Virtual Acceleration Partners’ Annual Summit Elevates Global Team
This year’s AP Summit was slightly different to previous years. Due to COVID-19 and limitations around large social gatherings, the Acceleration Partners’ Talent & Culture team stepped up in new ways to create a unique virtual experience that still honored what AP Summits are all about: connecting as an organization in ways that blend laughter and levity with learning and leadership.
Over three days, our entire global organization gathered online to learn from inspirational keynote speakers, hear insights from the Acceleration Partners’ leadership team, grow together and even step out of our comfort zones.
We were also able to celebrate and recognize team members who elevated their capacity both personally and professionally over this year during our highly anticipated AP Global Awards Ceremony.
Read on for more details and snapshots of our Virtual AP Summit 2020!
The long-anticipated event kicked off with a creative and comical video put together by Acceleration Partners’ team members – including the leadership team! – about how we can help save the day for our clients’ affiliate programs.
Hilarity ensued as our daring superheroes came up with client solutions, all while wearing some truly inspired homemade costumes.
By the end of the video, the platform chat had flooded with funny quips and admiration of the performance, along with several requests for a sequel… to be continued? The Acceleration Partners leadership team has definitely learned from all our previous AP Summits that there’s often no better way to begin an inspiring event than with loads of laughter.
Owning a Mindset of Success
The theme for AP Summit 2020 was “Own It,” which is one of our three core values. At Acceleration Partners, Own It means stepping up to the opportunities in front of you, betting on your own abilities and rising to the occasion.
Owning It is not about assigning blame; it’s about having a mindset for a better life. When you own it, you are creating a path to success for yourself and your future.
This theme was perhaps more pertinent than ever with COVID-19 and the proceeding pandemic, making 2020 a challenging and stressful year for our employees, partners, clients, families and loved ones.
Robert (Bob) Glazer, Acceleration Partners’ (AP) founder and CEO, opened this years’ Summit with a look back on 2020, emphasizing the importance of “owning it” and being proud of what we have accomplished this year in light of the added pressures of the pandemic.
Despite the many challenges faced this year, there have been many notable accomplishments at Acceleration Partners:
Over the two days of AP Summit, employees got the opportunity to hear from some truly inspiring and thought-provoking speakers.
Our keynote speaker on day one was Shailee Basnet, an impressive Nepali mountaineer and stand-up comedian. Shailee also trains young female survivors of sex trafficking, helping them become licensed Himalayan Trekking Guides.
Giving her talk from Nepal, Shailee took us on her fascinating journey to summit Mount Everest and the adversities she faced along the way in order to reach new mental and physical heights in her life.
Something Shailee reminded us all was that, when it comes to lofty goals, it’s often the small, steady steps, taken one at a time, that help us reach them. Having this mindset is what led Shailee and her 10-member female team, who were all from diverse backgrounds, to reach the summit of Everest. Now, they are also the first team of women to summit the highest mountains in each continent.
Shailee’s talk reiterated that the actions chosen in your toughest moments—whether in your career or personal life—can set the stage for success and that great teams reach summits together; a job half done isn’t done at all.
The Courage to Be Disliked
On the second day of AP Summit, we were welcomed by keynote speaker Cat Hoke, who shared her rather tumultuous journey trying to improve the lives of inmates and why people deserve to be given a second chance.
Cat shared her passion for helping the incarcerated get a second chance through transforming their natural entrepreneurial spirits into legal hustles. Her journey has involved starting three organizations dedicated to this cause and going through two public scandals in the process.
Despite the good Cat had brought about through her organizations, the backlash she faced was not only intense, but also brought her to her lowest point. However, thanks to the help and support she received along the way – and the second chances she was given – she was able to navigate these painful experiences and come out the other side stronger and with a deeper meaning for her own life. She spoke candidly about her experiences, and she helps others to also find deeper meanings within their lives.
Cat had the courage to be disliked, because she knew that if she could be honest and own it, she could unshackle herself from the past and continue to help those who need it most – which is how she’s is now able to more clearly answer that very question in her own life.
She also spoke about the value of having a generous hustle and encouraged everyone to continue to find theirs.
Exploring Cultural Differences in the Workplace
Day two also featured global leadership expert Karen Cvitkovich, a facilitator on globalization, negotiation, conflict resolution, multinational team building, global leadership and virtual communications.
In her AP Summit session, Karen gave an insightful talk about how understanding the role of culture and where we come from can play into our professional relationships, as well as impact the performance within organizations – especially global ones.
Prior to the session, each Acceleration Partners’ employee was asked to complete a short questionnaire to determine our cultural profile. These profiles were then used to explore how our own style of giving feedback, establishing trust, and making decisions compares to that of others from our own culture as well as those from different cultures.
For example, how cultural differences between employees in the U.S., in the UK, in Singapore or in Australia can all impact the performance and productivity of a company, as well as the overall happiness and fulfillment of team members.
As a part of her presentation, attendees were virtually transported into smaller breakout groups where we could discuss our profile findings and interesting insights we’ve experienced working within our global organization.
After diving into some personal work experience stories, we quickly learned how easy it is for there to be misunderstanding between coworkers and even clients. If we can take a step back, however, and acknowledge how our different cultures are impacting the way we work and communicate with each other, we will better be able to improve how we can embrace relationships and approach—and reach—work goals.
Virtual Team Building
While team bonding this year looked a little different, our AP Summit still included time for employees to socialize, play games and connect in a more casual way.
Summit attendees were split into smaller groups with colleagues they don’t normally work with on a daily basis and had fun getting to know more about their global team members. Employees even enjoyed playing virtual Scattergories together.
Just like every year at AP Summit, we concluded day three with a virtual awards show.
Hosted by Helen Southgate, Acceleration Partners Managing Director of EMEA and APAC, and Matt Wool, AP President, team members who have made notable contributions to our organization and demonstrated our core values in their personal and professional lives were recognized and celebrated.
Recipients received awards such as the AP 360 award, Stepping It Up, Own It, Excel and Improve, Embrace Relationships, Firmbuilding, Rookie of the Year and more.
Next up were the Dream Awards. Each year, team members are given the opportunity to be selected to see their dreams realized. This is usually done in person at AP Summit, but this year’s virtual event actually offered a more personal reaction of team members being surprised with the news that they had been selected as a recipient for one of Acceleration Partners’ incredibly generous and uniquely tailored gifts!
The Dream Awards were started to help make the meaningful and life-changing goals and ambitions of Acceleration Partners employees a reality.
This year was no exception.
Here are just a few dreams that Acceleration Partners (AP) team members were granted at this year’s AP Summit:
- A socially distanced private boat tour for one AP father and his 5-year-old son.
- The gift of StoryWorth, a beautiful keepsake book to help a group of AP team members reconnect with their family and loved ones, who they’d been apart from due to the pandemic.
- One team member’s sister had lost her job due to the pandemic and was going through a tough time. To help her, the AP team member will be able to give her sister a three-month subscription to a professional service that offers career help and networking opportunities.
- Private yoga coaching sessions to support a team member in expanding their passion for yoga.
- A lifetime subscription to Dandapani’s Unwavering Focus course to support a group of AP employees who’d expressed the desire to bring more focus and awareness in their lives.
- Several employees were gifted $1,000 each to donate to the charity or cause of their choosing to support their desire to give back.
It was with full hearts, focused minds, and inspired souls that AP Summit came to a close. While we all wished we could have greeted each other in person for the annual event, the thoughtful virtual connection provided the next best thing for APers.
Once again, AP Summit reminded us of the great achievements our incredible team has accomplished together thus far, even through adversity, and when you have some of the best people and processes, anything is possible.