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Dave Blum: Building Trust In Business Through Treasure Hunting
I have with me, Dave Blum. He is the Founder and President of Dr. Clue Treasure Hunts, the world’s largest team building treasure hunt company. Dave earned a BA in English from Pomona College in Claremont, California, a professional coaching certification from iPEC. He’s the Area Director for Santa Rosa Toastmasters after a few years stint teaching English in Japan. Dave worked in tourism and a nonprofit sector before discovering his destiny as the treasure hunt master, team building trainer, writer, and speaker. Welcome to the show, Dave.
Thank you, Terri. Great to be here.
I needed to have you on the show because I was intrigued when I first read Dr. Clue Treasure Hunts. I’m like, “What is that?” You’ve had quite a journey to get there. What led you to treasure hunts? We want to know what that is.
A treasure hunt is distinguished from a scavenger hunt. In a scavenger hunt, you’ve got a list of objects you have to go find and you put them in a bag and then we count them up at the end. A treasure hunt, by contrast, involves solving tricky clues, usually puzzle-based clues that lead to mystery locations in a given area. If you solved the clue, you’ll know where to go. If you think of Da Vinci Code, National Treasure, The Goonies, that’s what a treasure hunt is. What we do is we take different parks, neighborhoods, museums, we even do indoor programs in companies’ offices and we transform them into living board games. We debrief it for all the lessons that people can take back about communication and about how to work together.In life, once you solve the clue, you'll know where to go. Click To Tweet
As a kid, I loved scavenger hunts. I thought that was so much fun. I went camping as a kid and every time they did a scavenger hunt, I was like, “That’s cool.” I have never ever heard of anything like this. What are some of the companies that you have worked with? What kinds of organizations engage you?
It is across the board and it’s for different reasons. You might have a company where it’s a small team. It could be eight or ten people. It could be 20 or 30 people and they’re coming for a meeting. They don’t know the city and they don’t know each other. This is an opportunity for people to do more than just go from the airport to the conference room, to the restaurant and then back to the airport. Here, they are going to interact with the neighborhood and the community. They’re going to get to know each other in a way that might not happen if you’re just having a meeting. There’s great power in having structured activities where people are on a project together, maybe even struggling a little bit together, but you break down the barriers.
We have a lot of people where they’re coming together for a meeting of people who don’t know each other. We have companies who say, “We do work together but we come from different departments and divisions. We don’t really know each other.” It comes down to getting to know each other, building trust, and at the same time, releasing stress. It could be people who know each other, people who don’t know each other. It could be a whole organization or it could be one department. There’s a variety of different types. It could be tech people. It could be salespeople and marketing people. It could be nonprofits. We’ve done some school districts. It’s entirely across the board.
Here you are, you have a BA in English and you have a professional coaching certification. You were in Toastmasters. How do you go from all of that and teaching English and all of this tourism, etc? How do you discover what you called your destiny? A lot of people are trying to figure out, “What is my destiny? What is the career? What is the thing that’s going to feel best for me?” How did you discover it?
I was inspired many years ago by a book by Barbara Sher called Wishcraft. Are you familiar with that?
The audience might not be but I am.
She’s a wonderful writer and she was talking about figuring out what your three touchstones are, three things that light you up. Writing them down, narrowing them down to three and then seeing if you can build something out of that. This is exactly what I did because years ago, I didn’t know what I was doing. I sat down with a friend and I said, “As an experiment, let’s try this.” I initially came up with something that I could do but didn’t sound very exciting. I said, “Let’s go back to the drawing board.” I realized that what I love doing is traveling, working with people in groups and playing with games and puzzles. These are the things that are like, “I don’t know what I’m going to do with that.” We brainstormed around on it and said, “What about if you create a teambuilding treasure hunt? Every day you would either be traveling or scouting new hunt locations or you would writing be writing the puzzles and clues for your hunt. You would be out there facilitating and working with groups and hopefully expanding their consciousness and their relationships.”
It was intentional when we realized that this particular business would take off all of those touchstones. It’s like, “I’ll give it a try.” I didn’t believe that it would lead into what has become. Just because you have a great idea, you decided that underwater basket weaving is going to be the greatest thing ever. It doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a viable business. You have to do that research. As it turned out, it was something that people wanted and needed. It allowed me to be in my joy zone in some way almost every day. It worked out well.
It’s interesting because my journey was similar. I was president of a national healthcare company. I knew that wasn’t what I was meant to be doing. Prior to that, I’d been an entrepreneur. I said, “I know I’m supposed to go back to that. I don’t know in what capacity.” I developed a process called Work Yourself Happy, trying to figure out how to take things that I was passionate about, similar to touchstones, and make a business out of them. Clearly, I figured that out many years ago or so and wrote a book called Work Yourself Happy. I love to hear stories like this because every day, I meet people who are doing something that don’t make their heart sing. When they hear of someone else who discovered what it is and then made a business out of it, it gets people excited. Any thoughts about that?Just because you have a great idea doesn't mean that it's going to be a viable business. Click To Tweet
It’s worth doing to sit down and figure out what makes you excited. It may not work every single time but it’s an excellent process. It certainly worked out for me. There are days when I don’t like doing bookkeeping. I realized that even if it was my free time, I still would probably be watching National Treasure, Rat Race, and all these things. There’s something about that intrigue and excitement of exploration, going into the unknown and all of that. That excites me. I’m lucky that I get to do it for work.
I remember when I worked in Corporate America. I used to call it the Sunday Night Dreads. I don’t want to go to work on Monday. If I went on vacation, I’d be like, “I have to go back.” The difference is every day, I love what I do. I look forward to getting up in the morning and doing it. When I’m on vacation, I’m excited to get back to work. Sunday is like any other day, there are no dreads for sure. I’ve said to people, “If the world ever changed and no one could pay me, I would probably still get up every day and do what it is I do because I love it so much.” It makes me happy to hear someone who has discovered the joy of what they do. What if this is resonating for someone else? They’re like, “This sounds like an interesting way to go, an interesting opportunity.” What steps or action do they take to get involved in treasure hunts? I want to do this. It sounds amazing.
We’re doing privates groups. We’re not doing open events where you sign up as an individual. It’s not for public events. It could be a nonprofit. It could be a company or so. The thing to do would be to go to your manager, go to your HR person and say, “This is a great idea for our team because we could get to know each other better and we could use an injection of excitement.” That’s pretty much how you do it. You would direct them to my website, they call us or fill out a form or send us an email and then we have a conversation to try and narrow down exactly what people want to take away. That’s the key thing because it’s not the same for everybody.
When I was in Corporate America, we used to bring folks in all the time. We paid quite a bit of money and I’d say every single time, “This company’s training was similar to that company’s training. It was an interesting team building and it was similar.” What I love about this is the whole idea of doing treasure hunts is something I have never done in Corporate America or outside of Corporate America. I’ve never done it as an adult. It would be a strong way of team building. How does this differ than some of the more day-to-day ordinary teambuilding? If someone’s listening and they’re an HR manager and they’re saying, “We do team building.” How is this different?
It’s a big umbrella, the word team building. For some people, team building on one end of the spectrum is an unstructured activity like bowling or go-carting, something of that sort. Even going on a bay cruise or something like that. On the other extreme, you’re going to have people who are doing some personality analysis like DISC or Myers-Briggs. Ours operate somewhere in the middle zone of it is an edutainment. It’s going to be engaging, fun and stimulating but at the same time, it’s structured so that we can guide people towards different experiences. The key is to try and figure out what people want. The fact that it’s facilitated, structured and that it taps into a brainy place. Our programs are about solving problems, solving puzzles together. It does cater to people who look for patterns in their work, analysts and engineers and so on who like using their brains, who like problem-solving and thinking together. Those are the people that are going to find this stimulating and engaging. Usually, if I have that group, as soon as they get the clues, you can hear a pin drop for the next 30 minutes or so.It's worth doing to sit down and figure out what makes you excited. Click To Tweet
Tell folks how they can contact you, connect with you. I’m super excited and it’s a cool idea. I’m glad I’ve had you on the show.
I’ve learned so much. I recommend that if you want to get a team of ten together, DrClue.com. If you are working in an organization, association, any group that wants some team building, DrClue.com. It has been a joy to have you, Dave. Thank you so much for joining us on the show.
Thank you, Terri. I look forward to seeing you on the hunt.
For the audience, I want to thank you again. I have two reminders for you. First of all, please make sure that you connect with the other Heartrepreneur family members on Facebook. We’re a Facebook group called Heartrepreneurs with Terri Levine. Immediately go to the file section. There are tons of files to download, templates, content reports that I used to sell on my website for anywhere from $1,000 on up that is free once you are in the family group. Second, pick up a copy of Turbocharge Your Business. It is one of my bestselling books that will assist you on your journey. Thanks for reading the blog.
- Dr. Clue Treasure Hunts
- Work Yourself Happy
- Teamwork Hackers
- Heartrepreneurs with Terri Levine
- Turbocharge Your Business
About Dave Blum
Founder and President of Dr. Clue Treasure Hunts, the world’s largest team-building treasure hunt company, Dave Blum earned a B.A. in English from Pomona College in Claremont, California, a professional coaching certification from IPEC, and is currently Area Director for Santa Rosa Toastmasters.
After a three-year stint teaching English in Japan, Dave worked in tourism and the non-profit sector before discovering his destiny as a treasure hunt master, team-building trainer, writer, and speaker. Over the past 23 years, Dave and Dr. Clue have created over 150 teambuilding treasure hunts worldwide, on three continents, for more than 800 clients including Oracle, Cisco, T-Mobile, Bank of America, Apple, Autodesk, and many others. Just a few of Dr. Clue’s treasure hunt locations include Santa Rosa, San Rafael, Healdsburg, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Orlando, London, Paris, Geneva, India, and even Dubai.
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