Table Xi employees swimming in Costa RicaA benefit of running a Web consultancy is that you can ostensibly do it anywhere there's an Internet connection. In the spirit of Table XI's "work hard, play hard" mentality, we recently took our twelve staffers (plus five significant others) to Costa Rica for a week of rejuvenation, strategic planning, team building, and corporate reflection.

February 27-March 6 saw us zip-lining through rainforests, surfing, and hooking fish in the deep sea (well, attempting to, anyway). But the week wasn't all sunset cruises and spa treatments: We also used the time to have those conversations that never seem to materialize amid ringing phones and nonstop emails.

We spent two full days on strategic planning and development, reviewing projects, assessing new technology and infrastructure needs, and discussing ways to improve processes. We took the time to thoroughly examine and make transparent the company's financials, allowing every employee to see where dollars were coming in and going out, how their time contributed to our continued growth, and how unconventional programs like our in-house meals are actually making us money.

Our trip was also the perfect opportunity to launch an activity we're calling "Pet Projects." One of our company's greatest assets is its collection of big brains, and it is a future goal to produce our own content in addition to the work we do with our clients. To that end, we developed and vetted staffer-generated concepts that included everything from Web sites to iPhone games and applications. This exercise in rapid prototyping and evaluation resulted in some pretty fun work that we're excited to explore further, and which you may be hearing more about in the months to come.

Of course, no week would be complete without an excellent meal concocted by our very own Ellen Brast, who cooked a delicious red snapper dinner on our final night. As if all that weren't enough, we also found our new mascot, Bert, an eight-year-old green parrot that loves to eat, goof off, and play with computers. Appropriate, no?

We recognize that not every company has the means to take its employees on such a trip, and we count ourselves lucky that we were able to do so. It may seem like an unconventional--some might say crazy--expenditure, but our Costa Rican adventure gave us opportunities to focus on Table XI's long-term goals, prove our company culture, and grow closer as coworkers and team members. We came back refreshed and excited to dive into 2010.

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