It Happened in Vegas - But That Doesn’t Mean It Has to Stay There…

Nothing gets more eye rolls in a crowded convention room than a mandated team building activity… With a sales kickoff looming, our client NetApp tasked us to come up with a team building exercise for a newly developed organization - the Global Industry Solutions & Alliances (GISA) team.

Being a part of these yawn-inducing activities in the past, we vowed to come up with something beyond your typical ropes course and trust fall session – something that’s actually fun and accomplishes the client’s goal at the same time. (It may have helped (or hurt) that we were limited to a Las Vegas hotel conference room for only an hour…)

The Problem – New team, new name, little comradery, no history together.

So how do we give the team an identity and make this an experience that that brings a smile to their faces?

Three and a half lattes & four breakfast tacos of brainstorming later, we realized, what’s more identifiable and memorable than a mascot?   And with that in mind, What the _ _ _ _ is GISA? was born.  The idea, which we kept as hush-hush as possible before the conference, was for the group to be broken out into teams to come up with a mascot & characteristics that represent the team.  The kicker, because there HAS to be one, is ten minutes into ruminating on the mascot, they would be have to create their mascot out of, what else? Wonder Bread!

Pro Tip – Test out the project before betting your business relationship on it.  Wonder Bread, though spongy, was a bit difficult to mold on its own.  We also included pipe cleaners, sequins, felt strips, pompoms, tape and glue, and, as a last resort. Play Doh.

Leading up to the event, the only hint that we circulated through the crowd was a photo of Wonder Bread.

The game went down like this…

  • Once in the room, we broke the groups into teams – Typically people sit next to people they know (think Mean Girls lunch table).  To prevent that, we shook it up and placed numbers underneath their chairs.  That number corresponded with the table, and team,  they’d work with.
  • First task – At their table with their team, create a mascot for the GISA organization complete with descriptive characteristics.
  • After ten minutes goes by… But, wait, there’s more! Enter Wonder Bread!  We delivered a bin to each table, and with the contents, each table had to create their mascot out of the supplies provided.
  • Fifteen mins go by… But wait there’s more!  Each team had to then devise a 2 minute-or-less pitch to the judges on why their mascot is the best one to represent GISA.  Judges are leaders of the organization… pressure was on. 

After plenty of laughs and some pretty creative uses of Wonder Bread, the mascot contestants included:

o   GISA Tut –One member embodied the mascot and wore a King Tut-like costume the team created.  Their presentation was complete with a GISA-version of Steve Martin’s Saturday Night Live jingle, King Tut, all with corresponding dance moves by the entire team (and we have video as evidence).

o   Cloud Man – Suspended a “cloud” of Wonder Bread from the overhead projector

o   GISA Dog – Reliable, loyal and friendly to all

o   GISA X – the newest/nerdiest member of XMen

o   Solutions Man – Clean, no nonsense and subsequently, the WINNER!


In the end, and even without ‘liquid courage’ (did you see the guy who took his shirt off to serve as ‘GISA Tut?), the teams were eager to participate and bring some levity to your typical corporate conference.  New business relationships were identified and established, and existing ones were grown thanks to a little Wonder Bread, some out of the box (literally) team-building and A10 Partners to guide the way.

Reginald Herde