Archive for January 8, 2016

Road Trip Leadership, Part 3: Eight Tools for Making Connections

We’re kicking off the New Year with a three-part series highlighting Road Trip Leadership from our CEO, Ryan Underwood. Whether your next road trip is with your family or friends, you’re about to discover techniques to be more intentional, grow your relationships, deepen your influence and rock that road the next time you’re locked in a car for what can too often seem like “forrrrrrever.” This is the finale of the series.

We’ve talked a lot about theories and models – now let’s boil it down to some awesome tools which you can actually use to intentionally connect on your next road trip:

  1. Tunnel Time: Every time you go through a tunnel or under a highway overpass, everyone hold their breath, touch the inner car roof with both hands (except the driver!), and make as many wishes as possible. Discuss a wish or two after the tunnel ends and you come up for air.
  1. Who Am I?: One person think of someone that everyone in the car knows (family member, friend, celebrity, historical figure, etc.). Give simple clues to the person’s identity with everyone else guessing the correct answer.  Keep going in rounds until someone guesses correctly then pass the baton and let another person lead it.
  1. Theme Song: This one combines your music with observing what’s going on around you. Each person takes a turn using music from their mobile device to play a song that fits what’s going on in the world outside the car (e.g. people in other cars, scenery, construction, weather, town names, etc.).
  1. Who are They?: Choose another group of travelers (e.g. folks you saw at a rest stop or car on the road) and make up a story about where they are from and where they are going.
  1. Family Road Trip Box of Questions: This is a super product from Melissa and Doug filled with great questions and games to engage with your fellow travelers on road trips (whether they are family or not).  Here are some samples:
  • What’s the funniest thing that has ever happened to you while traveling?
  • If you could invite an additional person on this trip, whom would you choose?
  • What would you do together if you had an extra week on this trip?
  • What’s your travel style: drive directly to your destination or take your time and see the sights?
  • What city or sight can you visit over and over and over again without getting bored?
  • Of all the cities or towns you have traveled through so far, which has the best name?
  • Which famous person would you like to be stuck with for a three day road trip?
  • If you could invent something to make car travel easier, what would it be?
  • Name two great things about traveling with the person on your right.
  • If you could personalize your license plate, what would it say?
  • If you could write a book about this road trip, what would the title be?
  1. Table Topics: Marvelous product from Ruby Mine, Inc. that comes in a variety of topics and challenge levels.  An easy way to play is simply take turns asking everyone in the car a question and give everyone a chance to answer. A next level approach is for someone to choose a question, and let everyone else guess how another person would answer. No time to order a box of table topics?  Don’t worry, they have an App version you can download here!
  1. Prime Time! If you’ve got enough time to plan for your road trip, head to and order “Chat Packs, A Bit of Banter”, or “HYPERtheticals”. Various levels of fun, engagement, and thought provoking conversations await you.
  1. Trivia Thursday: If you’re not the driver and you are a fan of Twitter, check out TeamTRI’s Twitter handle @TeamTRI.  Each Thursday we post random trivia and randomly select a winner. You could win your very own copy of 5 Gears by Steve Cockram and Jeremie Kubicek. And, if you’re currently on your trip, just search #triviathursday for great questions you can take turns asking in your car.  We’ve got over years’ worth of weekly trivia to keep you busy for a few miles! Keep score! The person who wins the least buys the person who wins the most their favorite treat at the next rest stop!

Leader time is all the time—including and especially road trips! Be intentional and see how connected and positively memorable you can make your next adventure with family and friends.

Happy travels!

Road Trip Leadership, Part Two: Two Leadership Models to Help You Hit the Road

We’re kicking off the New Year with a three-part series highlighting Road Trip Leadership from our CEO, Ryan Underwood. Whether your next road trip is with your family or friends, you’re about to discover techniques to be more intentional, grow your relationships, deepen your influence and rock that road the next time you’re locked in a car for what can too often seem like “forrrrrrever.” This finale of this three-part series will run Friday, so buckle up!

By now you may be wondering, “Is this blog series about leadership, travel, or family?” The answer is YES.

2 Models

From a leadership perspective, before you get to lead your team or your organization well, building your leadership influence first begins with yourself and your family.

It’s easy to work on your personal leadership and millions do each day. And, according to Forbes, $70 billion was spent in the U.S. and $130 billion worldwide last year on training and leadership to build teams — so we’re literally investing tons to build organizational leadership. But the real key to growing your leadership influence happens right around you, every day, and it’s called FAMILY. And road trips, as my Mom taught me, can be powerful time to build your connections, your leadership influence, and your family.

5 Circles

My leadership mentors Steve Cockram, Jeremie Kubicek, Mike Oppedahl, and Dan Frey from GiANT Worldwide have been coaching me the past two years on how to really grow as a leader by using everyday moments to be intentional instead of accidental in each Sphere of Influence (see their model above). The family Sphere of Influence is especially easy to overlook as a busy executive, leader or entrepreneur. The demands of the day can easily feel like a priority over the people in your own home. But, if you think about it, your family can be the toughest place in the world to lead, so if you can be even modestly successful in that sphere, leading your team or organization could actually be a breeze in comparison!

Understanding what Steve, Jeremie, Mike and Dan talk about has been easy because they are GiANTS who have done this with their own families for years and you can see the love, affection, support, connection and grace that overflows from them. Understanding is one thing. Following is another. It’s one thing to admire another’s approach, it’s yet another to follow it, and yet another when you get to finally experience the richness of family leadership for yourself. The good news is — it’s never too late to get intentional!

But, the real question isn’t why family leadership is important — it’s “how do you do it?”  Jeremie and Steve have been teaching us the “5 Gears” model to help us be maximally engaged at home, work, and play. We’re not ninjas at this yet, but we have a whole new tool and language we use that has been helping us a great deal in each Sphere of Influence.

5 Gears

Prior to learning “5 Gears”, I would wake up each day and head straight to Fourth Gear – working hard on important projects with and for important people. At the end of all that hard work, I’d join my family but in my most exhausted state trying to re-charge while my most important people (Carrie, Maddy and Belle) needed me on their most important projects.  I was failing at Second Gear — being present, alive, and really intentionally connected in the closest and most important Sphere of Influence.

And sadly, I’m not the only parent, human, or leader experiencing this. According to A.C. Nielson the average parent spends 38.5 MINUTES per week (not per day!) in meaningful conversation with their children. The lack of connection with family is often at the root of so many issues people face later in life ranging from eating disorders and depression to failing grades or unhealthy relationships.

And, that’s where a great road trip can be an effective tool and opportunity for your leadership growth.  It’s not time for quiet and contentment…it is time for connection and conversation.  Whether the folks in your car are related by DNA, a school trip for sports, band, or CTSOs, a trek to church camp, or you’re with colleagues headed to a business meeting—drive time is leader time!

Next time, we’ll dive into tools for intentionally connecting on a road trip!

Road Trip Leadership, Part 1: Four Ways to Get Into the Right Gear!

We’re kicking off the New Year with a three-part series highlighting Road Trip Leadership from our CEO, Ryan Underwood. Whether your next road trip is with your family or friends, you’re about to discover techniques to be more intentional, grow your relationships, deepen your influence and rock that road the next time you’re locked in a car for what can too often seem like “forrrrrrever.” This three-part series will run today, Wednesday and Friday, so buckle up!

The key to a great road trip is to remember the R.O.A.D.:

Really Connect

Opt Out of Technology

Answer Great Questions

Do Games

As a kid I always loved road trips. Growing up in rural Oregon, if you wanted to see something different besides tall mountains, giant evergreen trees, and big lakes—chances were it was going to take a few hours on the road to get there.  I’m sure my brother and I were scouted and considered top recruits by an unknown number of colleges to play in the License Plate Game or Sign Game Leagues.  A 12-hour and 24-minute drive (whose counting?) to SoCal might bring the average 10-year old to the brink, but, with the right Mom and attitude you can really get that good at road games and also dress up your future resume at the same time (Yes, we did find the one car in all of California with a Hawaii license plate…how and why it got there is a totally different article).

It was on those road trips that we learned valuable life lessons from our Mom like “patience being a virtue” and that “long drives without air conditioning was neither boring nor life threatening, but rather a character building opportunity.”

And, my Mom was right. As soon as we got to Grams, dove into the pool, visited Mickey and Friends at Disneyland, or got to the famous California beaches, the epic drive was soon forgotten (so we thought) and the long delayed gratification finally experienced. And, the “Three Musketeers” as we called ourselves ended up growing a deep and wonderful relationship that continues to this day. And, we still remember the trip TO Grams as much as the trip AT Grams.

As a modern parent who loves technology, my wife Carrie and I have been taking road trips with our little girls for about five years now (full disclosure: we’ve not been brave enough to try a 12-hour trip yet!). We thought we were really being smart parents by ensuring iPads were fully charged and ready for our littles to movie up and play their games for hours as we’ve driven the beautiful Midwest and Southern U.S.  And, we often basked in our own brilliance and all seemed well as the technology often did the trick for kids as they were quiet and content in the backseat.

However, we now realize that is where our challenge was at—everyone was quiet! We were accidentally trading valuable conversation and connection time for contentment via computer. So, we recently learned what may be smart, may not be the wisest thing we could do with that valuable road trip time.

Carrie and I reflected that we got to know each other the best on the long drives we took early in our marriage (we were too poor to fly everywhere we wanted to go so we drove America from East to West and from North to South…that too is another article…but…I can safely offer that if your relationship can withstand 6,000 miles of driving America…it’s likely marriage material). So, we recently decided to add “tech free time” to our family trips.

Next time, we’ll dive into leadership models and tools for intentionally connecting on a road trip!