My career story was similar to many others in the business world. It started in the early 2000s working various dream jobs at Target headquarters in Minneapolis. I say my dream jobs because I can only count on one hand, in 10 years, days that I wanted to leave. I was very fortunate to work in positions that challenged me, gave me the opportunity to work with and learn from motivated and intelligent people, and of course a retail powerhouse brand like Target. In 2015, the business climate and the time in my role on the digital transformation education team prepared me to make my next move. I left my comfortable job to start something on my own - working with companies, from retailers to healthcare organizations, on their business transformation initiatives. I wish I could say I was brave and scared, but honestly, I'm such a planner that I felt confident in my decisions and I'm very comfortable with trial and error.
My new work brought me to many new countries and the opportunity to work with people from different cultures. I've learned a lot - and I'm still learning everyday. For the past 4 years, I’ve had the opportunity to mix travel with my work. My job is not 100% remote, but it is somewhat flexible so I’ve been able to sprinkle in moments of travel experiences with my work responsibilities. For example, if I have to do 3 days of work in Stockholm, I’ll add an extra day or two to be a tourist. I always cringe when people refer to me as a “digital nomad” because that term evokes instagram images of a young millennial taking a picture of their laptop at an exotic beach with a margarita in one hand. I can't do that. I need structure. I need an office. I need to have meetings. While the "work from the beach" approach isn't bad, this has not been my personal experience and a lifestyle that I do not identify with.
Friends and work peers of mine (well past our upper 30s) often mention how they wish they could travel more like me or enjoy similar experiences, but many of the roadblocks may be family-life commitments, job flexibility, and knowing how to get work done while also experiencing a new culture. This got my brain thinking about how I can create something for people like my friends.
While exploring options to work remotely and travel to unfamiliar destinations, I noticed a theme: they all cater to the young millennials who may not have family commitments, love being labeled as misfits and dreamers, freelance type workers or may not have to report back to a home office. The landing pages feature 20-somethings on the beaches of Bali or a group having drinks in the streets of Medellin, Colombia. They use words like nomad, tribe, and retreat. They identify more with travel agencies than career development. Programs are anywhere from 1 month to 1 year traveling the world. I want to be clear, I'm not slamming these programs - I wish they were available for me 10 years ago. I'm just at a different place in my life now. I'm seeing a space for something else.
That is why I want to create an experience for working professionals with rich business experience and busy personal lives who value leadership development in topics that are relevant in today’s business world AND also want to experience a new culture. After years of creating training and development experiences for organizations around the world, I can see the need to replace static management conferences and training sessions with something more immersive and life changing. An increasing number of businesses are recognizing the value of this approach as we are seeing many companies offer more sabbatical style incentives or scaling back on the amount of conferences we attend. The concept of teamwork and morale is evolving and I want to meet that challenge.
I'm starting Workbreaker because I feel passionate about the value that travel mixed with learning can do for one's career. Companies are scrambling to increase employee engagement in new ways. Monetary incentives may not do the trick anymore to address the fact your employee may be burned out or feel unchallenged in their role. Think of Workbreaker as a blend of going to a business conference/training workshop, with time set aside to focus on your core job in an office setting, all while having the ability to be a tourist in a new city to recharge.
Who is this aimed for?
People who want to travel more but may be constricted because they don’t have enough vacation time.
People who want to travel but it may be difficult to be away from family or home for more than a week or two.
People who are looking for unique business development opportunities outside of traditional seminars or conferences.
Companies that are looking to send their employees to unique leadership development opportunities.
Companies that are looking for different ways to recognize or reward high-performers other than monetary bonuses or an extra week of vacation.
A guided and structured alternative to existing work travel programs.
At a time where the line of work-life balance is blurred, I believe work fulfillment happens when we are all empowered to see the world and business problems from a new perspective, connect with diverse individuals, and take time to personally reflect in a new setting. I hope you'll join me!