LADIES AND GENTLEMENT…pack your sunscreen and back issues of US Weekly, FHM, and The Economist (okay…I’m the only PR geek who read it), dust off your poker and blackjack skills, grab your honey and lemon tea in lieu of your karaoke performance, visit your shrink for a last minute emergency session to ‘center yourself’ for a very public meltdown in front of coworkers you just met (oh, wait…that was just me)…LIVE FROM GLORIOUS LAKE TAHOE…IT’S THE 2006 VOCE RETREAT…(AUDIENCE APPLAUSE)!
Every year, Voce Communications proudly hosts a three day retreat for its steely band of smart, dedicated, creative, talented, overachieving, hyper-competitive employees. The annual respite, painstakingly planned by the company’s Culture & Community committee, is an opportunity for the Voce Nation to catch a little R&R, socialize with co-workers you might not work with on a daily basis, and get back to nature (and by ‘nature’ I mean ogling a bevy of multimillion dollar Caligula-esque homes on the Tahoe shore).
Having been on the roster at Voce for a total of 15 business days and the very dramatic build-up propagated by past attendees – through a steady (read: unrelenting) drip of insider anecdotes and pictures from times of yore – I was obviously intrigued (read: frightened). To be perfectly frank, many so-called company ‘retreats’ usually entail copious amounts of people staring blankly at one another, sprinkled with feigning smiles and uncontrolled nervous laughter. Typically, the most interesting aspect of these shin-digs is the pre-game analysis of whose behavior will go supremely overboard, embarrassing themselves and others (enter: uncomfortable moments of silence). The corporate annals are littered with stories about Jim from accounts payable retelling his favorite uber inappropriate joke or Veronica from marketing (thanks to a couple apple martinis that would make Carrie Bradshaw take pause) finally delivering to her boss what she really thought of the edits made to her webinar script.
With these expectations and cautionary tales in mind, I was completely surprised by my first Voce retreat (cue: ‘I’ve really learned my lesson’ sitcom music…Full House or Growing Pains will do just nicely). Flown out the window was the pretension and political calculation that tends to hamper genuine bonding with coworkers. Instead, this event achieved what these types of company activities are really designed to foster (but rarely do) – a relaxed, open environment where team members can really learn about one another and build relationships that are often difficult to develop. Especially, during the day-to-day hubbub of routine PR agency life. Here and here and if you dare, here, you’ll find some choice snapshots and videos documenting our journey (Flickr feed to be updated shortly). Now is a good time to mention that any unauthorized use of said mementos will be hearing from my attorney.
This message was brought to you by the Committee to Disavow ‘Cup Flipping‘ or any Deviation Thereof as an Official Recognized Sport of Voce Retreat. Thank you!