When I think back to some of the most memorable moments in my 8-year tenure as CEO, the ones that jump to the front of my mind are clear as day: when we toured our first members in our Manchester hub; our opening event for Huckletree West in the summer of 2017; the end-of-year Ambassador dinner where I looked around at 70 entrepreneurs and investors who had become true friends of the company; and our first all-company Town Hall in person with the team post-pandemic. Were we celebrating? Not always. Were we changing the world? Perhaps, in our own way. But what I remember was that we showed up - in sync and in step - holding space for one another's ideas, and demonstrating presence, empathy and collaboration in the room. The content behind those moments wasn't overly memorable, but the feeling was. The sense of nowness, impact and purpose was palpable. That I remember. There were no ‘video off’ moments or mute buttons. We were present, with all of our minds, bodies and ideas.
I’ve been reflecting on what it takes to make a team or make a business work. Yes, you need infrastructure, runway, talent, vision. However, designing the right conditions for those elements to thread together, and be practised on a daily basis (and of course, be scalable) is a whole piece of work they leave out of the textbooks. We’ve been told that solving the move to working ‘hybrid’ is going to be the great challenge of the decade for leaders and thinkers. What is missed from the textbooks and the news articles is not the debate over the place where we work, but the attention, or rather, intention, that we put behind the moments when we come together.
We believe at Huckletree that the art of gathering is going to be the new super-skill of progressive business leaders for 2023 and beyond. Knowing how to bring teams together for one day or over the course of a month to focus them, empower them, ground them, will be the difference between companies where culture is authentically lived versus one that’s parroted. This comes back to time, not just place. We need to value our time more; the time of the planet, our customers, our people, and to reflect on how many seconds / minutes / hours we used intentionally to build either our companies, our connections or ourselves in any given day.
Every output needs an input, which means what fills a room, a meeting room or a conversation is far more important than what it looks like. I’m less interested in whether a 4-day work week works or doesn't, and more interested in what people do with their time and energy through their work week, on their terms, as well as in their time off. Perhaps this is the great reset we all need, and perhaps communities like ours can be a new testing ground for a braver way of being and building.
In these pages, you'll learn about the future of progressive team building, how to take care of the individual in gatherings, and even how sometimes, when you leave business at the door, you walk away with so much more value.
If you’ve got this far and are reading this, firstly, thank you. Your time is precious. Secondly, I hope this encourages you to think about the place, time and conditions of how your team gather. Perhaps we can all flip this work narrative and do things differently to what we’ve known before.
CEO and Co-Founder, Huckletree
Gaby has built our vision and culture since we first opened doors in 2014, leading our corporate strategy, product and innovation. An advocate for diversity in entrepreneurship, Gaby is an advisor and coach for early-stage founders and a speaker and panelist on the Future of Work and diverse leadership (check out her TEdX talk). Outside of work, Gaby is usually dancing around her kitchen with her two little ones, Jack and Andrea and her hubby Antoine. Superpower: Executive calm under firstname.lastname@example.orgLinkedInTwitter