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Part 2: Interview With Mike Cardus

Part 2 of our interview with Mike Cardus of Team Building & Leadership

What is your favorite Networking Activity?
A team building activity in and of itself is useless. It is like yelling “RED!”.  When I have people come together who do not know each other very well, I enjoy using Social Network Un_Plugged as an opening to find connections and align the group with what we hope to accomplish.

Describe a DIY team building tool/activity for a meeting planner or manager?

Distinctive | Working Well | 100 Days better

a. Break into groups of 4 to 6

b. Each team has a piece of flipchart paper and several markers c. Break the paper into 3 columns:

i. Distinctive = What stands out and makes our team or what we do as a team distinctive? Unique features, how we

approach the work, skill sets, etc..

ii. Working Well = What is already working well enough that it does not need much change or improvement?

iii. 100 Days Better = When we meet again in 100 days what will our team be better at, how will we know this is better?

d. The teams have 25-45 minutes to complete the activity e. They share what they wrote

f. Each team chooses 1 or 2 items from the 100 Days Better column and develops an action plan and reporting process to share with the larger team.

How can a manager maximize the effectiveness of a team building activity?

  • Don’t call it an activity … don’t offer team building activities.
  • The greatest thing a manager can do is connect the team building directly to the work that the team is asked to accomplish.
  • Listen to the team and what they need. Then develop a plan to supply the team with what they asked for, and reflect back to the team how the manager is making the changes.

What is your best advice for building teams?

Systems-drive- behaviors. If your team structure lacks the clarity of goals, roles, procedures, resources, and support to accomplish the teams work.

The manager would be more useful focusing on those things as opposed to wasting everyone’s time with a team building event.

What is your favorite trend in corporate team building?

 I am worried that any trend will hurt the team building consultants who try to change how a team’s work gets done. Team building works when it sustains performance; satisfies their customer; the team wants to stay together, and the people on the team gained personal development from the teams work.

What’s your funniest team building memory?

Many years ago while working for a corporate conference center, a CEO wanted us to develop a ‘Survivor Themed’ team building program, complete with physical, mental challenges and the team voting someone out at the end. I tried to offer alternatives and shared my concern about this type of event. My manager at the conference center, to keep the client happy, insisted I develop and lead this program as the customer requested.

We went through the three days of challenges, laughter, recreational team bonding and heavy drinking by the campfire. On the last day, I pulled out the voting box and explained to the team that they are now going to ‘vote out’ one of their teammates.

Many people on the team turned white with anxiety. The CEO encouraged the people to write down the name of the person they wanted to vote off the team (he let them know that this person would still have a job, this was not a group termination).

People started crying and yelling at the CEO. The CEO asked for a brief break and pulled me aside. He asked, “Can you do something about this. They are not enjoying the team building.” I smiled and said, “I think so. When we call the team together tell them that the voting out was my idea, and you don’t think that it fits with the success we’ve had these past three days. Instead, people are going to vote for the Most Valuable Player, Best Problem Solver, Master Influencer, Team Connector and Surprise Physical Strength.” He nodded called the team over and shared the new message. Sudden applause!

The CEO thanked me and was still confused why they did not like the idea of voting someone off.

See more from Mike on his website – http://create-learning.com/

highland park bowling alley corporate events

10 Unconventional Outdoor Event Venues in Los Angeles

With summer around the corner you may be looking to host your next corporate event outside to take advantage of the warm southern California weather. We’ve assembled a list of our favorite unique outdoor venues in Los Angeles sure to wow your guests.

1. The Rooftop at The Standard Hotel

When you close your eyes and imagine the quintessential Los Angeles scene, it probably looks a lot like this rooftop party spot. Its convenient location in downtown offers panoramic views of the city to enjoy while you swim in the pool, sip on a cocktail, or lounge on a waterbed (that’s right, they have waterbeds!). Trendy without being cliche, there are state of the art sound systems and video projectors to aid in your presentation or just create an Instagram worthy dance party.

2. Iconic Los Angeles Beaches

Summertime is the best time for a day at the beach. Our favorites include The Strand at Manhattan Beach, Venice Beach, and the wide open sand of Santa Monica.  To add value to your team’s fun in the sun consider organizing a corporate team building event. We love running a competitive Team Olympics or a lesson in Sand Sculpture Building. These experiences promote team bonding by encouraging interaction that doesn’t normally occur in the office.  Parking at any beach is limited and metered so we recommend carpooling and arriving early. Even in the summer, the coastal breezes can get chilly so be sure to bring a light jacket for layering, especially if you’re sunburnt.

3. Greystone Mansion

Imagine holding a corporate dinner party in a real life haunted mansion. The Greystone Mansion is one of the most commonly filmed estates, and boasts its own sordid past of mystery and murder. The Tudor architecture and intriguing backstory make it a unique setting for an LA Film Noir themed party or fundraiser.  The living room is spacious enough for a 70 person meeting, while your breakout sessions could resemble a game of Clue (Director of Marketing with a Powerpoint in the Library!).  End the outing with elegant cocktails on the terrace.  Staff will be equal parts thrilled by the spooky stories and mesmerized by the opulent decor.

4. Corriganville Park

We all want our employees to be healthy, and what better way to encourage worker’s wellness than a walk through the movies?  Bring the team out for a company picnic complete with an Old West themed Amazing Race style competition featuring challenges and trivia inspired by the park which was at one time in history home to a bustling movie ranch. As you amble across the sandstone you’ll recognize sets from The Lone Ranger, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, and Star Trek to name a few.

5. The La Brea Tar Pits

Fit for an elegant gala or a wild scavenger hunt, the La Brea Tar Pits Museum hosts fossils from Ice Age creatures including mammoths and dire wolves.  After dining next to ancient fossils, move the party outside to the lush gardens where you could pack school supply kits for paleontologists of the future.  Centrally located on the Miracle Mile, parking is surprisingly easy!

6. Velaslavasay Panorama

A historic theatre featuring the exhibition of the dying art of panoramas. Step into a 360 degree painting that immerses you with audio effects and three dimensional properties. Acoustics in this round space are excellent for a meeting or presentation. Outside in the living garden you can host a quirky cocktail mixer under the stars or a daytime training workshop. We love the art deco Union Theatre building and its quirky artistic vibe it gives the city.

7. California Yacht Club
Take to the seas by chartering a cruise through the California Yacht Club. Most opt for the ritzy yacht party, but we enjoy seeing teams working together to trim the sails on one of the club’s sailboats, or puttering around in the smaller dinghys. A sunset cruise is a great sales incentive trip, and in early spring you can catch the gray whale migration. You could even hire two boats and have your staff engage in the awesome sport of yacht racing.

8. Walt’s Barn
All aboard, for classic train fun. Located in Griffith Park, Walt’s Barn houses the numerous train models made and run by Walt Disney that later inspired the train that circles the Magic Kingdom. Use the grounds for a staff field day with lawn games, or charity event. A passion project by the Carolwood Foundation, the barn and exhibits will encourage staff to follow their own dreams.

BONUS: Indoor Spots to Beat the Heat
When that California sunshine gets too warm, step into these awesome spaces to relax in the A/C.

9. Highland Park Bowl

This bowling alley, built in 1927, has been recently restored to its vintage glory. Not your local franchised alley, this venue offers supple leather couches, craft beers, and artisan pizzas. An office league or a staff night would both find comfort in this classic.

10. SPiN Los Angeles

A loft space that can host up to 300 people, this venue is run by a local ping pong social club. It comes with a full A/V system, bar, restaurant and ping pong professional players to help up your game. This is your chance to hold that 80s ping pong tournament you’ve always dreamed about. This venue will keep staff active, while they have fun.

This list only scratches the surface of possibilities in Los Angeles. We skipped over the obvious ones to try and inspire your next venue search. Good luck on future projects!

For help planning a staff engagement activity, outing, or team building event at these or other locations, contact us by emailing james@fireflyteamevents.com!

Orange County Team Building that Gives Back: Corporate Social Responsibility

Charity team BuildingCorporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in team building usually refers to adding a charitable or environmental element to your event. The combination of CSR with team building can lead to community involvement, environmental stewardship and it shows the world what your company stands for. Studies have shown that employee retention is stronger when employees are allowed to devote a portion of their work week to volunteering. A great CSR event is energizing and inspiring and often leads to a more productive workforce.  In 2014 Hewlett-Packard had 40,000 employees in 82 countries log more than 1.6 million volunteer hours. What will your impact be?

Need ideas? We LOVE partnering with companies that want to make a difference. We are constantly finding new ways to partner our clients and worthy causes. Our most common charitable team building events are the Charity Bike Build and the Care Package Assembly. These are common sights at Sales Conferences, quarterly meetings, and incentive trips here in Orange County. The beauty of either of these events is that there is always a need and we can complete an event in a couple of hours.

What if I want to do MORE? Your people are your biggest resource because of the skills, knowledge, and heart they bring to your organization. What if you could leverage that skill on behalf of a local charity? You probably have people dedicated to sales, marketing, and technical areas. Why not channel their talent to revitalize the processes, marketing materials, and website of a local charity? Instead of helping a few people, you lay the groundwork for exponential good. Charities often lack the funds or expertise to accomplish what your team could do in a single session. Charitable team building shouldn’t always be about donating it should also be about empowering, teaching, and inspiring. Our  Help-A-Thon service is perfect for facilitating these types of interactions. Interested? Call us at 877.267.1939 or email james@fireflyteamevents.com