Muros in Montana: 10 Lessons, Insights and Takeaways From Our 5-day Team Retreat
1. Enthusiasm is contagious, hire passionate people.
Part of what made our trip so outstanding was the shared enthusiasm across all departments and team members. Whether it be hiking Yellowstone at 6:30 AM or rafting down level 3 rapids, our full team was continually excited and enthusiastic about whatever next excursion we were soon to participate in. That type of consistent eagerness is contagious, and impacts everyone in a positive way – even our guides regularly commented on how engaged our group was, and that our shared passion for adventure only increased their commitment to ensuring we had a great experience.
2. When it comes to business, few things are as important as good customer service.
We were in a breathtaking environment for a full business week, surrounded by an abundance of wildlife and some of the most beautiful scenery you can find. Still, we found ourselves most often discussing the people involved in our activities – from our incredible hiking guides, Bjorn and Brad, who were filled with an abundance of knowledge, to our fiery rafting guide, Carson, who filled our boat with laughter while we battled the Yellowstone River. While the national park and lodge we stayed at were beautiful, it was the people and their commitment to quality that truly made our trip memorable.
3. You don’t have to be friends with your colleagues, but it sure helps if you are.
We had a handful of ‘free swim’ opportunities and moments of downtime, yet, we were almost always together, even when our schedule didn’t force the time. From late-night chess battles, trips to the ol’ Saloon, early morning fly-fishing-sessions, or group mountain biking, our team always wanted to be together to create and share new memories. They say you don’t have to like everyone you work with, but damn it sure helps if you do.
4. Constructive criticism and a willingness to apply it is vital to the health of all organizations.
We had a number of team-building and learning activities built into our 5-day schedule, and all were customized to bring out important insights and topics of discussion that may be difficult to air out in our regular workdays. Activities like this only work if everyone is willing to participate, and comes in with a sense of humility and excitement to learn and grow. Because all team members were committed to getting better, we found consistent themes in areas of opportunity and growth, and returned with a greater awareness of what to prioritize and how it gets done.
5. Know when to turn around and live to fight another day.
One of our most memorable excursions was horseback riding, but not for the best of reasons. A sunny day quickly turned into a brutal thunder and lightning storm, and we found ourselves drenched in rain while being surrounded by lightning at the top of a mountain known as Electric Peak. We should have been escorted back to the ranch immediately, but instead, our guides went back and forth with each other, and as they argued, our team stayed idly put, again, on top of a mountain known as Electric Peak. After 15 minutes, someone with sense finally rode in and got us out of dodge. This was a great lesson on knowing when to call it quits — and admitting you need to pivot or change course. Humans make mistakes, often. The most important thing is recognizing it, and knowing how and when to correct the course.
6. Leaders need to create open lines of communication to maximize fluidity of projects.
Closed doors don’t exist at Muros. All 3 co-founders have made an effort to make themselves available and open to all teammates, and everyone feels empowered to share new ideas, insights, and ways we can improve to the greater team. In some cases, businesses lean too much into corporate hierarchies — while important, there’s a fine line between respecting leadership and creating too much red tape that bogs down creativity and passion.
7. Taking ownership is everything.
Whether it be production, client services, artist relations, or ongoing marketing efforts, all projects need a captain and a person owning all things that lead to its eventual success. In small businesses and/or teams, simply playing your role will not get it done — a common discourse throughout the week was how we can best empower and create targeted ownership across a variety of internal and external projects.
8. Humans crave connection, use the power of emotion to your advantage.
Creating meaningful human connections is a common talk track among marketers. Today, brands are spending more time and money on creating these lasting connections with their target audiences, and we’ve played our own role by helping clients achieve this through art, immersive experiences, and thoughtful activations. Montana was beautiful, but the people are what made it truly special – each guide and staff member was willing to share their expertise, knowledge, and passions, immersing us deeper into our environments while providing a greater baseline of understanding. Without their willingness to connect and share, the trip wouldn’t have been as great as it was.
9. The harmony of expertise, empathy, and encouragement.
For many of our excursions, we had a handful of teammates doing something for the first time. From fly-fishing to rafting the Yellowstone River, these experiences can be fun and exciting — but also a bit daunting given the sheer scale of your surroundings. Each guide approached us with patience and empathy, never once showing frustration or anger as we slowly struggled to grasp their lessons and teachings. It made for a more enjoyable experience, and we left each activity feeling like we not only enjoyed our time, but also left with lessons and learnings we’d be able to share and apply for the next adventure.
10. The importance of owning what you preach.
Culture – it’s one of the most important pieces of what we do. Our innate ability to match synergies between artists and brands help create these authentic moments in cultures and communities that are valuable to all parties. But how can you so often speak on something without truly living it? Thankfully, that’s not an issue for Team Muros. From Art Basel to SXSW to a full team retreat in Paradise Valley, we are constantly growing, learning, and experiencing things as a team — creating a truly unique and one-of-a-kind company culture.