It’s hard to believe that this time last year, approximately 85 Acceleration Partners team members descended upon Boston for our annual AP Summit. There was much talk then about how many new team members there were and how much we’ve grown as a company.
Little did we know what 2018 would look like.
This year, over 130 team members from around the global came together for our 2018 annual AP Summit, descending upon the Normandy Farm hotel and conference centre outside of Philadelphia, PA– one of AP’s fastest-growing hubs.
The city of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection was an ideal locale for the Acceleration Partners team to gather, learn, commemorate, belt out some karaoke and establish new, meaningful relationships with our colleagues.
Our AP Summit theme this year was Embracing Relationships, one of our company’s three core values. This theme was honoured and represented in a variety of ways, from thoughtful TED talk-style presentations given by AP team members to emotional and inspiring speakers on resiliency, perseverance, standards and leadership.
Our opening guest speaker this year was JT McCormick, CEO of Scribe and the author of I Got There: How I Overcame Racism, Poverty, and Abuse to Achieve the American Dream. Hearing his deeply raw, and painful life experiences moved many to tears. It also illuminated how being vulnerable can powerfully inspire others, build trust and strengthen relationships. JT’s sincerity and respectful authenticity set the stage for our Summit and for what it truly means to embrace relationships, however difficult.
“How JT used forgiveness to embrace relationships with those who caused him great pain and suffering is unbelievable. ‘Inspiring’ doesn’t even scratch the surface to how poignant his talk was.”
“The unfathomable adversity that JT has had to face and overcome in his life was eye-opening, to say the least. He gave me a new perspective for what it means to be vulnerable, build positive relationships with people and why it’s so important to do so.”
“One of the most heart-wrenching and impactful talks I’ve ever heard. One truly never knows who we impact or how. An incredibly important reminder for why simply being kind to others can be life-changing.”
Getting with “The Program”
Our theme was also brought to the fore by Erik Kapitulik and his phenomenal team at “The Program.” Eric served in the United States Marine Corps as both an Infantry Officer and Special Operations Officer with 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, 1st Marine Division. In 1999, during a routine training mission to prepare for an upcoming deployment to the Persian Gulf, Eric and his platoon were in a helicopter crash that resulted in the death of seven Marines. In response to this tragedy, Eric created the Force Reconnaissance Scholarship Fund to benefit the children of his fallen men.
In the rain, mud and simulated rugged terrain, five teams, overseen by “The Program”staff, were guided through challenging “missions” that tested our communication, leadership and team cohesion through shared adversity. It also allowed those not in traditional leadership positions to step up, lead and learn from the process. The mentally and physically challenging training scenarios gave us all new perspectives on the standards of good leadership and of good teammates.
“The Wilderness Challenges was incredible. Pushed me way outside my comfort zone and taught me things about myself that I’ll be able to apply in both my professional and personal life.”
“I had no idea what to expect from the Wilderness Challenge – I was quite nervous about it, actually – but it turned out to be one of my favourite experiences from AP Summit 2018, and there were a lot of amazing experiences!”
“At the end of the day, we were communicating with thoughtful authority, working as one unit, listening to our teammates when we needed to and stepping up as leaders when it was our time.”
TED Talks and workshops
In the past few years, many AP team members have made positive changes in their lives, careers and relationships that reflect both our core values and AP’s vision for work-life integration. An impressive number of team members stepped up for this year’s Summit by giving short TED Talk-style presentations and leading longer breakout sessions that reflected these changes and learnings.
Topics ranged from setting and reaching audacious goals, excelling and improving in work and life, pushing outside of comfort zones, understanding your chronotype, dealing with grief in the workplace and radical candor to insights on how to be a better receiver of feedback, the five dysfunctions of a team, overcoming impostor syndrome, building capacity and communicating more effectively with clients, prospects and peers.
“I really enjoyed learning how to guide clients on the best path to help them reach their destination.”
“The creativity and creative problem-solving session I attended really resonated with me. I saw several people in the group have some ah-ha moments, realising that everyone is creative; it’s not something you have or don’t.”
“I absolutely loved how all sessions used real-life scenarios to help us work through the concepts that were discussed.”
In any fast-growing company, transparency and clear communication about the multifaceted happenings within the organisation are put to the test. While AP receives many accolades from team members about the leadership teams’ open, honest communication, AP founder and CEO Bob Glazer and AP President, Matt Wool, take this a step further by holding a company-wide Town Hall at AP Summits. They both candidly answered a variety of questions that were posed to them–confidentially and openly – by AP team members.
Bob and Matt also gave a comprehensive presentation on AP’s global growth, strategy and structure and what that is likely to look like over the next three years. There was much discussion, smart questions and authentic, transparent answers given on what symmetry will look like as we continue to grow globally.
In typical AP Summit style, there was as much time dedicated to working on the business as there was celebrating the business and all that’s been accomplished over the past year.
AP Game Night and Karaoke Night have become a thing of much laughter. During AP Karaoke, team members from around the globe came together to sing, entertain, dance and make lasting (and somewhat embarrassing) memories. The global team overseeing the affiliate marketing programmes for one of AP’s largest clients united in harmony (or at least close to it ) for a captivating rendition of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, even sporting black moustaches!
Prior to AP Summit, team members were also able to select a fun activity that they’d like to participate in on Day Two of AP Summit. Options ranged from indoor skydiving, hiking, axe throwing and escape room excursions to shopping at the King of Prussia mall, sip and paint, yoga and a distillery tour.
Building our capacity to outperform
In his closing presentation on the final day, Bob outlined the four capacities we must focus on to truly outperform in both our professional and our personal lives (Spiritual, Intellectual, Physical, Mental), which are also the pillars of his upcoming book Outperform. Bob also explained the significance of setting high goals and expectations.
Acceleration Partners is a performance-driven organisation that expects a lot from each employee. However, what was demonstrated throughout this year’s Summit is that the only way to reach these lofty goals is by helping our teammates succeed and do our part to provide every member with the resources and support needed to reach those goals. A significant aspect of that is supporting team members in their personal lives.
Accolades, awards and awe-inspiring affection
AP Awards Dinners are a time to celebrate our wins and recognise those who have gone above and beyond to support the company and their team and who truly embody AP’s Core Values. Recipients received individual and overall core value awards as well as awards for most improved and “rookie of the year.” With so much to honour and observe, AP Awards Dinners have a reputation for bringing out strong emotions, and this year’s dinner was no exception.
At last year’s AP Summit, Bob made dreams come true for many AP team members. This year for our Embrace Relationships theme, he sent out a form to all employees asking them to list five relationships that they’d like to start, grow or rekindle in their life. Team members took this request to heart and gave very personal reasons as to why these relationships were important to them.
Bob read every single submission and, with the help of our Senior Director of Talent and Culture, Emily Tetto, put things in motion to help make them a reality. In addition to informing all employees that AP would cover the cost should they decide to take someone on their list out to a nice meal, select individuals were also brought up to the front of the room after the AP Awards ceremony and informed that one of their Embrace Relationships submissions had been selected to become a reality. These included:
- Reconnecting a team member who lives in London with a close cousin who had moved to Australia by flying her over to the UK for a visit.
- Sending a team member to Greece to reconnect with her 90-year-old grandparents who she hadn’t seen in two years and who’d only met her daughter (their great granddaughter) once.
- Hiring private investigators to help two team members search for and reconnect with relatives.
- Making a financial contribution to a team member’s family to help he and his spouse realise their dream of adopting a child.
- Connecting a team member with a life coach so she could reestablish a relationship with herself work through challenges from her past and grow as a person.
“I can’t count how many people came up to me after I was notified that my Embrace Relationships wish came true to share how moved they were to have witnessed something so special and how thankful they are to be a part of a community like AP. You’ve really created something special here (and put on a Summit no one will ever forget).”
“Summit was an extremely overwhelming experience. There was so much to learn, the intensity broke comfort zones and shook things up, and being able to connect with remote coworkers in person encouraged us to embrace relationships. Overall, I walked away with some extremely valuable learnings and am already looking forward to next year!”
“AP Summit was one of the best experiences I’ve had in my professional life thus far! It was humbling to be around such talented individuals in person for the first time since joining the organization. A week before Summit I lost my grandfather and it was a tough time, but AP Summit quickly approached and helped me overcome my grief immensely. AP has something very very special.”
“This was my first AP Summit and I have nothing but positive things to say about the event. Great speakers and great sessions. The best part about it was getting to meet so many people in person for the first time and most of them are people that I don’t normally work with and are on other teams. For the people who are on my team, it gave me a chance to get to know them on a more personal level which I really believe will translate positively to our daily work. It was such a great experience. I’m coming out of AP summit with a stronger sense of purpose than I may have ever felt in my life.”
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