If you’ve been following Redmond very long, you’ve probably heard of our Lake Powell retreats, humanitarian trips, or Redmond activity trips. What you maybe didn’t know is that these leadership retreats are not reserved for the C-suite or the salespeople who manage the biggest accounts.
The Lake Powell and mountain retreats are training activities that all full-time employees may attend. In fact, employees are required to attend a retreat and other leadership training at least once, and all employees—whether a long-time manager or the newest cashier at the store—receive the same trip.
Today, we’d like to share a small piece of Redmond, Inc.’s journey, including how and why it began creating opportunities for employees to share ideas, broaden perspectives, and realize that the world is much bigger than the town, state, or country we each grew up in.
Once Upon a Time . . .
Redmond, Inc. was started in 1958 by Milo and Lamar Bosshardt, brothers and farmers in rural Redmond, Utah where their hard work and generosity made them respected members of the community. They knew there was salt under their farmland, but had no need to look for it until drought forced them to find other ways to feed their families.
By the early 1990s, Milo, Lamar, and their kids (now adults) had built a successful company through hard work, looking for and adopting new business methods, and treating people the way they wanted to be treated. They weren’t rich, but felt driven to share what they had with neighbors and everyone they could reach.
Things were going well, and they also felt the need to improve. They wanted new ideas, suggestions for how to keep building, and help to create a place where anyone (not just family) could be involved in company leadership. With that intention in mind, they hired Rhett Roberts, first as a consultant and then as general manager (he eventually bought the company, but that’s another story).
Rhett had recently finished an MBA, had consulted for a couple of other companies, and was eager to share the business ideas he’d read about in school. It was a perfect match and they went to work improving processes, changing systems, inverting the corporate pyramid, and encouraging all employees to feel committed to company success.
A Miner, an Accountant, and a Social Media Specialist Walk Onto a Boat . . . Or Into a Yurt.
Discussions centered on business and self-improvement books and videos soon became an important part of Redmond culture, regardless of the team or department. Some books, such as Stephen R. Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and the Arbinger Institute’s “Leadership and Self-Deception,” became manuals for mandatory employee training seminars.
Bringing people together for discussions and training was the purpose behind the first training retreat at Lake Powell in 2006. It was a huge success, and today Redmond hosts multiple training retreats every year to ensure that every employee (and their plus one) has the opportunity to learn, grow, and have fun together. Redmond sometimes invites a few other partners to join the experience and add to the discussion.
Redmond also sponsors humanitarian, cultural, and “bucket list” trips, such as building and delivering wheelchairs in Central America, hiking to Mount Everest’s base camp, or Alaska fishing at Pybus Point Lodge. When employees have the opportunity to discuss ideas while sharing new experiences, they come home with respect for the area they visited, a broader perspective on life, new ideas, and a greater appreciation for their fellow employees.
A miner, accountant, and social media specialist work in very different spaces, rarely interact, and may not think they have much in common, but assumptions and stereotypes break down when they all sit as equals for discussions around the houseboat, dinner table, or campfire.
The hope is that they begin to see what they have in common, find value in their differences, and apply these lessons to all aspects of life. The miner may be excited to help the social media specialist create content about the mine, and the social media specialist may not complain so much when the accountant sends a reminder that expense reports are due.
These cross-department discussions and interactions help employees discover new friends, passions, approaches to problem-solving, and product ideas. It might even spark the desire to try a new career in a different area of the company.
Elevating the Human Experience
Redmond isn’t just about trips and TED Talks; a lot of work goes on as well. But work becomes the training ground where we practice the principles and skills we learn during seminars and training trips. Our daily work responsibilities, interactions, and stresses—whether fixing equipment, mining salt, answering phones, filling shakers, or something else—all serve as an incubator for our growth.
Work becomes a place where we can explore our unique interests and talents, discovering how we can contribute to our team and the larger community. Feeling bored or unsatisfied at work? Put together a proposal for how you can contribute in a way that would be more fulfilling for you. Not sure where to start? Brainstorm with a member of the culture team. Whether you have ideas for reducing the company’s carbon footprint or want to help fellow employees with nutrition and wellness, every person has a unique set of interests and skills that can elevate those around them.
Redmond isn’t perfect and its unorthodox approach may not be for everyone. It’s still a business, subject to business constraints and work frustrations. But we strive to create a place where you can show up as yourself, live your unique journey, challenge yourself to grow, and make your one life the best it can be.