The Strangest Adventures in Team Building
In today’s modern age, team building sessions are often held by most corporations. They help freshen up interpersonal skills that get lost in the masses of email and text messages. Phone time has suffered greatly across many industries, let alone face time (there are telemarketing and apple jokes in there somewhere)
Jokes aside, team building sessions can be held on various occasions. Corporations can hold them at monthly meetings, training camps, or even the holiday party. Not to be underestimated, one solid team building session can have a major impact on a whole company…
The Story of Jake From that Insurance Company…
Jake worked as an insurance agent for a national home and auto insurance company. He was a decent employee who made his numbers but always seemed rushed and disorganized. Because this was his first year as a full-time agent, he received an invitation to the annual regional meeting.
Once a year all the Agents, Managers, Senior Managers, and even the Owner, would get together to celebrate this year’s wins and losses. There would be all the food, beverages and Powerpoint presentations one could stomach. Then, usually concluding with some form of entertainment.
The night of the conference started with congratulations to all the top players and the company as a whole for having a record year. It then progressed onward to an award and recognition ceremony. During this time the wait staff brought out some appetizers and other fare while things carried on.
As Jake sat eating his third helping of shrimp cocktail while eying the New York cheesecake, he suddenly heard his name called. “Jake! Come on up here.” “I think you will be a great person to help me out with this.” Jake froze like a deer in headlights.
Because he was too busy picking out his dessert from the buffet table, he had missed the context and had no idea what was going on. Brushing a few shrimp tails from his lap, he timidly made his way up to the front to face his most certain doom.
“Jake, I want you to do me a favor and hold this ping pong ball.” said the District Manager.
Jake took the ball while a giggle rang from the now fixated audience. “Now Jake, here is another ball for you to hold.” Jake took the other ball.
“Wouldn’t you know it, I have another for you.” The Dm said while making it appear like it was magic. Jake cupped his hands and the DM places the ball inside with the others.
This continued until Jake could no longer fit any more in his hands. ”Sir, I don’t think I can hold anymore.” Jake murmured.
“Well Jake, What are you going to do now?” Jake though quickly and stretched out his shirt and then plopped all the ping pong balls in it.
A round of applause came from his fellow workers. “Very creative Jake… Here have some more” The DM kept adding more to his shirt until one fell out. “Well Jake, It seems we hit the same problem. What are you going to do now?”
Not knowing what this was about, he began to get nauseous. He normally only feels like this on crazy workdays, but the feeling was growing stronger.
Under the hot spotlight, Jake’s sweat was now getting into his eyes. Blinking and looking around in panic he spots a large empty trash can next to the stage. As the crowd lets out a belly laugh, He runs over, empties the content of his shirt into it and comes right back. “ Very resourceful Jake.”
“BRING ME THE OTHER BOXES!” Yelled the DM.
With the crowd having completely lost composure, the Regional Manager approaches with the other large cases of ping pong balls. Then, approaches Jake with a sly smirk and says “Jake, You okay over there buddy? “ The room, yet again, rings out in laughter.
Jake has now gone into full-on panic mode. “ Now Jake, I am going to keep adding more. Are you okay with that?” The room settled down as everyone wanted to see what Jake would say.
“Yes… yes sir”
The DM begins to take fistfuls of ping pong balls from his boxes and place them in the can. Jake stands up straight and locks his arm to keep them from spilling over the edge of the increasingly heavy trash bin. The DM keeps going. Jake arches his back to have them pile on his chest. Once they reach his neck, the DM asks “ Where is this one going Jake? “
Completely frozen and unable to move. Motivated by fear and perhaps losing one of the great prizes they had on display earlier or just looking like a fool in front of the whole company.
Jake pauses … Then, with one eye open, slowly and reluctantly opened his mouth…
The entire place went up in a roar of laughter. The Dm, the RM and the rest of the Senior Staff were doubled over in laughter. Jake himself too started laughing. So much so that he lost his rigid stance and doubled over in laughter as well, spilling all the ping pong balls to the floor.
As the ping pong balls dispersed across the entire conference room floor, the Dm grabbed Jake by the shoulder, walked him over to the podium and said “ Give it up for Jake! He is definitely not a quitter.”
As the moment was passing, Jake went from laughing hysterically, back to being terrified and confused again.
Am I a winner? Did I fail? Am I a laughing stock? He thought to himself. What’s the gag here?
The room settled as the DM took the microphone. “Now there is no doubt that Jake is creative, resourceful and committed. BUT! he still failed this task” The room wound down to silence and faint whispers.
With a mic to his chin and an outstretched arm in jakes direction, the DM continues “ You see… Jake is eager to work, and he thinks the way he will get far is by doing it himself.” “No doubt he will do great. But one man does not make the team”. “Jake! How many people do you work with at your office? “ Jake holds up his hand. “Five. We have five people at our office”. “Can we have those people up here?” said the DM pointing to the tables.
Sure enough, four people quickly and humbly scurried up next to jake. “Now I want everyone to pick up, with their hands only, as many ping pong balls as they can.” People scurried around and fumbled with the elusive balls.
Once everyone settled back up to the front, he addressed them “ Now there is no doubt that if the five of you had garbage cans, we could fit all the mess in there.” “ But let me ask you a question.” “How many offices do you have in District Nine?”. Silence fell over the room. “ Well since it’s my job to know,” he chuckled “ You have twenty-three.”
“Can we have all those people grab as many ping pong balls as they can and come up to the front.”
The place looked like a madhouse with over a hundred people scurrying all over trying to collect the orphan ping pong balls that wouldn’t hold still. The DM paced back and forth with the microphone behind his back listening to the roar of giggles and laughter while people were crawling around trying to pick up their share of the mess.
With everyone holding their maximum amount, the Dm was now in the center of the conference room. “ I still see a bunch of stragglers behind.” “ Do you know how many regions we have in the company?” Everyone started to smile as they all knew the answer to this one. In one large response, they all said “ Two regions!” The Dm smiled and said, “Can I have the other region take their share as well.”
After some time the room had yet again settled, and everyone was standing holding about two in each hand. The chatter slowed to whispers and snickers as the DM spoke again.
“ You see, relying on your fellow teammates is an integral part of the whole business.” “Not only in your own office, but in your district, and across the nation” “ When you feel that you have too much on your plate… you have-to-ask-for-help” making chopping motions with his hand.
“At any time Jake could have asked for assistance while up here alone.” “Had he done so, the next person would have done so, and everyone else would have followed suit.” ”In the end, we would have been in the same place we are now but with far less stress”
“Asking for help isn’t an act of weakness, it strengthens a team.” “ And having a unified team makes a company stronger.”
With the conclusion of his speech, everyone lined up to place their balls into the boxes while laughing and reflecting. As they all finished up and returned to their seats, The Dm walked over to Jake, put his arm around his shoulder and said:
”Hey Jake. Thanks for being a great sport.” “How about you go back to your seat, and I’ll fetch you that desert you were looking at.”
Article updated on January 10th, 2019