a more committed team who is better focused on Customer Service through excellent delivery.
A company as big as this needs lots of small nudges to make a turn. The participants felt that nudge and are in turn pushing a little harder themselves. Look for great things from this ‘Ship’ in the near future. Any guesses who it is? Hint: Don’t let the nautical metaphor fool you. This ‘ship’ holds about 94,000 employees as of June 2012. A thousand new ones went through Odyssey’s Life Cycles program in July.
Philanthropic Team Building is 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 give back events or Philanthropic Team Building. The response from participants has been overwhelmingly positive – all over the world.
Events like Life Cycles, the original Build a Bike workshop (Odyssey Teams has built and donated over 13,000 bikes alone), Helping Hands is the building prosthetic hands for amputees in developing countries (over 10,000 delivered to 63 countries), and The Playhouse Challenge 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.
Waiting. Plugged into one of the few, coveted outlets at Gate 12. Ready to pierce the night sky at 560 mph, 40,000 feet and 60 below zero – in a coke-bottle-shaped tube with wings. As the earth’s most collaborative species, together, we have made this kind of technologically advanced transportation possible. So many shoulders on which we have stood.
Our world is becoming smaller and smaller, faster and faster every day. But with each breakthrough in technology we also galvanize a new level of expectation where we feel justified in complaining that our flight is delayed an hour – or a day, or that “this” airline doesn’t have TVs in the back of EVERY seat or that our phone can’t make toast.