PictureCorporate Team Building Activities
There are two types of team building activities.  Those that work and those that don’t.   Seldom will a company or consultant that offers team building say “nope, our event won’t work for you.” So you have to go it alone, figuring out what event will work for your particular needs.  Here is a handy check list to help you with that decision. 

Is the event barrier free?  Nothing hampers team success like excluding someone because of body size or terror issues. 

Does the event engage at least 4 senses?  Sight, sound, smell, touch and taste are powerful drivers of engagement.  The more of them an activity stimulates, the more effective the team building will be for your team.

Is there a tangible result?   Corporate team building activities should have a physical take away to be truly effective.  That tangible result allows the team to connect with the experience years after the event.

Is it fun?  While some team building events look fun from the get go, and others look tiresome all you have to do is dig into photos from the events.  Is there evidence of concentration?  Are they collaborating?  Are they smiling?  If the event is not fun the participants are not going to stay engaged.    

Will it be viewed as a shared experience?   Events have to be powerful enough to stimulate our little frog brains and ignite our need to solve the problem with the help of others.   Once that frog brain is ignited and true problem solving collaboration happens the participants will view the event as a shared experience talking about it and telling stories about it for years to come.  Think about big storms.  You want that type of community interaction, a problem, a coming together, a solution, a story to tell.  

Finding a team building event that gets a click by everything on the check list is rare, but knowing exactly what your team needs, and finding a company that will say “we can do that”  will be easier if you keep these things in mind.  


    


 
 
PictureEffective Team Building
Several times lately I have been asked, by people who have gone through the Canvas Creek experience, if I could go to Washington, D.C., and get our representatives to act like a team.  Sometimes the question is presented with a bit of a laugh and sometimes with a wistful, ‘how could we pull that off?’ tone.   

I generally laugh at this question and yet part of me wants to scream from the rooftops “YES! By all means lets get those fine people to stand in front of a canvas, make them create art, and see just exactly what would happen when they experience truly effective team building.”   Okay, that sentence is a bit long for roof top exclamations, but my heart still means it.  Yes!  Let’s team build in DC for America!

You see to have effective team building you need a couple of really good things,  a crazy, powerful, shock the system and make people look at things differently, experience.   An experience that is kind of like a powerful storm, things are different afterwards and participants realize that only by relying on each other could they have weathered it.   Secondly you need good people, people who are willing to try to make things better, people who want to work together for a common cause, even if at the moment they aren’t doing that very well. 

I do think that every person who goes to D.C. goes with the best of objectives, the loftiest goals.  They want to work with others to accomplish great things.    No-one says “I want to go through the life altering drama that is a campaign so I can go to Washington and make things really suck for others. “ No, on the contrary, they want to help.  They have ideas, ideals and the very best of intentions, but, and I never thought I’d do this, to quote Ozzy Osbourne,  they sometimes are “going off the wheels on a crazy train.”  

So, would I go to DC to get our elected officials to play nice, to remember that they are all on the same team, the team of keeping America great?   “YES!” 

And you know what?  I’m confident I could do it.  All I need is a blank canvas, a lot of paint brushes and the opportunity to say “hush up for a minute so you can actually hear, see and feel, what is happening, and what you can create.  Together. “   I might have to tell them twice, or maybe even three times, to be silent so they can be heard, but in the end they would get it.  They would realize that it takes every element to make a whole, and that no-one creates this thing called community alone.   And that, my friends, is the hallmark of effective teambuilding.  Creating something together that cannot be created alone.      


 
 
PictureJane and Karen at ASTD Dallas
There is paint on my pants.   Not boring ‘I splashed when working on a wall', paint.  Colorful, full of life, splashes and stripes.   My pants look like I have been dancing in paint.   It’s the kind of thing that makes people stop and look again.  The kind of paint that makes them wonder first if I am ‘okay’ and second if I really am as fun as I look.  I always hope the later is the truth!   Having recently attended a conference with 9000 participants, wearing painted pants to all events, I have had my share of looks, avoidances, and great big happy smiles. 

My painted pants are the result of an accident; I wore expensive shoes and pants to an event, someone spilled paint, I fussed a little bit (okay, a lot) and then the first comment came my way “great pants!”  then the next, “those look like fun!”  As the comments kept coming the pants became a part of me, something I do on purpose now, and some of the Canvas Creek Team Building coaches do as well.   Our pants are like a great tag line or a logo you can’t forget, a conversation starter and a point of reference.   At the conference we were quickly known as ‘the painted pants ladies’ and in knowing about our jeans people were able to laugh or roll their eyes, and then effectively point people towards our booth.  

All of this color on my legs, comments in my day, and craziness in my life is because we are all one big team out there in the world.   Someone has an accident.  Someone decides to ‘go with it’, someone else makes a comment and all of a sudden we have a conversation, and a feeling of camaraderie.   The feeling of a team.   

We are all in this together, bumping into the existence of strangers both in the physical and the cyber world.  When going through life we can blend in or stand out.  We can notice, comment, avoid, or wonder. I think it’s best when we join in, when we allow life, the places we go, the things we see and do, to make us a team.  To not just accept, but to embrace the ‘crazy’ the ‘stoic’ the ‘liberal’ the ‘conservative’, the ‘lost’ and the ‘found’ as part of what it takes to make us a team.  

 Life in painted pants makes me happy.  It makes me want to dance in paint…with you.  And if we danced, I want to know if you would wear the pants the experience hands you.        

 
 
Today I helped provide team building for an amazing group of young people. Times have been rough. Meals missed. Warm socks a blessing. Shelter questionable at times. What one considers basic necessities not always available. Family members struggling with mental illness. Perhaps some of them struggling with similar illnesses. The everyday cares of this world could very well cloud a day and understandably darken a team building. It didn’t. What was amazing was the response and attitude of these young people. When they began the activity they were asked to write a single word to describe their feelings. “Excited.” “Good.” “Happy.” “Weird.” “Excited.” “Content.” “Excited.” “Lucky.” “Excited.” “Happy.” Positive words. Lots of excitement. As the painting continued, the theme expanded with colorful, bright images. Flowers grew. Butterflies flew. Sunshine burst. Clowns smiled. More words were added. “Love.” “Laugh.” “Live.” “Life.” “Sparkly.” “Inspire greatness.” In a world that could be dark, they found light, color and positive words and images. And they passed it on through a beautiful mural.

How does this apply to team building in general? Statistics would say that in any given team, similar issues exist. Look at the first number of lines of this article. Given these times, finances are tight. Jobs may be tenuous. Illness may not be visible. Stress of the season may be taking its toll. The people you come in contact with through team building, management or leadership may be dealing with difficult issues. Unless they let you in to their struggles, you may never know it. Being aware and reminding ourselves that we may be dealing with hurting people can help us be compassionate and understanding. Providing a venue for creativity and expression not only allows an outlet, but also brings a camaraderie and togetherness to a group. It can bind them together, giving them a place of belonging. It can help them find light and positivity where darkness may want to overtake. Look for the light, the color and brightness of members. If they can’t see it, help them find it. Encourage it. Set the tone. Being positive and upbeat, welcoming and warm will go a long way in keeping a group in that same positive aura. But don’t be surprised when they set the tone themselves or among themselves. If they are anything like the group of young people I met today, they will make your heart grow, cause hope to spring within and leave you grateful for the lessons learned. And then it’s your turn to pass it on.  

Collaborative painting is an extraordinary experience, meeting people where they are and allowing them to express themselves in that moment. Explore our website further on how to bring collaborate art to your team, your clients or your family.
 
 
Ever heard the phrase “creative strategic planning”? Surely you have, though it may have simply been thrown around in a business meeting. Or maybe you’ve seen it scattered across the internet, a vague catch phrase get-rich-quick schemes use to lure people in. Either way, this is one thing you definitely need to pay more attention to.

Strategic planning refers to defining a specific goal and then laying out a necessary strategy to reach that goal. Basically, strategic planning makes sure your short-term decisions work in favor of your long-term goals. To begin, a strategic planner needs to answer these three questions:

1.) Where are we now?

2.) Where do we want to be?

3.) How can we move one step closer?

Sound simple enough? Almost. The first two questions should be answered with as much specifics as possible. Let’s say you own a business. Your goal is to raise profits by 10% by the end of next year. So you might say:

1.) Where are we now?
        - Our current profit margin is ___.

2.) Where do we want to be?
        - We want our profits to be raised by 10% by December 31, 2013. Therefore, we need our profit margin to be ___by December 31, 2013.

Now comes the creative part, which is question #3. There are a number of theories floating around that provide the best way to start the creative process, but we feel Wallas’s creative process makes for a great fit. There are four stages: preparation, incubation, illumination and verification.

Preparation is the stage of gathering all your possible information. After all, you won’t be able to give yourself options if you have no idea of what you’re working with, right? So look at all your sources, all the people you know and all the possible pathways to reach your goal.

Next is incubation. So take a break; set the problem aside for a bit to clear your head. A disorganized mind creates a disorganized reality.

Step 3: illumination. Identify potential solutions. This is when working as a team really comes in handy, as everyone will be looking at the problem through a different perspective. Have brainstorming sessions to present as many solutions as possible.

And finally: verification. Refine your ideas. There may be a number of ideas on how to increase profits by 10% within the given time frame, but each idea needs to be refined and clearly laid out before a decision is made.

It’s completely understandable if this still sounds a bit complicated, but that’s why we’re here! Schedule a meeting with Canvas Creek today and we’ll show you how to get on track in your creative strategic planning process. We’ll even be with you every step of the way. 

 
 
It’s funny, as this time of year rolls around, people go into thankfulness overdrive. All over Facebook people are participating in “30 Days of Thankfulness” where each day they list something they are thankful for. However, being constantly bombarded with tokens of appreciation can take its toll, turning even the most positive people (myself included) slightly cynical. But when you take a look back, you’ll find there really are some things to be truly thankful for, and these are just a few of them.

1.) Your family. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean your biological family. There are many other people from various walks of life that can be considered family. Maybe you have a group of coworkers that make your job more pleasant than it really should be, or perhaps you have a close-knit group of friends that have been with you through thick and thin. Either way, there is surely at least one person that you are grateful to know.

2.) Your health. If you’re in generally good health, be thankful for it. There are countless afflictions you could have. If you’re ailing, be thankful for modern medicine and all the advances modern science has made in the medical field. And if you’re confused about your health, be thankful that there are resources to help you get back on your feet. Counseling centers and rehab facilities are right at your fingertips.

3.) Technology. Just think back to a few years ago and you should find yourself deeply impressed with what you have now. Even if you don’t have the newest television or the latest iPhone, there are still some amazing things happening in the technological world. Be thankful you can have a face to face conversation with someone completely across the planet or that your phone has an app that will let you find your car keys should you ever lose them again. Now c’mon…that’s pretty amazing.

4.) Opportunity. No matter what your situation is, you have the opportunity to make it better. Maybe you’re unhappy with the current political climate; be thankful that you have the ability to vote and to run for a government position. Even if you feel you’ve missed opportunities in the past, chances will still come along to allow you to better yourself. Be thankful you live in a place with abundant opportunities.

5.) Holidays. Think about it, what other days are you allowed to hang out with your best friends and family members, eat way too much food all while skipping out on work and (probably) still getting paid? Not a lot. Definitely be thankful for the holidays.

 
 
Networking tends to be one of those terms that is often thrown around in various business conversations. “We need to network more” or “How are doing on networking?” are just a few phrases you may hear. However, when you actually get down to brass tacks, what exactly is networking? And how do you do it?

Well, here you go. Listed below are some of the best networking tips successful business men and women have to offer.

1.) Know the purpose of networking. The entire point of networking is to have various contacts in other areas that might be of use to you later. Perhaps you are a journalist; knowing someone at your local news station might be a huge benefit to you because they may be able to give you specific leads or sources to various stories.

2.) Do as much as you can on your own. Contacting someone for information that you could easily get yourself is just plain lazy. Do your own homework and research before seeking out others to help you.

3.) Be courteous. That means you shouldn’t be calling them while they’re in the middle of dinner or tracking them down on their lunch break if they haven’t returned your calls. And if they decline your request, for whatever reason, don’t push it. Everyone has their reasons for not being able to help someone out once in a while.

4.) Be professional. Whining, groveling or being overly aggressive isn’t going to get you anywhere. As a matter of fact, it could be very damaging to your relationship. No one wants to work with someone else that can’t keep it together. In addition, if you’re going to approach a third party contact make sure your original source has given you permission to use their name.

5.) Listen. If you need information from this person then you have to be ready to receive it. Having a pen and a notepad handy, or even a recording device will let them know that you aren’t taking their services lightly.

6.) Understand it’s a two-way street. Continuing with our journalist example, if your “source” from the news station has provided you with vital information, it’s only common courtesy to return the favor when the time is needed. Otherwise, you’re just taking advantage of people to get information. Do this enough times and no one will want to work with you. 

 
 
With the ever expanding world of the internet, it can be quite easy to see how business relationships may fall to the wayside. After all, instead of calling customer care, people are directed to an online question and answer forum. Instead of turning in job applications directly to human resources, people are asked to submit theirs online. Even ordering business supplies over the phone is a thing of the past; sure, you can probably do it, but not without hearing about how convenient their new online ordering system is from the person on the other end of the line. Do they know a website has the potential to put them out of a job?

Nonetheless, with so many essential business moves being made over the internet, one might think we were living in a world where human to human interaction was not the preferable option. However, relationships in business are more important than ever. And no matter how much work is done online, there are a few things you need to know:

1.) Nothing can replace excellent customer service. Ever get to a website and find that you can’t find a phone number? Anywhere? It’s frustrating to have to sit at a computer and try to decipher what someone else has already deemed the appropriate response to your problem. Maybe that solution isn’t working, maybe that’s not your problem, and maybe you just have no idea what the words in front of you mean.

Having a relationship with your clients means being there for them in a time of need, and refusing to have a help number on your website is not being there (neither is requiring them to go through 46 steps to reach a human being on the other end, contrary to the opinion of Verizon, but who’s counting).

2.) Do what you say you are going to do. When a customer has contacted you with an issue, it is up to you to resolve it. Relying on them to remind you of the problem or giving them a list of things they should try and then call you back is lazy. Sure you can teach a man to fish, but in the business world it’s appreciated if you give that same man a fish or two while he is still learning. Don’t leave your customers out on a limb; once they’ve contacted you take the problem off their hands.

Oh yeah, and fix it.

3.) Facilitate connections. I work with a local photographer here in town, and one day I asked her how much money she spends on advertising for her business. Her answer: $0.00. All of her clients are from colleague recommendations, word of mouth, and social media. Folks all these client sources are facilitated through favorable relationships. If no other photographers in town respect her, if her clients aren’t happy with her work or she ignores the growing trend of social media, her business dies. It’s as simple as that. 

 
 
If you’ve ever found yourself in a situation to ask your roommate to move out, you know just how awkward it can be. Even in a good situation where both of you are on great terms and there’s a happy occasion for the change (say you and your significant other want to move in together, for example), it can still be a tough subject to bring up. So before you do, here are a few things you need to know first:

1.) Know what you can legally ask of them. If you and your roommate have signed a lease and that lease isn’t up for another three months, you and your hubby might just have to wait until then to call the place your own. Until that lease is up, your roommate has just as much right to be there as you do.

Having said that, there is often nothing wrong with just asking. Who knows, maybe your roomie has a friend that needs a place and this could be the perfect time for her to start apartment hunting with someone else. Communicate! 

2.) Be open about the situation. If there is a problem, and that’s why you feel your roommate needs to go, they deserve to have a chance to solve the problem first. They may be completely clueless to the issues you’re dealing with, so make sure you’re open with them from the beginning. Don’t ask them to move out and say it’s due to “allergies”, just ask them to stop burning incense all the freakin’ time and the problem could be solved right then and there.

3.) Do it at the right time. This is not a discussion that should be put off, of course, but it’s also not a discussion that can happen at any time. Make sure both of you don’t have to be somewhere right away and limit the distractions. And try to be sensitive to what is going on in their lives. Asking them to move out as soon as they get back from their grandma’s funeral isn’t a very good idea.

4.) Give them a realistic time to move out. Unless they’ve been absolutely unbearable (and by unbearable we mean they lit all your clothes on fire last night, or something of a similar significance), you need to give them a reasonable time to move out. They not only need to find another place, but possibly another roommate, as well as figure out how and when they are going to move all of their stuff. And don’t forget they probably have school and or a job or kids and other commitments they’re juggling too. A month is typically a respectable time period.

5.) Be compassionate. If they come to you saying they’ve found a place but they won’t be able to move in until five days after the 30 day period you’ve given them, let them stay for the extra five days. Finding a place to live can be a real pain in the neck and in the end five days is really nothing to get upset about. 

 
 
We’ve all been there; that moment when things have gotten so bad that it becomes difficult to see how they could ever get better again. Maybe you’ve lost your job and bills are piling up, maybe you’ve just ended a long term relationship and thoughts of eternal loneliness are flooding your mind; either way, there has to be something you can do to get back on track. And as a matter of fact, there is.

1.) Take one day. When it feels like your world is ending it can be tough to think about anything else, so do what you need to do to clear your mind. However, you need to put a time limit on your groveling or you could end up wallowing forever. If that means sleeping in bed for an entire day, do it. Maybe it means going for a run or watching your favorite movie on repeat. Whatever it is that you need to do, take a day to completely absorb yourself in whatever situation you’re in, then wake up tomorrow, and begin to move on.

2.) Comprehend your new reality. Constantly saying “If only this hadn’t happened…” to yourself won’t get you anywhere. This did happen. If you lost your job, you need to stop and look at your current situation without your mind getting carried away. So sit down and take a look at your finances. What are your necessities and what will it take to pay for them (and no, cable television is not a “necessity”)? Exactly how much money do you need to make to keep a roof over your head and food in your belly? 

3.) Make a plan, in writing. And don’t generalize. Saying, “I’ll find another job,” isn’t going to help you right now. Of course you will, but how? Writing down a serious of steps leading to a job would be much more constructive. Something like: 1.) Talk to everyone I know to see if they know if their current job is hiring, 2.) Search the want ads, 3.) Update my resume, 4.) Go down to the job center to check current openings, etc.

4.) Find the reason (if there is one) and learn from it. Sometimes things happen for no reason, and there really is no lesson involved. Some things, however, do have a reason for occurring. Is there a reason you were laid off instead of your coworker? It may be that you were simply at the company for less time. Finding the reason allows you to either prevent this situation from happening again or absolve yourself from feeling guilty over something you had no control over in the first place.

5.) Appreciate the things you do have. No matter what, you still have some things to be grateful for. A divorce is rough, of course, but you still have you children, right? Try to focus on other aspects of your life that are going well. Maybe this whole situation has made you realize that you have some seriously amazing friends who would do anything for you.