Surely, those of us with better soft, business skills can mingle, go out to lunches, happy hours and otherwise engage others. Those with even more knowledge of human psyche know which questions to ask and buttons to push to burrow past the initial impression. This is quite important because once the pressures of deadlines and co-founder discourse creep in, people drop their social masks and show the real selves. This could either be liberating or deadly for a young and fragile startup.
If only there was a structured way to get to know your potential teammates…. Lean startup methodology teaches to us fail early and fail often. What can we learn from this approach when testing the social waters? One’s resume is not enough. Even recommendations of others are not sufficient in judging how YOU will work with this person on a real project.
This is why it is time to do things a bit differently. Instead of a lunch date, what if we go on a play date? What if we can play pretend and imagine for a half an hour we are working on our idea together with like-minded strangers. What if we switch the teams each half hour and get to know a whole other bunch of people in a fun yet revealing light. This is the idea behind Startup Monthly’s Ice Breaker event.
The ice breaker is there to … well, break the ice and make it easier for people to meet each other. Making it fund and engaging is a must. Otherwise, it’s summer camp all over again. Once the formalities are out of the way, we play a series of games, each time with a different set of participants. The games are not just fun — they stress competiveness and create opportunities for problem solving. This is a better way to get a glimpse of your future teammates, co-founders, and perhaps even friends.
Furthermore, these games are designed to teach something you can use, be that teamwork, leadership, adapting to change or even the basics of entrepreneurship. Just half a day and you get to meet a horde people in a real yet fun professional setting. Who knows, perhaps when a bunch of you are ringing the closing bell on Wall street, you will think back on the time you were lucky to meet at the Ice Breaker and not awkwardly at a noisy cafe on University Ave.