When the nice young man approached me and told me to place my watch and cellphone into the suitcase where they would remain for the next 48 hours, I did what any normal person would do: I ran screaming from the building.
The nice young man, as it turns out, was Levi Felix, co-founder of Digital Detox, our guide through the process of “disconnecting to reconnect,” putting away our devices and technology to focus on the present and the people around us. The people around us, in this case, would be the employees of SmartyPants Vitamins.
Going completely offline may seem like a strange way to maximize the potential of an organization, especially a tech savvy and plugged-in one like SmartyPants, but this kind of thinking is fairly typical of Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Courtney Nichols Gould. In choosing a two-day corporate retreat with Digital Detox, Courtney spotted an opportunity to unplug, back away from our screens and open ourselves to larger, common goals. “Because sharing a common goal creates purpose and shared purpose creates drive and drive creates some serious bad-assery,” Courtney said.
The screaming and running away may have been an unorthodox way to introduce myself to my new colleagues (I am the newest addition to the SmartyPants team), but over the next 48 hours at an idyllic retreat center in Ojai, I would learn that Team SmartyPants is all about getting it done, and having fun doing it. If making a fool of yourself for the sake of a Vine video was your thing, go for it, was their collective take.
I don’t want to reveal any Digital Detox trade secrets, so suffice it to say that the experience is as playful as it is soulful, with as much time spent laughing uproariously as silently contemplating — there is plenty of both. In the course of our retreat, we dived into guided thought exercises, hikes, tasty vegan chow (an adventure in itself for some attendees), games, and yoga.
The yoga was a highlight for me, despite being a newbie. An avid runner, I’m plagued with injuries stemming from a lack of flexibility. I appreciated the many techniques I learned to try and get my stiff carcass bending again. I am also grateful that no SmartyPants started giggling at my wobbly efforts, nor did anyone ask that I stop gasping and howling in pain.
Everyone had their own takeaways. Rather than speak for the team, I’d like to have them share just a bit about their experience in Digital Detox:
From the Digital Detox website:
While detaching from our devices and disconnecting from the over-stimulation of social media, step back into the natural rhythm of life – rediscovering what living in the moment truly feels like. We all know that our minds need time and space for reflection, however it is incredibly hard to find or create that time between meetings, podcasts and text messages to do so. Once given that space during The Digital Detox retreat, the brain will begin to once again think in truly novel and surprising ways, allowing and forcing the individual to take stock in one’s life situation, evaluate personal relationships, think about long-term goals that may have been put on the back burner, or to even ponder the often evasive big picture questions of life that the stimulation of a technological life can seem to have the ability to override.
Posted on December 19, 2013