I joined my new company at just the right time.
I knew that joining a smaller startup was all about collaboration and working closely with literally every single person inside the 100-employee company in order to be successful. I also knew that beginning this journey from my NYC apartment, when half my co-workers were in Israel and the other half were scattered across the US was going to make collaboration a challenge.
Thankfully, I was sent to our Bay Area office for some training during my third week on the job which immediately made a difference as I was able to build rapport with 12 other new hires. The impact the following week was immediate, as sending an instant message to someone who you’ve spent time with is so much easier. Experiencing this made me look forward to the next time I’d get some face time with co-workers, but I could never have imagined how unreal the next trip would be.
Every year, Hello Heart holds a company-wide offsite where all employees meet up in one location. Obviously this gets to be impossible once the business grows beyond a certain point, but at the moment, the leadership still thought it was the play. For 2021, they landed on Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, staying at the Grand Hyatt all-inclusive resort.
It was paradise. I’ve taken a while to write this recap blog because it honestly took me a while to process just how unbelievable the event was and how it could actually be considered part of my job!
We arrived on Monday afternoon with chartered vans ready to take us to the resort - about a 45 minute drive from Cancun airport. The resort was breathtaking; right on the beach and only 1 block from downtown Playa Del Carmen where all of the bars and restaurants (and tourist traps) were located.
After checking in, I went for a quick run through the town, and then joined some co-workers for an unorganized happy hour before our official kick-off dinner. Because we were more than 100 of the guests at the resort, we basically took over the place and our team did an unreal job of planning every little detail.
Dinner was setup for us on the main pool deck, complete with a very busy open bar, tons of dishes in a buffet (including like 80% vegan/vegetarian dishes), and of course a Mariachi band!
After dinner we did more mingling, more tequila shots, and got to know more of our colleagues (including the super fun group of Israelis) before some people headed out to a bar in the town. I actually went to bed after a long travel day, knowing that the next couple days were going to be a grind. Or maybe I’m just getting mature in my old age.
Day 2 kicked off with a morning run through the town, followed by a hearty buffet breakfast before settling into our strategy sessions. The minimal ‘work’ was setup in an open-air conference center with a stage and audio/visual that you would expect at any well-run conference. Our leadership team members took turns going over plans for 2022, and providing high-level insight into their strategic plans for the company. It was inspiring, motivating, and gave us a chance to ask any questions we had.
After lunch, we had some free time before heading to the beach for our first team-building challenge: pirate ship building! This was put on by the resort and actually made for some good bonding and hilarious laughter as our “well-designed” vessels failed miserably upon entering the Caribbean Sea.
The activity ended by 3:30 and gave way to a pool party, which included a DJ performance by one of our very own team members! This was my favourite part of the entire trip. Two hours in a beautiful pool overlooking the sea, drinking margaritas and getting to know more and more of my co-workers.
After dinner, it was rinse and repeat and the whole crew went out on the town to dance and party and laugh. I removed myself responsibly around 11pm as I could slowly feel my tequila limit approaching.
Day 3 was structured the exact same way: breakfast and strategy sessions, lunch, beach and water activity (obstacle course), pool party, dinner, karaoke, bar. A small group of us ended the night at a tiny little taco stand right outside the hotel - the perfect Mexican finale.
Day 4 consisted of a few more sessions before eating lunch by the pool, and ultimately getting the shuttle back to the airport to leave paradise.
The trip was amazing for team-building, experiencing Mexican culture, building new bonds with co-workers and just having an amazing time in the constant 30 degree heat.
I’ve found myself even more comfortable at work in the weeks since this trip - and not comfortable in a bad way as if I’m coasting along. Comfortable in the sense I feel empowered to act fast, submit requests to people, ask questions, and make decisions.
I can’t wait for the next offsite!
Thanks for reading,