Learning Something New at the Company Dinner
This past Friday night, all the OakTree Software staff located here in Central Florida gathered for our annual company dinner. Since we have a number of employees located in other parts of the country, we try to schedule the company dinner at a time when at least some of those far-flung staff members happen to be in town. Last year, the dinner was timed to coincide with a visit from one of our associate scholars. This year, a module developers' training seminar gave us an excuse to include several out of town members of our module development team.
The hardest part about attending our company dinner is deciding where to sit. When you'd like to visit with everyone, it's hard to settle on a table. Basically, my wife and I just try to position ourselves at one of the larger tables and then wait and see who else sits down. In some settings, such a luck-of-the-draw seating strategy could easily backfire, but with OakTree staff, every hand is a winner.
The annual company dinner is always a pretty informal affair. There's no marshaling the troops pep-talk or state of the union address. The only business-related talk we heard was a brief update about current and upcoming projects.
Last year, because we were being visited by a world-class Dead Sea Scrolls scholar, we asked him to give a brief talk about the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Because this scholar still knows how to communicate with regular folks, we all learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
This year, we had no visiting scholar with us, so one of our own gave a Keynote presentation on the spectacular Nabataean site of Petra. Often featured in movies like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Petra features beautiful edifices cut right into the red stone cliffs. If you have the Bible Lands PhotoGuide, you can explore this amazing site yourself.
After we applauded the presenter and the members of our office staff who had organized the event, the evening began to draw to a close. Everyone got up and began gathering their belongings, while the winners of an earlier drawing laid claim to the tulip centerpieces which had decorated each table. Almost as soon as my wife and I had picked ours out, I had to defend it from the clutches of our iPhone developer. Yes, we have an iPhone developer, and yes, he was able to find another unclaimed centerpiece to take home. By the way, if the thought of grown men fighting over flowers seems odd, please understand that we were acting on behalf of our wives. :-)
In the end, we all headed home well fed, better educated, and with the renewed feeling that our company is more like a family than a corporation.