Friday, November 7, 2008 by Dave Blum

As a trainer of corporate team building activities, you have to be ready for anything. But there’s scrambling and then there’s SCRAMBLING.  And somehow the biggest need for improvisation seems to arrive when you’re on the road.

So there I was in Dubai awhile back, about as far out on the road as you can get, in the middle of a nice Dubai treasure hunt for a group of 11 natural gas analysts. Everything was going smoothly. The hotel conference room was comfortable and well appointed. The treasure hunt clues were play tested and professionally printed (in color) at the local Kinko’s. (Yes, they have Kinko’s in the United Arab Emirates.) The town cars  were ready for each team, with their own designated driver.  The hunt participants were making good progress on the first stage of their treasure hunt around Dubai City. All was ship-shape; I’d done my planning and was feeling appropriately confident. And that, of course, is when I let my guard down and everything went wrong. Yes, my friends, I was about to enter treasure hunt hell!

It went down like this: confident that the group was okay to search for their treasure hunt clues without me, I hopped into a taxi and raced over to one of my favorite clue sites –  a glittering camel statue outside a luxury hotel. What better location to get some team photos. In spite of dreadful traffic (a Dubai specialty), I arrived at the clue location in stellar time, jumped out of my cab and positioned myself, discreetly, behind a potted plant, at a good camera angle of the camel. This was going to work out splendidly!  I’d get some nice pics, hail another taxi, and meet the group at Planet Hollywood in plenty of time for lunch.  And that’s w-h-e-n…i-t…h-i-t…m-e; my bag was still in the trunk of the cab!  My bag — with ALL the treasure hunt clues for stage two of the hunt. This was the Trainer’s Worst Case Scenario come true. “I am so sunk! I have no taxi driver’s name, no license number or ID, nothing. All I have is a receipt for the 20 dirhams I paid him. What do I tell the client at lunch? ‘Oh, sorry, I’ve lost the second half of your program. Terribly sorry. Here’s your money back.’ Ten thousand miles I came for this program, and it’s going up in a cloud of sheesha smoke. Argh!!”

For the conclusion of this story, check tomorrow’s blog!  🙂