This summer has been very busy for us; which is really good for business, and bad for time to blog! I asked one of my extremely talented facilitators, Melinda Rodriguez, to write about her experience with Old Navy this summer. She just finished a six program stint—which is really how we love to interact with and support our clients. We can and do one-off events/programs for clients, but multiple programs are more common and it’s far more beneficial if we can work with them over time—Rome wasn’t built in a day. Enjoy the read! …
I expected heat. It was August in Scottsdale, Arizona, after all and I would be visiting every Tuesday and Friday, same day flight travel, for three weeks to present a total of six team building programs for Old Navy’s Store Managers. Each event consisted of around 150 different Store Managers engaging in three concentrated days of management skills training as part of their Leadership Academy. What I did not expect was the deep bonds that were forged with the Leadership Academy staff and participants along with six of the most incredible and memorable programs I have ever experienced in my career as facilitator with Drum Cafe West. It was a pleasant surprise indeed and created an oasis of delight with each visit amidst the intense desert heat.
Old Navy really went out of there way to take care of us throughout our time with them. As a team we felt a bit spoiled at times but it was quite refreshing after our travels. As we relaxed and prepared for each event, the staff artfully set up the chairs with drums eliminating any need for us to lift a finger in the effort. When the time came for a sound check, the venue sound technician James was extraordinarily knowledgeable and friendly and ensured superb sound for each one of the six events. Then there were our hosts Courtney and Julie who were behind the coordination of such an enjoyable experience for all involved.
Our mission with Old Navy was to deliver a drumming program that emphasized leadership and management skills which were being taught throughout each group’s three day leadership training. Each of the six, three day sessions consisted of approximately 150 to 200 different store managers enabling the nearly 1000 Store Managers across the nation to attend the academy. Drum Cafe’s flagship program naturally weaves in elements of leadership, communication, decision making, and team bonding into the high energy drumming activities we present, so it was a perfect fit that we tailored for Old Navy through specific language during our program’s windows of communication. The nodding heads in the audience clearly indicated we were speaking their language and connecting the dots for them in a kinesthetic way that made perfect sense.
One of the phenomenal aspects about this series of events was our outstandingly engaged audience. For our very first program, when the drumming began, and the doors flung open, all 150 of the participants eagerly entered the room. Each event was a surprise for the audience, so playing drums was completely unexpected yet warmly received by everyone. There was no hesitation or trepidation from this group; they dove in head first, picked up there drum and began to bang away with us. The result was an hour program that was deeply enjoyable, filled with laughter and powerfully delivered the experience of collaboration, connection, and inspiration which are fundamental in building strong communication skills and team bonding.
At the end of each program, many participants came to the stage to offer there gratitude for such a meaningful and impactful experience. After our very first program one woman approached me in tears and expressed to me that group drumming was on her bucket list. She was overwhelmed by the overall experience and thanked us for delivering such an unforgettable encounter. When something like that happens it not only fills you with such a warm fuzzy feeling, but it is such an undeniable sign that you are on the right life path and really making a difference in peoples life, simply by doing what you love.
Even though each event was to be a surprise to the participants, it appeared that rumor was beginning to get around. By our second visit, I was approached in the ladies room but one of the Store Managers. She said to me “I know who you are. We are so excited to drum with you all. We’ve heard great things about Drum Cafe.” I smiled and thanked her and told her she would not be disappointed. As the team and I took the stage for our second program, we began to drum call in the next batch of Store Managers. To our joyful surprise, they did not walk but RAN into the room; clamoring and competing with one another for front row seats. With such a high energy beginning, we knew we were in for another extraordinary Old Navy Leadership Academy drum experience.
All six of the leadership programs we presented followed a similar pattern of excitement, participation, incredible teamwork, inclusion and feedback that expressed truly meaningful experiences that were had by all. The consensus was unanimous – to use drumming as a teambuilding activity and leadership exercise was absolutely brilliant! There was also a great deal of gratitude amongst participants, not just because of the Drum Cafe portion of their leadership training, but the overall experience Old Navy was providing and committed to invest in each and ever Store Manager. Many Store Managers expressed the desire to acquire drums or other percussive instruments to take to their store staff meetings. They were so deeply touched by the drum and its ability to create such unity, partnership and connected community that they wanted to share this phenomenal vibe with everyone in there store. In my opinion, that’s a true definition of success for all involved— Store Managers, store staff, customers and ultimately the community.
Although the twice-a-week, same day travel to Arizona from California was a bit intense, the people that I was fortunate to connect with and their unbreakable spirit of open mindedness and sincere kindness was enough to keep me thriving. Incredibly, at our last program our goodbyes were laced with tears and a bittersweet sensation of “mission accomplished” and “now let’s do it again.” But the team and I had other team building programs to present, other clients to uplift and inspire, and more airports to visit. No doubt however Old Navy and Drum Cafe West is a marriage made in heaven and we will connect with them again very soon for more collaborating grooves that leave a lasting impact. In fact, I heard we’ve got dates already on the calendar. We can’t wait!
The additional great news is that we are geared up to connect with other innovative, progressively thinking companies that are ready to take their success to the next level and invest in a future where everyone aligns with the rhythm and pulse of victory through creative team building and drumming. There are plenty of team members and drums to go around and share in the achievement of what drumming creates. Is your organization ready?
Drum Cafe West, Facilitator