Vacation All I Ever Wanted…Had to Stay Home – Virtual Vacation Anyone?
Wow! 2020 sure hasn’t turned out to be what anyone thought it would be. Unless you had a global pandemic, virtual school, societal unrest, and murder hornets on your 2020 bingo card, you were most likely experiencing the challenge of having to make some serious adjustments in your “new normal”. Did your “new normal” include a virtual vacation to replace the one you couldn’t take this year?
Perform[cb]-ers are not ones to shy from challenges. In fact, we like to think that challenges bring the best out in us, and this global pandemic did just that. A company that believes that each and every one of our team members is a cultural co-founder, we thrive on being and working together. Throughout the year – well, a normal year anyway – we have many outings from going to Howl-o-Scream at Busch Gardens to Rockies baseball games. Summer is usually a particularly special time of the year because we also have many outings or group get-togethers, as well as summer Fridays, where the business shuts down at 2:00 every Friday afternoon between Memorial Day and Labor Day (stick a pin in that for a few paragraphs, we’ll come back to it) so that team members can get a little more fun in the sun time.
Since group outings were out of the question, we did exactly what Perform[cb] is known to do. We adapted. We got more creative. We became even more productive. More importantly, we found new ways to have fun in our virtual environment. And when you have a Vibe Manager on your team full-time, that can get really fun! So this summer, when many of us had to cancel our vacation plans or were struggling to keep kiddos engaged and happy during quarantine, we started a Virtual Vacation series! What is a Virtual Vacation, you ask? It’s exactly what you think – each week, one of our team members served as a guest host from their own kitchen (or lanai, porch, and even a boat) to share their favorite drink, food, and knowledge from a destination of their choice. For a group as social as the Perform[cb] team, social distancing does not come easily, but this virtual vacation series was a hit from day one.
Read on for some of our Summer highlights!
May 29 – Mexico
Terry, our Director of Human Resources (because if you’re going to have an event about a cocktail, you may as well let HR go first), kicked things off with a trip south of the border to our neighbors in Mexico. He taught 66 Perform[cb]-ers how to make an amazing margarita – via Zoom! The team had lots of fun sharing favorite tequilas, mixers and rims (this team is about 50/50 on salted vs. unsalted).
Fun Fact: It was Don Cenobio Sauza who was responsible for identifying blue agave as the best for producing tequila. Terry, and probably the rest of Perform[cb], owes Don Cenobio a debt of gratitude.
June 5 – Japan
This week, we found ourselves on the other side of the planet, in Japan. Perform[cb]’s CFO, Mike shared his knowledge of the land of the rising sun and centered his talk on their whiskey selection (Mike fancies himself a whiskey-aficionado, or at least is practicing to become one). Japan’s reputation for whiskey really hit the scene in 2001 when Nikka’s 10-year Yoichi single malt won “Best of the West” at Whisky Magazine’s awards.
Fun Fact: Whiskey is spelled with an “e” in the U.S. and Ireland. It’s spelled whisky in Scotland, Canada, and several other countries. So depending on where you’re reading this, you may think we’ve been spelling it wrong…
June 19 – United Kingdom
This week on our virtual vacation we traveled to the United Kingdom and were introduced to the Bramble with our guide, Julie Martin, VP of Product (with a little help from Ryan, our Vibe Manager). If you haven’t tried this refreshing cocktail, you don’t know what you’re missing. (that was said with a British accent if you didn’t notice). From blackberries and lemon juice to gin and Creme de Mure Liqueur, this is one delicious refresher. Give it a try yourself with this recipe!
Julie and Ryan taught us this mixology magic: Muddle blackberries in a rocks glass and set aside. The muddling is an important step (also said in a British accent). In a shaker with ice, add gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup, and shake. In a glass with the blackberries, add crushed ice. Strain the liquid mixture over the crushed ice and blackberries. Cover with more crushed ice (it should look like a snow cone). Top with Crème de Mure and garnish with a fresh blackberry.
Fun Fact: It is illegal to be drunk and in charge of cattle in England and Wales.
June 26 – Brasil
This week, our tour guide Luisa, our Director of Sales for the Agency, took us to Brazil where she educated us on some fascinating cultural aspects of Brazilian culture, including sharing her Carnival outfit. She also taught us how to make a classic caipirinha cocktail. So simple, yet so delicious.
Fun Fact: Believe it or not, a rhinoceros actually once ran for political office in Brasil – and won.
July 10 – South Africa
This week, Sydney (Senior Account Executive) “flew” us down to South Africa with a Springbokkie shot. It’s a simple, yet decadent, cocktail made with crème de menthe (if you’re feeling adventurous, here’s a recipe to make your own creme de menthe) and amarula. The South African national rugby team happens to be called the Springboks, and their colors are green and gold! A springbok is actually the national animal of South Africa and is part of the gazelle tribe.
Sydney may be expecting, but that didn’t stop her from making an amazing shot. Her husband had the honor of drinking it.
Fun Fact: Some insist that you should perform a special ritual before drinking this shot. The ritual involves placing both hands behind your ears with your index fingers pointing up. You then stomp your feet on the ground, snort through your nostrils, and squeal, resembling how a real springbok behaves in the wild. Participants then lower their head to the shot glass, pick it up using their front teeth (no use of hands allowed!) and scull the drink.
July 17 – Australia
This week, Lee, EVP of Marketers and avid golfer, transported us to the land down under, Australia! Apparently there are a lot of golfers from Australia, and they, along with many others, like to drink a shandy, which is a beer mixed with a lemon or lemon-lime flavored beverage. That seems easy enough for even the most novice bartender! Tip: wheat beers or light lager are usually preferred for a shandy,
Fun Fact: Australia is known for its coastline. In fact, if you visit one new beach in Australia per day, it would take you 27 years to see them all. Where do we sign up?
Fun Fact #2: Lee has a pretty decent Aussie accent.
July 24 – Spain
This week, Jennifer Miller (Senior Partner Executive) took us to Barcelona, Spain. This was an ode to just a year ago when we attended AWE in this beautiful city. She showed the team how to make sangria, although one might say her version was rather…unconventional? This is where the aforementioned boat came in. Standing on a boat in someone’s driveway and using a paint bucket to mix the concoction, Jennifer added in a bag of white wine, red wine, fruit, and one beer (because why not). We’re not sure we’re going to try this drink at home, but it sure was entertaining to watch.
Fun Fact: Be careful of those Barcelona streets. The city is considered to have the worst drivers in the world with accidents occurring every 19 seconds. Perhaps too much sangria?
July 31 – Colombia
This week we traveled to Colombia, the home country of our Senior Accounts Payable Associate, Angelica. She kicked off her presentation with a masterfully shot video (way to raise the bar, Angelica). We not only learned about Colombia’s most popular drink, aguardiente but also got a history, geography, and cultural presentation to boot.
Aguardiente is a mash-up of the words agua (water) and ardiente (burning). So aguardiente is a direct translation of the English term, firewater. A little known fact is that each Colombian state (or department, as they’re called) has its own monopoly on liquor production and distribution. They rely heavily on profits from their booze business to finance public health care. So when you drink a shot of aguardiente and say “Salud!” (which means “health” in Spanish), you’re actually meaning it!
To make our virtual work environment that much more connected, Angelica surprised the team with a little trivia and the winner got their choice of aguardiente, Colombian coffee, or Colombian hot chocolate mailed right to their door.
Salud Angelica! Again, way to raise that bar.
August 7 – Italy
Our Chief Strategy Officer, Matt, took us to Italy to learn about a popular Italian cocktail, the Negroni. The drink originated from the Americas with soda water, but in Italy, the soda water was replaced with gin (because Italians clearly have more fun). There are only three ingredients: equal parts of gin, Campari bitters, and sweet vermouth. You can replace the Campari bitters with Aperol for something sweeter and with less strength. A traditional made Negroni is stirred, not shaken (sorry James Bond), and built over ice in an old-fashioned or rocks glass and garnished with a slice of orange.
The Negroni is supposed to represent La Dolce Vita – the sweet life! Matt encouraged the team to think about the things that are adding sweetness to our lives right now, even though things are tough. The sweet things are sometimes the simplest, like taking walks, spending time with our kids or pets, or in Matt’s case, drinking a Negroni or two.
Here Matt demonstrates how to put the orange on the rim of the glass….sans orange.
Fun Fact: With almost 40 million visitors, Italy is the fourth-most visited country in the world.
August 21 – Banja Luka, Bosnia
Next up, Aleksandar (System Engineer) took us on a culinary adventure tour through Bosnia, and specifically Banja Luka, home to Aleksandar and our amazing development team. Aleksandar explained that fruits and vegetables thrive in Bosina – including grapes for wine. There are many types including red grapes, called Vranec, and white Chardonnay grapes. There are also many beers brewed in Bosnia including Black Georgia beer, which is brewed in a brewery dating back to 1873. Another favorite is Rakijaa – a Bosnian brandy made mostly from the plum.
Aleksandar didn’t stop at wine and beer though, he shared some amazingly yummy looking pictures of Bosnian food with us. Heavily influenced by Turkish food, popular Bosnian dishes include stuffed vegetables, sweet cakes similar to baklava, and the national dish of cevapi (small grilled rolls of seasoned beef and lamb).
This would go well with a glass of Rakijaa right about now.
Fun Fact: Bosnians cheers in Serbian by saying Живелиm, or Živeli!!!
August 28 – Montana
This was the FINALE of our virtual vacations – and it veered into a strange place, pretty far away from the first cocktail presentation back in May. But that’s how we roll at Perform[cb]!
It seems Stephanie Sorenson (Partner Executive) made the (fatal?) mistake of claiming that she could eat a lot of hotdogs in a very short period of time. As pointed out in the opening, we’ve never been a group to allow a challenge to fall on deaf ears. So we held her to it, and to close out our last Virtual Vacation Friday, she and some of her fellow PCB teammates gathered in Montana to see her make it so.
Fun Fact: During hotdog eating competitions, there’s no sitting. When you’re sitting down, you’re not giving your body the optimal amount of space to fill because you’re compressed. Standing up is the way to go. All of the food can easily flow right down into your stomach.
Happy eating, Steph!
For a summer of social distancing, the Virtual Vacation series definitely helped fill the void and made us all feel closer to one another from a distance. Some of the hosts went way out of their comfort zones to do this (Julie) and others live in that zone, so it wasn’t a stretch (Miller), but they all embraced and totally killed it!
And remember that pin we told you to put in the Summer Fridays up in the intro? Well, we work for such an awesome company, that we now have what we’re calling Pandemic Fridays! That’s right, through the end of the year, Perform[cb]-ers get to shut it down early on Fridays and enjoy some “me time”.
ŽIVELI & CHEERS to the best team on earth, and to Pandemic Fridays!