Corrections or additions?
This column was prepared for the January 14, 2004 issue of U.S. 1
Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Between the Lines
Over the years U.S. 1 has written more than its share
about team building, usually in the context of situations where people
worked together to overcome difficult physical obstacles.
One of our earliest stories was about John O’Brien, who overcame his
own personal obstacles. He grew up in an orphanage, the Milton Hershey
School in Hershey, Pennsylvania, but graduated from Princeton
in 1965 and became a corporate trainer, dedicated to the "action
learning" method. At the time of the U.S. 1 article he was founder
and president of Renaissance Leadership and internationally known
as a keynote speaker, seminar leader, and high performance coach.
In the 1980s we wrote for the first time about Cradlerock Outdoor
Network, a pioneer in the business of physically challenging people
to build their confidence and boost workplace efficiency. Cradlerock’s
"trust fall" was legendary. You had to fall backward into
the arms of your co-workers, trusting that they would safely catch
you. Cradlerock built a "low ropes" course that is still in
use at the Doral Forrestal.
But many other less strenuous methods of team training have been
Business was so good in the 1990s that trainers began to differentiate
between "team building," "team bonding," and "team
adventures." Team building makes a serious effort to correlate
the fun with what goes on in the workplace. Team bonding is almost
all fun, with some workplace analysis thrown in, while team adventures
are 100 percent fun.
In this issue we profile three entrepreneurs who are in the business
of workplace fun. At Pennytown Shopping Village Michael Young has
two companies, Meeting Dimensions and Activities, Events Specialists.
See page 43.
Joe Parnett, founder of Wow! Entertainment on State Road, adds novel
kinds of fun to corporate parties. He can bring anything from pool
tables to a dancing machine –follow the prompts on the screen and
learn to disco dance (page 46).
Ken Haag, manager of American Alpha Inc. on Stout’s Lane, rents and
sells video and arcade games, and its signature product is a photo
morphing machine. For the launch of a Tropicana juice product last
summer Haag sent custom-built morphing machines to malls (page 47).
Even the business of fun has its grim moments. The delivery truck
breaks down, a machine breaks, or the projector fails. Young, Parnett,
and Haag have learned the hard way how to cope with prospective
January may not be the cruelest month (T.S. Eliot gave April that
distinction) but it’s a cold month, and we like to warm it up with
our annual party. No, we have not hired an entertainment coordinator,
nor a dancing machine, but the staff is looking forward to relax and
chat with the members of our delivery team and our freelance writers.
Sometimes we try for novelty — one year we went bowling —
but most of the time, person-to-person interaction is our simple
of the Milton Hershey School.
Corrections or additions?
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