PartnerCentric 2019 Disney Retreat: The Happiest Place on Earth with the Most Magical Team
What do you get when you cross 115 PartnerCentric team members, their spouses and children with a lovable mouse and his friends? Sheer joy and delightful chaos…and that was just from the adults! But let me take a quick step back. PartnerCentric values building meaningful relationships beyond borders above all else and these retreats (held every 18 months for employees and every three years for employees and families) are a way to bring a fully-distributed team together and foster connections and bring clarity around where the organization is currently and where it is headed. It’s a way to mix what everyone here values most: truly meaningful work for our clients and meaningful connections with our families and with each other. Okay, back to the fun:
Day 1 (Sunday):
All the team members and families arrived at the Disney Yacht Club to check in and head to a sunset luau on the beach with Mickey and Minnie. A group photo was taken and in the spirit of always being able to go with the flow and pivot as needed, we seamlessly took the party inside for dinner once it started to rain. Seeing all the kids becoming friends and playing together was so wonderful and it brought the point home that connections can be made anywhere and physical distance is a constraint that we have no problem breaking through. As you looked around the room, it was refreshing to see everyone mingling and trying to meet as many families as they could. Some spouses were amazed at how close-knit a remote organization could be but there’s no need for generic small talk when you work with friends.
Day 2 (Monday):
All PartnerCentric team members reported to the convention hall at 8 am to have breakfast and get started with a full day of keynote presentations, breakout sessions and the “Shark Tank” competition, where all groups had five minutes to pitch innovative and “beyond borders” ideas we had worked on over the quarter to the sharks aka executive leadership. These ideas included concrete ways to improve internal processes, new approaches to help our clients and new technologies and solutions to further break borders in the space. It was an interesting, hilarious, disruptive and thought-provoking exercise and a lot of great ideas were presented that will now be implemented across the organization. Of course, there was only one winning team and their award was an amazing hot air balloon ride in Disney Springs that provided stunning views of Orlando from high above.
Stephanie gave her presentation titled “To Infinity and Beyond Borders” and touched on so many ways that PartnerCentric is breaking ground in the space and paving its own path. It was inspiring to see her vision and how far PartnerCentric has come since her acquisition of the business in 2017. The breakout sessions allowed us to have that valuable face time to meet with other teams in the organization and discuss new initiatives, strategic changes and general planning.
This incredibly productive day ended perfectly with a night out for both kids and parents. All kids reported to the Disney crew for a full night of fun (and babysitting) while the adults got dressed up and head to Epcot for a beautiful and exclusive dinner in “Italy” overlooking the water and enjoying the BEST view for fireworks. It was a dreamy night of good food, good drinks and excellent conversation for everyone.
Day 3 (Tuesday):
Tuesday was a free day for all families to go and explore however they wanted. Everyone was given tickets by PartnerCentric that could be used at the park of their choice and the only rule was to meet at Hollywood Studios in the evening for a special event. Some families chose to stay at the Yacht club resort and explore the lazy river, sand bottom pool and water slides on the premises while others spent the day park-hopping or visiting Disney Springs for food, drinks and shopping.
At 6:30, we all took the ferry from our Cape-Cod themed resort to Hollywood Studios and were escorted to a private area to enjoy a dessert bar and watch “Fantasmic,” an incredible show that features fireworks, characters, live actors, water effects, pyrotechnics, lasers, music, audio-animatronics, searchlights, decorated boat floats, and mist screen projections. Add sugar to that and you really can’t go wrong. Suffice it to say, the adults and kids were equally mesmerized.
Day 4 (Wednesday):
Parting is such sweet sorrow. Fortunately, PartnerCentric knew this and sent us on our way with a goodbye breakfast and a coffee and smoothie station. Addresses were exchanged for new little pen pals, lattes and smoothies were consumed and there were endless hugs given to a team that truly practices what they preach. Everyone left the retreat with a re-invigorated sense of passion, purpose and teamwork and, yes, there was a feeling of pure Disney magic there too.
Because I know you all want to see more, here’s a sampling of photos from our time at Disney: