YPO is a global leadership community of under-50-year-old executive chiefs of mid to large-sized companies which have the same goal that the world needs better leaders. What makes for the ultimate YPO experience in part, are the experiences that YPO Learning Officers create and coordinate with their members to bring them truly “Only In YPO Experiences”.
Each year new Learning Officers are tasked with orchestrating meetings, events, and various resources for the members – all with the goal of providing the means to deepen relationships and support each other in their professional and personal lives. There is typically a theme for the year, along with inspirational speakers and facilitators, and the meetings and experiences that support that theme.
The flagship event for every chapter is the annual meeting, where the new Learning Officer takes over and begins the year. The success of this meeting sets the tone for the year to come, and anchors the members to the value they are receiving. Grand Dynamics has been called upon to deliver many epic YPO Chapter events, and we understand the challenges that Learning Officers face.
A primary challenge for an incoming YPO Learning Officer is this:
How do you create an event that authentically connects people, and provides unique value for a group of leaders who are extremely high achievers?
Events at this level are not just about providing gourmet food and a “fun” or “nice” time. In fact, the event is more of an experience that requires deep engagement, team-building and a leadership development strategy that leaves a lasting impact. You need to change the perspective of participants in some profound way, not just during the activity or retreat, but potentially for the rest of their lives.
We are talking about the realm of transformational experiences. People walk away from these experiences saying things like, “I have had a breakthrough.” “I will never be the same.” “I will never look at X the same way again.” “I will remember that on my deathbed.”
But a transformational experience isn’t just a really intense experience. If you only want intensity, you can just go to the movies or go bungee jumping. You’ll get a rush, but you likely won’t emerge much different than before you went in.
The Group Transformational Experience Recipe
Facilitating team bonding beyond superficial conversations requires first knowing how to get people to feel connected in an authentic way – beyond small talk, pleasantries and the latest sports scores.
Comfort Zone Breach!
Next you need to get them outside of their comfort zones so that they are doing something beyond their current perceived abilities.
Expert Speakers and Facilitation
Then you need to give them the right environment, tools and instructions to connect and apply those learnings from that experience to their everyday personal and professional lives.
Easy to describe, but very challenging to accomplish. Don’t push people far enough, and they are bored or find the experience “interesting” or “nice”, but not transformational. Push people too far, and they go into panic mode and shut down, learning nothing and potentially never wanting to engage in the experience again.
Grand Dynamics has facilitated countless YPO Annual Chapter events and private corporate event experiences over the past 25 years, serving the most elite of business leaders and teams. In this article we’ll highlight four of our recent YPO events that were truly transformational for attendees. In each of those cases we’ll share some of the elements that made the experiences so special.
Next Level Retreat at Pine Lake Resort in Broken Bow, Oklahoma
In 2022 Grand Dynamics orchestrated an unforgettable three-day leadership retreat for a YPO group at the scenic Pine Lake Resort in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. With a blend of adventure team-building activities and immersive experiences, the retreat was a resounding success.
The group dropped in and connected through a kayaking river adventure followed by an evening networking event celebration that included a 45-foot long fire pit where we facilitated attendees cooking their own gourmet steaks directly on the coals.
Physical exercise, stunning natural surroundings, Wow! Factor combined with focused and highly impactful forum group discussions were all part of making the magic.
We then created breakthrough experiences with meditative retention breath hold training and cold immersion experiences to facilitate participants going beyond their perceived limits in powerful and measurable ways.
The retreat then transitioned to an inspiring leadership-lesson-rich Thailand Cave Rescue keynote and simulation led by US Military Special Forces and Grand Dynamics team members of the Thailand rescue team who were involved in the actual 2018 rescue of 13 people trapped in a flooded cave. Participants had watched The Rescue before arriving, and had a chance to see our keynote speakers in action on the big screen, creating excitement and anticipation of the event. The event received rave reviews, and participants left saying things like, “This greatly exceeded every measure that I thought I was going to get out of this.”
Firewalking in Mexico City
This corporate event centered on creating breakthroughs through an epic firewalking experience. In 2022, a Chapter of YPO was looking for a unique and empowering experience for their annual chapter meeting. To assist, we created an event that most don’t think is possible, especially in the middle of one of the world’s largest cities – facilitating 100 people to walk barefoot across hot, glowing coals. The event venue of General Prim 30 in Mexico city was the perfect artistic location to set the stage for the epic event.
Firewalking profoundly challenges people to reexamine their beliefs about what is possible and to overcome some of their greatest fears. It also creates an especially powerful bond among participants. From expert trainers, YPO members learned how to shift their mindset, gather their confidence and walk safely across fire. The ALL IN Adventure Method, a process described in the ALL IN Adventure Stories book, was taught as a framework to apply to business, personal lives, and directly to the highly emotional action of walking across fire. As people accomplished this incredible feat, you could literally feel the breakthroughs happening! The overall event rating was 9.8 out of 10.
Jackson Hole – 4×4 Adventure and Cold Immersion
In 2021, we led a YPO President’s retreat in Jackson, WY. We began the adventure with a thrilling 4×4 excursion through the wilderness of Jackson Hole. Members amped it up and had a blast together, bonding over big adventure and enjoying the spectacular natural beauty of Jackson Hole. On our 4x4s, we rallied out to an awe-inspiring and serene spot in the wilds of Jackson Hole to begin the next portion of our adventure – a wild nature cold plunge.
The icy rivers and lakes are fed by snow melt from the Teton mountains, and the wilderness setting adds a very special element to the experience. Participants used the skills we had trained them in as part of the framing of the ALL IN experience, to enter the freezing waters together and keep their bodies submerged for 3 minutes! We then rewarmed and celebrated the accomplishment, tying it back to obstacles they wanted to overcome in their personal and professional lives. One participant called the experience, “A perfect 10!”
Fire and Ice was ON FIRE – and Very “COOL”
In 2020, we hosted an epic event called “Fire and Ice” in one mid-western city a YPO Chapter. A blend of firewalking and cold immersion, this corporate team-building experience fused two powerful activities. For most people, just one of these experiences is beyond what they feel is possible, but combine them into a single event, and you have an experience where members experience rapid bonding, peak performance states, the exhilaration of ultra-achievement, strategies to achieve them, and shared memories to last a lifetime.
The Grand Dynamics Fire and Ice (Fire Walking / Cold Immersion) event was incredible! It pushed us outside of our comfort zones and created a powerful sense of camaraderie among participants, making the evening unforgettable. It was so moving to watch people support one another in such a challenging setting. I highly recommend this event with Grand Dynamics - you’re guaranteed to have an amazing experience!
Take it to the limit
As a facilitator and trainer, you could not choose a more demanding audience than YPO. At Grand Dynamics, we love big challenges, which is one of the main reasons we love working with YPO Chapters. We know they won’t settle for anything but the best.
Grand Dynamics has long been the first choice for executive training and development. Our expertise lies in supporting top level leaders who want to push their limits and grow both personally and professionally – it’s what we we live for. It’s our way of making this world a more inspiring, exciting and enlivening place to be.
ALL IN Adventure Stories
Our main theme for 2024 is ALL IN! With this theme we leverage the new book, ALL IN Adventure Stories by Grand Dynamics International President, Tim Walther. His new book offers both the inspiration and strategy to level up commitment and go ALL IN in life and business.
This EPIC YPO Chapter event provides an ALL-IN Theme to level up personal and professional lives, inspirational keynotes from epic adventure speakers, a challenge event to bond participants, and facilitated storytelling to take the relationships to a deeper level.
Read the recent press release about the best-selling book. Check out the reviews on Amazon and the ALL IN Adventure Stories book page for more information about speaking engagements and ALL IN experiences. Our NEXT YPO Chapter event, currently in the final planning stages, will be themed around CHALLENGE – how to challenge yourself, support each other and level up the engagement within the Chapter for an optimal YPO Experience. Interested to know how we’ll do it? I can promise you this “Next” YPO event will be EPIC!