Sometimes it is only about speed! Team building at the Kart track

SIMSAL-2016_06_14-Racing-3Every once in the while you need to get out of the office and run your co-workers off a track. For whatever reason, when members of our Sales and Support department put on some helmets and strapped themselves in to electric racing karts, they got very competitive.

The people who sell and support 3D Printers and Simulation software left their Stratasys and ANSYS brochures at home and headed to the Octane Raceway in Scottsdale, AZ for some fun and decompression. They have been working hard all year making customers happy, and they needed a way unwind.  So the drove in circles.

In this team building   fun was had by all. Only a few curse words were exchanged. Mario was asked to get a more subtle shirt.

The only disappointment is that the winner of the event was Oren Raz… most of us back at the office were pulling for Clinton Smith to take the trophy.

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Star Wars – The Force Awakens with PADT

padt-star-wars-vii-5For an engineer, there are certain TV and Movie experiences that border on the religious – Star Wars is of course one of those.  That is why PADT’s main office in Tempe closed down today to head down the freeway to the Chandler to see Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens.

Around 370 employees, family members, friends, vendors, former employees, and customers showed up for the 10:00 am showing.  We were confident that JJ Abrams would do a great job, because he did so well with an even more important franchise to PADT, Star Trek.  We were not disappointed.  There were cheers, there was laughter, and several of us confessed in the lobby afterwards that we teared up a bit.  A true treat.

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We had a 410 seat theater and about 350 RSVP’s . So we got a bit nervous as the seats filled up. We did get more unexpected people then we cancellations, but we had plenty of room and the more the merrier. Bottom line, the first two rows were empty. So prefect.

I want to thank Josh Heaps here for putting it all together and for dealing with our constantly asking him about when and where it was and how many seats the theater had.

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My friend Ryan, one of AZ’s biggest Star War fans, and our fantastic V.P from Chase, Camille, were great sports who dressed up and posed for pictures. Not only does Camille constantly help make our banking a great experience, she jumps right in with our engineering fun.

This is also a great venue to thank our customers and vendors for coming and for bringing your families.  We don’t get to see many of you often enough, and rarely outside of a meeting or a phone call.  Seeing the smiles on everyone’s face after the movie was, as they say, worth the price of admission.

May the Force Be With You

If you want to organize similar event to your colleagues, hire team building company in Singapore!

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That Opening Logo that We have All Been Waiting a Long Time to See.

Running in Circles Pays off at 11th Annual Pat’s Run for Team PADT

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For three months we walked, jogged, ran, and whimpered around the lake in front of our office. We trained as a team, we stretched, we mumbled, but we stuck with it. This past weekend running in circles paid off with a very successful showing at the 11th Annual Pat’s run at ASU.  I you were at the race, you may have seen our bright orange shirts in the sea of the official blue that most people were wearing.

To get to Saturday’s race, every Tuesday and Thursday we sat on big foam cylinders and yoga mats in the grass.  We butt kicked and we pranced in the parking lot. And then we starting making a clockwise orbit around the lake across the street. At first, it was walking with a little running.  Invectives were hurled.  But over time the walkers got faster, the walk/runners ran more, and the runners got faster. We found out that the sidewalk around the north lake here at the ASU Research Park is exactly a half mile, as if the designers planned it that way. We learned that if it is 82f outside you need to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated.  With the help of our fantastic Training, Susan Leveque from Physix, we worked through upset joints, asthma, and too much time spent in front of the computer.  Everyone that could make it to Pat’s Run this past Saturday did fantastic.  The most noticeable characteristic was that every single one of us had a smile on their face at the finish.

If you are not familiar with Pat’s Run, it is a charity race to honor Pat Tillman and other courageous men and women who have sacrificed everything for their country. It is a 4.2 mile loop starting and ending at the Arizona State University stadium where Pat played for ASU and then the Cardinals before he put his NFL career on hold to serve his country in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The course loops around Tempe Town lake and ends with a run in to the stadium and on to the field.  Over 30,000 people participated this year. The weather was perfect, the event was well organized, and everyone on the 2015 PADT Running Team walked, jogged, and/or ran a great race.  Until you have done a big event like that, it is hard to understand how encouraging the large crowd is. They count your top 5 finishers, so our official team time ws 39:37 or a 9:26 min/mile pace.  We were fortunate enough to also have friends and family run with the team.

A big shout-out to Shannon, Cyril, and of our primary trainer Susan from Physix for setting up the whole thing.  We literally did not have the time or bandwidth to do this without your help, and we certainly didn’t have the knowledge.  The plan worked and you took all of us way beyond where we started.

Here are pictures from the event below.  Another thanks to Michael Dunn, Physix client on dealing with some knee issues who came out and took pictures for both teams. Great job making us look good.

We hope to see more customers and friends at next years run.  We may even follow Shawn’s lead and go for the bright green shorts next year.

Turkey, Team Building, and Spaghetti Towers: PADT’s Turkey Bowl 2014

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[EDITOR’S NOTE:  This was written some time ago and was set to automatically go out. But I just found it stuck in the “pending” folder.  So late, but here it is]  

It has been a great 20th anniversary year for PADT.  And we decided to close it out with some fun.  Now, if you know engineers, getting them to take part in any team building event is tough. And many of our employees came to PADT to get away from such things. The phrase "team building" causes a Pavlovian eye roll.  As we discussed options for November, we looked at a lot of activities. When we settled on doing an event that not only involved teams, but also color coded shirts, puzzles, and (gasp) a lean towards being healthier I said "we should try it, but it probably won't work" and hoped to be proven wrong. Even with the help of the great folks at Physix, I didn't have high hopes. But you don't know until you try.

I was proven wrong. 

Kickoff: Halloween and Pumpkin Launching

We started with a kickoff event on Halloween, which was nice enough to be on a Friday this year. In the past we have carved pumpkins and built a dry-ice pumpkin mortar.  This year we fed everyone to get them in a good mood and then put them in teams.  After some trivia contests we moved over the the first event – a pumpkin slingshot.

We finished up the kickoff event with rules and a list of ways to get points:  go to lunch with team mates, go for a hike, attend a class at Physix, get a fitness assessment, lose weight, answer the weekly quiz, and walk.  The easiest way to get points was to keep track of your step count.  

Three Weeks of Getting Points

The next three weeks were fun. Different teams approached things differently. Some opted to lunch together, often.

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Others did a fitness assessment or attended a class.  One team even tried to take a hike… on Photoshop:

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Funny how their picture on Camelback Mountain looks a lot like their lunch picture…  

After a bit of a kerfuffle on Body Mass Index results from the fitness assessment, we held a brown bag seminar by the lake.  The reason why Physix is a great match for PADT is that their approach to health is science and fact based.  No chakra alignment here.  So Shannon came armed with statistics, studies, and fancy measuring devices with dials on them that we could write down numbers from.

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There was also a weight loss competition.  Points for every pound lost. There are and will not be pictures from that portion of the event. But we can share that some people dropped a few pounds over the three week period, and some more than a few.  

Turkey and Contests 

At the end of the three weeks we gathered together again to take part in our annual Thanksgiving Feast, and compete to win some additional points for our teams.

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We started with a plank contest. Expecting 5 or so people to participate, maybe one from each team. Everyone gave it a shot:

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Most people lasted a minute, then they started to drop.  

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A ton of people lasted to 2 minutes, then 3, then 4.  6 people were holding at 4:30.

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Purple had a strong showing, Renee lasting past 5 minutes.  Clinton held strong for purple.  Don, and Demola held on for Orange and Black.

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In the end, Demola won a ton of points for his team, lasting past 6 minutes.  

Next we tried a relay event that involved passing a ball over our heads and taking a step, then running to the back, then passing… what was that again. It took us a while to figure it out.  In hindsight, we should have created a process diagram before the event.  

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But Green and Black figured it out and charged to the finish line… not even stopping when one competitor stumbled.  No one left behind, as long as they have the right shirt color.

Inside, we had a timed puzzle building event. It got kind of nasty when the teams realized that each team had two pieces from another puzzle. People get aggressive when points are on the line.  There may have been some hiding, there may have been some prying of fingers open.

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The last event was to build a tower out of spaghetti, string, tape, and a marshmallow. Whoever got their marshmallow the highest got the points.  Four of the teams built tripods and went for height.

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Two teams figured out that spaghetti bends and breaks.  Blue felt that building a box was better. I guess that is thinking outside the box?

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But the winner was a combination of tripod and "stoutness."  Green figured it out:

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There was a dessert contest as well. I grudgingly mention it because my dessert didn't make it into the finals… but I'm not bitter, not at all.

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After that we all went back to work while the PADT HR and Physix teams summed up all the points and figured out who won.  

Green, thanks to their tower, squeaked into third place:

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Some were happier than others about the competition.

Second place was won by the superior team, and we would have won if my dessert had been in the finals:

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And the winners were the Black Team.  

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You have to admit, they do look pretty confident.

What we Learned 

Overall, the three weeks were a nice distraction from a very busy period.  Some people that would not have normally spent time together, did. Some people learned a bit about fitness or nutrition that they didn't know before. A lot of people walked a lot more.  

We also learned a couple of lessons:

  1. You can have a positive and constructive team building event at a company that is kind of wired to go against such corporate group-think activities.

  2. Not everyone wants to participate. That's OK and it is no reason why those that do can't have fun.  And you can find small ways for people to take part.

  3. Some people are REALLY competitive. 

  4. The average core strength at PADT is stronger than we thought.

  5. The breath mints we got to combat coffee breath are 50 calories, and the average person has to walk around 500 steps to burn them off. 

  6. If you don't take these things too seriously, they can be fun and a nice break.

  7. PADT's employees are clever. They tried to get points for waking up in the morning and mouse clicks.  You have seen the Photoshop picture. They also wanted to pass off the PADT Medical skeleton as Don Pegg after his diet.  It didn't work.

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For those of you who are thinking of doing a similar event at your company, some key words of advice:

  1. Bring in someone to help that is a good fit for your culture. Don't try and fit a standard or large company approach to a small or medium company.  Find someone that gets you and maybe pushes your organization a bit further than you would push it on your own.

  2. Keep it short, keep it simple.

  3. Don't let the negative people drag it down. You will have some people that this is not a good fit for. If you try and please them, they will still be unhappy and it will lesson the event for others.  Just accept that not everyone will be on-board and move on.

  4. Place your tongue firmly in your cheek.  If you take these things too seriously, they will fail.  Make some fun of yourselves and the activity, it takes that edge off.

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If you do it right, you might even get engineers to touch each other.