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Team Meeting in El Salvador

Casa de Mar in La Libertad, El Salvador

One of the great challenges of working with a team of remote independent contractors is that there is no central office. People often say that by working with a remote team that is spread halfway across the globe, we are essentially missing hallway chatter. In other words, we’re missing a bond because we don’t run into each other and chat about things on a daily basis.

Since we don’t have a central office, we’ve decided to try a strategy of meeting with some of our most active team for a week in a Casa de Mar, a tropical resort in El Salvador (more photos to be uploaded when we get home and have a better connection). So far, I must say, the results have been spectacular (why don’t we have all our meetings in tropical resorts?)!

We Could Chat. But Why?

True, we could all read each other’s blogs or maybe randomly IM each other, but the fact is, once we get working, we’re working and would often rather spend our spare time off the computer.

Meeting in paradise is allowing us to release and discuss all our thoughts and concerns that we have collected over the months. We’re talking about things like:

  • Re investigating our Mission Statements
  • Life goals
  • Future business plans
  • What’s important to us
  • Planning for the recession
  • What we need from a Project Management software
  • Quality assurance processes
  • And, our best guesses as to what Eric looks like and how great it would have been to have had him here.

There’s Nothing Like a Personal Touch

Being in person allows for a chance to convey more than words. It also allows everyone on our team to get to know each other and to meet the spouses / girlfriends (i look forward to having some women on our core team and meeting their boyfriends). Being in person allows for face to face humor, it allows everyone to break barriers and to basically resolve our relationship as friends.

We have to be in person for Brandon to school me in ping pong. Or for Aaron to join me tearing up some waves. And since Mike Hudack, Alli (what’s your last name?) and Quinn and Melissa McLaughlin joined us, we have had a wonderful opportunity to share ideas and inspiration with our friends and mentors.

Meet the Jones’s

Perhaps one of the greatest aspects of meeting together in a tropical paradise is that we have all (except Aaron – but he’s working on it) brought our lovely spouses / girlfriends. Since they hold the keys to our hearts, we are able to attain great peace and insight by involving them in our business. And what better way to get them involved then to drag them kicking and screaming to the tropics?

Questioning Authority

Humility is best conveyed in person. This morning, Brandon brought up a great question regarding the hierarchy of our team. The question was basically, how do we see ourselves in relation to each other so far as the traditional boss / employee relationship is concerned?

There is a hierarchy for every project that we run and it tends to be the case that Shane and I are the bosses. However, in reality, we are just contractors ourselves facilitating other contractors. One of the great benefits of this trip is to equalize us and to make it clear that we are really peers simply playing managerial roles in the team and that we are all fundamentally autonomous.

Growing the Culture

Shane and I have a set of 3 tenets for our culture. People on our team must be helpful, learning and positive. In other words, we all must want to help each other, to learn from each other as well as from the world, and to be positive and optimistic.

To me, these are the core traits of a good friend. Getting together with people who fill these requirements is the same as getting together with friends. This retreat has made it obvious to me that our team is the right team and because I’d want to hang out with these people even if we weren’t working together.

Compliments to the Chef

This trip has recharged me. It is a success! In my eyes, it is a beacon that marks that we are clearly heading in the right direction. And I am overwhelmed with my gratitude for having the opportunity to work with such great people. I look forward to doing this again next year with twice as many people and on an entirely renewed adventure.