Rooftops and Satellites

What happens when you mix Colin James, Roger Von Oech, Stephen Voltz and Fritz Grobe? (aka a musician, a creativity specialist, and two video specialists?)

Well, you get me! At least, you get what my mind has envisioned by trying to recognize patterns and find meaning in what each of these individuals has to share. I woke up this morning to James’ “Love is calling” (, read from von Oech’s Innovative Whack Pack, and reviewed Voltz and Grobe’s “Four rules for successful viral marketing”.

von Oech challenged me to drop my assumptions, because they are not always a reliable predictor of the future. In fact, the more assumptions we make, the less likely we are to find the unexpected. So instead of assuming my day would be normal, I looked for something unexpected. I chose to believe I could find messages and opportunities in James’ music, in the Voltz and Grobe literature, and in my immediate surroundings. Here’s what I came up with, as it relates to both my professional career and my personal life:

  1. Engage people: I talked about team building initiatives a short while ago. I asked for input and ideas, and I assumed I would get a smattering of input from a few friends who read this to be nice to me. Instead, I received input from places and people I had not expected. Lessons learned? Expect the unexpected. But if you want people to react/respond/contribute, engage them in an activity.
  2. Use emotions: Colin James’ song tugs at my heart and his lyrics provoke emotions. Emotions are a part of everyone’s reality, both personal and professional. Recognizing that reality is honest, and reaches down to people’s souls. In workshops, in conferences, speaking engagements, and everything else, reach out through emotions.
  3. Don’t waste our time: Avoid long introductions. Avoid too many words. Voltz and Grobe refer to “money shots” in movies – those provocative, memorable scenes that viewers focus on and remember. When running a workshop, make certain everything you do has purpose and contains mostly “money shots”. Use emotion, engage your audience, and jump right in!
  4. Be unforgettable: “Over the rooftops and satellites, I hope you hear me out there tonight”. James describes something that people haven’t heard before. He brings together rooftops and satellites. Way cool! I may forget the rest of the words to the song, but not that. So in business, in life…show people something which they will not easily forget.

    One of my Olivias, being unforgettable!

Now, those are just moments of clarity that I’ve come up with today…they may change tomorrow, but for today, they work. I’ve got two workshops coming up. I am going to use these reflections and incorporate them into my facilitation plans. But here’s my challenge in which I hope to engage you:

I want to collect a series of THE VERY BEST warm up activities that you’ve ever experienced. I’ll share one of mine: At the beginning of a one day workshop, I often ask participants to write down what they would do/be if they weren’t doing their current job. It allows everyone to dream for a moment, to admit he or she might like to be a musician, a fishing guide, a sommelier or something entirely different. It engages people, it provokes emotion, it doesn’t take or waste much time, and often people remember your preferred occupation over the one that you really do!

I'm ruling out professional seamstress to my alternate profession list. I think I just pinned my hair to this mitten!
I’m ruling out professional seamstress on my alternate profession list. I think I just pinned my hair to this mitten!

So, your task is this:

Please reflect on workshops you’ve attended, on those you’ve facilitated, and let’s prepare a list of the best warm up activities out there. Add them here  on the blog as a comment, and you’ll have access to what everyone shares. 

Published by Susan Gesner

A skilled professional with a wealth of experience in a variety of facilitation, consultation, education and research fields. I am known for my leadership, strong interpersonal skills and my ability to bring teams together for a common goal. I strive to incorporate my own and other's passion for the environment and sustainability for the future. Oh, and I love to run, fly fish, ski and make music!

3 thoughts on “Rooftops and Satellites

  1. Hi Susan,
    Quite often I ask participants to share one thing they like about their job (excluding the excellent renumeration!). Participants then hear other people sharing similar “passions” which creates a positive start at the beginning of the day. You can also use this for team building and demonstrate the convergence of “passions” and “likes” within the group. Fast, easy and provides good information to the facilitator.


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