A Retreat? Hardly . . .

I know we call the Advisory Board Retreat a retreat, but it really isn’t in any sense of the word! We go to the home office (so we’re not leaving the workplace), and we involve as many people as possible so our new board members can put faces with names , and we have a jam-packed, two-day agenda that begins in the morning and goes into the evening (doesn’t retreat somehow imply rest and relaxation?).

And all of this after we’ve all spent the few days prior at the Founder’s Circle (another event with late nights), so I’d be shocked if everyone wasn’t feeling a little tired today (I know I am, but it’s a good tired!).

That said, this annual retreat is always a highlight for me because of the opportunity we have to get to know each other better, to share our enthusiasm with each other, and to share a bigger picture of Stampin’ Up! with a select group of our demonstrator leaders.

In fact, the retreat is almost always invigorating, and this year felt especially so. I didn’t struggle to stay awake in the afternoon, and I looked forward to each new agenda item. The presentations and discussions were lively as well as enlightening, and I was once again reminded that I work with some fabulous people—demonstrators and staff members alike!

As I mentioned on Facebook, my favorite part of the retreat is My Favorite Things, which is exactly what it sounds like—a casual (we’re all in jammies!) couple of hours where we share our favorite things. What a wonderful opportunity to find out different things about each other!

My Favorite Things also included a yummy dinner, catered by Shanna. She made yummy pot pies and had three tasty cakes, as well. I don’t need to say much more, because she tells me she’ll be blogging about it within the next couple of days. Check out her blog; I think she’s including photos!

I am truly impressed every year with our Advisory Board members, but this year I was especially pleased with how well they seem to have “clicked” (their word). They are an ambitious, well-grounded, optimistic yet realistic group of leaders, and I am confident that our demonstrators are well represented this year!

Of course, while they represent our demonstrators, we do give them pretty specific guidelines about what that representation means! (Past Advisory Board members may smile as they read this because it’s so familiar; we repeat it often throughout the year.)

  • Being an Advisory Board member is an opportunity but it’s not their job—their job (and priorities) need to remain the same. Their focus needs to remain on building their business, and they are free at any time to bow out of any assignment or request if we’re taking too much of their time.
  • We ask them to think broadly, considering the entire demonstrator base first, their own downlines next, and themselves last. As we seek feedback and opinions, I think it’s easy to share what their personal preferences are, but often what they might personally prefer isn’t best for the demonstrator base as a whole.
  • They will be watched closely, not just this year but forever after (how’s that for pressure!), and we ask—and expect—them to run their businesses with integrity.
  • While they represent the demonstrator base as a whole, they are not the official way for demonstrators to communicate to the home office. We tell our Advisory Board members that when their fellow demonstrators ask them to pass on information, insight, ideas, etc., they should say, “Love to but can’t! Please use the official means of communication.” This isn’t because we don’t want to hear from our demonstrators but because we have worked hard to put processes in place so when we do hear from our demonstrators, we can gather, analyze, and even act on that information a timely, effective manner. When communication comes to us in other ways, it’s often lost and sometimes even incorrect.
  • Finally, everything our Advisory Board members hear is confidential. They are instructed not to talk about anything they’ve heard until it’s officially been communicated by the home office to all the demonstrators. That’s a toughie, because we know everyone likes to know everything, right? (smile) So our Advisory Board members often have their fellow demonstrators ask them for sneak peeks at what’s coming up. Can’t do it!

How’s that for a crash course on Advisory Board guidelines? A little lengthy perhaps, but some of you might be interested. . . .

This seems like an appropriate time to thank all of our past Advisory Board members. We have relied on them for so much, and every year they have done a stellar job! During the retreat, I often reflect on past Advisory Board members with gratitude and love—what an amazing, inspiring group of women!

Anyway, this year’s retreat was heavenly, and I am definitely looking forward to the coming year!