Once a year, we bring everyone together to one of our company locations. This year, this was held in my home country: Mexico.
Last week, we had our third annual company retreat at Talkpush. This time it was held in beautiful Mexico City (where I live), so I thought I’d share a little bit of the behind-the-scenes, what went on, how this all came together, what we did and what we got out of it
You can’t buy trust… or can you?
At Talkpush, the annual company retreat has become an essential part of who we are as a company . For remote and truly global organizations, building a strong culture and making sure everyone gets the big picture is a huge challenge. Add different nationalities, time-zones and languages to that mix and you get a very real picture of our day to day life at Talkpush.
Being able to trust each other and to build strong bonds in order to do great work doesn’t happen overnight, and is much harder to materialize over a Skype call than over a tequila session. That’s why we believe that doing these retreats once a year is a worthwhile investment, even if it means spending thousands of dollars flying a large part of the team across the world for just a few days together.
United colors of Talkpushers
Talkpush is a company with almost 50 employees spread out globally and, as much as we’d love to have every single one be a part of the event, it’s not financially possible. What we’ve come up with is a series of performance and seniority points taken into account in order to decide the final team that’ll be attending. For this last retreat, we were 16 Talkpushers. Within that group, there were 8 different nationalities. Crazy, right? On the night before it all started, a few of us went to have dinner and drinks near the hotel and it was pretty amazing to realize that we were 5 people at the table, coming from 5 different countries. That’s only possible in a company that’s fully committed to going global, to looking for talent wherever it might be and bringing it all together. It’s just one of the things that makes Talkpush unique.
Why in Mexico?
We decided to have this year’s retreat in Mexico, which wasn’t cheap since we had to fly a big part of the team from Asia but Max (our CEO) felt it was important to fly everyone this side of the Pacific after having held our last two annual retreats in Asia, to reinforce the fact that the company is equally committed to every region.
For many of our Asian colleagues, it was their first time coming to Mexico. I was under serious pressure to make sure my native land didn’t disappoint!
Having the company retreat is an opportunity to spend time face-to-face during working meetings as well as have fun together as a team. We decided that we would kick off Monday by driving away from the city and into Valle de Bravo, a beautiful, historical town in the mountains by a lake just two hours away from Mexico City.
There, we had two days of intensive workshops, followed by nights out on the terrace, drinking tequila, enjoying the view and chatting away. Our workshops ranged from company culture, to internal communication practices to product roadmap and case studies from our latest clients. Each workshop was led by a different person or team, so everyone got to participate and understand each other’s perspective a little better.
On the third day, we took the whole day off to venture into nature and engage in some pretty badass activities, climbing trees, walking on a tight rope 5 meters in the air, that kind of stuff… These exercises were designed to get us thinking on communication in times of crisis, and ways to build trust faster with each other.
Coming back to Mexico City, it was fun to see our little office invaded by colleagues from all corners of the world and it felt unreal to walk around WeWork and see your co-workers from Hong Kong, the Philippines, Germany and Costa Rica spread out all over the building. Days of meetings, activities and group discussions followed by taco nights, lucha libre and tequila were a killer combo.
My top 3 takeaways?
Let me start by saying that everyone at Talkpush are super hard-working, genuinely nice people. Since day one, I’ve had co-workers offering help, sending friendly messages and being supportive whenever I’ve needed it. Aside from that, it’s hard to establish strong connections based entirely on exchanges on through Slack and Zoom video calls, especially when most of the team is in a different timezone. Living together for a whole week, getting to know each other outside of work activities, our relationships definitely grew stronger. Talking about family, friends and hobbies with your co-workers is something that people take for granted when you work a 9 to 5 in a regular office. As a distributed team, we don’t have that luxury, so we took full advantage of the opportunity. Small talk turned into meaningful conversations and into actual friendships. Trust and a sense of belonging is essential to create great work and I definitely feel we accomplished that. Team matters. Big time.
The very first day of our offsite, Hellen Fonseca, our Regional Director of Customer Success for the Americas, led a really interesting exercise about personalities and communication. Everyone did a test and we were divided into types of personalities to learn effective ways of communicating with different people. It was a real eye-opening dynamic that we of course used as an inside joke throughout the rest of the week.
During the offsite, I was paired up with Christina Adamidou, our Product Manager of Conversational Interfaces as a roommate. When we took the personality test we found out that we belong to two completely different, almost opposite personalities. Obviously we knew, at least to some extend, that we were very different people but the test showed us at polar opposites — much to our surprise. Pairing with someone so different was one of my personal highlights from the week. We had great talks, really got to know each other and I learned so much. Not just about her but about the way she approaches her job and, as a result, how I can get better at mine. Christina is from Cyprus and living in Manila, I’m from Cancun and living in Mexico City. We come from totally different backgrounds and cultures and that’s why this experience was so insightful.
Isn’t it a gem to live in this globalized, multi-cultural world? I wholeheartedly believe this is one of the key components that make Talkpush such a great company. Our product and services have the intel of an entire planet, a whole generation, a multi-cultural vision. I’m sorry peeps, you just can’t beat that 💅.
The right way is not always the easy way, everyone knows that. What most people miss though, is the opportunity behind the really tough choices. We don’t HAVE to hire people all over the world, but we do. We don’t HAVE to expand from Asia to the Americas, to Africa, but we do. We don’t HAVE to establish a half-remote work policy, but we do. We don’t HAVE to fly 10 people across the Pacific Ocean to have a company offsite, but we do.
All the experts will tell you that having 5 different time-zones is detrimental to our work. They will also say that it’s impossible to manage different cultures remotely. We’ve done all the “wrong” things. So why does it work? Why are we growing?
US. THE PEOPLE. THE TALKPUSHERS.
I had never worked in a company where people were so different from each other. There is no blueprint for how groups of people are assembled together. We hire the best people for the job, and geographic location is a secondary consideration (if considered at all). Instead, we look for a certain mindset from Talkpushers:
- Pioneering: You like technology and believe in building tech solutions at the service of the people.
- Data-driven: You care about metrics. If you can measure it, you can improve it. Numbers tell a story and help us reach a higher version of ourselves.
- Entrepreneurial: You hustle and adapt to your environment, and you do it quickly. You are pragmatic, pro-active and hands-on. We are doers and hold ourselves to a high standard.
If you’ve checked these three boxes, you’ll fit right in. We care about our work and believe in what we’re trying to accomplish. A conversational and candidate-centric recruitment experience isn’t going to build itself. We’re in an industry that has seen most of its innovations come in the last 10 years. It takes people like us to change that.
Alas, I’m happy to officially declare our 4th retreat the best one yet! I’m sure next one will take us to yet another destination, with an much expanded group of Talkpushers. If you’re interested in joining the adventure, please check out our job openings here or by talking to our bot on Facebook Messenger here or by writing to us on WhatsApp at: +1 (650) 281–2190.