Cisco US Commercial Sales Mid-Year Leadership Offsite – Austin
Headquartered in San Jose, California, Cisco Systems is a global technology juggernaut. The largest networking company in the world, Cisco develops, manufactures, and sells networking hardware, telecommunications equipment, and other high-technology services and products. They also specialize in specific tech markets, such as Internet of Things (IoT), domain security, and energy management.
The US Commercial Sales organization represents the largest single-market sales organization at Cisco, responsible for $8B in revenue annually. Each year, the sales leadership team gathers for their Mid-Year Leadership Offsite, affectionately known as MYLO. As the growth engine of Cisco, these sales leaders are under constant pressure to continually innovate, lead through challenging change, and push the limits of what’s possible. The annual MYLO is their opportunity to get together as a leadership team to celebrate, recharge, and focus on developing their strategic initiatives for the coming year.
Cisco admires those who aren’t afraid to break with convention and are driven to push the limits of what is possible with solutions for their customers. As they prepared to host MYLO, they knew they need to partner with an event management company to help with the typical event needs (sourcing, registration, signage, agenda development, speaker sourcing, transportation, lodging, team building, production etc…).
However, they also wanted an event partner to not just provide standard event management services, but one that could help them reimagine their meeting to create a new, immersive and premium experience for their leadership team.
Cisco engaged with us to help them deliver a re-imagined experience for their annual MYLO. In addition to our event services, we developed new and unique elements to help deliver on the new, immersive and premium experience Cisco was after.
Here’s a shortlist of highlights:
Capitalizing on Competitiveness
Sales are cutthroat and competitive, so we decided to capitalize on those inherit instincts of attendees. Hence, the US Commercial Sales Leadership Cup was born. Working with our clients, we organized an ongoing competition that would start prior to attendees arriving at the meeting and continuing through to the last hour of the event. Divided into teams outside of their normal functions to help facilitate networking and new relationships, the teams competed in a variety of competitions on their quest to claim the “Leadership Cup”. For most of these competitive attendees, losing was not an option and the competition was fierce.
It Shouldn’t Feel Like a Meeting
The client didn’t want this to feel like every other meeting. “Don’t put us at round tables with banquet chairs for 3 days.” So the ballroom was transformed into a very informal and intimate environment resembling an outdoor campfire setting. The setup included seating with custom branded camp chairs (which were shipped to each participant after the meeting), a large real-wood, fan-driven campfire, moving constellations & shooting stars on the ceiling, and an acoustic guitarist to keep help deliver a more relaxed and open, but intimate vibe.
Bring MYLO to Life
Many events have unique branding and themes associated with them, but Cisco wanted that great event branding to truly come to life. The solution? An exclusive song written by a professional songwriter.
Working with the songwriter based in Austin, we setup pre-meeting calls to review what was happening within the leadership team over the past year and what they’re headed towards in the future. We reviewed their victories and their challenges, nothing was off-limits. And from those pre-meeting calls, the songwriter wrote, produced, and recorded the official song for MYLO, which was then performed live to kick off the meeting.
Create Interaction During Sessions
Every client wants every session to be engaging and interactive, but Cisco challenged us to take that interaction to the next level. Enter the Prize Wheel. The custom built prize wheel provided the executive host, as well as session speakers the opportunity to award spins to attendees to encourage engagement. Taking a spin could net the attendee’s team a variety of options, some bad and some good such as: gain or losing points, a round of drinks for your team, or additional competitions such as team karaoke, name that tune, or make the leader laugh.
A Charity Giveback Turned on its Head
Another staple for many meetings is some sort of charitable giveback. While we all love giving to those in need, we decided to take it a step further to incorporate the team competition into the charitable event.
Working with local organizations, we built a charitable competition which teams had to build youth bicycles and “green machine” tricycles that would be donated to youth in need. The spin was that the tricycles that the teams build would then be used in a relay race around a customer track built within the meeting space at the venue. This approach added a fun, competitive spirit to the charitable giving activity with the winning team capturing valuable points and local kids in need getting some great bicycles and tricycles.
Not A Typical Offsite
Many meetings provide offsite evenings to help attendees get out of the meeting environment and take the culture or attractions of the host city.
To capitalize the Austin being the self-proclaimed Music Capital of the World, we turned the offsite evening into a creative, energizing and buzz worthy Battle of the Bands competition.
Starting off with some great creative, we distributed Battle of the Bands flyers throughout the host hotel and the surrounding entertainment districts, knowing that attendees would likely come across the posters during their meeting down times.
The morning of the offsite event, we built a Battle of the Bands pop-up shop where attendees could pick-up complementary swag similar to what you would find at a merch booth at a music festival. Custom branded items included 80s style band pins, stickers, and apparel, including the official MYLO Battle of the Bands hoodie.
The offsite venue selected provided a unique mix of indoor and outdoor space, complete with a full stage setup and lighting for professional concerts. Upon arrival to the offsite, each team was assigned a professional musician with which they worked to write their own custom lyrics focused on key meeting initiatives to well know rock tunes. Each team then performed their song on-stage for the group. Those that knew how to play the guitar or drums or other instrument were encouraged to do so, while others filled in as singers, dancers and even audience hype talent. The winning team took captured points for the coveted Leadership Cup competition.
No Buffet Please
An important ingredient to the successful offsite evening was the food. Austin is well known for its culinary scene, but we’re not talking about traditional brick and mortar restaurants. We’re talking about Food Trucks. We worked with well-known local food trucks propriters to feed attendees at the offsite. By leveraging the indoor/outdoor venue to park food trucks serving a variety of cuisine around a giant bonfire with string lights, DJ, beer burrow and other unique “rodeo” touches giving the evening meal experience a back-yard party feel prior to the Battle of the Bands.
These unique approaches helped deliver exactly what the US Commercial Sales organization envisioned for their annual MYLO; a reimagined, immersive and premium experience for their leadership team.
I had an abstract vision in my head as to what I wanted the meeting to be and I challenged the team at Lightspeed to bring it to life. Their ability to truly listen to me and my vision, and then turn it all into reality is unbelievable.”
– SVP, US Commercial Sales, Cisco