Team Building Activity – Hint – Colorful Balls

colorful-juggling-ballsJeff Sloan, co-founder of Start-up Nation, talked at a Microsoft conference about creating your own business. He is a serial entrepreneur of electronics and various other media.

Jeff and his brother were promoting one of their gadgets at a conference and they bumped into a woman who was juggling, so they started juggling with her. They got to talking with the woman and hashed out a distributorship to sell the juggling balls throughout North America.

Their juggling package was the number 1 item sold for Father’s Day back in 1992.

They positioned their product as “Stress Relief for the Busy Executive.” An item that has been around since the pyramids in Egypt was the best selling product for fathers in the US. Jeff was able to do this because of a relationship that he created with the department stores.

Building relationships

He went into all the major department stores that were willing to sell his juggling kit and attended their crack of dawn staff meetings before the store opened. Jeff told the group that they weren’t going to have a regular meeting.

He dumped the balls out onto the table. As the balls rolled around on the table and fell to the ground, he smiled and explained to them that they were going to learn to juggle.

Imagine a man walking into your staff meeting with this big brown box in his hands and everyone is just waiting to hear what he has to say. You expect him to give some motivational speech about sales quotas, but he just stands there. He opens one flap of the box, pushes the box on its side and balls of every color come rolling out.

The smiles light up on everyone’s faces.

He announces that everyone will learn to juggle during this meeting.

I bet they had a blast with this fantastic team building exercise.

After that meeting, when customers came into the store, the employees had this great memory of how much fun they had learning to juggle. They gladly promoted the product.

The store made gains and so did the employees.

What you can do

So why not get your employees together once a month to learn a new skill? Create one around selling products or learning people skills. Whatever brings people together and makes them laugh.

Not every meeting needs to be business related. You can make the gathering “just plain fun” once every quarter. There should be no strict agenda, just a chance to gather, create and laugh.

You can start off with juggling. Even if no one knows how to juggle, you can watch a video on how to juggle on YouTube. You’ll create laughter, fun and best of all – you will build relationships. You’ll find that some employees will pick it up quickly and start helping their co-workers learn how to juggle.

This will build trust and confidence.

Create a teaching and learning environment and you’ll develop a company that will nurture each others growth.

How about you?

What was the best team building exercise you’ve ever been a part of?

Help a co-worker today and send them to the Happy at Work Project. Have them get started on taking their happiness and success to the next level.


I was honored by Justice E-learning as one of the Top 50 Career Management Bloggers. Check it out. It’s a good list and not just because I’m on it.

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Image courtesy of hans s

15 thoughts on “Team Building Activity – Hint – Colorful Balls”

  1. That’s a great list! And you’re there with the big names! That’s awesome.

    About your post, I wish managers would get creative and not have those boring meetings. On the other hand, maybe they’re too worried/busy saving their career to get creative. Or plainly they just have no idea.

  2. Congratulations on being named one of the top 50! It’s a better list because you’re on it. (smile)

    I don’t recall doing any team building activities while I worked… Hmm, and come to think of it, I was a department of one for many years and rarely had a boss. I wonder if I’m not a team player?!

    The juggling thing sounded fantastic, and I love people who “get” fun. Not everyone does, but it can make a day so much brighter and better… Ask any kid!

    Speaking of that, if you don’t usually read Suzen’s blog “Erasing the Bored,” and you like juggling, she JUST had a video on a guy who juggled to music… and kept the beat the whole time. Here’s the link – I implore you to take three minutes and check it out. (no “www” just starts right in)

  3. One of the organizations I belong to did this once. I found it stressful and humiliating. I also didn’t notice that it created any great sense of team–people did it by themselves.

    I *am* a team player and have a reputation for building teams, but this is NOT an exercise I would ever choose to do.

  4. Congratulations on making that list! I love this juggling idea. Meetings can be so stuffy. We all need to loosen up a bit sometimes and juggling is a great way to do that.

  5. Hi Marelisa, laughter yoga sessions would be weird for a lot of people, but sometimes we need to step outside our comfort zones. When I first tried it I felt embarrassed, but I quickly got over it and had fun.

    Hi Megan, Great video! Thank you.

    Hi Karen, I can see how it would be stressful. My hope is that if a company does this exercise, they do it in just pure fun. No competition. If there was a moderator putting people in teams, I think it probably would have gone a little better and people would have tried to help each other. The right atmosphere needs to be created.

    Hi Claudia, me too. I just think that managers need to listen to what their people want instead of doing what they think they need.

    Hi Stacey, relaxing and having fun can stimulate friendships. And good friendships at work are so important.

    Hi Nathan, it was a win win for everyone.

  6. Love this idea! It’s so important to be able to incorporate humor into your office culture. When you feel comfortable enough to make jokes and have a good laugh, you’ll not only be happier at work, you’ll be more creative and productive.

  7. Cool stuff Karl! And I totally agree. People can get a whole new workplace environment and tone through fun ideas like those mentioned above.

    Work need not be only about “work” or looked at as “work”. It can and I think very much should be fun. After all most people spend most of their lives there, so why not find ways to make it fun.

    LOL, for me today, working from home, the only team building experiences I do are with my husband (all good clean, fun 😉
    Anyway, but in my previous work, I cannot say I have any good experiences to share here. When they did try to bring us together it was for boring, and very “fake” reasons (i.e. let’s make this look good on paper, but in reality…”

    So yes, fun at work = better productivity for sure!

  8. Hi Karl,
    What a great idea!
    Maybe this doesn’t specifically fit – although I do think it’s close. We recently celebrated our best profit year as a company with a potluck luncheon at work. And that itself is nothing unusual. What really brought this together was that a group of about six employees created a “band” for the day. Instruments were brought in and a couple of songs were played (including one person who got up and sang vocals). And then wandered around the room, getting others to belt out a few chords! Very memorable moment – and it was because of the fun that was created!

  9. That sounds like fun. Team building is fun and a good way to boost your company’s working attitude. We had a wonderful experience with Ripe Stuff. They certainly helped us with our communication skills and conflict resolution. I have to learn how to juggle. LOL

  10. Hi there,
    This is so much in line with what I try to do at work with my creative workshops. And it works. People are much more relaxed, they are more creative, they have better ideas, they talk differently, they look at things differently. Some nuts are harder to crack than others, but they all get something.
    Great idea.

  11. Pingback: Have Fun at Work and Increase the Bottom Line

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