Nashville team retreat: scary birds, country music, and a photo shoot

Jon: Hey everyone, welcome to build your sass. This is the behind the scenes story of building a web app in 2023. I'm Jon Buda a software engineer.

Helen: I'm Helen. I'm Head of Customer Success.

Jason: I'm Jason and I'm a software engineer.

Josh: I'm Josh and I'm a marketing engineer

Justin: And i'm Justin Jackson, I do product and marketing. Follow along as this motley crew builds Transistor.Fm.

We got the whole team on the show today! This is the first time we've ever had this many people on any episode of Build Your SaaS, I think.

We recently got back from our second ever team retreat. We went to Nashville, Tennessee, and last year we did a kind of an update episode and I thought we'd get everybody on the mics and do another review of the team retreat.

This is also just a chance for us to talk about what we're thinking about and working on and working towards here at Transistor.

Why don't we start off by just sharing some highlights. What were some of your highlights from the retreat this year at Nashville? Helen, did you have any off the top of your head?

Helen: Yeah. I mean, we did lots of things over the week. I think for me, the highlight was spending time together. It was our priority to get together and spend time together. When we did things like playing cards and playing games I think I learned more about all of you in those kind of couple of hours than I have to know the entire past year, really.

It was very telling, some of you, the way you play games, it's.. uh, it's very interesting. [laughs]

Justin: We played a card game called cheat, which I had played before, but I had forgotten it. We had rented a big common meeting room, like a penthouse, where we could all go in. And it had a... A circular card table and yeah, there's a game called cheat where you have to basically lie to each other.

That was fun to see everyone's different lying technique. Helen was like doing something shady on her side. She had like a system.

Jon: She was an experienced player.

Helen: It didn't work though! I only won one game. So I think Jason was the cheat winner there.

Justin: That's right. Jason ended up winning a lot of those cheat games.

Jason: Yeah, I'm good at cheating.

Justin: Everybody has a look when somebody calls them on cheating and they have cheated. Everyone has a look. Getting to see everyone's little look was fun. Like Jon's little smirk; really, everyone basically has a smirk when they're caught. That was one of my highlights too.

We played card games and we played some Jackbox games on the Nintendo Switch. Yeah, I think just the simple stuff sometimes is the best time. You do get to know people quite well when you're playing cards.

Jon: We had to engineer some HDMI and USB-C dongles together to actually get the Switch to work.

Jason: Yeah.

Helen: We have a photo of that somewhere as well.

Justin: That was funny, too. Yeah, we had, we had the switch, but we needed to dock it, but there was no, no outlet. And so Jason got it to work with piles of pillows, multiple cables, HDMI cables and power cables stretched to the limit so that we could play.

Jon: It definitely looked like a fire hazard.

Justin: It was fun hearing people laugh like laughing together. I'm also thinking of we went out to Grand Ole Opry, but there's a stand up comedian and Josh you were just losing it behind beside me you were laughing so hard at that that stand up comedian. He was really funny.

Josh: He was hilarious

Justin: Just laughing with folks is a highlight. When we're at home, we chuckle in our weekly team meeting, but all out laughing... that happens at team retreats. Anyone else? Jason, do you have any highlights?

Jason: Yeah. I mean, I agree with the game stuff.

That was pretty fun. With Grand Ole Opry, I didn't know what to expect. I've, I've like heard it mentioned, um, but it was, um, it was pretty cool. It's like a variety show almost. I, I had no idea, so that was pretty cool seeing that everybody, everybody there was very serious. It was a very serious audience.

Justin: Yeah. Well, except those crazy Canadians that kept screaming out during Keith Urban.

Jason: That's right.

Jon: Those rowdy, rowdy Canadians. Yeah, right. They had too many Molsons.

Justin: I was surprised too, because I didn't know what to expect. But yeah, the show was so well put together, like they've been doing that show since 1925. And you could just tell, they know how to put on a good show night after night.

Jon: Yeah, that was, that was recorded for radio too, so I guess. Maybe you can hear us cheering.

Justin: Yeah. Yeah, you might you might if you listen closely to that episode

Jon: Or or groaning at the one guy.

Justin: Oh, yeah. Yeah, there's well you guys didn't like him I I have been singing that song non stop That that song by Michael Ray became kind of an inside joke for us Cause he's got, he's got a few lines that we ended up, uh, referencing a few times.

Still got too much Kentucky in my Tennessee, but I'm working on it. That became a little inside joke for us.

Michael Ray singing: Still got too much Kentucky in my Tennessee. My wild side might be the end of me.

Helen: There's such catchy tunes that you can't help but keep singing it for weeks afterwards, so.

Justin: Even the bad country. Even the bad country.

Jon: Most of it was good country though. I was that was I was pleasantly surprised. I also didn't know what to expect. That was that was a lot of fun

Justin: Yeah, Josh, how about you? You're a music guy Was there any highlights from Grand Ole Opry or the the music you saw that seemed especially great?

Josh: I was that yeah, I was actually gonna say the the food was oh, yeah highlight which I talk about the food.

I wasn't It was like everywhere we went, the food was just fantastic. It's like, and the coffee too, I mean, I, I, uh, I think I got like a shirt or a hat from like every coffee shop in Nashville, which didn't seem like it was going to be a lot at first. Cause like, usually like most cities usually have like, you know, a few good coffee shops, but, but, uh, yeah, Nashville, I was, uh, there was like almost every block there was like a really good third wave.

Uh, coffee shop. Um, so yeah, that, that was, uh, that was cool. But yeah, the music, the music was, um, incredible. Like, I've been there once before. And it, it wasn't nearly that great, like on that mainstrip of Broadway, there weren't that many bands playing this time. What was it like, uh, there's probably like 20 or 30 bands at any given

Justin: I've, I've tried, see, I've tried to explain this to other people too.

So Broadway is the main, it's the mainstrip downtown Nashville. And the best way to describe it is, is kind of like, uh, Times Square in New York or um, What's the mainstrip in, uh

Jon: You mean in Bourbon street?

Justin: Bourbon Street. Yeah, that's what I'm thinking of. So it's just crazy. And I, this is probably not the most, uh, it felt like a red light district for music because you're just like walking down this main strip and there's just open windows with bands playing all along.

And they're basically playing cover songs trying to get you to come inside each bar, right?

Jon: And each bar has multiple floors, each with a different band.

Justin: Yeah. Like that, that honky tonk. What's it called? Honky tonk central. We went to like, Oh yeah. Every floor had a different band. And like, we'd go up and I'm, I'm like into music, but Josh, you're a musician.

So you were always like, like just losing your shit over some of these bands. Like that one guy was, was doing slide guitar with a beer bottle, which, Oh yeah. Which you is it really hard to do?

Josh: Oh, it's really, it's really hard to learn slide like with a regular, you know, uh, with a regular, um, sliding tool or whatever they're, I'm not sure what they're called, but.

Yeah, that was incredible. I, that part was like, that part was insane to me, was just like, there's just so many musicians. You start to kind of go like, uh, like, uh, like if you're just comparing them to each other, it just seems like, Oh yeah, this one, this guy's okay. You know, but it's, they're all world class musicians.

And then you like go to the Grand Ole Opry and there was like some of these, some of the people that got up there. We're in their 40s and 50s and they had just been, like, added to that, you know, the Grand Ole Opry family. It's like, there's all these people, like, hundreds and hundreds of these, like, fantastic musicians that are just there, like,

Justin: Working on a dream.

Josh: Working their butt off, trying to, yeah. It's pretty, pretty incredible. And if it, and apparently if it doesn't work out, they go and start fantastic restaurants and coffee shops. That's what I've, observed.

And do something else really creative.

Justin: Yeah. There was that one, who was that one guy that was, uh, I'm just looking for his name now. I've actually listened to him a few times since Grand Old Opry, but he was, his story was so compelling because he'd been working his whole life to get on that stage and we got to see him up there the first time.

It kind of showed like, cause we are in the. entertainment business. Uh, like podcasting is an entertainment form. And for me, it was just wild to see all of these performers in a different discipline. They're in music and just to make analogs to podcasting. Like, the, how you, how do you stick out when you're just one band on Broadway and there's like whatever 30 other bands playing that night, uh, the idea of like working really hard at something and getting really good at it and that's still not being enough.

Like you, that's, that's like necessary, but not sufficient to make it. And then, uh, and just how some of these stages are, end up being so important, like if you, if you're an independent artist and you get on the Grand Ole Opry stage, that's like, that could be your ticket. That, that might be the, the break that you need to get a bunch of people listening to you and, uh, you know, touring, touring more often and getting more fans and all that.

So yeah, that was, that was interesting for me to think about. All that while we're there around so many performers. In Montreal that.. It's... just Montreal was where we went the year previous and It's just a different city, but this was such a performance town. Everybody there is like trying to make it, you know

Josh: Yeah, yeah.

Helen: Yeah, these guys please play for hours as well. We like Walk past a bar and then come back past again several hours later, the same musician that's been playing for hours and hours. So they clearly put in their, um, reps in and playing every night for multiple hours at a time.

Jon: Yeah, it is really wild. It is hard to, it is hard to explain to people.

I think it's like the first time we walked down Broadway, it was just like a cacophony of you hear, you hear all the music at once and you're like, how do I even decide what to play or what to listen to? Uh, a friend of mine that used to live there describes it as Nash Vegas. Which seems appropriate.

Justin: Yeah, it's also kind of like the strip in, in Vegas.

Yeah, it's just pandemonium and lots of bachelorettes and just lots of people there to party. And uh, you know, it's, it's an interesting place. What about you, Jon? What were some of the highlights for you?

Jon: Yeah. I mean, similar to Helen, it's just hanging out with everyone in person and we don't get to do it often enough.

Well, just getting to know each other a little better every time we hang out in person is always always a fun thing and getting to spend, you know, some focused time talking about the company itself and where it's headed and how we want to work together and what the, you know, what the next year looks like.

I think those were definitely the highlights.

Justin: Yeah. If anything, every time we had this feeling last year too, um, it's, it's hard to make it happen, right? It's hard. It took a while for us to plan this, uh, this retreat and, uh, it takes extra time out of our regular schedule. Um, we have to pick a venue, we have to book the hotels, we have to book flights, and then we have to basically leave our homes for a week, which is a pretty big ask, you know, like it's, it costs something to be there. Uh, on the other hand, it feels like, man, you could almost do it twice, right? Uh, just because being together is so uh, special. And I think working on the internet, the same disconnection we see in the culture at large, like people, you know, just barking at each other on Twitter and everything that does also extend to teams too.

You know, it's just like when all we're doing is chatting to each other on slack and then we have one. Meeting a week, that's like a video call like this, all of the moments, those little moments that you would normally get in an office where you're getting coffee together, or you're talking by the water cooler, like all of those memes about office life, there's disadvantages to office life, but there are some advantages and you really get a sense of that when you're together. You get the sense of like, oh, wow, like you get all these little pieces of people and I think it I think in a way technology does kind of dehumanize us in a way and then when we're together, it's like It's a humanizing experience just to be, uh, together with each other.

Jon: Definitely.

Justin: My highlight, well, one of my highlights was, I've always wanted us to do a photo shoot and this year we made it happen. We, we went on, I should get the name of this, is it just called Photo Walk Nashville? Photo Walk Nashville.

Josh: Yeah, I think so.

Justin: And, uh, I think most of their business is just doing bachelorettes, uh, and she said she gets some teams, but I think it's, that's the minority.

This we showed up not knowing what to expect and basically a bunch of repressed nerds showing up for this photo shoot and we, we get there and there's the first thing I didn't realize she would have this, but we show up at a makeup store, right? And the. There were two, like, photo booths inside the makeup store, that's how we started this photo shoot.

One was like this futuristic neon thing, and the other was the Taylor Swift room. Oh, and then there was a flower wall, there was three things. And... This whole experience was just a riot to me just that getting us all in she would like pose us and then you know kind of chide us to smile and and do different poses and I just thought it was hilarious the whole thing and something I think we'll always remember.

It was an experience in of itself to You know, have her take us to all these places and then she took us to all these places in Nashville, all these famous murals and stuff that we posed up against. So, that was, that was pretty fun for me.

Jon: It was fun. Got a nice, nice tour of one of the newer neighborhoods, I think.

Justin: Yeah, yeah.


Jon: think it was, right?

Justin: Yeah, the neighborhood was really cool. It had just been kind of redeveloped. Um, and we got all these great photos of, uh, Of us in like, yeah, I think the Taylor Swift room was my favorite. She was like, uh, she was like, how many of you want to get into the Taylor Swift room?

Helen: We were all like, yes, we will.

Justin: Yes. Yeah.

Josh: Yeah. The whole thing kind of felt like, uh, it reminded me of Silicon Valley, that the TV show, when it was like one of the early episodes where they're showing, uh, somebody was having a party and they had Kid Rock playing and it was just like, This really weird kind of like, uh, context for, for that, you know, it, it just sort of felt like, uh, it felt like that.

It's like we're a tech company and it was like the, it was like, it was almost more appropriate that it would be more awkward just because of how it was just, yeah, I just thought that was fun. I really enjoyed it. It was, it was great.

Justin: She was like: "okay guys. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. Josh, work it, work it. Good. Jason, come on, come on.

Put your hand on your hip". It was, it was hilarious. Yeah. And she took us all over and, and we got all these great photos now too.

Helen: Yeah. We all warmed up to it by the end, by the end of the session, we were all professionals by the end.

Justin: Professional, uh, professional models by the end. Yeah, I would actually really recommend this if I think I'd like to do it again.

Um, if you can find a photographer in the city you're going to with your team retreat or um, or if these photo walks are a thing and other places where someone just kind of tours you around, you get to see some of the city. She tried to point out like interesting things about the city and then recommend different places we could go after.

And now we have all of. Everybody got headshots done in various places. We have all these really fun, uh, team photos. And it was also nice having someone else direct us. I think, uh, you know, that's, that's not something normally you get. I think for in Montreal, we convinced someone to take a photo of us and, uh, it turned out fine, but it was nice having all these, we've just got all of these photos that once I get all of your approval, we can use in marketing, social media, all these, all these things.

I'll try to, maybe I'll put some of these in our, uh, We'll have, our episode art will be an approved photo from, from the photo shoot. Any other highlights that you think we should, uh, bring up or other, other things that were significant that, uh, we haven't, we haven't mentioned yet?

Jon: I think Justin's fear of birds.

Josh: Oh, that was fantastic. I'll make sure I get a clip of that, uh, to, uh, for the, for this episode.

Jon: I've known Justin for a long time. I had no idea that he is just terrified of birds.

Justin: I don't like birds. They're like little demons. They're little evolutionary demons that have just persisted. Who do you think killed the dinosaurs off?

Do you think it's any accident that the only things that remain from that time are birds? It's gonna happen. They're just plotting their, their next move. And there, there were some crazy birds there. That, that, there was like just trees filled with these little demons. And then all of a sudden, a bunch of them flew over me.

And uh, Josh has it on video. We'll get Chris to put it in. Yeah.

Helen: I also, um, I bought a, um, like a screen print of a poster. And it does have a bird on just to remind me of our time in Nashville and your screen. So,

Josh: awesome.

Justin: That's great. That's just, that's just great.

We can briefly describe our schedule because I think folks always want to know kind of how we, how do we do these retreats? How much do we work together? Um, I think there's a, there's a tension here, which is. We, you want to get a little bit of work done when you're on these retreats, but, um, too much and you kind of miss out on all of those little moments we just described.

You get those moments when you're not staring at a screen. You get them when you're kind of out experiencing life or sitting down and playing games together or going to a nice restaurant. Our schedule is pretty similar to Montreal. The one difference is we had one less day this year. Uh, last year we flew in on a Sunday.

And then we flew out on Friday, uh, most of us did anyway. And this year we all flew in on Monday and then flew out on Friday. So Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday were kind of our full days together. And then, um, we kind of had evenings and mornings, um, Monday and Friday. But generally we would wake up 9 a. m. ish, um, meet at the penthouse suite, kind of 10 a.

m., 11 a. m. ish, work together for a little bit, have a group discussion for one to two hours, have lunch, go out, walk, explore, nap, go for a run, work out. And then we often, I think every night we went for dinner together. Is that? Is that right? Yeah. Yeah. We always went for dinner together. Yeah. Uh, we also often had lunch together, and then there would be an evening activity where we would either go to the grand old Opry or just go out, hang out, explore the city, uh, together.

So that's kind of the, the general schedule. Um, Any comments on that? Like, what, how did you guys feel about the, the schedule? I kind of missed having the extra day, but I also liked that we weren't gone as long.

Jon: I thought, yeah, I think, I think it worked out pretty well. I think the one thing I noticed in the difference from Montreal, it seemed like we did less "work" work.

Like I feel like in Montreal, we would, we'd kind of meet up in the morning and we'd be doing like a little bit of work as in like sitting at a computer coding or doing customer support or whatever. It seems like we didn't do that, which isn't really a bad thing, but, um, there's like a, there's like a tension where you're taking time off to hang out with everyone, but you're not doing work.

And so you're like, I don't know, there's like a little bit of stress involved. To some extent to where you're like, Oh, I'm falling behind or that I'm missing something or whatever. But, um, maybe that was just me, but I think it worked out pretty well.

Josh: I, that's where I was. Um, I went to, WeWork every morning.

That was like a couple hours in every morning, which was, uh, which was nice. They had, have like a really good view at the location there, but I, uh, yeah, I think otherwise. Like, it felt like it went by really quick, uh, because the, the planning sessions were really good and it, and it, but it was like, oh yeah, I guess we only had like, we only had three, like, because there was, because of the way that it, and they were, and I think they were, like, really effective, which was, and yeah, I realized that after, I think, but, but it, but it was nice, I think the, Having some free time to kind of unwind in the afternoon was really helpful.

I think the only other retreat that I've been on like this was it was years ago, but there was like a More of the group were extroverts. And so it was just like it was just like go pretty much all day long every day and And those, those can be a little bit tricky, so it was nice that, uh, it really felt like a balance, kind of, um, I didn't come back, like, didn't come home, like, exhausted, you know?

Yeah. Like, it was like, we did a lot, but it was, it was nice that there was some, some balance there. Yeah, yeah.

Justin: Any, Helen, Jason, any thoughts on the, the schedule?

Helen: Yeah, I think it worked well. I think with me coming from a different time zone, I was kind of naturally kind of waking up a little bit earlier. So I felt like I was able to get a few things done before we were able to meet up in the morning.

Um, which was kind of nice to feel like there was something done in the day before we were discussing, um, the year as a whole or what we're going to do next and the next quarter. So. I think it worked well and we, then we kind of just sort of naturally, um, moved on to lunch and we still discuss things over lunch, you know, you can still have a kind of a productive time just being in the same room, talking about things and carrying on the conversation that we started earlier in the morning, uh, in front of our laptops.

And then we carry that through to lunchtime and I think ideas come out a little bit better when you've got that kind of freedom to mull things over rather than having to come up with our answers and suggestions within a particular hour. It kind of bled throughout the entire day really.

Justin: Yeah, that's a good point.

That's the other disadvantage of remote work is that you have like typically set meeting times where it's like, okay, every Thursday we meet and we have a schedule, but it can't last too long. Basically everything in remote work has to be scheduled. You have to say, even if it's just like, Hey, do you want to jump on a call right now?

It's still like, okay, we're, we're, we're, we're doing this thing. That's a little bit un-organic, you know, it's, it's still feels like this time box thing. Like we're going to be on a zoom call for a little bit. And yeah. When you're on those retreats and you're just walking around, Jason, you're really good at this, you bring up things while we're walking around like, what about this?

And we should think about this. And, uh, ideas do you kind of come out more organically, when you're just spending time together.

Jason: Or when you have an old fashioned.

Justin: Or when you have an old fashioned. Okay, let's briefly talk about booze. Because I definitely had too much Kentucky in my Tennessee. I, the last night, I think we, I think we need to, well, I at least need to modify my approach next year.

Friday night became a bit of a debacle for myself. And I think everybody was feeling it Saturday, but I was really bad. Friday, we had a good time. Right. So

Jon: Thursday!

Justin: Thursday, Thursday, we had a good time. So Thursday. We woke up, we went on that, we had brunch or something together, I think, and then we went on the photo walk, right?

And then after the photo walk, we had already booked this amazing restaurant for 5 o'clock, so we knew we had an early dinner, and we thought, okay, well, we got, Some time. Why don't we go? There's all these beautiful rooftop patios. So we went to rooftop patio We had a few drinks there. Then we went for that amazing dinner that place husk that was I mean we had two kind of amazing memorable meals there and that was that one was incredible.

Um Just, I think we can all agree. Was that, that would have probably been, was that your favorite of the two, Jason, or did you like the other place better?

Jason: Um, I liked the other place a bit better. Um, Husk was awesome. Yeah.

Jon: They're both great.

Jason: One Kitchen was the other one?

Josh: Yeah. Kitchen one or one. Yeah.

Justin: One kitchen was the other place we went. Anyway, we went to Husk and it was, again, incredible. We had, and they have, Incredible drinks and so we did that and then we were like trying to decide what we wanted to do because it was still early And I don't even know how we ended up at that tiki bar, but I think the tiki bar was where Was mistake number one

Jon: Tiki bars seem to be usually a mistake

Justin: Yeah, maybe we just need a blanket policy.

No more tiki bars.

Josh: Oh, man. I now i'm remembering all this Cause that, cause that was the, and then the waitress suggested a place on the strip. So we went back to Broadway after that.

Justin: Then we went to like a honky tonk and listened to music. Now if you look at the photos, we are having the best time. Like we are all hanging out.

We are all listening to country music. Uh, you know, it's, it's a good time. After the honky tonk, then we, we had, we'd gone to a few speakeasies, speakeasies in Montreal and we thought, oh, maybe we should go to speakeasy. And then I think that was mistake number two was going to that speakeasy after.

Jon: That place was strange.

Josh: Yeah, the Shining.

Helen: That was a creepy bar that one was.

Josh: That was awesome.

Justin: There was like a Shining themed speakeasy in the basement of this hotel and uh, we did not need to be there.

Jon: Next year, next year we, we hand out, we hand out drink tokens to everyone and you only get so many during the week.

Justin: Yeah.

Jon: You can spend them however you want.

But that's it.

Josh: I'm glad I had a burger at the,

Justin: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Josh: At the, at Robert's? Was that, yeah, Robert's. Yeah.

Jason: Yeah, that was smart.

Josh: I'm really thankful for that.

Justin: Yeah, that might have saved you, man. That was like, uh, anyway, I, I, I woke up the next day and we're all texting and I think Jason's the one first one to make in that that joke of too much Kentucky in my Tennessee, but I'm working on it because we were all not feeling great, right?

We're I mean, Helen, you were you were you had been more restrained. I think you were doing okay.

Helen: Yeah, you guys started at 3 p. m. Yeah, I waited until 5 p. m. So you guys picked a little bit a It's a little bit early.

Josh: I think I did wait too, yeah.

Justin: Yes. Um, I woke up and I felt, I went through the whole night feeling fine and then as soon as I got out of bed I was just basically sick.

And I was sick that whole day. I was supposed to have a flight out that day. I had to reschedule it. It was not fun. And I do not want to repeat that ever again.

Jon: You have learned your lesson.

Justin: I don't even know if I can drink, ever since that I have, even the thought of booze just makes me, Oh, I can't even do it.

Josh: After the podcast movement trip, I, uh, I, I realized the value of, uh, just like, I think I had. Either a Gatorade or a water, uh, basically like on me, basically the entire trip in Nashville to that helped a lot because, yeah, that was the

Justin: electrolytes is the key

Josh: one of the learnings from Denver. Right. Yeah.

Justin: There is a broader discussion here about booze at company events in general.

And I think it is something we in general want to be careful about. Um, I, I definitely, we, we, we were having a good time, but, uh, Yeah, some, some guardrails would be nice for, uh. Oh, the other thing is we had a keg in our penthouse, which, which just meant there was like kind of beers kind of always around.


Josh: But I think for the most part throughout the week, everybody was pretty, like. There was really just the first night and the last night where there was, there was a bit more, but, uh, but yeah, yeah, it was, and

Justin: I mean, it is what we did have last night was big. Sometimes it's nice to have a good time. Just not too much of a good time.

Okay. So that's, that's booze, that schedule. And I wonder if we have any advice for ourselves for next time ideas for next time. And any other tips we would give other teams that are, uh, thinking about doing a retreat. So anything we want to improve for next time? Any tips, um, we can do for, uh, other teams?

Jon: Yeah, I don't know. I think maybe the only thing I could think of about, like, things to improve or tips. Um, we didn't, I don't think we went as in depth on some stuff as we did last year. Like as far as planning goes, like we planned, we planned like broadly what we want to do, but we didn't really go too in detail.

And like, there's only so many times you can get together in person and really discuss stuff and kind of get down to the nitty gritty and maybe having one last day affected that. Um, but maybe having a kind of a better sense before you get there about what to talk about and what to plan like we, we knew we wanted to plan the next quarter, but possibly having that stuff determined before you come so we could kind of get.

Maybe into more detail about some of the features that we want to build and, and things like that, um, might be good. And we did talk a lot about, you know, maybe we adapt our, our weekly meetings to be more product focused and, and plan things out more regularly because we don't do a. We don't do that particularly very often, it's like actually planning features out all together.

Um, but I think, I think there's something to be said for talking more about those things in person.

Justin: Yeah, I agree. Yeah. And it almost felt like it having that extra day, that's the, that's the challenging part because on one hand it felt great to ask people to be gone from home for too long, but flying in on a Sunday and having four whole days, um.

I think it's nice to just give us more time, but we were pretty, this year we were definitely a little bit, you're right, like we had more, uh, less time like planning and working together than we had previous, and we could probably build more of that and be more intentional about it. Jason, Helen, Josh, any other, I should just go one person at a time, Jason?

Jason: Um, yeah, I'm pretty much with, with Jon, um, just a little bit. Maybe more formalized, um, schedule for the planning sessions.

Justin: And uh, Helen, Josh, I'm sorry, Helen?

Helen: Yeah, I think, uh, for retreats, the city that you pick makes a big difference, so um, the quieter the city, the probably more productive the team will be.

The more fun the city, the more the team will feel like they want to kind of go and. not miss out on things and experience, um, the place, um, and what it has to offer. Uh, I think what was really helpful for us, we kind of collectively made a list of things that we would like to do before we went. So, especially if you go into somewhere that there isn't a particular person from the team that knows it well, um, it's useful to have everybody's input on the things that they would like to see and make sure it kind of, uh, the trip.

Is kind of catered to, you know, everybody's interests really, which I think we did really well.

Justin: Yeah, I think that's a good point the the Uh, the city you pick matters a lot and one, one bit of feedback I got from somebody on Twitter I think is we've, we've, uh, we've only done this twice, but we, we tried to pick great cities that, you know, had lots to do, but, um, we tried to pick uh, a midway point between basically the UK and BC and then Illinois, uh, us and BC and then Helen, UK kind of fly about the same amount of time. And then Jason and Jon had a quick, uh, a quick jaunt. And that's a good way to do doing that. There's a tool I can put in the, uh, in the, uh, show notes, uh, uh, location finder, discover the optimal location to meet with your remote team.

And you can have put in everybody's original city and. Um, they'll figure out kind of a, a range of places you can meet. The other idea is that just going somewhere really amazing, um, you know, some teams always choose somewhere tropical just because it's beautiful and, um, it's, it's worth, you know, going somewhere that's just, beautiful and gorgeous and has nice beaches.

Um, other teams have chosen what we've done, kind of cultural hubs, like Montreal, New York, um, Paris. I've, I've heard of teams going there too. The activities that you do, it's like, it's fun doing some things that are memorable, like Grand Ole Opry. But I think also just thinking like, we had An incredible time, as we mentioned, playing cards, playing games, um, and I think that night where we, we drank too much, uh, if we'd gone bowling or to the arcade, that might have been a better choice than the tiki bar.

Um, so even just doing simple activities, um, it, it's not like you have to do something crazy and, you know, go to the, the, uh, an exciting show every night or whatever. Sometimes just saying we're just going to sit around and, uh, play some games, play some cards, watch a movie. Um, movie's not as good because you're just all watching, but I think you can have simple activities that

Jason: I'd be fine making. I'd be fine making bowling a standard, just a standard activity.

Josh: Yeah,

that was great. Uh, the escape room would have been awesome too, just to see how everybody does. Under pressure and like working together on it. That would have been.

Justin: Yeah, we've done escape rooms at microconf and that ended up being a big hit just because it is Yeah, you get to see more of people's personalities again when you're all doing an activity like that I

Josh: I think that having that having that one room where we could all Like it was basically just that we just left it open and everybody would just like wander in throughout the day, um, just to be able to like, just sit and chat randomly and stuff.

And then of course, where we had the sessions and everything that was really nice, that would have been really, I can imagine like. Without that, having to like, go somewhere else, like off, you know, somewhere outside of the hotel and find a place to like, either do it just like at restaurants and hope that it works out, you know, um, or actually have somewhere you'd have to go separately would have been, uh, yeah, far less convenient.

So that was, I definitely think that that was, um, something that I'd highly recommend for, for other companies.

Justin: And this is a, this is interesting because. We could choose somewhere that's, uh, less, um, exciting in terms of culture and events and restaurants and everything. And, uh, for example, I know some teams that have just gone to the mountains and they've just rented a big place.

And there are a few things to do in the... The place you're staying like, you know, maybe there's a pool table and cards and board games and then the outings end up being like a hike and so it's, um, you know, less going out on the town and more just like, Hey, we're gonna today we're going to do this hike in the afternoon and then in the evening we'll have, uh, uh, I've been on a retreat where we hired a chef and then the chef just came in and, uh, You know, cooked at the place we were renting.

So that could, that could work well as well, just to, uh, it would be a totally different feel, but I think that could be equally as good. Just to have, uh, it simplifies some things, you know,

Jason: yeah, I think that'd be awesome.

Justin: Uh, anything else? Uh, any other tips or advice we would give to other teams doing remote retreats or other ideas we want to think about for next year?

Helen: I think we need to come up with a system of how we pick where we go next.

Justin: Yes.

Jon: Yeah.

Justin: Yeah. Yeah. And. Again, it doesn't always have to be, I think, uh, "meet in the middle." Meet in the middle is nice, but I think, uh, there are other ideas of, uh, like, we could do one in Europe, for example. We could do one somewhere tropical.

We could do somewhere mountainous. Um, there's other ideas there that I think could work, could work well.

Josh: Yeah, I liked the, the idea of a, um... Going somewhere like Europe where there's more, uh, options for train, like, to do, to be able to get on a train and have like a few hours or whatever, uh, where we can actually be working on something while we're going somewhere too.

Justin: Yeah. Oh, I love trains. Would be kind of cool. I'm all, I'm all for that.

Jon: Give Helen the hour flight instead of...

Justin: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Jason and I. Yeah. Give Helen the, the shorter flight. Cool. It is invaluable. It was, it was really nice being with everybody. And again, I think we had this sense when we're there together, um, that it did feel like I, I got to look at everybody and just be like, it's amazing that we get to do this.

Like, I just feel fortunate to work with such great people. And the fact that we get to work on this great product and the fact that we have amazing customers. Um, that's the other thing we didn't do this year that I kind of missed was, uh, last year, Helen and I went and met with some customers and that was, uh, one of my highlights from Montreal.

I just didn't make it happen in Nashville. We just looked up who's kind of around and, and, uh, organize some of that, but. Um, yeah, I just felt really fortunate to be there. I think we all had that sense, hey? Just, it was just nice being together and felt, it felt great.

Josh: Mm hmm.

Jon: Yeah.

Helen: Yeah. I think, uh, 51 weeks of the year, we kind of very much head down doing work in the most kind of efficient way we can as a small team.

And I think this kind of week is like, A culmination of all the celebrations and things that we don't necessarily get to do, whether it's people's birthdays or holidays or just milestones within the company, that it's nice to kind of get to do that, even if it is condensed into one week. Um, and I think, um, yeah, I think the rest of the year we, we kind of work efficiently as we can and, um, then it's nice to get to see people in person to celebrate what we've achieved the prior, prior year.

Justin: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. And maybe we, we could be even more intentional about that. about celebrating milestones. If we're meeting once a year, that's the time to celebrate the number of years, uh, different team members have been on the team, uh, things that we've released, uh, other milestones, um, that, uh, we could celebrate sometimes just being intentional about those things and even just naming them in a group can be really helpful.

All right, everyone. Thanks for being here. And, uh, Jon, why don't we take this opportunity to thank our Patreon supporters?

Jon: Yeah. Thanks as always to our Patreon supporters for helping us out. We have:

Pascal from
Greg Park
Mitchell Davis from
Marcel Fahle,
Ethan Gunderson
Bill Condo (@mavrck)
Ward from
Russell Brown from
Evandro Sasse
Austin Loveless
Michael Sitver
Dan Buda
Colin Gray
Dave Giunta

Justin: Giunta! That would be, that would also be fun to get some of our long running Patreon supporters Out to the next one. We gotta have a Giunta fly in, Dan Buda fly in. If we do it in the UK, we can hang out with Colin Gray. He's technically a competitor. He's still supporting this show on Patreon. Thanks, Colin. Oh, yeah. Michael Sitver's been around for a long time. Austin Loveless. Evandro Sasse. Russell Brown. A lot of these people have been around a long time.

Uh, yeah, well, maybe that's how we do it. Choose our next, uh, retreat location. And we just, uh, where's Giunta live these days? Can we, can we expose that on the show? Near Chicago. Oh, I guess Chicago. There we go. We'll just, uh, we'll just do our next one in Chicago. There you go. All right. Thanks everyone. We'll see you next time we release the show.

Nashville team retreat: scary birds, country music, and a photo shoot
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