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Sketching the 2013 Retreat

· Posted by ben in Company and tagged · 2 Comments
Balsamiq Retreat 2013
Our house
Our home for the week

Hi all! Ben here again. As Val already posted, last summer we had our annual company retreat. This was my first opportunity to attend, and it was such a wonderful event. When we work remotely, having that intense week to get to know each other on a deep, personal level makes all the difference in the world.

One of my personal passions is sketchnoting - I posted a few in my first-ever Balsamiq blog post. If you have no idea what that means, it is a form of note taking that combines simple visuals with stylized text to create notes that are fun both to create and to review. Mike Rohde, the man who coined the term "sketchnotes", has written a great book explaining some of the basics that you can check out: The Sketchnote Handbook. As part of our retreat, I did an impromptu session teaching everyone about sketchnotes and how to get started. After we got home, I thought it would be a fun way to capture our experiences.

I deliberated whether or not to post the sketchnotes in our blog, because they were made primarily for those of us who were there. Without having had those experiences, they will mean less to you looking at them later. But we decided they would still be a fun way to share some of the activities we were able to do while we there, so hopefully you enjoy them!

The first day was a lot of this

The only person from Balsamiq that I had met before this retreat was Mike, so I was a little nervous about how I would fit in with everyone, and how well we would be able to get to know each in such a short time. However, it was wonderfully surprising how at-home I felt immediately with everyone. We had all interacted virtually for a while, so we weren't total strangers. I had no idea what to expect living in the same house for a week with a group of people I hand't even met, but it was just like a vacation with family and friends, although we did some work too! 🙂

Food Trucks
This was amazing food!

One new experience for me was eating at food trucks. I had a job in construction long ago, and there was a greasy bucket of bolts that would pull in every day, and we could buy lunch from there if we hadn't planned ahead. You were never sure how long you would survive after eating that food, so it was a bit of an adventure. When I heard that we were eating at food trucks, that was the image that immediately came to mind. Luckily for me, this was a totally different class of food trucks.

San Francisco City

A highlight of the last full day was getting to meet all the local families. Everyone came together for a tour through San Francisco and lunch in beautiful Alamo Square Park. We could see the whole city over the top of the famous Painted Ladies. It was the perfect way to wrap up our week together.

Saying goodbye was not easy

After a blindingly fast week, it was time to head our separate ways. We left armed with new inside jokes, renewed enthusiasm, and fast friendships. I can hardly wait until we get to see each other again next year!

Here is the complete set of sketchnotes. Enjoy!

(Click to enlarge; ← and → to move through the images)
Sketchnotes from Balsamiq Retreat (1)Sketchnotes from Balsamiq Retreat (2)Sketchnotes from Balsamiq Retreat (3)

Sketchnoting has been a fun way for me to capture and share experiences. How do you share meaningful experiences you've had with your company? Let us know in the comments!

ben for the Balsamiq Team

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Comments (2)

  1. This reminds me of the Urban Sketching movement, a great way to combine art, journalling and social media. Google “urban sketching” 🙂

  2. Wow! Love these!!!!