Read about what’s happening behind the scenes at Flow Circus including events, current projects, and human interest stories.
Vying for a Spot at Wisdom 2.0 Conference
We're excited to attend the Wisdom 2.0 Conference in February which focuses on how to "not only live connected to one another through technology, but to do so in ways that are beneficial to our own well-being, effective in our work, and useful to the world." In other words, how do we take care of ourselves in this fast-paced, information overload, 24/7 world.
We know that play breaks work as a great tool for connecting to our bodies, our mindsets, and others. Of course, we want to share that other conference attendees so decided to submit an entry to present on their People's Stage. In the submission video below, we explain how our programs and skill toys can help communicate the power of mindfulness and mindset to skeptical colleagues and friends.
If you have a few moments visit, wisdom2contest.com and vote for our video (5th row down). You don't have to be attending the conference to vote at this point in the selection process. Thank you.
Vintage Toys: Diabolo
December is here. As many of you are thinking about what new toys & games to put under your tree this month, we thought we’d go back in time! Each week we will post a vintage skill toy from the Flow Circus Skill Toy Museum.
This week's selection are a variety of vintage diabolos from the late 1800s & early 1900s (England & US). Notice that event Parker Brothers wanted to capitalize on the new craze for adults (you can see their name on a few of the boxes).
You'll also note in the box image that adults are tossing and catching the diabolo as a "delightful outdoor game." The diabolos in the image below are made from different materials. One came with the sticks and string in a specially designed carrying case. Very stylish!
Flow Circus featured on "Loving Life with Dr. Weir"
Flow Circus recently visited Uptone Pictures studio for a guest appearance on "Loving Life with Dr. Weir." A chiropractor with a playful personality, Dr. Weir made it fun to be on set. We loved having the opportunity to talk more about what Flow Circus offers and why.
We talked, flopped, dropped, and reflected on the learning process. Dr. Weir had fun with our juggling lesson, but as you can see from the outtakes at the end, we may need to give him a few more lessons!
Flop Balls Now Available in a Variety of Colors
Flop Ball - our favorite new skill toy! We now have a variety of colors available at FlopBall.com in packs of 2 or 6. Flop ball is a specially designed bean bag that uses the back of one’s hand to turn the whole experience of tossing and catching upside down.
First master the four basic flips; front, back, in and out (see what we mean by watching videos). Then attempt the surprisingly challenging flats, flops, and various swaps. After a bit of practice, you're ready to move on to partner and group challenges that are sure to leave everyone recharged and refreshed.
Such a simple skill and toy, yet it will keep your family, friends, and co-workers engaged for hours.
Open for Business
The Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce has a new podcast featuring business owners discussing the roads they've traveled to get to where they are - successes, obstacles, and lessons learned along the way. We enjoyed sharing our story with Chamber president, Ann Welton.
Listen in as Dawn Daria and Paul Miller with Flow Circus describe how they took Paul's skills as a juggler and performance artist and created a company that shows business leaders how they can succeed by occasionally dropping the ball. With an emphasis on play, participants learn how to connect and grow within their teams and organizations. Search for Open for Business in your podcast app, or click on Open for Business.
Find out where the name "Flow Circus" comes from, how we got into juggling in the first place, and what advice we would offer to people starting their own business.
As we listened to the podcast, we decided to practice the same lessons that recommend to beginning jugglers: "observe, don't judge" and listen for things we want to do differently next time. It's the second time we've been guests on a podcast and it's so easy to find flaws in oneself. But to dwell on that can create a lot of stress and may lead to avoiding opportunities in the future. Overall, we're happy with our performance, but we both have ideas for skills that we want to work on in the future. If you have a podcast and we'd be a good fit, let us know. We're always looking for opportunities to practice.
NCLA Conference Planners Unwind
Anyone that's been involved in planning a conference knows the amount of work that goes into managing logistics, people, and last minute glitches that inevitably arise. It can be stressful especially on the first day of the conference making sure all of those details fall into place. At the North Carolina Library Association Conference last week, we helped the leadership team relax and unwind the first night of the conference during the President's Dinner. As soon as the room of approximately 65 people started playing with the flop ball, the energy shifted in the room.
Below are a few comments from conference organizers:
- “Flow Circus provided our conference attendees with an opportunity to have fun, reduce stress, and interact in an enjoyable, engaging way. I was particularly pleased to see our hardworking Executive Board and Conference Planning Committee members smiling and relaxing at the end of the day!” Catherine Tingelstad, NCLA Conference Committee
- "The team building results from engaging with Flow Circus proved to be more long lasting than studying a disc profile, and a lot more fun!!" Michael Crumpton, NCLA Conference Chair
We love creating the space for people to pause and unwind. Especially when it's groups of people that volunteer their time to put together a conference to further professional growth for their peers. Congratulations to the NCLA Conference planning team for a great event.
Skill Toys Add Pizzazz to Leadership Institute
Last week, we traveled to Lacrosse, WI to work with the Ashley Furniture Leadership Institute and a line up of impressive speakers including Dr. Nido Qubein, David Horsager, and Cam Marston. Over the two days, attendees learned about grit, trust, and a variety of other topics to enhance their leadership skills.
We customized four 20-minute breaks that progressively developed juggling and other physical skills. A variety of individual, partner, and group activities strengthened connections between participants, energized the group by getting the blood flowing, and reinforced speaker themes through experiential learning.
As an added feature, we custom designed juggling balls, kendama, & flop balls with the Ashley Furniture colors and logo. Here's a picture of how we arranged the flop balls and kendamas on each table at the start of the first day.
Intern Training at Duke University
Last month, we introduced Duke Wellness interns to new experiential tools for engaging fellow students in conversations about well-being, mindfulness, stress, & resilience. The half-day training included individual and team juggling and skill toy play coupled with reflection about struggling and succeeding. Groups then brainstormed ways to implement skill toys into on-going DuWell programs.
The training package included a skill toy kit with close to 50 skill toys and a follow up coaching visit with the students later this fall to refresh skills, debrief on how programs have been going, and brainstorm new applications for the kit. We can't wait to check back in with them to see how they've put skill toys into practice for themselves and other students campus-wide.
Training Teen Leaders
For years, we would visit organizations to conduct skill toy workshops and then leave. We knew that our impact could be greater if participants could continue to play and develop skills after we left. As a result,we developed a train-the-trainer model that includes a skill toy kit and other support materials to create sustainable programs. In the process, facilitators gain leadership skills such as communication and empathy, but also get comfortable with modeling vulnerability (you have to be ready to drop even when demonstrating a trick for a group!)
Here you will see a video of teens in the Camp Kiwanis LINK program leading programs for campers at this Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta summer camp. We did the training in the spring and the results lasted all summer long. Thanks to Director Carly Robinson for sharing the video and to Brian Edward for his creative capturing of the skill toys in action. Below Carly describes the impact of the training and kit:
"The addition of Flow Circus skill toys to our program has been a great asset, as a jumping off point for deeper communications with the campers – as well as a lifesaver during Rainy Days! Paul and Dawn trained our LINK teen leaders (LINK: Leaders In Natures Kingdom) teaching styles and helped them design a lesson plan to teach our campers during the summer program. Six of our LINK teens created the program, showing our younger campers (ages 9-12) how each skill toy works; as simultaneously, the teens learned about crowd control, motivation and public speaking. Our campers were able to rotate through the skill toy stations, learning what clicked for them, and learning that everyone faces different challenges – not just in learning skill toys – but in life as well. We love these guys and the fun learning they offer, and you will, too!"
Embracing Change at Charter Communications
Last month, Paul delivered an interactive keynote for the Charter Communications Human Resources team to help them celebrate the one year anniversary of their merger with Time Warner Cable. The organizers asked Paul to emphasize the importance of collaboration and embracing change with a positive open mindset. Of course, juggling provided a perfect tool for doing just that. Participants stood up to do both solo and partner activities. A few even went on stage to show off their new skills. Celebratory energy with a memorable message - just what the client wanted.
Flow Circus on Library Voices SC Podcast
This week, Paul and I sat down with Dr. Curtis Rogers, Communications Director at the South Carolina State Library. As you can tell from the podcast, we love to talk about juggling, skill toys, learning, and the importance of play. Listen and discover where the Flow Circus name comes from and the impact juggling has had on us personally as well as others we have taught. Hope we inspire you to pick up a set of juggling balls or find some other way to step out of your comfort zone today. Take a play break - you'll feel better!
Visit Library Voices SC to listen to the podcast. We're episode #24.
Juggling at Creative Visions
The team at Creative Visions, Inc. already juggles a lot as strategic event solution providers, but we challenged them to juggle in a more literal sense! We love their mission of "people helping people succeed" and were happy to help them be successful in a very new way. The following is the feedback we received from our contact:
"Huge thanks to Dawn Daria and Paul Miller from Flow Circus, Inc. A great team building activity for any corporate group! Personally, I need a LOT more practice, but they've convinced me I will be able to do it! Our entire Creative Visions team had great fun! As one of our Account Managers told me this morning, “I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would!” That’s always the best testament to a successful experience! I'd definitely do it again!" Lesa Melvin, Business Development Director
Keep practicing - we may return to see how your skills have developed.
Our local Chamber of Commerce, town government, and YMCA are partnering to get residents moving with “Walking Wednesdays in Wake Forest.” Of course, I had to join the “sweat working” team at the Chamber. This photo captures our team a little more than halfway through our 2 mile walk through the historic district. Such a fun way to reconnect with neighbors and meet a few new ones.
Come join us next week - the more the merrier! The program runs through the end of August and team steps get pooled with a goal of having enough cumulative steps to get to Alaska! More information on the Town of Wake Forest website.
Coaching Session via Skype
Do you have a Flow Circus Skill Toy Kit at your company, college, camp, or library? What questions do you have about skill toys?
Last week, we had a Skill Toy Skype coaching session with teen librarians in Gaston County, NC. We brainstormed ideas for their upcoming Skill Toy Relay program, reviewed instruction for the diabolo, and demonstrated getting the top started.
We enjoyed the session so much that we want to do more! June 6-7 are open for us so if anyone wants to schedule a Skype session (or google hangout) with us and members of your team, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your preferred time on one of these dates. We'll try to fit in as many as we can.
RTI International Health Fair
Employees at RTI International learned new skills while refreshing mind and body at our Invigoration Station yesterday. As you might imagine, we don’t have the traditional health fair booth - people expect to see massage therapists and chiropractors, but not skill toys!
We love watching the initial reactions to our interactive station from “oh yay - this looks like fun” to the skeptical look of people wondering why there’s a table of “kid stuff” or those with the “I’m too uncoordinated” mindset. We quickly adapt our method of engagement to meet people where they are and help shift mindset when needed. For example, one RTI employee started out doubtful, but after playing with the kendama told me “Wow, I really had to focus on it which made me forget about everything else I was worrying about. I feel better now.” Success!
Grounded for Good: 5 Year Anniversary
November 2010, I successfully completed the Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. A year and a few months later and 5 years ago this month, we published Grounded for Good. It’s a story of a boy learning to juggle (of course!) More importantly, throughout the events in the story he develops a growth mindset and learns to see beyond the assumptions we often make about others.
Some of my favorite comments from people that have read it range from “I was up late last night because I couldn’t put it down” (from an adult) to a parent that told me reading it with their 5th grader lead to thoughtful conversations to this Amazon review from someone I don’t know:
"I gave this book a five star review. The reason I did was because this book portrayed emotion and how different people can be from others and get judged. Derek reminded me of myself. Everyone in my family loves to run, play or do something with a sport, even watch sports, but I prefer studying, reading, band, being in the woods, etc. I think you should make this into a movie. I will be your director when I get out of high school. Thank you for the privilege of reading your book."
We haven’t put a lot of energy into promoting the book, but happy to see it has still had an impact.
Leading to Well-Being Conference at GMU
We are thrilled to be partnering with George Mason University's Center for the Advancement of Well-Being for a third year. In addition to having worked with professors to create experiential learning opportunities in classes such as Foundations of Resilience and Well-Being, we will be engaging attendees at the annual Leading to Well-Being Conference being held on April 7, 2017.
The Flow Circus Invigoration Station provides conference attendees with an opportunity to get their blood flowing, battle conference fatigue, and engage in stress-free networking while embodying the conference theme of Building Resilient Organizations in a playful way.
Hope to see you there!
Gaping Void Meeting
We have been fans of Gaping Void and the artwork of Hugh MacLeod for years because they focus on themes such as culture, creativity, and connection. One of his prints hangs in our office inspiring us with: "Don't be the best in the world at what you do. Be the only one in the world who does what you do."
Last week, we had the opportunity to have coffee with Hugh and learn more about how he went from the NYC advertising world to blogging to co-founding a successful business with Jason Gorman. A main theme of our conversation was the importance of finding meaningful work.
We're looking forward to getting together with him again and teaching him how to juggle!
NC to Malawi
We're all about helping people step out of their daily routine to shift perspective and replenish. Although we prefer juggling and skill toys, there's lots of ways to step out of our comfort zones and foreign travel is a big one. My niece recently decided to spend the summer after her freshman year at UNC Wilmington participating in a service learning trip to Malawi.
Paul and I are on board to help her raise the funds she needs to get there this summer. We've helped her get a Go Fund Me page, Paul donated a performance, and we taught her how to twist balloons. I don’t know if she realized how many skills this project would teach her even before she leaves the country.
I can't wait to hear stories about her trip and see how she grows from the opportunity.
Interview with Erik & Sarah
Over the holidays, my cousin and his partner visited with their instruments providing Celtic music during lulls in Christmas present opening. A few days later, Erik and Sarah graciously offered their time to come back for a video shoot and interview with us. We wanted to learn more about their creative and collaborative process.
In Irish music, the fiddle player typically leads so when things get too far off track or a player loses their place, they look to the fiddle player for grounding. I thought that an interesting way to think about other collaborative projects: who's playing the lead and who's playing accompaniment? By defining that up front, it might clear up or eliminate derailment.
In this clip, they share more about practice and what learning music has taught them.