On January 4th, the staff members of SalesCandy and Gapture went on our annual company retreat together for the first time. SalesCandy's new Business Development Manager, Ben Stidolph, shared with us his three-day experience of being stuck with 13 strangers in the middle of a jungle.
"In the hills, high above KL, 14 nervous faces gathered. Discussion about the mobile reception was hushed but intense as we waited to see who was bunking with whom for the next few days’ company retreat. Remember the Villa in Janda Baik - a no-frills but modern and comfortable hideaway - was the location and older hands were quick to point out that at first glance, this place seemed like luxury compared to last year’s choice. No matter the surroundings, one thing was clear, the Gapturions and SalesCandy staff were going offline for a few days… kind of.
Once settled and after some laughter regarding room mix-ups requiring some team members to share beds, we got down to the first objective of the retreat - “Review”. This was a mixture of personal and professional reflections starting with “The Cat Test”. The theory being that the various ways you illustrated a cat could tell you something about yourself and others. However true that may be, the resulting drawings and analysis were most definitely hilarious. The team came up with a range of interpretations ranging from masterpiece to… well, let’s call them abstract.
The day continued in a similarly positive vein with company reviews, Q&A sessions, and exercises that were designed to bring a newly expanded team closer together. However, as morning turned to afternoon turned to dusk, whispered wonderment grew louder at what that evening’s ominously named “Conquer Your Fear” session would hold. Apprehension almost became open revolt when halfway through the slot, our trainer for the evening proclaimed that we would be putting the session’s lessons into practice by sticking hypodermic needles through our hands (no, really, he had photographs and everything). The relief when he confessed to bluffing was only short-lived as we found out while there would be no sharp objects involved in the night’s finale, we were instead expected to become fire eaters. Needless to say, everyone stepped up to the plate (get it? Fire EATING… Plate...) and lived to share our videos on social media whilst also proving the point of the whole thing - it’s not so hard to overcome doubts and fears with a little encouragement and a positive mindset.
Day two dawned early, perhaps a little too early for certain members of the team that had, shall we say, enthusiastically enjoyed the whiskey tasting that concluded day one. The scheduled 8:00 AM yoga session was (reluctantly) a full house and in what turned out to be a nice surprise for those aforementioned night owls, it seemed that light yoga, when coupled with copious amounts of espresso, may well be the miracle hangover cure that generations have been searching for. Be it luck or stroke of genius, the first of the morning’s activities was a needed catalyst, as the rest of the morning was to focus on strategising.
Things turned more physical after lunch. A scavenger hunt pitting co-founder against co-founder was always going to end up competitive. But no one could have expected the tension felt in the final scramble before Stanley’s group overcame a huge deficit to pip Jeff’s team to the post via an expertly hidden magic 8 ball (being on the losing team, I’m still a little sour while writing this nearly two weeks later). The second night of whiskey whilst tamer, did its job in allowing wounds to be licked and bridges rebuilt (I may sound dramatic but I REALLY wanted to win the scavenger hunt!).
Day three started at a far more civilised hour. After a good night's rest, the team gathered for the final day of the retreat. Day three would focus on “Looking Forward”. A more relaxed but enlightening schedule of sessions ended with the entire team sharing the things they were appreciative of for every member of the team. A warm way to end what had been an incredibly fun, insightful and rewarding weekend.
As a new starter myself, I came away from the retreat feeling much closer to the entire team and hope that the good feeling was mutual. Janda Baik served as a reminder that although our jobs and lives are now primarily online, sometimes we have to switch off the WiFi to really connect."