When we were told to prepare for our recent team building session by watching an episode of the Dragon’s Den, I discovered this was the British version of the U.S.-based reality show, Shark Tank, that allows entrepreneurs to present their ideas to a panel of self-made tycoons, hoping to land investments for their ideas. Afterwards we were divided into teams and provided instructions for a team building activity based upon the premise of the Dragon’s Den to develop a “pitch” to the Dragons, a/k/a Audrey and Nick Taylor, the owners of netlogx, that raised awareness of netlogx in the community and highlighted at least one netlogx service.
Teams were allowed two hours in advance to meet and work on their presentations. Visual aids were to be developed day of the event with only 30 minutes to prepare using the materials provided. As someone who likes to plan and have time to think about an idea and consider several possibilities before proceeding, I realized that we had made a tactical error by not considering visual aid ideas to go along with our pitch during the two hours of planning time. However, we needed every bit of those hours to develop an idea and prepare the talking points.
This lack of an idea for the visual aid led to a few moments of internal panic for me as the discussion swirled around as to what we needed to do for the poster but nothing was being put on the blank board and the minutes were ticking away. Thankfully, after a few minutes of discussing what we should do a decision was made. We quickly came together as a team to divide and conquer and within 15 minutes our poster was done, leaving us time to move into the hallway to practice our presentation. Then it was time to slay the Dragons, so to speak – as our team was the first to go before the judges. Off we went to grab our poster only to have parts start falling off. Yikes!
Part of the presentation involved an opening song that one our team members, Rick Koen, revised the lyrics to fit the theme of our presentation. Next to public speaking, public singing ranks right up there on my least favorite things to do. However, as Alexandre Dumas famously wrote in The Three Musketeers, “all for one, and one for all,” so I joined in with my team mates and sang the lyrics as we walked up to face the Dragons. After our brief presentation, it soon became clear the Taylors were in full character as Dragons, asking pointed questions and pulling no punches. Uncomfortable? A bit. But fortunately, my antiperspirant lived up to its claims and soon we were seated and watching the other teams go through the same experience while we admired their creative presentations and learned from observing their presentation styles and abilities to remain calm under pressure from the Dragons.
Overall it was a great learning experience in the power of team work, giving presentations, thinking on your feet, how to “sell” netlogx, and grace under pressure while dealing with people who are challenging your ideas. I recognized that when entering the Dragon’s Den, I relied heavily on the netlogx operating principle of Courage to bravely confront fears and challenges of which I faced both with this team building activity.
While I was glad to have gone through the experience, I had mentally filed it away as one of those “been there, done that, glad it’s over” activities. I was surprised, then, to hear Nick Taylor say he wants to do this activity again in the future. I’d better go find some polish for my dragon slaying sword and work on my “lessons learned” list so I’m ready when the time comes.