By James Carter
Tim Hume of CNN interviewed Founder and CEO, James Carter, about the extreme nature of our executive retreats and why they are essential for some executive teams:
A short article can never capture everything that is important but Tim does a great job of highlighting the role these retreats have in the ‘Executive Retreat’ realm.
There are many other articles out there that emphasize the value of extreme retreats but they are not to be selected randomly. Like every other format for retreats, the structure must support the overall goals and outcomes. Or you just end up having a great time – not a bad thing, but you are losing the value of an executive retreat.
The most valuable time you can spend is having a firm understanding of where you are now – A, and where you want to be – B. While this is simplistic, it is not necessarily easy. It may require great deal of courage to face the current situation!
And once you know A, understanding B is the next step – where do you want to be? What do you want from your executive team? Generalities DO NOT work here. What are specific behaviors you want members of the executive team showing. If you answer with something like ‘collaborating’, you are not digging deeply enough and keep going. What will more collaboration do for the organization?
In addition, what are the goals the team must hit? What are those ‘B’s'?
With those answers in mind, you select the format and structure for an executive retreat. And perhaps something extreme is in order!
Most of the time, business is at the forefront of change in our society. Sometimes, on the cutting and bleeding edge of change.
But from time to time, business is sadly behind what we know to be fact.
This is especially true when it comes to what motivates employees within a company.
Traditionally, a ‘Carrot and Stick’ approach to rewarding employees has worked very well.
A goal is set and if you achieve it, you get the carrot. If you fail to achieve it, you get the stick.
According to Dan Pink, author of Drive, the Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, the carrot and stick still work, but in narrowly defined areas.
These areas are in simple problem situations – ‘in the box’ creativity versus ‘out of the box’ creativity.
Using Duncker’s famous ‘Candle Problem’, intrinsic versus extrinsic motivators were tested by Princeton professor Sam Glucksberg.
In one experiment, two groups were asked to solve the problem of how to affix a candle to a wall, given a simple wax candle and a box of tacks.
One group he told he was just timing them for norms. The other group he told if they finished in the top 25% of times they would get $5 and if they finished fastest overall they would get $20.
The key to solving the problem is to use the box of tacks as a holder for the candle, a rather creative and ingenious solution to the task.
So what happened? The group that was promised rewards for the fastest times actually took longer to complete the task.
In fact, they took and average of three and half minutes longer than the group that was not promised incentives.
How does this happen?
External rewards to increase motivation can serve as blinders for our creatiivty.
A lot of the solutions to our problems are out on the periphery. But the external reward cause us to narrow our focus and our potential solutions.
But what if you take the tacks out of the box to begin with?
The solution becomes obvious and the external motivators WORK! The groups that were incented by money do, in fact, perform more quickly.
What does this tell us?
Pink does a fantastic job of highlighting this in his TED presentation.
External, carrot and stick, reward systems worked in the 20th century because most of our problems were more simplistic.
Dont’ get me wrong, even with the tacks out of the box, it is still a creative solution to tack the box onto the wall!
But in the 21st century, we will have more and more need for solutions that require us to take the tacks ‘out of the box’ and create a solution.
For that to occur, we need to intrinsically motivate people.
What does that mean? Well, many things. Google famously created the 20%. 20% of the time, Google employees spend on whatever they want. Most of the new products that come from Google come from the 20% time.
Pink also mentions ROWE environments, Results Only Work Environments, in which employees set their own time, come in when they want and are not required to attend any meetings. These have shown to be highly effective in white-collar work situations.
Moving forward, organizations need to intrinsically motivate employees if we care about achieving greater results and creating positive workplaces. It will take extra time and energy up front, but the dividends will pay off huge if done correctly.
If you are unsure where to start, you might want to look at our activities. They are set up to help individuals be introspective and truly understands themselves.
“We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”
About the Author
James Carter is Founder and CEO of Repario. Repario helps companies connect the hearts, hands and minds to their organization through Emotional Experiences and sustaining the individual motivation through unique technology applications. Additionally, James recently authored Discovering Your Inner Strengths with Ken Blanchard, Brian Tracy and Steven Covey.
We are a commited group of individuals focused upon helping you improve individuals, teams and leaders through experiential opportunties that connect the heart and mind.
On January 8, 2012, Novartis kicked off the new year with more than just good intentions. Donating $9,500 and 120 One World Futbols to Indian Summer Camp, a place for children who are going through or recovering from cancer, this company took intentional actions to make a difference in the lives of others.
Taking team building to a new level, these 850 participants were challenged with some unique tasks. Split into 60 teams these individuals were challenged to take something of little or no value to us and turn it into something remarkable.
Each team was given a bag of trash and two goals. Create a product that will change the world and build a soccer ball that kids will enjoy. Items that you or I might see as worthless were the pinnacle building blocks to these creations.
Clothe and water bottles manifested into an H20 filtration systems and rubber tubing and plastic bags morphed into durable soccer balls. It is truly amazing what is possible when you shift your perspective.
These individuals of Novartis were not only shifting their perspective on cross-functionality with a bag of trash, they were also shifting their perspectives on the possibilities of themselves. James Carter, founder of Be Legendary, posed the thought, “If you could change a bag of trash into these amazing products and soccer balls in 60 minutes, imagine what is possible to change using the resources of the world.”
This thought-provoking discussion culminated into the idea of intentional action. Making our actions intentional draws a very distinct line in the way we can make a difference in the world.
This event was the cornerstone for a life of intentional action. A touchstone reminding each participant to redefine what’s possible and take meaningful steps forward to achieving those outcomes.
The first step these 850 participants took together as one company, showing what amazing outcomes the power of teams can create. One hundred and twenty One World Futbols were donated to Indian Summer Camp. These soccer balls are indestructible, you can run one over with a car and still have the same ball you had 10 seconds earlier.
Along with the soccer balls, Novartis donated $9,500, to the camp. Board President Jon Dubins and Exectuive director Shelby Dehner came to be part of this remarkable event.
“This camp gives these kids an opportunity to be a child again,” said Jon Dubins, “Your donation will give an additional 15 children the opportunity to be a part of this experience.”
These individuals left that afternoon with a new perspective on innovation and a profound sense of impact, but most importantly these individuals left with the idea that each and every single one of them holds the potential to Be Legendary, every single one of them has the capacity to change the world.
Building a dream in the most literal sense, the creative gurus of A to Z Media came together to build three bicycles for three very special guests.
On a day that painted the pictures of a traditional team building experience, these individuals built much more than that. With the foundation of their core beliefs and a destination of taking intentional actions, A to Z Media journeyed to discover and rediscover a company of legendary individuals.
Look around and you will witness a massive shift in consciousness and lifestyle. We are currently at a global transformation in socially conscious ideas and actions.
From industrialization to interlinking technology we are are perhaps the most important shift yet. One that shapes a community of individuals, teams, and organizations into mediums of positive and social change.
From this point, building teams, and individuals for that matter, is no longer blindfolds and trust falls but an emotional connection to something much larger – impacting the lives of others.
We are never truly aware of the ripple effects of our actions. Whether it is walking down the street or meeting a prospective client for a 10 o clock meeting, we only see a sliver of the impact we create.
This month, A to Z Media took actions to become a front runner in this global shift. Instead of speaking in terms of productivity and creative outcomes, they spoke about unveiling the curtains to a world filled of extraordinary opportunities. Of using their core beliefs as a map to navigate their current reality and taking authentic, intentional action to breakthrough to a new one.
But this day was far from all talk. Splitting into team, each one was given a life changing product with a set of instructions on how to build it. They spun around wrenches and twisted screwdrivers. The outcome, a brand new bicycle.
There are certain things in our life we just don’t forget. Our first kiss, our first car, and most certainly, our first bicycle. Little did the participants of A to Z Media know, they were going to be witnessing a life-lasting memory, right then and there.
Three very special children for the local Boys and Girls walked through the elevator doors to receive these three new creations. Theses children were in honors classes and each had a distinguished list of personal accomplishments. This was no “gimme”. They had earned those bikes!
Our world is defined by the things we do and the choices we make. A to Z Media chose to make a difference, and whether these very extraordinary individuals are aware of it or not, their actions that day created some very real and very significant ripple effects of change. And that far from being a part of traditional team building, it is being legendary!
What is a dream? The word gets tossed around in our day to day lives eluding to hopes and desires. By its very definition, a dream is unreal, intangible, and breeches the realm of possibility. It is a world of our creation, and yet on December 9, 2011, 620 participants of DeVry Inc. took a dream and turned it into a reality.
Lead by James Carter, Founder of Be Legendary, this group of extraordinary individuals uncovered the very essence of their legendary lives. What we do and how we do it are motivated by the underlining belief of why.
Everything we do can be traced back to this basic question. And so on this not so ordinary Friday morning, each individual was challenged to think of and talk about the question of why.
With a seemingly ambiguous three word question, participants asked one another, “Who are you?” The answers were profound as people not only discovered the values of others, but also values of themselves.
“Imagine a golf green surrounded by water,” said James Carter. “What are our initial thoughts?”
Voices from the crowded shouted, “Don’t hit the ball in the water!”
“Exactly!”, smiled James. “But what is it we really want?”
That question weaved through the conversation of the entire morning. What is it you really want? Focusing in on the answer to that question is the most powerful tool any company, team, or individual can hold.
And so these 620 individuals focused on their next challenge - build a product. They broke off into teams, twisted screwdrivers, rotated wrenches, and began to see parts and pieces come together to create something magnificent, a bicycle.
Building 108 bicycles is quite impressive, but who was going to ride these newly assembled creations? Participants turned to the back of the room where 108 children from Tangelo Park Elementary cheered and chanted as they piled through the doors of ballroom.
Theses children were in the accelerated reading program and had earned, what would be for some of them, their first bicycle!
And what was probably the most heartfelt part of the day was the stories that came from it. A participant from DeVry shared how she didn’t have any children, how the smile on that child’s face lit up her world, and how when the children were getting ready to leave she got the biggest hug of appreciation.
A tear rolled down her face, as she shared her story, a story that will stay with her forever.
We at Be Legendary, never tire from seeing smiling faces, cheering crowds, and the transformation of a dream come true.
We were particularly excited about this event as we welcomed Kytka Hilmar-Jezek and her three remarkable children Zack, Zanna, and Zynnia to our legendary staff!
Focusing in on recreating a legendary world, the participants of DeVry Inc. are living proof, that believing in dreams can create a working, living, and legendary reality.
Last week on a rainy Tuesday morning, 35 Novo Nordisk employees were gathering for a 2-hour team building event. Ah, team building. It can be like nails on a chalkboard. Some people look at it as a break from their daily routine, while others look at it as a complete waste of time. Together you get a group of people showing up with a filter of predispositions and a word that has ignited them all!
Little did they know, what they were actually going to be doing that day was much more experiential. From the very beginning of this 2 hour escapade there was an immediate nose dive from the expected as participants were challenged to become aware of the small opportunities that surround them on a daily basis.
This limbo had only started as they played a little game we like to call “Who are you?” Participants were challenged to communicate in terms that bypass surface levels of communication and unveil the very core beliefs of who we are. Not only was this a great discovery of the people that surround them on a day to day basis, but this was also a rediscovery of one’s self.
And just when you thought it could not get anymore profound, these 35 individuals were going to receive their greatest challenge yet. Build sandals.
300 million people in this world do not own shoes. We believe that number should be zero. Putting the possibility of change in the hands of these Novo Nordisk employees, they, as teams, built sandals from recycled conveyer belts and nylon lace.
The sandals are designed to be extremely durable, so building them is no easy task. The frustration set in, but it did not discourage anyone from completing their task. Why? Because the challenge that sat right in front of them was going to be on a child’s feet in a few weeks. They were literally transforming the lives of others by transforming this challenge into a positive outcome.
By the end of the event 70 sandals had been assembled. More importantly, the impact these participants created that day also created a touchstone to the awareness of the opportunities that surround us everyday.
What first may seem as a frustration, a challenge, or a problem, could very well be transformed into a means of radical impact.
What opportunities are surrounding you right now?
November 11, 2011 at 11:00 am | Philanthropy & Team Building | 1 comment
Mission: Build 20 Jamis Bicycles
Team: Bain Capital
Location: Lenox, Massachusetts
Outcome: Change the lives of 20 extraordinary children
Changing Mission Impossible to Mission Unstoppable, we have launched yet another successful bike build in beautiful Lenox, Massachusetts. Teaming up with an extraordinary team of individuals at Edgework Consulting, we set up tables where 20 large, rectangular cardboard boxes covered by table clothes sat.
Bain Capital was launching their first day of a company retreat. What the participants did not know was that unlike the mesh of memories from previous retreats and conferences, they would soon form some very distinct and meaningful memories from this otherwise ordinary Monday morning.
Participants piled in under a large tent looking out at the sun perched just above the tree line in the distance.
“Today we’re going to work in our teams to build a very special product”, smiled Lou Edgework Consulting CEO.
Savvy in the financial industry, Bain employees exchanged slightly puzzled looks as they walked toward these white, linen table clothes with a large rectangular shape protruding from each.
Twisting screwdrivers and twirling wrenches, teams took a bunch of pieces and parts and created a bicycle.
What they did not know is that while they were attaching pedals and straightening handle bars, a bunch of very special guests were honing in on that very tent.
Twenty kids who are part of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, showed up that day to receive 20 brand new Jamis bicycles.
As the Bain participants talked about the creation of their bicycles, their attention was directed to the rear, where children emerged from the tent flaps.
Participants cheered and clapped, kids laughed and shouted, and a bunch of parts and frames were transformed into a medium to change lives.
At the end of the day children ran through a human tunnel of hurrays and hurrahs as they not only left with a brand new bicycle, but with the idea that dreams can come true.
So I was going through my touch flipping through applications the other day, when I came across it. Doodle Jump. For those of you who don’t know what Doodle Jump is, it’s an insanely addictive game where you move a little Doodler as he jumps from platform to platform, evading obstacles and monsters, to try and climb to a new highest score.
The game always ends with you reaching the inevitable frustration of watching your little Doodler plunge to his doom as you let out a, “Noooooo”…and then play again.
The thing is, I haven’t played this game in months. At one time something that was so addictive and exciting has lost its allure.
I sat there wondering why my mind wasn’t interested in jumping through Doodle Land anymore. I knew the appeal was gone as I sat there playing a game, just waiting for it to be over. (Well, actually I have to admit I still break this out from time to time.) But it was no where near as exciting as it once was.
And it dawned on me that the game just got to be monotonous. What were once exciting challenges turned into redundant expectations. The flow of the game had been lost because there were no new difficulties.
What I learned from Doodle Jump is that life without challenge becomes boring. Entertaining new challenges and ideas would mean your considering doing something you did not think possible. Otherwise we get caught up in the rut of reaffirming what we already know we can do instead of trying out new ways of being.
Think about it. We may enjoy when things become easy. But overtime that enjoyment will transform into boredom. A skier will get bored riding down the same green circle slope. They have acquired new skills and what once tested their abilities and gave them excitement now only gives a fraction of the happiness it used to.
A tennis player, will not enjoy hitting with someone who is well below their skill level as they would with someone who slightly surpasses it. An avid reader will not get the same enjoyment from those 3rd grade picture books (Well, there are always exceptions!) But you get the picture. (Pardon the pun)
New challenges are not something that should be avoided, but embraced as an opportunity for learning and improving skills. In Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s (Try pronouncing that one) Flow, he found that when challenges and skills were both high, people felt more cheerful, active, creative, and satisfied.
I have reached many points in my life where I have felt dissatisfied in something that once was a great source of joy. Exercise seems to be the most redundant one. I would try to just push through the resistance, but it was only making matters worse. It was like forcing myself to play Doodle Jump for an hour each day.
It wasn’t until I started thinking about exercise in new ways, breaking free of my routines, and doing different genre’s of activities that I really got back into the enjoyment of an active lifestyle. Swimming, hiking, sprinting, rock climbing, dancing, have all been new challenges and new levels of excitement.
I started hitting a wall with my blogging as well. I was really starting to dread it. I tried to be so methodical and precise in my posts that they lost their enjoyment. Now I try and take personal stories and examples and just talk them out. Much more exciting because I don’t search for the ideas, I just live out my life, sit on my porch play some Doodle Jump, and then write a post on that!
I challenge you to challenge yourself. It might just break the barrier of boredom you’ve been chronically hitting against.
August 8, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Legendary | 2 comments
We must constantly reevaluate what we do and not let habits and past wisdom blind us to new possibilities.
Apple just launched their newest operating system, OS X Lion, last week. Like any new idea, people are excited about the change, but weary of its unfamiliarity. Just like people who are fretful about the idea of switching from PC to Mac, the unknown holds an unsettling feeling for the potential of both positive and negative consequences.
But to ignore a source of innovation because of the possibility of misuse would be senseless. In Mihaly Csikszentmihaly book on the psychology of optimal experiences, Flow, he writes, “If mankind had tried to ban fire because it could be used to burn things down, we would not have grown to be very different from the great apes.”
Embracing the unknown has been civilizations igniting force continually pushing it forward. On a smaller scale, the very same ideology can be broken down on an individual level. What is common and routine now, was at one time unfamiliar and unknown.
Using what was once a part of our tactics to crawl, lead us to stand on our two miniature legs for the very first time. Entering a building full of classrooms, friends, and considerably taller, unfamiliar adults was our first experience of structured learning.
Growing up was full of firsts. And although the idea of walking could lead to the very realistic possibility of falling, it wouldn’t stop of us from taking hold of our latest ability to explore new surroundings.
Entertaining new possibilities is a visceral drive. We look back and view a child learning to walk or going to school as a natural part of growth. It is because growth is an innate drive. Breaking through to new areas of our life is a state of being and it does not end with childhood abilities.
We constantly drive to push ourselves forward. But we also establish a frame of reference and a list of habits to go with it, and so breaking into new areas becomes risky.
Fresh life ideas contain learning curves, time, consequences, and chances of failure. But does that mean we should ignore them? And even if we do, growth is our state of being. To ignore possibilities would create a dissonance as our beliefs and our actions would not align.
To act would evoke fear, while not acting would create dissatisfaction. I find we are better fear facers then dissatisfaction creators.
If life is a an array of dots, the ones behind us connected, the ones in front of us an unpredictable sequence – then we must learn to trust that the dots will connect. Our first day of school might have been our scariest challenge at one time, but now we see it as a connection to what has brought us to where we currently are.
The same can be said about the future. Although those dots may seem like leaps and bounds away right now, they will connect and make the intricate and extraordinary sequence of the life you have the potential of living.
July 26, 2011 at 9:03 am | Better Business | No comment
How do you know which actions are worthwhile and which are not? Anyone who has an appetite for the taste of success thrives to take meaningful steps towards it, but what do those steps look like?
The most pivotal and overlooked component for success is its starting point. Teddy Gross, founder of Penny Harvest, has helped raise over $7 million by collecting the tiniest denomination of currency in the US fiscal system.
But where did Teddy begin? It started with one single penny. Something so common and tiny most of us don’t even bother to pick one up as we pass it in the street. And yet the collection of pennies has culminated into something truly extraordinary as millions of dollars have been raised for people in need.
None of this would have not been possible without that starting point, without that initial penny. And so one component to what makes actions so valuable is to not underestimate the value of our actions. What at first may seem as trivial and inessential could very well be the building blocks to an extraordinary breakthrough.
When we look at our actions, the only part of it that is truly factual is the action itself. You take a job, you sell your house, you travel to a different country, you make a sales pitch. Those are all facts. What comes after the action is our interpretations and perspectives.
The reasons you take a job could run the gamut. Money, benefits, boredom, satisfaction, travel, fulfillment. As well as whether or not you actually like this new occupation. Variables such as co-workers, location, workload, tasks, interaction, and administration all have their respective roles to play.
The reality we create on how good or bad our job is – is formed by the perception we create. And so all our interpretations of our actions feed into whether or not something is worthwhile.
But after actions occur what do you think we tend to focus on? Look at the front page of todays newspaper, turn on the news, or simply listen in on a conversation at work. The general scope of perspective is pointed in a negative view.
Out of the 30 most common emotion words in the English language only 6 of them were positive. This focus on the adverse has put on blinders to countless positive possibilities.
When trying to identify choices and actions that have the most value, focus in on the bright spots of those actions. In the beginning stages of Penny Harvest when a few hundred dollars of pennies had been raised, Teddy Gross could have thought, “this is barely anything, this certainly won’t make a difference.”
But instead, he looked at the same few hundred dollars and saw peoples desire to help and built off these bright spots.
Identifying the worthwhile actions isn’t about a full proof plan designed to give you the right choices. It is about finding value in the reality we create.
Shakespeare said, “There is no good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Realize that behind every decision we make and every action we take there are positive potentials and bright spots to be found. These actions may not seem valuable alone, but together, can create an outcome that is truly worthwhile.