What would induce you to vacate work and family to attend a week-long business retreat in a beautifully restored villa situated in the remote hills above Arezzo in Tuscany?
Well, quite a lot actually. The photograph of the pool at Torre del Tartufo alone was enough to give the proposition serious consideration. To learn to cook Italian was also an attraction (the villa is one of the Tuscookany cooking schools set up by Pippa Ward-Smith).
However, the opportunity to join a group of like-minded entrepreneurs from the US and Europe to spend time on our businesses and their roles in our lives was the biggest incentive. All the same, it was not an easy decision, requiring a significant financial outlay and, more importantly, the consent of my family, both of which were made generously available.
Transformation through solitude
So, in 2010 I traveled to Italy and joined the Total Business Transformation retreat headed up by old friends from the States Phil Dyer and Lisa Kirchenbauer. I have never forgotten that week, the breakthrough I achieved in my business perspective, the friendships I made, the triumphs and challenges we shared, the fun we had.
A central element of the retreat was to formulate what Phil called, in true American style, our ‘Unique Brilliance Zones’. It took 48 hours of solitude and reflection to work out that mine was was to collect and absorb information, connect with people and share and use ideas as a catalyst to bring about change in people and organisations. It took about one minute more for the Damascene revelation that this was not really what I was doing at the time, and that if I was going to align my business and my passion things had to change.
Now, as I commence the sale of my 20 year old financial consultancy to concentrate on building my publishing and events business specialising in my own unique approach to personal finance I am on the cusp of reaping the benefit of all that deep thought in the Tuscan solitude five years ago. So, if ever proof were needed that spending a bit of time and money to get out of your normal environment and think outside the box, this was it.
The power of place
Whilst I had the immense support of my TBT friends and mentors during the week it was as much the solitude and calm tranquility of the estate that helped me find new ways to take my life and business forward. Torre del Tartufo is a powerful place that inspired me, helped me to unwind and even to heal. The week was so important to me that I included the experience in my recent book. Indeed, I think I can say it was the change of direction inspired by my week at Torre del Tartufo that led me, via Key Person of Influence, to write the book.
Of course it wasn’t all business. It was also learning to cook (properly) and relaxing by the stunning infinity pool and in the bar that made the week one of those times that just stay with you. Back here in Yorkshire the Tuscookany recipe book and apron still get good use. Being introduced to the wonderful wines of Montepulciano on the wine tasting evening was an added bonus. And as a place to relax, I have yet to find anywhere that comes remotely close. Whether walking through the countryside, swimming in the pool, eating, drinking or just lounging round and suffering in the beautifully renovated buildings, it is beyond compare.
Special place, special time, special people
Whilst the TBT sessions and participants were an important and life-changing part of that week, the way the team at Torre del Tartuffo looked after us made the whole week really special. They were professional, friendly and welcoming. I loved the ‘open house’ approach and we were made to feel like part of the family whilst we were there. A photo I took from the pool adorns the front page of my website because it reflects my aspirations and values and will I hope inspire people to follow the path I have taken.
Torre del Tartufo is a very special place. Total Business Transformation was a very special time. Phil, Lisa, Guy, Elizabeth, Mary, Samar, Peggy and Tim are very special people. No wonder it stands out as the most memorable of all the personal and professional development events I have attended.