How to Do Impossible Things

49 hours and 17 minutes ago, 13 of my peers and I were beginning a challenge that was physically and mentally impossible. Broken into teams of 2, 7 on each team, we were to follow orders and perform various dreadful movements at the command of Navy Seal Special Ops Veterans. We had all trained hard for 8 weeks prior. Nobody knew what we were up against, yet we all showed. Much of the event was hush hush leading up to the big day. I can only speak for myself, but the secrecy caused much anxiety, fear, diminished excitement and possible night-before-bed-wetting. Not my picture-perfect Saturday morning, but I had made a commitment and I was going with a great group of people. I was not going to let them down by bailing out. They were counting on me. I was counting on them.  

The week leading up to the event was filled with office chatter about the upcoming “death race.” Were we really prepared for whatever torture was going to be thrown our way? Was the secrecy really just mental manipulation to cause confusion and destabilize the group?  Was this really worth it, just to spend a day with the same people I see every other day?   

To sum it up:  

  • Maybe (no one died). 
  • Hell no (had I known, I probably would have stayed in bed). 
  • You’re damn right it was! 

I walked into this scared I wouldn’t be able to do what was expected. Feared getting hurt. Dreaded letting my team down. After the first 100 squats, mile and a half run, 80 push-ups, and two trips up the hill, I was sure my fears were a reality. I looked around and saw the same misery on everyone else’s faces.  

But we were in this together, and darn it, we were going to live by the “no man left behind” rule.  

We all made it through army crawls, sandbags, “sugar cookies” (no, not the kind you get at snack time) and many other brutal tasks. But no one did it alone. This event was teamwork in its truest form. All animosities, any personal feelings toward one another were put aside to simply make it through. Not to mention the promise of cold beer at the end helped tremendously.  

Here are the three things I learned from a Special Ops Super Saturday Smack Down: 

1. Courage: I was scared. I think we all were, even if the tough guys won’t admit it. Doing new things is scary, worth it, but sometimes terrifying. The fear lived inside me, but I was able to overcome that and face the challenge. Courage is not the lack of fear but rather the act of continuing to move forward and face it.  

The next time you are faced with a project or task you feel is out of your league, embrace the fear and use it for strength.   

2. Trust: I know my coworkers pretty well. I spend 40+ hours a week with them. I like their Facebook posts and sing Happy Birthday to them. But until we were faced with carrying a 200lb pipe up a hill while being exhausted, sandy and wet, I couldn’t have told you that I trusted all of them. I had no choice but to trust that we would look out for each other, that we would all give 100% of what we had left. Someone could have gotten hurt or maybe even have fallen off a cliff (cough, The Video Guy), but we trusted in our team to make the right choices and use our strengths (and weaknesses) to protect each other and get the job done.  

Trust those that are invested in the same goals as you. If they fail you, they will fail themselves. It can be hard to let go and let others have a stake in the success, but some missions are too big to run solo.  

3. Teamwork: I always preached teamwork and I thought I understood it, but I was wrong. Not until I was nose deep in the lake with a 50 lb. sandbag on my shoulders could I have understood just how much my team mattered to me. I have a problem asking for help and that’s my personal demon, but at this point, the 50lbs was turning into a wet 75lbs quick. I can’t give enough thanks to my teammate who literally took the weight off my shoulders when we hit dry land.  

Even when you think you can conquer it all and work through the pain, let a willing pal take some of the work off your back. Even if only temporarily, it will give you the time you need to recover and come back even stronger.  

As Monday rolled around, we were still bonding. The synchronized groans, the war stories, the differing perspectives. We went to hell and back with each other and are a little closer because of it.  

The difficult things at work or in life are just that: hard, challenging, or even impossible. But from personal experience, I can tell you that when you arm yourself with a team, those victorious steps feel that much sweeter.

Trudging through Lake Michigan with a 50lb sandbag taking on water fast, it occurred to The Siren of Support that without her team, Siren or not, she’d be toast. That day, Sari was stronger with the company she shared, and she ponders, aren’t we all? Share your thoughts below or message Sari directly. 

The Equability of Accountability

Owners, managers, and employees all have people they like to work with over other coworkers. Maybe it’s the synergy you have together or just skill sets that compliment, but we all have those favorites. What happens, though, when one of these people makes a mistake? Do you treat them the same as you would anyone else in the business?

I’d be lying if I said that as manager, in prior restaurant life or in my current role, I haven’t fallen victim to playing favorites. In doing so, I’ve sent a message about hierarchy and fueled a culture of being in the “in” crowd or on an island.

Managing is one of the most difficult and draining parts of running a business. No two people are the same. Throw in emotions, and it can be some of the most taxing parts of your day. Harder still? When some act as if the rules don’t apply to them.

But with the difficulty of being a leader comes payoffs that are that much more rewarding. Seeing a team develop, work together, and trust one another is a reward in and of itself.

It’s not easy, but you can (and should) level the fairness playing field. How can you encourage better accountability through the treatment of both your employees and peers?

  1. Equal means equal. Whether family member, friend, newest hire, or 30-year tech, give every person the same respect of the same standards. When a standard isn’t being met (regardless of who isn’t meeting it), it’s a coaching opportunity. Even old dogs can learn new tricks.
  2. On fire? Find a cooler haven. In the heat of the moment, knee-jerk reactions happen and so do bad decisions. Separate yourself from the situation, whether by walking away and coming back or sending an employee home for the day and have the conversation the following day under more level heads.
  3. Keep leniency away from leadership. As the saying goes, “Fish stink from the head.” Your business’s standards are that: standard for everyone under the same roof. When a fellow manager is falling short of expectations, address your peer in the same way you would a member of your own team. It’s ok to empathize with the mistake, but not to give it a pass simply because of their role.

Running a business like a well-oiled ’67 Shelby GT 500 is more than just knowing how to grow sales, manage expenses, or be a people person. As a manager, supervisor, or owner, you set your standards – or your people will make decisions for you based on past precedence. Do you want to attract and retain some of the most loyal and hardworking people? Set the pace and keep it even.

IMG_NCarreiro-2All’s fair in love and war, but when managing and running a business, equability and fairness lead to peaceful solutions to workplace challenges. Why should you hold yourself – and those around, under, and with you – accountable to same standards? Everybody wins. Join the conversation below or write to Nick directly.

The Road to Rugged

I remember during my second interview asking my would-be-boss if it was something of an unspoken expectation that I be athletic or at least possess the desire to participate in the Tough Mudders, 5ks, and Warrior Dashes of the world. See, the office had distinct signs of competitive athleticism. From sports gear to prints of team races to an overall wellness that my weekly deep-dish pizza eating was pretty intimidated by. Not only had I recently sprained my ankle in pathetic fashion, but I was on the off-again of my on-again-off-again relationship with fitness. I was assured that, no, I could eat all the donuts and binge watch geeky TV shows for competitive water cooler conversations instead.

Fast forward. It’s a bright summer Saturday. My alarm goes off earlier than on a weekday, and I set off for a Rugged Maniac: 5k, 25 obstacles, mud, sun, fire, and fun?

How did I end up here? Where had I gone wrong?

A few unexpected things happened:
• Sponsorship
• Camaraderie

Rewind. In early spring, we were pitched the idea of participating as an office in a nice an easy 5k in the fall. While I was no more athletic than I was the day I started, I thought, a 5k? You can do that, Andee. You have all summer to train – and even if you don’t, you can probably manage to jog/hobble/walk 3 miles.

Loved ones started asking me how my training was going. “Oh, you know… good.” Lies. Lies, I say!

Then I was presented an offer I couldn’t refuse: A company-sponsored Rugged Maniac including a group personal trainer 2 mornings a week, a shirt, and a promise of free beer to lull me into healing post-race.

I signed up. I agreed. And a not-yet-sunny summer morning in July, I showed up to the gym to see the somewhat smiling faces of my colleagues ready to sweat, bleed, and laugh together with me.

For weeks we ran in laps together around the small gym. We cleaned each other’s droplets of sweat from off shared mats. We collectively dreaded bear crawls. We limped around the office.

On the first week, beside The Remaniac with his inhaler, I questioned all my life choices, the present one most of all. I wheezed and rasped, and wondered if I might not throw up instead of drinking more water. I was sore all over. I hated life and exercise and health.

And then… somewhere along the way, my mood improved. I’d cheerfully bounce around the office, if a little gingerly. I’d wheeze less and run more. I’d choose maybe once or twice the slightly harder of the moves. I’d watch my peers and friends out of the corner of my eye and wonder if I might not beat them on that next suicide run.

It was about getting in shape, and it wasn’t.
It was about the looming race, and it wasn’t.

The day came and looking over the list of obstacles we were to be traversing, I was feeling meek. I wasn’t hydrated. I had eaten a lavish celebratory meal the day before, and come on, all that working out wouldn’t suddenly provide me the upper body strength to propel myself across a muddy pit on slippery rings. And, to be fair, it didn’t.

But as our team arrived in varying states of excitement and preparedness, I realized that I’d likely live and probably have a lot of fun doing it.

And I did (not die, the other thing – fun.)

  • Sponsorship got me to sign up for the race. It wasn’t something I had to pay for or plan or prep for on my own – the fact that my company decided to promote this and invite its people was a bargain too good to pass up. That 5k? It still hasn’t happened yet. I’m still signed up, but now? Now, I’m ready to run it.
  • FOMO (Fear of missing out): Now, I’m not a social butterfly, and for every work activity I do participate in, there are maybe 5 that I don’t. But given the buzz, the structured prep times, the cool shirts – I knew I’d want to be a part of it.
  • Camaraderie. I thought back to that younger, not-quite-hired-yet self who was hoping I wouldn’t be forced to be athletic just because the rest of the office seemed to be. I thought of the pictures around the office and the shared t-shirt wearing, the pride, and stories shared surrounding past events. And then I got it. It didn’t really have anything to do with the staff being more athletic than anywhere else (though we may be, now) – it had everything to do with caring about your teammates. That was illustrated at every obstacle. We were in it together. And it was actually fun.

Don’t get me wrong. It was hard and gross and I had to crawl through tubes of rocks and fall into water sometimes more expectedly than others, but so did the people in front of, behind, and beside me – my comrads in mania. They helped lift me, and I helped lift them.

And in the end, we were sore, beer-laden, and ready for the next race, together. You in?

 How do you get from weekly deep-dish pizza eating to conquering a 25 obstacle race – on a Saturday? If you ask the Rhythm of Reman, it takes a few unexpected things. What do you and your team tackle, together? Comment below or connect with Andee directly.

The Rules of Winning Teams

Life. Work. Family. What do these three things have in common?  Probably a great many things come to mind: stressful, fun, difficult, loving, but I’d bet that TEAM isn’t at the top of your list even though teams are present in some shape or form in every aspect of our lives… unless you are a hermit that is living under a rock, (no judgement).

Twice a year I participate as a coach in high school soccer tryouts.  Over 60 kids actively choose to attend tryouts to continue their dream (or their parents’ dream) to play competitive soccer.  Some kids go out for the love of the game while others want to be able to hold the State Trophy (or hold it again…) at the end of the season.  We as coaches are tasked with the responsibility to determine the correct level for not only individual skill development, but on which team the player will make the most impact. There are many discussions both in season and out: hours spent analyzing film, talking to other coaches and getting the opinion of returning players, to determine the right teams. Yes, winning is always nice, but it’s not the only objective when making these choices.

Unless you are a 1 man (or woman) shop, when you’re working with a customer, coworker, or partner, you’re operating as a team. So, how do you build the right one?

  • First:
    • Does a new person need to be added to the team?
    • Can you restructure your current team to be more effective?
    • Can you move current players into various positions to get a better outcome?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, evaluate what you are missing and in what areas your current team needs to grow.

  • Then, will the new person fit in?
    • Culture, Bonding, Trust
      • The team will be together every single day for the next three weeks, months, possibly even years.
      • Since accomplishments will be recognized as a whole, do you trust that the addition will give it their all like you, or your team are?
    • Involving the opinions and thoughts of present team members is essential. If the current team doesn’t feel the connection, how will they be able to work together cohesively?
      • Gaining buy-in from current team members reinforces that WE are all in this together, WE are essential to make the team grow. WE are all headed in the same direction, putting in the work to achieve the end goal.
  • Never settle!
    • Go with your gut. If your gut says, this is a match, it might in fact be a great fit.
    • Alternatively, if your gut gives you a bad feeling, there are always more fish in the sea, and it can be detrimental to the team and your goals.

We rely on other people to make our lives fulfilled—more so than some of us are willing to admit.  Things are better and more enjoyable when they are done with other people. While not all teams are about winning, you arguably always win when your team is built on a solid foundation.


AVA_MDrewsThe Trans Detective knows teams and wins championships. While she makes it look easy, it sure isn’t. Does your team win? Tell her how in the comments below or email Megan directly!

The Wonder of Work Wing(wo)men

There’s no denying that sometimes, if you want something done right, you should just do it yourself. Most hard working types who’ve gone through school or training with less than hard working types learn the old fashioned way just how unpleasant collaboration can be — when you end up doing the work yourself whether you want to or not.

But sometimes, you’re fortunate enough to happen upon the yin to your yang, the this to your that, the Bonnie to your Clyde (but with less crime and shooting). Today as The Woman Behind the Curtain and I are out of the office together at NACE Automechanika in Chicago, it’s more prevalent than ever that some tasks are simply better with a wingman (or woman).

It’s not enough to have a teammate who helps with things or assists on tasks resulting in successful completion, no. No, there’s some special chemistry that comes into play when a completion results in a shining resonant song…

So, what makes a good work wingman?

According to The Woman Behind the Curtain:

  • They don’t steal your thunder… or project… or opportunity. You either share the thunder or let the lightning strike where it should.
  • Your wingman talks you up, makes you look good, and gives you opportunities to shine.
  • She keeps you from self-sabotaging: doing things that are harmful, a little dumb, or not quite thought through (thank goodness).
  • They act in your best interest and the interest of the team.
  • He picks you up when you’re down.  
  • Your wingman goes along for the ride… wherever the ride may lead.

And to The Rhythm of Reman:

  • They make the work fun… or at least more fun than it would be on your own.
  • She pushes you out of your comfort zone. Even though your comfort zone is comfy.
  • Your wingman shows you how you shine when you’re feeling a little dull.
  • She encourages you to sometimes do things that aren’t harmful, no, but maybe a little more dumb than normal. In a good way.
  • He reminds you of the end goal, the big picture, and keeps you focused.
  • Your wingman gets you.

When you have a good wingman, you know it. From inside jokes to anticipating needs to being efficient task masters, $%!# gets done. If you don’t have a solid work wingman, there’s only one way to find one: break out of the mindset of “you should just do it yourself”. And that’s to not do it yourself, but to find that rhythm (whether you’re working with the Rhythm of Reman or not) that can come from finding a buddy to work wonders with.

 Having a teammate is great. As the Rhythm of Reman shares this week, having a work wingman – or woman – is something extra. Do you work with the peanut butter to your jelly? Comment below or connect with Andee directly.

One is the Loneliest Number

One time, I ran 50 miles (they don’t call me the Reman Runner for nothing!). Shortly thereafter I took a much-needed break but have since found it hard to start again, even months and months later. Don’t get me wrong, I love running. It’s my thing. But once you’re out of a well-honed habit and subsequently out of shape, watching Netflix on the couch often seems like the way better (and certainly easier) option.

Luckily, I somehow landed in a workplace where I coincidentally found myself surrounded by others often willing to suffer by means of physical exertion. While I still can’t seem to find my motivation on my own anywhere, no matter how hard I search and dig, and search and dig some more, I’ve uncovered the secret to fast-tracking my training. And that secret? Friends.

A few months ago, I was somehow coerced (read: my extreme fear of missing out ((FOMO)) kicked in and I wanted in immediately) by some coworkers to partake in my first multisport event: a duathlon wherein we ran 2 miles, biked 20, and ran 2 more. That piqued my motivation for about a week or so. Then, yet again, I found it waning. I thought about working out, but more often thought about eating ice cream.

Enter the King of Cataloging stage right, who both became my neighbor when I moved to a new area earlier in the year and my work out buddy. I was still finding it difficult to commit to an early morning run, but when someone is waiting at 5 AM for me to show up, it’s a lot harder to make excuses to bail. Accountability turned out to be key. If I let myself down, I only let myself down. But if I don’t show up for a scheduled run at the very literal crack of dawn with someone else? I let them down, too.

Not surprisingly, the same can be said for work. If I let my work ship sink, not only am I treading water on my own, the whole team is going down with me. If I let something slip through the cracks, it’s likely someone else will end up being on the receiving end of an angry call with a customer taking the heat for my mistake. The motivation behind my hard work at work? Taking pride in being a part of a team who are all putting in the same work and ready and willing to own up to their mistakes as soon as they realize they’ve made them. It’d be a lot easier to become careless if I were the only one who had to deal with my carelessness.

What do you do when you find yourself lacking motivation?

When you find it hard to start, or find yourself starting over and over… and over?

How do you manage to keep yourself culpable?

Try this: find yourself a confidant to keep you accountable. Find your team, find your people, find the ones who care about your success as much as you care about your success. Let them elevate you when you’re having trouble elevating yourself. None of the above is ever easy, but all of the above is important and worthwhile – in work and in life.

Once upon a time, a girl who ran 50 miles straight found it hard to start again. Finding motivation and keeping accountable? It’s tough. And even tougher if you’re going it alone. How do you keep yourself on track? Comment below or reach out to Rani directly.


The Case of the Common Ground


© Tadamichi

Would it be any fun if you were constantly working with people who were exactly like you?  Probably not.

It is essential for a productive team to be made of multiple different parts that, when put together, function as one well oiled machine.  Bonding as a team is something that is a continuous work in progress and that only time and effort from everyone involved will enable it to reach its highest point.  The more bonded and connected a team, the greater chance that everyone will put forth 100% effort 100% of the time. No one really wants to be the one knucklehead who didn’t follow through.

But often times, finding an activity that an entire group will enjoy can seem damn near impossible. In the time I’ve been at ETE, here are some of the things that we’ve given a shot:

– Warriors that Sweat Together Don’t Puke Together

Since the beginning of June, a group of us have been preparing 2 days a week to participate in the Warrior Dash next weekend. It takes a special breed of people that are willing to see each other prior to 6am without the proper cup of coffee.  Add getting sweaty and being pushed past a level of comfort – while trying to have a smile on your face so your co-workers don’t think you’re dying – that’s some bonding!

– Tactical Laser Tag, Round 2!

After a day of slingin’ trans, we met after hours to sling some laser tag guns and try to take down the opposition.  Split into two teams, each team was awarded 1 fresh newbie. I may have been one of the token newbie’s – and I may have pulled through in the final 2 minutes to help us to victory when we were behind. But I couldn’t have done it on my own, especially without trust and guidance.

– Kickball for Lunch

Summer didn’t officially start in Milwaukee until this month, so we took advantage of it and had a “friendly” little parking lot kickball game.  Who was going to be the best kickballer out there and get office bragging rights? Not only did this little outing get us out of the office (and get our pasty white arms some sunlight), but it fueled the already-competitive fires that many of us have.

– A Baby Shower Potluck for a Future Transmission Ruler

This may seem like the odd ball of the bunch, but it isn’t a rarity here.  Every other month, we pick a potluck day and try to see what different foods or themes we can come up with. This most recent potluck was to celebrate one of our employees embarking on a new journey with a little one – and it brought Sales, HR, Cores, Product Support, and even more departments together.

These are just a few of the different and creative ways that we’ve recently brought our diverse group together, but I bet that you have your own. So, how do you bond with your team?

AVA_MDrewsWhat happens when you take members of a team (who happen to be pretty different) and involve them in a common activity? Trans Detective Megan Drews shares her deductions this week in her very first Reman U article. Do you bond like Drews and the ETE team? Comment below or email her directly!

Are We Tough Enough?

For the past few months, the buzz around the Sales Floor has focused on one thing: Tough Mudder.

This grueling 11.8-mile obstacle is designed to test one’s mettle. Scaling walls. Jumping into ice water. Crawling through tunnels. And running through fire, electricity, and lots of mud.

Best of all? We get to take on this challenge together.

As a team, we’ve physically and mentally prepared for this event. Twice a week, we meet our trainer at the butt-crack of dawn to run, crawl, carry, and push our bodies to the absolute brink. And, despite the scenic lakefront locations, you’ll see in this fun, made-just-for-you video that this ain’t no walk in the park.


But with each session that passes, we get a little stronger, faster, and closer to embodying the Tough Mudder Pledge.

As a Tough Mudder, I pledge that:

I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race, but a challenge.

I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time.

I do not whine – kids whine.

I help my fellow mudders complete the course.

I overcome all fears.

And in the process, we’ve learned a lot about each other and ourselves.

As Kellie puts it, “I learned that people behave differently when they’re sweaty and exhausted and covered with grass than when they’re in the office. I don’t think you are who you really are until you’re surrounded by colleagues and ready to barf.”

Reman U contributor and clutch sales team player Nick adds, “I’ve learned that working as a team, I can accomplish more than I can on my own.”

“I signed up because working out as a team is a good motivator,” says Megan. “It helps to be held accountable. And I’ve enjoyed getting to know my coworkers on another level.”

The growth doesn’t stop when we exit the building. “In my graduate level classes, a popular topic is the formation of a team,” says Anthony. “Most ‘teams’ are actually not teams, because they haven’t experienced conflict and they don’t hold each other accountable. The Tough Mudder training has brought the sales team together and shown us that it’s OK to be critical of one another.”

So why put ourselves through this torture? For me, it all goes back to Nietzsche: That which does not kill us makes us stronger. The process has been so physically and mentally demanding that, if I can survive this, I know I can survive anything.

Whatever our individual reasons for joining Tough Mudder – be it “to overcome fears,” “peer pressure.” or “just to see if could do it” – there’s one undeniable truth: We’re some tough mudder fudders.

Think Anthony, Megan, Hope, Nick, Rubi, Kellie, Jamie, Noah and I are tough enough? Stay tuned.

Have you run a Tough Mudder before? Or overcome a crazy challenge with your own team? Leave your comments (and advice) below!

5 Easy Ways to Make Your Teamwork Work


Reman U_teamwork

There are lots of ways to define teamwork. We know it takes effort, cooperation, and coordination. It takes a group acting together and for a common goal. But what makes a team great? Better yet, how can you take your team at work and make them a better one, one that everyone wants to do business with? Here’s 5 easy ways to make your teamwork work:

1)   Create team goals.

When you can get individuals on the same page, working towards 1 shared goal, things that might have seemed unlikely or even impossible happen.  Individuals may have different roles on the team, but none is more important than another with a common goal is in sight.  In football, the quarterback usually gets all of the glory, but if the offensive line didn’t block and do their role, he wouldn’t be as effective.

2) Hire friendly people.

Hiring inherently happy people goes a long way.  A friendly staff is the face of your company and many customers buy from you because they “feel good” about the people they are working with.  Friendly people keep a positive attitude and make being at work more enjoyable for others.  And when you enjoy being at work, your customers can feel it.

3) Have a “YES” attitude.

If your coworker asks for your help, say “Yes”.  It shouldn’t matter what they’re asking for and it is more than the old, “if you scratch my back, I will scratch yours” approach.  Willingness to help, even if something isn’t your job, is contagious.

4) Keep open communication.

The ability to communicate quickly and efficiently is import to any team.  Have a meeting with your staff.  Talk about the best ways to communicate messages to each other.  There are plenty of tools out there, whether it is instant messenger, email, phone calls, using a company intranet, or a post it note on a desk. Establish which methods work best for you and use them.

5) Think outside the cube.

Get to know your coworkers outside of your cubicle walls and outside the stress of work.  Eat lunch with a different coworker each week. Plan a Happy Hour. Being able to get along outside of work helps develop a better understanding between coworkers and goes a long way when the chips are down.

What ways have worked for you to build better teamwork in your business?

photo credit: © Ivelin Radkov –

In his second Reman University article, Reman Wingman Jake Jankowski shares a few ways for better teamwork. What works for you? Share with Jake directly or in the comments below!