May 14, 2014

Visceral Vision Quest

Allegra Poggio • Production Director

Jay Buys • Chief Executive Officer

Two weeks ago, the Visceral team met in San Diego for three days. The purpose of the meetings was to get some client work done, stare in each others eyes (not via Google Hangouts but for real) and spend some time focusing on Visceral. We work diligently to give much of our attention to our clients.  That’s our business and we love it, but we know now that it is really important for us to be selfish every once in a while and focus on Visceral itself. So, we came together and did just that.

We had a few goals for our time together. Largely they were to review our financials, audit our processes to decide how we could improve, brainstorm creative solutions to some ongoing challenges we have and determine creative solutions to things we want to do in the future. Most importantly though, it was to spend time with each other. With two of us (Allegra and Matthew) working remotely outside of our San Diego office, the importance of this cannot be understated.

We wanted to meet to fulfill the desire we all have to continue to make Visceral as inspiring and awesome as a warm donut and a cup of coffee.  Or a sweet yoga class. Or just feel warm and cozy and blissful.

What we didn’t want to do was simply shoot the shit, play Pac-Man and then come out of three days feeling like we had good conversation but weren’t productive.

So, what did we do, what did we learn and were we successful?

What did we do?

We did many things over the three days including financial reviews, operational reviews and project work, but the most valuable and important exercise we did was a Visceral “Vision Quest”.

I know this sounds like a Space Odyssey adventure and it sort of was, but actually it was better. The purpose of the Vision Quest, led by our fearless Kevin, was to learn more about each other – personally and professionally – to continue to build up our trust for one another and be aware of our own personal visions in and outside of Visceral. Ultimately, the goal of doing this is to work better with one another, feel happy about our day-to-days and all, as Kevin put it, row in the same direction.

The Vision Quest included exercises like MindMapping where you have to write down tough things like your 3 most important values and your biggest fear and your 3 best skills.

The whole thing makes you feel vulnerable and like a wet noodle but,at the end, you learn a lot about each other and more about yourself.

I felt so much trust and clarity around how we are as individuals and as a team and how to better work with each other going forward. We are already seeing the benefits just one week out in some of the projects we are working on!

Some cool things I learned about my team – and this is not the deep stuff but just sort of neat is:

  • Matthew is a comic nerd
  • Allen was once kicked out of school
  • Jay got fired from his first real job after college (it’s a good story!)
  • Kevin has wisdom as one of his key values
  • Allegra’s biggest fear is not reaching her full potential

So, what were some of our key takeaways out of our meetings, strategy sessions, brainstorms and mind maps?

Thinking about the Bigger Picture

We spend a lot of time coaching our clients on how they can better tell their stories, ways to showcase their impact and use it to market themselves, and how to ultimately get more customers, clients, partners,  or donors. That has translated into great case studies and recognition in industry publications but when you spend all of your time helping others it’s often difficult to  help yourself. The cobbler’s children as they say, have no shoes.

2014 Goal: Spend more time improving Visceral’s process and services so that we can grow and offer even better service and value to all of our clients.

Remote Challenges

Visceral is still a small team and two of our most valuable members are outside of our sunny San Diego office.  The virtual nature of our working environment never interferes with our work as we’ve found tools like SmartSheet, Pipedrive and Google Hangouts that enable us to work across distance and time zones.  What we find however is that it can take a toll on our team spirit and camaraderie.  The more we actually spend time working together the more energized we feel.

2014 Goal: Online collaboration tools are great but aren’t always a substitute for in-person work.  More face-to-face meetings and working sessions in 2014. After all, who doesn’t want to visit us San Diego?

This is Fun

Work any job for 50 hours a week for the better part of a decade and a bit of tedium is bound to set in.  The goal is to find new ways to challenge ourselves and each other and to keep things fun and interesting.  By pushing people into new roles that will help them learn and grow, we can stave off the fatigue and keep things new and exciting.

2014 Goal: Continue to challenge ourselves and hold each other accountable.  Oh, and Remember to take a break and have fun doing some yoga, having lunch outside, or shooting a game of pool.

We work hard at Visceral.  Really hard. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the myriad deadlines we face each week and the countless stacks of post-it note “to do” lists that pile up on our desks.  It’s amazing how three days of being together and stepping away from the day-to-day work can revitalize, refresh and remind us why we do this in the first place. If you need a reset, we hope our experience in our last meeting can you be your guide to setting up your own.

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