If you've ever emailed with a member of the team here at Go Overseas, we hope you've realized one thing: we love the work we do -- and we love sharing it with you. From our clients to our community, we work hard every day to help you experience (or your customers) the world in deep, meaningful ways.
We recently took a team retreat to South Lake Tahoe. All 12 of our team piled into cars and spent the 3.5-hour drive bonding, listening to music, and -- in one car -- doing the four-part headbanging version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" you might recognize from Wayne's World.
Take a look inside our recent team retreat, and what we learned from our two days out-of-office.
We really do love each other, despite the number of snowballs flying in this team photo!
Why We Do Team Retreats at Go Overseas
Team retreats have been an important part of Go Overseas since 2014 when we took our first retreat in Sonoma. Since then, we've traveled to different parts of Northern California as a team, to recharge, reconnect, and come back rejuvenated for the work we do.
Of course, our initial retreat was a test to see if our team could capitalize on the benefits of team retreats:
- The opportunity to set new company goals and targets all together.
- Improving team bonding and communication.
- Creating time for skill-building activities that don't fit in the normal schedule of work.
Some of the perks we've found from our company retreats (and why we keep doing them) include:
- It gives Go Overseas team members a chance to bond and socialize with fewer work pressures. You'll see in some of the pictures that we have a great time together.
- Getting out of our office sparks creative ideas and innovations we can bring back to work on. Some of the most important ideas we've planned for 2018 came from our recent retreat.
- Retreats give us a designated time to focus on some larger company issues we don't always have daily time or energy to focus on. We discuss important company-wide decisions and goals together, and bring those ideas and feedback back to our Berkeley office.
Team retreats also give us a chance to "play" together, creating a healthier balance between work and life. You'll see some pictures of this too!
So what did we get up to on our Tahoe retreat?
Branding & Company Goals Workshop
One of the biggest activities we did during our Tahoe retreat was a large branding and company goals workshop. The workshop was comprised of 10 different activities and exercises. Don't worry -- these weren't stale, boring corporate ice-breakers.
Go Overseas CEO Mitch literally hosted a fireside chat.
We started the day with a fireside chat with our CEO, Mitch. He discussed some company news and a new project he's working on. It was an opportunity to learn more about what it's like to start and run a company, a perspective that not all CEOs are willing to share. That was the first of many examples of our default to transparency company value at work during the retreat!
We all took the Clifton StrengthsFinder test and spent time discussing our results. It was fascinating to see how different parts of the company share strengths, and the unique strengths each member brings to the team. Did you know our entire Partner Growth team shares the "Positivity" strength? Turns out this is a great asset for our company -- and for managing our partner relationships!
Next, we followed up on some discussions about branding that we did in our August retreat. Maya and Mallory shared our new branding and voice guidelines, plus some other documents that we'll use to guide exciting design and marketing changes in the next few months.
We spent time creating "SIS/SOS" documents. On one side, we wrote "Strengths I See" (SIS) and on the other, we left a blank space for "Strengths Others See" (SOS). We hung them around our Airbnb and each team member wrote strengths they saw about other team members. We each got to take home a reminder of the strengths we bring -- both those we already know we have, and those others see in us (some of which were quite surprising!)
We did a great exercise called "Penny for your Thoughts" in which we all closed our eyes and dropped a penny each time we agreed with a statement. It was a good opportunity to revisit our company values, and discuss how we want to prioritize our company goals in the coming year.
The 2nd Annual Go Overseas Value Awards
After our workshop, we had the 2nd annual (highly anticipated) Go Overseas Value Awards (GOVAs). Early in November, all members of the team voted for one another to win company awards -- some of which were tied to our values; others were fun or silly recognitions for the work we do.
Some highlights of the awards:
Our new office dog, Mo, overcame the competition and won Best Dog Alive.
Lauren won our Run Club Rookie of the Year for her awesome commitment to health and wellness. She even ran the Berkeley half-marathon in November!
Logan won an award for being Most Underwhelmed by Our New Office Dog Mo. His acceptance speech had everyone laughing when he described a love for another dog that used to come to our office, Luna.
Michaela won Best Motion Picture for her great New Zealand winner surprise video.
After all of the GOVAs were handed out, we spent the evening socializing, playing games, and eating meat.
Did you know Mitch is a master barbecuer?!
Hiking, Team Building, & Photoshoots!
The next morning, we went out for a less-work-more-play activity: hiking!
We first went to see Lake Tahoe and take some company pictures near the lake.
Tucker, Andrew, and Mitch still get along after 7 years of running Go Overseas together!
"A New Perspective is the Best Souvenir!"
New team members Maya, Michaela, and Jenny wore their new Go Overseas Patagonia jackets, and we took a bunch of photos in our new team shirts.
We then drove north to Emerald Bay and went for a short hike. We set out on the Eagle Falls trail, and arrived at Eagle Lake to see it was almost entirely frozen over!
Yes, there were a lot of photos taken!
After we returned to our cars, we shared one last company lunch at a local Mexican restaurant, then each car made its way back to the Bay Area.
Key Takeaways from Our Tahoe Retreat
Because we love public accountability, we want to share some of our key takeaways and goals with you -- our Go Overseas community. We look forward to sharing company updates in 2018 to keep you in the loop as we work on this.
1. We're going to refocus on our value to Put Community First. We're still hiring a Community & Social Media Manager, so if you want to join our team, apply soon!
2. Our team is pretty freaking amazing, and we have a lot of fun together.
3. The work of 'growing' a company is never done. While we've made great progress in our seven years as a company, we still have a lot we want to accomplish.
To our partners: do you do team retreats? We'd love to read any recaps you've written!
To our community: thanks for all your support. We can't wait to share our journey -- and help inspire you on yours -- in 2018.