When type geeks and alpacas collide
This summer, our managers Caleb Belohlavek and David Lemon decided it was time we hit the road for a hardcore offsite planning session. We wanted to share our extreme team-building experience with our readers—we hope you enjoy this glimpse into our life at Adobe.
The decision to get away for a team offsite was easy; figuring out where to go was not. The location needed to be somewhere fairly close to minimize travel and maximize brainstorming time. We were also looking for a place that would promote bonding and camaraderie beyond what’s possible in a traditional office setting.
As luck would have it, Caleb is the proud owner of a beautiful log home set on 20 acres in Grass Valley, a historic Gold Rush town nestled in the western foothills of Northern California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. A scant three-hour drive from San Jose, the artsy-yet-pastoral charms of this rural oasis are far removed from the steel-and-glass towers and traffic jams of Silicon Valley.
When Caleb offered his home to our team for an offsite, we jumped at the opportunity to get out of the city and into a quiet place for a heavy-duty planning session. We settled on July 10-12 for the trip and cleared our calendars. Caleb set to work prepping his house for an influx of guests—deck washing, hot tub prep, and stockpiling a ton of provisions.
We all arrived in Grass Valley on a Wednesday afternoon and were greeted by wide-open spaces and a menagerie of friendly natives. There’s nothing quite like a huge yard full of alpacas, goats, horses, dogs, cats, and chickens to welcome city dwellers to country living.
Inspired by our surroundings, we spent two days brainstorming and fleshing out lists of projects while creating a set of long-term goals. The retreat sessions culminated in about two dozen projects: a nice mix of new type design and development projects combined with some forward-thinking concepts that are bit of a departure from our team’s traditional workload.
Between work sessions, we took time out to explore the ranch—riding tractors and four-wheelers, playing fetch with eager canine pals, and simply walking the grounds. Six of us took an evening hike up a little mountain near the house, and were treated to an incredible vista.
Initially, we had hoped to venture into the quaint local mining towns in the evenings, but we were too tired at the end of the day. We opted to stay at the house instead, becoming better acquainted by cooking together and sharing life stories.
On the last day of our trip, we had a chance to do something very different—we went white-water rafting on the South Fork of the American River. Although a recreational endeavor, it was also one serious team-building exercise.
The ride was mostly mild, but there were definitely some adrenaline-flowing moments.
The experience was one that closely parallels the technology arena: like the ever-shifting currents of the river and surrounding natural forces, the landscape the Adobe Type Team operates in is constantly changing, and constantly challenging.
I’m not sure we can top this offsite any time soon, but it’ll certainly be fun trying.
The Adobe Type Team, pictured from left to right: (front row) Frank Grießhammer, Nicole Miñoza, Ernie March, Miguel Sousa, (back row) Read Roberts, Steve Ross, David Lemon, Robert Slimbach, Caleb Belohlavek, and Paul Hunt. Unfortunately, Ken Lunde could not attend the offsite and is not pictured here.