Friday, November 20, 2009
This Charity Challenge incorporates Corporate Social Responsibility with TeamBuilding/ and TeamBonding. TeamBuilding Unlimited will lead your teams through an engaging, team-building activity that culminates in the final challenge: the assembly of fun and important items in ‘care’ boxes for U.S Troops. Items included cover a large variety of toiletries, books, dried food, cookies and candy, batteries, music, clothing, Ziploc bags, games, beverages, and other snacks which will be used to fill the boxes to the top. Choosing the items to go into the boxes will also be a team effort and will be coordinated by the TeamBuilding Unlimited facilitators. Whenever possible, the staff from the benefiting service organization is there to receive the donations and convey their appreciation. This will also inspire the teams to continue to be involved and send much needed care packages in the future. The reward for packing the boxes is the reward of giving back to the troops. What a great team bonding activity for your team! In addition, each team will design and execute a t-shirt to go with the donation of each box.
TeamBuilding Unlimited can also include a series of fun 'military' games to set the mood and determine the order of gift selection for the boxes.
Monday, November 9, 2009
TeamBuilding Unlimited has added another fun and interactive team event for the Holidays that also gives back to the community. We provide Gingerbread Cookies, decorating tools, decorations and icing, and your group provides their time. Gingerbread Cookies are appreciated by everyone. They can be whimsical, holiday oriented, the sky's the limit! Cookies can be donated to hospitals, firehouses, family shelters, senior centers and lots of other places. Teambuilding Unlimited will work with your group to insure that the organization you choose or we suggest will accept food. Our materials do not contain raw eggs or nuts.
We can also add a Competitive Part to this teambuilding activity with prizes for winning designs. It's another Win-Win situation from TeamBuilding Unlimited as your Holiday party is the setting for a "working" event that provides happiness to those less fortunate. Your team has fun, and the community benefits.
This event is also available with shortbread cookies throughout the year. Giving is important all year round.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
I love Wente, and Murder on the Menu has been working there for over 20 years. We've done mystery events there for corporate clients such as Chevron, Genentech, Kaiser, Robert Half and many others. We've created sensational New Year's Eve and Halloween events for Wente Wine club members, and we've even created a mystery wedding for a very special couple at Wente. TeamBuilding Unlimited has done Wacky Games and Par for the Course: Mini-golf putting solutions on the beautiful lawn at Wente. So we were thrilled to be a part of their very special evening.
The food was sensational, the ambiance was terrific, and needless to say, the wine was incredible. We met so many great people, including "realtime" meetings with many clients. It's often email and voicemail only. How fun!
Our booth was all about Charitable Team Building for the Holidays: Trikes for Tots, Bears that Care.
Blue Lotus Photography captured everything so well. Check out their Blog for more photos and comments about this great evening.
Looking for a spectacular and memorable venue in the San Francisco Bay Area? Consider Wente Vinyards for your next event. Contact Robert or Heather.
Friday, October 23, 2009
To begin the event and get into the mood of the children who would be the recipients of this philanthropic teambuilding, the teams were challenged to some fun competitive children's games. These included jacks (a favorite), building the tallest tower out of Tinker Toys (one team actually built a tower that touched the ceiling--a first), and several other interactive team games including the suitcase relay.
After prizes were awarded to the teams, individuals then stuffed a variety of animals from bears to unicorns to monkeys. Each person also designed a t-shirt for the animal. Thrive, Kaiser's motto, appeared on several tiny t-shirts, along with hearts and rainbows. The bears and animals were donated to Children in the Oakland Hospital. To end the day on a sweet note, Frank did a chocolate tasting with the group, an added bonus to their day.
A great time was had by all, and we accomplished our clients' goal of getting together, having fun, teambuilding and contributing to the community.
Here's what our contacts wrote:
Thank you both for your work in ensuring that everyone had such a great day. What a treat it was to be able to get together as a team and just relax and have some fun.
--Laurie Williams, Medicare Operations Program Manager
Thanks for allowing Frank to host our Team Building Event. He was great. Everyone enjoyed the activities. I loved the Jacks the best. Frank provided us with great conversation and showed a tremendous amount of enthusiasm.
--Vernicko Seraphin, Project Analyst
Charity Challenges are great for the holidays or any time of year. There's always a need. Groups donate to shelters, fire stations, police stations, hospitals, and specific charities. Giving back to the community is special.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Teams work together to design, build and decorate the best Haunted House to reflect their company and/or their group within the company. All materials are provided including instructions, gingerbread, decorations, icing, candy, sprinkles and other goodies! You supply the resourceful creativity and dynamic energy. So roll up your sleeves and get down to food basics. Design a delicious Haunted House that reflects the raison d'être of your group.
What could be more tempting than building a Haunted House completely from Chocolate? In this case, chocolate and chocolate related foods. TeamBuilding has never been so Sweet!
Group will be divided into teams and provided with all kinds of chocolate based foods that might include chocolate-covered graham crackers, M&Ms, chocolate Gummy Bears, Hershey bars and anything you can think of that is made of chocolate. We go for different shapes, sizes, and textures.
Teams then compete to build their own Chocolate Haunted House. The result has to stand up on its own and, except for the white cardboard base, has to be completely edible. Teams are given time to design and build, and then they have to present the results.
Using the diversity of sights, sounds and materials of a city of your choice (San Francisco, Napa, Carmel, New York, Chicago?), teams will compete as they comb through the essence of the area's core to provide the winning touch to an exciting scramble related to the company, the group, HALLOWEEN and "The Bar to Bar to Bar" Hunt.
What are the most important three basic food groups? Caffeine, Chocolate and Alcohol! This Scavenger Quest is not for the faint of heart. The HALLOWEEN Bar to Bar to Bar Quest is for great team building and team bonding. There is an emphasis on fun, creativity and enjoyment.
Teams must visit and bring back proof of the visit—electronic, paper, product or otherwise—from a place that serves or sells coffee, a place that serves or sells alcohol, and a place that sells or produces high end chocolate that has specific Halloween-themed products.
Each person designs and decorates a chef's hat with their team name. Then the real fun begins. Each team is challenged to create and decorate a cake that symbolizes the team itself, the company, and Halloween. Spiders? Ghosts? Vampires?
Each group will be given a large sheet cake that can be carved or left as is. With a variety of cake design supplies, tools and assorted cake decorations, the group will turn their concept into reality. And, in the end, participants will enjoy their creations. You can have your cake and eat it, too!Contact TeamBuilding Unlimited for more information on these events. Make Your Halloween a Howling Success!
Monday, October 12, 2009
Chocolate: I have a blog called DyingforChocolate, so be sure to check later this month, so you can make your own cool Halloween cupcakes and candy! It will save you money and be lots of fun! I have several recipes up from last Halloween, and I'll have more Dirt Cupcake Cemeteries and DyingforChocolate recipes later this month. Speaking of food, pumpkins make great decorations, and you can always use the pumpkin to bake with later.
Decor: Because I have a mystery event company, I have lots of Halloween decor. I collect it all year because I just love Halloween. Target and Walmart have great stuff, but to be thrifty, you might want to wait until after Halloween and buy stuff on sale for next year. I shop the White Elephant Sale in Oakland (benefits the Oakland Museum) in February. Lots of Halloween--and other decor-- at budget prices. However, if you need it now, you can always use black fabric, candles, candelabras and votives. Holiday lights add ambiance, and you can drape your mirrors with black fabric.
Drinks: Not so cheap, but great for the adults.
Check out Special Halloween Cocktails from DrinkoftheWeek.com:
1 oz. Midori melon liqueur
1 oz. vodka
Squeeze of fresh Lemon
Draw a chocolate web into a cocktail glass. Place in freezer and chill. Shake Midori, vodka and lemon juice and strain into glass. For a blood effect, drizzle grenadine down the side of the glass. Garnish with a chocolate-dipped orange slice.
If you want to spend a little bit of extra for great visual impact: Creep out your guests by serving a blood-red punch out of a dispenser that looks like an IV drip called In My Veins Drink Dispenser. Remember punch is cheaper than mixed drinks.
Drink of the Week has also put together a collection of dastardly Halloween drinks, murderous martinis and creepy cocktails! There are links to Halloween Punch Recipes, Glowing Drinks and more!
So here are a few ideas to get you started. Great for office parties, home parties, children and adults.
More theme ideas to come!
Thursday, October 8, 2009
What to do with all that left-over event and exhibit stuff? Even before this age of recycling and reusing, I always felt it was a shame to see leftover decor in the trash or even the recycle bin (although that's sometimes o.k). I spend a lot of time finding things for my events for TeamBuilding Unlimited at fleamarkets and in the dumpster. Yes, the dumpster.
Terri Hardin had an article in examiner.com on just this topic, and she offers many ideas for what to do with your left-overs. I have a few more suggestions. I welcome comments.
First, many charities accept donations.
Food: In the Bay Area, Project Open Hand, the Alameda Food Bank, and several other organizations welcome your uneaten portion of food & beverage. Be sure and contact these groups before your event, so there will be a smooth transition. Some places will not accept food, and you need to know that in advance. You might have to assign one of your staff to take the food there, but if you have a lot, some of the organizations will pick up.
Exhibit floor displays and furniture: Many non-profit and not-for-profit organizations like schools and churches accept tables and chairs. In Oakland, the Oakland Museum's White Elephant sale organization will accept donations and for large items can schedule a pick-up. You can also ask the meeting venue or the local CVB (convention & visitors bureau) for a list of charitable organizations.
Leftover Decor. If you're like me, you don't have anywhere to store most of this, even though you're 'sure' that you'll reuse it within the next 10 years. If you have the time or staff, you can try selling it on eBay or Craiglist but here's a useful site for Event Planners: Usedeventstuff.com. Make sure you can arrange this in your area.
Florals: Hopefully your florist has taken these away and will reuse them. Maybe the attendees took them home? But if not, check with the venue about their composting policy. If you have a lot of plant material, contact a local composter. Again, the venue or CVB should have a list.
We at TeamBuilding Unlimited have several Green TeamBuilding Events in which we use recycled materials, so feel free to contact us with your leftover goods. Our motto is Reduce, Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose, Recharge. Have a look at our Green Art Challenge and New Green Product Invention.
So before you throw away all those leftovers from your event, check out your options for recycling and reusing.
Monday, October 5, 2009
I saw a great article in today's USA Today about Amusement Parks that are tricked out for Halloween. Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia is having "Terror Behind the Walls". Six Flags in various states will hold a "Fright Fest". Universal Studios in both Universal City and Orlando will have "Halloween Horror Nights". Even Hersheypark will have "Hersheypark in the Dark." Read the entire article here.
If your local park isn't on the list, check them out online. They may be doing a Boocrew or Howloscream or at least a Haunted House!
Live in the San Francisco Bay Area? Check out the Haunted Bay website. Calendar, lists of haunted houses and pumpkin patches.
Want Murder on the Menu/TeamBuilding Unlimited to provide entertainment or team building for your Halloween party? We can do a Monster Mash Murder or any theme you'd like, as well as a delicious "Have Your Halloween Cake and Eat it, Too!" team building event. Now that's a major treat. You design and decorate cakes for Halloween and either eat them when you're through or take them back to the office. Great idea for a Halloween party!
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Taking this competition a step further and having nothing to do with us: :-), the World Chocolate Masters competition invites Chocolatiers from all over the world to enter a similar competition.
The finalists of the World Chocolate Masters 2009 work within a limited time of 11 1/2 hours. Each of the contestants has to create a complete range of chocolate items:
- a chocolate showpiece to the theme of "Haute Couture"
- a moulded and a dipped praline
- a chocolate pastry
- a gastronomic chocolate dessert
- a decorated "Haute Couture" hat
It's the hat that's the building part of the competition. Talk about a Chocolate Challenge!
The objective of both the National Selections and World Finals is to "provide a high interest format to promote the best artisans around the globe and support the best chocolate practice."
Lionel Clement, the French born chocolatier and the head chocolatier for the Wynn Las Vegas Hotel, is the U.S. Candidate at the World Chocolate Masters competition. He topped four other pastry chefs at a daylong competition in NY last November. In the structural part of the competition he used several layers of chocolate to produce a silhouette of a woman's face, with long hair and a fancy hat. That won him the chance to compete in the world competition.
Clement will face chocolatiers from 12 other European countries, China, Japan, Thailand, Russian, Canada and Mexico. The showdown will be in Paris. Clement has been practicing for four months with his flavors, four months designing and developing his show pieces and 4 months practicing, so he'll be able to get everything done within the 11 1/2 hours at the biennial culinary competition that starts October 14. The judges will judge competitors on a roughly 25-pound showpiece, as well as two identical layered cakes to serve eight people, a gastronomic chocolate dessert, two different pralines and the decorated haute couture chocolate hat.
"It has to be unbelievable, and at the same time you've got to be able to make it because otherwise it's not going to work," said Clement. "It's not only how to make and build master showpieces, it's also about flavor."
The competition is serious even if its participants wield only sweets; a prize of euro 75,000 ($109,000) is on the line including a euro 20,000 package (roughly $29,000) for the winner. The competition is organized by Barry Callebaut, the Switzerland-based cocoa and chocolate manufacture. The large showpiece has to be made almost entirely of chocolate or cocoa-derived products. They stay together with cocoa butter or melted chocolate.
Another amazing part of the competition is that each competitor works alone in hauling and assembling their piece and is also judged on how clean their workspace is 45 minutes after they're done. Clement said, "During the whole competition, it's only you and yourself — that's it."
At TeamBuilding Unlimited, nothing is singular. We encourage our teams to work together to build their showpieces. Everything we do at TeamBuilding Unlimited is customized to include the theme of the meeting, goals and objectives, jargon and buzzwords. In the Chocolate Challenge, we supply the chocolate materials and usually give you about 1-2 hours to complete the project. We have prizes, too, but not monetary! After all, the goal is to work together as a team in a fun challenging teambonding way!
To read more about the World Chocolate Masters, go Here.
To read more about the Chocolate Challenge at TeamBuilding Unlimited, go here.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Barrango is the perfect venue for a holiday party--or any time. It's always a Winter Wonderland there, with a nod to the tropics in a few places. Barrango, known for their quality manufacturing and designs of seasonal decor since 1906, as well as fully working carousels, has created several very unique event spaces for holiday parties, weddings and other events in their showplace. Barrango can hold small intimate board meetings, seated events of 5 to 150, or large cocktail receptions of more. There are also several imported antique bars in the space that are just fabulous. Read the history of Barrango here.
I can't wait for Murder on the Menu and TeamBuilding Unlimited to work at Barrango. What a terrific place to do Trikes for Tots or Bears that Care! Bring your holiday party to Barrango!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Murder on the Menu, California's #1 mystery event company, partners with Paulding & Company, a local long-established San Francisco Bay Area Professional Kitchen & Catering company, to bring our clients a customized interactive murder mystery event, set in the Paulding & Company kitchen—where your guests are the chefs, and the mystery unfolds as you cook and dine.
Our Murder on the Menu crew of improv actors will add to the drama. What could be better? You get to cook great food, eat well...and solve the mysteries that unfold one clue at a time. It's a recipe for success!
Available for groups up to 65!
Saturday, September 26, 2009
I came across this great video from simpletruths.com. What a terrific video on The Power of Team Work. Check it out!
TeamWork separates the winners from the losers. The Blue Angels set the standard every day.
TeamBuilding Unlimited can't promise the Blue Angels, but we can meet your needs and objectives!
Saturday, August 29, 2009
It started with Nancy Drew, the girl detective with the robin's-egg blue eyes that matched exactly the color of her 1930s roadster.
The summer Janet Rudolph was nine, "I read every one of those books, my mother's old ones with the blue covers," she recalls. Her dad sat beside her, equally absorbed in Ellery Queen mystery magazines.
Call it the "Case of the Passion that Led to a Career." Rudolph began teaching mystery fiction in the 1970s and went on to earn a PhD in literature and religion. Meanwhile, she founded a pair of businesses, Murder on the Menu and Teambuilding Unlimited, offering creative problem-solving experiences for corporate groups.
Murder on the Menu specializes in highly customized interactive dinner theater parties and events for a clientele that includes lawyers, bankers, law-enforcement organizations, medical students, software geeks, hospitality-industry groups...you name it.
"What we do that's unique is write the script around the client," Rudolph says. "We investigate what the company is about, who's going to be at the event, the individualism, the jargon. I get really involved."
The Teambuilding Unlimited division of the enterprise also incorporates sleuthing into corporate agendas, often through scavenger quests tailored to fit a company goal.
The "Mistress of Mystery" doesn't live by team building alone: She also blogs, Twitters, hosts a mystery book club and edits the Mystery Readers Journal, a publication she founded.
Her life might be tied up in mysteries, but the key to Rudolph's success is no secret: Hard work and keen business sense are the clues that give it away.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Today I thought I'd blog about why now more than ever team building events are so important to strengthen your corporate culture?
First, although you may have a wonderful product or services at your company, your employees are the lifeblood of your organization.
It's critical that your teams interact and the level of that communication and the interdependence that team members share among themselves decides the future potential of your company’s growth. It's important for companies to keep their teams satisfied and encouraged, so that the all over performance level of the company improves. Team Building events do this.
Second: When and why do a team building event.
When TeamBuilding Unlimited gets an inquiry from a client who is considering doing an event, we always ask "What are your goals and objectives?" Then we find out the reason they're getting together. Is this a sales kickoff? Are they having morale problems? Is this a new team? Next, we find out how often these people are together? Do these people interact on a personal level? and if so, how many times a year? Questions such as these help TeamBuilding Unlimited help companies meet their goals. The results of challenges and 'working" within constraints of fun and serious events can help bond and improve teamwork.
Sometimes an effective teambuilding event can be an eye-opener for both employee and for management. Often we hear people say, "I didn't know he was interested in chess. I'm a chess player, and we'll have to play together some time soon." or "I'm from Philadelphia, I didn't realize that Joan went to the same high school I did. Our parents have been friends for years." TeamBuilding events also bring out sometimes hidden skills and abilities of employees and management. Skills and interests that don't usually surface in the workplace, but will help the overall team in the future. Whatever the specific results, interpersonal relations can be strengthened by team events.
What makes a good team building program?
Start with a good company with a proven track record. Make sure the company is willing to customize to meet your goals and objectives, location, and agenda. TeamBuilding Unlimited has been in business for over 25 years, and we're the BEST! That's because our events are all about you.
Specifics on when to do a teambuilding event?
In addition to doing teambuilding events on their own as a half day, full day offsite or to break up a meeting, you can also combine teambuilding events with different activities such as award ceremonies (The Arresting Detective), games (Wacky Games) and cultural programs (Scavenger Quests) or spend a whole day at a retreat with a series of different types of events (Sandcastle building).
Many teambuilding events can be combined with Community Service. What better way to bond your employees while at the same time giving back to the community. TeamBuilding Unlimited offers several Charity Challenges such as Trikes for Tots and Bears that Care, and we also work with communities and non-profits on specific inservice events.
Participating in team events is a great way to build morale during this recession.
Monday, August 17, 2009
I attended a special mini-FAM hosted by he Dunsmuir Hellman. Over 100 planners started off at the Dinklespiel House, a small period house that's perfect for board meetings and smaller special events. After wine and hors d'oeuvres, we moved to the Pavillion. On the terrace, we had more hors d'oeuvres by Miraglia Catering with watermelon shooters. Inside the Pavillion whose large picture windows look out onto a treelined terrace itself, Blue Heron Catering provided warm brie in brioche with a lovely cold pear and cheese soup. The group then went through a self-guided tour of the beautiful Neo-Classical Dunsmuir Mansion. The 37 room mansion features a beautiful Tiffany-style dome, woodpaneled public room, 10 fireplaces and inlaid parquet floors with 16,000 sq. feet.
An open air tram shuttled us to the unique and rustic Carriage House (perfect for a Western theme party). I did mention this is a huge property. No Clydesdales in residence at this time, nor cars, but the Carriage House is the perfect location for weddings and meetings. We were presented with a wide variety desserts, dessert wines, coffee and more. On this FAM, we didn't stop, but we passed the Open-Air Canopy. That, too, can be used for receptions and galas.
Over the years, my companies have worked at every venue at the Dunsmuir-Hellman. TeamBuilding Unlimited has done Wacky Games on the lawn and Scavenger Hunts throughout the property. Murder on the Menu has done mystery events for corporate clients and private affairs in the Pavillion and in the Dinklespiel House and on the main lawn. We've even done a public mystery event for the Dunsmuir itself.
If you're in the Bay Area and considering a special venue for your holiday party, wedding, special event or meeting, consider the Dunsmuir House. It's also a great place for daytime retreats, picnics and business meetings. The grounds are private, peaceful and beautiful all year round.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
TeamBuilding Unlimited will prepare different routes for this California Academy of Sciences AdventureQuest located in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, so that participants can spread out throughout the museum and see and experience the richness and variety this unique museum has to offer. Their own curiosity will enhance the endless possibilities.
This AdventureQuest competition will also encourage teams to think outside of the box by exercising creativity, resourcefulness, and decision-making. Teams strike out on foot using a series of clues that take teams to different locations where challenges await. Creativity, efficient resource allocation, intensive problem-solving and effective time management will propel teams into the wild world of this incredible museum to discover how to explore, explain and protect the natural world. This AdventureQuest is designed to challenge and stimulate participants regardless of their own scientific knowledge and abilities, since it is also customized to include their agenda, goals and objectives, jargon and buzzwords.
From top to bottom, teams will be engaged as they traverse one of the most unique museums in the world. The activities, challenges and clues are designed to spark the curiosity of participants while engaging them in team competition. They will discover the secret corners and exhibits in the museum through this Team Building Adventure. This activity will develop cooperation, planning and conceptualization, while emphasizing key elements about the company, museum, group and team spirit.
So put on your Safari Hat and join TeamBuilding Unlimited at the California Academy of Sciences as you are plunged into a fun competitive team adventure/teambonding experience.
Facilitators, debriefing, prizes and more.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Over 50 Genentech participants showed their unlimited creativity, enormous energy, sophisticated style and creative cooperation during a fast paced TeamBuilding Unlimited Chocolate Challenge Construction team building activity. When given the exciting task of designing, creating and building the ultimate Chocolate Chateau, the teams launched in ten separate directions. Each team had a vision, but would they realize their sweet goals? Would there be a moment when a structure fell in on itself and these non engineers would have to rethink the process?
During the course of the event, many other questions were raised? What are the mechanical physics of chocolate? What stresses and strains can chocolate products undergo before the breaking point is reached? How much of the chocolate would be consumed and diminish the supply of building materials? Would each team complete its goals before the facilitator yelled, “Stop your construction and move away from the table”? And which team garnered enough votes to earn top rewards for its efforts.
These questions were answered and the final resulting structures ranged from a typical English castle, turrets and all, to the sturdy, blocky fortress chateaux that were frequently under siege, to a British style of chateau and several in between. Several teams added moats, drawbridges and gardens were added.
The winners were selected by the contestants themselves, after much cheering and applauding. This was another great example of teams working together, appreciating individual skills and ideas, learning, bonding and showing how they can quickly change from one mode of sharing to another.
Another great event from TeamBuilding Unlimited/Murder on the Menu.
And the review from the Planner: "Thank you so much for putting the team builder together. Everyone had so much fun and really enjoyed themselves. Frank was WONDERFUL!
I am looking forward to working with the both of you again soon."
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Truth is Stranger than Fiction. I blogged about the murder of a meeting planner last week and how it mirrored the Murder on the Menu event that I had just written for a Friday night mystery event. It was positively eerie. The Murder on the Menu event was a FAM tour for Meeting Planners. The beautiful Portola Hotel & Spa in Monterey, CA was the setting, and one fictitious meeting planner "Oscar Otter" was bludgeoned and found on a service cart.
The real meeting planner who was killed last week was Ben Novack of Convention Concepts at an Amway Global International convention of 1200 Spanish speaking delegates. He was found in his hotel room, bludgeoned to death.
The FAM tour that Murder on the Menu did was light-hearted and showcased the hotel: its restaurants, its meeting space its hotel rooms, spa, pool and other outdoor areas. Teams of meeting planners were given lots of clues, reports and information while touring the Portola Hotel & Spa. The teams worked on solving the mystery, although it was no mystery that the Portola Hotel & Spa is the perfect place for a meeting, event, conference or convention. Unlike the real mystery of Ben Novack's death which is still unsolved, the teams of meeting planners after much deliberation, solved the mystery. It was Miss Scarlett with a bottle of wine from the private event dining space/wine storage room. To keep their sleuthing skills honed, everyone on the winning team was rewarded with a mystery novel.
But back to the 'real' case of the murdered meeting planner. It was not Miss Scarlet. No suspects have been named according to an article in today's Corporate Meetings & Incentives. Police have said that the attack on Novack was not a random event, no valuables were missing, and no witnesses reported any sounds coming from the room.
Chief of Police Gregory Austin also said Rye Brook police were in the process of “interviewing witnesses … people at the convention, people staying on the same floor of the hotel” but Novack but had yet to identify any suspects.
In a statement last Thursday, according to the Lower Hudson Journal News, Austin said that police had not ruled out anyone as a potential suspect, adding that anyone in the hotel around the time Novack was killed “is being considered a person of interest.” Cast your net wide!
Novack had a long history with the hospitality industry. His father, Ben Novack, Sr., operated the famous Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach from its opening in 1954 until he lost it to bankruptcy in 1977. Ben Novack, Jr., launched his company, Convention Concepts Unlimited, in 1978. According to its Web site, the company organizes 60 major conventions a year, worth approximately $50 million in revenue, with Amway Global one of its major clients.
According to Hilton Hotels spokesperson Mark Ricci, the Amway Global convention, which had over 1,000 attendees, was brought to completion, despite Novack’s death. Is this a case of the show must go on?
Not content to accept these statements and being a mystery person, I investigated further, especially into the background of Ben Novack, Jr. Let's start with the facts. Novak was found by his wife on her return from breakfast. In the mysteries I read and write, one always looks to the spouse, at least as the primary suspect. According to Miami News, Novak had a very odd marriage. Sex games, fake breasts and death threats were ingredients in his wild marriage.
In a 2002 Ft. Lauderdale police report details of the troubled union of Ben Novack, Jr and his wife Narcy after a bizarre home invasion apparently planned by Narcy over 7 years ago. Novack Jr. was found on June 10, 2002, gagged and tied to a leather chair, claiming a group of men robbed him of over $1 million worth of money and belongings. Read the whole story here in the Miami Herald. His wife confessed two days later to planning the robbery. Her excuse for tying him up? It was all part of a sex game, and Nancy decided to take advantage of the situation and rob him while he was incapacitated. You can read more of this yourself. It's pretty weird.
The Sun Sentinal reported that in a divorce petition filed 16 days after the incident, Novack said he feared for his life because his wife, Narcia "Narcy" Cira Veliz Pacheco, had 'falsely imprisoned' him. According to the petition she later threatened, "If I can't have you, no one will," and warned him: "The Men that helped me remove the property from the house will come back and finish the job." The divorce petition was later dropped!
Oddly, the Rye Brook police say that Narcy Novack is not a suspect in her husband's death. ''Just because of the home invasion doesn't mean she's a suspect,'' the Police Chief said. "The home invasion may open up something that will change that, and we agree it is an important part of the case.'' Duh!
O.k. the facts, ma'am just the facts. Sources say that Narcy Novack's hotel key card was the only one swiped to enter the couple's suite and that no one used a key card to access the room while she was at breakfast.
Rye Brook detectives arrived in South Florida to question family members, lawyers, business associates and friends of Novack's.
Lest you think Novack Jr. was an angel: O.K. you knew he wasn't
According to the NYT, April 7, 1985, a week before his father Ben Novack, Sr. (78), died of heart and lung failure at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, his son asked a Miami judge to find his father mentally incompetent to handle his finances and to appoint a legal guardian, but Juana M. Rodrigues who lived with Mr. Novack, Sr, for 5 years, objected to his son's move, saying he had improperly obtained a power of attorney from his father. Miss Rodrigues, a 30 year old former Miss Uruguay, said the younger Mr. Novack had kept his father oversedated and denied him access to his friends. He did inherit the bulk of his father's fortune.
In addition to his father's fortune, Novack was set to receive and inheritance from his mother Bernice who died in April leaving most of her estate to her only son. Bernice Novack's estate is still in probate. She left everything to her son, except for about $65000 to divide between her sister and two nieces.
The plot thickens: Maxine Fiel, Bernice Novack's sister, said her nephew was very conscientious about his business. ''His habit was to get up early. It makes no sense that he would still be in his room at that hour of the morning,'' she said. Because he grew up at the Fontainebleau resort, he would likely have ordered room service early and been out well before 7 a.m. to get to work with his clients, she said.
She recalled that during his younger years, he lived in the Fontainebleau's penthouse and was often called the ''Prince of the Fontainebleau.'' He got just about everything he ever wanted, she said. Fiel said she was still grieving the loss of her sister when she learned about her nephew's violent death.
She has questions about her sister's April death, which the Broward Medical Examiner ruled was caused by a fall. ''Bernice was not a person to fall, or a tripper. She was not overweight; she worked out and took vitamins,'' Fiel said. She was unable to attend her sister's memorial service, she said, because she was not told when and where it was happening.
She said Novack meant everything to her sister. ''It would have devastated her,'' Fiel said. "She didn't interfere with his marriage. She just didn't want to interfere even when they bickered.''
Ben Novack told police that a week prior to his mother's death, she had taken a bad spill on a concrete sidewalk. She was treated and released the same day, but had not felt well since. Her son found her on April 5, face down in a pool of blood in her utility room. She had suffered a fractured skull, a broken jaw and broken teeth. An autopsy showed she died from blunt trauma to the head. Blood was spattered throughout several rooms of the house and inside her car.
The autopsy report is not yet complete, according to the medical examiner's office. Hmmm.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Fort Lauderdale Planner Ben Novack Jr. Murdered During New York Amway Conference NEWS 07.14.09 11:27 AM
This is not a Murder on the Menu event. This is a true story, and it's very sad, indeed. Ironically, Murder on the Menu is planning a mystery event about the death of a meeting planner for a Monterey, CA, hotel for this Friday night. Meeting planners from all over the U.S. across industries will be hosted by a Monterey hotel (this is a surprise, and the hotel will be revealed after the weekend). This FAM (familiarization) tour will include a mystery event that showcases several different types of rooms (sleeping room, suite, ballroom, meeting room, board room) as well as two restaurants, spa, swimming pool and outdoor space. Oscar Otter, Murder on the Menu's victim, like Ben Novack, was bludgeoned to death. How eerie is this? I really want to find out more about the 'real' murder as the facts come out.
The true story in today's BizBash reports that Ben Novack Jr., president and C.E.O. of Fort Lauderdale-based Convention Concepts Unlimited, was found dead in his hotel room in Rye Brook, New York, on Sunday morning. The Sun-Sentinel reports that Novack had been attending the convention he planned for 1,200 Spanish-speaking people for Amway Global International. According to Rye Brook police chief Gregory Austin, Novack’s wife found him beaten to death on the side of the bed when she returned from breakfast in the hotel lobby yesterday morning.
Nikki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the Sentinel that Novack had been finalizing arrangements to bring a 5,000-person Amway-related conference to the Greater Fort Lauderdale and Broward County Convention Center in September. “This is shocking that someone’s life could end the way this has happened,” she said.
Novack grew up in Miami at the Fontainebleau Hotel—his parents founded the property in 1954 before selling it in 1977—in the company of celebrities such as Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.
Police believe the attack was deliberate, though they have yet to announce a motive or suspect. More details will be released after the autopsy report has been completed.
Novack's murder was real. Truth is stranger than fiction. Or is this real life mirroring a Murder on the Menu event?
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Want to do a 'cooking' teambuilding event, but don't have the budget or want to stay at the office or meeting/event venue? Have Your Cake and Eat it Too! meets your needs. TeamBuilding Unlimited's interactive cake building/decorating event will have your teams eating out of your hand.
Team Building Unlimited brings everything you'll need-- all the cakes, icing, utensils, decorations, gloves, facilitators and more that you'll need to design and decorate the ultimate Team Cake! Who knows--Your Team could be the next Cake Star!
This interactive and delicious activity really capitalizes on your team's creativity and sweet tooth. This is a great event to do before or after a meal and can be enjoyed in lieu of your dessert—or in addition to dessert. Have Your Cake is also a fun activity to do during a break in a meeting or at the end of a full team building day. There will be a lot of delicious cake, so your team might want to take their cake masterpieces back to the office.
Teams are challenged to design and decorate cakes to reflect their team, their company and more. Your team, goals, objectives, and theme of meeting/event needs to be included in your cake! You can have your cake and eat it, too!
As if cake isn't enough, TeamBuilding Unlimited awards prizes for creativity and design.
Have Your Cake and Eat it Too is also great for birthdays and anniversaries! Let them Eat Cake!!
Monday, July 6, 2009
Starting in the Lake Tahoe area and continuing through Yosemite and San Francisco, this is an adventure tour that includes shooting the rapids, rock climbing, biking the Golden Gate bridge and so much more.
Murder on the Menu/TeamBuilding Unlimited wanted to produce an event that would capture all these adventures and end in an upbeat and positive way! We did it! Our main contact who was on the first trip said, "this event exceeded my expectations." Can't get much better than that!
What we did was produce a very special version of Hollywood Casting Call. In this Hollywood themed Team Builder, the participants "auditioned" from customized scripts—-take-offs of famous films that included different experiences from their trip with lots of personalization based on information we received throughout the week from the tour guides. We had a Western-themed movie, of course, but we also had a Star Trek movie, Casablana ("We'll always have San Francisco"), and several other genre movie themes. Live music, costumes, special "acting lessons" and "Oscars" made this event interactive, entertaining, hilarious and rewarding. The evening ended with a 'musical,' as the entire group sang "Happy Trails".
Can't wait for the next group. Since the tour guides are on all the tours, we've mixed it up. Different scripts for different folks. One of the couples said they had been on several tours with this same company--to Europe and other parts of the U.S., but that "This was far and away the best final event we've ever experienced." What a great ending for a great trip.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
This mystery event was not purely entertainment. The goals of the meeting, agenda, and jargon and buzzwords were interwoven into the evening's performance. In addition, it was a team building event as each table became a team as they had to solve the 4 crimes that took place during their dinner. A little play, a little business makes for a fun evening!
Murder on the Menu's amazing actors kept the group guessing until the very end. Then it was all business as the teams figured out who did what and why.
The setting was the beautiful atrium of the Hotel Sainte Claire in downtown San Jose. The catering and service by Il Fornaio was terrific. After a day of meetings, this group was ready for a lighter approach to their HR issues as the Murder on the Menu production reinforced the themes of their meeting.
What a wonderful group. Everyone participated in the mystery. The interaction of the guests is what makes Murder on the Menu events so much fun.
So glad to see businesses meeting again!
Saturday, June 20, 2009
I've put together a few 'different' recipes for the ultimate S'mores--made with Chocolate Chip cookies. I welcome comments and more recipes.
At Affordable Meetings West this year, the Marriott Hotels put together a booklet called Recipes for a Successful Meeting. The San Diego Marriott Mission Valley submitted the following recipe for S'mores.
Start with your favorite chocolate chip dough (no not use refrigerated Nestle Toll House Cookie Dough).
Bake the cookies per instructions and remove half-way through the baking process. Note: the key to a great Toll House cookie is baking them at a low heat. 225?)
Remove the cookies from the oven and top with 3 mini-marshmallows (Depends on size of cookie, you can always add more)
Place back in the oven for the duration of the baking time (Note: do not over-bake cookie or caramelize marshmallows)
Remove from oven and sprinkle with crushed cinnamon graham crackers over the melted marshmallows.
Drizzle cookies with Hershey's Chocolate Syrup. Best served warm out of the oven.
Picky Palate has a really cool recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie S'mores.. She calls them Oozing Chocolate Chip Cookie S'mor Sandwiches. Everyone in the food community is so gracious, and Jenny gave me permission to reprint her recipe here--and use her fantastic photos!
Jenny found one of the most interesting additions to her recipe at Target -- Kraft makes chocolate covered mini marshmallows. She mixed them into the cookie dough. How cool is that? Of course, you can make the dough with or without them.
Oozing Chocolate Chip Cookie S'mor Sandwiches
2 sticks softened butter
3/4 Cups sugar
3/4 Cup brown sugar, packed
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 oz package Kraft Chocolate Covered Mini Marshmallows, if you can find them
1/2 Cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 Cups mini baking M&M's
Mini Marshmallows (less than 1 bag full)
Mini Hersey bars
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat butter and sugars in stand or electric mixer until well combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla until well combined as well. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, soda and salt. Add to wet ingredients as well as marshmallows, chips and M&M's until just combined. Spread onto a large rimmed baking sheet that's been lined with parchment paper and sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until edges are just turning golden brown. Remove and let cool completely.
2. Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Top bottom shapes with a layer of mini marshmallows and place under broiler until puffed. Top with Hershey bars to melt. Top with another cookie to close sandwich. Serve warm.
Enjoy! I can't wait to try Picky Palate's recipe. Will do this at our next Sandcastle Building event next week in Half Moon Bay.
Monday, June 15, 2009
The beautiful Beach House Hotel in Half Moon Bay was the setting for the morning meeting, followed by a great lunch, and on to the beach for some very creative 'castles.' After a brief instruction period, Frank Price challenged the teams to construct more than a sandcastle. He tied-in the groups goals and objectives, jargon and buzzwords and specific participants into the event. That's what makes our teambuilding activities so much fun! This group passed on a debriefing, but we always offer. How well did your group work together? What were the strengthens and weaknesses of your team? What did you learn from this activity? This group wanted to have fun, and fun they had! Can't wait to work with them again.
TeamBuilding Unlimited creates customized sandcastle building challenges in locations all over the U.S. Send us an email, so we can help with your next team building event.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
TeamBuilding-Unlimited was interviewed by Maria Lenhardt for MeetingsMedia (Meetings West, Meetings MidWest, Meetings South) Excerpt here:
What with rampant layoffs, corporate mergers and a dark cloud of gloom and doom hovering over many a workplace, it s little wonder if those left on the office team are in sore need of a morale boost. But while sometimes viewed as a frill, team building is taking on a new sense of urgency in these troubled times.
At the same time, budget-strapped companies need to ensure that every investment yields a full measure of return. Doing so means taking a hard look at what needs to be accomplished and working with the team-building facilitators to find the right solution.
Janet Rudolph, creative director of San Francisco-based TeamBuilding Unlimited, also notes that clients are asking for more direction.
People really want to justify the program more with tightening budgets, clients sometimes have trouble convincing the powers that be how important it is, she says. I'm seeing more demands with events with a strong team-building element, rather than just entertainment and fun. Of course, our goal is to have fun while doing team building.
She adds that the strongest request from corporate clients these days is to build morale among participants.
A lot of companies have merged or reorganized, she says. In these cases, there s a real need to bring people together and build morale and trust. You can do things that are competitive, but in a non-threatening way.
Along with building morale, facilitators also say team building serves an important purpose in getting people unplugged from an increasingly technological environment.
According to Rudolph, it s not only corporations who are turning to team building to cope with challenges.
We re now seeing a lot of nonprofits doing team building with their boards and with their staff, she says. People who are involved in fund-raising really need motivation these days. And the cost of team building is more affordable now for these groups because corporate business is down.
With the need to save on costs, Rudolph says many companies are choosing to hold meetings and team-building events closer to home. While some clients choose to do the activities at their workplace, she advises them to take the event to a unique venue outside the office.
It s also really good if they can do it during the actual work week, not after-hours, she says. It makes it more of a special event.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
We want to work with you to build your team. In order to do that, we ask you what's important to you. We can do a one-time event, or we can put in motion team camraderie which will continue in your workplace, and we can work with you on follow-up.
Before any event, we find out about your group. What you do? Why you do it? What's impacted you? If you're planning the team building during a meeting, what's the theme of the meeting? what are your goals and objectives? jargon and buzzwords? information on specific participants?
When we have the information we need, we can customize a Scavenger Quest, Wacky Games, some Green TeamBuilding or even a Chocolate Tasting or a Murder on the Menu event. The more we know about your team and its members, the more fun and successful the team building experience will be.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Two dynamite dancers, provided by Murder on the Menu, kicked up their heels to the Charleston and Black Bottomm, encouraging guest participation. Scoop, our 1920s reporter, was there to get the story, and there were a lot of stories. Always good to add characters to spice up an event!
The whole evening was the Bee's Knees as Hospice by the Bay raised funds for their worthy cause.
Monday, May 18, 2009
On a warm breezy day last week, 25 members of a Biotech Leadership Team gathered together to build their dream facilities--out of sand. These facilities included research labs, offices, lodging, recreation centers and more. The group was divided into teams that quickly began the task of designating designers, construction workers, scientists, artists and other 'job titles' as each team set about on their Sensational Sandcastle Construction.
TeamBuilding-Unlimited facilitator, Frank Price, led this event. The task, daunting to some at first, quickly became a fun teambuilding/teambonding activity, especially coming after a long morning of meetings. The goal and objective of this event was not only to learn more about each other but to also reinforce the theme of the morning meeting-- dealing with negotiations, new teams, and new way of doing business. Build a Better Sandcastle.
Each team met the challenge and surpassed their goals. What a great way to end the day!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The final cakes were absolutely beautiful, and they tasted great, too! You can Have Your Cake and Eat it, Too!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Face to face meetings, incentives and special events are critical to good business.
I sent out a Chocolate Stimulus email yesterday to my clients about TeamBuilding Unlimited's Chocolate TeamBuilding programs. In addition to all our other creative interactive team building and entertainment, we also do so many types of chocolate events: Chocolate Scavenger Quests, Chocolate Challenge, Have Your Cake and Eat it, Too! and chocolate tastings! I also have a chocolate Blog, DyingforChocolate.
Now's the time to reward your team with TeamBuilding Unlimited's chocolate teambuilding programs. Great for Admin Week, Morale Building, Icebreakers and ReOrgs. Our teambuilding events motivate active participation, generate enthusiasm, improve communication ... and are fun. Great ROI!
"When the going gets tough, the tough eat chocolate!"