A New Tradition

I just couldn’t go to bed tonight without posting—even though I’ve already posted once today.

Earlier, I mentioned that we were going to have a summer barbecue, something new we haven’t done before. I didn’t plan on showing pictures or mentioning it again, but it was such a delightful experience that I had to!

I’m smiling even now as I think about the great time we had--it was a well-deserved break for our hardworking, dedicated employees!

We eased up on the company dress code—shorts and flip flops were pretty much the norm! Music played in the background, the weather was gorgeous, and the food was delicious.

The highlight had to be the volleyball tournament, though. We had 10 teams sign up--some of the team names included The Big Shots, Vicious Vinyl, Team Chim Richols, Stamp, Set, Spike!, Warehouse Warriors, and Team Zilla (I believe they were the winners!). A lot of people came out and watched the games throughout the morning and cheered for their coworkers, and there was a quite a crowd watching the championship match.

I think a new tradition has been born! 

A Retreat?

Just about every year, Stampin’ Up!’s corporate team schedules a retreat to focus on the most important aspects of the business. This year was no exception--although we didnt retreat far. We actually just headed downstairs to the Ideas Room on the main floor of our home office.

 

We spent three full days brainstorming, problem solving, envisioning, and discussing—and we did all that in the first 30 minutes. (smile)

 

Seriously, the last three days have been high-energy, productive, and intense, but I feel good about what we accomplished. We aren't done by any means--we can never do it all in three days! So we've got another few days scheduled next week  when we'll continue what we started.


 

 

 

At one point, we divided up into two teams, and each team was given the same task. One team stayed at the tables to tackle the job, while the other team headed to the other end of the room, where we (yep, it was my team) made ourselves comfortable. Both teams dealt effectively with the assignment, but I found it interesting to see the different ways we approached it.

  

We also always have things you can do with your hands. Im a believer that keeping your hands busy with mindless work can sometimes help your mind focus. We had several containers of Playdoh, and they were opened and used frequently. I shot a couple of our creations for your entertainment!

 

These are the people I work with most closely, and they are so dedicated to Stampin' Up! and to our demonstrators, customers, and employees. I am honored to associate with them and am reminded how grateful I am for all that they do.

 

With a week in Australia, a three-day retreat, a video shoot one morning before the retreat, a teleconference with our leaders last night, and a board meeting this morning. I have to admit that both my body and mind are exhausted! I'm grateful that this afternoon is our summer barbecue at the home office--I'm looking forward to just visiting with employees, watching a volleyball tournament, and taking a little rest.

A Celebration Down Under

Sterling and I returned home from Australia yesterday—exhausted (we spent about 24 hours in airports and airplanes one way) but happy! It was fabulous to spend a few days with some of our demonstrators from Australia and New Zealand.

I won’t give an all-day, day-by-day report of our incentive trip to Noosa Heads—I’ll just hit the highlights for me.

The first thing I loved was getting there a day earlier than we have the past two years. Last year and the year before, we arrived at the incentive trip the same day as demonstrators, sometimes even on the same flight. I felt terrible trying to greet our demonstrators and their guests while looking and feeling like I’d spent 24 hours on a plane!

This year we had one day to recover from jet lag (although honestly we didn’t really feel like we were on local time until about the day we came home!) and were able to greet everyone and visit with our eyes open.

We started off with a welcome dinner the first night, which was a great way to begin our time together.

 

 

The next day we took a ferry from our hotel and headed over to Ricky’s, a beach restaurant where we cooked with professional chefs. We donned chef hats and aprons, split up in teams, and cooked some delectable dishes—it was so fun! My team made crème brulee, and I learned all sorts of cooking tips and techniques.

After all the teams finished, we got to eat what we cooked. (At least that’s what they told us! It tasted so delicious that I think perhaps they served us what they had cooked themselves and “tucked” our creations aside.)

That night we all enjoyed karaoke. This wasn’t an organized Stampin’ Up! event, but a big group of us headed over to a club down the street and we pretty much took it over! (smile) I thought karaoke was just a US thing—not so! Australians and New Zealanders definitely know how to karoake! We sang and danced and I think we started a new tradition; I’m sure we’ll be doing this again!

 

Make & Takes are always a highlight, and this year was no exception. It’s one of the few times we are all gathered together in one room, and we get to chat, stamp, and swap—three of my absolutely favorite things!

Saturday Sterling and I joined a group of demonstrators and their guests for an all-day adventure tour to Fraser Island.

Most memorable parts of this trip? Riding a four-wheel-type bus at full speed along the beach (people drive along the beach in both directions just like they do on the highway!). . .

. . . and exploring McKenzie Lake, a crystal-clear, freshwater lake up in the mountains.

That night was our final dinner, which was incredible! We took a bus to a site where antique cars were lined up, and then rode the cars to an Australian plantation, where we had a delightful dinner and dessert and enjoyed star gazing. I loved looking through the telescopes (the astronomer said they were actually small- to medium-sized telescopes, but they seemed pretty big to me!)

On top of all this, Noosa Heads was just a charming beach-front town! You could stroll along the beach, walk through the national forest (or the bush, as they call it), and do all the relaxing you could possibly want!

So you can see that the week was wonderful!

It was also great to get back home last night. We arrived home just in time for a barbecue with a lot of the family. The Browns (who are moving away) and the Douglasses (who are moving back) are all staying at the Gardner home, so it’s a party! It was nice to sleep in our own bed, and it was even nicer to wake up to our own little one-year-old alarm (Phoebe) and a houseful of grandchildren.

A Leftover Gift Idea

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that my stamping presentation for convention this year focused on gift giving ideas. I absolutely loved it!

I spent hours, along with Mom Pat and Sara and Shalae, creating in my stamp studio, and we fed on each other’s enthusiasm. By the time convention rolled around, I had way more projects than I could ever show on stage, so we ended up picking and choosing.

I can’t bear to not share some of these projects, though, so I thought I’d share one with you while I'm in Australia. (I’m afraid I’d bore you if I showed them all!)

I actually arranged for this to be posted while I was gone, so there would be at least a little activity on the blog while I was Down Under rewarding and recognizing our high-achievers in Australia and New Zealand. I'll be back on Monday and be excited to share a little about how that event went.

But for now, here's a fun little treat box for a friend. We packed it with some of our favorite chocolates--Ghiradelli! But you can load it with any treat at all!

Thoughts from You

One of my favorite rooms at our Stampin’ Up! facility is the Ideas Room—a large room that is divided into two parts. The front part of the room has a couple of couches, some huge bean-bag chairs, a corner with stamping supplies, a piano, a ping pong table, an air hockey table, and a foosball game. The back half of the room is a meeting place with white-board walls from floor to ceiling.

 

 

For the last couple of years, demonstrators who have toured our Stampin’ Up! facility during convention have covered the walls in the Ideas Room with comments, many directed to me. I enjoy reading these comments, and this year was no exception.

 

 

Many of the comments this year included requests for new products, including dozens of ideas for stamp images. I won’t even start naming them—the list is long! You can rest assured, however, that every suggestion is being passed on to the appropriate departments.

 

There were also several requests for different programs, services, etc. Those too will be passed on to the appropriate departments. We appreciate these suggestions; we love to hear from you!

 

The rest of the comments are the ones that make my heart smile—they are words of encouragement, support, and thanks from so many of our demonstrators. Several of you mentioned the great working environment (a couple of you volunteered to become full-time employees!), our wonderful DS agents, and your gratitude for Stampin’ Up! One man wrote that he was at convention with his wife and that he’d rather be riding his motorcycle, but he did like our working environment. (smile)

 

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, ideas, and gratitude with me. I don’t know if you realize how even small expressions of your gratitude encourage and sustain me when I sometimes feel overwhelmed and overbusy! I hope you know that the feeling is mutual, and that I am so thankful for each of you and all that you do for Stampin’ Up!

 

Happy Birthday to Me

Now, it’s not really my birthday, but I am celebrating a birthday—kind of. One year ago this month, I started writing my blog!

While I must admit it’s added another to-do item on my list, I have thoroughly enjoyed it! I’ve always wanted to keep a journal, and this is the closest I’ve come to it in years. I love having a brief record of fun family gatherings, major events, and other daily activities.

I’ve also enjoyed the interaction with you. Ideally, of course, I could chat on the phone with each of you a few times a week (smile), but since that’s not possible, this is a great alternative. I love reading your comments, answering your questions (when I can), and just feeling like we have a dialogue of sorts.

It’s been fun to think about what I’m doing each week and what type of things you’d be interested in. I also enjoy anticipating sharing a project with you as I’m creating in my stamp studio. Even my family has good-naturedly accepted the fact that many of the happenings in their lives are out there for everyone to read about. (They’re good sports!)

So thanks for a great first year! I’m looking forward to continuing this fun new adventure!

Slowing Down for Build-A-Bear

I should have learned this lesson by now, but I haven’t. I keep thinking that things will eventually slow down—just a little—and I’ll be able to sneak in a few “not burning hot” things into my schedule. (sigh)

The last few weeks have been enjoyably hectic. Getting ready for convention, then attending convention, then spending a couple days with Leslie, then heading down to Kanab. Plus I need to pack for the Australia incentive trip! I’m thrilled—incentive trips are some of my favorite events because it feels wonderful to reward our top-achieving demonstrators for all their hard work—but it feels like it’s been one thing after another.

When I got home from convention earlier this week, I had managed to grab a few Build-A-Bear bears for my grandchildren. My grandson Sam, while grateful for the gift, did mention that the Stampin’ Up! apron wouldn’t be his first choice for clothing for his new BOY bear. Without thinking, I said, “Oh, Sam, I’ll take you to the store and you can buy a boy outfit for your bear.”

As soon as the words popped out, I thought, “Great, Shelli! When are you going to fit that in?” But when I saw his eyes light up and his big smile, I knew I’d make the time.  

  And, it couldn’t be just Sam! So most of the grandchildren and I (along with dads and moms, because I knew I’d need help!) headed for Build-A-Bear and a crazy hour picking out clothes. And I thought shopping for human clothes was an adventure!

Now the bears (which are incredibly soft!) are also incredibly adorable, and we all have a great memory of a beary good time!

A Quick Trip to Kanab

I just got back from a quick overnight trip to Kanab. We had a company summer lunch down there, and so Sterling and I drove down to spend a few minutes with some wonderful people. We chatted, enjoyed a tasty lunch, and thanked our hard workers at our manufacturing facility who do so much to make sure Stampin’ Up! succeeds.

As an added bonus, a Canadian demonstrator who attended convention happened to be in Kanab today as well. She’d made arrangements for a tour of the Kanab facility. We invited her and her father to have lunch with us, and it was a delight to visit with them.

The highlight of the trip, however, was that we got to take Leslie home! It will be a short stay—she has to be back at the hospital on Tuesday. But her numbers were good enough they let her go home; she was so happy!

She has only a few goals—to sleep in her own bed (if you’ve ever slept in a hospital bed, you understand that one!); to sit on her back porch and enjoy the beauty of Kanab; and to make birthday invitations and a birthday cake for her grandson’s upcoming first birthday.

I stopped by to see her as we headed home today, and she looked great! She expects her hair to fall out within a few days, so this is probably the last picture you’ll see of her for awhile. (She won’t let us take pictures when she’s bald.)

She was just finishing the birthday invitations. She based them on one of the winners of the SoShelli.com Birthday Challenge, the Sesame Street card. She helped me judge the submissions earlier this week, and as soon as she saw that one, she knew she wanted to use it. She’s also planning on making a Elmo cake, which she’ll freeze for the party, since she probably won’t be able to come down for that.

Once she heads back up to Salt Lake next week, she’ll likely have another round of chemotherapy and then a bone marrow transplant, so she doesn’t expect to come home again for weeks, maybe months. That makes this weekend even more special; I hope she enjoys every minute!

 

Convention 2009 Is Over

Convention has come and gone for another year. Woo hoo. . . . I think.

The end of convention is always bittersweet. I compare it to Thanksgiving dinner—you work so hard for so long to make sure everyone loves it, and it’s over before you can believe it!

I loved this convention, and I talked to many demonstrators who said it was one of—if not the—best yet. When I asked why, they gave several reasons: the focus on workshops was exactly what they needed, the keynote speaker was great, the class offerings were perfect, the list goes on and on.

I only heard one negative comment—the line for Memento Mall was long on the first day. I hate that, but we’ve thought of all sorts of things to try to fix that, and haven’t come up with a fix yet. It’s because everything in the mall is so fabulous! I don’t normally wear sweatshirt-type things, but I’ve already worn my hoodie twice!

Several things made my convention highlight list: Belinda Ellsworth, our keynote speaker (she offered valuable information for every demonstrator, at every level); my stamping presentation, which focused on gift giving (we created more projects than I could show, so you’ll be the beneficiary of that because I’ll be posting several projects here in the coming weeks); the dinner with the Artisan Award winners (loved getting to know them better!); the general sessions and classes (I know it sounds like cheating to clump them all together, but honestly they were all fabulous! I didn’t get to attend all the classes, but those I made it to were really great!); and sitting in the audience during the last session (loved the game show and commercials!).

My daughters and I all laughed during the game show when one of the questions they asked was “What is the first thing you do when you get home from convention?” Our unanimous answer was sleep, but it was the last answer on the list from the demonstrators! The number-one answer was unpack, which I always put off as long as I possibly can!

I did unpack today (earlier than usual) because I’m heading up to the hospital to spend a few days with Leslie. I’m looking forward to telling her all about convention and catching up on some sleep. She has to get sleep, of course, and because we sleep in the same room, I go to bed earlier than I normally would! I’m also bringing along some quiet work stuff to do—catching up on e-mail and reading my blog (haven’t read your comments for more than a week!). I know we’ll do plenty of visiting too!

I must admit that spending a few quiet days with Leslie is a wonderful way to unwind after convention, but I’m so thankful for the past few days and the wonderful opportunity I got to spend time with some of my favorite people in the world!

 

Convention Mode

It’s official! I kicked into what I call “Convention Mode” today. I’ve actually been mostly in convention mode for the past couple of days, focusing on convention-related projects and tasks. I even wrote Shanna last night (two days earlier than usual) because I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to if I waited until Tuesday.

When I’m in convention mode, I am completely focused on what’s happening at convention: my general session messages and stamping presentations and our demonstrators—what they need and what I can do for them. I might listen to my voice messages once a day. And e-mail? Ha! I just resign myself to the fact that I’ll be way behind once I finally log in to my computer sometime next week.

So this is probably it for the blog this week, although in my eternally optimistic state, I’m hoping to get July’s creative challenge winners selected. (Don’t hold your breath though!)

I look forward to convention all year long, and the chance to spend valuable time with our demonstrators. So convention mode is not a bad thing at all—it’s just a pretty narrowly focused state of mind.

So we’ll chat again early next week!