Fable Friday: The Blue Moon icebreaker

The year was 1961, and my high school Earth Science teacher stormed into the classroom and began a long rant about the horror of rock ‘n’ roll and doo-wop music. This was uncharacteristic of our serious-minded teacher who rarely strayed from the subject of science, but we soon gathered that he had just heard the Marcels’ version of the song “Blue Moon.”

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 CroppedYou’re likely not to be old as I am and perhaps haven’t heard the song, so before you read on I suggest you give it a listen here. Of course we all knew it that day in class, as it was a number one hit and sold over a million records for the Marcels. We laughed hysterically as our middle-aged teacher mimicked the bomp-baba-bomp and dip-da-dip sounds that drove the song.

Because my parents loved music, I may have been the only one in the class who knew the song was a cover of the original recording, a beautiful and more romantic version.  Just for contrast, and to understand my teacher’s snit, listen to Sinatra singing it here.

So with this fable as our background today, let me bring you to the present.  In October of this year I participated in a week of meetings with a client, and after day one we all gathered for dinner in the hotel dining room at tables of eight.  I knew everyone at my table by reputation and job function, but not well personally, so the conversation was interesting as we began to warm up and get to know one another.

Someone at the table told a story about a retired NFL player who was a friend of his, and wanting to engage others to tell their story, I happened upon a question that turned out to be a great ice-breaker:  “Everyone tell a story of a famous person you either know or have met.” This turned out to be a great conversation starter, as everyone told a fun and interesting story.

The CupMine wasn’t all that interesting unless you’re a hockey fan. My next door neighbor was the coach of the Dallas Stars, and when the Stars won the Stanley Cup, Doug Jarvis’ wife Linda brought it to my home to show it to our family.  Okay, so I’m not famous but that was fun.

But here is where the evening took off.  I was sitting next to this guy Steve Bricker, who is not only a really fun and interesting person, but is also one of the best sales managers in his company.  When it came to his turn, he couldn’t think of anybody right away so we passed to the next person who told her story.

Then Steve said, “Oh wait. I forgot!  My father was Gene Bricker who sang with the original doo-wop group The Marcels.  Have any of you ever heard the song “Blue Moon”?

Believe me, I almost fell off my chair.  This started a number of people trying to sing the bouncy lyrics and talking animatedly about the song. One person went to YouTube on his Smart phone, turned up the volume and the whole table listened to the song, which in turn got other tables wanting to know the story and it became the greatest conversation piece of the evening.

Next time you’re stuck for an ice-breaker in a training session or other meeting, ask who knows someone famous. You’ll have the entire group telling stories, and if you’re lucky, you may get Steve Bricker in the room.

Think Like Your Customer

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About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

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