They say that there is no such thing as a truly unselfish act, that in doing something for someone else you are also helping yourself in some way. Why not plan to produce something truly exceptional by accepting and owning that truth? By mixing charitable work in with our team building exercises not only do we help the local community but we also provide a sense of pride and purpose to our team building events which are passed onto the attendees. It also helps garner interest and coverage from local news outlets and businesses.
The team building event we organized that best exhibits this is when we were going for another world record attempting team building exercise. This particular event took place after I had been channel surfing and happened upon a group doing a human domino mattress drop Guinness World Record attempt on the USS Intrepid. They strapped 435 participants to mattresses and cascaded down the upper deck of the battleship in Manhattan. It was a fantastic spectacle and I contacted a client about repurposing it for another team building event. It was just after Hurricane Katrina had struck New Orleans and we thought we could combine it with an act of charity by donating the mattresses to homeless shelters in the area after the record attempt.
The proposal was eagerly accepted and the client said he would contact their mattress supplier Simmons to see if they would donate some to the cause. They couldn’t provide them free but agreed to let us have them at cost and ship them to the event space. Next, we got in contact with the New Orleans Convention Center to see about getting a hall large enough to meet the square footage required for the attempt. The Convention Center was spectacular and promised to donate the space as well as the time we would need in order to make the record attempt. All we needed now were the 850 La Quinta Inns and Suites General Managers and the official Guinness World Record adjudicator to make this a reality.
We brought in the man who at the time held the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest domino cascade of over 10,000 dominos. He worked with us to determine the ground plan of the 850 mattresses to ensure the distance between them and the safety of the participants. We did a dry run with just 6 of us including La Quinta’s CEO, COO, CDO and myself, it was a good idea as it turned out we were off by about 11 inches in the proposed placement, an oversight that nearly cost me a broken nose. We weren’t going to fail our attempt due to lack of proper preparation like we did with the ukulele ensemble attempt and so we readjusted the placement.
The client decided to have some t-shirts specially printed for the event so that all the attendees had something physical to remember it by. To further amp up the excitement and buzz we hired Marvelous Mark to MC the event and organized a streamer finale to wrap it all up with. We then began to promote the event on a local level, we invited every media outlet in New Orleans to attend and built up an impressive amount of participation and coverage. We reached out to local celebrities and set up a media area and seating for the charities who would be receiving donations and mattresses. We brought in a social media specialist and someone from American Audio Visual to provide lighting, sound, and filming for the attempt and this was all streamed on Facebook and YouTube.
To say the team building event was a success would be an understatement, the event had 1.5 million views in the first 18 hours and at the time of writing has been viewed over 5.2 million times. We submitted the team building event for an award with the Special Event Gala Awards, ILEA, and BizBash receiving nominations for creativity and logistics which we then went on to win. So by helping my client, to help other people and their staff, I helped myself too in the process. Whilst my own benefit was not the original goal it goes to show that if you did aim for the selfish outcome you can still enact positive change and achieve great results.