So… I went to Hot Springs…and Left a Better Person

Our company and particularly our store leaders are drivers.  By that I mean they are driven.  Working until Midnight.  Starting at 5am.  Whatever it takes 24/7.  We’ve been so busy we haven’t even met, even a conference call, for well over 6 months.  Until we went to Hot Springs, NC.  Where CC’s tavern in Wayne WI, meets Door County, WI.  That’s the best way to describe it, even though probably only a few thousand people in the world know what I mean by that.  Country living meets Southern Hospitality.  And throw in the wandering souls doing the Appalachian Trail and that’s… Hot Springs.  (They got cell service 4 years ago.)


Anyways, our leaders at Drexel talk and stay in touch but never did we break bread or anything like that as it got in the way of the day to day needs of our customers and our team.

Never again.  We WILL take a once a year sabbatical, retreat, re-group, re-focus meeting of the minds off site and somewhat off the grid every year as long as I work here.  Simply must.

Why?  It’s kind of like not getting a good night’s sleep.  Sometimes you need to recharge the batteries and connect again.  And remember why you love your co-workers, your career, and well just life in general so much.

In fact a long term company goal is to own a re-treat center so more team members and customers can do this with us.

Why was it so good?  I will limit it to 10 reasons (I could go on forever but will pick the top 10.) This might help anyone entertaining this idea for their company.

1.  The guy.   Ken Wilbanks was perfect for our group.  An industry insider as well as a mentor and guide.  He led us perfectly where we needed to go.  He knew where we were coming from and led us into the unknown future.  Vee, a wonderful leader in her own right, complimented him extremely well in the process.   She is an industry OUTSIDER so the different perspectives on how to grow were perfect.

2.  We worked. (Remember we are driven men!)  8 hour shifts.  3 days.  Of training.  We would of craved even more.  For our group a QUICK and FOCUSED TRIP is perfect.  Some groups I am sure are more laid back.  Be sure to set the right pace for your group.  That’s important.


3. We played.  A little morning fishing.  Some quality time in the hot Springs.  Surrounded by nature.  The fishing was fly fishing.  It was outside our comfort zone.  I think an important element to grow with your team.  Good to do as a group.  Nature is good.    It’s good to RELAX AND CELEBRATE.  It’s needed in life.  And sadly we do forget to do it when we are so “driven” with goals and ideas.  A pause is good.  And moonshine and singing and all sorts of laughs.  I even did the Appalachian Trail.




4.  We took away small action plans.  Don’t take too many ideas away.  People run with too many ideas and choke on em.  Grab a few that you can do.  Makes you feel like you are accomplishing something to go to the next one.  Grab too many and do none and you fail.  And feel like you’ve failed.

5.  We took away big vision plans (3-5 years.) Everyone needs to be on the same page.  Especially leaders.  These sort of moderating trips do just that.  Every time I have done them.

6.  Make others empowered too.  We gave the leaders “left behind” a small reward and they embraced their role.

7.  The right people.  No one in attendance was “on the chopping block” or “didn’t fit in”.   If you have people like that 1) fire them before you go.  2) don’t take them and fire them before you go.   Yeah, I’m not joking.   If they just don’t fit in, fire them.  Life is short.  Hang out with people you like to hang out with.  Don’t expect them to change on a 3 day voyage.


8.  Make it off site but in sight.  Get off the grid but leave just a little time so everyone can check in.  No reason to have anxiety about being away from the world.  Make sure they have wifi!   Make it in sight.   Let your entire team know what you are up to.  Don’t hide it.  And make sure they know WHY you are doing it.   Explain.


9.  Take great notes.  You will forget 99% of what you learned.  Don’t let that fire you lit go out the second you get back into the office.

10.  Dont’ be a tourist.  Be a traveler.  Good general advice.  But try to do what the locals do.  You will learn a little local culture and your trip will be more memorable.  And you can see how your team treats others.  There is learning to be done there too.

View of the early morning from the "Smoky Mountains".  All who wander are not lost...

View of the early morning from the “Smoky Mountains”. All who wander are not lost…

– Joel Fleischman.  Joel is the president & Head Coach of the solution providers for Drexel Building Supply.  (   You can follow him on twitter:  @JoelmFleischman.  He has provided solutions for builders and their clients since 1996 and a whole bunch of other stuff that you probably don’t care about.

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