Working abroad can be a rare treat, but you often hear stories of flying to other climates only to be stuck in meetings and conference rooms before flying home again. I had rather a different experience…
I travelled to the small town of Toledo an hour south of Madrid to run an event for a company that have recently merged that I have worked with on four different occasions. When work feels like a mini break you know that something is going well with your work life balance.
Toledo made me think that if Disney did ‘Church world’ then this would be it. A warren of streets resembling those of Venice but in place of decaying grandeur was stone, churches, marzipan shops and swords. Those were almost all there were in-between the array of restaurants all helping the not so lingual tourists like myself with laminated pictures of what they might be eating for dinner. Given my failure to speak Spanish I ended up with a laminated starter of Gnocchi, a bowl of fruit and a beer. But seated in the street watching it all go by next to a group of older Spanish women laughing and chatting and reading Sherlock Holmes ‘A Study in Scarlet’ I felt silently content if not very English..
You may be forgiven for thinking I was on a jolly but the morning after my mini tour of the town and after my extensive breakfast I began preparing for my event This event designed to bring a company that have flown in from all over Europe, South Africa and Dubai together for meetings with myself providing a 2 hour shared collaborative experience reaffirmed the value in what we do here at EML. This was an art based activity that required teams to re-create pop art pictures on canvas and develop a relevant storyline to run through all of the images before coming together at the end of the session to tell their comic strip story. It is simple really, no smoke and mirrors or pretence to changing the world, but something special defiantly happens. Something significant enough for people to come to me and really express their initial disbelief and resulting wonder at what the teams had achieved together. The paintings they had created were very impressive. But it’s about more than paints and stories. This collection of people came together and created something they thought none of them could achieve. As a creative soul maybe I could describe its effectiveness as them experiencing a visceral metaphor for the power of working as collective and achieving great results.
Maybe a great deal of the success of the working relationship of these managers is also in the time spent out of meetings. And maybe the success of EML is in our professional and personable approach to our work. We all spent the evening touring the Toledo Cathedral, sharing a cerveza and a meal. A coming together of people and cultures, both work and personal. Working abroad is good for the soul. We are in the business of people and the more I meet the more I want to engage. Lucky I’m in the business I’m in…..