How Tanya Nguyen of PickFu is Bringing her Distributed Team Together

Post by
Cecilia Razak
How Tanya Nguyen of PickFu is Bringing her Distributed Team Together

Tanya might be one of our favorite and most creative custom deck builders. She's made some of our most popular decks over the years, from mini movie trivia to Controversial Questions (Tell me — is a hot dog a sandwich)? 

Tanya knows the importance and value of an icebreaker when it comes to connecting the people on your team. Since she runs a totally remote team, she understands that a big part of her work as Operations Manager is keeping that team running smoothly together.

Ice breakers are necessary to start team meetings. They can sometimes be corny, but there is so much opportunity when done properly.

The right icebreaker creates camaraderie, helps you get to know each other without feeling forced, and hopefully can start any meeting off with a good, warmed-up laugh. With that in mind, Tanya sets out to make icebreaker games and team building slide decks that are perfectly tailored to her group — light, fun, interesting, and with the goal of connection and getting closer to each other as a well-aligned team.

We interviewed Tanya, below, but first, check out some of her great games — you can even copy them and play them yourself! Think of each one like a slide deck presentations, but interactive and made into a game where your group can join in to your slides and send in answers to play along. You can make any tweaks you like the same way you'd edit a slide deck presentation (and Tanya would encourage this — she thinks customization can make any game feel like the perfect fit for your own team), and then launch a presentation and play along with your team!

5 Amazing Icebreaker Games from Tanya

One of our favorite decks of Tanya's, Controversial Questions (an office-friendly game to ruin friendships) asks your team the important questions like, "Does Pineapple belong on Pizza". You can copy and try this interactive game for yourself!

A quick Mini Movie trivia game for your team or friends, play this to see who's the biggest movie buff in your group!

The follow up to the smash hit — Controversial Questions 2 picks up where the first icebreaker game left off, with friendship-ruining queries like "How do you pronounce Gif"?

Never Have I Ever is a game we used to play as kids, repurposed for our adult office group. Get a poll of your group about whether they've ever done the big ticket items things, like left a job without having another one, eaten a coworker's lunch, and more.

Time Capsule is an imaginative wordcloud game. It's the year 3000, and athropologists have found a valuable well-preserved time capsule from your very office! What's in it? Only your group can know.

Let's get to the interview! Since she's such a master at this, we decided it would be super helpful to sit down with Tanya and ask exactly *how* she approaches bringing her team together.

Tell us about you: What’s your role, what are you working on, what are your goals in your professional life?

At the core of my work is people and culture. Whether it’s organizing team workflow or building an incredible employee experience, my priority is to make sure that our people are set up for success. My role at PickFu is to build a company our employees are proud of, while our team creates a product our customers love. (And yes, we are hiring!)

What problems are you solving at work every day? What are challenges you face?

PickFu started as a remote company, and we’ve been working asynchronously before it was the cool thing to do. My colleagues live in bustling cities like Chicago and small towns in Greece, and everywhere in between, across multiple time zones. 

I won’t call this a challenge or problem because we’re quite proud of it… One of my biggest priorities is creating a culture that celebrates our diversity and embraces our differences. Besides our geo-location, our team members bring a plethora of backgrounds, identities, and hobbies that have come together in a really beautiful way. My role is to create fun team building sessions, find inclusive approaches to work discussions, and seek opportunities for collaboration.

What are you using Slides With Friends to do? How do you use it to help solve some of those ^ issues?

Most people on our team have never met, and most likely never will. Slides With Friends has really simplified the team building process and allowed us to get to know one another. We use the platform to create social games, ice breakers, and meeting agendas.

Our team can participate with their web browser or mobile device, so there’s no interruption in our workflow. I have been thoughtful in putting together a variety of topics that encourage conversation, whether it’s watercooler talk or more in-depth discussions.

Our most popular ice breakers are “controversial questions,” a series of thought-provoking inquiries that are designed to ignite friendly disputes. Is a hot dog a sandwich? How many holes does a straw have? Were Ross and Rachel on a break? We’ll never know.

A team event is successful if it gets everyone thinking and talking. We call it “passing the mic.” Whether it’s a fun trivia game or a product brainstorm, the approach is the same. This mindset permeates into other areas of work, and we are constantly looking for ways to keep people engaged through discussion and feedback.

What’s your favorite way to engage an audience?

Ice breakers are necessary to start team meetings. They can sometimes be corny, but there is so much opportunity when done properly.

How does using a tool like SlidesWith improve your events or meetings?

SlidesWith gives our events and meetings structure, and helps us connect as a remote team. With thoughtful format and design, it allows our team to stay on track and encourages people to open up. Open-ended questions get us thinking, word clouds let us brainstorm, and so forth. 

What tips would you offer to others for using SlidesWith?

Keep your team in mind as you build out your decks. If you decide to use a template, make sure you customize it for your team so it feels personal. See which format works, and which ones don’t.

Subscribe for more articles like this

Subscribe to our newsletter for research-based content on community building, remote culture, and employee well-being. Get critical tools for a remote world.