Chapter 2- Uncorporate-Like Team Building
I committed to a BWCA journey; an expedition as the Brit’s say. The UK duo of Richard and friend solidified their commitment with the purchase of airline tickets. The trip was becoming reality – we were “on”. Given the timing, permits wouldn’t be a problem, so I had the luxury of contemplating a route nearly up to the put-in date. The first task was finding friends willing to embark on a weeklong trip that wasn’t planned with some people they didn’t know. I needed commitment from friends and acquaintances to spend an entire week together, working towards an undetermined goal, in any sorts of weather, day and night without the option to pulling a “Jason Shugars”. To make matters more serious, Richard isn’t just a friend, he’s the Owner and Director of Outdoor Active in the UK, the Wenonah Canoe importer to the British Isles. I was, in fact, hosting an influential and significant customer. Moreover, Richard’s friend turned out to be Ray Goodwin, the well known canoeing author, blogger and a modern day face of canoeing in the UK. If I screwed up this trip, I’d be infamous! I needed a plan and I needed it quick. Not only was I leading a trip, I was now entertaining others who shape the ever changing business and paddling landscapes of canoeing worldwide.
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not entertaining and I’m not outgoing. My MBTI® is a solidly tilted, well-jaded ISTP. I needed some fun, outgoing people to cover my deficiencies and they needed to be “real” paddlers. I needed to build a team, not force team membership on an existing sub-population. The BWCA permit rules allow 9 people and 4 watercraft, period. Richard, Ray and myself left room for 6 more. From here on, I relied on my catch phrase “trust me” and adding “you’ll have fun” to quickly fill out the team. To my credit or just my luck, everyone I invited signed on with reckless abandonment. How’s that for trust? Or, am I just a damn good salesman?
Our Expedition Team:
Richard – Born in Wales, now living in England. Richard is the Owner and Director of Wenonah’s business partner Outdoor Active. If nothing else, he should be able to bring some decent Scotch and maybe a freeze dried haggis. This was my Scotch and Haggis tax, my personal quest to right the wrongs of a previous tax on tea. I’ve known Richard for several years. He’s an outgoing, generous chap, paddler, business man, father and husband. For the record, he did fail with my request to get me invited to the Royal Wedding.
Richard. Photo: Wenonah Canoe
Ray Goodwin – Born in England and living in Wales. Ray’s former life was spent in the mountains. He now concentrates his energies on canoeing, coaching and his family including his young daughter. Ray is the author of the recently released book, Canoeing (Pesda Press, UK), as well as long standing blogs and various articles. Ray is also competent behind a lens – another outsource bonus – trip photographer! All else aside, this is another opportunity for good Scotch supplies. For more on Ray, visit: www.RayGoodwin.com.
Ray Goodwin. Photo: Wenonah Canoe
Dave – Born in California, retired pro tour surfer, world renounced waterman, author, photographer, master board shaper and business owner. Presently residing in Hawaii, Dave and his C4 Waterman business partners are responsible for the re-introduction of Stand Up Paddling (SUP) to the world. Dave’s paddling resume includes several successful competitive crossings of the Molokai channel and other more personal projects. Prior to the trip, I knew Dave mostly through trade shows. On several occasions, he asked about signing on to a BWCA trip. Here was his opportunity.
Claudia – Born in Hawaii, grew up living the waterwoman lifestyle and married to Dave. Retired competitive surfer, she now paddles, surfs and swims for the love of water. Her paddling resume began at birth growing up under the watchful eye of The Unofficial Mayer of Makaha. If she accepts the invite, she’s definitely on the team.
Claudia and Dave. Photo: Wenonah Canoe
Ted – Retired United States Naval Aviator and currently a Captain with AMR’s American Airlines. From serving his country in the front seat of a Tomcat, to driving B777s, surfing and paddling, Ted does it all with professionalism, calmness and confidence. I’ve known Ted for several years and paddled with him on many occasions. Ted’s paddling and surfing resumes are world class. Moreover, if we did encounter a true survival situation, Ted is United States Military trained in such endeavors so our tax dollars would be directly accountable!
Jennifer – Born in Iowa was nearly enough credentials for me since I’m fellow Hawkeye. Mother of three and veteran of the textile industry, Jennifer is a high-energy adventure seeker and significant other with Ted. I’ve paddled SUP with Jennifer a few times and she displayed the solid aerobic, core-centric technique I applaud. Most recently, Jennifer has played a role in the re-introduction and revival of the Faribault Woolen Mill Co.
Ted and Jennifer. Photo: Wenonah Canoe
Bill B. – aka Target Bill – I didn’t know much about Bill before the trip. I knew Bill worked with Target Stores in New Market Development, was a husband, father of three and cyclist. I bumped into Bill on the water a few times around Minneapolis. He looked solid and confident. Rumor was he’s a rock-star cook and he survived an OC-4 huli in the Lani Kai surf break with the World Champion Foti brothers. Not many people even get near the water with the Foti’s. If nothing else, this was my opportunity to think corporate and outsource the cooking detail, something I was more than eager to do. Cooking in a Wolf equipped kitchen is one thing. Let’s give Bill a chance to cook in the wilderness. I give myself credit for this: a corporate move at its best – outsource responsibility and accountability! If the food sucked, I’m off the hook. If the food rocked, I take credit for effective “management skills”. Regardless, as long as the Brit’s come through with enough Scotch reserves, memories would be blissful.
Bill B. Photo: Wenonah Canoe
Heather – Born in Winona, Minnesota, my spouse and daughter of the founder and owner of Wenonah Canoe, Inc. Heather’s professional career is a practicing Sports Medicine Physician in the Twin Cities; athletes ranging from the US Nordic Ski team to weekend warriors. She’s paddled canoes almost before she could walk. Heather’s paddling resume includes a win at the United States Canoe Association in Adult/Youth with her father Mike, a 2nd Place Catalina Channel Race in the Kialoa Division and a 15th Place finish in Na Wahine O Ke Kai.
Me – Bill K. – aka Wenonah Bill – I’m the Vice President of Wenonah Canoe, Inc. I drive a desk. I don’t have a paddling resume and at my age don’t have time to develop one. Joe Walsh said it best, “I’m an ordinary average guy,” but without the dog. I am not a waterman. If I had time, I’d go to Average Joe’s Gym and play dodge ball. I’m a recovering Fortune 500 employee who despised Six Sigma or whatever other crap the company tried to ram down our throats as a substitute and excuse for negating common sense and diverting accountability away from the Pointy Haired Boss’s of the world. Today, I’m fortunate to work for a privately held company where transparency, market data and common sense drive real business decisions. I’m also fortunate and grateful for my family, and friends with whom I work and recreate the world over.
Heather and author Bill K. Photo: Wenonah Canoe
We had a team. Now we needed a plan. The BWCA is a big place and the pressure was on to deliver something approaching extraordinary.
Up next: Strategic Planning – Selling the Excitements and Concealing the Challenges; aka Paddling and Portaging.