A family vacation underscores leadership wisdom.
“This is no longer a vacation It’s a quest! It’s a quest for fun!” exclaims a flustered Clark Griswold in the movie “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” He’s at the end of his rope, having lost luggage, family (RIP Aunt Edna) and his way along the road. All he wanted to do was have a fun family vacation. Clark Griswold provided my inner monologue while I road tripped recently to CUES’ Execu/Net in Sedona, Ariz.
Execu/Net has long been one of my favorite events—top-notch speakers in the morning, with afternoons free to explore the great outdoors, gain perspective on life and find that elusive work/life balance. The gorgeous Sedona location, the free time to explore, and my daughters’ desire to visit Arizona … the stars aligned and I had the idea that our family vacation 2018 could be set.
I’m very lucky to work with one of my best friends, Kari Sweeney, CUES’ supplier relations manager. Kari is as big a fan of “National Lampoon’s Vacation” as I am—she named our roof-top carrier “Edna”! I could do a whole series of blog posts focused on what makes her so awesome, but one of the traits I love about her is her sense of adventure. So, when I said to her “You know what might be fun? What if we took our kids and drove from Wisconsin to Arizona?” she immediately was in, and #FromCheesetoCactus became official. (#FromCheesetoCactus was our hashtag on Instagram and Facebook, if you’d like to travel cross-country vicariously with us.)
My daughters, while excited to visit Arizona and see the Grand Canyon, were less than thrilled to learn we’d be driving. My arguments of “getting there is half the fun!” fell on deaf ears. They were looking forward to seeing the Sweeneys and Arizona, but they were less enthusiastic about the road trip part of the vacation.
As we planned our stops, I spent a lot of time on the computer with the girls. Looking at images of Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, and Sedona’s red rocks online helped them get more excited, and when we sat down together to look at the available Pink Jeep adventures, their enthusiasm really skyrocketed.
And the Pink Jeep adventure was exciting. CUNA Mutual Group, a conference sponsor and CUESolutions provider, generously hosted a tour for a few dozen attendees one afternoon. We did the “scenic rim tour,” which took us to the top of the red rocks and provided a view of Sedona that words just can’t describe. Talk about gaining perspective!
The opening speaker at Execu/Net was Ty Bennett, founder of Leadership Inc. I had heard him speak on the power of storytelling at CEO/Executive Team Network and was excited for his new presentation, “Partnership is the New Leadership.” Among the wisdom Ty shared, one bit really stuck with me. He said “Our goal is to have everyone’s buy-in at the point of implementation. Unless we involve them at the point of creation, we don’t get it.”
That’s it! That was the difference in the attitude of my children. They were 100 percent in for the Pink Jeeps because I had them involved in the planning of the event. The driving out was my idea. No wonder they were less than thrilled about that part. Upon reflection, they now appreciate the road trip aspect of the trip and the stops we were able to make along the way, but they had not bought into the idea when we first hit the road.
Mitchell Corn Palace, Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Garden of the Gods, Grand Canyon, and more! It really was the vacation of a lifetime and has filled my family with memories we will hold dear for the rest of our lives. There was some yelling. There were some tears. But now, two weeks after we got back, all that remains in my memory is the laughter. Laughter from the girls in the backseat, laughter from the adults in the front seat, laughter and excitement about seeing a real tumbleweed in Hooker, Okla.
For 12 days, we two adventurous moms took five girls (aged 14, 12, 11, 10 and 8) cross-country 4,317 miles, visiting 12 states on one epic, unforgettable road trip. Already looking forward to Execu/Net 2019 in Big Sky, Mont. But I’ll be sure to let my daughters be partners in the planning. And we’ll fly.
Karin Sand, CIE, is CUES’ VP/strategic partnerships and solutions.
You can still register for this year’s CEO/Executive Team Network, slated for Nov. 5-7 in Nashville, Tenn.
Execu/Net 2019 will be Aug. 11-14 in Big Sky, Mont.