Saturday, August 29, 2009

Northern California Meetings + Events

There's a new meeting/event planner magazine in town, and the premiere issue just came out. Northern California Meetings + Events covers everything from venues to tips to team building and other activities I was profiled in this first issue. Here's the article by Janet Fullwood. Photo by Frank Gaglione


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 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.

Get Connected:

Murder on the Menu / Teambuilding Unlimited // Berkeley / 510.845.3600

Friday, August 28, 2009

Teambuilding: Improve your Work Culture

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

Dunsmuir Hellman House & Gardens

I had a chance the other night to visit the beautiful Dunsmuir House & Gardens located in Oakland, CA on the San Leandro border. What an amazing property with beautiful buildings, lush gardens and towering trees. So many possibilities for business retreats, special events and weddings since there are so many different event spaces both traditional and contemporary.

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.