Authenticity and its Place in Teams

Recently I ran across a very interesting question:

Authenticity — what does it mean to you? Do you believe it exists as a central core characteristic? Is it a construct of the modern management environment? Does it have a relevance or should we be more concerned about commercial metrics, performance and the like?

Authenticity is completely neutral. It is neither good nor bad and being an authentic jerk doesn’t make you better because are being authentic.However, being ‘authentic’ is a positive character trait, although we may not like the authentic behavior we see in others or ourselves.What does that mean? Too often in management and leadership today we see the thin veneer that people have created around themselves to protect themselves from weakness, perceived or real.

Authenticity DOES have a place in modern management, but falls under the difficult to measure arena like directly measuring trust. Very difficult to do.

Additionally, it is difficult to ascertain if someone is being ‘authentic’ or simply showing you that same veneer.

Forgive me for being a little bit self-promoting, but an example may work well here. We have several workshops and retreats that are designed to bring out that authentic behavior. They are all experiential in nature because we get to see, not what we think we do, but we REALLY do.For some groups we take them sailing. Before we go out we ask them to remove anything valuable and put them into a zip lock bag – watches, IPhones, Blackberrys (yes there are some devoted fans out there), basically anything that could get damaged by saltwater.We staple the zip lock bags shut and then put them into a red dry bag and take them with us onto the boat.After learning man overboard drills the group gets a little cocky and is feeling pretty good.

I tell them I am now simply here for safety’s sake, to prevent them from harming themselves or someone else and then say,

”Remember all the stuff you put into the dry bag” and hold the bag in the air and continue, “I hope you were paying attention to the man overboard drills because your stuff is now overboard,” and throw the bag into the water.

Here is an opportunity for authentic behavior. What do we REALLY do in crisis or stress? Versus how we THINK we respond.

That veneer doesn’t crack, it shatters.

It does not matter what happens in response to the crisis, it is the process we are interested in:
* How do you treat each other?
* How well do you communicate?
* What did the leadership look like?
* Did the group take time to plan?
* The list goes on…

Once you get used to being authentic, versus shining that veneer, the more you want to BE authentic.

Your ‘FIMAGE’, or fear of image, goes down and you are happy to have people take you as you really are.

Back to modern management.

I think you will find that teams at all levels are more successful if they are authentic with each other. There is a high degree of trust – makes sense – and very little pre-tense. Ego is more easily removed in crisis and the situation is handled.

Now, how relevant or important it is depends upon your focus.

But is it important? I think so. And not because it is part of some pyramid model of management or because someone has said it is.

Authenticity is important because it makes MY life better.

And in the end, end, end, what else really matters?


January 24, 2015 at 10:50 am | Authenticity, Awareness, Beliefs | No comment

The ‘Stuff of Legend’

(Business Destinations) — When disaster strikes in the office, it’s essential that boardrooms remain calm, cool and collected. BD-LogoColleagues must work as a team to overcome obstacles. Yet it’s tricky to work together effectively when employees don’t feel like they’re part of that team. Water cooler chat and after-work drinks are all well and good, but without shared experiences, cohesion in the office may be lacking. When CEOs realized this, the corporate retreat was born. In the eyes of millions of staff members across the globe, it was the birth of a monster.

Team building outside the office may be a great way to craft a forward-thinking workplace, but the conventional corporate retreat can be an agonizingly dull affair. Executives will often leave it until the last minute and book everyone into a standard hotel with a conference room. An unknown (and typically uninspiring) inspirational speaker inevitably joins the fray before encouraging the group to build a bridge out of matchsticks. By no means should that be considered an adequate bonding experience.

However, some CEOs are upping their game. In the last few years, extreme takes on the standard corporate retreat have risen from the ashes of team building nightmares to provide companies with opportunities to grow team spirit in invigorating scenarios. By tossing everyone into adverse (and sometimes, titillatingly dangerous) adventures, colleagues become closer, offices unite and businesses grow. No matchsticks required.

Stuff of legendsnow-hiking-800x600
Some corporate retreats are more creative than others. In the US, a firm called Be Legendary tosses groups into extreme scenarios in which colleagues are given no choice but to work together. The psychologically taxing ‘Cabin Fever’ retreat sees a board trapped together in a single, cramped log cabin for an entire weekend. Tensions in the small, isolated cottage inevitably run high, setting the stage for conflict-resolution training and tight-knit bonding.

More active challenges include the company’s ‘Deep Snow Survival’, which forces participants to work together to survive imminent natural disasters. After a grueling trek into the alpine snowdrifts of the San Juan Mountains, weary hikers are told by their guide that a looming avalanche means the group will be forced to stay in the wilderness overnight. The team must then scramble together to build snow caves and find food.

“Roles disappear. Being the CEO or VP of whatever no longer matters,” says James Carter, founder of Be Legendary. “The memo I wrote last week that pissed everyone off no longer matters. All that matters is that we have to come together to survive. After a group has come together, faced a life-or-death scenario and survived, we have them at a very emotionally raw point and can build them up.
“The beauty of the avalanche scenario is that people rarely question nature. Mother Nature makes a great adversary to bring everyone together because people spend less time pointing the finger and being angry.”

A couple hours after the team has built their shelters, a snowcat arrives to take them to a cozy lodge instead. Yet the relief of a warm shelter by no means marginalizes the power of this unique bonding experience.

“Our extreme retreats are a very careful balance of hope and fear,” Carter says. “Fear is used to bring everyone together to overcome an impossible challenge with life-or-death consequences.” But it’s not all despair, as “hope is then used to get them to speak about what they can accomplish when they come together – almost anything!”

Extreme corporate retreats have proven highly effective for some of the world’s most successful companies; however, CEOs shouldn’t fret if they haven’t got the funds to fly their entire boardroom to Africa. With a little creativity, companies can provide employees with exercises that will not be easily forgotten. As in business, dare to be different in planning corporate retreats. Employees will be astounded by the positive transformation in rapport once they’ve returned to their desks.

Read the Full Article on Business Destinations.


January 23, 2014 at 11:00 am | Executive Retreat, Executive Teams | No comment

5 Ways to Ensure Your Teambuilding Will Suck

By James Carter

There are many reasons why a team building activity will fail.  Meaning it sucked.  Let’s be honest, there are many that are really terrible.  We have run a few of them ourselves that utterly failed.  It is embarrassing to admit and it is almost always because we committed one of the 5 below.


Avoid the Top 5 below and you are definitely on the right track to having a GREAT experience.


#5 – Wrong Activity, Wrong Time

There are MANY different activities to select from and each of them has their own place.  You use the right one at the right time a MAGIC – the best discussion you have ever had as a group.  Yet you use the wrong one at the wrong time and it’s like someone volunteered everyone to go to the dentist for a root canal.


#4 – No Application to Work / Life

Spending time away from making money or saving money – the only two end results of every employee – means that you need to make the time matter and make sure the participants can apply what they have learned.  You don’t have to directly apply it to work even.  But they need to be able to learn something AND have a way to make a meaningful change, even if that change is very small.  If every person makes one small meaningful or positive change, that adds up!


#3 – Make it a Quasi Therapy Session

Make it a focus on Personal Issues or a way to confront a small group of trouble makers.  This inevitably creates a ‘bitch’ session that is very hard to stop.  We have been hired more times than I can count because two or three people had a personal issue and the manager did not to deal with it directly.  Instead, they decide to have a ‘team building’ session!  Everyone knows why they are there and resent it.  Please, please, PLEASE do not put your people through a team building session unless you are there for the entire team to learn and do something different as a result.


#2 – Focus on ‘Getting out of our comfort zone’

It is inevitable that some individuals will be pushed out of their comfort zone and almost everyone at some point.  That is a given.  But pushing people beyond their comfort zone should not be the goal.  When is that the goal at work?  Typically we need to be out of our comfort zone to learn in an experiential way.  Or, at least learn the fastest.  That is why immersion learning for language works so well.  In order to be back in your comfort zone, you have to learn REAL fast.  So getting out of your comfort zone is good but only as a way to create a better learning environment and not as the goal.


#1 – Focus on ‘FUN’

Fun is great.  I LOVE fun.  But if that is all you are doing, you are NOT building a team.  You just had a great time.  And maybe have a couple of cool stories.  But that is all you have.  And there is a place for that.  There is also a place for taking everyone out to a ball game or bowling on a random afternoon.  But that is simply having a good time together and NOT team building.   Call it something, but do not call it ‘team building’.  That is easily the #1 way good team building gets a bad name.

I hope this helps you think about your activity before you run it and will help you run a kick-ass activity!


We would love to hear your thoughts about other ways and build this into a TOP 10 Ways to Ensure your Team Building Will Suck!


January 21, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Team Building | No comment

Common Questions About Corporate Team Building

Corporate team building is the newest innovation that is being used to incorporate positive attitude to the workforce for the main goal achieving the aim of the company. In the present working environment, we are faced with the fact that we have no choice but to work with people who have multifaceted characteristics. We use this kind of strategy to ignite team spirit from each other that will be the main tool for people to achieve success for the company. Success comes from team unity and not just from divided effort, they have to work as one to get the company’s mission.

What are the advantages of corporate team building?

There are a lot of benefits that you can get from conducting team building activities and one of the main reason is to improve communication within the group or workers. If done well, management of the group can be done easily because there is a smooth communication between them and they will be able to discuss problems without barriers. It is very important that they understand each other well enough to achieve their common goal. Factors like attention to details, problem solving, decision making and good communication should be targeted to avoid stress.

When do you proceed to team building activities?

You will know when to apply team building activity when the communication within the group is not working anymore. When the company or organization is losing their potentials for better meant, it just means to say that they need to repair something that is missing within the workforce. May it be poor problem solving capabilities, conflict within the group, and resentment between employees.

Various techniques with corporate team building

Facilitators and organizers of team building activities provides different techniques to instill motivation and positivism within the group depending of the effort needed. Experts do have an accurate clockwork to follow once they will be able to find out the main problem of the company. You may either go for outing, camping, go to the beach, hunting, or do something extreme and adventurous just to rekindle the fire within. There are extreme, adventurous, mild and moderate activities that can be done.

Ask from the experts

You will be able to know more from facilities that offer training for team structuring events and they have their packages depending on the kind of activity you want to indulge in. It will all depend in the king of activity that you want to incorporate with your teams as well.

James Carter is the Founder and CEO of Be Legendary, a socially inspired team and personal development company. James has created emotional learning experiences for thousands of participants through executive retreats and large meetings. James’ passion lies in helping each person feel valuable as an individual and as part of the whole.

Just contact James Carter HERE.

December 8, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Motivation, Team Building, Team Building Tools | No comment

Awareness or Solution, Which Is Better?

There are a lot of people who have already brought awareness to the cause that they have just discovered. Last time, I encountered a conversation with a person that called me up and declared that the main purpose why he was forming a group is for awareness purposes. When I shared this story to a friend, she also said that it’s getting absurd how people are trying to bring awareness to other individuals who are already aware about the things that are happening around us or to the problems that are uprooted in our society. The truth is not all about bringing awareness but gaining understanding from your fellowmen, bringing in the funds which plays a big part in the process and of course, just making an alibi to become an underdog instead of getting associated with former organized groups.

If you have observed, there are numerous organized support groups for various types of each diseases, calamities, viruses or disabilities. This support groups are not only focused with the human welfare but also for the whole living entities in the world like animals, trees, the earth’s present situation and a bunch of lineup that needs attention with. It is so great to know that people are becoming aware and take every issue of humankind seriously like getting the issue viral in different methods. It is important that people know the difficulties that are being encountered by their fellowmen in the present time.

The negative thing comes out when everyone wants to save the whole world from problems and requires people to bring awareness to their cause. When all you want is to get in charge in solving the problem while the others will just listen and donate money to their newly organized group. Why not just join secured support groups like AHA or American Heart Association and the like, compared to starting on your own from nothing?

They say, “Misery loves company” and yes, people wants to be heard with the awareness that their bring to their cause. It does not mean that newly built support groups are not reliable but can we just trust the old, big groups that has been doing their thing for decades already than making it on our own. It will become a possibility that the problem should get fixed but instead, it won’t be because the attention is already divided to different small groups which we can just prefer to focus on the large group.

It is good to bring awareness but it is much better if we focus our attention to those support groups that has been doing this for a long time and offer our services to them rather than spending too much energy in forming new ones. Sometimes, people get this notion that when they bring awareness to other people – who are already aware, they become cocky with the idea that they had just formed out a new support group as if it’s the first time. Is it about helping needy people or do you just need the attention that you get when you help people? Which is which? Are you sure that you are truly aware with the problems of this world?

I am not becoming a hypocrite here but let us acknowledge the truth that we are not in need of NEW support groups since there are already a bunch out there that we can trust and is trusted for doing their jobs so well. So, think about it? Awareness or solution? Which do you prefer?

James Carter is the Founder and CEO of Be Legendary, a socially inspired team and personal development company. James has created emotional learning experiences for thousands of participants through executive retreats and large meetings. James’ passion lies in helping each person feel valuable as an individual and as part of the whole.

Just contact James Carter HERE.

December 8, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Awareness | 1 comment

Cargill Builds 15 Bicycles for the Geneva Boys and Girls Club

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Cargill set a Legendary precedent kicking off their three-day, northeastern conference building 15 bicycles for the youngsters of the local Boys and Girls Club of Geneva.

With corporate responsibility threading together their international initiatives in food and agriculture, they were given a unique opportunity to literally give back to their customers.

As 180 Cargill employees and their spouses gathered at the Watkins Glen Park Community Center, they gazed upon 15 large rectangular boxes.

“Today you will be building Cargill’s latest and greatest product,” said Be Legendary’s Founder and Chief Instigator James Carter.

With a simple countdown, these participants were off and building what they now found to be bicycles.

As wheels were attached to frames and these new products were beginning to take shape, Carter redirected the crowds attention.

“These are not just ordinary bicycles,” said Carter. “This is a dream come true for a child. And we just so happen to have some special guests here for you.”

With that, music blasted as Cargill was greeted by the smiling faces of 15 children of the Geneva Boys and Girls Club.

Try not smiling at that.

It was not the fact that these individuals built a bicycle, it is about what that bike means.  To a child it means freedom.  It means wind blowing in your hair and two tiny pedals at your feet.  It means happiness.

Building a bicycle may not be super exciting.  You screw in pedals, attach a handle bar, put on a reflector, and all the while, hope you are doing it correctly.  But the moment that child’s face comes into the picture, every action that went into building a bicycle takes on a whole new meaning.

There is meaning behind everything we do.  Although, children do not come into our offices everyday and remind us of this.  You may have to look a little to see it.

When a child brings home a lump of clay from art class, there is meaning behind that.

When a company launches a new product, there is meaning behind that.

When your spouse asks you to cook dinner tonight, there is (definitely) meaning behind that.

When we choose a life of meaning, we are choosing an intentional life. Everything you say or do means something.

For the participants of Cargill they came together as one team to build bicycles for the local Boys and Girls Club.  But the meaning of their actions is in the value they place on their company, their community, and on Tuesday, making a child’s dream come true.

July 2, 2012 at 9:28 am | Meetings & Conferences, Philanthropy & Team Building, Team Building | No comment

Enel Green Power Walks on Fire!

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Walk on fire. Surely that is impossible.


What if we looked beyond the predetermined notions of what is and is not possible?

This mindset is exactly what the executives of Enel Green Power challenged themselves to as the sun set and the fires roared on Friday night.

Having no idea of the feats they were about to put themselves through, these 17 participants walked outside to see hundreds of logs burning on a sandy terrain in between the corner of the hotel and some palm trees.

Standing a few feet away from the flaming walkway, beads of sweat dripped from the executives foreheads.  Caused by the flames or perhaps some jittery nerves, one thing was certain, it was heating up.

As excited as the team was by the proposition of walking on fire, doubts surfaced when it came time to walk.

“You’re supposed to walk on that?”

“Has anyone burned themselves?”

“What’s the trick?”

Yes you walk on it, ironically only our CEO has burned himself, and the trick lies completely within you.

It takes certain conviction.  When it comes time to take that first step into the ambers of the fire it is because you have committed in that moment to that step.  And with the commitment of the first step comes the necessity of a second.  And a third, and a fourth, and before you realize you are on the other side of 10 yards of burning ambers.

So what is all this about? Walking across some flames for a badge of glory, a feat of excitement, or a killer new profile picture on Facebook?

Not entirely.  A fire walk calls for the recognition of certain strengths and a commitment to call on them to breakthrough to a new level of personal potential.

Whether it is a commitment take on the uncertain launch of a platform for a new product integration or committing to being a better spouse, the symbolism behind that first step into the fire is profound.

It is the realization of a new possibility and the ability to make it happen all rolled up into the distance it takes to convert a first down.  That is if you replaced the sweet smell of freshly cut grass with burning wood and ambers.

For this team of fire walkers of Enel Green Power, their walk is behind them.  And what lies in front of them is the commitment to their conviction.  For the ripple effects of forward steps are the ones that can and will shift the trajectory of results.

June 25, 2012 at 10:30 am | Courage, Executive Retreat, Executive Teams | No comment

California Pizza Kitchen Inspires Action on Sailing Adventure

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Executives of the California Pizza Kitchen are creating positive change within their organization taking the time to invest in their most important asset, their people.  Keeping this in the forefront of their mind, they were challenged to learn, communicate, and constantly adapt to a changing environment as they sailed through Newport harbor.

When you examine the characteristics of a successful organizations, the ability to challenge the status quo always surfaces.  In sailing, like in an organization, what is working now will not be the best strategy to use in the future.  In fact, attaching yourself to one strategy will undoubtedly take the wind out of your sails, pardon the pun.

These executives experienced a profound business process when examining changing wind patterns or water currents.  That by recognizing, communicating, and then taking action as one unit, they were able to move forward no matter what conditions were present.

In order to get to places you have never been you must think and act in ways you have never before.  For these executives, only a handful with sailing experience, they were challenged to learn skills in sailing.

Once you have a fundamental grasp of skills and talents you must constantly adapt and change with the environment.  You may have the most talented person at tacking the sail to the starboard side, but if you do this when the wind is blowing the opposite direction, no matter how good you may be at tacking, you will not go anywhere.

By the end of the day each these executives were pointing out ripples in the water, flags blowing in different directions, and changing wind patterns within the sails.  These are called indicators, and if you can effectively identify these you will have a significant advantage over anyone on the water.

Capturing their performance here as a direct translation to the success of California Pizza Kitchen, they were reminded to ask themselves the question, “What are the indicators within my work?”

Just as that person talented at tacking the sail will fail without any direction, an employee equally skilled at his job is doomed to the same fate if no one pays attention to the indicators of the environment.

California Pizza Kitchen left this adventure with the realization that change is inevitable, but if you use it to leverage your ability to thrive, then you will be unstoppable.

June 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Executive Retreat, Executive Teams | No comment

14 Actelion Employees Built a Better Tomorrow

Fourteen member of Actelion’s sales teams highlighted that in one afternoon one group with a common purpose can make a meaningful and steadfast difference.

How? The power of play. Ninety-four percent of four-year-old children scored significantly above average in creativity.  On their eighth birthday, only four percent of these children scored high for creativity.

Each and everyone of us is born with creative and inherent potential. As children we question everything. Why is X this tall? Why is Y this color? Why do you follow this rule?

Overtime we begin to question less and conform more, and that beautiful unique creativity begins to get covered up by rules, norms, routines, tasks, and everything else life throws our way.

On Thursday, these participants realigned themselves with the creative, playful, and unique genius within.  They took a bag of trash and transformed it into soccer balls that children everywhere would want to play with and a product that everyone in the world would want to own. And they did this in just thirty short minutes.

But what they did stretched further than the potential they have within.  They were able to tap into this potential and use it to leverage their ability to make a larger difference.

They donated indestructible soccer balls and a piece of a field to an African community whose culture heavily revolves around such a powerful game.

The impact did not end here, as these Actelion participants built sandals that in a few short months are going to be on children’s feet in disaster regions all over the world.

In one afternoon these individuals created a difference that will act as a touchstone highlighting the opportunities to come and the potential that is within.

These individuals are not just sales men and women of a pharmaceutical company, they were not just participants in some team building activity, they are Legendary Instigators who are bringing out the best in others by bringing out the best in themselves.  And that is something that can be done anywhere, at anytime, and all that’s needed, is you.

May 15, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Meetings & Conferences, Philanthropy & Team Building | No comment

Beginning the Legend’s Journey at NODA’s Region 8 Conference

Dare to be first – a theme that turned into the palpable vibe that lasted the entirety of NODA’s Region 8 conference at the University of Delaware.

“Each and everyone of you is a Legendary Instigator. This is a person who works vigorously and selflessly for what they believe in, motivated by conviction and not recognition,” said facilitator Chris Barba to the participating Orientation Leaders.

Beginning the Legend’s Journey is our premier orientation program initiating students on a journey bringing the very best out in themselves.

Look at every Legendary story and the most prominent thing you remember is what they believed in.

Mother Theresa believed in helping the poorest of poor.

Gandhi believed in fighting through nonviolence.

Nelson Mandala believed in ending apartheid.

Martin Luther believed in the dream of equal rights for every individual.

Steve Jobs believed in challenging the status quo, and thinking differently constantly.

“What do you believe in?” Barba asked. “As orientation leaders you will be the first people incoming freshman meet, and you will make a lasting impression on their college careers, and what they will remember most about you, is what you believe in.”

Orientation Leaders from across the region learned the concepts of being Legendary Instigators, and were encouraged to use these ideas to leverage their ability to help students in Beginning the Legends Journey.

At this conference, these Legendary Instigators learned to open their awareness to a world of opportunity, cultivate their beliefs, and have the courage to take action based on those convictions.  Through dialogue, interaction, and some courageous acts, these Orientation Leaders began to reacquaint themselves with idea of Be Legendary.

Instead of an accolade of prestige they began to see it as a journey of working vigorously and selflessly for what they believe in, motivated by conviction and not recognition.

“The world needs more of you in, the very best of who you are, and that my friends is simply legendary,” concluded Barba.

April 30, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Campus Events | No comment

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