What happens when you give 22 people in downtown Indianapolis 75 minutes to take a simple t-shirt and use their powers of persuasion to trade-up? You see a whole lot of passion, that’s what.

What did we do?

During a recent team building event, I worked with this amazing group of professionals and played the Trade-Up Game with several objectives in mind:

  • Apply techniques to increase abilities to influence and persuade
  • Identify the benefits and value for using influence and persuasion skills
  • Create new mindsets for influence and persuasion

I divided everyone into four teams, and challenged them to make as many trades as they could that continuously increased in value, all within the set time limit. They rose to the challenge by pounding the pavement, strategizing, and interacting with others in ways that simply blew me away.

So what were the results?

They came back with hilarious stories, elevated energy and a whole bunch of amazing items, including:

  • A glass painting of the St. Louis Galleria.
  • Sports related memorabilia, like a Pacers jersey; two St. Elmo’s shrimp cocktail vouchers; a plaque signed by a former Colts football player; a t-shirt from a restaurant; and a poster signed by former Pacers player Roy Hibbert.
  • A hard rock martini glass and a smile from a homeless person (they gave him a free chicken sandwich voucher).
  • A life movie cut-out of Billy “The Great” Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Chappie.

Why did we do it?

Based on the game “Bigger and Better,” The Trade-Up Game takes its name from the concept of conducting a trade in which both parties feel they gain more than they give. This is only possible when each person trades something of relatively low cost to them, but receives something of greater value.The purpose of this powerful exercise has several elements:

  • Teams must influence and persuade a 
complete  stranger to support its vision, whatever 
that might be as determined by the group.
  • Items must be traded-up for an item of greater value.
  • Teams must create value in the minds of recipients, and help them realize they will gain more than they give.
  • The team who has the most creative item with greatest value (along with a most compelling story) wins.
  • The entire group votes on the winning team.

Why this matters.

Team building activities are much more than fun excursions away from the office. Such events foster unity and connection, and help individuals develop specific skills. They help boost morale, improve productivity and company performance. And that’s only scratching the surface!

The transformations I have seen take place with groups of all sizes during such activities have been remarkable. They have been life-changing for individuals, and performance-changing for teams and organizations. I’d love to help your team experience the same thing. Contact me, and we can discuss all the possibilities.


Most leaders struggle with disengagement, dysfunction, and non-productive behaviors with their teams. We deliver training that develops leaders and engages teams to increase your company results.