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Archive for October, 2006

Team Building Exercise: DID ANYONE GET WET?

Friday, October 6th, 2006

I really like the quote “Nobody becomes a champion without help,” from professional golfer Johnny Miller. He said this a number of years ago. What is interesting to me is that he plays an individual sport which doesn’t have a team per se (as opposed to baseball, basketball or football which are clearly team sports).

I believe Johnny is 100% correct. And his belief not only applies to sports; it applies to most businesses. In the past, I have tried a number of team building exercises—some more successful than others.

Here is one of my favorites:

There are two teams of three. One person will be sitting down, and the second person will be standing up holding an empty glass over the person who is seated. The third person will be standing and pouring water into the cup.

Sounds easy! Sort of.

The twist is that the person pouring the water into the cup is blindfolded. Yes blindfolded! Another twist is that there is money at stake. The team that gets the most water in the cup without getting their teammate wet wins $100. This will guard against a team pouring one or two drops and quitting. Oh and by the way, you need to complete the exercise in less than three minutes.

To me the exercise is an easy way to highlight teamwork at its best. Along the way, teams learn to:

  • Give good direction
  • Improve listening skills
  • Hone concentration skills
  • Expect the unexpected
  • Overcome obstacles
  • Relax and put confidence in their co-workers
  • Work together to accomplish goals
  • Experience healthy competition within the company and among departments
  • Learn how to work within deadlines

When we succeed as a team, we are all champions.

Please let us know if you’ve tried this one or if you have another team building exercise to recommend.

The Greatest Negotiator in the World!

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

In the past fifteen years I have negotiated with vendors and clients almost daily. During that time I have negotiated with some of the best and brightest. Yes, I have won my fair share but clearly I have come up on the short end of the stick more than a handful of times.

Recently, I have been negotiating with someone on pretty much a daily basis. Although he is very small in stature, he packs a big punch and clearly uses negotiating tactics that I usually don’t run up against with clients and vendors. At 34 pounds and 38 inches tall he is clearly small but trust me: He is every bit as powerful as a 200 pound football player.

The process usually starts around 8:00. Most of you know that I tend to come in to work early. But I am talking about 8:00 PM not AM. Since it’s dark outside, he has been up for 13 hours. He is tired, and as crazy as it seems—it is BEDTIME!

However, bedtime can’t happen until the negotiation process begins…

  • The first thing is, he wants to pick out the book that I read to him at bedtime. (I am okay with this one but I hope the book has lots of pictures.)
  • He usually wants something to eat because eating can really prolong the process…which is very bad. So I stand firm. No food.
  • He wants something to drink—again because he thinks getting a drink prolongs the inevitable. Again, I always say no.
  • He always wants his special blanket and binky. I am ok with that and give in—as this makes the ordeal smoother and faster.
  • He wants to sleep on the floor instead of his comfortable bed, and I am okay with this for a few reasons:
  1. This process tends to be long so, he can sleep anywhere he wants—as long as he stays in his room.
  2. I don’t have to sleep on the floor, so I know my back won’t be hurting me in the morning
  3. See number 1
  • He wants to watch one more minute of TV. I am not okay with this, because one more minute means 2 hours to my opponent.

I mentioned earlier he uses negotiating tactics and unfair practices during this process. I can say that up to this point of my career that most of my clients and vendors don’t:

  • Cry
  • Take off their clothes
  • Toss their diaper at me
  • Say they don’t like me anymore and they aren’t my friend
  • Cry

Ok I am sure some people over the years would say that they don’t like me anymore. As for the other things I mentioned…NO!

To me the Greatest Negotiator in the World is my 3 year old Riley Doyle who wins most of the time! The good news is that this happens often so there is time for me to sharpen my skills and get better.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on other negotiating stories…….

Chad Needs Some Help…Do You Have Any Ideas?

Monday, October 2nd, 2006

Like most, I tend to receive hundreds of emails during the course of an average day. Typically I will delete 10-15% very quickly and then read the remaining in order of priority by subject and sender.

I received an email from Patricia, our VP of Finance. Since it is close to the end of the quarter, I gave it a very high priority. Her email was actually from someone who had forwarded his résumé. His name is Chad DuPriest.

Chad got our contact information from CASRO. He is a recent graduate and would like some ideas on how to enter the market research industry. Patricia asked if I would help. Without pause I responded yes and asked her to email Chad and have him call me any day around 6:30 am.

Sure enough the phone rings last week and a very respectful and excited Chad is on the phone. We had a nice 15 minute discussion and thankfully I was able to answer all of his questions—perhaps he is saving all the hard ones for the next time we speak.

Here is a little information about Chad:

  • He is a recent graduate of Texas A&M University
  • Chad has a BA in Communication and a Minor in Business
  • He completed a few courses in Statistics and Marketing

Based on my discussion with Chad, I found he is articulate, has the right attitude and has solid follow-up skills.

I had mentioned that I would help him in his quest to get into the Market Research Industry. So Chad, here are 5 things I think you should do:

  1. Sign up for Quirks magazine The cost is $70 and well worth the investment.
  2. Sign up for the WorldOpinion Online e-newsletter. This service is free and market research happenings are delivered daily.
  3. Spend 15 minutes a day on the MRA site. You need to understand the terminology and company names within the industry.
  4. Google “Market Research Best Practices” and other related words.
  5. The last one is a little self-serving, but my hope is that readers of the blog will respond, so read all of the comments on this posting.

I find Chad’s approach to be positive and refreshing. You’ve read my advice.

The question is what advice do you have for him?