Hear Me Out
Meeting my colleagues in person for the first time ever
It’s 12.17am. I just got home from the airport after my late night flight back to Malta from Sardinia. The week-long sun abuse, the flight back and the Mcdonalds I ate before leaving have me pretty beat, but I have to write a quick vomit draft before I head to bed and the fresh Sardinia thoughts I have in my head leave for good.
For the past six months I was working in an organization remotely. It’s a creative hub that brings talent from all over the world together to do tailored, high-end comms for those looking to step up their communications game. Well, Von Peach was founded during COVID, so when I say ‘brings talent together’, I mean virtually. And when I say virtually I mean with the exception of last week, where the entire company, a six-strong squad, went to Sardinia to meet in person for the first time and devise a plan of action for the next quarter.
Before going I tried my best to fight my natural, high-expectation-building instincts. I didn’t want to be disappointed if these people sucked (😂 sorry guys, good old defence mechanisms). Here’s my impression of my Von Peach compadres before and after crossing eyeballs:
Before: She’s Maltese but lives in Switzerland. Co-founder and main money vein (trying not to use the term Emma hates so much that’s synonym with ‘Money Bovine’) of the company. She’s a hands on creative, pitch expert that spends more time dealing with clients and acquisitions than actually doing creative stuff. This drives her a bit nuts but, business woman that she is, she knows how the game is played and draws satisfaction from delivering high quality comms to her clients.
After: This is the person within the company that possesses the skills I am most interested in learning. The only problem is that I’m not sure if what she brings to the table is something that can be learned at all. Emma is like a champagne bottle that’s been shook up and is perpetually on the brink of bursting, showering everyone with her personality. Her interpersonal skills are next level. She does not change based on who she’s talking to and her authenticity is addictive. And then she’s surprised at how much time she spends with clients… big mystery there! She doesn’t mince words and is fiercely passionate about everything she does. For this reason and the fact that her hair, in humid environments, becomes an absolute mane, the ‘Money Bovine’ died in Sardinia to make way for the Lioness. (We actually put time and mental effort, while half drunk on wine, to assign animals to each other that suited our personalities. Yeah, we did that sh*t! And we own it.).
Before: Tiny human with a pixie-like voice and a deep love of organization. Also knew of her outside of Von Peach as an incredibly talented photographer. She too is a hands-on creative, a deviser of ways to expand and create new leads and the main person greasing the wheels for the rest of the operation to run smoothly. Yentl has known Emma for some time now and it didn’t take long for them to realise how good they’d be in the business bed together. So they made the Von Peach baby. Add a little goofball to that mix and you get Yentl, the most structured and the most likely-to-end-a- meeting-with-a-potato-filter-on person that I know.
After: Every word I said in the ‘before’ part still holds true, and she indeed is the master of organisation. She was the one in charge of setting the whole thing up. Bringing people from different countries to a remote island is obviously no easy task. With COVID to spice things up, this took some serious planning power on her part. And let me tell you, our stay in Sardinia was nothing short of incredible; I mean we had a villa with a pool caught in between two awesome beaches surrounded by nature and tons of awesome restaurants a taxi ride away. How could it not be great?! What surprised me though is that she balances her structured side with a healthy bit of chaos that she seldomly brings to the virtual office. What I once thought was a cool, calm and collected lady is also the person that bursts into song (Can we just stop it with the Dinero please?) at the randomest of times (like at the dinner table when the waiter is doing waiter things and everyone tries to keep it together for the brief time he’s there). She’s also the quickest to point out the low-hanging fruit joke that we were all thinking but no one was saying out loud. And she’s also vehemently passionate about what she believes in. And I respect that!
Before: Italian style expert and design and branding specialist. She’s quite a reserved person except for her wine consumption. She’s pretty outspoken about that! Early on, I got to work with her on a big, technical white paper that needed jazzing up. She is extremely meticulous and patient in her work and delivers a great product, which is swell for me because I can get a bit needy from a content perspective (still feel guilty about all the corrections I needed her to do in the whitepaper).
After: Still somewhat reserved and soft spoken at first but once she warms up to you her true self comes out. Her passion for design is immediately evident. This is not someone that does this for a job, she does it for herself. It’s what she loves and it shows through her normal life, let alone her work. Floating from one medium to another, Michela puts her best design-foot forward in everything she tries and she makes it look easy! She likes good food accompanied by good wine but most of all she cares about being in good company. Aces in my book!
Before: Italian design, illustration and video specialist. A friend of Michela from outside the Von Peach world and an absolute machine. Her first introduction to the company was a video she needed to create on a 24 hour deadline. She made it and the clients absolutely loved it. Welcome Livia! Her springy hair is only matched by her springy, jovial personality. Every interaction with her starts and ends with a smile. I kid you not, she sometimes says, “Yay!” at the end of people’s sentences! I’m kidding (she’s going to hate me for writing that) but it’s kind of true- let’s just say there’s more to the story. I was working with her before the Sardinia trip on a report that was on a tight deadline and was meant for hundreds of thousands of eyeballs to see, so it needed to be perfect. Absolute workhorse that she is, she worked with me around the clock to deliver on schedule and, surprise surprise, the clients absolutely loved it (still feel guilty about all the corrections I needed her to do in the report…starting to think I’m the common denominator here).
After: Not only does she have a springy personality and springy curls in her hair, she has springy feet! When Livia’s not creating or editing videos or designing, she spends her time dancing. One evening we were having a barbecue in Sardinia and she tried teaching us. Emphasis on ‘tried’. But we could tell, she knew what she was doing. Not only that, being the Florentine that she is, she enjoys spending time cooking the THICKEST cuts of beef with her man (the pictures had me straight salivating). Her outspokenness, positive energy and dedication, all reverberate in every aspect of her life, including her work. Again, aces!
Before: I have to start by saying that Trudy is a friend of mine from outside the Von Peach world so I kinda already knew her before going to Sardinia. Through hanging out with our mutual friends, I knew that she’s reserved and she likes to keep her cards close to her chest. Pretty sure she’s a cat trapped in a woman’s body. And I’m pretty sure she’d agree to that as well. What I also knew about her is that she loves art very much and she’s a very talented artist and painter herself. Not long into knowing her, I learned that she worked in comms for a very big company. She’s a creative that’s got comms experience, so naturally, I told her to ditch her job and apply to Von Peach, and she did. They loved the talent and experience she brings to the table and just like that she was in. I was thrilled; thrilled for me, because a friend was coming to Sardinia and even more thrilled for her, because she found a place to exercise her natural creative abilities.
After: I can safely say that I’ve learned more about Trudy in the past week than I did in around four years of knowing her. I’ve seen her talk more during this week than ever before, I’ve seen her pissed off more during this week (at Italians that couldn’t communicate with her in English) than ever before and, also during this one week, I started to understand the incredible amount of untapped artistic potential Trudy possesses. I had never worked with her in any capacity before so I didn’t know the depth of her love for art. Although Sardinia was mostly play, when we worked, her ideas and comms experience really came out, a side of her I’d never seen before. And she’s always doodling elaborate designs on little post-it notes. What she does in 10 seconds I couldn’t replicate if I spent a whole day. She is also covered in tattoos, naturally immediately evident to anyone with a working pair of eyeballs… What I did not know was that she drew every tattoo herself before getting it drawn on her tiny little frame. Trudy is just a natural and I can’t wait to see her tap into her full, unadulterated potential through Von Peach.
It’s 12:42am. I’m done. I’m tired and the bed is calling out to me. I scribbled some thoughts down. Tomorrow I’ll see if there’s anything there and maybe I can clean it up and make a blog post out of it. I didn’t intend to rant and rave, for so long, about my colleagues. I certainly didn’t intend on coming off like the biggest kiss-ass on the planet, but here we are. I feel really lucky. Lucky to have been given a shot at this, lucky to be a part of this team and lucky to meet them in person. I really couldn’t feel more privileged to work alongside such talented individuals. Onwards and upwards. Let’s. Frickin. Go!
Words by: Glenn Galea
Photography by: Yentl Spiteri
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