by Ceili Rian | Sep 21, 2020 | Uncategorized |
Welcome to team-building season!
As we continue to enjoy sunny weather in the Seattle area, September 22 heralds the official arrival of Autumn 2020. Sure, PSL (pumpkin spice latte) has become the new harbinger of Fall, but in HR departments throughout the county, team-building events also share that role. It makes sense of course – the final quarter of the year is often a wrap-up exercise for personnel departments. Add to that the “learning and fresh start” elements of going back to school, and building your team become is a natural for the Autumn season.
Team-building events have evolved greatly from the dreaded ropes course of the ’80s and ’90s – opting for more gamified activities like paintball, ziplines, indoor skydiving, and scavenger hunts as well as more inclusive and thrill-focused options such as escape room exercises and virtual reality “missions.”
Enter 2020 and COVID-19
Social distancing regulations and WFH mandates have taken away the face-to-face event, but team-building is still a priority. Truth be told, it’s more important in this current environment of personal disconnection. Without the watercooler discussions and the with the addition off endless video-based meetings, some employees have simply lost their connection with coworkers. And if you’ve brought on new staff during this pandemic season – you’ve likely got team members who are clueless about the lives of others. A disconnected team can be a real problem.
So what’s an employer to do?
You’ll be delighted to hear that team-building efforts are now virtual! In addition to adapting team building games to computer use, there are several suppliers experienced in providing live online teaming exercises. Here at RealTime Productions, we’re happy to assist you in selecting and presenting the best virtual team-building activity for your crew!
Virtual Team-building Suggestions
- Online Games. Yeah, you could jointly play video games online (yawn), but with a little effort, creating a mission where your crew is sub-divided into teams and competing for a prize is likely to garner a bit more engagement. You can schedule a virtual camp (complete with tiny smores delivery), a scavenger hunt, or event your own Olympic games (I don’t know about your team, but I totally rock at paperclip flipping!) Creating a custom game puts the focus on building team strengths and unity, while engaging is some frivolous fun! Not only can we help you organize your event, but we can also securely send out prizes to the winners (rewards are key to participation).
- Tasting events. You send food/beverage samples to your team members ahead of time and host a virtual event (using the online tool of choice) where your team is educated about their sample as well as the opportunity to ‘share a drink or snack’ with their co-workers. Popular tasting suggestions include everything from coffee to cocktails. Not into beverages? What team wouldn’t love a cookie-tasting event? Your options are limited only by your imagination (and budget of course). Bring on the chocolate samples!
- With a healthy budget allocation, you might consider some online races and adventures. A virtual race or adventure has proven very engaging to a broad audience, its structure, and activity level keep your team focused on their goal. If this option is cost-prohibitive, you might consider a lower-tech adventure – perhaps based on something related to the team’s current work efforts.
- Trivia competition (much like Pub Trivia) this virtual competition may reveal your team member’s hidden interests –are they masters of Dr. Who canon or can they quote the Spice Girl lyrics perfectly? It can surprise you Pre-planning this competition will ensure that no team member sweeps the competition, and ensure broad categories to keep everyone engaged. In choosing some silly categories, you may level the playing field, and more fully engage the members of your crew.
- Crafternoons – Your staff assembles pre-delivered crafting kits while being taught crafting skills on a virtual app. I’ve scheduled crafting sessions in-office, so I can vouch that even those who consider themselves completely void of creativity can really excel at simple crafting opportunities (and highlight creativity they swear they don’t have.)
The list of possibilities is of course, nearly endless. But including prizes for the various event elements will ramp up the likelihood of greater team participation. Don’t let company team-building become a casualty of apathy – schedule an engaging event today!
For assistance in creating a creating an awesome virtual team building event, contact us today!
by Ceili Rian | Dec 3, 2019 | Giving Back, Uncategorized |
Business!’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!” ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
There can be little doubt that the winter holidays bring to the forefront, gratitude for our successes, and generosity for those less fortunate. Businesses too, are impacted by this concept, often resulting in corporate gift giving – a large portion of which is charity-focused. The corporate holiday gift tradition of making a charitable donation in someone’s name has come along way. More than 20 years ago, a Seinfeld episode poked fun at the practice when George Costanza, in an effort to avoid giving gifts to his co-workers, provided them instead with a card stating “A donation has been made in your name to The Human Fund” (a fake charity he made up). Years later, the joke came full circle when a charity chose that name for themselves. But charitable giving isn’t a joke. In an environment of growing inequality, many companies take pride in celebrating the holidays by making donations on behalf of others. At its core, its gift-giving that gives back; the ultimate sharing of prosperity. At RealTime Productions, we know a bit about giving back because the practice has become fully-integrated into the events industry. With that in mind, we’re delighted to share with you some giving-back gift options for the looming holiday season. In years past you might have chosen a direct-donation gift – one in which money is donated directly to a charity – however the option of sending a physical gift, while at the same time giving back to charitable organizations has increasingly become a satisfying option.
This site allows you to send a physical gift, while at the same time giving back to charitable organizations with a program, they call Shop by Ethos. You can either select a pre-curated gift option (reducing the number of decisions you must make), or you can create a unique option that supports the charity you select. So, don’t just send the same old gift basket to a client or employee, consider a gift that gives back!!
Like Knack, this site allows you to select your gift based upon which the cause you want to benefit. Their site organization enables you to filter your selection via cause, price, occasion, recipient and customization, making the selection process very efficient. If you want brand your gift, they have a concierge service to assist with that!
As the original One for One™ company, Toms has given nearly 100 million shoes to those in need. When you buy a product from Toms, they donate the same product to those that need them. But shoes aren’t all Tom offers, they also do sunglasses – who couldn’t use those, even in the Seattle Metro area?
If getting books into the hands of kids who need them is your thing, Out of Print transforms literary classics into apparel and accessories. With every purchase, a book is donated to a child in need.
Battling human trafficking is a tender issue for the events industry – one which has garnered an increase in charitable giving back at corporate events. If human trafficking is a passion of yours, consider gifting products from Thistle Farms. Every sale benefits women who have survived trafficking, prostitution, and addiction.
Even luxury PNW merchant Nordstrom offers a variety of gifts that give back. Those wanting to share the gift of clean water might consider the S’well Milky Way Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle. For every purchase, a portion of the proceeds goes to UNICEF to help provide clean drinking water for people around the world. Here at RealTime Productions, we find it truly gratifying that the giving-back options have become so easy to use and focused on social values in addition to price point. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday impending, we hope you’ll consider a giving-back option for your holiday gift program.
by Ceili Rian | Feb 14, 2018 | Uncategorized |
Growing up with my sister Ginny, I learned a lot about personal strengths and the best use of them. While each of us is supportive of the other (and willing to go to battle if necessary) we don’t approach goals in precisely the same manner, nor with the actions. When we participated in a HS level swim team, our coach commented on the diverse talents – calling out our physical differences as well. Gin could crawl across the lap using only her upper body, whereas I could simply power kick my way across the pool! Yes, we are different.
To be honest, competition isn’t my greatest strength. I take a cooperative or collaborative approach to goals. I step into research mode at the outset; seeking a secure foundation of best practices – crossing off method I think won’t work. Once I’m confident in my approach, I work through the challenge methodically. I’m not motivated by what other people are doing. I focus instead on what I can do, on what I can impact. So, all those self-help articles admonishing me to “go for the gold”? Yeah, they were kind of lost on me. My strength lies in the slow lift, not the rabbit start.
My sister, in contrast, is an archetypal competitor. She lives for the challenge, for the threat of someone else pursuing the same end result, and trying to get there faster, better, and with more to show for her efforts. She powers through whatever she takes on, with high energy and a stubborn pit-bull ferocity. And she generally succeeds in achieving her goals, although not always in the manner she might have expected. Using my more methodical approach would frustrate her, leaving her thinking “let’s just move on this!”
But not all goals can be achieved individually, some require strength in numbers – a team. When we work together, Gin and I still rely on our individual strengths (rather than emulating on another). We respect the powerful skills of the other and have found ways to mesh the approaches together to produce the result we want. Yes, it was effort to get here, but definitely worth it. There were times when each of us argued that the other was wrong, and if they’d only learn to do MY way, then we’d be better off. We were of course, mistaken. Differing strengths make a team more agile and capable; more able to pivot based on what’s working now.
As Captain of the RealTime Trailblazers (our Walk MS Team) I am reminded that many of my team members will have strengths that differ. In identifying and celebrating the strengths of my individual team members—encouraging them to employ those skills— we can become a stronger team. So, tell me—what kind of team member are you? Do you know the strengths of your team mates?
Take a moment to look at your own team – whether on the job or the playing field. What kind of role do you play within your team? Have you and your team mates developed a process by which you can collaborate, or are you simply trying to power-through based on a single type (and demanding that the others adapt)?
by Ceili Rian | Aug 16, 2017 | Uncategorized |
What do event planners do after a rush of summer events?
In this office, a lucky few head out for European vacations!! This month we have both Renee and Maggie headed across the pond, each on a unique journey. Renee will be visiting several stops – staying in Airbnb’s, whereas Maggie is focusing on a car-camping adventure in Iceland! Because we are fans of efficient logistics, I grilled them on their travel strategies; particularly packing.
Maggie is our all-out outdoor adventure gal; so “roughing it” is de regueur. She has the gear and the no-how to make a nature immersion a delightful escapade, so we look forward to hearing about the many fantastic waterfalls, not to mention the sheer beauty of the landscape (can you say Icelandic Wild Ponies?)
Renee will be taking a more conventional route (selecting the perfect Airbnb in Prague? Challenge accepted!) and doing some city hopping (don’t miss Copenhagen and Paris!) Did you know there’s church in Prague (Church of St. James the Greater) with an amputated limb hanging on the wall for centuries – to ward off thieves? Said limb is from a thief that the statue of Mary grabbed in the act. Not the kind of thing you find here in the States…
While their travel plans diverge, there are a few things they agree on…
- PINTEREST Research! Looking for a great collection of blogs and tips about the area you are traveling to and prefer they come from people who’ve recently been there? Pinterest is chock full of them!! While the web can be overwhelming in terms of the many sources, Pinterest provides a picture-friendly method of finding just what you need.
- Compression Cubes. These handy little items are a blessing in terms of packing up the vital equipment and keeping track of what you brought with you. You can find them all over the Net, but there’s a hot sale on Gonex on Amazon. Renee bought the full set, giving her a number of size options; but Maggie is still deciding.
- Plan for power!! Yes, getting an appropriate power adapter is key to easy travel with electronics, but be wary. Some of those cheaper power adapters are just that…they adapt your US appliances for the prong needed, but they don’t always convert the voltage. Double-check your adapter purchase.
- Plastic is perfect!! While there are a few places that need cash so many of the locations you will visit accept credit cards, which is ideal to shopping and eating to your heart’s content. Don’t forget to notify your card company which countries you will be visiting.
Of course, they have other tools they are using to plan and track. Spreadsheets aren’t JUST for event budgets! And one of our travelers has even planned her wardrobe packing via a Publisher page….details make a difference.
We wish them the safest travel experience, and loads of fun!
by Ceili Rian | Mar 10, 2017 | Uncategorized |
Event Coordinator ranks at number five according to the Forbes list of Most Stressful Jobs in 2017, (behind airline pilots, police, firefighters and enlisted military personnel). It might sound crazy, but event planners actually thrive on managing hectic schedules and multiple events. How do we do we handle this stressful career choice, you might ask? The answer is simple – we create a fun work environment and we know the balance of work and play.
Here at RealTime Productions, we have “First Thursdays” where the team celebrates happy hour on the first Thursday of each month. We let off a little steam as we toast our team. We’re big on Mexican food so deciding on a gathering place is rarely an issue – bring on the tacos!
We also schedule fun team competitions/celebrations throughout the year such as our Spooktacular Halloween Treat Competition, Thanksgiving Potluck and our Holiday Treat Exchange in December. Our tasks seem less stressful (more manageable) while focusing on these fun distractions. Our office manager, Ceili, is the talented baker in the house, so she often takes the win for her baked treats.
We also love to give back to the community. Our team has volunteered at the YouthCare’s James W. Ray Orion Center in downtown Seattle where we prepared and served a meal for the homeless youth. It was a touching experience to serve the Seattle community while bonding with our team.
An important event we participate in every year is the Walk MS, in honor of the owner of RTP, Jeanne Berry. Each year we build a team and raise money to help create a world free of MS. This year, we’ve added prizes as incentives to reach our goal of $15k. We invite family, friends, clients and partners to walk with us in the fight to beat MS. We’re really looking forward to finding a cure for this vicious disease, and are proud to represent during the walk (join us won’t you? http://bit.ly/rtpwalkms )
Whether it’s enjoying happy hour on a patio on summer day, exchanging holiday treats, or taking time out of our day to volunteer, our team is always planning our next outing or work party as something to look forward to. Staying healthy is a priority for us given the stressful nature of our work, so we have developed this strategy. Our team-building events help us re-energize ourselves so that we can put our best foot forward for our clients. We know how to work hard and most importantly, we know how to play hard too! What do you do to manage stress? Do share!!
by Ceili Rian | Feb 20, 2017 | Uncategorized |
November 15, 2016, my dog Junie (and RTP canine pal) suffered fibrocartilaginous embolism (FCE) or canine spinal stroke that left her paralyzed from her pelvis down.
FCE is neither preventable nor detectable, and can happen to any dog of any age. Junie just so happened to draw a short straw in her already difficult life. Because I’m biased to rescue-dogs only, I adopted a mid-aged dog, who’s active enough for my lifestyle (which includes lots of hiking and exploring). Junie was the perfect fit! She’s only 3-4 years old, but was overlooked after months in foster care after being relocated to Seattle from an abusive past in California. Our first few months together, we spent every evening at the beach or park. On the weekends we clocked miles while peaking mountains and swimming in glacial lakes.
When Junie’s FCE occurred, she was jumping into the car after a long run in the rain. It was shocking to watch. Her back legs immediately went limp, just moments after she’d run circles in the mud at lightning speed. After 5 nights in intensive care, she came home to begin a long, hard road to recovery. Our new lifestyle was far different from the one she had come to know. For weeks, she was unable to move at all. Her back legs lay heavy and limp. Her tail was also immobile leaving her unable to express joy in a wag or single thump on the floor in response to seeing familiar, warm faces. I slept on the floor next to her, waking every couple hours to clean her, change her diapers, and give her nerve pain medications. Our evenings out at the beach and weekends on the trail became tiring, difficult, long days and nights of learning to care for a paraplegic.
About two weeks post-FCE, Junie had a custom wheelchair made, and I’d tie up her rear legs so that at least for a little while each day she could forget that she can’t walk on her own. Next came physical therapy, which includes assisted walking on an underwater treadmill 3 times a week, acupuncture, and range-of-motion exercises on the floor every couple hours. There’s no way of telling what the future holds for Junie’s legs because every FCE case is different. Some dogs become paralyzed in all 4 legs, and some just 1. Others make huge recoveries and learn to walk again or regain control of their bladders, and others remain incontinent and unable to walk on their own for the remainder of their lives.
Learning to care for Junie day-to-day can only be compared to the challenges of parents bringing their first newborn home. Unlike parents of a human, I didn’t have 9 months to prepare. I discovered that changing tables are pretty magical inventions, as well. Putting a diaper on a 45-lb. dog while holding them up with one hand and trying to fish their tail through a hole with the other is a challenge of another dimension. Doggie diapers aren’t as foolproof as human diapers, which is why I’ve started buying Pampers (Sesame Street theme, of course, because who can resist an Elmo image on a little doggie butt!) and cutting my own tail holes. I’m learning as we go, and our routine has become more and more doable as I understand what works and what doesn’t. Here’s the great thing about dogs, which if you have one of your own, you’ll surely agree: they don’t feel sorry for themselves. Sure, Junie understands her life has drastically changed. Does she let it stop her? Nope! We’re now 6 weeks post-FCE and she’s dragging herself around and hopping on two legs like she’s never known differently. She looks a bit like a kangaroo, and the cutest darn kangaroo ever. She asks for belly rubs, gets excited about every meal, loves a good wheelchair walk, and still gives the squirrels a run for their money. Her eyes still brighten when I walk in the room, and in her mind, her tail is definitely going “thump thump thump” on the floor, even though I can’t see it do so anymore.
Junie love-love-loves the RTP office and will hopefully return to my desk-side soon so that Ceili can offer butt-rubs (where she may be permanently numb, but I guarantee she’ll appreciate the thought!) and Renee can share her apple slices. We specialize in handling curveballs and making the best out of what we’ve got as event planners, so luckily, I’ve got the right team beside me through this journey!
by Ceili Rian | Aug 15, 2016 | Uncategorized |
On some occasions, our work requires us to be on-site with our clients for periods of time longer than just the event itself. From March through August 2016, Erica and I packed up and moved to the Microsoft campus in Redmond to plan the third annual global Hackathon. The Hackathon is only a two-day event, but the energy, passion, and expertise that is jam-packed into those two days is impressive, to say the least. The importance of such an event, as short as it is, would be difficult to fully understand had we not thrown ourselves into the culture on campus to work with those who understood its value and had nurtured it through its wildly successful initial years.
While Erica and I had previous experience working Microsoft events, this one was different. Being brought into the mix the third year an event takes place is interesting. How does a team keep the excitement of an event growing after the initial thrill of something new has passed? How could we turn an event that people were now familiar with into something bigger and better and worthy of their commitment?
The team we worked with at The Garage was a small and scrappy group of just 8 to 10 of us. The event is global, so think tens of thousands of participants. With a large-scale event and a small team, it wasn’t unheard of for us to turn our desktops into a resting place for our heads at 4am, if need be. The dedication to our audience was apparent. If you’d asked those registering for the event what kind of team was running the show, they’d likely have assumed far more people were involved. Our email inboxes proved this true time and time again, as they were flooded with questions and comments months ahead of the event.
For someone who is newer to the event world, the value in being on-site for six months was immeasurable. This was my first event as a full-time employee of RTP, and I consider myself lucky to have had the chance to dive head first into such a long-term project. I find that I thrive on getting to know those I work with, both professionally and personally. Some people love email, and others work best with face-to-face communication, talking things through to find a solution. Whether I was running downstairs to chat with the dev team in person over lunchtime or emailing deliverables or questions, I came to know what worked best for each person I interacted with. I don’t consider myself the most tech-savvy millennial, and those we worked with didn’t necessarily have event expertise, so all in all, our half year working together was a learning experience during which we relied heavily on each other.
When pitching our ideas to potential clients, we often mention that we value partnership. We like to become a part of our client’s team and have them become a part of ours. Working on the Hackathon was a prime example of this value in action. By the end of the event, we were giving each other high-fives, hugs, congratulations, and thank-you speeches because it truly was a team effort, and no one of us could have pulled it off alone.
by Ceili Rian | Apr 12, 2016 | Uncategorized |
Today was awesome! No really…it was. We did the MS Walk – RTP style!
In past years, our crew has supported the MS Walk financially, but this year, we chose to take it further. As you may be aware, Jeanne Berry, our president has Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Our staff loves Jeanne and wants to help the MS Society in finding new treatments and of course, a cure. Kat our BD Director had walked in previous years (she’s so active!) and encouraged us all to walk this year. It was a no brainer of course. We branded ourselves the “RealTime Trailblazers” and launched into fundraising.
For the past couple of months, we’ve been putting out requests for support, both individually, and collectively, to make as big an impact as we could. Jeanne egged us all on by promising to match whatever we raise, up to $5,000. We campaigned for money, if only to make her pay up that match!
Our team was comprised of staff members (both employees and contractors) as well as friends. I was delighted to have my sister, Ginny make the walk with me. She was overwhelmed my how kind my team members were “Are they always friendly like this?” she whispered. “Yes” I laughed “this is who they are, not some kind of show.” And it’s true, the RTP team is indeed comprised of people who like one another, and can be counted on for support, regardless of the focus. Other companies give lip service to “being a family” but our crew truly is!
We raised $14,000 total (including Jeanne’s match) and are proud of having every employee participate this year! It was exciting to be a part of this walk. We’re looking forward to next year, and invite all our clients and associated vendors to participate.
by Ceili Rian | Jan 21, 2016 | Uncategorized |
Most companies generate a mission statement and/or a list of company values that they gleefully place on their website. These elements are often created by upper level staff and/or a marketing team. Sadly, these lists or statements are periodically trotted out to staff – blatantly telling them what their values should be. Because RTP is shifting to a more ‘personable, yet professional’ outlook, we created a statement of company values that genuinely reflect those of our staff members, both individually and collectively.
So how did we go about doing that?
Kat suggested we try an artistic/creative exercise that she’d done with another team. They had created a vision board of who the team believes they are, and where they’d like to go. Great! I’d been trained in Expressive Art Therapy facilitation and possessed a wealth of art supplies; so I volunteered my resources to pull this off. Although some team members were a bit hesitant, we committed to doing this as a team.
We set aside a day of focus (thank you Jeanne!) – preceded by homework. Each team member was given a series of exercises to help them discover their own values (both personally and professionally). So often, team members can feel more like ‘just’ employees rather than genuine contributors. The point of this project was to steer clear of that kind of thinking, making our team to feel valued, and accountable for the final values outcome. And we were all in…Karin made the trek from Portland to participate live, and in person.
I think it was more work than my team mates anticipated. First we shared with our personal values with the group. We explained how we generated them, and why they were important. Next, we moved on to the company values.
I asked each of my team members for a value suggestion; followed by the requirement that they validate their choice with examples from our work. You see, it’s not enough to just come up with a list of nice words, they have to MEAN something. In performing this project, we came to appreciate the similarities in our personal values, to understand our work mates, and land on a list of values that genuinely reflects who we are as a team: Creativity. Collaboration. Integrity. Perseverance.
Next, came the fun part. Ok, it was a bit of a struggle for some at first; but eventually, we created a decorative canvas, which now hangs in our office. This piece is more than just a list of values; it’s our compass, our map of who we are now and where our team is headed. As we glance over at it, we are reminded of the work it took to create, the cohesiveness of our crew, and our collective values.
Have you engaged with your team about your company values and how they define you as a team and in the work you do? We’d love to hear about it.
by Ceili Rian | Jan 4, 2016 | Uncategorized |
RealTime Productions has gone through a lot of changes recently.
We’ve moved offices – heck we’ve moved cities! The shift from the cacophony of South Lake Union to our calm location in Mercer Island has created a significant change in our work process. From individual cubicles in the old office, to an open plan here on the Island – the change has increased both our ability and desire to work collaboratively. We more freely bounce ideas and strategies off one another, paying little attention to individual role or title.
Our team, like others in our industry, has undergone staff shifts. But in coming to know our new members, we’ve made an intentional effort to acknowledge not only their similarities to existing team members, but their distinct differences. We’ve begun to celebrate our individual uniqueness, and learn better ways to work together. As we drill our new staff members on protocol, their influence has altered our policies. “Because that’s how we’ve always done it” has been retired, and replaced with “what do you think?” Our “can-do” focus (doing whatever it takes to pull off a challenge) has really lightened up our staff and brought a new energy to the office. Mind you, these are changes coming not from the top, but from every level of our team.
And the collaborative approach is becoming evident with vendors we cull together to manage an event. Perhaps it’s our perspective which has altered, but we see them as fellow collaborators putting on a client event. While mindful of their corporate procedures and policies, we are looking forward to forging closer relationships on these key players in event management. We find it a much more transparent and inclusive way to get the work done, one that celebrates the talents and humanity of all of us.
We’ve changed our branding a bit as well. We kept the tradition of our logo, but ventured into popping up the color to match our new physical environment. If you’ve been to our new office space, you certainly understand. We replaced muted tones of dark teal and sage with a brightly-hued light teal and spring green; tastefully tempered with a lovely charcoal gray. And for a color pop…don’t be surprised to see some hot orange thrown in.
We’ve altered our work schedules a bit, choosing to adapt to the ever-changing needs of both our staff and clients. Everyone who works in our industry knows the reality of working whatever hours are needed to pull off an event – but mindful of life-balance issues, we have encouraged our team members to balance their time between working from home and in the office. This affords our team greater ease in meeting client needs, while retaining tight team relationships. Not to worry though, we are more reachable than ever!
Our approach overall, has been to become more personable, while retaining professionalism. What does this mean to our clients? We hope it means that you find us taking a more personal approach to you and your events, while offering you a high degree of service and collaboration. We love expressing our “can-do” attitude, making extraordinary events come to life! We’d love to hear your thoughts on our continued evolution as a premier, boutique event management partner.