“Listen David, our corporate retreats have always been a disaster, and this one will be no different. All you will get out of it is a few flip charts with illegible neon colored scribble.”
My colleague Andrew’s Ebenezer Scrooge like pontification notwithstanding, I stayed true to the spirit of the season and vowed to make our 2016 corporate retreat one people would never forget. I was inexperienced in retreat planning matters but knew it needed to start with a bang to shock my sales force to life. While it was true watch sales were down nationwide, we were looking more and more like an outfit schlepping around the outskirts of Atlanta yearning for a taste of the sweet cerebral cortex of Rick Grimes and company. McGregor Watches was a proud company and had to do better. I knew what I needed to do.
As the fifty-person sales department descended upon the ball room of the downtown Minneapolis Sheraton, my heart pounded with anticipation. I kicked off the proceedings with the standard welcome but left the group hanging as it related to the agenda. During my slow walk to the back of the room, I took in the confused glares and heard the whispers. The time had come. The signal for my retreat thought leader to appear would be a quick dimming of the lights. I took a deep breath and hit the switch.
He blasted through the door with explosive force in perfect time with a thick room reverberating bassline, took a crow hop and then exploded like an Olympian long jumper. Landing ten feet from the front row in a crouched position, he lifted a golden microphone to his lips.
“Ah Yeah, What up McGregor Watches, its Tastee Teeeeeeeeeeeee mutha fuckas! This retreat gonna be lit right out da gate.”
It was just the thunderous audio-visual one-two punch I needed. The room shaking bass stung like a sharp jab, but it was the athletic microphone wielding man dressed in all black, sunglasses, a golden TT emblazoned flat brim lid, and a giant clock necklace that knocked the crowd to the canvas.
I always admired Tastee T as a hype man. He was the perfect side-kick to Bruh Man, helping the group Syndicate dominate the rap game back in the day. A recent trip to the West Coast ended up being one of the most productive of my career when I ran into the legend in the hotel bar. We engaged in a fascinating conversation about the art of hyping a crowd, and the idea of unleashing him on my sales team occurred to me after I downed my fourth shot of Tequila. Tastee had been looking to diversify his portfolio of service offerings and the opportunity to help facilitate the retreat seemed to inspire and move him. I believe his exact words were,“Yo, it’d be my honor G. Hit me up on the cell when ya ready to move some product.”
After the shock of Tastee’s raucous opening, the stunned crowd started to melt. A few wry smiles appeared, followed by some chuckles, and then seemingly straight to the uncontrollable chanting of his name. He bounced and weaved through the crowd, and was soon executing a masterful call and response strategy,
“Come on y’all, somebody say, McGregor . . . . McGregor, now somebody say, Watches . . . Watches, that’s what I’m talking about mutha fuckas.”
One of my stipulations was that he wear the clock chain, a nod to our proud heritage as a purveyor of fine timepieces. I told him the bigger, the better as to stimulate my people and he apparently took our negotiations to heart. The round white clock dangling from the fat gold rope chain was enormous, ostensibly covering his entire torso. While navigating a crowd under the weight of such a heavy timepiece might inflict bodily harm upon an amateur, Tastee’s experience enabled him to gyrate and move to avoid direct contact as it swung back and forth.
After firing up the group with bold second half of the year sales predictions, he pivoted and took things in another direction by facilitating a training session of sorts. While working with individuals and small groups on reciting his famous Tastee T is So Sweet tag line, he pushed shy team members to come out of their shell and wouldn’t let them leave until they executed the line perfectly.
A sense of pride swelled in my heart when Tastee surprised me by placing a miniature version of his clock chain around the neck of each workshop participant as if bestowing the title of honorary hype man or woman upon them. I caught his attention from across the room and mouthed the words Thank You as I raised my fist to the sky Black Panther style.
The sales force was down with Tastee’s program, but his antics seemed to render frozen my management level guests from information technology, accounting, and legal. He viewed it as an opportunity and soon had them teaming up on one of my favorite rhyme sequences from We Da Syndicate, Beotch,
“Come in right here legal man, yeah that’s right G, just like we practiced.”
“Time to go to school bitch, spell it for me please.”
“Nice lawyer man, now accounting, what say you mutha fucka.”
“Yas, now bring it home IT boy, this my line nigga so bring it.”
“Hell Yeah, peep Merriam-Webster definition number 3c.”
I glanced down at my watch, for the only detail he overlooked was winding his massive timepiece to the correct time. It wasn’t even 8:30 AM. #GOAT.
We went on to break the all-time McGregor Watches sales record that year. During the Christmas season, our CEO says, every time a Syndicate song spins, an employee gets his Century Sales Club pins.