When does a team become a family? It takes growing and learning together; it takes a village, our Apartment SEO (ASEO) village. That’s why we worked hard to travel from our offices for a few days to bring our team together and bridge the gap that distinguishes coworker and family member. A long-standing tradition, the yearly retreat to Palm Springs is more than a time for team-building, it’s a safe place where coworkers can learn how to trust and rely on one another in a deeply meaningful way.
“From day one my focus has always been on creating the best company culture. As Zig Zigler says, ‘you don’t build a business, you build people and the people build the business,’ and that’s always been my founding principle,” remarks Ronn Ruiz, CEO of Apartment SEO. “Even when we had limited resources we took the opportunity to go away, to get out of our environment and truly focus on the needs and growth of the business and employees.”
The goal of these Palm Springs retreats is to bring the employees closer and elevate their experience with the company and with each other.
“Palm Springs gets you away from work mode and makes you learn your coworker,” said Robert Seeds, ASEO’s SalesForce Administrator. “You get to truly grow together. Every time we come back to the office there’s a new sense of camaraderie.”
What started as a small retreat in a two-bedroom condo rented by Ruiz, now has grown to something larger than anyone thought possible.
“The first time we did this we were using space where we could and it wasn’t super formal,” says Seeds. “As we’ve grown, it’s pretty crazy. We went from a few rooms in a house to now sharing a whole hotel wing. The bigger we grow as a company, the bigger this trip becomes.”
During the first trip in 2014, the ASEO team rented timeshare condos for eight people, as the eight grew, so did the opportunity to rent a vacation home for the next couple of years. A favorite anecdote Ruiz shares were how the teams would take turns cooking breakfast. In 2019, ASEO expanded its team to nearly 50 intelligent, creative, and devoted people. Additionally, as the team grows, so does the Palm Springs trip. As Seeds mentioned above, the first retreat was less coordinated, whereas this year the retreat was perfectly planned. Also, ASEO employees had the privilege of working with two wonderful, motivational speakers.
“The bigger we grow, so do the presentations. Before we were just having presentations about business principles, this year we had leadership seminars and lessons in emotional intelligence,” said Seeds.
Investing In Ourselves
As a way to invest in the company and employees, Ruiz brought in two amazing speakers. Valerie M. Sargent—Emotional Intelligence Certified Trainer, and Dr. Randy Ross—founder of Remarkable!, a firm that specializes in team development and organizational health.
Sargent opened her talk by touching on the emotional intelligence coaching she did with upper-level ASEO management. She then went on to educate the group about best practices of emotional intelligence and how to bring that into the workplace. Sargent closed her talk with a story of her friend Lila and Lila’s battle, and eventual win, with cancer. Lila’s story of perseverance and strength in the face of sickness had a profound and lasting effect on the ASEO staff. Follow this link to learn more about Lila’s journey.
“It is so meaningful and touching any time I am able to share my friend Lila’s journey as part of my formal presentation. She continually inspires me and shows me what it means to persevere with a smile,” says Sargent. “The feedback I’ve had from employees about this year’s retreat has been phenomenal, and it is so wonderful to partner with a company who puts their employees front and center. I look forward to my continued work within this awesome company culture.”
Dr. Ross devoted a day and a half of his time to educating ASEO employees about how to be remarkable and how to effectively communicate. His equation for success, remarkable people, plus remarkable culture, equals remarkable results. After ensuring all ASEO employees took the remarkable pledge, Dr. Ross educated the group about how to effectively communicate and have hard conversations that ultimately benefit both the employee and employer. After his training, ASEO employees walked away with immense knowledge of how to communicate with each other and how to make their workplace truly remarkable.
“Through the years as the company has grown, it’s important to me to allocate resources for the trip, this year was by far no exception,” says Ruiz. “As we entered our sixth year of business and almost 50 employees, it’s more relevant than ever to focus on our own personal and professional growth. Which is why I pulled the trigger on bringing in additional experts to draw out who we are as people and apply us to be better professionals. They say that it takes a village to raise a family, in many regards, this is the same. We elevated the expectations for what we want thanks to Randy and Valerie, as well as the team, who contributed to the immense growth at ASEO and this year’s success.”
We can only hope to see what next year brings. Until then, cheers to Palm Springs, and cheers to the always growing ASEO family.