Our Trip to Brazil with a Fortune 500 Company

November 3rd, 2012

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.

They agreed to put themselves under the magnifying glass, and hold themselves accountable in the same way they held their team accountable. With instructions to be humble and curious, we started simple, discussing human commonalities around security, identity, belonging and engagement. We moved into an interesting discussion about human reflexive patterns and how good and bad habits are formed and changed. Next we discussed brain chemistry, emotional memory and the mythical “we” that sometimes keeps anyone person from taking accountability for the results “we achieved”.

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.

Specific commitments to sustainable behavior shifts came from all levels of the team. The CEO made some of the most profound breakthroughs- committing to support each team member in his or her development. Each person recognized the role they will need to play to right the massive ship they are navigating through the treacherous economic waters. We met the following morning as a leadership committee to document the key learnings and confirm the new direction. No longer sailing blind into the storm we had a plan to become the eye of the storm- calm and focused on the work of the moment, regardless of the wind and debris around us. The invitation for me to return for the next meeting confirmed that I had delivered the leadership and team elements I had promised. Exceeding their expectations of what I could accomplish, they felt the pressure to continue the new heading. No pressure, only 90,000 team member’s lives and millions of customers experiences are hanging in the balance. Good luck team!