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.
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.
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.
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.
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
On Monday, April 16, 500 participants from NBCUniversal came together on Pier 86, adjacent to the Intrepid Battleship. Spinning wrenches and twisting screw drivers, these participants were building a brand new NBCUniversal product. Little did they know, their customers were waiting just outside the tent doors.
As participants looked over the bicycle they had just built, Lead Facilitator Kim Nielsen informed them that, “Each mile a child bikes saves one pound of carbon dioxide emission and they breath sixty percent less carbon monoxide than motorists.”
“What you have built here today is more than wheels, pedals, and a frame, it’s a dream come true for a child,” said Nielsen.
Roaring applause greeted smiling faces as these youngsters were going to receive a brand new bike.
In 60 minutes these NBCUniversal participants built 60 dreams with a couple tools and some metal frames, imagine the difference that can be made with all the resources your company, your team, and you have to offer.
“And yes, these bicycles will be inspected by professional mechanics,” responded Nielsen to a comical inquiry.
In fact, Owner Steve Kahn and General Manager John Viscogliosi, from the local bike shop Danny’s Cycles volunteered to inspect every single bike that was going to the children of the Boys and Girls Club.
Danny’s Cycles has four locations within the boroughs, and has used each bike shop as a vehicle for creating a positive impact in the community.
Along with their time, Danny’s Cycles donated $600 to the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club.
“Riding a bicycle before the age of 12 will lower children’s risk of obesity by 35%,” Nielsen stated.
“We could not be more grateful and appreciate all the work done to help get these children bicycles,” said Kenny Robinson, Program Coordinator at the Kips Bay location.
Tim Hume of CNN interviewed our Founder and Chief Instigator, 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!
April 10, 2012 at 11:38 am | Executive Teams | 1 comment
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!