Wednesday, July 27, 2011

This One Time, At Band Camp...

As I mentioned, last week I spent five days in Canada at a work leadership Camp. I realized that I’m beyond blessed to work for a global company in which more than ½ of the campers were from a country other than the United States. Also, daily I reminded myself that this is even more beyond cool considering that the company was founded in my hometown of Pittsburgh. Let’s just say that I was one proud ‘burger.

At camp, you are put into teams of people from all over the globe, assigned a challenge for a real-life client and then given between 18 – 24 hours to come up with a plan and present it to the client and 20 of the top leaders of our company. While I won’t go into any more details of it here (I don’t want to mess with my company’s social media policy), let’s just say that I still riding on the high of the fact that my team won!

When my office leadership invited me to camp, they said “When’s the last time you’ve been to camp?” I guess I’ve been to a few camps in my life. I’m still scarred from my experience at Brownie Camp in 3rd grade (the sound of animals scampering through the wooden floor of our hut is forever etched in my head). Then I thought – well I guess the last camp I went was with my high school drinking buddies – Camp Keystone. Affectionately named after the beloved Keystone beer (we kept it classy in ’99 with Keystone Ice). Some friends told parents that it was named after our love of Pennsylvania – the “keystone state.” But for my bosses, I put on my adult, professional hat and said - BAND CAMP!

Yes, I went to band camp. Three years of camp at California University of Pennsylvania (yes, that’s for real too). At our high school, it was cool to be in the band and to NOT be a cheerleader. I actually quit cheerleading to try out for the majorette squad. That’s a fancy name for one that twirls batons. We had a strong group of 22 baton twirlers, 22 dancers (we called the Spartanettes) and 22 flag twirlers.

So yesterday I presented my key camp takeaways to my office, so I wanted to share them with you – my loyal Shot of Brandi* readers and some new friends that may have found their way on this blog ; )


This one time, at band, er work camp. Canada hit record heat waves and we were in four trainings with 100 people and no air conditioning. While I was super, duper hot, I just kept thinking of band camp. That my current situation could be so much worse. Like remember when people were falling over from blowing too much air into their saxophone? I just needed to sit and listen to people with water and snacks.

You’re Going To Drop the Baton. My group one the challenge, but more than half way through developing our plan, we realized that part of our idea was off – a part I needed to present. So I went in front of the room of 20 of our most senior leaders and just sold it with personality and a bit of faking it. The point is, you are going to fail at something – or work on a program or idea that isn’t 100% perfect. Just do your best and remember – people don’t always buy ideas, they buy people. Sell it with a smile.

Twirl Fire – Be bold, be brave, do something! Face your fears – whether it is presenting in front of people, letting your voice be heard, putting together budgets – do something out of your comfort zone.

You Aren’t Always Going to Get it Done – My senior year, our band never finished our second half time show (a tribute to Frank Sinatra). Rather than push us into extra practices, our band director accepted the fact that we would only have one show vs. past years when we had two or three. You need to decide what you have time to do and do it well. At camp, we needed to create a program budget…at 2:00 a.m. We knew there was no way to make this budget accurate, not to mention it was in Euros, so we decided to go with a pie chart to show what present of the budget we would spend where. It seriously took 5 minutes and we could focus our time somewhere else.

Add Sparkle +_Glitter to Shine – You all know that I’m obsessed with Glitter. In fact, I mentioned that in my camp bio and it was called out in front of everyone. (Note, you are going to get embarrassed at some point in your life, career, etc. – embrace it, own it and laugh it off). When a teammate found glitter in the camp supply room, she snagged some for me and you know what? We used it! It became a team joke. We made glitter signs with our program theme! More importantly, we made a note to all 20 people that we were presenting to and had the hotel slide it under their doors. Then, we sent a follow up note via email. We were the ONLY group to follow up before and after. The note was simple on construction paper that took less than an hour to glue and handwrite. The point is a little effort goes a long way and everyone loves shiny objects.


Camp Friends – Last, but mostly not least, camp is always about making memories. Three of my former band camp friends were my bridesmaids last year. And I’ve been emailing with the global friends I met at camp daily – and we are planning to meet up again in the future.




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