Just Too Cool for Words
but I'll try my best.
Some of you know I work for a high tech company as a Systems Engineer.
Since I'm part of the sales team for the company, every year I
participate in a "Sales Kickoff" with 1000 or so of my closest friends.
This years kickoff started last Wednesday and I've been there from
8:00am until 10:00pm most days. Tomorrow and Monday will be the same.
We meet in various hotel conference rooms and listen to sales pitches,
legal issues, competitive analysis, product overviews, and for us
technical folks, hours of nitty-gritty product feature/functionality.
I'm grumpy that this year we're working on a weekend and grumpier still
because it's our 12th wedding anniversary on Sunday. I'm also very
Tonight was the night for our mandatory "team building" activity. The
larger group is broken into teams of 5 or so for these exercises. Last
years "team building" activity was constructing rafts out of inflatable
boat bumpers, PVC, and twine, then racing these dubious craft around a
closed course much to the merriment of those on shore. Our boat survived
the rigors of it's voyage, but we did not win. These are not, you should
know, my favorite activities.
This year, as most years, the team building activity is mandatory.
We're told that this year we are going to find parts and tools and that
we are then going to build a "product" which we would bring back to the
conference room to "sell" to a neighboring team. We're been earning
"currency" all week which we assume is to be used for this purpose.
It's 7:30pm. It's well beyond my usual dinnertime. There is no food.
It's cold. It's windy. We're on the exposed top floor of the hotels
parking structure. There is no food. There is not even beer.
There are 120 sealed boxes and a bag of tools by each. There are 120
We open the boxes - bicycles!?
Our team has a small pink and purple girls bike with tassels that stream
from the handlebars. For this we take much ribbing from the other
teams, many of whom have bicycle kits more suited to the mostly male
So we build our bike with care and attention, then dutifully assist
other teams in a fashion viewed with much approval by management.
At last all the teams have finished assembling their bicycles, which, by
the way, we are forbidden to ride. We walk the bicycles back to the
conference room for their "sale".
We dutifully compile lists of feature functionality, return on
investment, value proposition, whatever, then execute a ten minute sales
pitch and receive feedback from our "customers". The other team
So we're done and an hour early by the schedule. There is still no
food, but at least it's not windy in the conference room.
At this point the house lights come up and we are told to look to the
back of the room for our customers.
A dozen doors are thrown open simultaneously and 120 disadvantaged
children from neighboring communities peer into the room.
There is a moment of stunned silence, then the room roars! It is
pandemonium as those with team number signs stand on chairs holding them
overhead. Everyone else applauds as we wait for our customers to
arrive. Our special customer is a cute third grade girl with eyes as big
as saucers. Her twin sister is given an identical bike by the team next
to us. This is a surprise for the children as well. I don't know what
they were told when they got on that bus, but it was a complete and
total surprise. I don't know if there is a dry eye in the place.
We spend the next hour adjusting the bike to fit our customer and buying
accessories such as helmets and baskets with our "currency". She is shy
at first but soon warms up and tells us a little bit about herself and
what she is going to do with her new bike. She is just adorable.
All too soon the children have to leave with their new treasures (whose
assembly the company prudently has checked by experts before they are
I'm still choked up.
I'm glad we got the pink and purple one...