The members of the Passion Passport team are based all over the country, in varying timezones, and often traveling beyond those geographic constraints. We’re happy to be able to practice what we preach, but this environment means that we spend a lot of time connecting via email and Google Hangout. This system works well for day to day operations, but when we have to dream big and plan what the next steps are for Passion Passport, we need to meet in person.

Passion Passport team on the way to Coney Island in Brookly

Every six to eight weeks, our team gets together in person to discuss goals, organizational next steps, and just spend time together. During these meetups, we’ve found that it’s a much different working environment and that the ways we usually communicate each day, such as our phones and computers, become barriers for effective in-person conversation. For that reason, we frequently switch into an offline work environment during these real time meetups. 

During our most recent team retreat in New York City, we took this to the next level by scheduling a day completely offline that was devoted to team building: looking each other in the eye and connecting with one another. We spent the day hanging out in the park, going for a swim at the beach, and enjoying the sunset at Coney Island after a team dinner.

While the members of our team are familiar with Manhattan, the outer edges of the city were unfamiliar territory. As we made our way from Prospect Park to the end of the Q, towards Coney Island, we resisted the impulse to reach for our phones and check the map, to see how far we had come from Penn Station, and to see what attractions may be unknowingly sprinkled on the streets of Brighton Beach. And we were rewarded: the views of Coney Island from the elevated tracks of the train were full of whirling rides in full sunlight.

Coney Island at Sunset

The Passion Passport team at Coney Island Boardwalk

As the day went along, our phones laying forgotten on bed stands and in backpacks, our group stopped noticing all the points of the day when they would have normally reached for a device. Eventually, we sat down to dinner in a little restaurant that one of us knew of, and asked our waiter about the unfamiliar menu items rather than pulling out a phone to do research. It was a small detail in a day spent building organizational bonds that can’t be tracked in a spreadsheet or monitored through analytics platforms. It was, however, the best reminder that during time spent researching, planning, and working towards the beginning of your next big journey, if you look up from that screen every now and again you’ll realize it’s usually already begun.