KarryOn recently caught up with G Adventures ‘Culture Club’ champions Louise Miller and Jess Turnball at the G Outpost in Melbourne to talk all things G Nation.
You know it’s going to be a different kind of chat when it’s held it in a ‘ball pit’, filled with plastic balls that we start throwing at each other before we’ve even started talking.
We’d only met three minutes ago and already these two funsters were pummelling me. Such is the ‘work hard, play harder’ culture at G Adventures.
The award winning Canadian born company is this year celebrating its 25th year in the game with all roads leading to Toronto in September and global Basecamp for their annual G Nation Conference.
This year promises to be bigger than ever with new destinations, trips and foundation projects to be announced by legendary Founder Bruce Poon Tip in what will undoubtedly be the brands largest collective celebration of purple (their brand colour and theme for the event) ever too.
Walking into their extremely cool and colorful offices in a converted warehouse in Southbank I’m greeted with genuine waves and hello’s from everyone and get an immediate sense that this is a positive place to come to work every day. There’s real meaning, energy and purpose here and a genuine brand story and revered leader in Poon Tip that stands proudly behind it all.
The place feels authentic because it aligns with G Adventures five core values, which I learn are; do the right thing, We love changing peoples lives, Create happiness and community, lead with service and embrace the bizarre. Values that seem to permeate the entire office wherever you look, from the team wearing t-shirts to cushions on the sofas and decals on the walls.
Aside from the ball pit I find myself in, there’s also a Dr Seuss themed room inspired by the much loved book “Oh the places you’ll go!”, an Arctic explorer room complete with fluffy Emperor penguins, grey seals and an inflatable zodiac and of course a ping pong table to take beer pong to the next level.
Dodging a few balls with my best Vince Vaughan impersonation I ask Louise (Digital Disruptor) and Jess (Inside Sales CEO) what the deal is at G and just how they bring the culture to life in their roles.
“Basically, our job is to make sure everyone gets involved in keeping the culture dynamic, creative and inclusive” Says Louise with a smile. ”From organising regular events, to helping with recruitment and driving regular brainstorming sessions with everyone, our role is to bring the values to life in a way that reflects the ethos of G Aventures” she says.
“We strive to be different in everything we do, so we’re always thinking creatively and looking for new ways to innovate. It’s in our DNA”.
Jess Turnball, Insider Sales CEO and Culture Club leader
Minutes later they’re asking me (not so) typical interview questions that potential candidates will get stung with. Questions like “If I had to steal $100, would I steal $1 from 100 people or $100 from one person?”, “What’s been my biggest personal achievement” and “Does chicken belong on a pizza?” Hmm, I answer with a laugh to all.
G Adventures certainly isn’t for everyone and the fit is crucial, hence the culture questions and a standard of two interviews minimum with every candidate to sound people out.
You could say they bring creativity to every detail. From zany job titles for all staff such as ‘The honey badger’ (which is actually Founder Bruce’s title) to creating their collective and hilarious annual ‘libdubs’ video to having their own Mayor, ice cream days, and even some employees with G logo tattoos they’ve had inked – the passion and purpose here is a beautiful thing.
But it’s not all fun and it’s their own non-profit Planeterra Foundation established in 2003 that’s what really sets them apart as a company that has proved you can successfully blend making money with giving back for the long haul.
G Adventures has long since operated under the belief that travel is an exchange, not a commodity and that when you travel with them, you’re always giving back more than what you take away, often in ways you might never have expected.
Planeterra works directly with G Adventures to minimize the impact on the destinations, and to promote sustainable solutions and economic growth for all communities they visit. Amazingly Planeterra manages over 50 current and funded projects in underserved regions all over the world.
What do Louise and Jess like best about working or G Adventures I ask? They respond almost unanimously that “Being part of something positive where we can help make a difference, love what you do and have fun along the way”.
And who could argue with that, since G Adventures has clearly invested heavily both in it’s people and in the meaning behind why people do and should travel in the first place from day one, 25 years ago.
With passion, purpose and enthusiasm like this, it’s infectious and easy to want to get excited about what they’re doing. Which clearly has been their formula for success with customers and staff alike. Check out their recent Micro Famil I attended for an example of the kind cool things they do for agents.
Leaving the building to more friendly waves and ‘See ya laters’ I was super impressed and thought to myself “I wonder what they’ll do in the next 25 years?”
*For the record, I apparently passed the test interview question wise to get the gig and answered 1) $100 from one person, 2) Playing National League basketball and learning to speak Spanish in Mendoza, Argentina and 3) No way! – Just waiting now to find out what exactly the gig is!
Have you encountered the G Adventures Culture? Share your thoughts below
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