Editor’s Note: This retreat wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing folks at Chaminade Resort & Spa. Not only did they ensure our retreat ran smoothly, but they brought on board Team Bonding and Huy Pham Photography to complete our epic weekend. Thanks for supporting the OfficeNinjas community, Chaminade! For a complete play-by-play of the retreat, view our complete photo album here.
When we’re with members of our community, it doesn’t really matter where we are or what’s on the agenda—we’re going to have a good time no matter what! So just imagine the level of awesomeness that was reached when we, along with 30 Office Ninjas from all over the country (and even one from out of the country), took over the Chaminade Resort & Spa in Santa Cruz, CA for our first ever Admingling Retreat—a weekend of team building, networking, and epic levels of peer-to-peer info sharing and support.
The retreat started as we believe any event should—with wine, appetizers, and chair massages. We like to think this, along with the roaring fireplace and cozy reception area, helped set the tone for a productive, yet relaxed weekend.
I went in to the retreat excited and a bit terrified. I don’t normally step outside my comfort zone but have lately been pushing myself to do so – for personal and professional growth. So I flew on a plane alone (first time) and navigated unfamiliar roads to a place where I knew no one. But guess what… It was awesome! I didn’t die! In fact, I laughed with strangers who became my friends. I learned from other admins. I shared my experiences. We collaborated on team projects. It was beyond anything I could have expected. I’m so glad I stepped outside my bubble!! – Nicole L.
From there, we took things outside to Chaminade’s beautiful grounds for a quick icebreaker (what’s a retreat without an icebreaker?) where we learned, among lots of other interesting facts, that two of our Ninjas had not only met, but enjoyed conversations with Oprah. What can we say? Oprah just gets us.
The OfficeNinjas retreat was FANTASTIC! The 24 hours was extremely empowering and uplifting and I walked away with a whole new admin team to reference, lean on and call friends. I look forward to fostering the relationships created and putting what I learned into action in my office. – Kristina C.
Next, we had dinner…in the dark! Yes, we did, indeed, eat a delicious meal as a group while blindfolded. The point? Eating a meal minus a sense was a challenge (hello, forkfuls o’ nuthin’), but a fun one we worked through as a team. Plus, it allowed us to focus on tasting the amazing food and getting to know our fellow Ninjas in a whole new way. Thanks, Team Bonding!
I loved meeting ‘my’ people!! It was so nice to share stories with everyone and support one another in the work we do. And while we may not always be appreciated by our coworkers and bosses, it’s nice knowing that all the people I met would remind me of how awesome I am at what I do and the service I provide. It was an amazing, smart, funny, group of people who I’m excited I have the honor to meet and spend a retreat with. I’m looking forward to staying connected with everyone!! – Imelda J.
The evening ended with a casual discussion and Q&A with Nancy and Edwin, the founders of OfficeNinjas. We chatted about the history of OfficeNinjas HQ and touched on a few big things in the pipeline (exciting stuff—stay tuned for more announcements in the future!). The evening concluded with unstructured time for hanging out and talking shop. Fueled by coffee and unlimited dessert (and, for a few Ninjas, the hot tub), our Ninjas talked late into the evening…
This was the perfect opportunity to learn about OfficeNinjas HQ and what they are doing to bolster the profession, to build bonds within the OfficeNinjas community and to have a great time in a beautiful setting! – Katy F.
But, the next morning, we were up and at ‘em!
Our remarkable host Brynn Kessler led us on a scenic morning hike through the Redwoods. The fresh air and natural beauty was the perfect way to start day two (and well worth the early wake-up call).
Most well spent 24 hours learning with an amazing team who have each other’s back and will continue to grow with the help of OfficeNinjas. The beautiful location and accommodations served perfectly to enhance the experience. – Corinne A.
From there, we plunged into the Shark Tank! (While swimming with actual sharks probably would have brought the teambuilding to a whole new level, we went with the less life-threatening, TV show-inspired version.) Led by Michael from Team Bonding, the Ninjas were divided into six groups and tasked with coming up with an idea that would revolutionize the Admin World and impress the panel of industry titans (OfficeNinjas HQ + Brynn).
It was inspiring to watch everyone work together to devise and pitch ideas for products and services that should TOTALLY be a thing.
The challenge winner was team OPro—Office Info on the Go. Imagine replacing your clunky intranet with a clean, uncluttered app. Need to access your contacts? OPro. Time to order more coffee or printer paper? OPro. Searching for benefits info? You get the picture. The victors went home with OfficeNinjas duffle bags stuffed with Chaminade Spa Products.
Quite the experience! Memories I will always cherish, knowledge I will retain (or resources to refer to ;) I found myself challenged to be bold, think selflessly, and grateful to be in a group that did just that. I had the opportunity to meet wonderful, like-minded people who were open, encouraging yet competitive. I am also inspired to gain knowledge in areas that do not pertain to my position as an EA or OM, but also the development of business and as an individual person. A great environment to grow in and a support group to always connect with. Thank you everyone for your efforts to plan or be involved! <3 – Cheyenne L.
Our next session was an open and honest conversation with Brynn about event planning. Brynn’s perspective was invaluable, and she shared some great tips on negotiating rates. Our biggest takeaways:
- Be as flexible as possible with dates.
- Use the Convention and Visitors Bureau to look up other events that are happening in the area so that you can understand the current demand for event venues.
- Once you’ve established rapport with your event rep, ask for credit and other perks in order to get the biggest bang for your buck.
The opportunity to connect with like minded individuals was amazing. I am absolutely amazed by all the wonderful new connections I made and look forward to many events like this. I couldn’t say enough positive things about Brynn and everyone else at the Chaminade Resort & Spa. – Chandra M.
The final session was a ninja-powered roundtable discussion that tackled perhaps the most important topic of the weekend: how Office Ninjas can make sure they’re treated respectfully in the workplace. Our Ninjas shared stories of disrespectful bosses and rude colleagues, but quickly moved on to what we do best: coming up with solutions. The Ninjas devised strategies for engaging HR, avoiding burnout, and teaching managers how to treat their Office Ninjas from day one. It was inspiring to end on such a note of empowerment!
Wonderful and informative retreat at Chaminade, where conversations flowed as smoothly as the libations. The activities were well thought out and thought provoking. Best of all, we realized that even if you’re in a one-person office, you’re not alone! – Linda P.
Okay, so there was one more little thing—a mimosa toast!
We toasted to building networks, making new friends, learning about new technology, and always pushing ourselves to be better Office Ninjas!
The OfficeNinjas Retreat was awesome. Meeting and networking with other office professionals was a lot of fun and shows that we are not alone out in the admin world. We all have similar struggles and ideas. When we come together it’s like there is nothing we can’t accomplish. This weekend was a perfect example of that. I feel I now have a wonderful network of like minded, hard working, arse kicking partners to reach out to when I need help. – Leticia V.
Before we wrap this up, we want to thank our amazing photographer, Huy Pham, who captured a play-by-play of our inaugural retreat. Check out the complete photo album here! We also asked the Ninjas to take pictures and we’ve assembled a digital “scrapbook” of the retreat through their eyes. Check it out here!
Where should we hold our next Admingling retreat? What types of sessions would you find most interesting?