Fantastic First Week: A GOTR Tradition

Building Culture and Reinforcing Values, One Day at a Time 

How did you feel returning to work that first Monday after holiday break? Sleepy? Lethargic? Unmotivated? Whether you traveled, hibernated or hopped between holiday gatherings, it is hard to return to work after a hiatus. Eight years ago, Girls on the Run International CEO Elizabeth Kunz recognized the importance of centering team members at the beginning of the year. So, she started a tradition called Fantastic First Week.

Now, it is organized by a Culture Committee comprised of HQ staff members who represent different departments. Led by the HR and Belonging team, the committee members develop, plan, and execute an annual schedule of special gatherings that reinforce a healthy and diverse Girls on the Run culture.  

Each workday of the first week of the new year, HQ staff were invited to enjoy virtual festivities grounded in the Girls on the Run core values. Here is a peek at the Fantastic First Week: 

  • Monday, we focused on Recognizing our power and responsibility to be intentional in our decision making by discussing, writing and drawing our personal visions using this fun colorful tool. Here are a few favorite prompts: how you want to feel, where you want to go, and what you want to learn. 
  • Tuesday, we celebrated Leading with an open heart and assuming positive intent. We turned the celebration into a cheer session. Our participants give and receive energy awards at practices. So, we gathered into groups and each group created an energy award representing this value.  
  • Wednesday, we celebrated our talented staff with a Useless Hidden Talent Show. Impromptu acts included juggling, single nostril twitching, and a latte art showcase. It was a hilarious way to Embrace our differences and find strength in our connectedness. A team member noted this was the best “meeting” she had ever attended.  
  • Thursday, we Nurtured our physical, emotional and spiritual health through a solo reflection on how we each take care of ourselves followed by a group meditation led by one of our very own staff members. Deep breathing. Deep relaxing. Deep reflecting.  
  • For the final day of our Fantastic First Week on Friday, we donned our GOTR gear: capes, t-shirts, hats, hoodies and even a unicorn onesie. All of it. Our CEO Elizabeth expressed her gratitude to the entire team and then each team member unwrapped a commemorative gift which was a framed easel of our core values. What a perfect way to Express joy, optimism and gratitude through our words, thoughts and actions. 
  • We ran out of days at the week, so the Culture Committee challenged us to Stand up for ourselves and others with a Stand Up Bingo Card with squares including: I asked someone to share their thoughts after they were interrupted, I spoke up when I saw something that didn’t feel right, and I put myself out there. We are filling it out and sharing stories on our company-wide chat channel called “Wall of Wonderful.” 

Day by day, we celebrated our core values in uplifting ways, bridged the distance between all our talented remote employees, and motivated the team to continue to deliver on our mission in 2023 and beyond. CEO Elizabeth summed up the week, “Fantastic First Week is such a joyful experience! Together, we come together to celebrate and strengthen the values-based culture we each create at Girls on the Run.”