May 25, 2021
Back in April, we had our yearly executive retreat for our Heart leadership team. We spent two weeks in Tulum, Mexico, and so much fruit was produced from that retreat. We grew as leaders and we developed such a better connection with our core team members. We thought it would be a super fun podcast episode to take you behind the scenes and tell you exactly what we did, how we structured our retreat, how we grew as individuals and team members during the retreat, and LOTS more.
We’re excited to bring you behind the curtain in a sense to the inner workings of our company, the Heart University, our goals, how we are striving to achieve them, and all that good stuff.
If you’re a CEO of your own company and are eager to learn how others structure and run their executive retreats, or if you’re wanting to learn how to be a better leader, and learn from what we’ve done, then continue!
We had our first retreat in Hawaii while Lindsey was living there. We started The Heart University as workshops in 2018 and then realized we needed a retreat and had our first one in 2019. We learned a lot as we stayed at a hotel and then had our executive assistant join us at the end to bring her up to speed on schedule. It was very minimally priced for us as Lindsey and Rachel already lived in Hawaii and only needed to fly Evie out.
We tried to cram so much in a very short amount of time, it was over three days. It was very intense, but it was our first one ad we didn’t know what we were doing and had only one team member. Realizing at the end we had no time for rest, relaxation, or time to connect on a friend level.
We were unable to have a team and executive retreat in 2020 for obvious reasons with Covid. Our 2019 retreat was in April and this year it was in April as well. Moving forward it’s a goal to do it every January, resetting for the fiscal year and the New Year. The goal for 2022 is to have it in January every year after that.
It took place in Tulum, Mexico, but was originally going to be in Palm Springs since it was cheaper, close to Evie, and easy to fly into. We both got busy and missed out on the place we wanted to book, then when we were looking for another Airbnb we couldn’t find a place that could fit everyone and was our ascetic. We know that sounds spoiled and is a first-world problem. However, as both being creatives our environment around us affects us and ascetic is something we care about when planning for the future. We wanted a place that was ascetically and visually inspiring to us.
We were having this conversation (having to find an Airbnb) when Lindsey was road tripping back to Kansas and they were in Savannah, Georgia at the time staying with Rachel our executive assistant. We three were on a Zoom call trying to find Airbnb’s, Rachel had to leave to pick up her kids and while she is gone, only 30 minutes, Evie and Lindsay change from Palm Springs to Tulum!
We scheduled it this was whether it was going to be in Palm Springs or Tulum. We liked this method and we will continue to do this method moving forward. We do 2 weeks total. The first week was Evie and Lindsey and then in week two the teams flew out and joined us.
The first two days when we got to Mexico we just rested since we had both gotten out of busy seasons. We scheduled this not only for the rest but realize we talk every day whether on Zoom, Slack or messaging but it usually revolved around the business. We wanted to connect as friends first and catch up personally before diving into business talk.
After those two days, the next four days were us going through high-level business organizational structural stuff. Which The Heart desperately needed. Before this retreat, Evie back in January had read the book Traction by Gino Wickman. If you are a business owner and have plans on growing that company read that book immediately. It is a course in a book and each chapter gives you worksheets to fill out after.
We both read it before heading into the retreat and it gave us a course and worksheet to work through in Mexico.
Some questions that we asked ourselves during those four days:
We first needed to get on the same page and communicate how we were doing and what we wanted to do. Then we dove into the worksheets from the Traction book and the biggest worksheet in there is called the VTO (Visionary Traction Organizer). It is one mega worksheet that gives you a solid foundation for your company.
The first thing is core values, which sounds fluffy but you need to have those. Core values are words and descriptions that you hold everybody up to that works for the company, the company as a whole, and then when you hire new people you measure them up to those core values. Core values are a compass, the thing that is guiding you through your business decisions, your hiring choices, and marketing decisions. It’s how you assess how team members are doing if they are upholding the values and on the same page them. We were already on the same page so that was very clear for us already but helped us even clarify further and then share with our team to have as our central operator system. This is what makes our company run.
The next part of the VTO is your core focus. The way that the book describes it is an arrow of a compass and what your company is focused on. It should be able to apply to any industry and shouldn’t be niche-specific. Your core focus is striving to do it through your specific niche. It should be bigger than money, yearly goals, and should have a wow factor. When we went through it (just us Lindsey & Evie), we asked ourselves “why did we start The Heart?”. The Heart goes deeper than just education and our vision says the core focus is to bring heaven to earth through creative business education.
Everything that we are doing and focused on is viewed through that lens. Everything is read and viewed in bringing heaven to earth. It gets us and our team excited, with that passion and focus. Then when our team got there and did that same exercise, as they were doing it KT and Ally both had said that we (Evie and Lindsey) bring heaven to earth and our jaws dropped. Our team is very much aligned and is all on the same page on our values and what matters to us.
Ten, Three, and One-Year Goals
Next on the VTO are your ten, three, and one-year goals. They have to be measurable goals. They don’t have to be numbered, but numbers are easy because they are measurable. For your ten-year goal, they should be scary, it should be reaching for the stars and genuinely where you want your business to go. We wrote down revenue goals, profit, how many students we want to have, and how many podcast downloads we want to have. We looked at The Heart with everything that we are doing and try to measure it with what we want to accomplish. Starting with ten years, then onto three years to see what we need to accomplish then to reach our ten-year goals. For one-year goals you want to make them attainable, not that it shouldn’t be hard but that you don’t need to do something astronomical that you can’t hit. You want to hit your one-year goal so that your team and you know it is attainable and can hit it.
We came up with one-year goals and when the team arrived we filled them in on the ten and three years and wanted their thoughts on the one-year as well.
Company & Individual Rocks
In the next part of the VTO, there is a section called rocks. Rocks are 90-day goals, taking a year and break it down into 90 days and you have four quarters. We waited to do the rocks with the team because as leaders we are realizing that creating this company isn’t just about us and what we want. We want employees and people working for The Heart to have buy-in. That they do have a say in the company and are a part of building this.
Then when the team got there we went through 1 year, rocks and issues. Issues are what is going to get in our way to get our 90-day goals or even a year goal done.
That is a glance at the VTO and before the team arrived it felt like there was a lot more clarity and focus. got there we felt we had gotten so much more clearer and focused.
One of the biggest issues for us that we realized is weekly meetings. We weren’t doing that at all. We had been doing a bi-weekly podcast meeting but it was only one aspect of The Heart. Then we each had our weekly check-ins with Rachel as our executive assistance, but we as The Heart team getting on the same page was not taking place.
Moving forward after the executive retreat we are going to implement a weekly meeting with all five of us team members and if independent contractors need to be in those meetings at certain times they can be. Setting up a time for a regular core foundational weekly meeting. Traction says that it should be on the same day every week, same start and end time, and the only exception to that is vacation or death.
In those weekly meetings, we will have a scorecard. The scorecard is measurable and numbered goals that we want to be seeing every week. How are our podcast downloads doing, sales, etc? Then we assign certain people to those numbers to bring them each week to the meeting so we can see where we are at. That is a great way at a glance every week to see what we are doing. A lot of those scorecard goals relate to 90-day goals and one-year goals. As we even came up with our numbers for each week it gives you such a good pulse on your business. It gives you so much clarity. Traction goes more in-depth on these things but we are just sharing how we did it with our retreat and implemented it personally.
Next, we started asking each other these questions: How can we make our courses in the future better? How can we structure them better? Are there any hires that we see in the future? Discussing different positions. We also asked each other how we can fully support our team members better than we do already. We also chatted about what logistics look like for each of us in our life.
Another big thing we discussed was each team member and assessing how we see them do in their position or do we want to shift them over to a different position. Is there any other way we can support their skill set in a different position? We discussed that in the executive retreat and then carried that over with the team members as well.
That was everything we had done together and had one last relaxing day before the team arrived.
Before they got there we switched Airbnb’s, grocery shopped, and had a charcuterie board and wine set up for them for dinner when they arrived. Then the next two days we wanted to dive into work with them, catch them up on everything, have good conversations and work meetings. Then the last two days were exploring and resting.
The first day we sat them all down and went over the overview of everything that we discussed. Explaining the parts of the VTO that we had done and what we wanted their input on. We didn’t think we would fill out the sheets with the team so now in the future we’ll make sure everyone reads a book (if needed) beforehand.
We walked them through the VTO, we had them do the core values exercise, and filled them in on how the Lord had moved in our hearts and shifted things. Then we sat down and had them help with our one-year goals and core values. Some of that fell onto day two because we wanted to do our one on ones with them on the first day as well. The rocks for the company fell on day two and then 90-day goals for day two.
After we went through the VTO, we had lunch and then sat down with them individually and we did that to catch up. We are a remote team so we wanted to see how they were doing, do they like the work they are doing, are we doing a good job leading them? Is there anything we can do to support them? Making sure we have the people in the right seats and loving what they are doing and thriving in that position. Our goal for all of our team members is that this is their dream job. We want it to be bringing them life. Another question we asked them was what is their long-term goal, do they see themselves with The Heart long term? We never want to keep them so tight to us when that is not what God has in store for them.
Our vision and passion for our whole team are that they each are walking in God’s call for them, if that is with us that makes us so happy but if that is not with us, then we want them to pursue what is! We want to support and cheer that team member on with what God has for them.
Then day two was diving deep into a lot of the logistical things. If we were re-assigning certain positions and seats. Then we went through and finished out our one-year goals, rocks, and issues. One thing we realized when talking with the team is we were not good with having processes.
The best process that we have is the podcast. We outline and record and then Ally takes care of everything else. She sends it to Hayden to edit it, she does all the graphics, posts to Instagram, does the show notes, and makes it go live. That is the only process that is documented and has a clear process, so we were wondering how we could take that same idea of having a workflow and have it automated and apply it to every aspect of the company.
There was a lot of stuff that we talked through about processes and we went through a bunch and later on, Rachel was saying that another day to work might have been good. In the future it would have been nice, two days were a little fast and tight.
Then the final two days were chill and rest. We went and saw Cenotes, Tulum ruins, went on a boat ride, and snorkeled. On the final day, we rented some cabanas at a beach and all sat in the sun and read and hung out together.
That was an overview of our executive and team retreat and how we structured it. As we continue to grow and do more retreats in the future we know it will change. We want to encourage any entrepreneur out there whether you have one independent contractor or five employees or all on your own, to have time set aside to go through and create a vision and structure for your company. Documenting processes even if it is just you, so when you do bring team members on you already have a system in place.
If you loved this episode let us know and we can do a follow-up near the end of the year to see how we are doing implementing these processes and hitting our goals!
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WASSUP FRIENDS. We’re Evie + Lindsey, co-founders of this wild partayyy called The Heart University. Our goal is to empower entrepreneurs to kick freaking BUTT in their businesses, dive down into the heart of their why and how, and serve you with all possible tools you’ll need to up-level your business game and CRUSH those goals of yours.
Whether you’re coming to an in-person workshop, joining our online course, or soaking up all the strategies via this blog or our podcast, we’re STOKED you’re here + can’t wait to see you out there kicking butt.
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