Egg Your Team On

The Atomic Egg Drop Challenge

I am a big fan of simple team building exercises. I find that most people get so caught up in their daily work that they really don’t get to know their coworkers. I created a fun, fast exercise that managers can use to liven up a meeting and re-energize the team. The below team building exercise works well for 12-40 people. It takes about 25-35 minutes from start to completion. The cost is variable, depending on the prizes you provide your team.

You will need

  1. Several cartons of eggs (depending on your team size)
  2. A ladder or step stool
  3. A tape measure
  4. Some cleaning supplies
  5. A watch or timer
  6. Some prizes

Getting Started

Split your group into teams of 2-4 people, depending on the total number of participants. You want a maximum of 10 teams. I suggest making people team up with coworkers that they don’t interact with on a daily basis. Once the teams are split up provide each team with 3 eggs and read them the instructions below.

Team Member Instructions

  • You have 15 minutes to construct a container for your eggs that can withstand an 8 foot drop.
  • You can use anything within the office that is not of value to create your container.
  • You are not permitted to use a conventional egg carton in any way.
  • Your carton must be no larger than 4 x 4 x 4 inches and contain all 3 eggs (this is a really important requirement, make sure people understand this).
  • You need to name your carton design and present the thought process and its virtues to the other teams prior to the drop.
  • In order to complete the challenge all 3 eggs must survive the drop without cracking.
  • Each team that breaks no eggs will receive a (insert your prize here, gift cards are nice and easy)

Facilitator Process

After you read your group the instructions start your 15 minute timer. Call off the time remaining at 5 minute intervals, with a 1 minute warning. When the time is up bring everyone back into a room together. Call the first team to the front and have them share their creation and thought process with the group. Measure the carton to make sure it is not bigger than 4 x 4 x 4 inches. If it is too big that team will be disqualified, but you should still drop the container.

Climb up your ladder or step stool, hold the egg container 8 feet from the ground and get your team to chant a countdown…. 3… 2… 1… drop! Some of the containers will pass, others will fail. The mess doesn’t get too crazy, but you want to make sure you are doing this away from any carpet or walls just in case. Repeat this process until every team has gone, then bring the winners to the front and celebrate their victory.

If you try this with your team please let me know how it works out for you.

Crazy Until It is True

The above image was painted by my father, sometime in the 1960s. It depicts a future city where whisper quite high speed electric trains would “float on air” and travel hundreds of miles per hour between distant locations. As a child I remember uncovering futuristic paintings like this hidden in little nooks of our home.

While my father has great artistic talent, the images he creates are rarely designed to be art. They are visualizations of the world of opportunity he sees as an entrepreneur, engineer and visionary. Each drawing, painting or video he produces has a story… a reason for being. This painting focused on his fascination with linear induction motors. He believed that high powered magnetic coils would be used to levitate and propel all sorts of things, including trains. The magnets would be used to create a friction-free rail, reducing noise and energy consumption while increasing the speed of the train.

At the time my father’s floating train sounded like science fiction to most people. Fast forward to today and it doesn’t seem so crazy… because it is starting to be true. High speed trains are popping up all over the world, many of them using a variation of magnetic levitation and propulsion technology.

While he never built his train, he did use his vision to build and sell a company. He invented the original baggage handling system for the 747 airplane.

Big Visions Take Time to Mature

One of the hardest things about being an entrepreneur with a big vision is that the market rarely matures as fast as you want it to. New ideas scare people. They disrupt the old ideas, causing the people vested in the old ideas to dismiss or even attack the new ideas. The bigger the new idea, the more resistance, the longer it takes to gain acceptance. It is one of the reasons why we still have gas powered cars.

Celebrate The Victories

Your big vision may take years (or maybe even decades) to come to fruition. If you want to see it through it is important to celebrate and contribute to the milestones along the way.  My father knew he didn’t have enough time or money to build a new type of train, but he could help advance the technology that would be used on a bigger scale in the future. He scored a win for himself and a win for the big vision at the same time. I am sure it puts a smile on his face every time he hears about a new high speed rail project.

Tongue Tip

You may not change the world overnight, but the world won’t change as fast without you.

All Hills Break

At midnight this morning I embarked on my first ultra-marathon. The event was held in the desert, two and a half miles outside of Las Vegas. While I knew that it would be a challenging run, I had no idea what I was getting in to.
ET Marathon MapA typical marathon will bring you up and down many times over, giving you periods of challenge and relief. You can physically see high points along the way and set periodic goals for yourself like “get to the top of this hill”. This run was different. The first 13 miles were uphill, in the dark with no end in sight. There was no horizon, nothing to fixate on, no way of knowing when relief would finally come. My timer broke right before the race. My ipod gave up on me an hour into the trek. It was lonely. Isolated. I hated not being able to see the road ahead or understand the pace at which I was progressing. I felt like it would never end.

The Dark Road

On the bus ride home I couldn’t help but reflect on what I had just endured. This run seemed to parallel so many facets of life. At times we all feel like we are on a dark road, running uphill towards the unknown. Sometimes we put ourselves on that road, and other times the sun sets around us. Either way it is an uneasy feeling to run into the abyss.


I know a lot of people are dealing with their own uphill battles right now. Unemployment and foreclosures are off the charts. The fallout from the economy is tearing apart lives, relationships and impacting personal health. But I am here to tell you that there is hope. No hill goes on for eternity… even the longest hill eventually breaks. It may be tough to remember that when you can’t see the top, but I promise it is there. If you keep running you will eventually make it over the crest.

Ted Murphy

Run Harder

The only way to reach the top of your personal hill faster is to run harder. Don’t slow down. Don’t let the darkness disorient you. Don’t lose focus. Don’t let the little setbacks cause you to give up and walk. Visualize yourself reaching the top and imagine how good it will feel coasting down the other side. You can get through this. You own this hill.

You Only Live Once

Right now I am sitting in my hotel room at the Hard Rock Las Vegas. I can hear people screaming, bass pounding, and people enjoying Rehab at the pool below. If this was any other day I would be down there myself, but today I am sitting in my room quietly preparing for the craziest run of my life. I have had my pre-run pizza (a ritual), slogged down as much water as I can and tested all my equipment.


At 8:45pm I will board one of eleven buses headed to the middle of nowhere, about 2 1/2 hours outside of Vegas. I will wrap myself in reflective tape, turn on my flashlight and wait for the gun to fire at midnight. I will be running 51 kilometers in the ET Marathon tonight, that is  just over 31 miles (a marathon is 26.2 miles). A marathon is hard enough… but this in the desert… at night… and the aid stations are at least 3 miles apart. It is going to push the limits of my mind and body like never before.


People often ask me “why do you do crazy stuff like this!?!?” The answer is because I can.

I know I won’t always be able to do the things I can right now. Whether my body grows older, the desert night grows brighter or my life takes me in another direction there is no time like the present. I don’t ever want to look back on my life from a hospital bed and say “I wish I would little-aleinnhave”. Our bodies are changing, our lives are changing and the world is changing around us. Some opportunities truly are once in a lifetime.

So tonight I head off on a new adventure. When I get back home I will mark it off and set my sights on the next one. No matter how big or small your adventures are I hope you are doing the same.

I’m Happy You Are Nervous

The other day I was sitting in a meeting with my lead developers at IZEA. I asked each of them a question I often ask, “how are you feeling?” I went around the table and most of them said “good” – with one exception. That individual responded with “I’m nervous” to which I responded, “good, you should be”. That is no doubt a strange response from the leader of a company, but it is not the first time I have given it.

The truth is I want my team members to be a little nervous. Not nervous for the sake of being nervous, but nervous because they care about what they are working on. This particular developer is leading a team that is rolling out IZEA’s next big service. We are less than a month away from the launch date and there are plenty of little issues (and some big ones) that have to be addressed. There is a ton of excitement… but there are also a lot of unknowns. All of us want this to be a huge success and we have invested time and money into making it work. Should this person be nervous? HELL YEAH! I am.


I’m nervous like a heavy weight boxer stepping in to the ring.

I look at every new initiative as a new fight for the belt. I have won some and I have lost some, but every time I step in to the ring I am full of an unexplainable energy that keeps me from being complacent or over confident in my abilities. I can’t sleep. I can’t stop thinking over the win/loss scenarios. I think about every detail. My legs bounce… my eyes twitch. I am consumed by the task at hand. My heart and mind are committed to success.

So…. when a fellow leader in my organization tells me they are nervous about a launch I am happy. I want them to be nervous. I want them to be attached. I want them to be thinking about where things can wrong. I want them to feel like they are in my corner of the ring. I want them to be ready to come out strong and go the distance.

You are nervous because you care. You are nervous because you want to win. I love that. Let’s kick some ass.

Happy Birthday Hubble

hubble_telescopeLike most people who have grown in the space age I have been fascinated about what exists beyond our planet since a very young age. I can remember the first time I saw a picture from deep space. It made me realize just how big the universe is and how small a role I play in the grand scheme of things. Our entire planet Our entire galaxy is just a speck in an infinite sea of stars.

Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope. Hubble launched in 1990 and has transformed the way we look at creation itself. The farthest objects Hubble has seen are galaxies well over 12 billion light years away, not long after the Big Bang. Here are a few of my favorite images. You can see more at the official NASA site.





2010 Marathon Schedule

my 2009 marathon medals.Last year was my first year ever running a marathon. I started off pretty slow but managed to complete 5 full marathons through the year without stopping once during any of them. My best time was 4h 07m 58s in Atlanta on Thanksgiving day, with times for every race coming in under 4h 20m. I can honestly say that I am in better shape now than I was in my 20s and I feel great.

My 2010 New Year’s Resolution is to run eight full marathons and one ultra marathon. Here are the races I have have booked or will book as soon as registration opens.

January : ING Miami Marathon
February : Jacksonville Marathon and Gasparilla Marathon
March : ING Georgia Marathon
April : Charlottesville Marathon
May : Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon
June : Newport Marathon
July : San Francisco Marathon
August : Extraterrestrial Full Moon Midnight 51k (Ultra Marathon!)
September : TBD
October : Steamtown Marathon
November : NYC Marathon and Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon
December : St. Jude Memphis Marathon

Commit to Success, Plan for Obstacles

Just finished the ATL marathon with a new personal best!You may have noticed that I have more than 8 marathons listed above. I have done that for two reasons :  1. I fully intend on shattering my goal. 2. I realize that I may get sick or have to deal with an emergency causing me to miss a race. I had scheduled the Disney marathon earlier this month but had to punt because of illness.

Big, audacious goals require upfront planning and milestones along the way. You can’t just say “I am going to run 8 marathons” or “I am going to lose 30 pounds”. When and where do you plan on running each race? When do you intend to lose your first 10 pounds and how? You need to break up big goals into smaller, achievable pieces and create a clear path to success.

Quick Tip

I find that blogging my goals helps me really stick to them. Once they are on public display it is hard to take them back or make excuses.

2010 is Almost Here

New Years day is right around the corner. Now is the perfect time to commit to making your 2010 resolutions a reality. Don’t wait until New Years Eve! You know what you need to change in your life… prepare yourself before 1/1/10 rolls around so you can start the new year off strong.

Take the Hard Road

This morning I got out of the shower and looked down at my feet. They have seen better days. Two of my toe nails are purple, the bottom of my feet are callused, worn and healing from blisters. My feet have propelled me through four marathons so far this year. Each duel with the road has been long, hard and painful.

I know that my feet are unsightly. I know that the marathon I am running next weekend (NYC Marathon) will likely spawn another purple toe. I don’t care. My feet are my battle scars, a visual reminder that I can overcome any challenge and a testament to my way of life. They inspire me to push myself harder and commit to doing the things that others can’t or won’t do.

Uncharted Territory

Life is full of decisions. Many times those decisions are between a low risk, low resistance, “easy” road and a higher risk, more difficult road. Too often we choose the easy road because the hard road is….well…hard. The hard road is uncharted. It is full of unknowns, seems too far out of reach and requires true commitment over the long haul.

Come to think of it the hard road is not much of a road at all. It’s not paved because so few people take it. It’s more like a faint path straight into a dark forest. The question is are you strong enough to make it through to the other side.

Your Decisions Inspire Others

I could jazzercise instead of running marathons. IZEA could sell display ads instead of battling to mainstream sponsored conversations. But what’s the point? Where is the challenge? Who cares?

I say “I just finished jazzercising.”
You say “Nice leotard.”

I say “I just finished a marathon.”
You say “That is incredible. I am going to start exercising again.”

I run for me. I do it to challenge myself and stay healthy. While my decision to take the hard road was totally personal I also know that my story has motivated many of you to start exercising. By taking the hard road you can inspire others to do the same. Soon, all of us are setting a higher bar for each other and the world is a more productive place.

Go for it

It’s time to get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. It’s time to achieve something you never thought you could. You can do it….take the hard road.