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Why winter is the best time for leadership development – CBST Adventures Denver

Don’t succumb to the winter blues! Or, at least, don’t fall for the notion that winter months are a bad time for outdoor leadership development efforts. Nothing could be further from the truth. Getting key leaders from your company outside and working on leadership skills in a colder, perhaps snowy, environment offers some unique benefits that can truly enhance learnings. Winter is the best time for leadership development for several reasons. Here are just a few.

Winter helps teams form stronger bonds

We all know it. Winter can be just that little bit tougher, colder, or more challenging. At CBST Adventures, we use that to our advantage when we create experiential learning challenges. Team members find that relying on each other becomes more critical, and they pool together, improvise more, and get more creative with scarce resources to solve the challenges presented to them. We have seen some of the best team bonding outcomes from team building programs run in the somewhat more
“extreme” conditions that a winter location offers.

Winter can be used to challenge mindsets, teach resourcefulness and determination

“Picture a backcountry rescue situation in the summer,” says Claudine Norden, Certified Facilitator with CBST Adventures. “One of your leaders is playing the injured person, carried in a litter and attended to by other team members. The sun is lapping everyone’s faces, birds are chirping, and water is readily available from mountain streams. Smiles abound. Days are long, nobody is cold, and there’s plenty of time to complete the ‘rescue’. Now, imagine the same scene in the winter. Darkness will come sooner. It’s cold out, so keeping everyone on the team warm and moving is critical. Tools and materials may freeze if not managed correctly. Water for drinking must be thawed from snow, which requires planning ahead, well in time before it’s needed.”

All of these are factors that Norden would leverage when creating a leadership development program that – depending on the client’s objective – could be specifically designed to teach resiliency, enhance decision making, creativity, or several other leadership qualities. “Winter is great for learning a growth mindset,” she concludes.

Most people have never hiked out from a forest cabin in the backcountry at night, through a white, snowy forest landscape brightly lit by the full moon. Take it from us – it’s a unique and wonderful experience. Certainly something that stays with participants for a long time, and bonds leaders together through the shared memories. Through our unique combination of qualified wilderness guides and certified leadership development facilitators, CBST Adventures can guide groups not only in safely experiencing the beauty and excitement of the wilderness – but also designing the event to maximize leadership development learnings.

And never fear. Being based in a Colorado winter wonderland doesn’t have to mean doing everything outdoors. A program can blend indoor and outdoor activities.
Plush resort accommodation, cutting edge culinary offerings, and comfortable conferencing activities can certainly be part of the mix.

Winter months are the perfect time for a boost

Worn out from budgeting? Under pressure to make year-end figures? Feeling the gloom of hunkering indoors, or the ickiness of recent cold and flu spells? All of these
are great reasons to get your leaders outside in the winter!

Having an outdoors offsite during the colder months of the year is perhaps a little out of the ordinary for some – which is another reason it can provide a virtual
vitamin injection. It’s unexpected, it’s different, it’s fun. The fresh air and outdoor activity can provide a health boost, and the change of pace, in a fun location can be
framed as either a boost or a reward during what can be a tough season.

Winter is a fabulous metaphor

Want to prepare company leadership for tougher times ahead? Or, develop strategies to better tackle adversity? Winter itself makes a great metaphor for a challenging business climate or a tough market. It can easily be woven into activities and discussions over a dynamic couple of days of learning and bonding as a team.

And if you don’t want to stay close to home, CBST Adventures is happy to host you at an off-site location in the mountains of Colorado, some as close as an hour from
Denver. Winter weather here is beautiful, and for the most part, enjoyable rather than harsh.

“Thinking about survival stories, or stories of extreme adventure that we read about in books or news articles, almost all of them involve transformative personal
development and behavioral changes for the people involved,” observes Norden. “The way we use winter to transform teams and leaders in Colorado is similar – just
safer and a little less extreme,” she quips.

What is the ROI on a Leadership Development Event?

Dependable leaders are invaluable to a company’s success. A steadfast leader attracts the best employees, retains them, and builds on their strengths. They make a company, a team, and themselves stronger with the growth they create. The resulting prosperity can be instantaneous. Established leaders have teams and team members that will follow them on any venture to any company. Emerging leaders need room to accelerate but the result is the same; a tenfold return on investment.

This is well-known and well documented, which makes it difficult for small companies to find vital leaders. They’re a scarce resource. The titans of industry scoop them up at every chance. Bigger Companies have more money and more resources to offer, forcing smaller companies to settle for mid-tier talent at great risk to their bottom line. When a small company adds personnel to their team, they always run the risk of it not being a good match. The risk multiplies when hiring for a leadership role which affects the roles of all those around and below it.

We, at CBST adventures, see it all the time at our events. When we remove the normality of the office and throw a team into a unique challenge, it’s painfully obvious how each link contributes to the strength of the chain. Great leaders shine and elevate their team. Weak leaders have nothing to hide behind and are forced to address their flaws. The most impactful thing we get to see is the emergence of new leaders, who finally have the chance to showcase their abilities in a risk-free environment.

Leadership development events are designed to foster the growth of these leaders. Leaders that you already have on your team. Leaders that you know are a good fit, who have the trust of everyone else, and who understand how the company works. Still, we are tasked with answering the impossible question (impossible because of the meteor sized positive impact that it leaves): ‘What is the ROI of a leadership development event?’

Enter Annette Alvarez-Peters. Annette only completed a few semesters of community college before going to work for Costco. She started in the accounting department. She worked as a receptionist, administrative assistant, and clerk. Costco allowed her to freely switch up roles to help her find the best fit. She moved from accounting to merchandising to telecommunications. After years at Costco, learning and understanding how everything worked, Annette landed the role of buying all beer, liquor, and wine for Costco. ALL of Costco. As an ode to how powerful that is Annette ranked fourth on the Decanter Power List of the most influential people in the International wine industry. Her choices in this role affects which grapes are planted in Italy and what wine is served at your local restaurant.

Costco invests in their employees as leaders. In an industry known for razor-thin margins, Costco takes better care of their employees than any competitor.  According to the research done by Todd Rose in his book “The End of Average”:

  • In 2014, the typical Costco employee earned just over $20 per hour and health care, compared to the retail industry average of $12.20 per hour and no healthcare.
  • Costco pays their employees 75% more than Walmart in wages on top of their employee benefits!
  • More than 70% of Costco’s managers started out pushing carts or working behind a register.
  • Costco has consistently delivered more profitable returns for investors than Walmart,

“…Costco employees rarely leave the company. One study factored in the hidden cost of employee turnover that comes with hiring and training new employees and found that with these costs considered Costco actually spends less per employee than Walmart while paying them 75% more!”

Instead of investing in PR print ups, Costco invests in its employees and as a result, their values are shared and spread by newspapers, magazine articles, and to every friend and family member of a Costco employee.

Leadership development events show that you are invested in your employees. Office spaces are riddled with restrictions. Tangible restrictions like the separation between floors or offices and intangible restrictions like hierarchy and natural divisions. You can provide your team with the opportunity to shed their preconceptions, help them overcome fears, and allow them to think big by removing employees from the office. It is time to dispel the marketing myth that you control your brand message.

Your brand is not what you say it is, it’s what others say it is. Your employees are your brand ambassadors. The happier your employees, the happier your customers.

If you’re ready to make lasting changes for your team let us help. Our client-specific leadership development programs in Denver inspire leaders to change the trajectory of their lives and equip them to transform the organizations they lead, through sharpened strategic focus, increased employee engagement, better decision-making, and clear communication. Our clients’ results speak for themselves: higher employee retention, stronger growth in sales and profitability, greater agility to address changing conditions and quicker paths to success for strategic initiatives.

“We went from negative growth and cost-cutting to growing, gaining share and investing! We’re now producing over 1/3 of the company’s profit. It was truly transformational.”

― Rob Reilly, GM, GE Healthcare Service

6 Strategies To Build A Cohesive Team

“Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they’ll find a way to screw it up. Give a mediocre idea to a good team, and they’ll find a way to make it better.”

– Daniel Coyle, The Culture Code

At every company, in every industry, a cohesive team goes a long way in being effective and competitive in your market. Using Daniel Coyle’s New York Time’s Best Seller, The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, we will break down 6 keys to establishing a cohesive team.

1. Establish a Clear Mission…

“The goal needs to be right to get the team right, get them moving in the right direction, and get them to see where they are making mistakes and where they are succeeding.”

― Daniel Coyle

There are leaders that see this think “We’ve already done this. We have a mission statement on a document somewhere.” If this is you, you may want to rethink your position.

Purpose is dug out in the trenches. It’s developed over time by those doing the work. Your mission statement only has meaning if it’s a part of your company’s everyday business. If you don’t establish a mission deep within your team, how do you expect your company to adhere to it? Or emphasize it to your customers? How will they respond in tough situations if the mission isn’t clear? Ask yourself these questions and take action. Don’t let your team become reactive.

2. Focus on interactions…

“It’s more important to invest in good people than in good ideas.”

― Daniel Coyle

When we enter the hiring process, our view narrows and becomes more linear. We know what skills we need, so we focus on finding those skills and implementing them into our arsenal. But we are not managing skills, we manage people.

As a leader, your mission is to ensure that your team is aligned in vision and wants to be a part of your culture. If you hire based on skills only, the chances that you’ll have the right person in the right chair is minimal. Without the right people, how successful can your team really be?

3. Keep communication open…

“I screwed that up are the most important words any leader can say.”

― Daniel Coyle

We perform our best once we have a sense of belonging and safety. It is the leader’s job to establish this safety by breaking the ice for everyone else. Along with listening to their employees, a great leader demonstrates the importance of transparency. Owning your imperfections, admitting your mistakes, and showing a little vulnerability in your interactions lays the foundation of safety. Lead the way to open communication lines in your team.

4. Break up silos…

The best way to keep lines of communication open between departments is to break up the silo mentality in your office. The best way to do this is to create an unofficial environment outside the office where your team can connect in a different way.

We’ve all been to the company happy hour or a bowling night with our team. Yet, in most cases, these types of environments do not cater to true communication building. They’re missing the key component of a challenge.

“Overcoming challenges together boosts employees’ engagement, inspires and motivates the team to continue working towards common goals.”

When leaders choose to take their teams out of the office and into the outdoors, they’re connecting their team in a way that uncovers everyone’s individual abilities and work styles. A day spent hiking in the woods, mountain biking, or even having a business meeting lakeside disarms employees by putting them in an unfamiliar environment. Furthermore, if you add activities like rock climbing or kayaking, your team will put into situations where they have to rely on one another. This type of challenge is a quick and impactful way to establish new relationships and break up silos and cliques.

5. Celebrate success…

“Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.”

-Pat Riley

Your journey in business will be riddled with failures and mistakes. Don’t worry about trying to remember these moments, they’ll be hard for you to forget. What’s harder to focus on are the little victories that come with them. Remember, reward your team for victories no matter how small. These gestures need not be big, but wins need to be recognized. A simple thank you can go a long way.

“…thank-yous aren’t only expressions of gratitude; they’re crucial belonging cues that generate a contagious sense of safety, connection, and motivation.”

6. Take care of each other…

“Belonging cues are behaviors that create a safe connection in groups. They include, among others, proximity, eye contact, energy, mimicry, turn taking, attention, body language, vocal pitch, consistency of emphasis, and whether everyone talks to everyone else in the group.”

― Daniel Coyle

Creating a safe environment isn’t something that can be picked up from an article or a book. It isn’t the job of your HR department. It is the iterative practice of the leader. It requires your time, patience, and focus to instill it in your team. Hire the right employees. Be transparent. Listen to your team. Challenge your team outside of work. By following these principals, you’ll build more meaningful relationships with your employees and in turn, a more successful future.

3 Most Effective Ways Leaders Prepare Their Teams For Hardship

“Don’t find fault, find a remedy.”– Henry Ford

When we are in dire straits, we tend to think of the quick fix or band-aid for the situation. While applying the band-aid can “stop the bleeding”, does that remedy the situation? In today’s fast-paced/fix it now society, that band-aid may be enough for some. It’s been proven in a few situations that, yes, a band-aid can add relief, but behind that sheer piece of bandage, the cut still remains. The question is…is that enough? Can you or your company survive with that sore?

The difference between a leader and a great leader is the answer to the question – No. We know that a festering sore can destroy a company, an organization, and especially a small business. Great leaders rarely allow a sore to develop, let alone grow into a deadly infection that can take out their business. Now the question is, what is a true remedy? Here are some examples of how top leaders prepare their teams to deal with these sores:

1. Proper Perspective

“Leaders must always operate with the understanding that they are part of something greater than themselves and their own personal interests.”
― Jocko Willink, Extreme Ownership

The opportunity to work with a school and young children does not happen every day, so we were very excited to get a call from an inner-city school based in Chicago. In our pre-event calls, we found out this particular school suffered through the deaths of two young students. The school was also working their way through administration changes and communication struggles. For their event, we chose a specific type of programming where they had to find their identity while on an Amazing Race throughout Denver. Along the way, they were presented with different challenges that allowed them to be individuals, but also focused on them being a team with a uniting vision. During their event, we passed out cameras to the teams so that they could capture a few select moments as they discovered the city and we were presented with this photo a day after the event had finished. The team that took this photo was the last team to finish, but in our eyes, won the challenge.

They talked about how they wanted to connect not only with each other, but with the community.

Being teachers from an inner-city school in Chicago, they understood the hard times that families and children can experience nowadays. As they took their time throughout the course, they stopped and talked with some of the homeless population, gaining a little perspective on the grit that some deal with in this area of the country. It was a truly touching moment when we saw this photo and connected it to their description of their experience.

Not only did their experience in Denver improve their morale, but also gave them a greater perspective on how each of them view the world around them. For us here at CBST Adventures, in short, it was a very emotional and enriching debriefs of our summer season.

2. Transparent Communication

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.”
-Dalai Lama

The definition of perseverance is continued effort and determination despite the level of difficulty. We tend to see a form of this in our daily lives, but it wasn’t until we met a financial software group that we were really shown the true definition of the word. They were just starting a very large culture change and wanted to create stronger bonds within their executive board and leaders.

On an overcast and breezy day, we took this group out to a rock face known as “The Point”. This area is well-known to climbers in the area due to its varying levels of difficulty. After a somewhat difficult hike in, some members of the group needed a breather. As we were sitting and catching our breath, we found out that one specific person had a tremendous fear of heights. Others in the group agreed with her sentiment; many of them were afraid of the challenge that laid ahead.

As the morning programming continued, Debbie watched her team overcome their fears and face the climb.

Their vulnerability and honesty of her team allowed her to be more vulnerable as well. She opened up with her coworkers for the first time about the loss of her two parents in the span of a year.

During this confession, she realized how much she could lean on her team and rely on their support. After a few moments, she decided to make her way down to the climbing spot. With her team assisting, we brought her down to the rock face, in her harness and helmet. Moments later, she began her climb. As she took to the rock face, tears streaming down her face, she let us know that she was climbing for her parents. Her courage, emotional drive and success on the rock was contagious. What followed was an honest and open discussion that the team had been putting off having for some time. They all knew that they need to make difficult changes if the company was going to continue to grow and they finally felt ready to face these challenges together.

3. Elimination of Barriers

“It’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate.”
― Jocko Willink, Extreme Ownership

One of our biggest events of the year took place over three separate weekends in May. Our client, a worldwide leader in the regulation industry, selects their top 75 global leaders and sends them all over the world to experience a leadership development program like no other. These groups have no idea of what lies ahead of them.

Two guests had disabilities that severely hindered their ability on the river. We were a little concerned with these two guests as there was a decent amount of hiking involved in this trip, as well as getting in and out of boats on a fast moving river. Yet, as the trip moved on, we started to notice the camaraderie among the team. Every step along the way, the team took care of their team members. They assisted them in and out of the boats, helped them set up their camp, and made sure – at all times – that they were in good spirits.

By eliminating the physical distance between their leaders, our client provided their team with a new understanding for each other, one that would be impossible to reach through screen.

At the end of the trip, we presented the group with an exercise to say one word about their experience. As their eyes welled up with tears, the two words that they mentioned were achievement and determination. Our client saw a transformation in its employees; they now had deeper motivation towards their work. They now understood who they were working with and knew that doing a great job benefited everyone they worked with.

These three stories are just an example of how a CBST Adventures event could change and empower your team to mix the ingredients of a remedy for any issue that your team may have. Invest in our Experiential Leadership Development programming, see the transformation occur right before your eyes, and then watch your ROI soar as your team strives for greatness…as one.


Over the past year, CBST Adventures has assisted some of the world’s most successful companies and organizations prevent or start the healing process of a sore that has taken away one’s profitability and ROI. From rock climbing in the Rocky Mountains to kayaking at Jordanelle Reservoir in Utah to building prosthetic hands in Denver or even just some classic team building activities in Lake Geneva or Breckenridge; CBST Adventures has the expertise and staff to improve your ROI, introduce a new culture, or take your leaders to a new elite level in productivity.
Have more questions? We’d be happy to answer them. CLICK HERE for Contact.

Leadership Development: The Advice Teams Want From Their Leaders

“The more I help out, the more successful I become.”
-Adam Grant, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success

Good leadership is developed through a variety of different ways. Time and experience can be wonderful teachers—but great leaders know to look to other sources for inspiration. In Adam Grant’s brilliant book, Give and Take, he offers leaders a unique perspective. He defines Givers as “as preferring to give more than they get.” Grant demonstrates that Givers dominate the top of their area…across all fields.

People want to work for Givers. They give more and work harder for Givers, propelling them to the top of their performance brackets. Gone are the days of the unapproachable and mysterious leaders– the best employees want to work for the Givers of the world. They want to invest their talents in someone who’s invested in them.

That is why effective leaders give and take the following advice:

1. Look ahead…

It’s easy to get caught up in the short term. “How can I finish the quarter strong?” Will I get a pay bump? What’s my next career step?” Of course, it’s important to ask these questions, but they can distract from long-term thinking. As a leader, it’s important to encourage your employees to look ahead, at ultimate career goals, and the long-term. Developed leaders deposit time and energy into their employees, even if they move on to another job. Mentorship that is selfless and truly transformational shows that you are invested in your team members and in turn they will invest more in you.

2. Ask For Their Advice…

“Regardless of their reciprocity styles, people love to be asked for advice.”

-Adam Grant

There’s an old trap that new leaders often fall into: the fear to show any weakness. They fear
that they will lose the respect of their team if there is anything that they can not do. They take it all on themselves, inevitably blundering some aspect along the way and ultimately losing the respect of their team. An effective leader is upfront about their shortcomings. They show that they are not afraid to pass off tasks or ask for help. Through their vulnerability, their wisdom glistens and their team develops a stronger respect towards them. Asking your team members for their advice shows that you trust their opinions. It shows your belief in their talents and gives them the confidence to go out and perform to their full capabilities.

3. Stay Curious…

Lastly, a great leader encourages their team to stay curious. Everyone should be aware of the
dangers of groupthink, especially in a team that has been together for years. In this digital age, all fields are subject to shift at any time. The team that is quick to pivot and adjust will stay ahead of the competition. It also allows for members to feel like essential individuals, not replaceable parts of a machine.

When you empower your team with these ideas, your team will feel valued. They will give more to you because you give more to them. Furthermore, you will build the kind of culture that attracts the best talent; your reputation will grow and drive with it your success. As Adam Grant says, “the giver advantage grows over time.”

If you want to speed up the process of making your team more effective, invest in a leadership development event with CBST Adventures. We provide outdoor-based experiential team building, community impact, and transformational leadership development experiences for businesses that are, or aspire to be, the top companies to work for.

Events Manager

Recruitment for the Events Manager position is currently paused while we review qualified applicants. Thank you for your interest and revisit this page for further updates.

Do you want a job where people say, “You are living the dream!”…?

Do you want to work on incredibly cool adventure experiences in the Rocky Mountain region…?

Do you want to be encouraged to better yourself every day…?

Do you want to work with other passionate and high performing and talented people who will hold you accountable…?

Do you want to be able to determine your hours of work (within reason) and you are evaluated based on your RESULTS, and not the time it takes to do it…?

Do you want a job where you get to help transform people’s lives through adventure…?

Do you want to add community impact to everything you do where you are making a difference in the lives of your community…?

Then you may have found the job for you!

The work that we do is incredibly unique, rewarding and many times you won’t believe that you are actually working. The other benefit is that our work gives back to our communities in a positive way.

The Events Manager is responsible for managing and executing action items to implement CBST Adventure’s Experiential Leadership, Teambuilding and Community Impact programs. Focused on organization and process, this position will work as an integral member of the implementation team and will share in the responsibility to reach department goals and objectives. The Events Manager must demonstrate a high degree of proficiency in systematizing operations, setting up and utilizing a project management system, and being detailed and action oriented in executing our events. The perfect fit for this job would be someone who understands the power of systems when it comes to scaling our business.

Main Job Tasks and Responsibilities:


You will utilize and improve a system for event execution. You will coordinate with sales for implementation hand off. You will be responsible for maintaining each project in the system (approximately 100/year.) You will be responsible for making sure that all checklists, materials, equipment, people and vehicles make it to the appropriate location on time for each event.

Event Leader

You will lead some of the events and will perform guide briefings, work with facilitators, manage all logistics for that event and be the “Go To” person for all on-site guides. You will continue to assist in developing, maintaining, and implementing CBST event procedures and protocols.

Event Guides

You will help recruit new guides and conduct new guide training before first event. You will perform reviews and debrief with guides following events.


You will administer post event participant and guide/staff surveys after every event. You will coordinate with Marketing for custom survey requests. You will monitor survey results to identify best practices and areas for improvement. Share the results in staff meetings.


  • Must have at least 2+ years’ experience utilizing a Project Management System (We utilize Trello). Project and Event Management history required.
  • Our busy season currently is May – October (70% of our events). Expectations of overtime work during that time will be required. Long days and hard work on both weekdays and weekends are expected. However, many times your work will be going rafting/camping/rock climbing/mountain biking, so many times work won’t really feel like work. Added bonus, during the slower season you’ll be able to work on your skiing and biking.
  • Strong organizational and written/verbal skills; must be able to manage multiple concurrent projects.
  • Operate in a team-oriented environment; work across both the sales and implementation teams to accomplish goals.
  • Must be hands on and willing to lead event teams.
  • Ability to operate both from a strategic viewpoint and project manage a tactical execution
  • Self driven individual who can analyze, plan and execute programs with minimal supervision. Ability to act and respond when unforeseen circumstances arise.
  • Event management experience a strong plus with the ability to positively impact client experiences by professionally executing programs
  • Basic computer skills in working with Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Tools, MS Tools, Survey Monkey, other programs as needed.
  • Positive, Friendly, and Good-Natured (No Jerks Allowed Policy).
  • Residence in Metro Denver area is a must.
  • Clean driving record strongly preferred.

Most of our employees work on average 30 hours per week over the year, with spikes in the busy season. Our flexible schedule allows you to get the work done when it makes the most sense to you (within reason on actual events or times when you’ll need to work with the team.). We are also an active team so biking, skiing, hiking, rafting, rock climbing is an extra benefit of the job.

Compensation will be a combination of hourly, bonus and profit sharing, and will be determined based on your experience level and other intangibles that you bring.

Job Type: Full-time

Salary: $16.00 to $20.00 /hour

Required experience:

  • Project Management: 3 years
  • Event Management: 4 years

World Leader in Cloud-Based Software Celebrates Another Successful Year.

This autumn we had the good fortune to host Workday, the leader in Cloud Based Human Capital Management, and help them to celebrate another great year.   What is most exciting about hosting Workday is that they put a large focus on company culture and developing a sense of fun for their employees and customers.

Since the inception of Workday, Dave Duffield and Aneel Bhusri have focused on building the best company culture and they exemplify that in their Core Values.   This team, from the Boulder office, certainly exemplified those values in everything they did.

We hope you can feel the camaraderie of the team and understand what makes Workday the leader in company culture.   If you’d like to instill that kind of passion in your culture, please do reach out to us and we’d love to help you energize a world-class culture of success.

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