A Recap: 2023 Online Optimism Retreat
Online Optimism hosted its third annual company-wide retreat in New Orleans. It being our second year bringing everyone to New Orleans, we were able to mix new activities with some of our favorites from last time. Time was spent learning about our teammates, bonding over shared meals, educating ourselves on issues in the community, singing our hearts out at karaoke, and setting our company up for success in the coming new year.
Read on to see what our latest retreat had in store for the Optimists.
Support Our Communities
As the out-of-towners finished settling into their hotels and those living in New Orleans excitedly shut their laptops for the week, the team began to prepare for our first meetup at a volunteer event.
The team came together to help CultureAid NOLA, a local no-barrier, no-stigma food bank, and pantry, to pack and distribute food to over 800 families. CultureAid was formed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure struggling families could feed themselves. Being a no-barrier and no-stigma food bank means no one will be turned away when asking for food. Recipients don’t need to provide bank statements or food stamps, be a church member, or show identification. CultureAid believes in making the food collection process simple and positive, so they bring in a DJ to blast uplifting music and encourage volunteers to smile, wave, and support each person who picks up food.
Starting a retreat with an event like this works well, as employees could talk and get to know one another through the experience while working together toward a common, feel-good goal.
If you want to volunteer with CultureAid NOLA, sign up for a shift today!
Keep it Human
After an evening of bonding over volunteering, axe throwing, and eating dinner with our departments, the team was ready for a morning of training and growing together.
Our training this year focused on DISC theory. Online Optimism uses this assessment as a tool for managers and Leadership to better understand our employees’ working styles. In their first week, an Optimist will complete the test to display their results on their internal bio page.
We used a variety of exercises to learn more about each DISC type, where we each fit in, and how we can work with each type to collaborate even better. In one exercise, we broke apart into groups based on our types and answered the following questions:
- What is one assumption one might make about you based on where you’re standing? Would that assumption be correct or incorrect?
- What advantages does your style bring to our team?
- What’s a challenge you have on this team that might be because of your style? How can teammates help you?
- How does your style work in a marketing context and your position specifically? Is there anything you’ve had to overcome?
Each group presented their answers, which helped highlight the different approaches we take to a task or problem and how we can communicate better moving forward. We hope this helps our team learn more about collaborating with their colleagues, especially newer Optimists.
To wrap up training, we divided our team into groups to create TikToks about our retreat. This activity gave everyone a chance to use our office space, enjoy brainstorming in person with teammates, and embrace a competitive spirit, all while learning about short-form content creation.
After learning more about our work styles and those of our coworkers, it was time to learn about an important topic that is relevant in all our communities and could even save a life: Naloxone Training. Our team became CPR certified at our last retreat, which we found practical and valuable outside work hours.
The opioid crisis and drug overdoses are no strangers to anyone living in the United States. Yet, most people aren’t educated on how to detect a drug overdose or how they can help to potentially save someone’s life in the event of one. We brought in Trystereo, a local harm reduction collective that affirms the dignity of people who use drugs, provides access to clean syringes and drug supplies, and educates the New Orleans community on how to be most helpful to people suffering from addiction.
We learned about the history of the opioid crisis, the Harm Reduction movement, how to detect an overdose and administer Naloxone, and what resources are offered in each city where our Optimists live. The presenters brought different types of Naloxone (nasal spray and syringe) and clean drug kits for us to see up close. We hope that our team now feels more confident in knowing how to help someone in need and how to discuss harm reduction with others.
Next came the big event: The OOies! Our team rushed back to their homes and hotels after a productive morning to get ready for our annual company party. As the time neared 6 pm, Optimist after Optimist arrived at The Bower, ready for a three-course menu and variety of artisanal holiday cocktails. Everyone was dressed to the 9s–we don’t play around when our personal style is on the line.
As we enjoyed the company of our coworkers, cocktail after cocktail, and course after course, Leadership would periodically make a speech and award an Optimist their OOie. Some were given recognition for their outstanding work with a client, others for the unique skills they bring to the team, and more for a specific project or achievement.
As our company party drew to a close, employees excitedly headed to Twelve Mile Limit for more socializing, celebrating, and to sing their hearts out at karaoke.
Build on Trust
After an exciting night of revelry, we deemed it best to start the final morning with employees enjoying breakfast from District Donuts while Flynn, our CEO, and Sam, our New Orleans Marketing Director, gave an annual State of the Agency presentation. They shared a review of our agency’s work, growth, accomplishments, and challenges so the team could see how far we had come in the previous year. At the end, company-wide goals were shared to give our team a clear pathway on how Online Optimism will continue working toward our Mission and Vision in the coming years. This gives our team a better understanding of our big-picture goals and hopefully motivates each of them to pitch in and help make them a reality.
Be Exceptionally Helpful
As about half our team works remotely, we took the opportunity to meet in groups to talk about our largest client accounts. Groups discussed what was going well and areas to improve in hopes of brainstorming innovative ideas that could possibly be implemented in future campaigns and accounts.
Next, departments grouped together to brainstorm how they want to see themselves grow in 2024. We gave our departments a poster board and set of markers so they could get creative with it and eventually present their vision to the team. To make this as useful as possible, we set goals based off this with each Department Director and will be tracking progress.
Work is Work, Not Life
To wrap up the retreat, we gathered around our office Christmas tree and opened our Secret Santa gifts, followed by gifts from Online Optimism. Employees enjoyed this final bonding experience and had fun showing off the candles, bottles of a favorite spirit, crafting kits, graphic tees, and other gifts they received.
We hope that by the end of our retreat, each Optimist felt a greater sense of camaraderie with their colleagues, a greater understanding of the New Orleans community, and a clearer understanding of our Mission, Vision, and Values. We’re excited to see how the retreat benefits our work for clients and our company culture as we enter 2024.
Bonus: Where Did We Eat?
Bonus: Department Pictures at the OOies
Design & Web Development
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