Going Corporate

May 27, 2010

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of presenting my first Corporate workshop.  It was a DREAM gig because I  a.) got flown to a resort in Malaysia to present and b.) spent 4 hours identifying core values and writing life purpose statements with the 50 participants.  Doesn’t get any better than that in my book… But not only was it an AMAZING professional experience for me, it was also a fascinating cultural one.  Here goes…

I arrived at the airport at 3 PM last Friday.  Since my sister was in town still, I had coordinated activities for Nick and Jenna in my absence so that the two of them could B-O-N-D.  No sooner had I walked into the airport than I was greeted by my “attendant” from the company.  They walked me through the check-in process, got me some dinner and paid my terminal fees.  I was on the flight with the majority of other participants, so they also made a point of introducing me to everyone.  I felt like a celebrity (and I LOVED it)!

First random moment of the day: I get to the customs window and the officer stamps my passport.  Just as I’m turning to leave, she says, “Were you at the airport last week picking someone up?”  Well, yes indeed I was.  And I’m thinking: “And how many people go through your line in a day??  How is it possible that you remember me?”  I swear, I must be the only short-haired blond in Manila!  It’s official – I’m changing my hair.

Second random moment of the day: I get to the gate and am deluged by workshop participants wanting to come up and take photos with me.  No lie, I’m sitting in my chair just minding my business and all of a sudden there are 15 people surrounding me and someone has a camera out (and that was just the start of it – I had to have been in 50 pictures over 24 hours).  It was such a classic warm, Filipino welcome.  Totally made my day.  All I kept thinking was, “Don’t you want to wait and see if you like my presentation before taking all these pictures with me???”  Apparently that’s irrelevant!

Third random moment of the day:  We arrive in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia at the Pacific Sutera Hotel, the place where Nick and I had coincidentally stayed in last fall.  I had just walked in the door and was standing in the middle of the lobby (not checking in) when a staff member walks up to me and says, “Welcome Back Ms. Novak.  We’re so glad to see you again.”  Okay, this was too much for one day.  I just stared at her with my mouth open and said, “How do you know my name?”  She replies, “Well weren’t you here with your husband last fall?  How is he, by the way?”  Pure shock.  Again, I need to change the hair!  It’s one thing to be recognized in Manila, but an entirely different thing to be remembered in foreign countries.  How freakin’ bizarre.  And might I add, what amazingly good customer service!

Day 2:

Woke up on Saturday morning at 4:30 AM to get ready.  Breakfast was a 6 and then I went to scope out my presentation room at 6:30.  It was rush, rush because the attendees were arriving at 7 AM.  Despite the tiredness, my energy was sky-high.  I was so pumped to be a part of this historic day (the company’s first international workshop)!  Now, I’ve told you before that sometimes I think I should have been born Filipino.  Never was this more apparent than at the workshop.

Take the music, for example.  Every time the doors opened and participants walked in and out, Celine Dion’s “I’m Alive” was pumped from the stereo system.  And they didn’t just walk in each time, they sang and moved their bodies (even in suits).  These are my people!  :)  Oh, and did I mention that I had my own entrance music and it kept playing when I got to the front of the room (because they were still clapping) and I didn’t know what to do then so I just danced.  Yup, that’s how I began my presentation… we were going for authentic, not professional!  And we sang the National anthem and sang the opening prayer.  And I got an award (even though I was paid to present!)  Can you see why I enjoyed myself so much?

And so we began.  I told my story.  I enlightened them about all the things I adore about coaching.  We dug into their values.  Tears were shed.  More pictures were taken.  Snacks were had.  Life Purpose Statements were written.  Powerful truths were shared.  People were moved.  And success was had.

Dare I say that lives may have been changed?  I dare say YES!  It rocked.  On every level it rocked.  I was nervous and excited and I had to repeat things 5 times because I talked fast and have an accent and don’t speak their first language but it didn’t matter because WE WORKED IT OUT.  And what I can say with certainty is that I helped 50 people understand THEIR TRUTH more deeply.  All in a day’s work people, all in a day’s work!  :)

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  1. Bfiles says:

    I loved this post! I felt happy just reading it! What a truly amazing experience. And yes, talk about ridiculous customer service with that hotel person remembering you. You just have such a uplifting spirit, Sarah! I hope Manila is in the cards for me someday; I have come to love it through your eyes.

  2. minnesotagal says:

    Oh, thank you so much for the kind words! Manila has been such a blessing for us – in so many unexpected ways… The Philippines is a rare gem. I truly hope you experience it in person some day! Thanks for reading.

  3. Lindsay says:

    Awesome, Sarah! Just awesome! I’m so proud to be your friend and see how far you’ve come! That just makes my heart happy to hear how well it all went for you. And crazy ridiculous that they treat you like a movie star! You are so in your element!

  4. Chris Coleman says:

    Woo hoo – amazing experience!

  5. minnesotagal says:

    Aww… Lindsay, that means so much to me! Thanks a million. It has been a cool journey, hasn’t it? Thanks for the unconditional love and support!

  6. minnesotagal says:

    Thanks so much Chris – PS… I owe you an email about Friendship home soon!

  7. Jill Dalager Brunner says:

    So happy for you! What great success!

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