About a month ago, my team and I boarded planes in all our different cities around the country, plopped our fannies into first-class seats, and met in Scottsdale, Arizona, for three days of dreaming, belly laughing, relaxing, planning, spicy margarita drinking, and so much connecting, our hearts could hardly handle it.
It was an absolute dream, getting to hug and speak face to face with these gals I normally just talk business with on Slack and Zoom every week. Truth be told, until this year, my team has felt really small. I always thought, Oh, I have four employees. Nothing crazy.
But this year especially, it’s grown rapidly and organically, and more and more contractors have come into permanent positions on my team. To step back and realize we now legitimately have 10 people on the team — I mean, holy COW — it’s a little mind boggling. Not to mention, we span every time zone in the U.S. and are each in different stages of life, from motherhood to newly married and everything in between.
Before, it didn’t seem as necessary to come together with a smaller team. Everyone was sort of in their own lanes and knew their piece of this puzzle. But now we have SO many moving parts and so much collaboration happening every single day that it only felt natural to get the Team JK girls together to meet and squeeze one another in person… finally!
But what about the expenses?
When I decided to do this thing, I wanted it to be a seriously fun and rewarding treat for my team. I knew they were taking time away from their families, some of them away from other clients they work with. So it was a non-negotiable… We hit pretty MAJOR goals this year, and I wanted to honor each of their parts in it with first-class flights, a fun resort to stay at, and a spa treatment of their choice.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: But isn’t that EXPENSIVE AF, Jenna!? I know, it might be scary for a lot of people to invest in their teams in such a way. You might think, “Oh, but I could spend that money on my business!” But I can honestly say that investing in and making my team feel appreciated is going to pay off way more than buying new software or a new computer or a new camera. Already, the camaraderie and jointedness it’s created among us has completely shifted the team.
If you have a team, too, you don’t necessarily need to go all out in this sort of way. We’ve had a big year, and that’s in no small part because of my team. (Actually, it’s pretty majorly because of my team! With travel and maternity leave and motherhood, they’ve practically been driving this whole thing!) And so, I wanted to show them how much I appreciate them by hosting this retreat in the desert.
But even small, intentional acts of appreciation can go such a long way! If you’re in a different place in your business, even sending your team small notes of encouragement, a Starbucks e-giftcard as a pick-me-up, or a gift box on their birthdays can be sweet ways to show them that you’re invested in their progress and happiness.
The biggest shifts in our team energy + productivity
After the retreat, I’ve already noticed the synergy between the team has just absolutely been transformative. Getting to hug and talk about life and dream together in the same room, and not get so caught up in work details, was just plain incredible. It’s already making our connections and teamwork so much better and more energized.
I think with new team members trickling in all year, it was so good for them to get face time with each other to really understand all the moving parts of the business. We all have a handle on our own pieces of the business, but to see how it all comes together to create impact is a beautiful thing.
In the most amazing way, I so loved sitting back and hearing their ownership over my business. This investment that they’ve each shown is why I so often find myself calling it “our business” instead of just mine. Like, I literally would NOT be at this level without each of their expertise, passions, and gifts.
I was at an Aerie photo shoot recently talking about what’s going on in my world, and someone I was speaking with asked, “You keep saying ‘our business.’ What do you mean? Like you and Drew’s?” I just laughed and said absolutely not. It’s me and my girl squad in this thing together.
And in some ways, I think it helped my team being able to connect with me in person to understand my mission and vision the brand in a different way. Even seeing me with Conley (yep, she was obviously invited on this girls trip!) and seeing me relax helped to show them that I practice what I preach: Rest is so invaluable. Nothing is urgent. True connection is my priority. And let’s keep these wheels turning and dreaming big.
So, will we do it again?
I truly believe the expense for the retreat was minimal compared to what we’re getting out of it. I just wish we’d done it sooner, if I’m totally honest. And I’m looking forward to making it something consistent, where we come together to dream, where we talk about what’s going great, where we propose shifts within the team or who to hire next. (We may or may not have plans already to reconvene early next year…)
I just left feeling super awe-inspired and the most thankful for these women I’ve surrounded myself and this business with. Sometimes, when I think about impact, I think about all of our subscribers and listeners and followers and students. I often forget I grew a business that directly impacts 10 women, helps to fund their lives and support their families.
That’s almost even more mind-blowing to me than the hundreds of thousands of people I’ve touched through social media and online education. To think I’ve built something and learned to totally give up control in a beautiful way and build something bigger than myself is actually one of the coolest things I can think of.