3 Lessons on Teamwork From “Good Will Hunting”

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Good Will Hunting, meetings
Matt Damon and Robin Williams starred in Good Will Hunting.

At the heart of every successful meeting is a dedicated, hardworking team.

How do you keep your staff, hotel partners, suppliers and contractors motivated during stressful and demanding situations? We turned to the feel-good classic “Good Will Hunting,” starring Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Minnie Driver, for some timeless wisdom.

Instill Loyalty

Will Hunting (Matt Damon) and his scrappy group of South Boston friends would do just about anything for each other. As Will’s psychiatrist, Sean (played by Robin Williams), puts it: “Why does he hang out with those retarded gorillas? Because any one of them, if he asked them to, would take a bat to their head. That’s called loyalty.” Meeting planners who can make people feel invested in the project and who express gratitude at every opportunity will be the ones with the motivated team.

Stir Up Some Excitement

At MIT, Professor Gerald Lambeau (played by Stellan Skarsgård), who is winner of the prestigious Fields Medal for his work in mathematics, creates a contest among his students to see who will come forward with the solution to a complex equation. He sets a date and time and packs the room with anticipation, only to find that the person who solved it (Will) does not show up. Instead of telling team members what to do, why not create a competition for the best idea, or offer an incentive for solving a problem? Think of new ways to keep your team engaged and to motivate them with recognition and rewards.

Pick the Best People

When Gerald agrees to find a therapist for Will in exchange for keeping him out of prison, it’s not an easy task. They meet with one after another; none can deal with Will’s sarcasm. That is, until he reaches out to his old college friend, Sean. Sean grew up in the same tough part of town as Will and was also abused as a child, and he almost immediately develops an affinity for him. The strongest teams are those where everyone is putting in the same level of effort, so choose your partners wisely. Get recommendations from other planners, hire people who have taken the time to become certified, and be willing to let someone go if they’re not the right fit.

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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.