Charitable Teambuilding in the Arizona Desert

In the heat of the Arizona desert, we conducted one of our coolest Bike-a-thon Charitable teambuilding Workshops ever. Our client: LeadMD based in Scottsdale. They’ve got the right prescription to generate leads for businesses that want to maximize their marketing dollars.

We arrived on a Friday and found these laid-back, lead-generating rock stars in full Millennial mode. Translation: the atmosphere was both relaxed and competitive.

Friday at LeadMD is “movie day.” Big screen TV monitors streamed hit flicks all day long. Magnovo workshops are always fun, but this turned into a party with food, libations, and non-stop good times.

Where other companies dread dealing with Millennials, Magnovo actually enjoys working with this generation. They generate lots of energy, are always innovative, and love a good challenge.

New beginnings, new challenges

They’d just moved into a new building a week before our arrival, and some areas were still under construction. New digs for a new company. This was their first charitable teambuilding workshop and they were stoked. Already close-knit, the CEO wanted the newbies on staff to see their colleagues on a more informal, personal level.

Of equal importance, their main interest in working with Magnovo was to build their philanthropic muscles. Our reputation had preceded us, so they were excited about our training and about giving back to their community.  

The 30 participants divided into small groups. They upped their competitive game as they strategized to “earn” the various components needed to assemble the bikes. And they improved their communications and problem-solving skills during each step.

Charitable teambuilding at its best

The recipient was Family Promise of Greater Phoenix headed by Lisa Randall. Magnovo has had the pleasure of working with this charity dozens of times. We count it a privilege to partner with them because of their mission. Equally impressed were the LeadMd employees. They were riveted to and inspired by Randall’s presentation.

Family Promise provides a hand up instead of a hand out to homeless families, and their success rate is phenomenal! They “adopt” a family for two months, taking care of their basic needs for food and clothing. Through their partnership with local shelters, they also provide a place to stay at night.

During the day, they offer job training and vocational resources. The ultimate goal: to help families secure new jobs and new homes. Those are the ingredients for a fresh start. Their work makes charitable teambuilding workshops like ours worthwhile.

Top marks all round

During the post-workshop survey, LeadMD CEO Justin Gray posted 4’s on everything–which means on a 0-to-4 rating system, we got top marks on every aspect of the event. Gray said, “Having a charity leader come in and reinforce the meaning of the exercise on several levels was impactful. The bike assembling was awesome and well facilitated.”

A participant commented, “I enjoyed that there was not a prize at the end,  as I had expected, because it reminded me that there was an intrinsic reward to be had for the charitable work we did.”

Our facilitator was a Magnovo veteran who has conducted hundreds of Magnovo workshops over the years. He claimed that this was absolutely one of the most enjoyable workshop experiences he’d ever had with some of the nicest people he’d ever met.

The Importance of Teambuilding to Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines is one company where the importance of teambuilding is as clear as a blue sky. They started out as  a small crop dusting operation. Now Delta commands more than 15,000 flights every day and serves 180million passengers each year. They couldn’t stay aloft without a strong team.

A vital part of that team involves cargo management. In 2017, Delta’s cargo ton miles came to 2.15 billion. Yes, ton miles is a real thing. To be precise, it’s the tons of cargo they transported last year multiplied by the miles they covered.

Delta Air Lines – ACS/Cargo Learning asked Magnovo to facilitate a charitable workshop as part of their training and teambuilding. Nothing can bond a staff like pets. Our Happy Tails Charitable Teambuilding Workshop was just the ticket.

Happy Tails fills the gap between love and commitment for prospective pet owners. First time pet parents may spend more than $1,000 the first year and $500 every year after. Buying a pet from a shelter can run as high as $250, and initial veterinary bills can add additional strain. These costs can put pet ownership out of financial reach for a lot of people. Our pet care donations make it easier for families to open their hearts if they’re reluctant to open their wallets.

The benefits of giving back

We met 50 Delta staffers at Atlanta’s Crowne Plaza Hotel and divided them into small groups. Our facilitator read the group well and tailored the workshop accordingly. He kept the energy level up and reinforced the importance of teambuilding at every step.

Divided into small groups, each team competed in a series of high energy activities. Success earned the teams the pooch presents and kitty cache for their Happy Tails pet care packages. Dog collars, chew toys, blankets, food and water bowls, leashes, and pillows. Each item brought a homeless pet closer to his forever home.

The benefits of pet parenting

Pet ownership is good medicine. Pets can lower blood pressure and cholesterol. They can fill an emotional void and relieve depression. Pet therapy can even help reduce chronic pain.

The recipient of the pet care packages was Best Friends Animal Society. They gladly received each one and appreciated what they would mean to a lot of orphan animals.

The Delta team enjoyed the whole experience because it created such a high engagement level for each of them. Overall, feedback after our Happy Tails Workshop was full of happy tales of camaraderie.





Philadelphia Insurance Companies Helps the American Diabetes Association Through Wagon Builders™ Workshop

When Philadelphia Insurance Companies wanted to provide their staff with a chance to boost camaraderie for far-flung employees, they called on Magnovo for a charity team building workshop.

Wagon Builders™ in Philadelphia, PA

There were about 50 employees of Philadelphia Insurance Companies from across the country who met at the Hilton Philadelphia City Avenue for a company event. This was one of the few opportunities that this group got to get together. And so the company wanted to provide them with the chance to work on the kinds of skills that would make their jobs more efficient and productive. The Wagon Builders™ workshop was a great fit for this highly competitive group. It had elements of fun and games built around a skill-building core.

The company already had a connection to the American Diabetes Association and so the event organizers requested that the wagons be donated to the group’s summer camp program for children with diabetes. In addition, they wanted to customize the contents of the wagons themselves. We happily made arrangements for both of those requests.

Philadelphia Insurance Companies Gets Down to Work

We opened with a couple of icebreaker games so that folks could get more comfortable with their fellow employees.

Then we arranged participants into groups of five. Through games like Cup Flip, Blind Ball Drop, Wordles, Dice Bank, and Group Writing, teams acquired the parts they’d need to move on to the next part of the workshop .

Once all the teams had their wagon parts, we challenged them to assemble with wagons with a few small conditions. It challenged them, and also encouraged them to think creatively and work together. After putting the wagons together, teams decorated and filled them. We even had enough time for folks to take “wagon selfies”! There were a lot of laughs. While it was indeed a competitive group, everyone did make sure that no team was left behind. This was truly a group that – even though they might not work together every day – showed how much of a team they really are.

Welcoming the American Diabetes Association

One of the most special parts of a charity team building event is meeting with a representative of that charity. Philadelphia Insurance Companies participants warmly welcomed Kevin J. Kelly, Ed.D., who seemed genuinely happy to be invited. Mr. Kelly shared some information about the American Diabetes Association and the work they do. He also told a few stories about the kids who attend the association’s summer camp. Their lives are positively impacted by the experience in long-lasting ways. Our wrap-up was completed by a few facilitator remarks that reinforced several of team building skills targeted by the games and activities.


Salesforce’s All-Star Bike-Thon™ with State Farm Surprises Employees and Kids

SalesforceSalesforce’s employees turned out a dynamic and engaging Bike-A-Thon in record time!

Salesforce Invites Top Customer to Join In

Even though a scheduling issue gave us less time to work with than anticipated, we pulled off a great Bike-A-Thon™ with Salesforce In under an hour. We carried out the even on-site at Salesforce offices. We also welcomed the company’s top customer, State Farm, in joining us. This was the second charity team building workshop of this type we’d done for Salesforce. Again, the bicycles the group assembled were going to the nearby Union League Boys & Girls Club.

All -Star Teams in Chicago, IL

The Bike-A-Thon™ has two parts – a series of earning activities where teams compete for bicycle parts, and then series of teamwork activities where teams assemble the bicycles. The 20 participants worked hard and worked fast. These were leaders from both companies, and their skills set showed. The four teams worked cohesively and with a great understanding of each other; the group dynamics functioned at an extremely high level.

One team dominated in the group writing activity with an alphabet (AZ) written by 5 people, that, easily, was more legible than most people’s daily penmanship! Another team took cup stacking to a meticulously pristine level, and quickly. A third team was full of ‘spunk’ and kept everyone laughing. And our fourth team was definitely the most focused, with an eagerness to win. While they didn’t dominate every activity, they made collaboration and inclusion the biggest part of their team.

Overall, this group was amazing to work with! They laughed, cried, and gave each other just enough “guff” to keep the competition intense (yet still friendly!)

New Bikes for the Kids of the Union League Boys & Girls Club

Teams knew that their bikes were going to the kids of the Union League Boys & Girls Club. What they didn’t know is that the kids were coming to the Bike-A-Thon™ to receive them!

The announcement was a great surprise, and everyone’s reaction was immediate and extremely positive.

We welcomed Anabel Hernandez and several of the children with applause. Ms. Hernandez made a few remarks; most memorable, she shared with us what a huge impact these bikes have on the kids who receive them. There was barely a dry eye in the place! Teams then helped the kids with their new bikes, adjusting seats and handlebars so that kids were ready to ride as soon as they got home. One child was so excited he exclaimed, “I am never getting off this bike, I am sitting here forever!”

The feedback we received on this event was overwhelmingly positive. Participants raved, the children were obviously thrilled, and Salesforce provided their staff with the opportunity to flex the kind of soft skills so important in today’s workplace.

Johnson & Johnson’s IT Department Helps Morristown, NJ Kids Through Wagon Builders

Forecast: Paying it Forward Through Teamwork

The Wagon Builders ™ workshop was supposed to have 70 participants but only ended up with 45.

Unfortunately, lots of people left early to avoid flight cancellations and delays as a snowstorm moved in. So we moved the workshop to an earlier time and shortened it by 45 minutes. The Madison Hotel was very accommodating for us. None of these hurdles took away from the energy and purpose of the event, though: to have fun, team build and give back to local Morristown-area kids in need. Everyone was eager to get started as soon as the facilitator arrived.

Wagon Builders™ Comes to Morristown, NJ

We adjusted our plans slightly, modifying the size of the teams we arranged based on the number of people in attendance. Laughter was abundant as teams played Flip Cup, Group Writing, Prediction Card Game, and Paw Dice Game. Winning teams earned the parts necessary for building wagons. After assembling the wagons, they were filled with gifts for children and then we decorated them. It was great to see such a supportive group. Participants truly worked as teams, and then also together as a whole department.

Ordinarily, a representative from the charity is invited to accept the donations in person. Because of the weather, it wasn’t possible for anyone from Cornerstone Family Programs & Morristown Neighborhood House  to come. However, we did talk about the kinds of work done and the services the agency provides to kids and their families. This group’s commitment to helping those less fortunate was impressive. Once we completed the wagons, everyone also volunteered to help pack them safely for later delivery after the snowstorm.

Johnson & Johnson Succeeds for Cornerstone Family Programs & Morristown Neighborhood House

We lost a few more people as the workshop wound down; the weather was deteriorating quickly. The folks who remained generously helped pack up the room and remaining supplies and materials. The feedback we received about the Wagon Builders™ program was overwhelmingly positive. Folks were grateful that we were still able to carry out the workshop despite the elements. Everyone was disappointed that they couldn’t give the wagons to Cornerstone directly, but this group was clearly hopeful that they could try again with another program just like this one next year.

Employee Appreciation: Workers Want is to Be Valued

When it comes to employee appreciation, Human Resources departments around the world try out countless strategies and employ innumerable tactics in order to figure out just what workers want the most. Countless time is spent investigating which benefits and programs are those that are best at keeping employees happy and productive, but there’s a secret that most HR managers don’t even think about: there’s a very simple answer to what employees want more than anything else – they want to be valued.

Employee Appreciation is Easier Said than Done

It’s one thing knowing what it is that your workers want on a  philosophical level. It’s another thing altogether to be able to bridge the gap between the idea of  “being valued” and the act of making an employee feel that way. This translation from theory to practice is, of course, the task that HR personnel face nearly every day.

The truth is, though, providing high levels of isn’t necessarily about things. Performance-based bonus or incentive programs are nice, but they’re often interpreted as the “carrot” of the carrot-and-stick approach, often seen as a blatant push for more productivity. Meanwhile, events like company picnics are more of a pleasant diversion than anything else. So what’s a manager to do when it comes to showing just how much your company values its workers?

Forge Connections, Receive Feedback, Provide Value

There’s no secret sauce when it comes to driving feelings of being valued within your workforce. In fact, it requires hard work and diligence not just from HR but from supervisors of all stripes to build a corporate culture that stresses the importance of employee appreciation. The best path is to forge connections with workers, receive their feedback, and then provide value based on that feedback.

Too much of the time, employees develop an “us versus them” mentality, where it’s workers on one side and management on the other. The key to short-circuiting that process is to build relationships with employees through meaningful interactions. Creating rapport in such a way showcases the importance a company places on its workers, and it engenders positive bilateral relationships between employees and their supervisors where employees are comfortable enough to provide honest feedback. This feedback can then be used to craft corporate policies or practices that address employee needs in a valid – and valued – way.

Supercharging the Employee-Employer Relationship

There are a number of ways to build relationships between employees and employers. The tactics and strategies management chooses are less important than the impetus behind them; if supervisors approach workers with a genuine desire to build a meaningful and positive employee-employer relationship, workers will respond to this sincerity. That being said, there are methods that work better than others.

One of the most effective of these methods is to engage periodically in activities or events that reinforce the types of positive traits needed to build employee appreciation. Team building events are positioned particularly well in this regard, thanks to their focus on communication and collaboration .

Additionally, the core tenets of team building – which are to value diverse levels of thought and methods of accomplishing tasks – translate well to building relationships between workers and management.

Appreciating Value Leads to Appreciated Employees

There is nothing more fiercely loyal than a workforce that feels at home. Workers that know their employer listens to them, values their opinions, and responds positively to feedback are just happier – and happy workers are more effective and productive ones. Doing your best to provide higher levels of employee appreciation will pay big dividends for your company in the long run.

What Leaders Can Learn About Work Team Building From National Geographic

Part of being a good leader is learning lessons where you find them. And then figuring out how to apply them to your own company. Case in point? None other than National Geographic. Leadership at the magazine felt it was time for a reckoning of the publication’s past reporting on people of color and invited a full review of their previous content by a professor of African history and photography.

The feedback was honest – and brutal – but deserved, and the magazine’s leadership acknowledged shortcomings in a recent issue and outlined how they’d do better going forward. While it might not seem like what goes on at National Geographic has much to do with a typical corporation or organization, there’s a lot that corporate leadership teams can learn from National Geographic’s recent self-reflection, especially when it comes to work team building.

Admit Your Mistakes

Ah, this one can be hard. Who wants to admit mistakes? Leaders are supposed to know more, know better, and do the right thing. But sometimes doing the right thing means admitting when you’ve messed up. Owning mistakes allows leadership to share what they’ve learned so that others don’t make the same errors. It also reassures employees that it’s okay to admit their mistakes, too. It’s important to understand that this might not make everything better immediately; after all, even National Geographic heard from those who said it their recent issue on race was a step in the right direction but certainly didn’t erase decades of poor treatment. But without acknowledging errors, real progress cannot be made.

True Collaboration Matters in Work Team Building

When National Geographic put together their issue on race, they “put their money where their mouth is”, as the saying goes. They didn’t talk about doing better when it came to covering race. They also followed through by diversifying their hiring of writers and photographers for the story. At least half of these positions for this story were filled by people of color. Taking firm action through work team building that makes genuine collaboration possible demonstrates how much the leadership team values their staff’s opinions. Consider the ways in which leadership teams at your organization can break down barriers to collaboration so that all members of the team can make meaningful contributions to a project.

Don’t Just Listen, Hear What People Are Saying

It’s very easy to give lip service to feedback from staff and customers. However, really and truly hearing what people are saying, and reflecting on that, allows company leaders to understand what’s working well and what isn’t. Only then can leaders make corrective change where needed. Go back to our example of National Geographic. The magazine hadn’t been focused on capturing an accurate representation of the people they featured on its pages. In fact, they never even asked. If only the leaders of National Geographic had listened. Perhaps they might have avoided unnecessary years of hurtful coverage of people of color, both overseas in places like Africa and Australia as well as in the U.S.

Never Too Late to Learn

It’s never too late to learn something new. Especially when that something can improve the workplace or the organization, if only leaders will listen. Take lessons where you find them, and consider how they can be applied to your company. Taking steps like admitting mistakes, improving collaboration, and really hearing the feedback  that’s received, can have positive long-term effects. It can help morale, efficiency, and productivity. When leadership teams show – through their  actions –  what they value, and what they value is the employee, then the employee will want to do a good job. In this case, National Geographic is more than a magazine; it demonstrates a framework for positive change .

If companies pay attention, they can replicate that same success in their own organization.

Rescue Buddies Helps Oklahoma State University’s SHIELD Scholars Practice Teamwork While Helping Local Kids

The Rescue Buddies™ workshops we do with college students are some of the most fast-paced and dynamic programs we’re lucky enough to do. We met with about 25 grad students who were participants in the Oklahoma State University SHIELD Scholars program. The school earned a grant from Phillips 66. The funds were to be used for team and leadership development. And so program organizers contacted Magnovo. We were lucky to have worked with the school before, and Phillips 66, too. It was great to be back at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater!

Oklahoma State University SHIELD

Scholars Get to Work

While the participants represented several academic departments, they were united in their enthusiasm  for working together and helping local kids. The Rescue Buddies program we hosted that Saturday encouraged students to practice their leadership and teamwork skills. We started with a couple of icebreakers and then moved onto workshop activities like Hand Holding, Say What I Say, and Air Counting so that students could earn the parts necessary for assembling Rescue Buddies. Then, we started a new series of games: Flip Cup, Wordles, Group Writing, Paw Dice Game, and the Prediction Card Game. These games made the assembly process more challenging. Students were motivated to work together in new and creative ways.

Students worked hard to support each other and ensure that the group overall was successful.

Helping Stillwater, OK Kids in Emergency Situations

By the end of the workshop, students completed 25 stuffed animals. We arranged for the Rescue Buddies™ to go to the Payne County Sheriff’s Department.  Officers in the Domestic Violence Department often used them. Rescue Buddies were given to  children  in the midst of trauma, such as being removed from their homes.  While it certainly couldn’t alleviate their suffering, holding a stuffed animal provided a small measure of comfort during times of stress. This kind of workshop is a Magnovo favorite because of how directly each child is served. It’s also a popular workshop for our clients; helping local children in emergency situations  by making Rescue Buddies™ available to them is a powerful motivator.

Payne County Sheriff’s Department Accepts Donation

Rockford Brown of the Sheriff’s Department was invited to attend the workshop. Students listened attentively when he spoke to the group at the end of the program. He thanked everyone for their hard work. He also shared a highly emotional story of just one child who received a Rescue Buddy from one of the Sheriff’s Department officers. A hush fell over the room, broken only by Rockford Brown encouraging the Oklahoma State University – SHIELD Scholars students to give themselves a round of applause for their hard work and community-minded efforts.


AbbVie Mixes Business and Fun with Awards Event and Mission

AbbVieWe met with employees of the pharmaceutical company AbbVie at the Lincolnshire Marriott Resort, in a suburb of Chicago, IL. They held an awards program followed by a charity team building workshop.

AbbVie Meets in Chicago for Charity Workshop

The company invited us to create a program that complemented their Finance & Operations Excellence Awards event. After a morning spent honoring hard workers and high achievers, AbbVie wanted to pay it forward and help local schoolchildren. We came up with a custom Mission: Kids Careprogram. We worked with attendees to  develop key workplace skills associated with being prepared while assembling backpacks full of school supplies so that Forrestal Elementary School  children would be prepared for school every day.

The Importance of Being Prepared

Unfortunately, none of us was quite prepared for the massive snowstorm that hit the Chicago area the day of the event! The terrible weather did affect attendance. We planned on putting together teams of 6 or 7, and having roughly 25 teams compete for backpack items; only about half of the AbbVie employees came. And the plans we made for kids from Forrestal to come and receive the backpacks at the end of the workshop fell through because the school district closed for the day.

Everyone was disappointed. But it did provide us with a good opportunity to discuss preparation in a context. In addition, we practiced it through the games and challenges we issued to teams of participants.

Successful Mission: Kids Care™ for Forrestal Elementary School

Despite everything, all of the AbbVie participants were enthusiastic and eager to excel. They enjoyed games like Say What I Say, Air Counting, Flip Cup, Dice Game, Wordles, and Group Writing. People packed up more than 1,800 items for students enrolled at Forrestal! As we assembled the backpacks full of supplies, we revisited key elements of preparation and teamwork. Participants helped pack up Mission: Kids Caredonations, too, so that they could be brought to the school.

We held a short debriefing session after the workshop, although it was truncated slightly in light of the worsening road conditions. Magnovo’s main office received a lovely letter from AbbVie’s event organizers a few days later, though.In it, Magnovo received thanks for the amazing and interactive team building event. AbbVie organizers said their folks felt the event was rewarding and left participants with practical skills that would improve productivity and efficiency. The letter also reports that the students at Forrestal were thrilled to receive their new backpacks. In closing, the letter expressed the hope that Magnovo could work with AbbVie again someday; we hope so, too.

The Elan Group’s Rescue Buddies Workshop Shines While Helping Kids in Charlotte, NC

Magnovo’s own Rob Jackson facilitated this very special leadership workshop at Le Meridien Charlotte, where participants had a chance to learn new skills and put them into practice right away.

Campfire Leadership™ Illuminates in Charlotte, NC

The Elan Group hosted a 2-day professional development workshop off-site for its leadership team. The company asked Magnovo to tailor a workshop to wrap up the second day of training. Rob Jackson came through with his own Campfire Leadershipprogram, coupled with a Rescue Buddiescharity project. It was somehow fitting to be discussing  Jackson’s three leadership styles, Penlight, Spotlight, and Campfire, as the winter sun was setting. He facilitated a conversation that led folks to understand that Penlight and Spotlight leaders may offer too little or too much guidance, while Campfire leaders share a light that allows others to see better, and makes them feel like they want to connect, much like a genuine campfire would.

Ideas into Practice

Easily transitioning from high-level discussion to hands-on practice, Jackson divided the group of 40 participants into teams. As he led them through activities that increased in complexity from stacking and flipping cups to strategy games, he took the time to show them how these activities actually illuminated the three kinds of leadership  they were discussing.

There was one more component of the workshop to come – putting together Rescue Buddies. This was an opportunity for each participant to assemble a stuffed animal. They would be given to local first responders for children they assist. The Elan Group carried out their assembly tasks while also joining in group games that encouraged new ways of thinking and communicating as team leaders. Before the program was over, the Elan Group completed 40 Rescue Buddies!

Rescue Buddies™ for the Charlotte Fire Department

lt’s one thing to put together stuffed animals for a charity project; it’s another to hear just  how important those items are to the people who will be receiving them. We invited Rob Cannon    from the Charlotte Fire Department to come and accept the donations Mr.  Cannon thanked the Elan Group for their hard work and the Rescue Buddies. He said comfort items like these are sometimes the  only thing that helps calm a child. Everyone found the  stories he told moving, especially those in the group who were  also parents.

Through the debriefing session, the Elan Group participants stressed how much the Campfire leadership discussions and Rescue Buddies activity had provided them with fresh perspective on leading colleagues and coworkers.