How to Start a Movement toward Team Bonding

Friday afternoon the good folks here at DAI Johannesburg toasted Sipho, an amazing team member who has worked here for the last seven years leading our Governance practice. I only just met him, but it is clear he is beloved and regarded as a “mensch” as Claudia said.  This designation is apt and worth noting that I don’t think anyone in the room had heard the word before. (Toto, we’re not in Montgomery County anymore.) Speeches were given, food eaten, wine poured, and bottle caps cracked.

By the time dusk and the impala had come and gone some of us were ready to keep the good times rolling. By “us” I mean myself, Jacques, Earnest and Sydney and Mbali. Only the Enterprise Development team was truly committed to the mission so off to News Café we went. I have since learned that this is a chain of bars best known for appearing in suburbs and turning into full on club mode by 10:00pm.  It’s cool though, Jacques, Earnest and I were done with our drinks before the pumpkin turned into a carriage and made it out just as the chair dancing was reaching its peak. In that time we’d covered a lot of biographical ground, which is particularly notable since Earnest poked out of his quiet shell. I learned more about his time working in Zimbabwe, his time at university in England, how he came to be impervious to the cold despite being from a warm country, and that he likes to dance.

Earnest was saying he simply “followed” Jacques’s lead by coming to the bar, but I said he should take more credit since movements don’t happen without followers.This led to us bonding over this TED talk by Derek Sivers, titled “How to start a movement.”   Turns out his MBA program was really into leadership and used this TED talk to drive the point home. Once again, TED Talks bringing like-minded-people to even great levels of like-mindedness.

Jacques was very proud to introduce me to brandy and coke, the drink of South Africans. I didn’t bother to tell him that Crowne Royal is nothing new to most of-age-people in North America – It seemed like a kindness. He ordered himself a double and me a single, because doubles aren’t for beginners.  I then ordered a double Jack with gingergale because I suspect that the bar shots were about ½ of a normal pour.  We proceeded to talk good fortune in our careers, compare notes on universities, and move inside where we shared a table with three young women who were none to pleased to have us sit in the chairs of their Elijah-like friends (they never did appear). We ended the evening in an affirmed love of The Power of One which came up when Earnest used the word tackies. Jacques loved Peekay. Who doesn’t?

Side Note: When I finished the book, I thought to myself, how has no one made this book into a movie? It would be an amazing film. Except for the part where no one will agree with the casting decisions. Turns out someone already made it into a movie. In 1992. And guess what? I do not agree with the casting.

It was good team bonding time and I’d been waiting for the chance to go out with my colleagues. An evening doesn’t have to be glamorous to be totally worthwhile.  Here are some of the brilliant plans we hatched, half of which probably won’t happen:

  • Youth League*-organized post-work drinks once a month on Friday
  • Trip to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe
  • Youth League outing to “Thursday Night” and many other suggested bars**
  • Braai at Jacques’s house
  • Some other shit I can’t remember

* The Youth League is what the young folk in the office are called. There are 8 of us. Four of us work in the Enterprise Development team.  

**This outing has since happened.

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