Weeknotes 22:33 – LGND Retreat

October 30, 2022

Week of October 23–29

This past week, LGND came together for our first in-person retreat in 3 1/2 years. Our team gathered in Asheville, North Carolina at the historic Omni Grove Park Inn Hotel for two days.

I had only met 6 of my 24 other teammates in person before this trip so it was great that we were finally able to come together for a few days.

The focus of our time was relationship building so there was very little structure to our time. We shared two dinners and breakfasts together and split into three groups for different activities on Tuesday. One group went hiking. One group went zip-lining. And the third group, that I was a part of, toured the Biltmore estate.

Our tour of the Biltmore started in the gardens. I am pictured here with Andy, another developer on the team, and Lynae, one of our designers who I worked with on the two sites that recently launched. Garet was the fourth member of our group and took this picture. Unfortunately, we forgot to have our tour guide get a group picture.

I enjoyed our time at the Biltmore. We were the smallest group but it was just the right size to spend the day together and get to know one another better.

We toured the gardens, ate lunch at the Stable Club (our booth was a stall in the old stable), and then toured the Biltmore home. The house was a combination of neo-Gothic and Arts and Crafts.

The outside of the building felt very much like the Gothic cathedrals I have seen in Europe with gargoyles, spires, and sculptures of different people around doorways and windows.

The house was huge. I think my favorite room was the Winter Garden (pictured below), which is just inside the main entryway. I loved the wooden dome structure and the amount of light that it brought into the space.

The main dining hall and library were also very impressive. It was very interesting to see the servant’s spaces in the basement as well and think about what it took to run that household.

It was great to see my teammates in person and enjoy many casual conversations. It was very familiar and felt very normal to be hanging out together. I realized that despite the obstacle of relating to each other online, we have built some very strong relationships. It was a lot of fun to look around and see this group of people interacting on the couches in the lobby of the hotel or hanging out in the rocking chairs by the fireplace.

“It was more like a reunion than meeting people in person for the first time.”

One of my teammates with just the right word to describe the experience

I really appreciate the fact that our leadership was willing to invest the resources to make it possible to meet together and enjoy such a beautiful location. I am glad that they saw the value of focusing our time on building deeper relationships with each other face-to-face.

I was able to have a conversation with all of my teammates during my time in Asheville. Some of them were shorter than others but I enjoyed each and every one. I had several in-depth conversations with teammates that I don’t interact with as much on the video team.

I also enjoyed a deeper conversation with one of the designers as I got to hear his “origin” story. I came away with a better understanding of the many influences that have made him the person he is today.


  • After dinner on the first night, we had to choose a backpack from the pile. Each backpack had a teammate’s name on it. Our mission was to spend time with that teammate to learn more about them. And then we would share a short biographic at breakfast the next morning.
  • The biographic presentations were a mix of horoscopes, poetry, funny stories, and fun facts about each of our teammates. Unfortunately, I had stepped out for a bit and missed hearing my teammate share what he had learned about me.
  • One of my favorite memories was sitting out in front of the hotel in rocking chairs on Monday afternoon. I had a chance to talk to several of my teammates and enjoy the beauty around us.
  • Everyone enjoyed the different activities that we did on Tuesday.
  • We rented out a trolley and took a tour of Asheville on Tuesday night. I enjoyed the stories that our tour guide shared as we weaved our way through town. One of my favorites was about the Memphis Belle.
  • We ate dinner and hung out at White Labs Brewing Company. The night was capped off by four of our teammates playing Jenga with giant blocks. I had been outside and missed the start of the game. But everyone was watching the last rounds in anticipation of the Jenga blocks falling. It was a fun bonding experience.

My only regret is that I did not take pictures with my teammates during our time in Asheville. I was in the moment and enjoyed those too much to think about capturing pictures to remember them by.

I was fortunate enough to have a room in the main inn. I was on the top floor and my window is the third bay from the left and the window on the right. I enjoyed the Arts & Crafts furniture and details in the hotel.
The sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains on Monday night. I drove through those mountains earlier in the day.

Fall Foliage

One of the other things that I really enjoyed about the trip was driving through the Cherokee and Pisgah National Forests on the way to and from Asheville. The fall foliage was at its peak during the trip. I loved winding my way through the base of these different mountains and hills and enjoying the bursts of fall colors.

I stopped at a rest stop just so I could take some pictures. I texted my wife that this was the part of the drive that I had been looking forward to the most. It did not disappoint. I loved drinking in every minute of that drive through these forests.

One of the pictures I took of the Pisgah National Forest at the rest stop in North Carolina.

The influence of a blog post

Our leadership had originally planned for doing a virtual retreat this fall. We have done those for the past two years. As part of our LGND culture team, we had just begun the process of talking about what that day might look like.

In August, I had written a post, LGND and Me: Celebrating Five Years, in which I talked about how our last in-person retreat was a defining moment for me in my relationship with the team.

My post made quite an impression and after reading it, they decided it was important for our team to meet together sooner rather than later. They wanted the retreat to be at a rustic but modern facility. They had considered Jackson Hole, Wyoming but this is not an ideal time of year to visit that location.

Advisors from outside the company had suggested the Grove Park Inn in Asheville. The hotel was only able to accommodate us for two nights so we had a short retreat. But I think everyone would agree that it was well worth it.

Continuing respite

I had the forethought to ask for time off on Thursday and Friday. It has been really nice to be able to take some time away over the last two weeks. I have spent a lot of time journaling and reflecting. I have also enjoyed reading and listening to music. It was a nice break after a busy stretch the past couple of months building two sites that launched within a week of each other.

Books I read this week

What I watched

  • Extraordinary Attorney Woo (Netflix) – My wife watched this series a couple of weeks ago and now we are watching it. I am very impressed by the actress’ physicality in portraying an autistic person. The stories are good. And I have enjoyed entering into the world of an autistic character to better understand how those with autism perceive and interact with the world. It makes me think more about building accessible experiences for those who experience life so much different than I do.
  • Blue Bloods (CBS)
  • Dog (Prime)

What I listened to

What I played

  • FIFA 23 (Manchester City)

1 Comment

  1. Don Bridgforth

    November 2nd, 2022

    Thanks for sharing. I like Blue Bloods also.