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MindCo Teen Leadership Intensive

The program’s game component takes participants out of their comfort zones while activating situational-learning.
By Marisa Van der Merwe - Educator


MindCo is a 12 session Bootcamp with accordingly aligned themes. There will be a cross-pollination of principles throughout the training. Although It is impossible to teach these principles separately, for the program’s sake, the complexity levels will increase gradually: Moving from principles of Personal unique contribution, through Healthy Team-patterns & design, to Managing increasing Complexity and “Building to last”.


The program’s game component takes participants out of their comfort zones while activating situational-learning. These lessons are contextualized into the specific/personal situation/work-space to initiate the following steps and purposeful growth. Specific learning goals include strategic and critical thinking, management skills, and understanding leadership patterns.

Plan per Week:

Week 1 - My journey: discovering roles & my unique contribution

Discuss & find the way forward, understand the critical-value of my unique contribution in my life-journey. Apply functional changes in specific actions and behavior or goals, which I want to implement in my life.

Week 2 - Activity & Passivity

Discover and practice, through play, influence attitude in life. The focus will be specifically on activity and passivity levels to optimize students’ lives. Students will learn that actions can influence their lives positively or negatively. With this realization, students will be able to identify and understand passivity elements in their lives. This includes the willingness, or lack thereof, to move out of comfort zones.

Week 3 - Healthy Self & Shared responsibility

Game-play will increase awareness of social and emotional responsibility within students. This will help them to understand behavior-impact. Empathy, consequences, impulse-control, and resilience are essential factors to consider while playing the game. Through this discussion, students will learn to take responsibility for their actions. As a result, this will teach students what it takes to be part of a team.

Week 4 - Being resilient in my personal/professional development

Resilience (grit) is a critical skill in the 21st century. Students will learn to apply the above skills with interactive game-play while learning about respect and support. While moving out of their comfort zones, students will learn about risk-taking and resilience. Optimizing team-effort and productivity in the entire team is vital. This opens students up to innovation and controlled risk-taking towards growth.

Week 5 - Building bridges of Trust, Respect and Value

Working together with other team members, first with non-verbal communication and later with free verbal communication.

  • It teaches members to trust,
  • Respect and appreciation,
  • The willingness to learn from others and with others,
  • Trying to understand how others think,
  • Building on their idea/s,
  • Make logical, purpose-driven moves towards a common Team-goal
  • Learning to TRUST and appreciate being trusted, respected & valued. Trust in life between related members, partners, and stakeholders is a huge asset, which will add much value to your life and business as you move forward!

Week 6 - Team Quiz/Collaboration

Competitive situations force team-members to practice productivity, competitiveness, emotional awareness and the act of supporting one another. Students will better understand empathy and react with cooperative behavior to build respect and trust bridges. This process will help students appreciate their peers while being willing to learn and give credit to build confidence while functioning in stressful situations. Time-pressure and other stressors will be added to test the student’s quick thinking skills.

Everything links to essential discussions on “Building blocks,” “Killer stones”, and structural ideas and rituals to build the team’s resilience.

Week 7 - Growth = Change = Transition

Accommodating change in the Team with practical game-play is important. We want to welcome new members with new gifts, appreciation, and support. Students will learn to accept innovation and growth inside the team, promoting social and emotional awareness and empathy for other Team members.

Week 8 - Strengths & weaknesses

Appreciate that teams are dynamic, presenting varying strengths and weaknesses in situations. Managing these factors requires commitment, reflection, and guts. Leadership and the willingness to try new concepts will allow students to develop a sense of creativity and teach them to be agile and forward-thinking. In the 21st Century, with a technology-driven fast-changing workplace, change-management and resilience in a team will become increasingly critical. Trust the gifts you bring to the team while placing your trust in team members’ gifts.

Week 9 - Why Teams?

Consider the value of quality versus quantity and emphasize the leadership role. A good leader brings motivated teams on-board. Business collaboration and entrepreneurism are becoming more prevalent in the 21st Century. With that, machines have become the central element of any organization. People can take advantage of this opportunity by learning to do the things machines are unable to do.

The roles of teams and team-building are therefore continuously changing. In this lesson, we practice active collaboration through game-play and simulation exercises. The participation of all members are critical for the success of a team. It takes bravery to think creatively, to apply practical leadership-thinking:

  • collaboration,
  • motivation,
  • problem-solving towards a resilient, sustainable and prosperousl Team. Extensive workshops are done on “Why Teams?” the changing character of Team-structures and Team Leadership in the 21st Century.

Week 10 & 11 - Patterns predict the future - Build to last!

Teams need a clear purpose, measurable goals and an inspiring mission to understand their role/s and contributions. This clarity level will effectively collaborate with other internal members or customers. In these two sessions, we use innovative situation-simulations to practice the 21st Century Team’s valuable tools. To assure a teams’ long-term survival, identifying positive & negative patterns in the teams is essential. Apply the guided Critical thinking process:

  • Identify the problem,
  • Determine the desired outcome (end-purpose in mind),
  • List steps to get the desired result, and
  • Start moving!
  • Evaluate and re-think

Week 12 - A Team of Teams (Complex leadership)

Play mini-game Tournament with the participating team, reflecting on lessons learned inside our respective groups. Also from other Teams: evaluate with receiving and giving credit or appreciation. We recognize the value of collaboration with other teams towards learning while teaching the importance of serving a mutual purpose, achieving goals, and reaching our mission. Learning lessons from others while building a collaborating Team is the primary goal. This is a critical skill in the fast-changing workplace of the 21st Century, as it minimizes risk and maximizes flexibility for success!

About the Facilitator:

Marisa is the Founder and CEO of MiniChess (Pty) Ltd as well as MiniChess Franchise Holdings (Pty) Ltd. She is a Social Entrepreneur at heart, an Ashoka Fellow (one of 3000 in 81 countries), and a member of the 1st Tendrel Forum in South Africa which is linked to YPO international.

She has focussed her life’s energy on community-work, especially to benefit children. This included organisation and management in schools and the SA Chess-community. She was a successful chess-coach and manager of many provincial and national chess champion-teams, producing 28 Junior-national players and 100’s of provincial players - herself achieving provincial- and national colours in Chess. Captain of the SA Ladies team at the 2002 World Chess Olympiad in Bled, Slovenia, and became the 1st South-African to play Ex-world chess-champion, GM Garry Kasparov, by invitation, in Belgium in 2011!

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