Documentary "I Am" by Tom Shadyac Shares Teamwork Truth: WE ARE ALL CONNECTED

My wife and I recently watched the new documentary I AM by Tom Shadyac.  It was WONDERFUL!

The movie is a probing exploration of our world, what's wrong with it, and what we can do to make it better.

Shadyac is best known for his movies "Ace Ventura," "Liar Liar," and "Bruce Almighty" among others. I AM recounts what happened to the filmmaker after a cycling accident left him incapacitated, possibly for good. Though he ultimately recovered, he emerged a changed man.

The movie shares the powerful and important message that we are all connected. What happens to one of us impacts all of us.

Through our work as teamwork facilitators we can help people celebrate the connection we have with each other and learn how to leverage this connection to create a prosperous win-win outcome.

From the movie:

"The truth of who we are is that we are because we belong."

-- Reverend Desmond Tutu


Visit the movie's website HERE.

Watch the movie preview here:


Watch Director Tom Shadyac interviewed by Thom Hartmann here:


Example of poor leadership and coaching

The video clip below shows a team competing in "The Amazing Race" (a TV program).

Pay close attention to the coaching.

Coach:  "Don't give up on me now.  Just focus."

Launcher:  "I'm not giving up.  I'm just frustrated."

Coach:  "You got this sister.  You are super, super close.  Right in the kisser.  Show that knight who's boss."

Watermelon Launcher gets hit in the face with a watermelon!

Coach:  "Are you okay?"

Launcher:  "I can't feel my face. I have the worst headache ever."

Coach:  "I don't doubt it."

Launcher:  "So what do we do now?"

Coach:  "You have to finish."

Launcher:  "What?!"

Coach:  "There's no out."

Launcher:  "I can't even see straight."

Coach: "They don't call this the Amazing Race for nothing."

The coaching provided in this video clip is an example of what I refer to as a "Traditional Leadership Style." This style of leadership places relationships second (or third) and "winning" in the number one spot. 

Just imagine this coach leading a team at the office.  What do you think her staff turnover would be?  How deep would her "trust account" be? (thank you Stephen M.R. Covey) 

This style of leadership might have worked during the industrial age but it definitely won't work in the Inspiration Age - - an age where our prosperity (economic, organizational, personal, etc.) is determined by our ability to inspire ourselves, our team, our organizations, our communities, our world. 

Learn how to lead using a powerful leadership operating system based on love and abundance HERE.

Playful teamwork helps provide clean drinking water to millions in Africa

Did you know...

  • Right now, half the people in developing countries are suffering from water-related diseases.
  • Water-related diseases are responsible for 80% of all sickness in the world.
  • About 4 billion cases of diarrhea per year cause 2.2 million deaths.
  • 1.7 million children under the age of five die from diarrhea each year.

The brilliant people at PlayPumps International have found a way to help improve the lives of children and their families by providing easy access to clean drinking water, enhancing public health, and offering play equipment to millions across Africa. 

Check out this delightful video clip.  You'll witness children at play (working together) while they supply clean drinking water for their community.

STOMP -- 5 things I learned about teamwork while watching people beat the hell out of trash cans and brooms

I took my 8 year old son to see STOMP while they were in Asheville.

Have you seen STOMP?  It's the most amazing show.  It ranks right up their with Cirque du Soleil.

It is very difficult to classify the show STOMP. It could be put under the heading of theater, dance, music or performance art.

STOMP is performed in theaters, but it is not a play, musical, or opera. It is not theater in the traditional sense of the word. There is no speech, dialogue or plot. However, it does have two characteristics of traditional theater: mime and characterization.

STOMP will make you laugh.  It's a fun show filled with rhythm and percussion of all sorts.

The show in Asheville was 1 hour 45 minutes long and NON STOP (no intermission).  My son was on the edge of his seat the entire time - - fully engaged.  The packed audience gave a long standing ovation at the end.

As I'm watching I'm thinking - - "This is an amazing demonstration of teamwork!"

The top 5 things I learned about teamwork at STOMP:

1. Teamwork takes lots of practice (if you want to play big).

Watch the video clips below and you'll see the cast members of STOMP performing just a couple of the many amazing routines we witnessed in person.  It took the cast members hours and hours of practice to get to this level of proficiency.  They practice before hitting the road for the STOMP tour and they practice during the tour.  Having worked with and observed many a team, I can say with confidence that most teams (business teams) practice VERY little if ever.  Why do we do this to ourselves?  We would never expect to step on the stage in front of a packed theater unless we practiced with intensity and focus and for many days.  And yet, we expect the teams we manage to run well without practicing team skills.  What I'm talking about here is TRAINING and DEVELOPMENT.

2. Teamwork requires pacing.

The video clips I've provided below give a sample of the high energy nature of the show.  However, the performers aren't always exerting an extreme level of energy during the show.  Because the show is non-stop (no intermission) the performers must pace themselves.  There are segments when the routine requires an extreme level of physical output and there are routines that require standing and shaking match boxes.  The ebb and flow of the show allows the performers to pace themselves.  Do you pace yourself?  Does your team pace itself?  When I worked for the YMCA the average "senior director" lasted only 2 years on the job because most burned out.  I met a long-time CEO who worked for the YMCA who spoke at a conference and his message was "pace yourself".  He admitted he wasn't good at pacing himself and had been divorced three times.  Each of his wives told him (pleaded with him) to remember his family and relationships outside of work.  If you can't pace yourself then you won't make it.

3. When everyone is fully committed you can risk more.

I saw an interview with the STOMP cast members and they were asked about the seemingly dangerous nature of some of the routines.  Yes, they said, people can get hurt but they know everyone is fully committed and that makes it easier to trust and thus, risk more. When things move slow (this show doesn't) it's easier to get buy with low trust.  But have you been reading the headlines at Google News?  We don't live in a slow moving world anymore.  Slow = out of business.  If you even want to step on the field of play you better be ready for speed.  The number one ingredient of speed is TRUST.  Have you read (and applied) the lessons from Stephen M.R. Covey's book "The Speed of Trust"?

4. The audience LOVES to watch a high functioning team succeed.

Watching STOMP is totally engaging.  People love to see a group of people in sync.  It reminds us of what we're all capable of.  STOMP wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable if the show was made up of a series of solo performances.  The power of the show comes from the fact that it's a TEAM of people working together in perfect harmony.  Why do the performers receive standing ovations in city after city?  Because they give it all up for the audience and we know it.  But giving your all for the audience is not enough.  It's the fact that all the performers working together as one unit produce a breathtaking show that makes you smile from ear to ear.  If your customers saw the inner workings of your team (business/organization) would it make people smile from ear to ear?

5. The resources we need are all around us.

During the show the performers used a wide variety of every-day items as percussion instruments - - brooms, trash cans, buckets, match boxes, sand, pipes, newspapers, etc.  Can you imagine how these artists view the world?  Everything is an instrument to them!  Opportunities to create music are everywhere!  Now apply this same lesson to your team (business/organization).  Do you see opportunities everywhere?  If you don't, it's not because they don't exist, it's because you can't see them (yet).

Video Clips

I've embeded a video clip below and here are a couple of links to other great routines:

Above NYC hanging and banging

Famous broom rhythm routine

New movie "The Shift" points to a need for team consciousness

As someone who understands the importance of teamwork you need to know about the new movie entitled "The Shift".

Since the beginning, my intention with was to help create a global shift to win-win (team) consciousness.

Is it possible our collective work to bring about win-win consciousness is part of the larger picture described in this new movie?

From the movie's website:

A massive worldwide phenomenon is in progress offering seeds of great hope for the future.

Millions of individuals, organizations and corporations around the world are waking up and embracing a new outlook with an emphasis on their responsibility to contribute positively to our collective future.

We are in the middle of the biggest social transformation in human history, The SHIFT.

In the movie preview you'll see US Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich mention the need for a "Department of Peace".  If we're going to have a Department of Defense then we absolutely need a Department of Peace!  Thank you Mr. Kucinich. 

We Are Smarter Than Me - - business book written by a community using a wiki

Dan Pink's blog informs us that...

A group of folks at Wharton, Pearson, MIT, and Shared Insights have launched what aims to the world's first networked business book.

The venture, chirpily called We Are Smarter Than Me, will combine wiki techology and thousands of people around the world to create a management guide for a Web 2.0 world.

As the organizers explain, "Since the beginning of publishing, books have been written by individuals or by small groups of people (experts). This has even applied to recent books that describe the power of community intelligence. We Are Smarter Than Me will test this paradox, and determine whether a community of authors can write a compelling book better than individual experts."

You can sign up to help write the book HERE.

Dan Pink is the author of "A Whole New Mind -- Why Right Brainers Will Rule The Future".  Listen to the audio interview I did with Dan HERE.

Managing Dispersed Technical Teams

My friend Barry Rellaford of Speed of Trust points me to an article that addresses how to manage (lead) a team of tech experts who are dispersed geographically.

As qualified technical experts are getting more expensive and harder to find, virtual teams allow organizations to attract and retain the talented individuals they need from a global pool. Managing these individuals remotely, however, presents managers with several unique challenges.

In these situations, managers need all the traditional leadership skills the position requires, as well as specialized knowledge required to deal with remote teams. For example, good leaders have to be trusted by their employees.

Read the entire article HERE

Tips on running a virtual team meeting HERE

Al Gore's documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" -- Team skills are needed to avert a global crisis

I just watched Al Gore's documentary entitled An Inconvenient Truth now out in DVD.

This movie will change your life.  It had that effect on me.  It's a compelling call to action.

Famed movie critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times says about the movie:

In 39 years, I have never written these words in a movie review, but here they are: You owe it to yourself to see this film. If you do not, and you have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you decided not to.

Ait_poster1 The website gives this movie a 92% positive rating which is about as high a rating as any movie will receive. 

Have you seen this movie?  If not I urge you to go out RIGHT NOW and rent it or buy it. 

If you're a teacher then show this movie to your students. The movie's website has an area just for educators HERE

If you're a parent watch this movie as a family (that's what we did).   

As I watched the movie I began to wonder if global warming is THE crisis that the Millennial Generation ("hero" generation) will be confronting. Not familiar with generational history?  CLICK HERE to learn about more about it.

The challenge of reversing global warming is HUGE and will demand an intense amount of teamwork. 

Reversing global warming will require a shift in consciousness.  Mankind must make the shift from lack consciousness to abundance consciousness.

Lack consciousness perpetuates fear.  Lack consciousness says there is never enough.  It promotes the idea that there is a pie and if you get a big slice then someone else will get a small slice (if they get a slice at all).  Lack consciousness says there is a finite amount of oil and we (USA) must protect our oil interests.

Abundance consciousness does away with the concept of a pie.  Where as lack consciousness perpetuates fear, abundance consciousness advances love.  Abundance consciousness provides a peaceful answer.  Oil?  How much do we need it if every car runs on electricity (or some other renewable energy)?

When two people meet (when two ideas meet) and one holds a consciousness of fear and the other love - - it is love that ALWAYS wins out. 

Teamwork, when it's taught consciously, advance abundance consciousness.

At one point in An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore says many who view his presentation become depressed and then move to a place of giving up.  People see the enormity of the challenge and don't see how they can overcome the obstacles.  When Gore said this I instantly knew of a teambuilding game that could help a group of students (or adults) experience how to take action AND experience success regardless of the obstacles.

The teambuilding game is called Hole Tarp and you can watch a video clip of high school students playing the game HERE.  You'll even find complete and detailed directions on how to lead it.

Use the Hole Tarp teambuilding activity to help a group take action together and really understand what it means to move forward together.

CLICK HERE to view a short presentation of Al Gore sharing what we can do to avert a global climat crisis.

Teamwork, Diet Coke, Mentos

Diet_coke_mentos I'm always on the lookout for unusual examples of teamwork and now I found a VERY unusual example.

Two guys in lab coats (with entirely too much time on their hands) + 200 liters of Diet Coke + 500 Mentos mints = over one hundred jets of soda flying into the air in less than three minutes.

Watch the amazing and completely insane video clip.

And watch how well these two guys work together.  The equation for success?  It all boils down to... fun.

Teamwork in the Movies: Mad Hot Ballroom

Mad_hot_ballroom We (my family) watched an AWESOME documentary this evening entitled Mad Hot Ballroom which received an 83% positive rating at

In this documentary we follow several groups of fifth graders (age 10) in the New York City public school system as they are introduced to ballroom dancing in their P.E. classes.  A handful of these kids go on to compete in a city wide ballroom dance competition.  The results are amazing, delightful and heartwarming. 

There are lots of reasons I love this movie...

You get to see teachers who love teaching.  You get to see kids who love learning how to dance.  You get to see 10 year olds talking about what it's like to be 10 years old. 

My first job out of college was working as a professional dancer with a group known as the Green Grass Cloggers.  (if you have a good eye you can spot me in this photo from 1986).  I danced and traveled with this group full time for one year.  I got into this scene in college because of the great music and dance community.  I had so much fun playing music (banjo) and dancing and I learned a lot about how to work with (dance with) others who are incredibly passionate about "getting it right" and being professional.  Up until this point, music and dance was just a hobby.  Making it into a job caused me to grow in ways unexpected and, to this day, I still benefit from.

All this to say - - You must watch Mad Hot Ballroom.  And if you're lucky, you will pick up on the nuances of dance and how they apply to building high performing teams.

"And a five, six, seven, eight..."

Teamwork in the Movies: Over The Hedge

Over_the_hedge Yesterday I took my seven year old son Joseph to see the new movie Over The Hedge which received a 73% positive rating at  We both loved the movie and laughed a lot.

As I watched, I thought about the messages built into the movie's story:

  • Family (community) is vitally important
  • You are strongest when you are in your community
  • Living life as a loner is no fun
  • Working as a unified team, we can over come the most threatening challenges

THIS is a movie made to appeal to the Millennial Generation!

The Millennials (born 1982 - 2005) are the generation following the X-Generation.  If the cycles of history continue as predicted by Howe & Strauss in their book The Fourth Turning, Millennials are on tap to become our next "hero" generation.  As a point of reference, our last hero generation is known as the "G.I. Generation" because they fought in WWII. 

All hero generations are predisposed to work in teams and it's a good thing to because it's the Millennials who will be facing the next "crisis" (our last one was WWII). 

Back to the movie... Millennials are the most diverse generation ever - and the movie depicted a diverse "family" (see the photo.  Millennials like messages about the importance of team and community and the movie's strongest theme was FAMILY and COMMUNITY IS EVERYTHING.  Millennials will be asked and expected to give their all during the next crisis and in the movie the animal family had to pull together like never before to stay alive and beat several fierce and determined enemies.

A similar message was delivered last summer to our children (and adults) in the wildly popular kids movie entitled "The Incredibles".  Expect to see more movies (esp. kids movies) with the same messages.

Team Buying

P4a I love this news item about shoppers (who don't know each other) looking for the same items and find each other online then band together offline to negotiate special deals on electronics, home furnishings, and automobiles.

It's called "Team Buying" and it's the newest shopping craze in China.

Some team buyers approach store managers beforehand, others simply show up (aka "flash mob") and flex their collective muscle.

I wonder how this would work in the US.

Duke Lacrosse Players Charged With Rape

Duke_lacrosse Last month (April) two Duke Lacrosse players were charged with rape.  This story made headlines around the US and continues to do so.

I'm following this story with great interest for many reasons. I love the sport of lacrosse and have played, organized, coached and refereed the game.  I also happen to live in North Carolina where Duke University is located and have seen the team play.  My wife survived a brutal assault and rape by an escaped convict (you can read her story here).

Here are some of the facts of the Duke Lacrosse story:  there was an off campus lacrosse party, there were strippers and one of them claimed she was raped.

This case has resulted in protests, accusations of racism and classism, and lots of unrest.  The Duke lacrosse season was quickly cancelled and coach Mike Pressler resigned. Pressler had been at Duke 16 years and the team lost a national title by a goal last season.

Some things I want to know...

What were the top 3 values of the team / players / coach / staff?  Interview each player and ask them to identify the top 3 values.  Was "winning" number one?  Or was character/integrity number one?

When recruiting, did the coaching staff place skill at the top of the list or character?

There are some who believe that you can't have a number one sports team if character is placed at the top of the values list.  Many believe that character and winning are incompatible.  I've seen this demonstrated time and again in my involvement with competitive sports.

I recognize I'm making a judgement here.  I don't know what the values were for this team.  All I see are the results of their values in the news (and then I extrapolate).

The Enron debacle is a glaring example of what happens when character and integrity are NOT the top values.  Winning becomes a short lived experience.  Like a house of cards, the tower will and must fall.

Looking at the Duke Lacrosse story through the eyes of David Hawkin's book "Power vs. Force", I suggest that consciousness of the lacross team - and certainly the party - was below 200 on the Map of Consciousness.  Anything measuring below 200 is "life taking" (i.e. NOT life giving).  Were the lacrosse players encouraged by the coach and others to be Prideful (measuring 175 on the map)?  Was the party with the strippers filled with Guilt (measuring 30 on the map)? The police discovered an email written by one of the lacrosse players that reflected Fear (rating 100) and Anger (rating 150). 

Are you building a team that will crash like a house of cards?  Or are you building a team that will stand the test of time - a team based on the powerful and life giving forces/values of Acceptance (350), Reason (400), Love (500), Joy (540) and Peace (600). 

Spanking and Teambuilding

Jury Awards 1.7 Million to Spanked Employee

Alarm company says it was part of a team-building exercise

This headline recently appeared in a news release

Spank2 The jury of six men and six women found that Janet Orlando, 53, was subjected to sexual harassment and sexual battery when she was paddled on the rear end two years ago at Alarm One Inc., a home security company in Fresno. Sales teams were encouraged to compete, and the losers were made fun of, forced to eat baby food, required to wear diapers and spanked with a rival company's yard signs, according to court documents.

Any strategy that shames another person is doomed to fail.  This is a spiritual truth.

In his book "Power vs. Force -- The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior", David Hawkins MD, PhD shares a "Map of Consciousness" which shows that Shame rates at the bottom of the scale (20 out of 1000). 

Shame is an emotion of "humiliation", and holds a God view of "despising", and a life view of "miserable". 

No surprise that the person / company that promotes shame would have such a massive financial penalty levied against them by the jury. 

What would happen if the person who designed the training program that involved spanking coworkers approached their training design from a place of Love (500 on the Map of Consciousness) rather than Shame?

Training designs are either negative / life taking (rating 200 or below) or positive / life giving (rating over 200). 

Can a person who operates primarily at or below 200 design and deliver a training event that rates over 200?

Firing your customers? How to put your team members first

Yesterday I spent $2,000 with a company called and I'm going to give them more of my business because the purchasing experience was great. 

The president of the company David Durovy signed up for my newsletter (I'm not sure how he got the link) and when I saw his email come across my screen I sent him a quick note.  He sent me a thoughtful response along with a link to a news article describing how his company treats his team. 

As you'll read in the article David puts his team first and if a customer is difficult to deal with (read rude or mean) then they fire the customer! 

David says "That was kind of a bold step, but it set a precedent and it gave our people here the confidence that we really cared about how they were being treated."

The reps now have a referral list at their desks, and if they feel uncomfortable dealing with a customer they politely give the name and number of a competitor.

The way to get your team to give outstanding customer service is to treat everyone on your team with respect and admiration.  Put your team members first and then watch how your team members put the customer first.

David may not know it but it sounds like he is a natural Coach Manager.

Bode Miller - Should I aspire to be a "Bodeist"?

Bodemiller I watched the winter Olympics this weekend and had a chance to watch Bode Miller from the US ski team.  What a disaster!  His performance was dismal.  No medals and often didn't even finish his events.

Whats worse, it seemed like every other commercial was by Nike and it featured Miller sitting casually in a dark room (cave?) saying how the Olympics are not about winning the gold but about the experience.  At the end of the commercial I was asked if I wanted to be a "Bodeist" - - I guess they wanted to know if I wanted to be like Bode Miller.

At a January press conference Miller brazenly claimed to have competed in past events while under the influence of alcohol.  During a TV interview on the slopes Miller reported "I'm not getting drunk the night before the races".  So I guess he's getting drunk all other nights? 

Contrast that with the German 4-man bobsled captain who would not give an interview and was not seen much by the press - - he goes on to win gold. I got the sense that this German is totally focused on the matter at hand which is to do his absolute best at the Olympics.  He played full out.

Bodie Miller lacked the fire, focus and drive I'm used to seeing in Olympic athletes. Instead we get these lame Nike commercials with Miller telling us "it's not about the gold". Yeah right. If it's not about the gold then why go to the Olympics? Miller says you go to have fun. Of course you go to have fun. AND you go to win!

When did we lose the ability to combine the two - - playing really hard AND having fun? I see this in youth sports, kids are either taught to "have fun" (and not worry about the score) OR play to kill.

Does your team struggle with being great, being their best, AND having fun doing it?

Unknown Talent on Your Team

Jmac It was his team's final home game of the season. Jason McElwain entered with four minutes to go. It was his first and only appearance for the Greece Athena High School basketball varsity team in this Rochester, NY. Jason hit six three-point shots and a 2-pointer and was carried off the court on his teammates' shoulders.

Watch the video

This was Jason's first and only appearance on the court. Why? Jason is autistic and is the manager of the team (didn't make the team as a player).

Jim Johnson, the coach, was so impressed with Jason's work ethic and dedication that he asked Jason to suit up for the home game finale (with no guarantee he would play).

"He's been my right-hand man, he's there every day and just getting him the opportunity to suit up was emotional enough for me," the coach said. "For him to come in and seize the moment like he did was certainly more than I ever expected."

Jason McElwain is what I call a "sleeper" - someone who is pigeon-holed, someone who's true potential is awakened when given the chance. Who on your team is a "sleeper"?  Who would rise to the occassion if given the chance to "suit up"?  What would it take to release the greatness of everyone on your team?

Would you like to tap the full potential of your team members?  You can do it with one-on-one coaching.

Teambuilding Games at an Orphanage in India

Images_1 A couple of months ago Rich Swannell called me from Pirth, Australia (Rich found me through a mutual friend).  He said he was headed to Southern India to begin an amazing project. 

Rich is teaching a hand picked group of children at the Hebron Children's Home to trade on the US stock market with the goal being to help make the orphanage and community self-sustaining financially.  This project will take years to see through to the end.

Rich is teaching the children how to work as an investment team and is using the resources at to help him learn how to teach in a memorable way.

A group is documenting this project and Rich sent me some video of one of the initial team training sessions. 

I had tears in my eyes as I watched these children participate in teambuilding activities taught to them by Rich who had learned them at  This was one of the greatest gifts I've ever received. 

Listen to a 30 minute interview I did with Rich Swannell by clicking on the link below:

Download rich_swannell_mp3_sm.mp3

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Hebron Children's

Below you can view the video clip of the kids playing these games.

Do you have an inspirational story you'd like to share about how you're using teambuilding to change lives?  Please send me your story and I might just write about it in this blog.