Rachelle Kirchner is Operations Manager at The Event Team.
As told to Boxoffice:
We are the Samuel L. Jacksons. We come in and tell a team what to do, and then find a way to motivate them. People come to us when they want something fun and completely different than the boring meetings that they do every day. We offer team-building events like the Olympics or Corporate Castaways, where we act as if they're on a deserted island and need to survive. We build bikes, there's a Sangria Challenge. We're getting into Iron Chef a little bit. Actually, doing superheros like in The Avengers would also be really fun.
When everyone in The Avengers was fighting and not getting along—everyone had their own idea of how to fix things—I've seen that in our team-building events. We give them that challenge. In the movie, it was to save the world. In ours, it could be to build a car. When a team has their challenge to build a car, there's somebody who has a creative mind that wants to make it look cool. There's somebody with a practical mind who wants to make it work correctly. There's someone who's very athletic and they're going to be that engine. There's all of these ideas coming in, and people might think there's is the most important. When we see a group fighting like that, we help and say, "Maybe you should listen to this person?" and then they're forced to work together. That's like in the movie: once they realized their real goal, then they could work together.
Samuel L. Jackson was awesome at his job. He knew his group really well, so he was able to adapt to what their needs were in order to make the end goal happen. He was really good at getting them motivated when they were fighting and had just lost one of their members. He pulled out those trading cards and later said to the woman, "This is the motivation they needed." That was the first thing he did that I thought was spot-on. The second thing was when his bosses ordered the nuclear missile to be fired. He didn't authorize it and he didn't approve of it, but once it was on its way, he knew his group could handle it. He told his team, "This is what's happening and you need to get on it," and they took care of it. He gave them the tools they needed to get the job done.
To do this job, you have to be outgoing first and foremost. You have to be able to lead people, be a relationship-builder, be able to read people and see when someone is struggling to encourage them. We've been to events where the energy isn't there and it's like pulling teeth because they really don't want to be there. We come in and put on fun music or walk around and pump them up a little bit: "Ooh! That looks cool!" or "What are you going to do about this?" We'll speed up the program, not give them quite as much time—we adapt and do what we need to do in order to make them reach their end goal.
The Avengers didn't want to be there, either. They were all coming from different areas, they all had different things going on, and they were all just very resistant to having to do what the boss wanted them to do. Cheerful music probably wouldn't work on them—they needed something to excite them. The Avengers' superhero skills were the only thing that made them exaggerated. Other than that, all their personalities were things we've seen and worked with before. I've never seen any of the earlier movies, so I watched The Avengers with fresh eyes, but it was clear that everyone needed something different. Like Tony Stark, he needed something to trigger his mind, to get him thinking, whereas Captain America needed something old-fashioned. But if you can engage one person—like when Captain America finally got engaged and was there to be there—he rallied the other people.
That's what we do at our own events. We tell people they need to appoint a team captain, and we use that person as our way into the game. Once they're onboard, they can hook the rest of the players. We don't choose the key person because there's no way we could tell who they are just by meeting them the day of, so we leave it up to the groups and they just naturally figure out who's going to step up to the plate. And then we have a meeting with them and use them as a tunnel to channel the energy.
Captain America made a great captain. He wasn't even assigned captain—everyone just listened to him and looked up to what he had to say. His name was Captain, but that isn't what made him captain—he's just a natural leader. He seemed very down-to-earth and that he could really relate to everyone. He felt a little older and more mature, and he could see what people's strengths were and how to utilize those strengths. Like in our Amazing Race challenge, a captain needs to assign people to do what they're good at—be creative, be strong, be smart—and Captain America did that wonderfully.
The most difficult person to motivate is the one who's checked out and just doesn't want to be there. Here, that would be the Hulk. It was almost as if he was shy and timid. I think he was scared that if he did get involved, he didn't know what would happen. If you see somebody shy away from participating like that, if you catch them smiling or even just sort-of engaging, you have to pull that out, encourage them.
And Tony Stark's defensive, joke-cracking type absolutely happens, as well. When people do that, they're both motivating the team and spinning its wheels at the same time. Sometimes people get annoyed by them and don't want them to keep talking-they want to focus on the task at hand. But sometimes, they're having fun and that makes it more light-hearted, which can trigger an idea. It depends on the other players how that personality affects the group—sometimes it can be positive, but other times it can be difficult.
If we were chosen to host a team-building event for the Avengers, I'd probably pick our car-building challenge. We give the team four wheels, a bunch of PVC piping, a wooden board, four or five screws and some nuts and bolts, and a steering wheel, and we say "You need to put something together that resembles a car." And then they race it against the other teams. It's quite hilarious. We'll pair males versus females, or engineers against bookkeepers, that kind of thing. With all their different personalities-the geniuses, the ones who are physical—I think that they would do very well. They have all the tools that they'd need to make that happen.
The Avengers would also be a good fit for our Amazing Race challenge, because even though parts of it are physical where Captain America would do well, throughout the race, there's also mental and creative challenges so that the other team members' talents would also be put to use. Black Widow seems like the most creative one-she's the one who flew up to the top to close the portal. Captain America was standing right next to her and said, "How are you going to get up there?" and she said, "I got this one," and used the enemy to get up there. Tony Stark seems like the intelligent one, where if he doesn't know the answer, he knows how to get the answer. The Hulk is more strategic—he could almost be defense against the other teams and get angry at them.
As for Thor, he was interesting because he almost came from enemy lines, but then tried to form alliances. Kind of like how he was on the Avengers side, but would do something to make sure his brother still felt good. He'd be a really good barterer. At some of our team-building events, we offer the option of trading with other groups. Sometimes we have supplies that people will want to trade. Like, we just did a Sangria Challenge and we give each team fruit to make their sangria with. Thor seems like he'd be the one that would go and trade and make sure his team got the best fruit while trying to make it a win-win situation for both parties, even though he'd know his group was number one. Trading apples and pears—so Thor-like, right?
It takes two-thirds of the movie for the Avengers to become a team, but I actually like that it took that long, to be honest. That's how teams work: you don't always click right away. There's nothing I would have done differently to speed up their team-building because number one, you wouldn't have a movie, and two, because that's what we see every day. I went on a retreat in high school and was put with 19 other random people and we clicked instantly. They were amazing, amazing friends. But that's the only time I've been put in a group when I clicked that fast with that many people. Normally, it takes a lot of time to figure out who's who and how they work. When you're under a time crunch, it goes faster and when the Avengers were attacked, that's when their time crunch hit. Then they really stepped it up and became a team—because they had to.
It's hard to say how long the good vibes of the Avengers' teamwork will last. As soon as the mission was over, everyone split up. But I think for them and our real groups, the memories you make by doing an event like that last, some of them will always stand out. And when you share a memory, it automatically creates that spark of recognition that you did like each other, that you did have fun together. When you see each other again, it'll be like, "Oh, remember when you fell off the rope?!" or "Remember when he got paint on his suit?" I think if the Avengers came back together again, they'd have those memories of the fun times—and that's really the bottom line of what team-building is: to work together in a completely different way than what you're used to and realize, "Hey, we can do this."
There's a line in the movie that says the Avengers are "a group of remarkable people working together." I really like that. It shows that you don't need to be the best at everything—you're the best at something because everyone is remarkable in their own way. And when you get remarkable people together, that's when you get an amazing outcome.
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