Great Team Building Tips from the Cirque du Soleil

Cirque de Soleil performances are known around the world as magical, creative, and perfectly in-sync. Now, instead of just watching and learning from afar, companies are learning some of the Cirque du Soleil’s best kept branding and team building secrets. Known as the the Cirque du Soleil® SPARK Sessions, these experiences offer companies the opportunity to learn from the teamwork, creativity and branding expertise of the Cirque du Soleil.  The experiences also cover team bonding and talent acquisition.

In a recent article for Business.com, James Guilford and Kris Chanski, who both work with the SPARK Sessions, talk to Jennifer Xue team building. Here are the 5 awesome tips inspired by the Cirque du Soleil-way.

  1. Fill the gap between the “idea” and the actual result. Guilford calls this the “gray space.” Explaining to Xue that embracing the gray space can lead to realizing goals.
  2. Inclusive word like “also” and “help me understand” are great for promoting team collaboration and positivity. Stay away from hash words like “no”, which stifle team spirit.
  3. Positive feedback with “progressive” language. If you are giving feedback to a team member, use a sentence that emphasizes “when you do this…then this allows.” Instead of saying “you did this and made this happen.”
  4. Shine a spotlight on team members. Don’t forget to praise you team members and do so in a big way. Show the whole team the great work they’ve done!
  5. Encourage endless possibilities. Don’t put a cap on your team members’ dreams. Encourage them to dream big in their jobs – whether this is learning new skills, exceeding in a position or moving up in the ranks.

Read the full article by Jennifer Xue on Cirque du Soleil SPARK Sessions here.

New Bar Works Co-Working Space Opens in San Francisco

Jack’s restaurant, a historic building in downtown San Francisco, is finding new life as a co-working space; it is being revitalized by Bar Works, a company that has 3 similar spaces in New York City. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Bar Works decided upon the historic venue in order to make a statement as they charter a space in a brand new town. They cite Bar Works’ managing director, Franklin Kinard, who said, “By going after a landmark building, we felt it was a dramatic way to announce ourselves to the marketplace. It makes a statement.”

This space will be perfect for individuals working remotely who would prefer a dedicated workspace instead of bounding nomadically from coffeeshop to coffeeshop seeking fast wifi and a productive space to work. It will also be a great place for small teams to gather and work, as they will offer nearly 400 individual workspaces as well as conference rooms in the 6,000 square foot facility.

The Jack’s building has a storied history. It is the second oldest restaurant in San Francisco; it first opened it’s doors in 1864 and has been home to a series of restaurants and cafes since. For the first time in it’s history, it will be home to a business not in the foodservice industry, although Bar Works intends to obtain a liquor and wine license, as well as have coffee and light food available to its tenants.

The owners of this new co-working space hope to preserve a lot of the historical significance by maintaining some of the original operations and aesthetic through opening the bar and food service avenues within the building. Co-working prices will be comparable to the other companies already in town – $30 day passes, and $400-$600 a month for most spaces. Bar Works is hoping that by keeping some of the original vintage look of Jack’s while reopening its doors as a co-working space, they will be able to preserve an important piece of San Francisco history.

3 Activities to Strengthen Your Team’s Creativity

One of the biggest myths about creativity is that some people are born with it and some people are not. The truth of the matter is that, while some people may have a greater penchant for creativity, all people are on some level creative and can cultivate it like they would any other skill. These three companies specialize in team building activities that will draw out and challenge your team members’ creativity. As they learn to think imaginatively here, they will be cultivating the skills to think outside the box and problem solve more readily back in the office.

  1. Paint Nite: This company connects you with a local artist and party host. They meet your team at a local restaurant or similar type venue and invite you to create artwork while sipping some cocktails. They supply all the materials needed for you to have a good time and flex your creative muscles. This is perfect for a fun and relaxing evening of team bonding.
  2. Nerd Improv: This company offers customized improv workshops designed to strengthen your team members’ active listening skills, creativity, willingness to take risks, and connection. They offer on or offsite skill building workshops, they’ll host icebreaker games or MC events, or even provide customized on-boarding training. Nerd Improv will help: “foster positivity during brainstorming and idea creation, encourage teammates to push their comfort zones, and discover new traits individually and in others.”
  3. Mystery By Design: With over 25 distinct and customizable plots, Mystery By Design’s writers and actors will work with your company’s history, strength, and idiosyncrasies to design a murder mystery scenario that your team must work together to solve. You name to time and place, and they coordinate the story. These events will have your teams competing to think creatively, beat the clock, and solve the mystery.

Creativity is a valuable skill to any team; being able to think outside the box and problem solve quickly will help your team collaborate more effectively. These Bay Area businesses will help your team fire on all creative cylinders and run smoothly and effectively.

Tips for Remote Teams from Museum Hack

With the technological advances of today’s world, many companies are employing teams of people which are either fully or partially distributed – some teams might have a few central people all working in an office together and others from remote locations, and other companies may have all of their employees working from different parts of the country or globe. One company that has seen success with creating a thriving company culture while also employing a dispersed team is Museum Hack.

Museum Hack offers unconventional museum tours at some of the most recognizable museums in New York City, Washington DC, and San Francisco. Most of their team members are based right there in one of the three cities, but they have a supporting team of people working in customer service, sales, and marketing in locations all over the globe – multiple U.S. cities, as well as Canada, Columbia, and the Philippines. This allows them to cut down on overhead costs like expensive office spaces in New York City, and cuts out a commute for most of the employees. In a recent blog post on their website, Museum Hack identified some techniques they use to improve company culture, and specifically, team building practices they employed to help include their remote team in the company.

Tips and Tricks of the Dispersed Team Building Trade

  1. Icebreakers – this may seem sort of like a team building buzzword, but there’s a reason icebreaker games and questions are a popular form of group bonding…they work. Museum Hack has found that by beginning or group chat or phone call with a soft question allows their remote team to be seens as individuals with experiences and desires, not just a worker. And as an added bonus, icebreaker questions involve zero monetary investment and minimal planning, which makes them easy to adopt into your company’s culture right away.
  2. Company Trainages – once a month or so, Museum Hack hires a consultant to teach much of their staff a new skill. They bring in both full-time and part-time employees for an evening of education and fun. While they admit that it is a larger financial investment than icebreakers may be, they see a huge ROI from their evenings out building new skills and friendships.
  3. Paid Trips for Localization – definitely the team building technique with the greatest financial investment, but Museum Hack has seen tremendous results from paying for employees to come in to NYC for a weekend and meet the whole team. Meeting one another in person contributes a noticeable increase in productivity, dedication and collaboration from their remote team members.

While working with a distributed team can have great advantages – allowing employees to work almost whenever and wherever they would like, they have their disadvantages too – a feeling of isolation and lack of connection can easily crop up. However with a few simple techniques in place, even fully dispersed companies can flourish.

Pokémon GO Team Building Possibilities

Museum Hack Premieres Pokemon Themed Tours
Upon its release on July 6, 2016, Pokémon GO became a quick internet sensation –
swiftly surpassing apps like Twitter and Tinder in number of users and quickly rising to the top of the App Store charts. As the Pokemon GO craze continued, Museum Hack continued their pattern of remaining on top of trends by announcing a Pokémon GO themed tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Their first tour launched on July 16 and received some media attention.

Museum Hack has also written about how museums have seen an uprise in people walking through their doors, often for the first time, looking for Pokémon. This game is getting people off their couches, out of their houses, and into their neighborhoods. Museum Hack is no stranger to innovation and activity in fields that seem unlikely candidates for these sorts of new approaches. They have developed a brand of exciting and unconventional tours that are offered in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Gallery of National Art in DC, and most recently, the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

Catch All Your Team Members with Pokémon Team Building
Any one of their tours would be a great team building option – they are fun, exciting, and group-oriented. The Pokemon themed tour would be a particularly great team bonding activity, as most people are already familiar with or are playing Pokemon GO and can dive right into engaging with and enjoying the tour. While these tours are currently only offered in New York City, there are rumors that private Pokemon tours will be coming to San Francisco soon. Until then however, you can request customized corporate tours here: https://museumhack.com/team-building/san-francisco/. They could certainly put together an afternoon or evening full of Pokemon-related museum activities that would allow your team to laugh and play together.

Team Building Lessons Learned From Museum Hack

New York-based company, Museum Hack has recently moved into the Bay Area neighborhood and brought with them their unique brand of team building activities centered around the exciting and unknown stories of the artifacts and pieces at the de Young Museum. They have had great success with team building activities in New York City, and these are some tips and tricks we have learned from their adventures so far in NYC and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Provide Real Experiences: Museum Hack prides themselves in creating lasting impressions with their guests by offering memorable experiences that will be remembered for years to come. Their guides’ authenticity shines through during each of their tours as they encourage their guests to be themselves through their example. They don’t take themselves, or the museums, too seriously.

Provide Real Stories: This goal stems from their continued commitment to authenticity. Museum Hack’s guides spend the time to learn the stories about the pieces at the museum. They work to become experts with the information and engage their guests with the art through true and entertaining stories.

Re-Invent Your Surroundings: Museum Hack began when CEO Nick Gray was taken on a date to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The young woman that Gray went with shared some of her favorite stories about the different pieces in the Met. Gray’s eyes were opened to the entertaining and educational opportunities offered by this personalized approach. Museum Hack has been committed to unique and inventive approaches to private and corporate museum tours ever since.

Through providing authentic and exciting museum tours, Museum Hack has changed the way people look at and experience museums. By connecting with their guests through their customized and authentic approach and providing them with true and entertaining stories, Museum Hacks guides pave the way for their guests to laugh and connect with one another. This blend of truthfulness and engagement have allowed them to transform not only the way people experience museums, but corporate team building as well.

3 Active Team Building Ideas

The words “team building” often conjure up images of stiff and awkward team members participating in trust falls in the breakroom or rather unwillingly playing a quick icebreaker game around the table in the conference room before a meeting. However, that does not have to be the case. These Bay Area businesses offer team building activities that will get your team moving and competing against the clock or one another. They will make everyone forget it was actually a team building event in which they were participating in the first place.

  1. The Go Game: This city-wide scavenger hunt game utilizes a custom smartphone app designed for this experience. Your employees will first meet with a game producer who will teach them the rules and divide them into teams. The teams will then compete against one another in a series of challenges, directed by the app, that encourage creative thinking and communication. These activities include a requirement to snap pictures and videos along the way which will be judged at the very end for a chance to win additional points. These games are customized to your team’s skill sets, interests, and needs. The Go Game offers variations of their app for large conferences as well.
  2. Adventure Associates: This Bay Area company specializes in creating custom team building games for groups of any size. These activities are guaranteed to provide meaningful and unforgettable experiences that will leave your team feeling energized. Your company’s experience could include kayaking or perhaps a bicycle tour of the city; whatever the Adventure Associates cook up is sure to be exciting.
  3. Adventure Challenge Course at Fort Miley: Offered by the Pacific Leadership Institute, this team building activity is not for the faint of heart. The high ropes challenge course is sure to encourage your team to learn to rely on one another as they conquer their fears together and build trust, leadership, and support. Surrounded by the beautiful scenery provided by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, this high-flying team building activity is sure bring smiles to your team’s faces.

Team building does not have to be confined to a stuffy office space. These activities offer your employees the chance to challenge themselves, learn more about one another, and get plenty of fresh air in the process.

Bay Area Booze-Infused Bonding

Nothing lightens the mood and relaxes inhibitions quite like  a good cocktail, and these three companies all offer team building activities in San Francisco that feature alcohol. Whether your team is learning bartending skills, cooking appetizers for a cocktail event, or participating in an authentic grape stomping, these activities will have them laughing, learning more about one another, and bonding with ease. These Bay Area businesses are worth checking out!

  1. SF Mixology: Your team first learns the skills of excellent bartending, and then SF Mixology divides them into small teams and they compete head to head to make, and serve the best drinks. The competition will require them to work together as a team and build customer service skills and other knowledge that they can transfer into their professional lives well after the competition is over.
  2. Parties That Cook, Small Plates Cooking Party: This evening event begins with time for your team to mingle and enjoy some appetizers and a drink. They are then treated to a cooking lesson and demonstration before they are divided into smaller teams to compete against one another to prepare a spectacular array of tapas. With music and a festive atmosphere, this mixer-style team building event is sure to leave your team smiling.
  3. The Lodge at Sonoma: This resort lodge offers festivals and events throughout the year that are a blast for corporate teams. At their Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival, guests get to taste test five different wines and enjoy foods from local restaurants and shops. Guests at the festival can even participate in a grape stomp and watch a firefighter water fight.

These three companies all offer fun and exciting team building activities in the Bay Area that all involve one thing: alcohol. The spirited atmospheres that these companies and their events foster will have your team interacting much more like friends and far less like only coworkers by the time it’s all said and done.

5 Team Building Activities That Taste Great

Food can be a great social elixir, whether your group is sitting down to eat a meal together, or learning to prepare one. Food can create a shared experience and be a conversation starter, breaking down barriers that would otherwise remain in place. These 4 companies offer food-based team building activities in San Francisco with a broad range of flavors to suit any company’s pallette.

  1. Jordan’s Kitchen: This San Francisco based business offers cooking classes that are customized and perfect for any team. Offering the company the opportunity to get offsite, Chef Jordan hosts the team in his own facilities and tailors the experience and menu to each group. Jordan’s Kitchen has worked with teams from a variety of corporations like Facebook, Google, and Adobe.
  2. Parties that Cook: With operations in both San Francisco and Chicago, Parties that Cook inspires collaboration and productivity among team members through their fun in the kitchen. You pick the venue, and let them know your team size, and they bring their mobile operations to your team.
  3. Hands on Gourmet: This company services much of the Bay Area and collaborates with a variety of restaurants, wineries, and cafes to provide top notch corporate team building events. They will help you pick the perfect location for your company’s team event and design a menu according to your team’s tastes. You can choose to host your event at one of their facilities or another offsite spot of your choosing.
  4. Avital Tours: Not all food-based team building has to involve cooking either. Providing walking tours built by locals with locals in mind, Avital offers a unique experience to residents that allows them to experience restaurants in their own backyard in fresh ways, by going into the kitchens, talking with restaurant owners and chefs, and creating one-of-a-kind food and alcohol pairings. These tours will have your team laughing and smiling and bonding over the common denominator of excellent food.
  5. The Great Guac Off: Looking for an active and competitive team building option with food? Look no further. The Great Guac off combines everyone’s favorite mashed avocado with fun games and activities that will have your entire team laughing, smiling and wanting more!

Whether it be chefs that come to you, invite you into their own kitchen, or even host a party in someone else’s, San Francisco has a lot of tasteful team building options.

3 Fun Team Building Activities in San Francisco

Individuals on one of Museum Hack’s new tours of the de Young Museum.
Individuals on one of Museum Hack’s new tours of the de Young Museum.

Most companies know that team building is important, and look for ways to inspire their teams. However, these team building activities too often involve awkward icebreakers, trust falls, or other games that end up making the team feel more uncomfortable around one another instead of building camaraderie. But fear not, not all team building events have to be uncomfortable. Below are some activities that help make team bonding as inspiring and awesome as it’s supposed to be.

  1. Participate in sports together. Get the heart pumping and the laughter and smiles flowing simultaneously. Many teams participate in a softball league or sponsor a running club. Or maybe a more zany, one-off athletic event is more your team’s style. Try taking your team to House of Air – they offer team building activities that will have your team flying high. Who knows, maybe your team will have so much fun they’ll form a group to compete in weekly dodgeball tournaments or sign up for one of House of Air’s workout classes.
  2. Do art together. Perhaps something a little less physically straining is more your team’s style. Take a pottery class together or do painting. Many places even allow you to bring your own wine or provide some for you. Paint Night offers group activities that exercise creativity and provide a social atmosphere, complete with cocktails.
  3. Take a Museum Hack tour. The New York-based company has recently expanded their operations to San Francisco and offer their unique and tested brand of team building at the de Young Museum. These tours include storytelling workshops, a scavenger hunt, and plenty of wonderful stories and secrets about the museum. A Museum Hack team building tour will have your team laughing and bonding as they share this one-of-a-kind experience. More info here.

That’s our list for today! Check back often for more ideas, tips and team building hacks. An investment in your team is an investment in your company. Many companies that sponsor these sorts of fun events regularly see a large ROI on employee creativity and productivity.