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2021 September View From Here — To Gather

Kerry Guard • October 5, 2021 • 5 minutes to read

Fall has officially arrived! But before we said goodbye to our days in the sun, we whisked off to Boston for our Annual Summit, reunited and in most cases united for the first time since 2019.

Usually for summits I lock us (figuratively and in one case literally!) into a boardroom for two days and we knock out team building and presentations and guest speakers with only time outside for food and updated team photos.

This year we did the opposite. We were outside 90% of the time, for two reasons:

  1. Comfort levels: Given COVID some of the team, including myself weren't comfortable indoors, especially without everyone wearing masks.
  2. Theme: I listen to Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead Podcast and in one of here episodes she talks to an expert about gatherings and how to gather, especially now as we emerge from being isolated for so long. Priya Parker leads with identifying the WHY your gathering… What's the theme? For us this year, it was just that… To Gather. To be together without a tight agenda. Time to get to know one another beyond the Zoom screen.

We recently started doing more Retrospectives, reflecting on projects and how they went. I really love the format our Managing Director, Jenna uses, so I'm going to follow it here:

Loved - what I enjoyed and would do again

  • Walking and talking. We did SO much walking. I will not plan to do that much again, but I do want to make more space for the opportunity. People do their best talking and opening up when we're not staring at one another. This article actually says the best time to talk to our kids is in the car because we're shoulder to shoulder and it's less threatening. I think walking has the same effect.
  • Being near a park. Instead of the boardroom bring our gathering place it was the Boston Commons. We even caught a glimpse into them filming Julia!
  • I planned a scavenger hunt. I merged the Freedom Trail with The Black Heritage Trail. I listed all the locations in an Asana board. Each location had the address and description. I then duplicated the board into four teams and broke the company down into 4 groups of 3, putting people together who don't normally get to work together. They then had to pick 5 locations and tie them to one of our values, take a picture and explain why it was that value and post it to Asana. It went off mostly without a hitch. Kurt Klynen would be proud.
  • For dinner we were outside on an open air patio at this amazing restaurant Porto (See hero image). The energy and atmosphere was just awesome. And to have such great weather. I'm so grateful.
  • This was the first year I hired a professional photographer and relinquished control in taking the photos myself (last year doesn't count, because I couldn't be in 10 different cities). Matt was awesome! He made us laugh. He caught some great moments. And I'm so thankful I didn't have to lug gear across the Atlantic.
  • Swag bag: In knowing we were traveling by planes, trains, and automobiles coming as far as Portland and as close as New England, we sent everyone an MKG Branded fanny pack, chock full of hand sanitizers, sanitize wipes, KN95 masks, and MKG branded masks. I loved that we could do everything possible to ensure the team’s safety as best we could. Everyone also had buttons - green (no masks or social distancing), yellow (mask, but no need to distance), red (masks and distancing at all times). Really helpful in letting people know comfort levels.
  • Ghost tour! We did an open air trolley ghost tour on the last night and it was everything I hoped for! Ghosts and Gravestones. Ask for Dottie Mayhem.

Loathed

  • The first day I tried to plan lunch for us to eat together and it was a disaster. We walked way too far for sub par food. The next day we broke into groups based on what food people wanted and it was way better. Lunch will be this for now on. Helps that everyone has Bento for Business cards and expenses are super easy to keep track of. It also allowed for small groups and great conversation.
  • Jet lag. I came from the UK and it was an adventure. You can follow my adventure on LinkedIn. I documented it. I was awake for 24 hours that first day of travel and it took me 5 days to feel normal... They say it takes one day for every hour to feel normal.

Wished

  • I gave everyone candy after the scavenger hunt. I thought I bought enough for all four teams but only had enough for 3. Spencer, AnDrae’ and Katie I’ll make it up to you! Your pictures were so thoughtful.
  • Everyone could have been there. Two of our teammates couldn’t make it given COVID, and we all wished often they were both there.

Thank you to our clients and partners for giving us this important time together and forming tighter bonds allowing us to deliver even better results.

I'm so excited for next year! Mike and I are already scheming 😁 I learned a lot this trip and hope to incorporate the parts I loved into a slightly more formalized agenda. Here’s to 2022 when we all can be together again.

Until next time,

Kerry Guard

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