On a typical Thursday afternoon, the SpotHero office in downtown Chicago is buzzing with energy. While half the team downs second, third, or fourth iced coffees, the other half chugs Solixir’s orange-flavored “Awaken” drink, ready to attack the tail end of a hard-worked week. Today looked like any other Thursday, however the team was downing and chugging with a bit more purpose. On this day, we were preparing for more than just saving drivers from parking casualties.Our otherwise quiet Account Manager, Ryan, donned a neon yellow SpotHero tank for the occasion. Our office manager, Stephanie, sorted through boxes and boxes of event supplies to prep us. Our CEO, Mark Lawrence, wiped his mouth after smashing the can of his 5th Solixir. We all closed our computers and focused on the task at hand…
And while some might write off SandCastle building as just another fun and quirky start-up activity, SpotHero’s trip to Oak Street Beach served as more than just an excuse to re-live our childhoods and play in the sand. It served as the ultimate activity for both team bonding and team building. Here’s why…
SandCastle Building Requires Preparation and Planning
Contrary to popular belief, building a sandcastle is no easy task. In fact, post age six, it’ actually quite a difficult one. So, like any good staff member would do before a meeting or presentation, we all did some research and prep-work. The better part of the SpotHero staff read articles and watched videos to prep for the competition. However, despite our best efforts, many of us struggled to even get the sand out of the molds. This leads me to my next point.
SandCastle Building Requires Problem Solving Skills
With 20 minutes left on the clock and no towers or fortresses to show for ourselves, many of our team members had to rack their brans and think on their feet. How can we make the best of something bad? How can we make lemonade out of lemons? And, the inevitable, how can we make anything resembling a sandcastle out of sand?? Each team had a different approach, and each approach reflected the fast-thinking, solution-oriented minds that are crucial to surviving the highs and lows of working at a start-up. This, again, leads me to my next point.
SandCastle Building Requires Creativity
What happens when a problem arises that we have neither the time nor resources to solve, you ask? Well friends, this is where we get creative. In the case of my team, creativity was key to our second-place ranking, as we discovered with less than ten minutes remaining that we couldn’t so much pack a mold with sand, let alone build a sand empire (the later route chosen by our ever-ambitious CEO and Operations Analyst). So, in the nature of our position as Customer Heroes, we chose the compassionate route; we made a concept piece. We pulled from the pain points that helped grow SpotHero to where it is today; we reflected on past failures and present successes; we employed sand toys to help make our claims; we got damn creative because we were on the brink of failure. Other creative solutions included designing, quite meticulously, the SpotHero logo, and creating replicas of real Chicago neighborhoods.
After 45 minutes we had created seven unique masterpieces, each reflecting a different strength of our work as the SpotHero team. We laughed our way through absurd explanations of our creations, and in the end hugged, stomped on the castles, and took some pretty fab team pics. We even let some of our child-like manners come out for the photo opp (see bottom left). We also gave our sand toys to a few unassuming children who had been eyeing our work. I figure we can live vicariously through their future sand endeavors.
And when all was said (built) and done (destroyed), it was clear that there’s a reason our team has gotten to where we are today. Caffeine boosts and happy hours aside, there’s really no two ways about it: there’s normal, mundane team building, and then there’s sandcastle building—hero style.