Out of Office: A Weekend with Jam3 in Miami

Cassandra Gagliardi

There’s something to be said when you’ve just spent an entire weekend abroad with your co-workers and you are still very much looking forward to seeing their faces again at work the next day.

Jam3 has just returned from the most wonderful weekend in Miami, Florida. What were we doing there, you ask? Oh no, this was not for a conference. It was not for a project, either. And it most definitely was not for a sales trip — although, we sure do love doing all of those things.

It was simply a byproduct of three visionaries having their dreams further realized in front of them. What started as three college friends in a room above a garage has translated into 70 people and 3 offices, with 10 years behind them, and many more years ahead of them. But the thing was, we were not in Miami to celebrate them. No, we were in Miami to celebrate us. All together. As one.

The weekend started off with a 6 am call time at the airport Friday morning. Coming from a crew that shows up to work at 9:30 am every day, man, was this ever a challenge for us. Although, after seeing everybody else’s baggy eyes, it made it seem like ours weren’t that bad after all. (Who am I kidding? Mine were bad, very bad).

The energy in the air was infectious. For a 6 am call time, everyone was chatting up a storm. It was the type of energy that made passer-byes turn their heads. There was never a dull moment in conversation, with everyone marvelling over their past travel experiences and their future expectations for this trip. There was laughter and lots of it, enough to make all the snow birds look at us as if we had three eyes. There was love, lots of love, as latecomers who didn’t have the opportunity to pick up their coffees and bagels, got coffees and bagels brought to them from those who stood in the long Tim Horton’s lineup at the other end of the airport. It was truly a team supporting their team.

But you see, this type of behaviour was no different than what we experience in the office on a daily basis. Although many of our work day hours are spent heads down making shit happen, it’s the type of community, curiosity, passion, positivity and teamwork that naturally exists in our everyday that was further exemplified at the airport that morning.

So here we go. It’s time to board the plane. Jitters. We do a headcount, and two are missing. Who is it? Two of our devs. How can we leave without them? How are they missing the flight? I call one of their phones. “Yeah, hi, we’re not going to make the plane.” Heart. Drop.

In any real work situation, when there is a problem, we usually brainstorm immediate solutions before proposing the best one. So let’s treat this bump in the road as a bug. The project will never run smoothly if we don’t address this bug in a timely manner. A bunch of us quickly brainstorm potential solutions. No more direct flights out to Miami today? No problem. How can we find another way? Can we send them to Fort Lauderdale and taxi them over? Are there any connecting flights reaching Miami? We are going to find a way.

Fast forward to 6 pm that evening. Our team is dressed to the nines, about to celebrate 10 years of Jam3 on a beautiful yacht in the Miami bay. One of our technical directors from Uruguay refused to get on the yacht and was stalling the captain so it could not take off. Then… boom. Out of the corner of our eyes, we saw two men running frantically across the parking lot with bags and suitcases toward our yacht. It took us a hot second to realize, they did it. They made it. The bug was fixed. The problem was solved. Because whenever we have a problem that seems next to impossible, we always, ALWAYS find a way. Project Miami is ready to launch!

The rest of the night ensued with riveting conversation about anything and everything. One of the more special moments was getting to know our co-workers who live miles and miles away from us. These are people who we work with everyday, people who strive to achieve the same goals and successes as us, and people who start their morning knowing they’re going to work with Jam3. Finally getting to meet these people in person was a nice reminder of how similar we all actually are.

However, Jam3’s melting pot of cultures truly starts in our Toronto office, as we have people who have travelled far and wide to be with us. Language barriers, religious barriers, traditional barriers and physical barriers, really do not stop us from feeling connected. Having the opportunity to really sit down and understand our co-worker’s stories prior to joining Jam3 makes me realize life on a grander spectrum.

What if I told you there are seven billion other people waking up every day with the same intentions as you? To work, to make a living, to feed their family and acquire happiness? At the end of the day, no matter how much the rest of the world tries to tell you we’re different from one another, we really are not that different at all. And the ones I share my time with at Jam3 are people who share one common goal: to work for something we believe in, to work on something we’re passionate about, and to not stop until we collectively reach that level of perfection and success we’ve been working so damn hard to accomplish.

This is why Miami wasn’t just about three dudes who started their careers in a room above a garage. It was about us, and those three dudes truly made us aware of that in Miami. Without the passionate people who have joined along the way, without their unmatched set of talents they possess, without their diverse set of viewpoints of the world, without the willingness to inspire and educate everyone around them, we wouldn’t be standing where we are today. And although all these traits are amazing and all, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Part of why Jam3 produces great work is attributed to the people who love doing it together. That type of chemistry can’t be found just anywhere. The relationships were further reinforced in Miami during our Beach Olympics.

Cue Day 2. The sun was shining, the weather was hot. We met our crew in the hotel lobby before walking over to Miami beach together. As we headed closer to our spot, we noticed what looked like a scene out of Big Brother. Dodgeballs, baby blocks, baskets, slingshots … Jam3, what do you have planned for us?! We broke out into teams. We came up with a team name and a chant. We endured a series of challenges and as a result, things got a little spirited with some friendly competition. Keys for success here? Knowing your team members, playing to their strengths, communicating their weaknesses, and always thinking five steps ahead.

Although my team fought long and hard, we didn’t end up winning. However, the level of communication, collaboration, motivation, determination, (any more -ation words you can think of?) was a nice reminder of how important it is to know your team in the production of everyday projects. No matter how big or small a task, having a sense of trust, accountability, and transparency about your own strengths and weaknesses while playing to other’s strengths and weaknesses, will allow for the highest level of success when it’s truly needed the most. And after all was said and done, we still laughed with our co-workers from the other teams and celebrated their dollar store medals. Now THAT’s teamwork. ;)

Day 3 comes and goes, and it’s finally time to go home. We arrived at the airport that evening to learn our flight had been delayed by an hour. Whatever. Not bad. Phone buzzes. Okay, we’ve been delayed by 2 hours. Fine. Not bad. Phone buzzes again, now we’ve been delayed 3.5 hours. This meant we’d arrive back in Toronto by 3:30 am, with work the next morning. You’d think a reaction to that would be major grunts, right? Nope. Playing cards get whipped out, deep conversations start up, and laughter follows.

We ended our trip the same way it started. With passer-byers looking at us like we have three eyes. Though, I don’t think anybody would have wanted it any other way. While short-lived, Miami was a testament to the type of people we want to be and work with, the type of team-player we value. We laughed, we cried, we stayed up way past our bedtimes, but it truly was for good cause. Miami was about celebrating our work, it was about celebrating our lives, it was about nodding to Jam3’s history and toasting to its future.

And just think … if 70 people could be great travel buddies without getting sick of each other, can you just imagine what else they could be great at together? ;)

This is just the beginning. We are so, so excited for what’s next.

Jam3 is a design and experience agency that partners with forward-thinking brands from around the world. To learn more, visit us at www.jam3.com