Area 51 10

The return of Area 51: the cornerstone of 84.51°’s culture

In the spirit of Woodstock, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and other epic music festivals, this year's Area 51 – SparkFest ‘22– was all about connecting and sharing good vibes with new and long-time colleagues alike.

Area 51 is 84.51°’s annual all-company offsite event that encourages its associates to expand personal connections. Each year, associates are broken into teams and assigned a creative task. It’s all in the spirit of building new skills and thinking in a situation outside of their day-to-day work.

The day began with a message from 84.51° President Milen Mahadevan, who welcomed associates back to the always-anticipated event – which made its return to in-person after two years of virtual attendance.

Milen reminded us that we didn’t just survive more than two years of the pandemic – we thrived! COVID-19 forced us to adapt to new ways of working and new ways of connecting, but despite the challenges, we strengthened our bonds and our business together. Through it all, our values served as our guiding force.

“Individually we are but one drop, but together we form a wave, and that wave is unstoppable,” Milen said.

Next, legendary headliner Rob Lawless shared his mission to spend one-hour having one-on-one conversations with 10,000 different people (stories are documented on his Instagram, @robs10kfriends). Rob now inspires others to capture the value of intentional human connection. He shared the FORD framework (Family, Occupation, Recreation, Dreams) as an easy way to get to know others. From there, he led 1:1 breakouts to practice connecting using the framework.

After the morning acts wrapped up, festival goers hit up the “Imagination Station” to create their own bracelet with vibey beads or to grab some ready-made bling. Many also stopped by the festival fashion station to create unique looks.

Making connections continued with the Spirit Challenge that featured small groups constructing music festival totems and flags. Teams brainstormed ideas based on one of our values or the concept of connection. Creativity was flowing and glue guns were firing! 

These crafty wonders were then proudly displayed back at the main stage where our collective 84.51° tribe gathered for an exclusive encore from Milen. He reminded us that "you're not alone" and we are all more powerful when we work together.

As the cornerstone of our culture, Area 51 has – and will always be – an important touchpoint to network with colleagues and learn new things. While the event never truly went away, the return to an in-person setting was a much-need reinvigoration for the company.

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