Greetings to the Clue Community!

Hello again, everyone.

Dr. Clue News:   Check out our 2 New Treasure Hunt Locations

Hollywood, CA

Dr. Clue takes on Tinsel Town!

Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA

Perhaps the world’s-best, hands-on science museum, treasure-hunt-ized.

15% Sunny Winter Discount

My Aunt Ruth and Uncle Stan have it right.  Every winter, they migrate down from icy Montreal, Canada to sunny Boca Raton, Florida, disregarding the assumption that if you live in a 4-season area you only really enjoy 3 seasons while suffering through the fourth.  At Dr. Clue, we say “Enjoy The Winter Warmly” — with a discount.   Book your winter treasure hunt program in any of the following toasty locations and receive a 15% discount, including:

**We will be performing programs in Puerto Rico from 1/15 -1/22.   Book a program in San Juan during this period and we’ll wave our airfare fees!

Dr. Clue’s Warm Winter Discount expires November 21st.  Call us today at 707-566-7824 or email for more info at


In today’s issue of the Dr. Clue newsletter, we’ve got 3 more puzzles for you to solve, an icebreaker that is deceptively simple, and an article about how to interview your client prospects–a most necessary skill indeed.

Dave Blum
Editor, Dr. Clue Icebreaker Newsletter

Interested in joining Dr. Clue’s affiliate program and making some passive income from your website?  Click here!

Frame Games

Last issue, we gave you these 3 puzzles:


Click for answer

Click for answer

Click for answer

Thanks to everyone who sent in a solution.  The correct answers were:

1) Lay it on thick
2) Getting a leg up on the competition
3) Fall over backwards

Our First-to-Solve was Randy Jacobs.  Congratulations Randy!

Honorable mention to our other top solvers:

  • Jan Frizzell
  • Kimberly Sayles
  • Julie Potter
  • Arnold Suvatne
  • Brenda Moore
  • Stacie Whiting
  • Jessica Kelley


This Week’s Puzzles:

Here are 3 more frame puzzles (without the frames).  As always, let’s see who can get them all the fastest and be named the “F2S” (first to solve).

the letters t, a, i, l, and r arranged differently 4 times

o u t on top of a big L E G

GIVE x 4; GET x 4

Email your answers ASAP at:
Good luck!


This Week’s Icebreaker


The Easiest Icebreaker Ever (or so it seems)

One of the biggest challenges in choosing an icebreaker is making sure that the activity doesn’t have too many too steps…too much complexity.  Ideally, participants should be able to get the activity quickly and completely, without too much explanation.

If deceptive simplicity is what you seek, try this one on for size!

Participant Materials:   None

Room Set Up:   A white board

Process:     With your group of participants (of any size) gathered in a room, write the following question on the white board:


And then, shut up and wait.

Eventually, when the pressure of silence has become to great, someone will raise their hand and volunteer an answer, something like, “religion”,  or “the meaning of life”, or “Excel spreadsheets”.   With your mouth still zipped, write each response on the board.  When you have about five or six, write the following question on the board:


Now, still silent, point to each person who had volunteered an answer previously and direct them to the words you just wrote.

Some respondees will shrug and express exasperation.  Others will say, “I’m going to look it up on the internet.”   Still others will look away, embarrassed.

Finally, without talking, write on the board:


And then…sit back and see what happens.     Does anyone step forward with an answer.   Does everyone stay quiet?   Do people seem to be holding back, in hopes that someone else will speak up?   Is anyone looking down?

Debrief:    What prompted you to answer question 1?   What prevented you from responding?   How did it feel to be on the spot for question 2, responsible for coming up with a solution?    If you had a possible response for question 3, what held you back?   If you spoke up, how did it feel to be be a “solution” person…a “subject matter” expert?  What personal, cultural or sociological factors may have influenced your behavior?

The point:  At this juncture in the 21st century, most of us are fairly accustomed to shunning human contact and turning to the internet as our go-to, answer man.   That is, if our questions are fairly straightforward and factual.   But what happens if our questions are at all twisty or abstract?   More often than not, we throw up our hands in defeat – failing to realize that *someone* in the organization can probably help us, if only we ask around for assistance.   This exercise is at least partially about knowledge management, and our over-reliance on the Web.   It is also about what holds us back from stepping up and offering help.   Perhaps the message in our family was “Be quiet.   Don’t speak up.  Don’t make yourself a target.”   Is this a cultural behavior.  A gender issue?  A generational matter?      This activity allows you to unearth why people are staying small, how that makes them feel, and how it impacts the entire organization.

(With thanks to Lee Mun Wah of StirFrySeminars)


Featured Article

Choosing Clients the Old-Fashioned Way: Interview Them!
By Dave Blum

Scan the Web and you’ll find countless articles providing tips for fool-proof employee interviews, guaranteed to separate the wheat from the chaff, the gold nuggets from the pail of sand.   Although fine for companies and organizations looking to bring on new staff (or new vendors), these articles fail to serve trainers and training companies, struggling (like employers) to decide with whom we want to work.   That’s right; vendors have some say in the matter!   Yes, the “customer is king” – but not every client who knocks on a trainer’s door should get a free pass to the throne room.  The key is interviewing our potential clients before we sign that contract and lock in our services.

But what is the purpose of an interview, really?   If we’re talking about hiring officials, the logical answer would be “To fill a position” — a conclusion that over-simplifies things quite a bit.  The hidden reason employers interview people is that they’re searching for clues about what kind of behavior that person will exhibit, day in and day out, once they walk through the front doors of their organization.   In other words, through the interview, hiring officials are seeking to predict what kind of employee you’ll be.  We trainers need to do the exactly same thing, interviewing our prospects and clarifying for ourselves “What kind of clients do I want to work for, and which ones should I most certainly avoid?”

Speaking for myself, I’ve certainly enjoyed working with my teambuilding clients over the years.  By and large they’ve been enthusiastic, straightforward and pleasant; and best of all, they’ve tended to pay me on time.  But oh yes, there have been those occasions when I’ve wondered why I ever took this client job on.  Was it really worth the hassle?  To save you some of the frustrations I’ve experienced during my 18 years in the industry, please find below my list of difficult clients to be on the look out for:

1) The Unreachable Client
You know the type.   You call, you email, nada.  No response.  With the date of the client’s event racing towards you at light speed, you just can’t seem to get your contact person on the phone to finalize logistics – putting you in a real bind regarding travel, workshop materials and overall preparation.

2) The Overly-Demanding Client
Clients in this category fall into four sub-classes, namely:

  • Mr. Ambiguous:   After submitting the agenda for your seminar, the client rejects your plan without expressing sufficient criticism or suggestions, leaving you to guess what they dislike.   (“I don’t know what’s wrong. I just don’t like it.”)
  • Ms. “I Want More But Won’t Pay More”:   Upon delivering your agenda, the client asks for a variety of extra features (ie. T-shirts, refreshments, a videographer) that were not in the original agreement, refusing to pay for the additional services rendered.  (“You’re already making plenty on our program…it’s the least you can do.”)
  • Mr. Unreasonable:   After finalizing your workshop plan, the client makes a series of last-second requests — usually with an impossibly-narrow delivery time.   (“Please submit three other versions of this agenda.  Oh, and can you customize the materials to our group?  We’d like to see a draft for our 9am meeting tomorrow morning, thank you!”)
  • Ms. Waffler:  With only days (or hours) remaining before your training, the client is still going back and force on the details, forcing you to make repeated, last-second changes. (“We still haven’t decided if we want to do the indoor or outdoor program.  Perhaps you could prepare both versions in case we change our minds that morning.”)

3) The Disrespectful Client
“It’s not like what you do is rocket science!”

You’ve all probably heard something like this before. Even though they’ve hired (and paid) you to do something they are unable to do by themselves, there are still clients who feel they know better than us, or who don’t take our job seriously.  A disrespectful client is bossy to the extreme, insisting they know what’s best for their group while neglecting to ask your opinion on key matters.   Even worse, they might communicate with you disrespectfully, treating you as a servant or second-class-citizen, rather than as the professional coach and trainer that you are.

4) The Disappearing Client
This one is plain and simple: the client refuses to pay you, whether for the deposit, an extra feature, the remaining balance or the whole thing. Even worse, they give no explanation for this delay or refusal. It’s one thing if the client explains that they can’t pay you yet because of some unfortunate turn of events and reassures you that you will get your money in a set period of time. It’s quite another if you deliver the training successfully and the client disappears from the face of the earth.   The Disappearing Client strings you along, postponing payment, using insufficient excuses, and generally avoiding communication — hoping that you’ll get tired of waiting and just give up.

So, how do you avoid these problem clients?   By interviewing them beforehand!

Here are 10 of the most common, employer-to-employee interview questions, revised to suit the trainer’s purpose:

  1. What is your team’s greatest strength?   What is your own greatest strength?
  2. What is your team’s greatest weakness?  What is your own greatest weakness?
  3. How do your staff members handle stress and pressure?   How do you, personally, handle stress and pressure?
  4. How will you evaluate the success of this training?
  5. Why do you want to work with us?
  6. Why should we take you on?
  7. What are your goals for this training?     What would you like your team to be able to do once the training is over?
  8. What’s the biggest misperception people have of you and your team?
  9. How do you and your group unplug?
  10. Have you done this kind of training before? If so, why are you switching to us?

And, if you’re really brave, you might also ask:

“Why wouldn’t I take you on as a client?”      You’ll get the most honest answers from this one—because it’s not a question people anticipate being asked.

As you conduct your client interview, make sure you pay attention to both form and content.    Does the client answer your questions directly or hesitantly?   Do they seem to enjoy the process or do they get defensive?   Are they evasive?   Negative?   Do they throw their employees (or bosses!) under the bus?  Very often, the way people respond can be a big clue to the type of behaviors they’ll exhibit during the course of the project.

Finally, remember that you DO have the choice regarding with whom you work.   If your client isn’t going to work out, give them the pink slip and show them the door.   It’s just smart business.

With thanks to Maria Malidaki)

As always, thank you for being a part of the Dr. Clue Community!

Dave Blum, Editor, The Dr. Clue Friday Icebreaker newsletter

Feel free to contact us at 707-566-7824 with your thoughts and comments,
or email Dave personally at