For the fourth annual X-Factor, Knight Eady packed up our office for a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. At Knight Eady, we believe our most important asset is our people, so we feel it is important to take the time to invest in them beyond the traditional workday. Each year on our X-Factor trip, we dive deep into our DNA as a company to understand the unique value each one of us brings to the table. We develop who we are and why we do what we do.
Although the week is filled with fun games and friendly competition, this retreat means more than beating your coworker at putt-putt and laser tag. The X-Factor provides a chance to better comprehend the unique Knight Eady culture—a culture that pushes each member to step out of their comfort zone and into a new environment of constant innovation. The X-Factor serves as a catalyst for each team member’s growth both in and out of the office.
During the retreat, each day is programmed with various activities designed to push our creative, competitive and innovative minds. We also have personal and thoughtful activities planned for the week, like one of everyone’s favorites: speed dating. Speed dating offers time for coworkers to get to know each other, especially those who do not typically work together on a day-by-day basis. This serves as a time to talk about our personal lives rather than tasks to do in the office. Developing a deep understanding of one another outside of the office creates more empathy, which translates to better communication and workflow inside of the office.
Our first activity of the retreat was white water rafting down the Ocoee River. Thankfully, none of us fell out and joined the Ocoee swim team that day… other than our Gymnastics Coordinator, Kayla Williams. To her credit, the swim is rumored to have been caused by her own teammate Chris Nix!
During the week, our staff divided into four teams, including the Honey Bears, SmoKE’S, Knight Lightning Whiskey Co., and the Smokey Mountain Mining Co. Our first game of the competition began with ESPN Sports Trivia emceed by none other than our own Michael Mcgreevey. The Honey Bears took the 1st place spot with a successful answer in a double-or-nothing bonus question.
Our next competition included an intense, match-play tournament at one of Gatlinburg’s finest putt-putt courses. It was a true battle for first place that came down to the final hole between Molly Oretsky of Knight Lightning Whiskey Co. and Katie Stotts of the Smokey Mountain Mining Company. After debilitating, unwarranted trash talk from Michael Eady, whose team did not even make the top two, Knight Lightning came out on top.
The X-Factor continued with our group presentations, where teams create presentations with the goal to inspire others, spark creativity, share a personal message and produce some laughter. The Honey Bears showed up big-time with their children's book-themed presentation featuring illustrations and a rhyme to tell the story famous people nicknamed bear (I.E. Bear Bryant, the Golden Bear, etc.) with our Knight Eady core values.
After presentations, the Knight Eady staff was greeted by a few black bears after Caroline Harding forgot to lock the trashcans. In the end, it provided some great entertainment and a close-up, authentic look at the wildlife in the Smokey Mountains! Then, we boarded our vans and drove a long distance only to walk a short distance through the mountains, also known as a hike. The highlight: BYOS (bring your own sandwich).
Later that day, we took on laser tag, where the SmoKE’s took home the victory. If we learned anything this week, it was to not get in the way of Michael Eady or Daniel Smith with a laser gun.
For the final competition, we had the infamous “Hungry Games” where each team provided a meal to be judged off of presentation, creativity, service and taste. Smokey Mountain Mining Company took this 1st place medal home when Kayla Williams made her award-winning chili recipe for all of the “miners coming home from a long day of work.” This final win secured their place as the overall champions of the 2018 X-Factor!
We had a great week getting to know one another better, diving deep into our company's culture and competing in fun games. Thank you, Knight Eady, for an awesome week in the mountains!