The boardroom. It’s a hallowed hall where careers are born and billion-dollar ideas are hatched. Companies are merged and acquired across the tables of these frequented rooms.
Of course, careers and dreams can end there, too. Those fateful words, “You’re fired!” were spoken in the boardroom on Donald Trump’s show, "The Apprentice," enough times to make an iconic impression.
As important as the boardroom is to your business, many leaders are discovering the benefits of taking their meetings elsewhere. As executive and entrepreneur, here are five reasons why I’ve chosen to vacate the boardroom in my business:
Spark creativity: When your company uses the same room for every meeting, team members stare at the same four walls, gaze out the same windows, and likely sit in the same chair week after week. For years, the surroundings never change. Same equals stale. If your business is looking for a hot new product or a mind-altering marketing idea, try changing the environment. Taking your meeting outdoors, or even renting a boardroom in a new environment can ignite the spark of creativity you need to excel.
Solve problems: I recently took my team to an “Escape the Room” experience in Atlanta. The goal was to follow clues, solve problems, and escape the room in 60 minutes or less. We found some of us hang back and assess the big picture, while others jump in headfirst to solve details. By the third and final segment, we had found a groove that had us working together as a team so well we almost made it out before the timer went off. When the whole group is working together to solve a problem, the bond lasts beyond the fun.
Improve morale: There’s nothing like fresh air or beautiful surroundings to brighten a person’s day. I took my entire company to Château Élan Winery and Resort for our annual staff retreat in 2013. In between sessions, we enjoyed a wine tasting, a tour of the winery and a walk through the vineyards. The ideas flowed like wine in ancient Rome when we got back into the reports and brainstorming sessions. Perhaps the venue is an art gallery for the designers or, if you’re in Atlanta like us, the Coca-Cola Museum for the marketing department. Taking your team outside of the cubicles and boardrooms can really chase away the doldrums.
Encourage camaraderie: Every summer, I rent a large pontoon boat and a couple of jet skis and the entire staff heads out to the lake. It’s become one of our favorite annual traditions. This is one event where the only work accomplished is loading the boat with food, pulling up the anchor, and staying safe. I serve as the captain so the staff can relax, drink beer, and get to know each other outside of the office. Assuming the role of captain also subtly reinforces my leadership. It’s amazing how workplace tensions dissolve and friendships are forged on that boat each year. When your co-workers feel like friends and family, the political dramas and water-cooler gossip disintegrate.
Expand horizons: My office building, vineyard, and home are all located on an eight-acre estate with a breathtaking view. When I am entertaining clients or business partners, I nearly always invite them to the highest point on my property to enjoy a glass of wine. It’s amazing how problems and details—which tend to stifle progress—are dwarfed by the scale of nature, and an infinite horizon. I also host my leadership team meetings there from time to time. The cool morning air and a strong cup of fresh coffee lifts the spirits and makes us feel like we can achieve anything.
In conclusion, I encourage companies to turn the lights out in the boardroom and take their staff on an adventure instead. Different surroundings spark creativity, improve morale, and expand horizons. And team building activities teach your staff how to work together to solve problems together and enjoy one another’s company.
Brandon Vallorani is a practiced entrepreneur and accomplished CEO. He founded an Inc. 5000 media conglomerate, which has been recognized by the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest growing privately owned businesses every year since 2012. Vallorani has now has shifted his focus to Vallorani Estates, a luxury brand of fresh-roasted coffee, wine, cigars and olive oil.
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