Earlier this year, President, CEO and Co-Founder of Odyssey Teams, Inc., Bill John, took a trip to Da-Nang, Vietnam for a fitting of prosthetic hands and his trip was “transformational.”
Lending A Hand through Team Building
Twenty-one amputees from Vietnam—people who have lost limbs from various reasons—received prosthetic hands that have been assembled by some of the amazing companies and organizations who have participated in our Helping Hands program.
As of today, we’ve put 29,000 prosthetic hands on people from all around the world. Without you, without companies like yours, none of this would have been possible. This is a business simulation, and we wield this simulation in classrooms, trainings, conferences, and sales kick-offs very powerfully. The experience is symbolic of how (and why) we work, but it’s much more than just another metaphor. To say that building these hands has an impact is an understatement.
Shire Pharmaceuticals Experiences Helping Hands ‘Live’
Shire Pharmaceuticals APAC (Asia-Pacific) Leaders converged in Ho Chi Minh City and participated in Odyssey Teams’ Helping Hands ‘Live’ team building program facilitated by Bill. The attendees assembled eight hands—knowing that their creations would produce an immediate effect the very next day on those individuals in Vietnam made the activity that much more meaningful. With the eight hands built by Shire, along with others being built through a Helping Hands program in Australia, Bill set off to Vietnam with 21 hands.
Sometimes you don’t understand the impact you make in one’s life until you actually see it in person. During Bill’s fitting in Vietnam he was able to witness these individuals write for the first time, ride a bike, put their arms around each other – he got to see a “sparkle in their eye.”
Nothing but Joy
Many of the recipients lost their limbs because of landmines, others suffered farming or work-related accidents and a few were born with congenital birth defects. They were thrilled to receive their new prosthetics and the mood was pure joy as they learned to use the hands. They ended up teaching each other many of the functions of the LN-4 hand. There were several charities, clinics and genuinely gracious people who found the recipients, transported, housed and fed them.
Kahn, a 58-year-old man, was one such recipient. When he was 13, he was using a shovel in the fields to dig out copper, iron and pieces of metal that were left over from the Vietnam War. His shovel hit a landmine and when the bomb went off, it took off the bottom half of his left arm.
What Will Your Story Be?
His story is just one of the 6 to 7 million below-elbow amputees in the world. We’re just beginning to scratch the surface of helping these individuals, but with the help of you and your company, you can make a big difference in the lives of many. Learn more about the Helping Hands program and our other give back programs.
Sometimes you get the satisfaction of being able to bring pure happiness to people, and earlier this year we got to do so with kindergartners from nine different schools in San Jose Del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas Corridor in Mexico. We teamed up with Scotiabank for the team building activity, Playhouse Challenge.
Corporate Team Building Activity that Creates Opportunity
Not all children have the opportunity to live a lifestyle where they get to simply be a child and play—this is why we build and donate playhouses through our Odyssey Playhouse Challenge. We provide these playhouses to nonprofit youth programs, children’s hospitals, or low-income housing in various communities.
Scotiabank’s Team Building Activity
Scotiabank wanted to have an award recognition program for their tellers and other customer-facing employees, so they reached out to Odyssey Teams. We helped conduct two different Playhouse Challenge groups—each with 250 people—to further their values of respect, integrity, passion and accountability.
Collectively, the two groups built, donated and delivered 20 playhouses to these nine different schools in Mexico.
A “Neighborhood Stroll”
The unique aspect in this specific program was that we had children from one of the schools come to see the playhouses, where they were able to pick out their three favorite houses. All participants took a “neighborhood stroll” at the end to see the houses their colleagues had built before ending with a final debrief that connected the experience back to the values and purpose of Scotiabank.
Philanthropic Team Building at Its Finest
So far, with the help of you and your companies, we have built 678 playhouses and have positively impacted more than 2,500 lives. The lessons your team takes away from this corporate give back activity are as significant as the playhouses they’ll leave behind. You can learn more about our Playhouse Challenge and other give back events.
Watch the video behind the story here.
I looked out my NYC hotel window over Times Square. I spotted the black Lincoln Town Car Fox Business had sent to pick me up. It was finally time for our bite at the Big Apple.
Odyssey Teams, the company Bill and I started over 20 years ago, was going to be on Fox News to talk about our Helping Hands program and the newly-launched www.givebackactivites.com website. The goal for the day was simple: Share with the world the power of combining philanthropy and training to make profound change happen. It was a philosophy I’d lived and breathed for two decades—and I couldn’t wait to talk candidly about the work I so loved.
I was invited to be on the Fox News segment, “Small Business, Big Ideas,” to share how Odyssey Teams had turned traditional corporate training on its ear and started a “give back activities” revolution. This was an unbelievable opportunity for us to share our story with the world. I couldn’t wait to arrive and do just that.
My first stop at Fox News was the green room for makeup, and then—a truly exhilarating moment—a peek into the live studio where Fox Business would interview me.
Three to five minutes: that’s how much time I had to articulate what we’d spent 20 years (and months away from our wives and families) developing. My mind raced to find the best words for the moment. I segmented my ideas into three clear headers to help me:
Head: We give people profound lessons.
Hands: We give them something to do to test the theory.
Heart: We make them feel something to drive their ability to learn and retain.
But, the clearest part of the message had to be this: we’ve created a team-building program called “Helping Hands” where participants build prosthetic hands that are given to amputees. This particular year, Helping Hands was on track to deliver 11,000 hands to 64 countries across the world.
Powerful stuff, I know. How could I screw this up? It was the philosophy I’d lived by for decades: Don’t just tell stories, create one.
“Just Trust Yourself, Lain.” The words of a past mentor were ringing in my ears as I took my place in the studio chair. 5,4,3,2….1. And, just like that, our big moment began. The words started to flow and the interaction between Fox Business and me felt surprisingly natural.
Odyssey Teams, The Helping Hands program and www.givebackactivites.com were having a BIG moment (and I was along for the ride as much as anyone). I did my best to express the power of our program and the passion we bring to the team building world. And that was it. It was over as fast as it started.
I remember one thing so clearly from that day: wandering back out onto the streets of New York amongst the crowd of dreamers and knowing, more than ever, that Odyssey Teams was making things happen. Givebackactivies.com and Helping Hands were making global impact, and our story had now been told on the biggest stage to date. It didn’t feel like the end of something, but, rather, the beginning.
I wonder what each of you are beginning today that will become the “overnight success” we hear about after 15 years of you working to bring your dream to reality.