In No Retreat: Business Bootcamp, Spartan founder and CEO Joe De Sena challenges businesses with near-impossible physical and mental tasks at his farm in Vermont. The goal? Help them realize their full potential and chart a path forward. The show is currently airing on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on CNBC.
As the world continues opening back up again, it’s time to focus on what works and get rid of what doesn’t. In my new show, No Retreat: Business Bootcamp, airing Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST on CNBC, this concept was at the center of each task and challenge that we presented to the participating companies.
Businesses have to consistently self-evaluate. They have to check in on what’s working and what isn’t. Otherwise, they are bound to repeat poor strategies, ineffective communication, and unproductive operations. What makes this difficult? A natural tendency to stick with what we are doing because the pattern is ingrained in our brains. It’s a lot easier to just keep spinning the hamster wheel than to get off of it. But if you want your business and your team to run like a well-oiled machine, then you have to be willing to take a hard look in the mirror and do things differently.
And what is the best way to activate a change right now, at this moment? Get out of your home, meet your team in person, and do something challenging outside. Here are just a few of the many benefits of an out-of-the-office, in-person team huddle.
What Are the Benefits of In-Person Meetings With Teammates?
1. In-Person Meetings Improve Communication
You may think that because so much of our communication is now digital — Slack, text, email — that our communication skills have improved with technological advances. But in reality, they're getting worse. Research tells us that we are now worse at processing information, more prone to miss important details, and more likely to engage in cognitive shortcuts that lead to assumptions. We write emails that aren’t full sentences, we abbreviate, and we misinterpret tone. It’s a f****** disaster.
In the digital age, we spend a lot more time telling and a lot less time interacting. Telling often leads to conflict, and you are setting your business up to lose the war of success and longevity if all you do is tell. Communication is the connective tissue of any organization, and it has to be healthy and fit. Meeting in person, picking up on the non-verbal cues of your teammates, and collaborating through voice and eye contact is a far better way to improve and refine communication.
If you engage in a non-work-related task with your team — an adventure excursion or a fitness challenge — you’re likely to learn a lot from the way you talk to each other. There's no substitute for that. Period.
Credit: Scott Eisen/CNBC
2. In-Person Meetings Revitalize Focus
I talk about the benefits of being outside all of the time. With all of the data we have on the amazing impact that being outdoors has on your well-being, it’s insane to me that more businesses aren’t headed outside more often.
In January, I took my team up to the farm (home to my new show and old home to my wife and kids) for an off-site — a "No Retreat," so to speak. Of course, we spent some time indoors, but we also hiked the mountain, visited the water, and walked the grounds daily. With every minute that was spent outside, I swear we recouped at least 30 minutes of more clear-headed focus and productivity inside. You have to stimulate your senses. When you’re inside listening to the hum of electronics and staring at screens all day, your mind goes numb. (You know that feeling, I know you do.) But when you step outside, breathe in some fresh air, hear the whistle of the wind, and take in all of the different sights, it’s like pumping life into a dead brain!
When I brought companies to the farm for No Retreat: Business Bootcamp, it was amazing to see what the outdoors had to offer: cold water that simulated the pain of owning a business, unrelenting temperatures that mimicked ever-present competition, and treacherous mountain trails that felt similar to the unknown of a start-up's path ahead. But one thing stood out more than anything else: the way that the outdoors activated focus and concentration. The primary gain of brains slipping into that alpha state was so obvious. It was clear to me more than ever that if you want to increase focus, you have to head outside.
3. In-Person Meetings Activate Connections
Here’s the thing about being outside: When you’re outside, you’re moving. And when you’re moving, your brain gets primed for connection. We need connection now more than ever. We survived the virtual world of the pandemic, but it’s time to reap the benefits of closeness.
The outdoors helps to facilitate strong connections between team members because the chemicals activated from nature and movement set us up to be more social and open-minded. Dr. Kelly McGonigal is an expert in this area, and talks a lot about how our endocannabinoid system becomes more active during activity. It’s not rocket science, it's brain science. You want your team to feel more connected? Meet in person outside and do tough shit.
When we finished shooting all of the episodes with CNBC and I left the farm, I departed on a high that only the toughest of challenges could bring. I spent nearly two months alongside incredible people within each business that was brave enough to participate. The combination of working with my team (including clinical psychologist and performance coach Dr. Lara Pence and entrepreneur and growth marketer QuHarrison Terry), taking notes from the production company, and exposing companies to the challenges was the best brain bath on the planet. There's simply no substitute for such an experience.