The decision had been made.
We have become simply too big to pull off the annual company Kickoff like we have done every year since FreeWheel was founded. Given the intense amount of growth FreeWheel experienced in 2015, there were just too many employees to bring together. Too expensive. A logistical nightmare. Decision done.
But… FreeWheelers had a different idea.
It started off with a small group of FreeWheelers who challenged the decision, putting together a deck to present to Co-Founder and Co-CEO Doug Knopper, “All Company Summit Proposal: Imperative Now More Than Ever.” Over the following weeks more and more FreeWheelers joined the movement. And do you know what happened next? Something truly special, and perhaps unique in today’s cost-cutting corporate atmospheres:
Doug listened, and changed his mind. The Kickoff was on.
Three days in the hills of New Jersey, 250 FreeWheelers from New York, San Mateo, Los Angeles, Portland, Houston, Seattle, Philadelphia, London, Berlin, Paris and Beijing gathered to connect and collaborate.
It turns out that this year’s Kickoff was, as those core FreeWheelers foreshadowed, “imperative now more than ever,” precisely because of 2015’s growth. In the opening presentation, all the FreeWheelers who joined the company in the past year were invited to stand up and 45% of the room rose from their seats. With so many new faces, this Kickoff was the perfect opportunity for employees to connect with colleagues they would otherwise never encounter.
These connections will live on long after the end of the event’s closing remarks. And through these connections, employees will find new ways to collaborate and generate new ideas together that will continue to drive our business further.
Part of Wednesday’s agenda included two phenomenal guest speakers, Robert Tercek, President, Milestone Entertainment and Mike Jaffe, President, The Mike Jaffe Company. Tercek gave us an incredible perspective on the evolution of today’s television industry, and reinforced the immense value FreeWheel adds to this marketplace. Jaffe, on the other hand, helped us to look inwards by examining how we, as individuals, can build confidence and recognize what’s truly important in our lives. Both speakers provided valuable inspiration that we will carry back with us to our daily routines.
Another highlight of the Kickoff was the opportunity to do some serious team building, while aligning with our core value of being a deeply caring organization. Twenty groups were given the mission to assemble bicycles for local children in need, of course with a little extra wrench in the plan: groups had to find certain key parts of the bicycles hidden around the hotel. The effort required team strategy, ingenuity and a little creativity as groups also made inspirational posters that would accompany the bikes when presented to the kids.
Even with the advanced technology offered by conference systems today, nothing can replace the power of the face to face conversation. We have all walked away from this Kickoff feeling more inspired, more connected, and more aligned both to each other, and to the big goals we have set for our company in 2016. We aim to accomplish truly great things, and we will get there faster thanks to the foundation that was set during these few special days.
As for Doug, clearly he doesn’t regret his decision to listen to the employees who came forward to challenge the original decision. He’s already told us that Kickoff 2017 is a done deal (and I can’t wait!)
P.S. Want to be part of this amazing group of people and be there for the 2017 Kickoff? Check out our many employment opportunities.