succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I spent the past six days in the mountains in northern California (that's looking back on the city from the hilltop behind our rental house). Six days with a dozen coworkers. Six days during which I only rode in a car once (excluding riding up there and back), when I didn't look at a single television screen (though spent plenty of time peering at a computer screen), didn't lock a single door, and ate tons of tasty salads, burgers, omelets, potatoes, and handmade bread.

This was my little corner of the retreat world

And these are the goats I could see out my window

I was sort of pleasantly surprised that I didn't find the whole thing to be claustrophic. Because I think we can all agree that in a mainstream context, hanging out in the same house, cooking and eating meals together, and chilling in the hot tub with all your coworkers and boss is, well, weird. But it seems to work for us.

The retreat was intense, but also highly productive and mostly positive. Lots of good discussion about where we're headed as a team, what we want our goals to be, the best ways to achieve them, etc. In my head, I could hear that a lot of the verbage we were using is similar to all those nauseating marketing campaigns wherein companies try to rebrand themselves and write new mission statements. Perhaps it's beginner's naivete on my part, but our conversations felt genuine. And it felt good to fumble around and start to get my footing as a member of this team - figure out what my thoughts were on projects and finding space to voice those opinions.

Also, on one of our afternoon hikes, I think we found the gateway to Narnia

No one seems to know what's up with this random lamppost in a field. It's carved out of wood and set on a concrete base. Several of us tried to open the portal, but no luck. I was mostly disappointed not to see James McAvoy.

I spent this evening sitting in a hot tub, sipping beer, looking up at the stars, listening to my coworkers debate demography theory. I know for many people the idea of sharing a hot tub with coworkers is horrific, but I know this is the memory I will work hard to dredge up during long uncomfortable flights and while staying in crummy hotels with terrible food in the developing world.