It’s unbelievable to think that just a couple weeks ago we wrapped up our Second Annual Stronger U Staff Summit. It feels like just yesterday ago that we all gathered in Sedona, Arizona — the very first time that many of us would be meeting one another. Stronger U has grown by leaps and bounds since the last Summit, both in our relationships with one another but the company as a whole, and our time in Orlando proves just how far. Since that last trip to Sedona, we’ve hired 20+ new coaches and Cail Morrison, our CXO, to improve our already world-class member and staff experience. We’ve unveiled a new website, rolled out monthly payment options through a partnership with Affirm fostered a relationship with an amazing counseling company in BetterHelp, and have so many exciting things in the works.
This summit was also another reminder of how important these weeks are for all of us. For us, as a team, they provide an opportunity for all of us to come together and share ideas, talk about work, but most importantly: develop friendships that help us grow together as a team.
Sure, it might be a cliche, but the building of those friendships is the most valuable piece of events like this. Many of us have met before either at professional education events or networking events. But for plenty of us, these get-togethers are the first time that we get to meet some of our fellow coaches in person, and those opportunities are something that we don’t take for granted.
It’s not often that we all get a chance to gather in one place so that we can share meals, stay up entirely too late talking, experience fun new things, and also spend important time learning from one another. Weeks like this serve as a sort of force multiplier for all of us in our work. It’s not hyperbole to say that we all left absolutely on fire for the work we’re fortunate enough to do, full of new ideas, and excited about the team that we’re all apart of. Weeks spent with one another really do confirm that we are some of the luckiest people in the world.
So, what does a week look like where we all become best friends?
This year the Stronger U team all went to Orlando, Florida for a few days of learning how to be more effective coaches from one another, handing out awards, and having entirely too much fun.
On Tuesday we kicked things off by all meeting at the Flow Rider, not to be confused with Flo-Rida, at the resort we were staying at. There’s nothing that will bring a team together like watching the CEO and the CXO wipe out repeatedly. But Mike and Cail weren’t the only ones falling down. I think the entire team was excited to watch Derek Stanley fall down over and over again. At least I know I was.
That night we all met up in one of the ballrooms for a cocktail reception. This was a chance for all of us to hang out a bit with one another and talk to our team members as more people started arriving in Orlando.
(Jeb, Dean, and Mike drinking coffee at the cocktail hour. You know, practicing what they preach!)
Wednesday was the busiest day we had, but it was one in which we all came away having learned plenty.
The day started off with roundtable discussions. We were split up into three groups of 15 coaches. From there, our three teams of coaches rotated around the room, leading a roundtable discussion with each group about their specific topic area.
- Dean Guedo and Tracie Landram led a discussion around the intention and impact of the words we use. Offering us all an opportunity to think more about how we’re communicating with you, our members, and how we can do that more effectively.
- Jeb Stuart Johnston and Winnie Abramson were in charge of a discussion around setting boundaries for ourselves, being introspective about what we want our lives to look like and how we can build a day that reflects that, and remembering that if we want to be great at our jobs, that also means taking care of ourselves.
- Jason Falcon and Chuck Gross put together a great roundtable discussion that focused on working with morbidly obese individuals, special considerations when working with these populations, and what we should be aware of from both a mental point of view, but also the physical realities that can play a role in the journey of those individuals.
(Dean and Tracie leading their round table around intention and impact of the way we communicate)
(In the foreground, Jason and Chuck leading their round table on working with morbidly obese individuals. In the background, Jeb and Winnie are leading their round table focusing on prioritization and work/life balance.)
(A major thank you to Dr. Jessica Bachman for keeping us all on task and on schedule!)
After the roundtables, we took a short break and then all met again to have a question and answer session with a coach panel made up of: Syndi Acampora, Maggie Watson, Jason Falcon, and Jack Purdom.
Together, the group shared some of the strategies that they use to take care of their members, how they build long-term relationships with members, how they spread the word about SU to friends and family, how they connect so closely with the people they work with. We all talked about how we can implement those same strategies to provide world-class care to all of our members.
Maybe the coolest moment on Wednesday is the two+ hours that we all got to spend with Volum8, the development team that has been working on the Stronger U app. That’s right, folks. We all got an inside look into what’s coming, and without giving too much away I’ll simply just say: this thing is SWEET. It’s still top secret, so we won’t be sharing any pictures — but keep your eyes peeled for updates coming soon. But we can’t wait to roll it out to everyone and to show you what Volume8 has been working tirelessly on for all of us.
(Seriously, just look how pumped Mike is at what Volum8 is showing us.)
During the day we also took a moment to remember our colleague and fellow coach, Anthony Bainbridge. Anthony’s passing this year hit all of us hard, and not a day goes by that we don’t think about the fact that we are eternally grateful to have had the opportunity to work alongside someone that was truly a gift in the lives of each and every single person he touched.
Wednesday night we all met back in the ballroom for our awards banquet. The awards for whatever reason involved Cail making fun of me from the podium for roughly an hour straight. But no worries, I’ve already filed a complaint with HR. More importantly, the awards banquet gave us a chance to highlight some of our incredible coaches for what they’ve accomplished this past year. Our award winners included:
- Highest Member Rated Coach: Chuck Gross
- Rockstar Rookie: Jack Purdom
- Most Improved Coach: DeeDee Ballesteros
- Stronger U Star (voted on by the SU team): Winnie Abramson
- Member Community Contributor, (voted on by you, the members): Jeb Stuart Johnston
- Coach of The Year: Winnie Abramson
(Mike talking about the Avengers Initiative. Otherwise known as: let’s be the best nutrition coaching company in the entire world.)
(Estimated macros of all desserts: 100g protein, 3g carbs, 0g fat.)
While the awards banquet was fun and we all lost our minds celebrating Winnie and her Coach of The Year status, Thursday was the day that we all looked forward to. On Thursday we all piled into a bus and took a trip to Epcot. How we spent the day at the park was entirely up to us. Some of us spent the day partaking in The Food and Wine Festival that was happening. Some of us went to go build lightsabers. And some of us caught great shows, rode rides, and took as much of the park in as we could. We also ran into 4 different SU members from around the world!
Our group trip to Epcot was the perfect last day of the trip. We all had made new friends we wanted to hang out with. We got to travel through the world (kind of) together. But above all else, we had an uninterrupted day to spend hours with our teammates getting to know them a bit more and making memories that we’ll all look back on for years to come.
We wouldn’t have the opportunity to do things like this if it wasn’t for you, our members. You all are the driving force behind this community and are responsible for making it what it is. Without you, this world-class group of people couldn’t gather together once a year, and we wouldn’t have a mission that we bond over. So to you, the members of Stronger U, thank you. Thank you for playing an irreplaceable part in building this community into what it is. Thank you for teaching us, because we learn from each and every single one of you. And thank you for being the inspiration that serves as our purpose. We are nothing without all of you.