Unusual Corporate Retreats Truly Thank and Strengthen Teams
By Heather Miles Austin
Besides the heat, Arizona summers are also the season for team building adventures and corporate retreats. However, it is often difficult for executives to determine training that is both memorable and beneficial to teams. Three East Valley businesses provide a creative solution. Their unusual team-building activities are guaranteed to make an impact while uncovering hidden reservoirs of leadership and talent in business teams.
Jester’Z Improv Comedy, Mesa
Popular East Valley improvisation troupe, JesterZ, has been inspiring small businesses and Fortune 500 companies since 2001. Owner and producer Jef Rawls offers three levels of team-building services to clients – pure entertainment, hands-on fun and experiential team training focused on improving one major aspect of the business.
“Clients can sit back and have fun while our comedy group performs sketches specific to their company culture, or we can teach them to entertain themselves as they learn improv skits and skills and demonstrate them on stage,” explained Rawls. “We also offer in-depth training that teaches valuable skills employees and managers can apply within their business.”
Despite their success, misconceptions remain about improvisation, its application to the corporate world and the professional skills JesterZ can teach.
“When people hear that word improvisation, they often think of someone doing silly skits, not the skills improvisers have to hone to be successful at improv,” said Rawls. “A lot of what we do as improvisers – what makes us successful – takes strong, confident decisions and a willingness to see an idea through on stage. These same skills, confident decision making and following through on ideas, are very valuable in the corporate world.”
What is the key to professional success through improvisation? Rawls suggests focusing on one main area for improvement and his team will utilize theater exercises and improv techniques to help participants enhance the following:
• Teamwork: Learn principles of agreement and listening through humorous impromptu performances. Employees also learn to trust, build on ideas, cooperate, solve problems, put egos aside for a common goal and have fun.
• Creativity and Innovation: Create powerful solutions with a group-mind mentality. Employees learn to create something out of nothing, act on instinct, ignore the saboteur, create win-win solutions, generate ideas quickly, unlock imagination and brainstorm with purpose.
• Communication: Clients gain the ability to tell compelling stories without preparation. Rawls teaches spontaneous communication skills in a fun, supportive atmosphere and how to reduce fear of public speaking, to better understand body language and non-verbal cues to adapt presentations and use persuasion as a tool.
“We aren’t trying to make our clients funnier, explained Rawls. “This process simply helps them open their minds and figure out the best option for the situation they are in. They can solve problems more creatively, think on their feet, and apply the elements we teach to find more professional success.”
He added, “Ideas can either cost money or limit companies from earning their full potential. By teaching teams how to remove roadblocks and create new processes to cultivate ideas and improve business – companies are able to retain valuable employees and ultimately become more profitable.”
Rawls concluded, “Our experienced instructors insure each employee has an opportunity to participate, laugh and truly enjoy the team building exercise. Clients often return for additional sessions which inspire creativity, increase presentation skills and enhance co-workers ability to listen to and respect each other’s ideas.”
To learn more about JesterZ team building training or book them for a corporate retreat, call 480-423-0120 or visit www.jesterzimprov.com.
Trapeze U, Gilbert
Highflying fun takes on new meaning at Gilbert’s Trapeze U. This “Institute of Higher Learning,” literally “teaches business to fly.” While initially a bit intimidating for some participants, founder and president Dylan Phillips explains how “average” individuals are able to soar through their instruction.
“It is really more about having a desire to learn and willingness to try,” explained Phillips. “We teach all ages and body types, and success comes to each participant as they continue working at it and trusting the instructors and their teammates.”
Trapeze U accommodates various group sizes, abilities and team objectives. Through the instruction and application of trapeze skills, employee participants learn how valuable they are to their own team, how important it is to involve each member of the team and how critical trust and communication skills are for success. More importantly, employees don’t have to be accomplished athletes to participate.
“A lot of what we teach utilizes the momentum of the swing rather than relying on an individual’s strength,” explained Phillips. “If you can hang from a static bar, you can trapeze.”
Other necessary qualifications for involvement? Trapeze U participants must be over the age of 4, 300 pounds or less, in good general health and posses a spirit of adventure.
“The cool thing about trapeze is different people take away something different,” said Phillips. “Often the ones that were the most scared, yet still willing to try, have the best experience – they just can’t believe they were able to do it.”
Trapeze U instructors first work on safety, basic instruction and skills development. A padded, ground-based training bar builds confidence, and the speed of teaching is tailored to the group’s ability. However, each individual, regardless of skill, will have an opportunity to do a “fly by” and feel the rush of trapeze.
However, Trapeze U isn’t just about adventure. Employee participants also take away skills they can apply professionally.
“The confidence they gain in such a short time often surprises them,” said Philips. “They come away with the feeling that if I can do this, something I never thought I could do, what else can I accomplish. Their success facilitates bigger and better thinking. Their confidence allows them to do greater things.”
Contact Dylan Phillips at Dylan@trapezeu.com, 1-888-872-7101 to schedule a team building or group session, or visit www.trapezeu.com for more information.
Goldfield Ghost Town, Apache Junction
Looking for entertainment, a touch of nostalgia and scenic views for your corporate retreat? The Goldfield Ghost Town in Apache Junction offers more than a glimpse of the past with its “Old West” mining town, saloon and gold panning. Corporate teams can choose exhilarating jeep tours or horseback rides, relaxing carriage or historic train rides and explore Arizona heritage through an underground mining tour, historic museum tour or at the live reptile exhibit.
Goldfield Ghost Town can accommodate any size group through an informal retreat or structured afternoon of team building activities and dining. Large businesses often cap their day of adventure with an old-fashioned (yet catered) outdoor barbecue, complete with saloon girls and grilled steaks. Employees can also enjoy Goldfield’s free gunfights every hour, unique shopping and picturesque scenery.
For information on corporate retreats and team building opportunities, call Robert Schoose or Jay Zingler at (480) 983-0333, or visit www.goldfieldghosttown.com.
Check with tourism offices in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Apache Junction and Queen Creek for the inside scoop on more atypical team-building destinations. Employees appreciate when unconventional, yet thoughtful locations are selected to provide new experiences, skills development and a real “retreat” from the eight-to-five grind.