“Stepping back from the day-to-day business activity refreshes your brain, offers fresh perspectives and opens your mind to new ideas and creativity.”

Last month I had the honor of leading a four day team-building retreat for one of my favorite clients - the team at Enrich Creative in St. Louis, Missouri. We rented a gorgeous house in Santa Fe, New Mexico and in a span of four days we dove deep into improving their creativity, leadership, communication skills, marketing and business development. It was a poweful experience for us all. 

Gretchen Schisla, the firm's principal, reflected on the experience in her monthly newsletter. I thought Gretchen captured a lot of important ideas on the value of having a company retreat and gave some great tips on how to prepare for your own company retreat.

Thank you Gretchen for the insights!

Retreats are good for business
by Gretchen Schisla 

Corporate retreats are considered by some to be an unnecessary expense or event, but in reality, they offer huge benefits. A well-planned retreat presents a company with precious time to strengthen the business core, while allowing employees the time to reflect and build their best personal selves. Many have found these events to be life-changing.

“Retreats help us to break away from the mechanical life and move into a space that helps to discover and reestablish oneself to grow mentally. It releases one’s limitations, fears and takes us to a world of new possibilities.” This quote from Retreat Network reinforces what I believe — a retreat not only acts as a catalyst to propel a company forward, it also reinvigorates individuals on a personal level.

Last month, our Enrich team headed to Santa Fe for a 4-day retreat. While 2014 had been an exciting, action-packed and productive year for us, I realized that we had spent very little time connecting, reflecting and setting the tone for what’s next in our business. In addition, I wanted to dedicate time to rediscovering what’s important to each of us — in both our personal and our professional, Enrich lives.

If your company is on the smaller side like ours, a retreat can be especially advantageous. Stepping back from the day-to-day business activity refreshes your brain, offers fresh perspectives and opens your mind to new ideas and creativity. It communicates to each person in the firm that they are not only valued, but acknowledges through actions that they’re a key part of what makes the company thrive. Company leaders claim that they support happy, healthy employees, but how often do they 'walk the talk' by creating this type of experience for them?

One month after our Santa Fe retreat, we’ve put much of what we’ve learned into action. The retreat has had such a powerful impact that I’m already setting a budget for our next retreat in 2016!

Here are my recommendations for hosting an awesome business retreat:

  • Choose a well-planned destination. The location should be one that everyone can get excited about and view as an escape. Remember, the idea of a retreat is to leave the office behind, so turning off technology is a must.
  • Select a facility that’s special. Retreat centers or larger, VRBO homes with enough sleeping accommodations, ample space and common areas can offer the perfect setting.
  • Hire a coach or facilitator that knows your team. If you choose to work with someone new, Skype with them beforehand so everyone can introduce themselves and establish a baseline relationship.
  • Evaluate what topics you really need to cover most, and create a supporting agenda. Before you leave, share the agenda with the team, so no one’s left in the dark. This will give everyone an opportunity to agree on the topics and offer their input.
  • Make time for relaxation. Once at the location, plan to begin with an activity that allows everyone to ease into the situation and let their guard down. Indulge in a massage, take a walk in nature, or participate in yoga or meditation to set the tone of slowing down. Make sure you factor downtime into the schedule throughout the event.
  • Stick to the planned agenda and schedule. While new things may come up, don’t wander too far off the schedule — so you can get the maximum value from this time and touch on all the points you wanted your team to cover.
  • Share meals, and if time permits, prepare a meal together. This allows time for the team to reconnect and check in with one another. Nothing is more powerful than a shared meal.
  • Encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zone. Two of our designers were handed a mystery box of ingredients and given a one hour timeframe to create lunch for the team. They enjoyed the challenge, and while they cooked, the rest of the group maximized time by meeting on an alternate topic.
  • Learn new tools and practice them, both during the retreat and afterward. With the help of our facilitator, we focused on leadership, enneagram personality styles, crucial conversations and blind spots, all of which have helped us to become more aware and effective in our jobs.
  • Commit to putting things learned into action, once you’re back in the office. As with conferences, we get inspired, but once back, we lose the fire and commitment to create change. Make an agreement among the group that this won’t happen when everyone returns to the daily grind. Create the space to follow up and revisit what you’ve learned.

Here are some takeaways from the Enrich retreat:

Gretchen: In setting up the retreat, I had a combination of business agenda items and internal areas to focus on – to help strengthen our company core. The result included a tight focus on who we are as a firm, where we want to go, and how we can serve clients better in 2015. We’re a tight group that really supports each individual's contribution. The retreat gave us a chance to celebrate this, it gives me great satisfaction to demonstrate to each person how important they are.

Suzanne: One of the most impactful parts of our retreat was the study of our enneagram personality styles. Prior to the event, we had been asked to complete a short questionnaire, which was then analyzed by our coach. Understanding how I operate internally and how I interact with those around me, especially my co-workers and prospects, is an invaluable tool. It will allow me to become a more effective communicator within my team.

Kory: When you work for a small company, you really do become a family. The retreat not only strengthened this bond, but helped us improve it. The fact that we had dedicated time to reconnect, recharge and focus only on ourselves, was such a powerful thing. Learning about each of our personalities was also key. Such insight not only helps your relationship with your team, it also helps you become a better communicator with your clients.

Bruce: There were many powerful things that I took away from the retreat. The retreat allowed us time to reflect on the past year and set goals for the coming months. We wrapped up the event with a creative activity that gave each of us the opportunity to intuitively collage, while thinking about a theme to guide us through the upcoming year. The collage sits on my desk and is a constant reminder of what I took away from the retreat and what I want to my year to look like.


The invisible bubble that keeps you safe (and limits your potential)

Every moment of every day, whether you realise it or not, you are surrounded by an invisible bubble.

The bubble protects you from the world outside. It keeps you safe. It helps you cope with reality, maintain a sense of normality, and manage your day-to-day business.

And it limits your potential.

The bubble is created by your beliefs - your ideas about yourself, about the world, and about reality. Many of these beliefs are useful and harmless. But some of them are misguided and limiting.

Limiting beliefs are with you at all times. But because they are so close and familiar, you don't even see them. You have forgotten they exist.

Only when you see your limiting beliefs can you truly wake up and be motivated to make a change. A wonderful thing happens when you ‘pop the bubble’ of your beliefs. You see things as they really are. Possibilities open up. You trust and take new action. You grow.

I've met people who have been victims of their own beliefs for years. They've been stuck in one place in their career and the fear of failing or not knowing what to do next keeps them from taking a risk and making a change. Generally, the sooner a person sees their limiting beliefs and starts to think differently, the better chance they have to get what they really want in life.

But just because you see your limiting beliefs and start thinking differently it doesn't mean that change and transformation will happen quickly. Each of us has a lifetime of limiting beliefs to unload and that process will take time. I promise you.

People hire me to coach them and what mainly happens in our process together is that we ‘pop’ the bubble many times, until limiting beliefs and fears disappear. Instead, they become inspired and motivated people who live their lives coming from love.

When I coach someone, a very special bond develops between us. Because we spend so many hours in deep conversation, it's sometimes hard to see immediate results as we're still inside the process.

But once in a while, at very special moments, I get to watch a person's life transform and feel the pride and joy in doing what I do. That's a big part of why I love to coach. I love the ability to wake a person up, show them their own limiting beliefs and guide them towards living a life filled with love and integrity.

One such person is Rochelle Seltzer, a powerful woman I’ve coached for a few years now.  I want to tell you why you need to know about her.

I met Rochelle while presenting a weekend seminar to a group of creative agency owners in Boston back in 2009. At the time Rochelle had been running a medium size design firm for many years. I remember how engaged Rochelle was during that workshop and how excited she was to learn from me.

Soon after that weekend, she hired me as her coach to help her grow her agency. What she didn't realize was that she hired me to help her grow herself.    

Rochelle's own limiting beliefs were getting in the way of her growth. She wasn't motivated to grow her design firm much and was feeling pretty burnt out. Her heart wasn't in it anymore. She was clueless to what she could become outside of being a designer.  She felt stuck.

It wasn't until Rochelle let go of her old beliefs and started believing in herself and her creativity that transformation started to happen.

After about a year of coaching, Rochelle decided to sell her firm and follow her heart to discover who she wanted to become. She gracefully said farewell to a career as a designer and creative agency owner, and became a student again. She slowed down her life enough to be able to listen to what her heart truly wanted. And she fell in love with coaching - and trained as a coach herself.

Today Rochelle is in a whole new place. A bigger place. A place where she is working in concert with her mind and heart. A coach and creative healer with special talents and gifts that serves our creative industry in a whole new way.

I have tremendous respect for Rochelle, for following her heart and going through the rough parts to get to where she is today. I am sure she will agree that her journey of transforming wasn't always easy, but was well worth the hard work.

This is a proud moment for a coach. A moment where I get to witness an evolution, a healing of a person, and to celebrate their contribution to the world. I'm humbled at the power of coaching and want to celebrate it with you too. I invite you to take a few minutes and visit Rochelle's website, read some of her articles and do some of the creative exercises she created for you.  

How to identify (and change) your limiting beliefs

There’s a very good chance you’ve created a limiting belief that is stopping you from doing what you think you can’t. But how can you detect that invisible bubble?

Your self awareness is key. Start listening to yourself talk, and notice where in your life you find yourself saying “I can’t…” or “I don’t know how…”

The more you catch yourself saying “I can’t”, the more you can start seeing the bubble you’ve created. And when that happens, challenge the thought.

Ask yourself: “Really? Says who?”

You may be surprised at the insight that comes up in that moment.

If you start doing the things you think believe you ‘can’t’ do and stop doing the things you believe you ‘should’ do you’ll start experiencing life on a whole new level.

What beliefs have YOU overcome?

Have you ever become aware of a limiting belief and let go of it?

What happened? What did you learn?

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The power of words

Last week a remark President Obama made changed history with a few simple words. ”Personally,” it was ”important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

To you and me this idea may seem obvious, but for the history of the civil rights movement and the gay rights movement this statement will change lives, including yours and mine.

If you look closely you will see that the most powerful word in this statement is ”THINK”. Because the leader of the free word ”thinks” same-sex marriage is ok, his thought became words and his words will become action. Obamas' words will influence people's thinking and create real social change. His words affirm an idea, create a new reality and bring forward a new future. 


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