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ZeroTurnaround returns from company retreat in Crete

In April, we got the bosses at ZeroTurnaround a little tipsy and convinced them that if ZeroTurnaround makes record sales in the first 6 months of this year, the whole company is going to a warm island for a motivational week.

And so it happened that on June 30th, we reached the target we set out for. Additionally, the last few months have provided us with lots of good news as well: starting with JRebel winning the “Most Innovative Java Technology” JAX Innovation award for 2011, continuing with the  backing of Bain Capital Ventures and the release of JRebel for MyEclipse with our new partners at Genuitec LLC.

But what stands out most are the new team-members that have joined ZeroTurnaround. If this does not scream for a “celebracation”, I don’t know what does!

So, on August 7th, the geeks of ZeroTurnaround flew to Chania, Crete really early in the morning to ponder on the meaning of life.

We started our trip officially with a team meeting on Monday morning, as usual. Well, not THAT usual, since we were all together in the flesh and by the pool. The fact that we were in Crete did not mean that we didn’t take care of our dear clients. Support was still running smoothly and we had our regular meetings and discussions.

Our first official getting-to-know-your-fellow-ZT-colleagues was on a boat trip. Our guide was a funny Hungarian guy who claimed to be in love with a Danish girl but got over it by the end of the trip. For us, this was the first time we got to put a name and face together for our expanding teams based in Tartu, Tallinn and Prague. Some people had not even seen each other and we had many newcomers. During the boat trip we were taken to the open seas, got the taste of raki (RAKI!), salty water and could snorkel down to see an old boat wreck. It’s kinda fun to jump over board, see the water base and the fishes swimming 5cm from your face.

All work and no play makes a Geek a dull boy

We had a wonderful chance to spend a day with Dr Heinz Max Kabutz, a Java specialist who was chosen as a Java Champion by Sun Microsystems for his work in advancing Java. He lives in Crete and was kind enough to be part of our trip. Wednesday we let him lead us to a treacherous secret ravine where only half the team returned with all their toes.

One might think that it’s not easy for IT/office people, used to sitting in cold and dark caves, staring at their monitor and having no sun for most of the year, to be out in 30-degree heat all day long. Even worse: what if you should climb down, with killer bushes and moving rocks, helping yourself down with rope from time to time? Carrying a heavy bag full of professional cameras, iPhones, Cretan beer, water and food?

To get to Dr Heinz’s motivational speech, we did just that. After arriving in the middle of nowhere (the bus driver did not know where he was going to end up, and neither did we). After a cooling swim we had pizza and some beer and were ready for Heinz’s speech.

Heinz begun with saying that ZeroTurnaround was the first company in 7 years he had even considered working for (pretty awesome, ey?). He talked about programming languages and how quickly the field changes, about marketing in the field, gave us some tips how to take maximum out of our everyday work. Particularly he suggested, that thinking is best when you take time for it and do it away from workplace. (Hopefully Crete was far enough for our team). His last words: “Enjoy your youth, work hard and have fun. Life just gets better and better.”

You have got to listen smart people, so we did have fun. But what happens in Crete, stays in … Crete :)

No doubt that it is great to get some time off from work, drinking cocktails, seeing new places, new cultures and relaxing under the sun, but the most important is to do all that with wonderful people. There was something that Jevgeni said on the “last supper”, that we are very different in ZeroTurnaround, but that is what makes us better and stronger – we can help each other out where something is lacking and we diversify our own company culture. So we find programmers who salsa and can create cool animations in a sec, who have done tai chi for years, professional photographers and swimmers, different nationalities, those who can’t stand fish and those who can’t be without internet for more then 24 … minutes (well, that’s pretty much most of us, though :). That is why it was necessary to have some team-time in person – to get to know the person you are working with, to actually have a face to face discussions on how to improve some parts of work. And I believe we did succeed in it.

ZeroTurnaround@2011 - from right to left (1st row) Jevgeni, Toomas, Liisi, Juri H, Igor, (2nd row) Rein, Helen, Oleg, (3rd row) Ryan, Oliver, Juri T, David, Anton, Arnel, Erkki, Lauri. (Missing Sander, Aleksei, Iveta, Sang)

Since we went through some pretty intense “ice-breaker” activities in Crete, we figured that the new ZT team members should be initiated by doing the following:

Now is a good time to mention that we are hiring awesome people. If you are awesome, think about joining the ZeroTurnaround team: http://www.zeroturnaround.com/about-us/jobs/

  • Olivier Croisier

    Hey, I know this place !
    I bet you had lunch at Irene’s with Heinz ? :)