The Best Staff Meeting Ever

Josie Leavitt -- June 2nd, 2011

It’s not every day that I gather my staff to play. Usually staff meetings are information-sharing affairs that can be enjoyable, but seldom would anyone call them fun. Yesterday was different.

At BEA last week we were inspired to go look at a new toy company, Blue Orange. This company is one of the hot toy companies that all our bookstore colleagues were raving about. Elizabeth went to their booth and then spent half an hour texting me about our previously agreed upon budget and how it was just too low. Well, several hundred dollars later above budget, the order was made. I thought that would be the end of it until we received the order.

Little did I know that Blue Orange was going to come to the store and teach the staff how to play their games. What a great idea. It’s one thing to be able to talk about a game, but it’s an entirely different thing to tell customers how much fun you had playing the game. Florian, a lovely young man from Blue Orange, arrived at 8:3o yesterday for our staff meeting. I must say, there were some staffers who wondered if this meeting was mandatory, as they weren’t sure of its purpose. By the end of the first game, all were converted and all were ready to win.

We played every game we had ordered, asking questions along the way and thinking out loud about different ways to handsell the games. We played Trigger, a seemingly simple game of answering true or false questions using your right hand or left hand to hit the “trigger” depending on your answer. I don’t listen well, and that was abundantly apparent during the game. I was wrong often and if that weren’t bad enough, my dyslexia had me using the wrong hand for my answers. It was funny and by paying attention to our mistakes, we could better see what might be hard for kids, and adults, about some games.

The fun continued through rounds of Yamslam, a Yahtzee-type game that is full of strategy. One thing that was really interesting about playing all these games was to see who on staff was really competitive and who was happy to just play. We laughed a lot and all of us wanted to take more turns with each game. The game that proved to be the most challenging, for me at least, was Sumoku, a numbers-based game that is a lot like the word game Bananagrams. The fun of this game is it’s wonderful for folks who don’t really like word games, or can’t read yet. I’m not good at math, so I found this oddly challenging, but I can’t wait to play it with my family this summer.

The game that was a lot of fun for all us to play was Gobblet Gobblers, a tic-tac-toe game that allows you to take your opponent’s piece and to cover their piece with your piece. Basically, the very simple game of tic-tac-toe has been elevated to a much higher level of thought than what you’ve ever played. A memory game called Pengoloo revealed the real nature of all of us. You can steal the penguin of another player if the egg under the penguin body is the color you need. Most of us hesitated to steal penguins, except one of us. She stole with glee and a sense of “this is how you play the game.” We all just about howled. After the ever-patient Florian left, we all started talking about having our first ever Game Night at the store. Just in time for summer, and with all the rain we’ve had, people would do well to stock up on fun games the whole family can play.

Everyone left the meeting happy, laughing and thinking about what games they wanted to add to their family toy chest. I left the meeting thinking about other ways to make staff meetings this much fun all the time.

4 thoughts on “The Best Staff Meeting Ever

  1. Kat Goddard

    You should forward this on to Florian or better yet his boss. He was just here last night. He really is charming. I love the games too. I suggested he look into wholesaling them through Ingram so we could buy/restock in ones and twos.

  2. Judey

    When I read your posts, I remember the joy of managing a Waldenbooks store in PA, especially when you describe the many wonderful events you host.
    Besides being your fan, I now am a fan of Blue Orange. How smart to combine an order with a face-to-face visit (a week after BEA!), demonstrating the games. It shows your staff how they can build enthusiasm by doing the same for your guests.
    I look forward to reading about Game Night!

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