Category Archives: Quest Stories

Quest Story: Buddy Guy’s Chicago Blues Quest

Born in 1936, Buddy Guy grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. As a teenager he discovered his quest – playing the blues guitar. When he was 21 years old, he left Louisiana to seek his fortune in Chicago, where such legends as Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf and Little Walter were at the peak of their powers. Almost painfully shy and self-critical, his money ran out. He didn’t have any gigs and he started thinking about heading back home. His luck changed when he was invited to audition at the famous 708 club, where Muddy Waters heard him. “I was going on my third day without eating in Chicago, trying to borrow a dime to call my mom to get back to Louisiana. And Muddy Waters bought me a salami sandwich and put me in the back of his 1958 Chevy station wagon. He said, ‘You’re hungry, and I know it.’ And talking to Muddy Waters, I wasn’t hungry anymore; I was full just for him to say, ‘Hey.’ I was so overjoyed about it, my stomach wasn’t cramping anymore. I told him that, and Muddy said, ‘Get in the car.” He competed in guitar battles, where he emulated the showmanship of his childhood hero Guitar Slim. “I just walked out there with this 150-foot cord, and it was snowing, and I just went straight on out the door. The next day the news media was there, wanting to know who I was.” His performance at a competition in 1958 battling with guitar legends Magic Sam and Otis Rush earned him his first recording contract. Buddy Guy’s fiery, exuberant and at times anarchic guitar playing and singing has entertained audiences around the world, from his early days backing up Muddy Waters and playing with the great harmonica player Junior Wells, to his highly successful solo career. His club, Buddy Guy’s Legends, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in ‘Sweet Home Chicago.’ Learn more: Play the Blues - Learn to play the blues harmonica in just two hours! Each team member will receive their own harmonica, a copy of Blues Harmonica for Beginners book and play-a-long CD. Within minutes you will be playing a real blues song together. The grand finale features your team as the stars performing an original blues song that you have created together!

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Quest Story – Carl Jung

In 1913, when Carl Jung was 44, he spent the better part of the year engaging daily in a sensing activity from his childhood that unlocked his work with his intuitive function confronting his own unconscious and paved the way for his concept of the collective unconscious. After his noon meal, Carl Jung played a building game he used to play when he was 11.  He walked along the lakeshore outside his home gathering small stones.  Then he built miniature villages complete with cottages, castles, and churches.  Weather permitting he did this every day until his patients arrived, and often continued into the evening after they left.  This daily sensing activity grounded him (Jung said, “in the course of this activity my thoughts clarified.”) and allowed his intuition function to leap freely (“I was able to grasp the fantasies whose presence in myself I dimly felt.”) Jung found it difficult to give himself over to this childhood game, despite its incredible value to him.  He said, “this…was a turning point in my fate, but I gave in only after endless resistances…for it was a painfully humiliating experience: to realize that there was nothing to be done except play childish games.” Still, he continued.  And when he questioned himself, “Now, really what are you about?” he answered by saying, “I had no answer…only the inner certainty that I was on the way to discovering my own myth.” Long after he stopped building his little villages, Jung continued to use his sensing function to support his intuitive work.  He said, “…at any time in my later life when I came up against a blank wall, I painted a picture or hewed stone.  Each such experience proved to be a rite de’ entrée for the ideas and works that followed hard upon it.” When his wife died he sculpted stone as a form of self-therapy.  “It cost me a great deal to regain my footing, and contact with stone helped me.” Carl Jung was the founder of analytical psychology.  His work connected science and logic with spirituality, eastern religion, literature and the arts.  Jung’s theory of psychological types formed the basis of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicatory (MBTI).  Some of his other contributions include the concept of the archetype, the collective unconscious, and synchronicity, which has influenced modern physicists. Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: MBTI Team Quest – Discover and leverage the various ways your people make decisions, strategize and access information, using this organizational standard. Team members begin to recognize the strengths that other types bring to the team, and the power that comes from multiple types working together. MBTI Step II – Learn which of 20 different underlying facets are most important to you and guide you in every decision – how you communicate, where you focus your attention, how you make decisions, how you handle differences, how you approach deadlines, sequence tasks, and much, much more. MBTI Team Building Quest – MBTI Team Building Quest leverages fun team building activities and exercises to build strong MBTI teams.

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Team Building The AMC Hut Croo Way

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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Project Pipeline Team Building Review

“The session was great and delivered on our theme of the offsite meeting.  The facilitator did a great job and everyone had good things to say about him and the event.  Thank you.” – PIC Group, Project Pipeline   Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities:  Project Pipeline – Teams build a device that will transport a maximum number of marbles up to 50 feet!

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Four Lessons Learned From Collaborative Team Building With Cisco

Here’s a review of a collaborative team building activity we led with Cisco recently. I’m including it here because it’s such a helpful reminder to hear four things that the team there found really useful. Which learning is most helpful for you to be reminded of today? “It was fantastic. The facilitator did a great job. The games were spot on for what we needed. A few antidotes from my team. Here are a couple “lessons learned” that you shared with us: – “Solicit feedback from the team to see the bigger picture” – “Every contribution is important” – “Communication is key” – “Remember to level set, if you jump ahead too quickly things can get lost” – Cisco, Team Collaboration Quest Here’s the primary activity we did with them. Give us a call if you’d like to remind your team of what’s most important. Picture This Team Collaboration Building Activity You have some of the information but can you communicate what you know? Who will see the big picture? Each person gets images that are part of a larger sequence. Together the group must decipher the sequence and get them laid out in order without any person seeing anyone else’s images while the clock ticks! Will the group see the big picture in time or will they get bogged down in details…or worse yet, fail to notice a crucial part of the image in time? This complex verbal communication skill builder has a powerful “a-ha” factor that makes the grand unveiling unforgettable! Outcomes: Discern how does looking at the big picture affect outcomes Explore the balance between precise, accurate communication and big-picture solutions Examine individual strengths within the context of a team Look at how communication affects strengths Look to each other to share resources and generate solutions     Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: Team Collaboration Quest – Teams complete a customized series of challenges through collaboration and communication.

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Leave in the accidents: Trevor Rabin on recording Yes’ Owner of a Lonely Heart

“As I recorded it, I had a four-track recorder for demos, so you would record on the first and second tracks and then mix it to a third track. You would be making decisions based on what was coming, and sometimes those decisions would be wrong, but you couldn’t undo them. One of the things, a happy accident, was that all of the brass stabs and those weird things that happen on the record — they were just a product of what happened with the demo. When we started the record, in talking with Trevor Horn, he said we should retain that stuff. We’ll just record that really cleanly. I said I’d like to keep the levels very loud, and he was totally into that. That’s kind of how it evolved. All of the accidents on the demo, ended up on the record.” –     Trevor Rabin on recording Yes’ Owner of a Lonely Heart Those brass stabs that he’s talking about where the defining sounds of that song and helped make it a hit. For years after, those brass stabs showed up in hip hop songs, everywhere. And the overall sound of the record defined a decade’s worth of pop music. Accidents and mistakes can be scary things, things we’d like to erase to play it safe. Be daring – let your mistakes breathe, let them live. Resist the temptation to undo, to erase. What happy accidents will mark your next innovation?   Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activity Team Collaboration Quest.

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How Trevor Rabin wrote Yes’s biggest hit Owner of A Lonely Heart

Guitarist Trevor Rabin wrote Yes’s biggest hit Owner of a Lonely Heart. Here’s how: “The interesting thing is, I was just sitting at home and I started messing with a riff. I thought: ‘This is so simple.’ I didn’t think twice about it. But then the more I thought about what I could do with the riff, it became: ‘Hang on, this is worth exploring. As simple as it is, it could be something pretty special.’ I’d mess around with it, and I came up with a chorus. I thought: ‘I’m just going to record it, and see what happens.’” Strengths are like that – we can mistrust them because doing something we are good at seems so simple…too simple, too easy. These strengths hide in plain sight. We don’t give them the value they deserve. Instead we have what Yeats called ‘a fascination for what’s difficult’. The next time today you do something that you do well, simply, easily, happily, pause for dismissing it as ‘so simple’ and say what Rabin said: ‘Hang on, this is worth exploring’. Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities StrengthsFinder – Gallup’s online assessment of unique top five strengths. Learn your team’s strengths and learn how to put them into action. Strengths At Work – Gallup research says less than 20 percent of us have the opportunity to do what we do best everyday. Learn how to put your strengths in play for consistent, near-perfect performance. At Your Best – Explore how to give your best and play to your strengths for sustained individual success. Strong Management – Strengths based training for managers to help their people be at their best.

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Laura’s 40 Days to Craft for Good

Although the title is catchy, it really means that Laura is going to spend some time being creative each day for her 40 days – it’s not limited to crafts only (but crafts are the focus). She has set up a number of different projects to work on. These projects range from demanding high energy and concentration to low concentration and energy needed. She’s set it up this way to accommodate the effects Lyme disease works on her body. She also needs to be flexible in the times she does her daily creative crafting work because of the daily unpredictable nature of living with Lyme disease. However, she’s aiming for late afternoon or early evening. I’ll post photos later on this month of some her work. Now it’s your turn. What are you devoting your attention and energy to daily for these 40 days until winter solstice? This post is part of a series on using persistence to create lasting personal change for the better. Forty Days to a Change for Good is part of Quixote Consulting’s Change Quest change management training and Resiliency: Five Keys to Success training. Research shows it takes at least 30 days to make a positive change in your life that lasts. This post is part of a series by Rob Fletcher that examines what makes change initiatives work, what makes them fail, and how daily rituals support positive changes you want to make.

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“Effortlessly, with Love and Appreciation”: Rick Rubin Returns to His NYU Dorm Room

“We did it effortlessly, with love and appreciation for music. And that’s it. We didn’t think about nothing else but the music. — Russell Simmons, on starting DefJam Records with Rick Rubin I loved this nine-minute video. 30 years after Rick Rubin started the wildly popular DefJam Records in his dorm room, he visited it – #712 in Weinstein Hall at NYU. He lived in that room in 1984. Three years later, I moved into the floor below, 611 (if I remember right). So there’s the nostalgia factor for me. But I love seeing such love, passion and fire show up and somehow make its way through modern life into success. Not every passion is meant to be so externally rewarded of course, but it helps fire one up to have such a quest story. Today, like every other day, presents us each with an opportunity to do something we’re passionate about with love and appreciation for it.

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What does Olympic gold-medalist skier Lindsey Vonn do to be at her best?

The cameras trained on Lindsey Vonn just before her gold-medal-winning run in Calgary in the Winter Olympics. What was she doing? She was slowly weaving and bobbing her body, arms up in place. She was visualizing the course and what she needed to do in a few moments at 50+ MPH on skis. She was not alone – most of the other skiers were doing the same thing. There’s a ton of research out there on the value of visualizing. But what should you visualize? I’ll give you a hint. She wasn’t on the top of the hill visualizing receiving the gold medal and hearing the national anthem play. She visualized the process, the path to her goal. That’s where the power is. When I’m not able to play music but still have some energy, I visualize the process of forming chords on the guitar fret board, notes on the harmonica. When I return to these instruments I’m better than before. Visualization works, we know that. Focus on visualizing the process of completing your goal, not the end result. To fire you up, here’s a three-minute synopsis of the race, here’s Vonn’s run and here’s the full coverage.

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