Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sozializing can be so tough

Before I start this actual entry, I wish to take the time to thank you all for the good thoughts and kind comments to my previous post. It was indeed a very difficult decision, but I know that I will be taking wonderful memories with me and of course stay in touch with a few colleagues.

Furthermore, Blogger is now throwing me off everytime I add links and publish. So you'll have to google or wiki whatever you find interesting until I have solved the problem. Anyway.

One of the things I will miss very much will be our so called “MasterClass”. It’s an annual event where we invite the Product Managers and/or Sales Managers and/or Marketers from all countries selling our products to participate. We prepare hands-on trainings on products, inform them of our development plans, brainstorm about future needs, organise workshops and have an external speaker over for an afternoon to talk about a specific marketing topic. And then, we organise team-building weekend activities for those who wish to participate. In the past years, we had wild water rafting, abseilen, night sledging in the mountains, paragliding, kayaking, adventure trails, cable gliding, and other fun stuff. This year, we are focusing our new product launch based on racing. The reason is that R., a quad - or tetraplegic, if you prefer- is not only the founder of the company but also came up with the idea of this new design. Now guess what his pastime is? Of couse! Racing. He races his Shellby Cobra (450HP) against able bodied competitors using a sip and puff system that enables him to shift gears; gas and brakes are hand controlled.

Now to this year’s “the company I still work for” MasterClass. Kick-off was last Wednesday around 1:30pm and we went through all the workshop and brainstorming bits. Then came the weekend: We left the office premises around 3:30 pm on Friday afternoon and made our way to our hotel Colmar, France, where we had booked rooms for everybody. We met for a few drinks at the bar before going to a typical Alsacian restaurant. After dinner, we took a last drink at the bar and all went to bed.

I must emphasize that nobody outside the Marketing team of “the company I still work for” has even the slightest clue of the whole event and what is carefully prepared for them. We follow the racing theme, yes? Okay. On Saturday morning, we had breakfast together and left the hotel around 9:30 am to visit the car museum in Mulhouse - if you like Bugatti, you’d love it there – and had a guided tour through the history of it all. We had lunch there and departed for the next “unknown” destination, which just by chance happened to be a race track.
We arrived and all “we” saw were motorbike trainings. Motorbikes? Hmmm. Everyone watched for a while and then, this couple came over to our group and started explaining to our guests that they were about to get some driving training on either… *drum roll*… a) a Ferrari or b) a Formula Ford 2000 car. You should have seen their jaws drop and their eyes light up when they saw the 2 Formaula cars and the one Ferrari pushed out of the hangars! They were all excited like kids seconds before they open their Christmas presents. For me, this is always a brilliant moment!

We had some theoretical training on security on the track and were given papers to sign (the usual insurance stuff). We formed two groups and had to choose which vehicle we wanted to drive. Since we had quite a few tall and bulky guys, I opted for the Formula car: 160 HP, weighs next to nothing, a one-seater, your ass to the ground and a real racing feeling. Shortly after the training, we started driving. The 1st round with the Ferrari was always driven by the trainer followed by a quick pit stop to change places and the next 4 laps by the newbie. The ones like me who drove the Formula were on the track all alone. There were other cars on the 3 km track as well, so we had to keep an open eye. I must admit that it can be quite scary to get used to this car type during the first two laps (after which we had to do a quick pit stop). From then on, I had another 4 laps to go and was not half as scared. Actually, I must have been doing between 190-220 km/h (120-135 mph) on the stretch of the last lap. There is no speedometer on there, so I can only guess, but I really pushed down the pedal. It was great fun and I would have done a few extra laps, but the next was waiting for his turn.

R. also came by with his Cobra and took on passengers to show them what racing is all about. He loved it and so did we. It was absolutely exhilarating!

At dinner, all were talking about their driving experience and I think we made a whole bunch of people very happy. We had a few drinks on the terrace and then in the bar, but I think all the excitement got to them at some point and some had to get up very early to catch their flights to their respective countries, and went to bed at a fairly reasonable hour (1:30 am).

I got home around 10 am on Sunday, but I was beat, so I just took it easy. Socializing can be so tough! This week at work was also pretty strenuous, but I am looking forward to the El Montiboli . Yes! OrangeX and I are flying off to Alicante/Spain for a three day rest. No laptops coming with us. No way! We’re going to do NADA! Just get some sun and let ourselves be pampered. Thanks for the hint, TBF.

You'll find pictures here.

Have a great weekend and see you all next week!


xmichra said...

TAKE THAT BREAK!! sometimes the head just needs some quiet time... and you have been wayyy to busy!!!

Ginnie said...

Yay for all the exhilaration! Yay for accomplishing your goals. And now yay for the break without laptops in Spain. You deserve it!

Expat Traveler said...

how much fun!!! I have so many thoughts in my head, I'm sure you know them..

And a small vacation!!! YEAH!! You deserve it... Well one can only hope for a few pics! :)

Mr. Fabulous said...

Yeah, you gotta slow down...I am afraid this hectic schedule might start to cut into your glamorousness!

Colon Blow said...

Wow! I don't know if I would have had the courage to get behind the wheel of one of those cars.

Tim Parish said...

From a non-petrol-head.. Noticed the fleeting mention of paragliding mmm try my site for some background on this amazing sport..

CanadianSwiss said...

XM- We're back and it was fabulous. It wasn't enough to recover, but definitely a needed break.

Ginnie- It was all great! I think this break will hold... well, until end of the week, maybe ;-) But it was all well worth it!

ET- I'll be putting up pictures this week - if Blogger lets me. I'm sure you'll love it :-)

Fab- Yes, my Glamourousness is a bit dull lately, but I'll get back on my feet; I always do ;-)

CB- If you can shift gears, you can drive anything! You just need to feel the car for the first few rounds, then you get greedy ;-)

Tim- I'll drop over for sure! It was such a great experience. I may well repeat it in Canada :-)

Expat Traveler said...

hey we are still waiting! hehe I want to hear aobut the R&R weekend... :-)