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Your end-of-year retreat is the beginning of something new, and the celebration of something old. It gives you and your team crucial time to see your future and celebrate the victories of the last 12 months.

Simply because there’s some business to get done in this meeting doesn’t mean the retreat should be mediocre, melodramatic or mundane.

Structuring a practical, productive and passionately attended retreat is more effectively done by stepping outside the routine.

Here are three tips we suggest:

  1. Follow the 60/40 rule. To gain the continued engagement and investment of your team, you’ll need to make this retreat about them. Consider that 60 percent of the content/activities/projects should directly include each person. These activities should directly involve, apply to, and improve each person’s own learning, self-awareness, expertise and career. The remaining 40 percent can be about the business itself – think goal setting, vision imagining, role re-definition.
  2. Hold a pre-planning party. Gather your inner gang to hold a light-hearted pre-retreat planning party involving as many people as you can. Be brave enough to ask questions. Instead of just determining the agenda and location, ask how the team would like the day to go. Challenge them to envision what the day looks like. Then, ask them how they want to feel when the day is over. Finally, ask if anyone is willing to take on leading an activity to help the group get to the destination point.
  3. Make time for silliness. When people laugh, they open up their creative selves. Boundaries fall down. Common bonds are set. Solutions materialize. Discoveries are made. So don’t forget to bring some humor into the event. Whether it’s a best-of-the-worst YouTube video contest, or an icebreaker involving balloons or toothpicks, find a way to break the tension with laughter. In the words of Albert Einstein, “I never came upon any of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.”


As a super-practical and super-soulful band of disruptors, we view retreats as time hash out offerings, identify improvements, explore systems, create role clarity and work on your brand. A Root + River led end-of-the-year retreat will accomplish the following:

  • Reframe current trends at play in your office and business
  • Generate creative thinking with laughter, art, and mental challenge
  • Invite everyone involved to be more invested in themselves and their work
  • Clarify your brand’s mission and message and create a purposeful, practical plan for next year.

If you’d like to discuss your needs and our process, we’d love to chat with you. Simply fill out this form and we’ll find time. No obligation, just a good ole conversation.

Emily Soccorsy + Justin Foster are cofounders of the intrinsic branding practice known as Root + River. Together with their defiantly different clients, they uncover then articulate the foundational elements of the brand. Then, they provide brand strategy and brand coaching as the brand is rolled out internally and externally. Obsessive about language and differentiation, Emily + Justin are also authors and speakers. Follow @rootandriver @fosterthinking and @emilyatlarge.

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