A Team’s Strength Is In Its Parts

Growing up with my sister Ginny, I learned a lot about personal strengths and the best use of them. While each of us is supportive of the other (and willing to go to battle if necessary) we don’t approach goals in precisely the same manner, nor with the actions. When we participated in a HS level swim team, our coach commented on the diverse talents – calling out our physical differences as well. Gin could crawl across the lap using only her upper body, whereas I could simply power kick my way across the pool! Yes, we are different.

To be honest, competition isn’t my greatest strength. I take a cooperative or collaborative approach to goals. I step into research mode at the outset; seeking a secure foundation of best practices – crossing off method I think won’t work. Once I’m confident in my approach, I work through the challenge methodically. I’m not motivated by what other people are doing. I focus instead on what I can do, on what I can impact. So, all those self-help articles admonishing me to “go for the gold”? Yeah, they were kind of lost on me. My strength lies in the slow lift, not the rabbit start.

My sister, in contrast, is an archetypal competitor. She lives for the challenge, for the threat of someone else pursuing the same end result, and trying to get there faster, better, and with more to show for her efforts. She powers through whatever she takes on, with high energy and a stubborn pit-bull ferocity. And she generally succeeds in achieving her goals, although not always in the manner she might have expected. Using my more methodical approach would frustrate her, leaving her thinking “let’s just move on this!”

But not all goals can be achieved individually, some require strength in numbers – a team. When we work together, Gin and I still rely on our individual strengths (rather than emulating on another). We respect the powerful skills of the other and have found ways to mesh the approaches together to produce the result we want. Yes, it was effort to get here, but definitely worth it. There were times when each of us argued that the other was wrong, and if they’d only learn to do MY way, then we’d be better off. We were of course, mistaken. Differing strengths make a team more agile and capable; more able to pivot based on what’s working now.

As Captain of the RealTime Trailblazers (our Walk MS Team) I am reminded that many of my team members will have strengths that differ. In identifying and celebrating the strengths of my individual team members—encouraging them to employ those skills— we can become a stronger team. So, tell mewhat kind of team member are you? Do you know the strengths of your team mates?

Take a moment to look at your own team – whether on the job or the playing field. What kind of role do you play within your team? Have you and your team mates developed a process by which you can collaborate, or are you simply trying to power-through based on a single type (and demanding that the others adapt)?

Packed up for Europe!

What do event planners do after a rush of summer events?

In this office, a lucky few head out for European vacations!! This month we have both Renee and Maggie headed across the pond, each on a unique journey. Renee will be visiting several stops – staying in Airbnb’s, whereas Maggie is focusing on a car-camping adventure in Iceland! Because we are fans of efficient logistics, I grilled them on their travel strategies; particularly packing.


Maggie is our all-out outdoor adventure gal; so “roughing it” is de regueur. She has the gear and the no-how to make a nature immersion a delightful escapade, so we look forward to hearing about the many fantastic waterfalls, not to mention the sheer beauty of the landscape (can you say Icelandic Wild Ponies?)

Renee will be taking a more conventional route (selecting the perfect Airbnb in Prague? Challenge accepted!) and doing some city hopping (don’t miss Copenhagen and Paris!) Did you know there’s church in Prague (Church of St. James the Greater) with an amputated limb hanging on the wall for centuries – to ward off thieves? Said limb is from a thief that the statue of Mary grabbed in the act. Not the kind of thing you find here in the States…

While their travel plans diverge, there are a few things they agree on…

  1. PINTEREST Research! Looking for a great collection of blogs and tips about the area you are traveling to and prefer they come from people who’ve recently been there? Pinterest is chock full of them!! While the web can be overwhelming in terms of the many sources, Pinterest provides a picture-friendly method of finding just what you need.
  2. Compression Cubes. These handy little items are a blessing in terms of packing up the vital equipment and keeping track of what you brought with you. You can find them all over the Net, but there’s a hot sale on Gonex on Amazon. Renee bought the full set, giving her a number of size options; but Maggie is still deciding.
  3. Plan for power!! Yes, getting an appropriate power adapter is key to easy travel with electronics, but be wary. Some of those cheaper power adapters are just that…they adapt your US appliances for the prong needed, but they don’t always convert the voltage. Double-check your adapter purchase.
  4. Plastic is perfect!! While there are a few places that need cash so many of the locations you will visit accept credit cards, which is ideal to shopping and eating to your heart’s content. Don’t forget to notify your card company which countries you will be visiting.

Of course, they have other tools they are using to plan and track. Spreadsheets aren’t JUST for event budgets! And one of our travelers has even planned her wardrobe packing via a Publisher page….details make a difference.

We wish them the safest travel experience, and loads of fun!


Trailblazing Fundraising – MS Walk

RealTime Trailblazers 2016Today was awesome! No really…it was. We did the MS Walk – RTP style!

In past years, our crew has supported the MS Walk financially, but this year, we chose to take it further. As you may be aware, Jeanne Berry, our president has Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Our staff loves Jeanne and wants to help the MS Society in finding new treatments and of course, a cure. Kat our BD Director had walked in previous years (she’s so active!) and encouraged us all to walk this year. It was a no brainer of course. We branded ourselves the “RealTime Trailblazers” and launched into fundraising.

For the past couple of months, we’ve been putting out requests for support, both individually, and collectively, to make as big an impact as we could. Jeanne egged us all on by promising to match whatever we raise, up to $5,000. We campaigned for money, if only to make her pay up that match!

Our team was comprised of staff members (both employees and contractors) as well as friends. I was delighted to have my sister, Ginny make the walk with me. She was overwhelmed my how kind my team members were “Are they always friendly like this?” she whispered. “Yes” I laughed “this is who they are, not some kind of show.” And it’s true, the RTP team is indeed comprised of people who like one another, and can be counted on for support, regardless of the focus. Other companies give lip service to “being a family” but our crew truly is!

We raised $14,000 total (including Jeanne’s match) and are proud of having every employee participate this year! It was exciting to be a part of this walk. We’re looking forward to next year, and invite all our clients and associated vendors to participate.

A Question of Company Values

Most companies generate a mission statement and/or a list of company values that they gleefully place on their website.  These elements are often created by upper level staff and/or a marketing team. Sadly, these lists or statements are periodically trotted out to staff – blatantly telling them what their values should be. Because RTP is shifting to a more ‘personable, yet professional’ outlook, we created a statement of company values that genuinely reflect those of our staff members, both individually and collectively.

So how did we go about doing that?

Kat suggested we try an artistic/creative exercise that she’d done with another team. They had created a vision board of who the team believes they are, and where they’d like to go. Great! I’d been trained in Expressive Art Therapy facilitation and possessed a wealth of art supplies; so I volunteered my resources to pull this off. Although some team members were a bit hesitant, we committed to doing this as a team.

We set aside a day of focus (thank you Jeanne!) – preceded by homework. Each team member was given a series of exercises to help them discover their own values (both personally and professionally). So often, team members can feel more like ‘just’ employees rather than genuine contributors. The point of this project was to steer clear of that kind of thinking, making our team to feel valued, and accountable for the final values outcome. And we were all in…Karin made the trek from Portland to participate live, and in person.

I think it was more work than my team mates anticipated. First we shared with our personal values with the group. We explained how we generated them, and why they were important. Next, we moved on to the company values.

I asked each of my team members for a value suggestion; followed by the requirement that they validate their choice with examples from our work. You see, it’s not enough to just come up with a list of nice words, they have to MEAN something. In performing this project, we came to appreciate the similarities in our personal values, to understand our work mates, and land on a list of values that genuinely reflects who we are as a team: Creativity. Collaboration. Integrity. Perseverance.

Next, came the fun part. Ok, it was a bit of a struggle for some at first; but eventually, we created a decorative canvas, which now hangs in our office. This piece is more than just a list of values; it’s our compass, our map of who we are now and where our team is headed. As we glance over at it, we are reminded of the work it took to create, the cohesiveness of our crew, and our collective values.

Have you engaged with your team about your company values and how they define you as a team and in the work you do? We’d love to hear about it.


RealTime Productions has gone through a lot of changes recently.

We’ve moved offices – heck we’ve moved cities! The shift from the cacophony of South Lake Union to our calm location in Mercer Island has created a significant change in our work process. From individual cubicles in the old office, to an open plan here on the Island – the change has increased both our ability and desire to work collaboratively. We more freely bounce ideas and strategies off one another, paying little attention to individual role or title.

Our team, like others in our industry, has undergone staff shifts. But in coming to know our new members, we’ve made an intentional effort to acknowledge not only their similarities to existing team members, but their distinct differences. We’ve begun to celebrate our individual uniqueness, and learn better ways to work together. As we drill our new staff members on protocol, their influence has altered our policies. “Because that’s how we’ve always done it” has been retired, and replaced with “what do you think?” Our “can-do” focus (doing whatever it takes to pull off a challenge) has really lightened up our staff and brought a new energy to the office. Mind you, these are changes coming not from the top, but from every level of our team.

And the collaborative approach is becoming evident with vendors we cull together to manage an event. Perhaps it’s our perspective which has altered, but we see them as fellow collaborators putting on a client event. While mindful of their corporate procedures and policies, we are looking forward to forging closer relationships on these key players in event management. We find it a much more transparent and inclusive way to get the work done, one that celebrates the talents and humanity of all of us.

We’ve changed our branding a bit as well. We kept the tradition of our logo, but ventured into popping up the color to match our new physical environment. If you’ve been to our new office space, you certainly understand. We replaced muted tones of dark teal and sage with a brightly-hued light teal and spring green; tastefully tempered with a lovely charcoal gray. And for a color pop…don’t be surprised to see some hot orange thrown in.

We’ve altered our work schedules a bit, choosing to adapt to the ever-changing needs of both our staff and clients. Everyone who works in our industry knows the reality of working whatever hours are needed to pull off an event –  but mindful of life-balance issues, we have encouraged our team members to balance their time between working from home and in the office. This affords our team greater ease in meeting client needs, while retaining tight team relationships. Not to worry though, we are more reachable than ever!

Our approach overall, has been to become more personable, while retaining professionalism. What does this mean to our clients? We hope it means that you find us taking a more personal approach to you and your events, while offering you a high degree of service and collaboration. We love expressing our “can-do” attitude, making extraordinary events come to life! We’d love to hear your thoughts on our continued evolution as a premier, boutique event management partner.