Team VIVA! set off early Thursday, January 17, for our annual workshop at Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa, positioned at the edge of Echo Point, in the picturesque town of Katoomba.

We arrived ready to begin what would prove an intensive two-day learning experience, capped off with fantastic food, a touch of wine and plenty of fun.

From 9am, our team kicked-off an animated discussion involving the agency’s financial history, including last year’s most successful, net profit-wise, to date. Led by VIVA!’s Managing Director, Paul, the session canvassed VIVA!’s success, and areas for growth and improvement

Paul then handed the baton to VIVA!’s research whiz and health PR consultant, Mel, who delivered an exceptional presentation on boosting workplace productivity. Harnessing her medical knowledge and exquisite knack for analogies, Mel drew a fascinating parallel between the gut immune system and the symbiotic microbes that exist within it.

After blowing our minds away and answering many questions, Mel stepped aside for VIVA!’s senior account director, Julia, who delivered a fascinating presentation on giving and receiving feedback, and an educational presentation on “strategy” and “tactics”.

VIVA!’s Principal, Kirsten delivered an interesting presentation reflecting on her personal history, why she founded the agency and its growth over the past 16.5 years – outlasting many companies established around the same time.

Former NRL star, founder of the Mental Health Movement, and guest speaker, Dan Hunt, wrapped up the day Dan spoke candidly about living with Type II bipolar disorder and how the illness had affected his professional sporting career, relationships and health. Using a plethora of metaphors, Dan armed our team with many useful tools to help us stay mentally fit and well in our personal and professional lives. The somewhat challenging and at times, confronting sessionafforded each of us the opportunity to learn more about one another

This session was followed by  a much-needed swim in the beautiful resort pool and dinner at the stunning Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant, where we wound down while watching the sun set across the awe-inspiring Blue Mountains. After a brief game of cards at the resort’s cocktail bar, we headed back to our respective rooms to get some shut-eye ahead of day two.

Paul kicked off day two with a housekeeping-related discussion, followed by a second external speaker, new health-related technologies expert, Dean Millington.

Dean challenged the team to think of how we could incorporateaugmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) tools into our strategic communication campaigns.  Dean explained how he had helped companies bring static advertisements to life using AR and VR.

After lunch, we changed into our active-wear for a surprise team-building activity. We were split into two teams by activity coordinator, Sam, who asked each team to build a scarecrow using bamboo sticks, sticky tape and balloons. Team “purple” and “green” subsequently competed for bragging rights and a coveted plastic medal in a series of heated competitions, including a messy grape stomping and cork throwing game. Although incredibly close, the green team managed to claim victory

As temperatures soared into the 40s, we hit the pool once last time before heading back to Sydney, with several prizes in hand (for massages, spas and shopping sprees) for winning team quizzes.

The workshop solidified our strength as a team and further fuelled our passion for what we do.

Each of us returned to the office on Monday refreshed and with clear professional and personal goals in mind heading into 2019.