For one week a year, Tribe-o-nauts from around the world converge. We come together to celebrate the adventures that we’ve been on. We come together to tell jokes, and share good news. We come together to argue, debate, and learn from each other.
This is the 6th Modern Tribe team trip, and was unlike previous events. In the past we’ve invited our team to bring their families and loved ones along with. We do this because we don’t want Modern Tribe to be something that takes one away from their family. We want to be a company where families come together. Despite this desire to meet all the significant others and little ones – we went team only on this one. Our current crew is really close knit, and I think everyone was excited to get a chance to really hang out and dig deep into projects and conversations that we’ve let simmer for too long.
This year found us meeting in Costa Rica. A three hour car ride from the capital, San Jose, brought us to the small town of Manual Antonio on the pacific ocean. We were lucky enough to find two beautiful homes that had enough space for everyone to stretch out. With an inspiring location, and a wonderful chef preparing us traditional Costa Rican dishes, we got immediately down to business – and by business I mean, we sat in the pool and talked about everything except work.
Our first day in paradise was spent recapping 2013, and talking through our vision for 2014. We try to start the week by celebrating all of the successes that we’ve had as a team, and acknowledge the individual contributions that our core team has made – that took forever. From there we dug into various ways that we could work more effectively, trends we see coming. We broke into smaller groups with the devs refining our deployment process, the qa and support team refining our new forum admin tools, and me leading the designers and front end engineers in some really introspective beer drinking and lounging.
The last few years we’ve asked each team member to prepare a little ‘talk’ for us. The first couple we used the theme of “teach us something.” This year, Peter felt inspired to mix it up a bit. Each person was to either give a Pecha Kucha answering the question “What is my superpower” or to tell us a story using The Moth as inspiration. Though it makes the team absolutely nutty that we ask them to do it – it’s my favorite part of the trip. The talks are a glimpse into a person’s inner workings. We had people tell hilarious stories about how they knew their spouse was ‘the one’, a tour of one person’s love for maps, a story of a tragic fire, 5 ‘rules’ to life, a crazy tale of a grifter and a project gone horribly wrong, and a slew of other great peeks into the lives of our team (not to mention one that actually brought a tear to my eye). Beyond the joy that I get listening to them, it’s good practice for the team to step out of their comfort zone and work on their communication and story telling chops. It doesn’t really matter what they say – the act of saying it in front of one another brings them all closer together.
Over the next few days we would go white water rafting, explore a mind blowingly beautiful nature preserve, play catch in the ocean with a hollowed out coconut, shoot pool, drink Peter’s infamous piña coladas, snorkel, play an almost inappropriately heated game of Settlers of Catan, and enjoy a traditional Argentinian asado prepared by our own Daniel Dvorkin.
Traveling to a tropical paradise is delightful, but at the end of the day, we could hold these retreats in the basement of a Best Western in the middle of nowhere and it’d still be one of the best parts of my year.
Our lives are the sum total of the time we spend here. That includes the hours of 8am-5pm. The most valuable part of Modern Tribe isn’t our book of clients, it’s not our products, or our tools – it’s the people that we choose to work with. I am thrilled to be able to spend the week with them, and get home having just spent that time with some of my closest friends.
Here’s a picture of a sloth.