9 Clouds Team Retreat 2017: Drinks, Surprises, and William Shatner?

9 Clouds Team Retreat 2017: Drinks, Surprises, and William Shatner?

It’s been said before: the best way to reconnect with your teammates is to disconnect from work.

This year, I had the chance to partake in my first annual 9 Clouds team retreat! Let me tell you, it was awesome.

Last year, the team traveled to western South Dakota — and they haven’t stopped talking about it since.

Countless inside jokes aside . . . as a part-time remote employee, I was very eager to learn more about the people I work with on a one-to-one basis and be part of something that has such a strong reputation within our company.

When choosing the location for this year’s company retreat, we were limited somewhat by distance and time for travel. After all, we were using our precious creative time to grow our business here!

The only logical solution for a staff of Iowans, Minnesotans, and South Dakotans (listed alphabetically, not by personal preference or anything) was Nebraska.

So, off to Omaha we went!

Drinks, Surprises, and William Shatner

After meeting at the office and dealing with some car problems in the parking lot (what road trip doesn’t have car problems?), we headed south for Omaha.

Once we arrived, we braced ourselves for chilly weather, since our lovely hotel was situated in the walkable Old Market area of Omaha.

Now, there are a couple things I’ve learned about our team photos in my time at 9 Clouds:

  1. No group selfie is complete without John in the forefront, courtesy of his long arms.
  2. Wendy doesn’t like to be on camera (but we see you, Wendy!). ?

9 Clouds company retreat


Our afternoon in Omaha began with lunch and drinks at Plank Seafood Provisions, where a few of our clouds tried oysters for the first time! Hey, aren’t team retreats all about sharing trust and new experiences together?

After lunch, we continued our tour of the Old Market to imbibe some more.

The best part about drinks in Omaha was drinks with the Penny Pack in Omaha. Beer for 13 people at the cost of six . . . and a half? Perfect for our large group (and our budget!).

Brickway Brewery and Upstream Brewing Co. were the highlight stops of our afternoon. It was at these stops that several great surprises were revealed.


Surprise #1: I didn’t realize how much I truly enjoy the people I get to call my team members. We all bring so many different personalities and ideas to the table, and it was truly awesome to see them all come together and meld as we chatted over drinks and food at Stokes.

During dinner, our team found out about some other fun surprises:

  1. A new sabbatical incentive for 9 Clouds employees of five and 10 years. As a relatively new employee, I thought this was awesome news. It proves that people who work here are here to stay and grow.
  2. Group health insurance! This may not seem like a very exciting surprise to most, but for those of us trying to figure out how to “adult,” it was probably the best news of the weekend.
  3. The evening’s main event: William Shatner’s one-man show, Shatner’s World.

William Shatner

Wait, what? William Shatner?

Yes. That William Shatner.

Let me tell you, we were all surprised that this would be our evening activity. It’s definitely not something I would have ever guessed, so kudos to the PPC!

Bill told stories of his life’s successes and hardships and how he overcame things that may have knocked a less determined man down. I think we can all learn a lesson from Mr. Shatner and ask ourselves: “Who am I, really?”

9 Clouds Company Retreat | Omaha, NE

Growing Forward

The next morning was when we really got down to business and analyzed our company.

We aimed to ask ourselves, Who is 9 Clouds really? Where have we grown as a company over the last year, and where can we go from here?

Facilitating Session

Our facilitator this year was life coach Lisa Kuzman. With her down-to-earth attitude and drive for success — both personally and professionally — Liza was perfect for our group of humans.

She began with introductions and activities before leading into an in-depth SWOT analysis for the team and personal growth reflection for each team member.

A key point from Lisa’s session with us was analyzing our own fear. What are we afraid of? What’s holding us back?

Surprisingly, I found that most areas of fear or “weakness” can boil down to one main theme for everyone.

For me, that one main theme is the fear of losing out. Losing out on an opportunity, a new client, team building — you name it.

It’s important to overcome these fears so you don’t become overwhelmed or exhausted by them. Along with bringing you down, clinging to your fears will inadvertently affect everyone on your team as well.

SWOT Analysis

After our time of personal reflection and growth, we dug into what it all means for 9 Clouds by conducting a group SWOT analysis.

Traditionally, SWOT has stood for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. But something Lisa had us do that I really loved was choose replacement terms for those categories so that they really fit us as a company.

Of course, we had to go with a weather theme. Our new analysis was an SSRS analysis: Sun rays, Slushes, Rainbows, and Sinkholes.

Our SWOT SSRS analysis allowed us to hone in on our main goals for improvement for the upcoming year. It also helped reaffirm areas in which our company is succeeding, giving us a chance to “toot our own horn” a bit.

Walking out of that room to head back to Sioux Falls, I felt more motivated than ever to move forward and grow with our team.

It’s only been a couple weeks since the company retreat, but everyone is amped to set our goals, make a plan that fits our group dynamic, and turn our “slushes” into “sun rays.”

I can’t wait to see what this team has in store for 2018!

Keep Up with 9 Clouds

Feeling inspired? You can apply these same team-building principles to your own company.

Learn why you should schedule a company retreat to see more benefits of annual team retreats. (It’s not all about the beer!)

To keep up with our progress here at 9 Clouds, subscribe to our blog for updates on our journey this year!