This week’s post comes from our Atlanta GM, Brian Caldwell. After having an awesome time in Vegas, Brian is here to share with you what it was like to be reunited with his Zog family once again.
As the Atlanta general manager, I’m the only full-time ZogSports employee for 640 miles, so it’s easy to feel like I’m on an island and disconnected from my colleagues in the other cities. Since joining the Zog team in January, I’ve gotten to know the other remote General Managers, Kendra (DC), Matt (LA), Nick (SF) and the HQ crew in NYC, through our daily 30-minute video conferences and weekly General Manager calls where we learn, share, and brainstorm ideas. Yet, there has only been one time in the last year when all twenty full time ZogSports employees were in the same place to learn and hang out together.
When I found out Zog was sending the entire full-time staff to Las Vegas I must admit I had mixed feelings of excitement and reticence. On one hand, I was psyched to have the opportunity to spend time with the entire staff and support our kickball teams. On the other hand, the last time I went to Vegas was in college, and I found the place to be shockingly overdone and exorbitantly overpriced for my mid-western college town pedigree. Yet, as weeks went by and excitement grew among the group, I told myself how blessed I am to have a job with a mission I support and awesome perks for its employees.
We hadn’t seen each other since March, but the chatter and inside jokes picked up as soon as the plane landed. The mood among the staff reminded me of a college roommate reunion; you may go months or even years without seeing one another but you never miss a beat! Events like these make me realize how strong of a bond we have as ZogSports employees.
Continuous Improvement is one of the ZogSports core values, so part of our Vegas trip was spent learning new leadership tactics to take home and employ on the job. Successful part-time staff management is the single greatest challenge of being a General Manager. Mike, the ZogSports VP of Strategy & Expansion, shared with us the story of a US Naval nuclear submarine captain who was able to transform his crew from thoughtless followers into free thinking leaders by shifting the language he used to phrase his expectations. We also learned how to maximize our “Return on Luck,” as Mike (also the resident gambling guru) led a statistics-based seminar on the popular casino game Craps.
The atmosphere was electric as the ZogSports participants competed in the Saturday kickball tournament. There was a DJ spinning upbeat dance tracks, live play-by-play commentary from a St. Louis Cardinals announcer (“That One Guy”), and an American Honey bar with all of the cocktails a fella could want.
While Atlanta didn’t have a horse in the race, I was adopted by the San Francisco squad—quite fitting as the team colors were the same maize and blue of my alma mater (GO BLUE!). Unfortunately the SF team was one and done, but the entire ZogSports crew, both players and managers, rallied around team New Jersey as they made it to the semi-finals.
I recall an amazing moment as I watched the game and realized nearly everyone surrounding the court was affiliated with ZogSports in some way, shape or form. What a true “family” experience to wrap up our company trip to Las Vegas.