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Lessons learned at the 2012 Offbeat Empire staff retreat

Last weekend I invited everyone who does ongoing work for the Empire to fly to Seattle for a staff retreat. A third of my folks couldn't make it (including one who, oh, JUST GAVE BIRTH TO TWINS) but seven of us gathered for a long weekend at my mother's bed & breakfast/eco-retreat space, Sacred Groves.

While a bunch of these same staff folk flew into town last fall for our Geek Girl Con panel, hosting people for a "just ass" staff retreat was a whole different ball-game. Here's what I learned…

The deep value of gathering with remote staff

I've worked with folks via IM and email for over a decade, and I've always been like FUCK YEAH REMOTE WORKING. It's so awesome that everyone can work from home, in their locations of choice, without having to deal with commuting or offices or childcare or anything else. Remote working is awesome and allows me to have an AMAZING staff that I could never assemble all in one city.

But in all my loving of remote work, somehow I forgot that OH YEAH: it's really fucking awesome to actually be in one place at one time. I'd met many of my Empire staffers before last fall, but mostly just in one-on-one situations…. I met up with Stephanie and her family when they were visiting Portland last year. I swung by Rockethaus in Des Moines, Iowa on a trip to visit my mother-in-law in Iowa City. But never had these staffers met EACH OTHER, and never had we been able to hang out all together in one place for a weekend.

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Offbeat Empire at Geek Girl Con

Holy crap, you guys. This weekend was INTENSE! You know how there's that whole concept of good stress and bad stress, but ultimately it's all stress? This weekend was the most POSITIVELY stressful few days I've had in YEARS. Amazing.

I'm going to start with perhaps the easiest thing to talk about, which is the Offbeat Empire's time at Geek Girl Con, including our panel on Sunday, "Rocking the Geek Niche."