Quix Picks: My Life as a Zucchini

In my last post I asked you to share your best punch line. Thanks for the submissions! Here are two that got us laughing:

“The chicken’s going to a gig!”

Best read with a yeti accent: ”Ah, but when you rub it, it becomes an attaché case!”

My Life as a Zucchini

A French claymation film about the trauma of losing your parents as a child and living in a foster home. Are you still with me? You should be!

This wondrous movie taps directly into childhood wonder, joy, sadness, loneliness, anger, love. The sheer depth of emotion rings true – I still remember – to our experience as children.

I recently wrote how much I loved the movie Kubo, also a claymation movie. They are both Oscar-nominated, both about ‘hard’ subjects (Kubo is about death) but the claymation is worlds apart. Kubo was smooth, slick. ‘Zucchini’ has more of a Gumby/Davey & Goliath feel. It wears its homespun clay molding, like its raw emotion, on its sleeve. And I love that.

And for those of you that are sub-title gun-shy, it’s actually voiced by an American cast (including Will Arnett, Ellen Page, Amy Sedaris) for U.S. release.

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Try This At Home! Send Us Your Best Punch Line: a Record Breakers Challenge

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Here’s an activity that we sometimes do in our featured program, Record Breakers.

Tell us your best (publicly appropriate) punch line to a joke. Not the whole joke, just the punch line. Ask your teammates – what’s the funniest/strangest/winningest punch line? Don’t send us the whole joke, just the punch line.

Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities:
World Record Breakers – Ignite Olympic energy, passion and fervor with a dozen hilarious competitive events! Everyone can play regardless of physical ability.

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Fun Facts Q & A with Rob Fletcher – Part 1

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What is your favorite aspect of your work?
I have two favorite aspects. The first is the actual time in front of a group leading a team building or training program and transporting them to a better place. It makes the traveling, the preparation – not my favorite aspects – worth it.

The second is writing – for my blog, for the newsletter, for upcoming books. It’s never easy to write, and always difficult to make the space for uninterrupted time. But it’s always rewarding, especially in the moments when what I’ve written feels both deeply true for me and valuably inspiring for someone else.

What quirky life experiences have been surprisingly helpful in your life and work?
Leading week-long trips in the Hudson Valley woods with underserved kids from NYC made any challenging behaviors corporate groups can come up seem tame.

Playing music live has really helped with timing, emphasis and connection when doing speaking engagements.

Living for years on very little money while studying music, putting myself through college and beyond has helped me make life and work decisions out of enthusiasm instead of fear. And to not freak out as an entrepreneur where future work is always an uncertainty.

What kind of music do you like to listen to?
I love to listen to jazz most of all, especially since I’m perpetually studying and practicing it on guitar and voice. I also really love to listen to music I loved in High School from the 80s and 70s. Beyond that I’m both omnivorous with music but also very fussy and specific.

What is the most ridiculous but very cool fashion trend that you followed?
Spiked hair, checkered shoes, Anarchy t-shirt in High School

Who is one of your mentors and why do they inspire you?
Bugs Bunny. He really knows how to enjoy himself in any situation, is at ease even when in apparent peril, and humor is a priority. Before some outside force messes with him and starts the next adventure, he’s always by himself, completely fulfilled and engaged in what he’s doing. Plus I love his singing.

Who would you most like to see in concert from the front row?
Genesis with original singer Peter Gabriel fronting the band.

If you had to eat one food continuously for breakfast, lunch and dinner, for a week, what would it be?
Eggs!

What’s your favorite season and why?
Summer! When I was a kid it was winter so I could ice skate, but now I’m an endless summer boy. I love being outside. And in New England summer gives me the best chances to be outside, play and enjoy natural beauty. Fun!

If you could tour with one band who would you choose?
Stevie Wonder in the 70s, Queen, Al Green, Paul McCartney & Wings in the 70s, XTC, Peter Gabriel, the Who in the 70s (but with ear plugs), Pat Metheny, John Coltrane, Toots Thielemans, Phish, The Free Design, Frank Sinatra, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Gregoire Maret, Antonio Carlos Jobim…That’s one band right?

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Pocket Poem: Natural History by E.B. White

Natural History

By E.B. White

 

The spider, dropping down from twig,

Unwinds a thread of her devising:

A thin, premeditated rig

To use in rising.

And all the journey down through space,

In cool descent, and loyal-hearted,

She builds a ladder to the place

From which she started.

Thus I, gone forth, as spiders do,

In spider’s web a truth discerning,

Attach one silken strand to you

For my returning.

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Team Building The AMC Hut Croo Way

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After a full, beautiful day of hiking the White Mountains in New Hampshire, my long-time friend Kevin (over 30 years!) and I reached our resting place for the night. We unslung our backpacks at Mizpah Spring Hut. An Appalachian Mountain Club hut is a ‘hut’ in name only. Located on Mount Pierce at 3,800 feet elevation, the Mizpah Spring Hut can sleep up to 60 people. Meals are served family style to the hikers, so and we sat down at a long table filled with hikers. I was quite unprepared for what came next.

Out came the croo (they spell it that way) members for dinner announcements. Two people trudged out wearing old wooden frame backpacks. Attached to each of the packs was a wooden chair. Sitting on the two chairs were croo members, the man wearing a fashionable gold lame top and comfy pajama bottoms. And for the next few minutes there they sat, explaining how meals worked and what was for dinner. The whole time, the others where stolidly standing in place with well over 150 pounds of wood and humanity on each their backs.

Adventures like this continued throughout the evening and into the morning. The croo woke us up by singing a song (the best alarm clock ever). Tasks they wanted people to do in the morning after breakfast were relayed in the form of a very funny take on an old fairy tale. We were all sold on the experience, all bought in, all engaged. There were smiles everywhere throughout the room, and cheers, laughter and applause were the norms. The croo members were a positive contagion. Every human in the room got elevated (pun intended).

So, great. What does this have to do with anything, you ask? I work with teams for a living. I’ve worked with great teams, worked with extremely dysfunctional teams. I’ve worked with literally thousands of teams. This was the highest performing team I’ve ever seen. These young men and women (this was their summer job while in college for the most part) gave us what we technically needed – a place to sleep and two meals. But they gave us so much more – an experience that lifted us, inspiration, laughter, a feeling we were part of something special.

The daily grind of modern work is unforgiving. And it can deaden. I know, I know, belive me, I know. I see it everywhere and know the feeling intimately too.

But we do have a choice. We can give these higher qualities to the people we work with. Or we can decline to do that. We can give the members of our family team at home that experience, the members of our community team that experience. Or not. And we can look for inspiration from the good that’s being done in the world to help balance out the bad we hear so much about.

The choice is here today for you, for me. September, a month of fresh starts, beckons us, hoping for a smile on our lips and a generosity in our hearts.

Here’s to you and me being living inspirations this month!

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Quix Picks: Greg the Bunny

Funny, charming and forgotten TV show – with Seth Green, Sarah Silverman and Eugene Levy, it was cancelled after one season but lives on in DVD land (I don’t see it on any of the streaming services). I just checked and Amazon’s used copies are going for $1.32.

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Beauty, Space and Feeling – Life as a Blues Ballad

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Beauty, space and feeling. These three things I love in life are most accessible to me as a musician when playing ballads. Other qualities come out easily at higher tempos – joy, energy, delight, play, intensity are a few that come to mind – but beauty, space and feeling have their home for me in the ballad.

And especially in a blues ballad. Some examples of the blues ballad are: Angel Eyes, Mood Indigo, Born to Be Blue, Willow Weep For Me, Night Life, Please Send Me Someone to Love, Ray Charles singing Georgia On My Mind and on and on. The great Charles Brown made this genre his home. Combine slow tempos with soul and a blue feeling and I’ll be the first customer at the door.

Imagine Ray Charles singing a slow ballad of your work today while you’re moving through it. Play your day with a focus on beauty, space and feeling.

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Nineteen Albums without Words to Support You Playing Work As a Ballad

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If you’re attempting to play some important part of your work as a ballad, it will be really helpful to listen to ballads in the background as support. Here are twenty instrumental albums without words to support you playing the work slowly with beauty and feeling.

  1. Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny – Beyond the Missouri Sky
  2. John Scofield – Quiet
  3. John Coltrane – Ballads
  4. Chopin – Nocturnes
  5. Branford Marsalis – Eternal
  6. Anthony Phillips – Field Day
  7. Mum – Finally We Are No One
  8. David Friesen – Inner Voices
  9. Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden – Jasmine
  10. Charlie Haden – Land of the Sun
  11. Ledward Kaapana – Led Live – Solo
  12. George Van Eps – Mellow Guitar
  13. Bert Lucarelli, Susan Jolles – Music for Oboe & Harp
  14. George Van Eps – My Guitar
  15. Charlie Haden & Kenny Barron – Night and the City
  16. Charlie Haden – Nocturne
  17. Luis E. Bacalov – The Postman (Il Postino)
  18. Branford Marsalis – Romances for the Saxophone
  19. Barrington Pheloung – Shopgirl

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What’s important enough to take at a ballad tempo?

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Over the years I’ve heard many amazing jazz musicians say that the measure of a real musician is how they can play a ballad. These are people that can play fluently at 300 beats per minute. All of this is reassuring to me – since I love ballads and the idea of playing at 300 beats per minute makes my hands seize up!

What is ballad tempo? A very slow ballad is 50 beats per minute ranging up to 90 beats per minute for a medium slow song. Above that and we’re out of ballad land.  The average human heart at rest beats 60 to 90 beats per minute. So, when we’re resting you’re in ballad tempo. Of course the more athletic you are, the lower this number goes. 40 beats per minute is often found. Lance Armstrong has a resting heart rate of 32 beats per minute! That’s a big muscle moving blood very, very efficiently.

You can live strong too by taking the most important part of your work and your life at ballad tempo. Like a great athlete, you’ll do it more efficiently. And you’ll be at rest during it so you can emerge from the work refreshed. And you’ll increase your enjoyment. My enjoyment of an ‘unpleasant’ activity such as a household chore or anything repetitive is directly related to how brave I am about doing it slowly. If I speed up to try to get it over with, I lose the enjoyment. If I slow down there’s a chance at enjoyment. You can notice this when you try going slightly slower than the fastest cars on the highway. There’s a relaxation there waiting to be enjoyed.

Rumi said, “Patience with the small details makes perfect a large work, like the universe.” Ballad tempo is about patience. It’s no fun to play with a drummer that isn’t comfortable at that tempo and wants to speed it up. But it’s a pure delight to play with one that can live inside that slow tempo.

You can’t do everything at a ballad tempo. Outer life often dictates the tempo. But you can pick your battles and make the more important work (and friends and family) be played at a ballad tempo. That’s the measure of a real musician – a musician of life.

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Quix Tip – Make Your Own Music

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  1. Shuffle, skip, whistle, hum.
  2. Tap on your coffee cup or your steering wheel in time to music.
  3. Sing along to the radio at work, in your car, in the shower.
  4. Sing wherever you feel comfortable, and try some places where you don’t.
  5. Experiment musically with Louis Armstrong’s quote: “What we play is life.”

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