27-hours of Creativity, Team-Building and Innovation: Ship It Day 2019

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Last week, the creatures of Big Sea took on our fifth annual Ship It Day.  24 hours (well, 27 if we’re being specific) of designing, building, coding, writing, creating and making something new.

It’s an annual opportunity for the team to focus on unbillable passion projects individually or in teams, or together as a collective. The projects range from physical to artistic to code-based, and they always make us smile, laugh or gasp.

It works like this:

  • One week before: Ideas are pitched; teams are formed.
  • One day before: Each team submits Shipping Orders for their project, an outline of their project and how it’s going to happen.
  • At noon on Day 1: We wrap up our work in the morning and begin with lunch. After lunch, it’s all systems go.
  • 6pm: We order dinner and push on through the evening.  People come and go as necessary to pick up kids or walk dogs.
  • 11pm: Things get weird. There’s whiskey and Lizzo and Rock Band. We are still working.  More people start to leave.
  • 4:30am: The last people standing either leave or set up a sleeping area using the blankets and pillows they’ve brought from home. We are still working.
  • 8am: Our annual cereal bar makes its appearance (along with bagels and donuts of course). Those who went home start appearing again.  We are still working.
  • Noon: Lunch is served.
  • 2pm: Announcements are made to start wrapping things up and working on presentations (a required part of the awards ceremony!).
  • 3pm: Everyone presents their project and we vote on a winner, who takes home an incredible prize.

(If you’re interested, you can review another blog post recap from 2015, or check out the videos from 2017 and 2018 – just don’t judge our amateur video skills).

This year, the projects absolutely blew our minds. Veterans of years past were nodding and acknowledging that this was indeed, our best year ever.

A few of us took this seriously and worked on Big Sea projects – things that we needed internally or wanted to use for clients.  For instance, Krista designed and planned an “introductory” marketing consulting package we can offer to new clients, and both Stephen and Autumn worked on earning various advertising certifications.

Cory and Alex, with Autumn’s help, created most of a new Capabilities slide deck that we can send to prospects and clients.  Erika and Malaika created a much needed Big Sea dashboard that keeps everyone up to date with our goals and calendars, integrated with all of our tools and platforms.  Geoff built a little Slack integration that pings random online coworkers to ask them to review a live URL for quick quality assurance when we push new copy or small updates live.

Adriana and Dzuy worked on a library of video tutorials to help our clients learn how to use their new websites, and Maria wrote, designed and built a small website for one of our very favorite client’s new personal brand.

We got some office improvements, including a new bike area to go with our bike-friendly certification (we’re shooting for Gold!), and Rich painted a mural on the back door.  Thomas “smartinized” the pit (our work area) with smart lights, wired speakers, and all kinds of fun commands through our new Alexa and Alexa button.

We also gave back to the community.  Kristen and Shannon worked with the Friends of Strays “Doggy Day Out” program to “rent” an adoptable dog, creating social media stories in an effort to get Princess adopted within the 24-hour timeline (it worked!).  Krista prepped and helped us all create our own dog toys, for personal use and donation back to shelters. Kristen also spearheaded a community art project that was distributed all around downtown St. Pete for Free Art Friday, and she and Chasity built a simple website for their new zine press, Press We Can.  Andi planned, wrote and designed a landing page and workflows for the new Big Sea Big Grant, a donation of our time and expertise that we’ll be launching in 2020.

Some of our favorite projects were the videos.  Geoff (with videographer Alex’s help) created an 80s sitcom opener using a Fiverr-commissioned custom theme song and iPhone video.

But the big winner of the night was an incredible stop-motion video.  Kevin S. spent most of day one illustrating the titles and myriad sea creatures, while Maria wrote the copy. Then Kristen and Chasity cut out every single word bubble and illustration and moved them painstakingly by hand (one centimeter at a time) for almost 500 frames. The shot it on an iPhone, using cardboard boxes as their tripod, and our conference tables as the background. Alex put it all together into this amazing little video.

It was an epic year of creativity, exploration, and team-building and we can’t wait to do it again next year.