After a bit of a break from our Focus sessions, we’re reigniting our self-improvement events for Ataccamers to get together, hone their soft skills, and learn something brand new. Many newcomers are probably wondering: what exactly is Focus? And why should I join the next session?
If you fall into this category, you’ve come to the right place! Read on to find out a little more about the history of these Ataccama events, and how to catch the next one!
So — what is Focus?
It’s not a focus group to collect user insights about a new product, or a lunch break meditation practice. It’s an hour or two in the company of some of the best and brightest minds we can find, sharing stories and experiences that can make us better, smarter, and more resilient to the challenges of life.
Each session has its own theme and we find the best speakers to join us and lead the discussion in their area of expertise. Attendance is completely optional, but usually interesting enough that you don’t mind staying a little longer in the office to listen to one of the amazing speakers.
How did it start?
It all started back in 2018 when our Information Security Officer Irena Poncar (if you don’t know her already, you should definitely head over to our blog to read about her background and career advice) wanted to follow her interest in self development with her colleagues. It originated as a discussion group for Ataccamers who shared her interest in learning more about psychology, communication, leadership or anything that got them excited and talking.
“Psychology is my big interest. I love learning about people, the mind, human feelings, emotions. I spoke with (CEO) Michal about the possibility of bringing these topics to Ataccama and he hinted me to start a discussion platform, where we could come together and learn about them from experts in the field or even from one another.”
Before the pandemic, Focus was held in-person after work in our Prague office, and included arguably one of the best parts of any event — snacks. About 30 people attended each session and the social aspect proved that these sessions were a way for Ataccamers to connect over things other than work.
What do we learn at each session?
Every session has its own key topic and speaker. Soon after launching the idea, we started brainstorming with other Ataccamers about topics and themes that might be interesting for everyone. The only requirement: the subjects can’t be super technical.
“I felt we would introduce any topic, except work-related ones — no technical courses, no Java programming, nothing like that. I also want to focus on soft skills which I think are undervalued in companies, topics like leadership for micro teams, skills everyone can use everyday, immediately. Also we can raise awareness and educate about diversity, cultural, and inclusion issues.”
Focus’s first session was about motivation and overcoming obstacles — rightfully presented by a female Czech climber who has conquered K2 (which is the second highest mountain on the planet, for those not ready to take on Everest). Nearly no topic is off limits for Focus. Past sessions have included discussions around digital wellbeing, sleep, and personality traits.
“For the first session we wanted to attract attention and it was very successful, someone you don’t meet everyday. One of my favorites was about demystifying mental illness. We talked about who is a psychopath, what is schizophrenia, how to deal with depression, portraying it not as a stigma, not taboo, we raised awareness. The psychologist who led it created a nice, open atmosphere. Some people contacted her afterwards for advice or more information. It’s great to know that this helped actual people. Also the nonviolent communication was very useful. We discussed things like how to communicate with your partner and I think people got a lot of information they could use right away.”
Like most things in life, the Covid-19 pandemic threw our in-person Focus sessions for a loop. The discussions moved online, and included Hacking Your Brain for the Time of Crisis — Understand Your Emotions and Reactions in Stressful Situations. The next session will be a follow-up to this discussion and down the line Irena wants to host another Focus event on digital wellbeing.
“The first session we had on digital wellbeing was pre-pandemic and it talked about how to unplug and go offline, but that’s very hard to do nowadays. It’s an important topic now — you are very exposed to your screens. Going offline now means you also disconnect from people. I’d like to make it specific to the situation in Ataccama and our teams. I think even when we can go back to the office I would like Focus to be a mix of online and offline discussions. Online allows for a wider pool of speakers, global professionals. I’m looking for people who can explain the topic, engage the audience and lead a discussion.”
What’s next for Focus?
We’re kicking off the next session in November, this time with Professor Radvan Bahbouh, the brilliant mind behind sociomapping. This concept has been used in spaceflight experiments to create a methodology for building high-performing teams.
The plan is to hold a session each quarter, with a different engaging and educational topic every time. The dates and topics will be announced to our colleagues in advance and we’ll send an invite, so nobody will accidentally forget to join the session they’re most excited about.
Wondering how you can join in our #ChallengingFun and be part of fun events like our Focus sessions? We are hiring! Check out jobs.ataccama.com and apply today!