posted October 20, 2017

Dagger Glimpses: 2017 Dagger Retreat

Maggie O'Connor


We left the office shortly after 10:00AM. All 25 of us eagerly walked onto the luxury charter bus to head to a destination unfamiliar to most. The air was filled with excitement as conversations between seat-mates continued at a steady pace. Once we hit I-20, Mike kicked things off by holding our monthly Townhall. Batting second, I took the plate to recap Dagger culture week. Third up to bat was Mandy. She unveiled a new Dagger program. Pit stops for snacks and bathroom breaks and of course a loud movie playing overhead filled up the remaining three hours.

We arrived in Charleston and the sun was shining. The air was slightly humid, but the good kind of humidity that reminds you’re a jump, skip and a hop away from feeling the sand between your toes. Our bus driver kindly dropped off the ladies at their rental house in the Upper King area, after which he dropped off the guys at theirs, only a short .3 miles away. We had ample time to check in and settle in before our first planned activity: team-building.

The team-building activity was a two-team guessing game. It was intense, as most games go for us Dags. (Have I mentioned we are competitive?) It took up more time than expected because before we knew it, it was time to change and get ready for happy hour held at the ladies’ house. We sipped on Mags’ Margs (recipe not for sale), wine, beer, and bourbon drinks until it was time to make our way to dinner.

But first: A SURPRISE. I was able to arrange, with the most awesome help of a buddy, ten rickshaws to pick us up and carry us away to Parcel 32 where we had a fantastic dinner and overall experience. The rickshaws, by the way, were a huge hit. Oh, and did I mention we had the whole restaurant to ourselves? (Necessary for this group.) After dinner, some of us let the night carry us away by patroning a few nearby bars, mingling and dancing until our dancin’ shoes were wearing thin. The others were homeward bound.


In general, we take food very seriously. So for breakfast, we whipped up a breakfast offering that included scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, yogurt, fruit, cinnamon rolls, orange cinnamon rolls and of course, coffee. Immediately after breakfast was one of the most anticipated planned activities: team presentations. Unfortunately, I can’t go into detail regarding the meat or the context of these presentations. But don’t worry – you’ll know when it’s time for you to know. These presentations lasted all the way up to lunchtime. Again, because we take all meals very seriously, lunch was a homemade taco bar – chicken, beef or veggie tacos with sides of chips and salsa, black beans and Mexican rice.

Next up: a special workshop led by Mandy Cochran, Associate Creative Director. We listened to some really deep stuff – stuff that is usually very difficult to hear or talk about and stuff that is rarely talked about in the workplace. But because we are a different kind of workplace, because we strive to be the best kind of black sheep in agency land, we chose to talk about the hard stuff. Her workshop was centered around the work of Dr. Brené Brown. (There might be a future event organized by Dagger that would expose you to Brown’s incredible, life-altering work. Stay tuned.) We listened with attentive ears for two hours until it was time for free time.

We had four hours to do whatever we wanted. Some people went to Folly Beach, some took a rickshaw tour, some simply rested, and some contently had alone time. Free time lasted until 7:30PM when we were scheduled to meet at a local pizza joint for dinner. After dinner, we went back to the main house where we thoroughly enjoyed one another’s company. Competition, laughs and loud music filled the house until 10:15PM because at 10:30PM, 17 of us had an appointment to tour a historic jailhouse. Did I mention said jail is supposedly haunted?

Our jailhouse walkabout was quite amusing, not because the jailhouse was (read: was not) haunted. No, it was entertaining because we took the pleasure of creating our own fun. What’s a ghost tour without trying to scare your fellow tourists? Like Billy Joel once said, “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.” After the “ghost” tour ended, most of us made our way back to the main house to play more games. The night went on until about 2:00AM. Let’s just say we didn’t have to take any liquid souvenirs back home with us.


We didn’t hit the road until about 9:30AM. The energy on the bus ride home wasn’t the same as it was on the way there. But that’s not to say that’s a bad thing. People were still excited but in a different way. Perhaps the best way to describe it? Confident satisfaction.

Although a short two days, we parted from Charleston with a strong idea of what Dagger was really becoming and an even stronger idea of how we’re going to get there. You see, to get from point B to point C (we’ve already made it from point A to point B), we have to truly rely on one another. To create that trust, we have to strive to be better and do better as individuals. But maybe most importantly, we have to be given the space to be our true selves in order to know our true selves. The 2017 Dagger Retreat was designed to do just that — to freely give people the space to better understand themselves but in the context of pushing forward Dagger as the black sheep in all of agency land.

Back to that word: satisfaction. Yes. All of us left the retreat satisfied. But let me be clear: satisfaction does not equal completion.

To see a recap in image format, check out this Instagram post.