Marketing

Bloomberg: CEOs Explain Their Most Awkward Team-Building Experiences

May 22, 2017

InCrowd CEO Janet Kosloff was asked about one of her more rewarding moments as a boss. Here’s what she told Bloomberg News:

 “We like to combine service elements into our team-building activities. In June 2015 my staff met at the Boston Harbor dock to board a boat to a nearby island to do some cleanup. While talking with a colleague, I stepped back and fell into the water, scraping my back on a post as I went down. I cut myself pretty badly, the water was freezing, and it was over my head. I was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt and felt weighed down. The thought of drowning came to mind, and I panicked. Thankfully, my team sprang into action and pulled me up.”
Janet Kosloff
CEO and co-founder, InCrowd Inc., Boston

Here’s her story in full:

We believe in team building through service. It was a bright day in June 2015 and the entire staff at InCrowd met at a dock on Boston Harbor to board a boat to a nearby island and clean up an Outward Bound facility serving vulnerable urban youth.

As I was engrossed in a conversation with a colleague I stepped back and fell off the dock into the Boston Harbor. The water was over my head and 50-degrees.  I was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt at the time, so I was pretty weighted down.  I really thought I was going to drown.

The dock was about 3 feet higher than the water line as the tide was going out, so several men had to kneel on the deck and reach down to me.  They grabbed my arms and pulled me out.

Because I had stepped backwards off the deck, I fell awkwardly onto a wooden post that was sticking out of the water.  It was covered with barnacles and was very sharp, scraping my back from the middle all the way to my waist.  I was bleeding through my clothes and looked as if I was clawed by a bear.  Luckily while the scratches went pretty deep, the layers of clothing prevented me from needing stitches or hospitalization.

Instead of leading the group, as a CEO should, I had to get first aid, and go home to recover.

When I got back to the office a few days later, I’d realized that we had a more powerful lesson in team building than any of us had planned. Having shared what felt like a near death experience with my team (even though I know it wasn’t), brought us together in a much deeper way than I would have imagined.  We all recalled what happened from our different vantage points, those I was talking to when I fell, those that helped pull me out, and those who helped tend to my wounds.  Also, I realized that no one is irreplaceable – they went on with what they set out to do without me, did some good for the community, and bonded.  I saw folks stepping up their game, taking charge, and compensating for a fallen colleague.

We saw how we needed each other perhaps more than we realized.  It bonded us even more as a team.

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