The real value of a strategic retreat

This weekend was the annual Epic Shareholders Strategic Retreat, which has become an important annual fixture in our Epic calendar.  As Sascha loves to point out to anyone who asks (and even those who don’t), yes Stuart and I are the only two shareholders, yes the venue is Hayman Island, and yes it does happen to coincide with Valentines Day, but it’s a few days that we have found absolutely invaluable in planning for the year ahead.

By early February, the year is really starting to take shape.  From an internal perspective, team members have come back from their Christmas/January holiday and presented their ideas for what they would like to achieve in the coming year, and external business opportunities are starting to crystallise as other organisations experience the same refresh of their own plans.  It’s the perfect time to take a few days to sit down together and review these in detail, away from the distractions of the office and home.


We’ve always been big believers in the concept of changing your environment to change your thinking, and a few days spent in the stunning setting of the Whitsundays not only provides a beautiful backdrop for discussions over a coffee or cocktail, but the ready availability of activities ranging from adrenaline boosting to pure relaxation means you can turn the dial up or down when and as needed.

A morning racing on jet ski’s left us well energised to deep dive into some gritty transactional discussions, while at another point in the weekend a massage helped unwind some of the literal and figurative knots that those same discussions had generated.


Nothing clears my thinking like jumping on a paddleboard, and cruising around looking at the stingrays and turtles swimming by provided the ideal opportunity to work through the construct of a couple of upcoming presentations.


This year we also discovered the SeaBob, a fantastic underwater scooter that allows you to easily experience the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef, especially if you’re like me and asthma rules you as ineligible for scuba diving.  As I was moving through the water, I realised I was viewing the same things I had previously seen when snorkelling, but the ability to quickly move up, down and around, approaching the same coral structure from a number of different angles gave me a completely different perspective.

In many ways this is exactly the same as what we’re trying to do with the products we’re building at Epic Digital – view the same information we’ve always had access to but from a variety of different angles, utilise new technology that makes that easier than it’s ever been, plus incorporate a gamification aspect to make sure its a fun and engaging experience.

So while the Instagram photos from the weekend may not have looked like a whole lot of work was getting done, the reality was that this weekend has once again put us in a great place, where we know exactly what direction we’re sailing in for the year ahead.

In addition to that, one of the great strengths of our business partnership is the strength of our personal partnership, and celebrating Valentine’s day together in a place like this certainly doesn’t hurt on that front either….


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