I’ve never learned how to golf, partly because I suck so much at mini-golf that I figured there was no point in embarrassing myself further. I’ve been forced to try driving ranges like Top Golf at company events, but those thankfully end up being a lot more socializing and lot less actually hitting balls. And then there was that time I was trying really hard to follow a coworker’s tips for good form, and hit the ball (what I thought was) perfectly only to have it land two feet in front of me, in the net that prevents people from falling over the edge. #GolfingFail
I’ve always felt kind of bad about my lack of golfing ability, and promised myself that someday I’d go to one of those “golfing for beginners” classes so that I could comport myself reasonably well in the golf games and tournaments that we all hear are the norm for businesspeople. However, I’m starting to think that those rounds of networking golf aren’t quite as common as they used to be, and that they’ve been replaced by other sports.
One sports skill that has served me well for business has been skiing. Five years ago, all the women in my firm were invited out to Park City for a ski weekend. Even though it was the women who were invited, our male CEO came for a day too… and so I found myself riding the chairlift with him. How awesome is that?! However, he was a much better skier than me, by far, and I wished that I were better so that I could keep up. The CEO was incredibly nice to me, but when people started branching off to hit some of the more difficult terrain, I knew that I had to bow out… and I really felt behind.
Since then, I’ve probably been on at least a dozen work ski trips – some formal, some informal. They’ve been a great way to build my network, since you get plenty of time on the chairlift to chat. Even when skiing in a group, I’ve found that you end up having a different combo of people on the chair every time, which makes for great and varied conversation. You get to share in the adrenaline as you race down the hill, but then you feel a strong sense of camaraderie when you come together for apres-ski beers. It’s the best! I also find that skiing with coworkers is a great way to improve my skiing ability, since I’m trying to keep up and look good, and am less cautious than I would be while out on my own.
One of those work ski trips was yesterday, when our entire Denver Advisory practice was invited to spend the day at Winter Park. I made it a point to set low expectations, by telling everyone that I was happy to ski by myself since I am a “solid intermediate” skier, not the double black diamond level that most people seemed to be. I went skiing for an hour with a coworker who I knew really wanted to hit the tough Cirque bowl, but said he was happy to go with me on the blues (and even a green as a warmup). I felt like I skied decently well – the snow was perfect, and I could cruise down reasonably quickly without hitting icy patches.
Then we met up with a group who had already been doing tree-studded black diamonds for a while… so I emphasized that I was happy to ride the lift with them, but then we should meet at the bottom so that I could take the easier way down. And then my coworker who had already been skiing with me said, “oh, no, Laura can hang.” Day made! My ski skills may not be as great as seemingly everyone else’s in Colorado, but I’m pretty proud that I can hold my own.
And who knows? While The Economist claims that cycling is the new golf (and I’ve seen that with my friend Kelly and the many business deals she conducts on two wheels), I’m hoping that the mountain slopes I love will be right up there too.