I’d never been to New Jersey. Neither had my family. So when the Credit Union of New Jersey asked me to facilitate a day-long all-employee development day over our kids’ fall break in October 2015, I couldn’t sign the contract – and pile all of Team Janning into a minivan for an epic roadtrip – fast enough.
The context for this event was unique. It was happening less than 3 weeks before CU of NJ underwent a massive core processor conversion, which is about as complicated and disruptive as undergoing a brain transplant while riding a roller coaster…only the brain you’re transplanting is your company’s entire internal computer network and the roller coaster ride lasts for 12 months.
All-employee events like this one, so close to this watershed event in the CU’s history, would usually be all about the final details of the conversion but they took a different tack. Senior management wanted instead to everyone a bit of a break from the all-conversion-all-the-time environment and develop the relationship skills that would make them still want to work with one another after conversion.
I had the pleasure of sharing some of my favorite programs with them, including Heroes, Villains, and Drunk Old Men and Goggles, Fight Club, and One Evil Dentist. My goal was to help them listen and fight and praise and lead better than ever, while keep the burnout at bay.
While I was speaking that day, Karla and the kids were making one of their dreams come true.
When schedules permit, I love taking my family on the road with me. To have them with me immediately before and after an event keeps me grounded and sane while on the road.
My kids are crazy about horses – crazy with a capital CRAY CRAY – so when they started traveling with me in earnest a while back, the three of them made a goal of riding horses in every state in America because HORSES. This means that, when they do come with me, our travel and lodging plans are influenced heavily by the location of the nearest riding stable.
It came, therefore, as no surprise that they found a riding stable about 30 minutes away from where I was speaking, then spent the rest of the afternoon at the Jersey shore.
The most special moment came at the end of my day, when all three of them cut their shore time short and quietly crashed the event to listen to the final 10 minutes of my talk. Introducing my family to the CU of NJ family after their gracious standing ovation a moment I won’t soon forget.
When the final goodbyes were exchanged, we took a quick detour back to the shore to drink in the final few minutes of sunlight and rejoice in the simple pleasure of being with each other.
Memories don’t get much better than that.