Now that the 250 CSOFTers who joined this year’s Annual CSOFT Summit are all safely back in their respective time zones, it’s time to reflect on what was learned. For simplicity’s sake, we’ve compiled a list of 13 lessons, ranging from the silly to the serious.
When everything was said and done, we all agree that this year’s was a Summit to be remembered. We can’t wait to see how it will be topped next year!
13 Lessons from the 13th CSOFT Summit
1. The drive can be just as beautiful as the destination: Beijing and the Air Grasslands in Hebei are approximately five hours apart from each other. During our road trip, the buses passed through the breath-taking Flying Fox Valley. As we drove down a narrow road between soaring mountains on either side, everyone agreed that the view was more than worth the drive.
2. When camping, stay hydrated and bring plenty of sunscreen and bug spray: Without shade from trees, the grasslands can be very hot. When you’re running around competing in Amazing Race-esque challenges, it’s especially important to drink plenty of water. There are also all kinds of insects on the grasslands, so it’s a good idea to apply bug spray liberally to ward away critters.
3. CSOFTers have a surprisingly large number of hidden talents: On Saturday night, the support team hosted a talent show and karaoke session that, aside from demonstrating the musical talents of many of our own, also included a stand-up act and multiple dance performances. Who knew that everyone had hobbies outside of their obsession with L10n?!
4. Be able to distinguish the difference between a toilet tent and a sleeping tent: The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. Toilet tents have port-a-potties, sleeping tents have people.
5. Standing in the rain is the best time to eat hot pot: On the second day of camping, everyone was split into their respective teams to cook hot pot together. If you’ve ever had hot pot before, you know how steamy and spicy the meal can be. So, when storm clouds rolled over the hills towards us, no one was too worried. The drizzle that ensued was the perfect complement to this Sichuan specialty–that is, until we relocated our meal to the tents, because you can’t stand in the rain forever.
6. Remember, the grasslands aren’t just for camping: The grasslands, while to tourists like ourselves, may appear to be an uninhabited playground, have they always been prime grazing lands for local herds of horses, sheep, goats, and the like. For those of us who forgot this, there were quite a few instances of missteps resulting in soiled shoes. Oops!
7. Herding sheep is hard: The goal of one activity was to herd a flock of sheep into a designated area near where everyone was standing. Easier said than done. After several failed attempts by the support team to corral the sheep, Team Bruno (C-OUTSIDE) managed to successfully herd the flock into the cones by holding hands to make a human fence, sealing their victory.
8. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone: Many members at the CSOFT summit had never been camping before this trip and were hesitant to participate, but as the activities wound up Sunday afternoon, many agreed that it had been the team bonding experience of a lifetime. Carl Yao, Executive VP of Global Strategy, said, “This was so much fun; we really should have spent more than one night here!”
9. Including a start-up competition in your summit is a fantastic way to unlock the creative potential of your teammates: A first in CSOFT’s history, this year’s Summit included a startup competition. Each team was tasked to come up with a business idea related to language, technology, and globalization. After all of the teams presented on Friday afternoon, CEO Shunee Yee said, “I’ve always believed in our people and their potential but today, I was completely blown away.” (For a look at all of the startup ideas, check out our Summit website!)
10. “Unplugging” can be a positive experience: A huge part of this year’s summit was going back to our roots by keeping the
participant list short and internal; the reasoning behind this was a desire to invest more in our own people. By keeping the event exclusive to only CSOFTers, and encouraging everyone to unplug from their electronics, the Summit gave everyone an opportunity to live without the distractions of the office and everyday life. As a result, the CSOFT family had more time to focus on building bonds of fraternity and collaboration.
11. Having upper-level executives participate in team building activities sets a positive tone for the entire company: It may be that at most companies, the CEO and other upper-level executives don’t like to get down and dirty, but at a CSOFT summit, that is simply not true. When the support team had to compete against other teams in games like tug-of-war and sheep herding, CEO Shunee Yee, Jason Xue (Senior VP of Global Technology and Globalization), and Linda Liao (VP of Finance), among others, jumped right in on the fun with everyone else. During the wrap-up meeting, Jacob Sargeant, Managing Writer of Global Communications and support team member, said, “I’ve worked in large companies like CSOFT before, and I’ve often seen higher-level people excuse themselves from these types of activities. So, I was both shocked and excited to see Shunee jump in with our team during tug-of-war!”
12. Summit is a great place to grow closer to coworkers you don’t normally have a chance to hang out with: At the end of Summit, all of the team captains and vice captains agreed that one of the best things about this year’s Summit was the time it allowed everyone to grow in their relationships with coworkers they didn’t always have time to interact with. John Yu, a Beijing-based Business Development Manager, said, “Because this year’s Summit was at such a radically different location, it allowed everyone to ‘忘我’. Meaning, you could forget yourself and everything happening in the world. You could just relax and be your true self. Being in this type of environment helped everyone connect with each other in truly meaningful ways.”
13. A CSOFT summit is the best kind of summit: Enough said.