Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Site Inspection

Couldn't help but repost this joke on Greg Ruby's Gems. If you've ever been on a FAM TOUR or any other Site Inspection, you'll appreciate this!  Like Greg, I've been on both sides of the FAM tour, both as facilitator/entertainer and as a meeting planner!
*** 
One day, a meeting planner dies. She goes to Heaven and is greeted by St. Peter. St. Peter says, “Things are a bit overcrowded here, so God is letting everyone make up there mind to either stay here or to stay in Hell. Tomorrow you get to visit Hell, and the next day you will visit Heaven. After your visits, you can have a day to make up your mind as to where you wish to spend eternity.”

The meeting planner agreed.

The next day, she was off to visit Hell. She was picked up in Purgatory by a Hummer stretch limo, greeted by a hunk of a man wearing nothing but a tight pair of jeans and whisked away. In the limo, there was every type of alcohol available, chocolates, the finest food, and a place to get a pedicure. She was impressed! Upon arriving in Hell, she had the red carpet rolled out for her, carried into her hotel as if she was Cleopatra, and the room was covered in roses. She thought to herself, this is AMAZING!! That night, she was treated to the finest food, wine and music, and danced with all the hot men in Hell. She was draped in furs, Vera Wang clothing and Ferragamo shoes. She never wanted to leave.

She awoke the next morning in Purgatory, and there was a black Lincoln town car there to pick her up to take her to Heaven. Once there, the door was opened, and an angel showed her around. She thought to herself, “This place is BORING! Who would want to stay here? It’s clean and quiet, but forever being this quiet?” After her tour, St. Peter walked up to her and asked, “We’ll be having dinner at 5PM over at the Angel cafeteria. What do you think of Heaven so far?” The meeting planner said, “Can I go ahead and make up my mind now?” St. Peter replied, “Why, yes. But I really think you need a night to sleep on it; this is a very big decision.” The meeting planner replied, “Yes, and Heaven is very…heavenly. But I have decided I would like to go back to Hell.” St. Peter let out a grunt in disgust and said, “So it shall be.” And with a blink of his eyes, she was back in Hell.

This time, it was filthy, hot, smelly, and she was in rags. Everyone was crying or screaming. She was frightened and scared. She walked up to one of the head Spawns there, and said, “What happened? When I was here, it was beautiful, paradise! Now, it stinks, and it’s hot, and I’m wearing rags! What happened?” The Spawn replied, “Yesterday was the site inspection, and today you signed the contract!”

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gingerbread Cookie Decorating: Perfect Corporate Holiday Party

The Holidays are almost upon us, and that means Corporate Holiday Parties!

TeamBuilding Unlimited/Murder on the Menu offers lots of different types of holiday party entertainment and team building -- from Mysteries to Charity Challenges to Culinary Team Events! Gingerbread Cookie Decorating is an all-time favorite. Many of our clients decorate and donate to the VA, to Hospitals, to Food Banks. Some clients just decorate and eat their creations!

TeamBuilding Unlimited provides the specially baked Gingerbread Cookies, Icing and Frosting, Tools, Decorations, and Technique instructions. You supply the Creativity! Your Gingerbread Men and Women can be whimsical, holiday oriented-- the sky's the limit! Last year one of our clients had a Gingerbread Decorating Throw-down!

Gingerbread Cookie Decorating is a fabulous way to 'spice' up your Holiday Party.

During the Holidays, we confine ourselves to the San Francisco Bay Area--Monterey to Healdsburg to Sacramento. O.K. that's more than the Bay, but you get the picture!  

This year we're also offering Instructions and Directions on How to Host a Gingerbread Cookie Decorating Party to our clients outside the Bay Area. We have all the information you will need to have the very best party!

Contact us for more information on a Gingerbread Cookie Decorating Party.

Remember, you'll only limited by your Imagination!

And here's a very apt cartoon strip from my favorite cartoonist: Hilary Price of Rhymes with Orange

 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vampire Halloween Party? Penny Warner Guest Blogs

Want to organize your own Halloween Party? Penny Warner, party planner extraordinaire, guest blogs today with a few tips.

Penny Warner has more than 25 years of experience as an author and party planner and writes for party websites, such as BalloonTime.com. She has published more than 50 books, including 16 specific to parties. Her latest books include LADIES’ NIGHT,  HOW TO HOST A KILLER PARTY, and HOW TO CRASH A KILLER BASH. HOW TO SURVIVE A KILLER SÉANCE will be out March 2011.

I VANT TO SUCK YOUR BLOOD HALLOWEEN PARTY 
by Penny Warner

Vampire Parties are all the rage, thanks to books, TV shows, and movies like “Twilight,” “True Blood,” and “Vampire Diaries.” If you’re a fan of vampire Team Edward or werewolf Team Jacob, barmaid Sookie Stackhouse and vampire Bill Compton, or good/evil vampire brothers Stefan Salvatore and Damon Salvatore, host a blood-sucking party to celebrate Halloween

Eerie Invitations

Put some bite into your party invitations. Make a Coffin Invitation by folding a sheet of black construction paper in half. Draw the shape of a coffin on the paper, making sure one side of the coffin is on the fold. Cut out the coffin and write “Do not open until midnight” or “Open at your own risk” on the front using a blood-red sparkly pen. Or you can type it up on the computer using a vampire font, print it, cut it out, and glue it to the front. Find a picture of your favorite vampire on the Internet or in a fan magazine and copy it for each invitation. Open the coffin and glue the picture on the right-hand side. On the opposite side, write the party details. For added fun, add a set of vampire teeth, a glove of garlic, or a small cross inside the envelope, and seal with red sealing wax.
Creepy Costumes

Ask your guests to come as their favorite vampire—or werewolf—past or present. When they arrive, offer them face paints, vampire teeth, and vials of fake blood to add to their costumes. Make simple capes out of black fabric and hand them out to guests.

Dreadful Decorations

Create a gothic atmosphere with black and red balloons. Turn the lights down and light candles, or use a string of red lights around the room. Replace regular light bulbs with black lights and red bulbs. Make a giant coffin using a large appliance box. Paint it black, add a string of garlic or a wooden cross to the top, and place it in the center of the room to use for setting out snacks. Place vampire fangs, garlic, and plastic bats around the room or hang them from the ceiling. Cover your mirrors and black out your windows. Set the table with a black cloth and bright red paper products. Use vampire teeth as napkin rings. Make a centerpiece using a glass bowl, fill it with red tinted water, and float black candles. Make some personalized tombstones from cardboard or foam, and write epitaphs on them for each guest. Set them around the room. Play Clair de Lune, Muse, and Coldplay music in the background.

Ghoulish Games and Activities

Team Trivia. Divide guests into two teams and have them answer trivia questions about vampires and such from “Twilight,” “True Blood,” or “Vampire Diaries.”

Quoth the Vampire. Write down quotes from the vampire books or shows and have guests try to identify the speaker.

Vamping Vampires. Write down scenes from your favorite vampire film, book, or show, and have guests act them out for one another to guess.

Fortune Teller. Have a fortune teller stop by and tell the guests their futures. Or write fortunes on small pieces of paper, roll them up and insert them into balloons, then inflate the balloons with helium. Have the guests pull down a floating balloon and pop it to read the fortune.

Vampire Shirt. Let guests make their own t-shirts with their favorite vampires or sayings on them. Print pictures of vampires and sayings on iron-on paper using the computer, then let guests iron them on and decorate them with glitter glue, sequins, and other embellishments.

Vampire Videos. Watch videos of your favorite vampire films or TV shows. Don’t forget the originals, such as “Dracula,” or the popular “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

Bloody Good Refreshments

Serve lots of red-colored food to satisfy that thirst for blood—red licorice, sliced red peppers, strawberries, red apples, red salsa with red tortilla chips, French fries with ketchup dip. Ask the bakery to tint a loaf of bread red, then make sandwiches with red jam. Cut out bat-shaped cookies, bake them, and spread with chocolate icing.

Offer a variety of red-colored drinks for the vampire guests, such as tomato juice, cranberry juice cocktail, red punch, red sports drink, etc. Freeze gummy worms in red water to make ice cubes for the drinks.

Make a coffin-shaped or tombstone-shaped red velvet cake, covered with chocolate icing.

Frightening Favors

Give the vampires plastic teeth, black capes, fake blood, posters of hot vampires, face painting makeup, videos of the shows, or other vampire related gifts—there are lots available!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Holiday Party: Bears that Care Charitable Team Building

TeamBuilding Unlimited has lots of philanthropic Charity Challenges that are perfect for your Holiday Party. This short film is from a Genentech holiday party 2009! Contact us for more information. Build cameraderie and give back to the community!

video

Monday, October 4, 2010

It's All Happening at the Zoo: ZooQuest

Someone told me
It's all happening at the zoo.


I do believe it,
I do believe it's true.


The monkeys stand for honesty,
Giraffes are insincere,
And the elephants are kindly but
They're dumb.
Orangutans are skeptical


Is your workplace a zoo?

TeamBuilding Unlimited will custom design a ZooQuest to navigate your team through the animal kingdom at your local Zoo.  TeamBuilding Unlimited will use creative anthropomorphism in our  ZooQuest to allow your people to see each other through animal eyes. Creativity, efficient resource allocation, intensive problem-solving and effective time management will propel teams into the wild as they learn the secrets of the Animal Kingdom and their peers.

Any Legal Eagles out there? Perfect for your team. Contact us for more information. Groups of 5 to 300. Any Zoo in the U.S.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So You Think You Can Dance? Team Dance Competition

Being able to dance has become more and more popular, just turn on your TV to the multiple reality dance shows. We've come a long way from Dick Clark's American Bandstand. So taking Dance Fever a step forward, TeamBuilding Unlimited has added a Team Dance Competition to our Menu of Interactive customized events.  Dancing is so much fun, especially when done with your own colleagues.

So You Think You Can Dance: Team Dance Competition can take place in an office, at a conference center, in a ballroom, at your hotel, or even outdoors. Our professional choreographers will help your group explore their creative side!

In this amazing team building activity, teams are taught different dances by Professional Choreographers. Later in the evening each team will perform their dances in front of the rest of the group. Prizes are awarded for the ‘Best’ Dancers.

Each team works with a Professional Dance Choreographer to come up with a 60-90 second dance routine. Different dance styles will be incorporated into the instruction and performance.

Teams will perform their 60-90 second routine later in the evening in front of their colleagues. Judges will critique each team on originality of the routine and group unity.

TeamBuilding Unlimited’s corporate team dance program will reinforce work teams by enhancing communication, relationships, self-esteem and social awareness. Corporate participants will strengthen key skills as they listen, learn, persevere, and perform in a relaxed fun-filled environment.

So put your Dancing Shoes on and Build Your Team!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cemeteries Hold Parties to Die For

Couldn't help but mention this article from the Wall Street Journal. "To Attract Future Customers, Cemeteries Hold Parties to Die For." I always thought cemeteries would be fabulous venues for Murder Mystery events and Scavenger Hunts. But this article puts a broader spin on the Cemetery Venue. 

In a marketing move that has drawn some criticism, graveyards across the nation are opening their grounds to concerts and clowns, barbecues and dance performances. The goal: to nurture warm feelings about the cemetery, in hopes that folks who come to cheer sky-divers today will return in more somber tomorrows.

A few cemeteries have been doing such outreach for years. Hollywood Forever in Los Angeles draws thousands to summertime films projected on mausoleum walls. Michigan Memorial Park in Flat Rock, Mich., has long invited disabled children to fishing derbies held at a serene pond amid the headstones. Davis Cemetery in Davis, CA,  plans poetry workshops, bird walks and art shows. Wyuka Cemetery in Lincoln, NE, hosts a Shakespeare festival and rents its quaint chapel for weddings. In Wheat Ridge, CO, Olinger Crown Hill Cemetery staged a Memorial Day party with fireworks and sky divers.

Still, "there's always a tension between mourners…and picnickers," says Jeff Richman, a historian at the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, N.Y. In the 1850s, the cemetery had its own police force to keep the two groups apart.  One must be respectful.

One of my favorite cemeteries is Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, CA. So many famous San Francisco Bay Area folks buried there. Besides walking tours, this cemetery holds a flower show every year, as well as having one of the best outdoor tulip displays. The Julia Morgan Chapel (Morgan is buried at Mountain View) is a breath-taking example of her architecture. Halloween eve brings neighbor children and families together for a spooky evening of readings and fun in this fabulous venue! And, the Fourth Annual Pumpkin Festival will be held this year on October 30 with a fun-filled pumpkin patch meadow, games and treats.

Love to hear if you've ever used a cemetery for a teambuilding  or special event.


Read the  WSJ Article HERE.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Corporate Art in the Park: TeamBuilding event

Last week a small team from Genentech participated in an Art in the Park teambuilding event. They were in Golden Gate Park for the Impressionist exhibit at the DeYoung Museum.

After viewing the exhibit, this group put on their smocks and berets and began to work on a Quilt/Mural that represented their workgroup. The theme of their artwork was decided as a team, and each person was responsible for a specific team function or acronym. The creative energy was everywhere as the group jumped into the project. When each individual masterpiece was finished, the entire worked together to arrange their work on the big canvas.

TeamBuilding Unlimited's Marvelous Mural/Quilt Art Project is a variation on our Flags Flying team Event. Although we did this particular event in the Park, it can be done at the office, meeting or special venue. Participants work in teams to "design" a piece of a Mural or Quilt that when assembled represents their group, products, company or another theme.

Deciding on the theme of the quilt or mural is part of the challenge. TeamBuilding Unlimited works with the teams on color palette and technique --but the best part is the creativity of your participants.

TeamBuilding Unlimited guides the team's creativity, provides the materials, and facilitates the event. The "quilt or mural" is then assembled by your teams and can be displayed back at the workplace or donated to shelters, hospitals or other sites.

This team building event involves creativity, leadership, strategic thinking, sequenced planning and communication. Quilt/Mural Making is about Process, as much as art. Facilitators work with the teams to encourage them to think BIG.

The final product is a visual documentation of your team's understanding and awareness of the theme they have selected and the process through which they went.

Variations: Can be done with mixed media including found objects (recycle, reuse).

Goal: Separate parts that add up to one vision! The Big Picture!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bears that Care: Charitable Team Building for Your Holiday Party

Now's the time to plan your Holiday Charity Challenge Party. I can't imagine a better type of event than something that gives you pleasure while you work together and pleasure when you donate your work.

Bears that Care is one of those events. Teams work together to put together bears and other animals, design and execute t-shirts for the animals, make cards for the recipients and package each in a beautiful red gift box. Lots of children with lots of smiles.

Plan your Company Holiday Party now to include Bears that Care or Trikes for Tots or another fun Charity Challenge!

TeamBuilding Unlimited brings everything you'll need. We can even provide charity contacts in your area. Philanthropic TeamBuilding for your Holiday Party--or any other time of the year!

Other Holiday Party ideas.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Taste for Chocolate: Chocolate TeamBuilding

Team BuildingUnlimited offers Chocolate Teambuilding, but we also offer Chocolate Appreciation events such as our Ultimate Chocolate Tasting. Participants have an opportunity to truly understand the word "Chocolate!"

Chocolate brings to mind a flavor sensation that the entire world savors and craves. Food and nutrition, romance and love, health, history, power and culture are found in the cacao pod.

TeamBuilding Unlimited's Chocolate Facilitator guides your group through a tasty sensation tour of the world of cacao from the bean to the bar. History, geography, culture and myths are explored.

Use all of your senses as you discover and discuss this magical botanical wonderland of flavors, tastes, smells, touch and sights. "Chocolate!" is a fun and entertaining experience.

Participants will taste a variety of high-quality chocolate products to reach all of your senses and make this interactive event entertaining and memorable. If you're a confirmed chocoholic or a serious bystander, learning about chocolate can best be done by tasting.

Participants rate and discuss the chocolates based on appearance, aroma, texture--and of course taste. The group may also sample chocolate lotions, and other chocolate related products.

The Chocolate Tasting is awesome--and delicious. It's like a wine seminar only better--but all about chocolate. Frank Price is the chocolate facilitator,  and he expounds on  the culture, history and lore of chocolate. Usually he starts with a tasting of 45% cacao  and goes through 6-8 other %s ending up with 85% cacao. That's a lot of chocolate.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Green TeamBuilding

Team Building Unlimited's Green Team Building was featured in an article in eHow.com.

If you're trying to raise morale while emphasizing your organization's commitment to staying green, boost team spirit with some environmentally-friendly team-building activities. Whether the activities you choose directly help the environment or just use green materials, you can work a bit of your environmentalist corporate culture into future team-building exercises.

Create Trophies or Centerpieces
TeamBuilding Unlimited suggests using recycled materials to build trophies or centerpieces for your next corporate dinner or awards meeting. Don't throw out old boxes, dying pens and paper towel tubes. Use them to have teams build creative, green testaments to peoples' achievements. Give the "trophies" out to award winners at the company luncheon or dinner later. They'll mean more than conventional awards, because recipients will remember the teamwork that led to their construction.

Get Workers to Invent
# Have employees split into groups with recyclable materials, including old boxes, cans and anything else you can find lying around the office. Challenge groups to make a prototype of a green invention. Although the model doesn't need to function, groups need to explain their invention's purpose to the rest of team. As per TeamBuilding Unlimited suggestions, assign extra points to inventions that relate to the company and its products.
Read the rest of the article HERE.

Go to TeamBuilding Unlimited Green TeamBuilding for more GREEN team ideas.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chili Cookoff Challenge!

TeamBuilding Unlimited offers several different Culinary Challenges. One of the tastiest is our Chili Cookoff!  in which teams compete to create the Best Chili Ever!

After a brief history of Chili, groups are divided into teams. Each team is given rules, ingredients, hotplate, pot, knives and other materials that they will use in order to develop a great recipe and final product.

Not all team members are “cooks.” Team members select from a variety of different roles and responsibilities, but each team has the same amount of time.

The “Chefs” are given the basic ingredients needed to make a great tasting pot of chili. Chefs experiment on flavor and ingredients, recording their mistakes and successes.

While the Chili is cooking, other team members create either a visual presentation (depends on size of group) and/or marketing campaign to promote their gastronomic creations, chef’s hats with logos (or aprons), sales pitch and Chili Chant.

Teams have 2-4 hours to complete the challenges.

Large Groups: Each team will be given paper and markers and begin the event by creating Chefs' Hats. After preparing the Chili and letting it ‘steep’, teams prepare a visual presentation and Chant for their Chili that includes information on their team, their company, the meeting and their Chili recipe and taste. Depending on the size of the group, there may be a module in which each team prepares an oral ad and marketing plan/supported by visual materials and the Chant.

Judging. Depending on the size of the group, judges chosen from 'within the ranks' choose the best among 5-10 teams with a final “Chili-off”. Judges  make the final determination as to whose “Bowl of Red” is BEST. This is always a blind tasting. There are several different criteria for best Chili that will be introduced at the beginning of the event. Flavor is just one component. Prizes will be awarded for Chili Chant, oral or visual presentation and more.

Debriefing on goals and objectives, communication and more. At the end of the Debriefing, teams taste as much chili as they’d like. Small bowls provided for overall tasting!

The TBU Chili Cookoff goes great with the Sangria Challenge: Pop the Cork!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sensational Sandcastle Building

TeamBuilding Unlimited has a fun and interactive teambuilding event for groups meeting at or near the Beach:

Sensational Sandcastle Building

Teams are challenged to construct a "creative" themed Sand Castle. The process is grounded in both the reality and uncertainty of the task. This is not your usual trip to the Beach!

Goals: To Design a Sand Castle (an architectural "masterpiece") using the sand and tools and other materials and information provided.

Company/Group/Goals and Objectives must be included in the final structure in some way. Groups will be judged on creativity, ingenuity, resourcefulness and other criteria involved in creative team-building.

What a great way to do some teambuilding/teambonding! Contact us for more information. Groups of 5 to 500.

Our events usually take about 2 hours to 1/2 day, and they are very creative. But if you want to see some incredible sandcastle building, take a look at this article on the World's Most Incredible Sand Festivals. These festivals take place in Australia, British Columbia, Germany and other countries. Locally in the San Francisco Bay Area, Santa Cruz has an awesome sand castle building festival.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

GSA Green Art Project

Over 75 Northern California Government Property Managers gathered together last week for a day of teambuilding with TeamBuilding Unlimited.

Warming up with an ice-breaker and a series of competitive TeamBuilding Unlimited Wacky Games, the final event was a Green Art Challenge which was a combination of our Green Art and new Green Product events. Using recycled materials, each team had to design and construct a building that could be 'LEED certified'. Not only did teams have to build it, but they had to explain their 'masterpieces' to the other teams.

Since these GSA people deal with government buildings in their 'real lives', this gave them the opportunity to translate what's important on a smaller, and certainly more manageable scale. It was really interesting to see what they would include in their Green buildings. Child-care, yes, but one team included Elder Care. Now there's a step forward. It was all about being green and reusing and recycling.

Our motto: Reduce, Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose, Recharge.

TeamBuilding Unlimited met the goals and objectives of this group!

video

Check out some of our other Green TeamBuilding Activities.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Green Art Project

TeamBuilding Unlimited does a lot of Green Team Building. Some of our events include Recycled materials like our Green Art Project.  I must admit that our participants don't always create masterpieces, but their goals are different.

I came across this PC Art and thought I'd share. This is truly the ultimate Green Art Project.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Go Fly a Kite! The Ultimate high flying team activity.

It's time to get out of the office and into the Great Outdoors! TeamBuilding Unlimited is here to make your experience fun and interactive and teambonding! What could be better than Kite Flying?

By nature, event and meeting planners want to control all of the factors and forces that go into making an event a success.

Go Fly A Kite “flies in the face” of our natural instincts. Go Fly a Kite is the perfect activity for an offsite, meeting or retreat! You’ll definitely want a place with wind, but this can be done on the Beach, at a picnic or in the park.

TeamBuilding Unlimited supplies each team with a variety of kite designs and plans on kitemaking. Each team is also given colorful pieces of rip stop nylon, wood for framing and all of the necessities and information to design, cut and assemble a team kite.

Then the fun begins. Each team selects the best person to launch the kite and keep it in flight. A touch of knowledge of physics is included in the TeamBuilding Unlimited packet, but teams sometimes struggle with the elements. How much wind is enough? How long should the kite’s tail be? In what direction and what method does the team use to launch the kite.

There are many forces and factors that each team must deal with that are beyond their “control”. As in business, teams must learn to adjust and coexist with these forces. Disaster may be just a moment away.If the kite flutters to the earth rather than going into a steep kite breaking nose-dive it can be, most likely re-launched. But can the team make the repairs to send up its kite again after the crash. Will it be on the sidelines of the challenge?

The range of possibilities can change in a moment. Teams learn that success can be on the edge of disaster. Pushing the kite, pushing the envelope, are metaphors for how to deal with the unknown forces that are not within our normal everyday environment. Quick reactions are required to deal with the ever changing environment.

TeamBuilding Unlimited's debriefing does not take the wind out of any team’s sails. Go Fly a Kite is a perfect team building activity for a day or afternoon outdoors! It's a Breath of Fresh Air!


Where to see and participate in Kite Flying on your own in the San Francisco Bay Area: 

World Kite Museum, Long Beach, WA
Kite League, Berkeley. Different times of year around Berkeley, CA. Demonstrations& Kite flying.
Old City Kites, Sacramento
Baylands Park, Sunnyvale. Wind and room to run and fly!

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Marshmallow Challenge: Great TeamWork

This is a great video that really exemplifies the essence of Teambuilding exercises --what they're about and how they reflect the workplace and your own teams.

Tom Wujec presents some surprisingly deep research into the "marshmallow problem" -- a simple team-building exercise that involves dry spaghetti, one yard of tape and a marshmallow. Who can build the tallest tower with these ingredients? And why does a surprising group always beat the average?

Tom Wujec is a Fellow at Autodesk. He's the author of several books, including Five-Star Mind: Games and Puzzles to Stimulate Your Creativity and Imagination.

Build a Tower, Build a Team!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Vendor/Client Relationship Video

Recently on LinkedIn in my Event Planning & Management group, we've had a discussion about the new economy and budgets for special events and meetings. This video may be tongue in cheek but it surely reflects what we often see. :-)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tri-Valley CVB "Road Show" April 15, 2010

The Tri-Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau will be bringing it's Show on the Road to Silicon Valley, Thursday, April 15 .  This will be the first ever Tri-Valley Road Show-- a mobile mini-destination showcase of Tri-Valley meeting and event venues.

This FREE lunchtime event will be held at the NETWORK MEETING CENTER at TECHMART in Santa Clara, CA.  Learn more about the Tri-Valley venues and events at a lively and engaging lunchtime event showcasing fresh and unique venues. Enjoy great food, some fun team-building, and terrific company.

TeamBuilding Unlimited/Murder on the Menu will be there with some special fun and prizes!

Thursday, April 15, 2010
11:30-1:30 p.m.
Network Meeting Center at Techmart
5201 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara

If you're a Meeting Planner in Silicon Valley, Register today. It's FREE.. and fun!
See you there!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

TeamBuilding Unlimited in BizBash Los Angeles

Recently TeamBuilding Unlimited was featured in BizBash Los Angeles. The article focused on  Vendors with Charitable Tie-Ins. We're actually based in San Francisco, but we work everywhere in the U.S.

Our Bears that Care Activity was the focus of one part of the article. This was a Quality event for Genentech Vacaville, and they made some Quality Bears and Animals at their Holiday party. These Stuffed Bears that Care were later donated to several different organizations. Over 200 Bears and Animals were stuffed, decorated and boxed.

Read the entire article HERE.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Angel Island DiscoveryQuest

TeamBuilding Unlimited creates many customized DiscoveryQuests (Scavenger Hunts) on Angel Island, one of the San Francisco Bay Area's most historical sites. Angel Island is a California State Park located right in the middle of San Francisco Bay.

1. Angel Island Discovery Quest

To make the most of all the spectacular aspects of Angel Island-- the historical setting, the natural flora and fauna and the distant cities, waterways and more--TeamBuilding Unlimited's facilitators, will divide your groups into teams. Each team will be given specific instructions that direct them to numerous locations on the Island.

Throughout the Quest, teams will answer questions, take guesses, make observations and record the results. An incredible variety of clues-- all different and challenging--from road rallye to word puzzles-- will bring out the best of Angel Island as well as each team's creativity and perspicacity. Because the island includes so many possible locations, this DiscoveryQuest "walking tour" has some twists and turns that will allow the teams to make many fun decisions.

You'll also "Discover" a lot about your co-workers! What a fabulous setting and event to accomplish this!

2. Angel Island  Discovery Challenge Quest

A variation of our Angel Island DiscoveryQuest includes Challenge Facilitators at different locations along Team Routes. While the routes of the Discovery Quest and the DiscoveryChallenge Quest may be similar, the difference is that in the Challenge Quest, our facilitators have different special, surprise challenges at various semi-hidden locations along the Quest. Teams must compete at each activity and scores are recorded. Teams must make a whole new set of choices.

Both of these Scavenger Hunts are great for a Day on the Bay of Team Building/Team Bonding. Ferries leave San Francisco and Tiburon throughout the day. Angel Island has picnic grounds and other recreational facilities. There are rocky coves and sandy beaches, grassy slopes and forested ridges. Let TeamBuilding Unlimited lead your group in an amazing DiscoveryQuest you'll never forget!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Virtual Attendees Are Real People: Mistakes with Hybrid Events

Michael McCurrey had a great post at McCurry's Corner on Virtual Attendees and 5 mistakes with Hybrid Events. He makes several very good points, and the comments to his post are good too.

He begins:
Both events had their highlights, including some great program content, but my “Ah Hah moment” this week was the realization, that event professionals have much to learn about perfecting the virtual attendee experience.   To be fair about it,  most organizations have not been playing in the Hybrid or Virtual event arena for very long, so it is reasonable to expect there is still much to learn about them.

McCurry lists 5 Mistakes and gives excellent solutions. Read the entire post HERE.

FIVE MISTAKES
#1 Poor Customer Service
#2 Inadequate Internet Bandwidth to Support Event
#3 Poor Attendee Engagement Strategy
#4 Dysfunctional A/V Integration
#5 Education Misaligned with Event

What do you think? Were you a virtual attendee at MPI Meet Different or the Virtual Edge Summit?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Community Service Garden Project: Project Green Thumb

New Green Program offering at TeamBuilding Unlimited:
Project Green Thumb: The Community Service Garden Project

TeamBuilding Unlimited will lead participants through a hands-on Green Gardening TeamBuilding event in which they work together to add trees, shrubs and flowers to public spaces, school, parks and/or median strips. Project Green Thumb will match up your participants with organizations that are in charge of these locations, and TBU will provide participants with all the tools, plants, and soil they will need to “Green the Community.”

The addition of new plants will add aesthetic as well as environmental value to the area selected. The selection of the appropriate plants will be done to insure sustainability and durability. Participants will receive basic training in planting skills, information on urban gardening and become familiar with different urban gardening and decorative projects.

A strong garden project needs strong teams. Teambuilding Unlimited will divide participants into teams to establish clear lines of communication and clear roles and responsibilities. There are many types of jobs and responsibilities in this green community service garden project, and not everyone will be suited for every type of role. People will be matched to roles according to their interests, experience, and skills.

The Goal of Project Green Thumb is to establish a community service project that builds relationships through hands-on activities to establish community gardens, provide technical assistance, and provide a valuable service to the community.

Often this is a start of community programs by laying the foundation for a more comprehensive and effective community-building project for the specific organization that benefits by the new plantings.

Through working together to accomplish tasks in the garden, teams practice and apply life skills including teamwork, communication, self-motivation, and problem solving. They will be inspired by the sense of community they gain from working with others and feeling the significance of contributing to the greening of the area. 

Consider this for your Earthday Celebration... or Any Time for your community service. Give Back. Go Green!


Variation: Teams can 'landscape' their office. Roof gardens, potted gardens and more!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Video: Professional or Not?

Everyone and anyone in social media today says that every business should have a video or YouTube on your website, blog, Facebook and other social media places. I don't have a video on TeamBuilding Unlimited yet, but I have had short videos from events here on TeamBuilding Talk. They're not the best, but then I'm not a professional. I put those up because at one of the last workshops I attended, the facilitator said it didn't matter how good they were. Just get it up there. I agree with him. I know I'm a perfectionist, and maybe that's why I was waiting.

However, I came across this video from 'professionals' who are looking to help businesses add video to their websites and blogs. This was on a discussion for Event Peeps: For Live Event Industry Professionals on LinkedIn. Thought you'd enjoy this as much as I did. My videos don't look all that bad compared to these folks!

Love to hear your comments!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AC0sR5_NTFo

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

San Francisco Scavenger Hunt

30 participants weathered the storm Friday to scour the Waterfront in San Francisco in search of 'treasure' that they could possibly.. but not probably... use in a marketing campaign for their SF based company. What a Great Scavenger Hunt.

Since TeamBuilding Unlimited does a lot of Chocolate Team Building, San Francisco chocolatiers and specialty shops such as Tcho and Recchiuti found their way into the hunt. From Ghirardelli to the Ferry Building to the Metreon, the brave teams found historical markers, SF icons and so much more.

Frank Price set up the ScavengerQuest for Calypso, and even did some debriefing at the end. Each team had to make a presentation based on what they found, their own creativity and the values and mission of their company--oh yes, and San Francisco. Very animated presentations.

Bottom line: This San Francisco Scavenger Hunt was a fun way to discover and rediscover things about San Francisco, Everybody's Favorite City, and each other. Great TeamBuilding/TeamBonding event!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Meeting Must Have Apps


Sue Hatch at MeetingsNet did a great round-up of 9 Must-Have Apps for Meeting Professionals. All nine of the 'must-have' apps are built for the iPhone, but there are similar apps for the BlackBerry coming soon. These apps are very inexpensive, too which is always a good thing, especially since it's an investment in your meeting productivity.

For the full story and details on these apps, go HERE.

1. Track your boxes: Package Tracker and Delivery Status for UPS, FedEx DHL and UPS.

2. Track Your Flight: Flight Track

3. Better Photos of Big Spaces: Auto Stitch (can merge up to 20 overlapping pictures to create wide-angle camera effect)

4. Dictate, Don't Type: (I love this one!) Dragon Dictation (Free) voice-recognition app that crates voice-to-text transcriptions that can be sent email or text, or pasted into any iPhone app.

5. Web Conferencing: Cisco WebEx Meeting Center app (free) or Fuze Meeting.

6. Track Your Expenses: Xpense Tracker

7. Fina a Business: AroundMe identifies your positiionon a map, shows nearby businesses in several categories.

8. Get Some Work Done. Quickoffice Mobile Office Suite & Documents to Go

9. Get Organized. My Lists, Todo

Related Articles:
Be in Your Attendee's Pocket: Smart-Phone Apps for Meetings
Mobile Tech Tools for Meetings & Trade Shows
Apple Meeting App

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bridging the Resources: HR Team Builds Bridges


The HR department of a Silicon Valley company approached TeamBuilding Unlimited to create a team building event that would reinforce their values and mission while having fun. Previously this department had worked with Murder on the Menu, the entertainment department of our company, on an interactive customized mystery event. Rovi Corp wanted to engage their HR team through some real teambuilding/teambonding. Bridging the Resources, a customized interactive event that relied on our Dynamic Construction Project format met their goals and objectives.

40 HR specialists gathered together at the Fairmont Hotel San Jose where they were given materials to build a new "Bay Bridge" that would also bridge their team with the employees at their company. Besides specific building restraints and instructions, this bridge had to exemplify and improve the future, benefits, and lives of their employees. Balsa wood, glue guns, balloons, plastic people and animals and a lot of other special materials were available.

Rovi Corporation is focused on revolutionizing the digital entertainment landscape. Just as their technology solutions enable consumers to intuitively connect to new entertainment - from many sources and locations, the team bridges had to revolutionize their company and the Bay Area.

This team of HR professionals threw themselves into the challenge. The final test was the remote control car that had to cross over the spans in this creative, competitive and challenging activity. Even with specifications, some of the teams built too tight a causeway. And, isn't that just like the real world?

At the end of the event, the business model was debriefed, but the bottom line was that this group was challenged, had fun, and learned a lot about themselves and their co-workers. The Dynamic Construction Project, be it a bridge, a castle, a recreation center, is the perfect activity to reinforce a company's values and mission.

video

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Change Management in Team Building Events

Over the years different corporate groups have asked TeamBuilding Unlimited to incorporate Change Management into our Team Building activities. We've actually always included change as an important component in our events; however, we can stress this in the debriefing or in the selection of the type of event. Team Building Unlimited always consults with our clients, so we can address and meet client needs, goals and objectives.

TeamBuilding Unlimited handles the idea of change in our activities in various ways. One way is to divide groups into teams and give them an assignment or task, maybe building a bridge out of balsa wood, creating a unique 'new green' product or building a sandcastle. Half-way through the activity, the facilitator might change various portions of the deliverables to cause this activity to have a totally different outcome. How individuals, teams and groups handle this change is observed and commented on by the facilitator, as well as by the teams, themselves.

Many people are task-oriented. When a team makes a plan to complete an activity it consciously or unconsciously decides on a plan of action to reach the final destination or goal. If each team is given enough time to complete the activity and then the facilitator changes the course of the activity, the team has a new challenge in order to meet the new goal in a race against the clock.

Building Bridges: A concrete example would be any type of team building activity that involves “construction” which is the contract. A team, call it the building team, gets some input as to the overall structure from a competing team, call it the boss team, and agrees to build and include specific things in the final project. More than half way through the construction, each team is surprised when the boss team asks the first team to make at least one change, either a deletion or addition to the original plans that the building team must fulfill.

Another form of Change is to exchange players half-way through the event. Each team would send one player to one team and another to a different team. For example Team B sends one player to Team A and One to Team C. Who gets sent is part of the change. Who stays? How is this dealt with by the new teams.

A top down form of change can be added to a construction event when the TeamBuilding Unlimited facilitator announces a major change in the rules or the goal or removes certain materials. Example: Prior to completing the construction participants are not given the how and the who that will determine the best construction. Another form of change is that after the competition is complete, each participant is give a specially marked ballot and told to vote for the best team’s construction other than his/her own team. The ballot has his/her team’s number on it.

In some of the TeamBuilding Unlimited Wacky Games, a handicap can be added to the leading team on a random basis, such as time for the next activity or “immunity” from participating in the next activity so that the team automatically gets certain points without playing. The order of participation in an activity can be adjusted to favor the last place team so they have an advantage in the next event.

TeamBuilding Unlimited has included change management as an important aspect of many of our team building activities. Ask us about other activities.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Bike Building for Kids: Community Service Philanthropy

TeamBuilding Unlimited worked with TakedaSF on a fun and philanthrophic teambuilding Bikes for Kids Team Building event last Thursday. Takeda employees from the South San Francisco office built 17 bikes of varying models. At the end of the building portion of the event, boys and girls from the local Boys and Girls Club came to claim their bikes. In addition to building the bikes, each team designed a t-shirt for the lucky recipient of their bikes. This is just one of our many Charity Challenges.

Events such as this, as well as Trikes for Tots, Bears that Care, Have Your Cake and Donate it, Too, Operation Military Giving, and Cookie Decorating and Donating (with Sugar Cookies), and Community Mural/Quilt Art Project are all great ideas to fulfill your Community Service while doing some teambuilding/teambonding. Philanthropic TeamBuilding is needed All Year Round. Contact me for more info, or go to our website.

New Charity Challenges will be up shortly on our site.

video

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tips on Staying in Business in the Event Business

Eventline (the latest event industry news) had an article yesterday entitled: Alive and Thriving: Tips from Veteran Event Pros on Staying in Business. A panel of five veteran event professionals shared tips on developing and sustaining a special event business in "130 Years of Event Experience: Ask the Experts," held Jan. 15 at The Special Event Show 2010 in New Orleans.

Here's there Sage Advice.

1. Don't wait for clients to find you.

2. Give clients what they ask for—and a bit more.

3. Know who the gatekeeper is.

4. Curb costs fast.


5. Be flexible.

6. To win new clients, take good care of old ones.

Read the entire article here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Team Building Unlimited: Green Events


As part of 2010, TeamBuilding Unlimited is trying even harder to make a positive impact on the environment: with our meetings, at our office, and in our TeamBuilding events.

I posted an article about Green Meetings: The Green Checklist the other day, and in the past I've posted about specific Green TeamBuilding Events at TeamBuilding.

We here at TeamBuilding Unlimited know that we have to make a positive impact on the environment.

Here are just a few ways our company is making a difference with our events:

Chocolate Tastings: We use fair trade, organic high quality chocolates. TeamBuilding-Unlimited can deliver a sweet and successful Team Bonding activity for your team. We have other Chocolate Teambuilding Events.

Trikes for Tots/Bikes for Kids: Giving less fortunate children trikes and bikes helps them experience at an early age that recreation is fun and it's a great way to get around with using a car. As part of our Charity Challenges, teams do some TeamBuilding and TeamBonding as a unique way to give back to the community for the future.

Scavenger Hunt: Learn Team Building and Team Bonding at a foremost LEED Certified Museum in Energy and Environmental Design: The California Academy of Sciences, with our AdventureQuest.

TeamBuilding Unlimited also has several specific Green TeamBuilding Events. Our motto is Reduce, Recycle, Repurpose, Recharge. Some of our Green Events include: Tower of Power, Gimme Shelter, Green Art Challenge, New Green Product Invention, Corporate Grand Prix, Marvelous Mural/Quilt Art Project with mixed media found objects.

What are you doing to make a difference? Post a comment.

Friday, January 22, 2010

More on Green Meetings: The Green Checklist

TeamBuilding Unlimited/Murder on the Menu is working on becoming greener not only in our team building activities but with our partners. Since we don't always pick the venue, we ask our partners to consider the following because every meeting and event planner needs to Think Green in 2010.

Smart Meetings printed a Green Checklist in their October 2009 issue that bears repeating. This list was was developed by Gap, Inc. as part of their Green Meeting Program. The San Francisco CVB posted it as part of their new Ecothusiasm segment on their website.

Love to be able to add more to this list. Feel free to comment.

Hotels
Lists of environmentally responsible hotels can be found at greenlodgingnews.com; environmentallyfriendlyhotels.com; greenhotels.com; and usgbc.org. Some guides to consider when selecting “green” hotels are:

Hotels that provide recycling in all guest rooms.
Hotels with water conservation fixtures in hotel guest rooms.
Hotels with programmable thermostats with motion detectors used to control HVAC in guest rooms.
Hotels which have a property-wide linen re-use program that is clearly communicated to staff and guests.

Food & Beverage/Function Space

Hotel will provide clearly marked recycling containers in meeting rooms.
Hotel will not use disposable serviceware made out of Styrofoam.
Hotel will use cloth napkins and silverware in lieu of paper and plastic when possible.
Hotel has a food donation program.
If the facility does not have a food donation program, hotel will agree to work with the group to provide food donations at no cost to the group.
Hotel will provide condiments in serving containers and not individual packets when possible.

Miscellaneous
Hotel has energy-efficient lighting throughout the property.
Hotel will provide a recycling program to include paper, plastic, glass, aluminum cans and cardboard at no cost to the group.
Hotel will use cleaning products that do not introduce toxins into the water and air.

While On-Site at a Hotel
Heating/Cooling: Ask hotel to keep meeting space temperatures comfortable, but not too extreme with air conditioning and heating. Advise venues in advance so they can set thermostats appropriately.

Transportation
Ask vendors the following:

* Do you recycle oil, vehicle batteries, antifreeze and tires when they need to be replaced?
* Do you take actions to ensure vehicles are environmentally responsible; i.e., using refined oils, performing regular maintenance, using biodiesel fuels and conducting emissions tests?
* Do you have any fuel-efficient/hybrid vehicles in your fleet?

Collateral A huge area for improvement.
Mailings:

* Consider sending confirmation information electronically, instead of mailing packets. This will save time (collation and transit time), create an electronic “paper trail” and save trees. Hotel information can be accessed on their website, so sending hotel brochures is not necessary.
* At the least, if you consider a travel mailing to be critical (ex: luggage tags are being provided), use smaller envelopes, eliminate the hotel brochure and post the hotel URL on the conference website.

Handouts:

* When considering handouts, consider the need. Alternatives to printing handouts for each attendee:
* Provide information (PPT slides, speaker notes, etc.) electronically after the event.
* Print one handout per table.
* Replace binders of materials with a flash drive containing all documents.
If handouts are necessary:

* Print double-sided.
* Print multiple slides per page.
* Use recycled paper.
* Ask your printer if they can use soy or vegetable-based inks.
* Make sure your venue recycles any extra paper. If your venue doesn’t recycle, and you are trucking materials to/from your event, put them on the truck and recycle them back at the office.
* Donate leftover collateral (signage, paper handouts, giveaways, etc.); keep brand standards in mind when considering what materials can be donated.
* Always do online surveys vs. handing out paper evaluation forms at the event.

Name Badges/Lanyards:

* Collect lanyards at the end of your event and use them for your next event.
* Research using recyclable name badge inserts.

Food & Beverage/Catering


* Don’t print hotel banquet menus!
It’s a lot of paper to have in your binder.
It’s better to partner with the chef to select seasonal, local ingredients. Reduce “food miles” generated by transporting nonseasonal foods from their origin to your meeting.
* Provide filtered water stations instead of bottled waters.
If branding is the goal, give each attendee a branded water bottle that they can refill from water stations throughout the program.
* Avoid individual packaging; serve snack items, condiments, cream/sugar, etc. in bulk. This will save you money and reduce waste from packaging.
* Choose seafood from the “Best Choices” list on the Seafood Watch list.
* Tableware: Use china instead of paper products.
* Box lunches: Most materials typically used to package box lunches end up in the trash. Some options:
Instead, create a grab-and-go lunch (pre-made sandwiches, etc.) that can be eaten on china at tables, but is quick and easy to put together. Provide bags at the buffet for those who need to depart.
If a box lunch is necessary, choose paper packaging that can be recycled. Make sure recycling bins are provided by the venue.
* Look at bio-plastics as options for disposable tableware. The options are improving in this area. Some providers of bio-plastics are: NatureWorksllc.com, Ecoproducts.com and Worldcentric.org

Donating Food

* Many venues are reluctant to donate food due to liability. There are “good Samaritan” laws that protect donors in the United States and Canada, so always ask, particularly if the food items are packaged.
* If you do want to donate food, ask your venue before you arrive on-site.
* Some food donation suggestions can be found at pcma.org or America’s Second Harvest.

Décor

* Eco-flowers are increasing in popularity and availability. These control the growing conditions as well as labor practices for harvesting.
* Donate flowers to elderly, sick and terminally ill people in the local area.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Companies Turn to Virtual Trade Shows

USA Today had an interesting article last week "Companies Turn to Virtual Trade Shows to Save Money" by Roger Yu. I'm both a meeting planner and supplier. I plan meetings for the mystery community (readers/writers), and I supply meetings with interactive entertainment and team building events. So I looked at this article from both perspectives.

Even as this article was being published, I was making plans to attend three live trade shows in the meeting industry, all the same week. I am only "exhibiting" at one of these three tradeshows--the smallest least expensive one, at that, and I'm attending the other two as a planner as I need sites for some upcoming conventions and meetings. I would welcome the opportunity to have a virtual trade show for both sides of my business.

It's not just the travel, but its the expense of setting up, taking time from other business, as well as the fees for these trade shows. This past year I did a trade show where no one showed. I know that's about the marketing, but I think people in the meeting industry, especially, should be at the forefront of virtual trade shows.

Now, I'm not saying all trade shows should be that way. I'm attending the Fancy Food Show this week for my Chocolate TeamBuilding Events and DyingforChocolate Blog (two hats there, too), and let's face it, there's nothing like food samples and great salespeople to make a sale and endear a customer. But some trade shows can be virtual. I've attended one wedding virtual fair. The technology wasn't smooth, but, that can be tweaked.

According to the article, "Virtual shows combine the latest technology in webcasting, online chats, video streaming, webinars and avatar graphics to offer the elements of trade shows: exhibitor booths, speeches, seminars, distribution of marketing literature and social "gatherings."

The technology companies that develop virtual-meetings software, such as Unisfair, ON24 and Second Life, say they're seeing big demand. Event-planning firm Champion Exposition Services says about 70% of companies that it has queried are "producing, considering or interested in pursuing virtual events."

As the article says, there are pros and cons.

The Pros: they're cheaper and easier to plan. Speeches and seminars can be archived. International participants can "attend" with little or no expense. Speakers and moderators don't have to linger all day. And participants' interests and activities can be monitored.

The Cons: Networking opportunities are limited. There are no face-to-face meetings or serendipitous run-ins with clients. Participants can't touch products.

What do you think?

Read the Entire Article HERE