The Value That is Retreat

Retreat. It’s something unique to each member of the EFBC. I think I am going on my baker’s dozenth Retreat tomorrow, and I am really stoked for it. This year we are going to Union Pier, MI to a house on the lake. We will all gather at the meeting place, then head to an afternoon of wine tasting around the area. We’ll visit some of the local wineries and sample their newest and best, along with some of the old. TAU Forum has had many past retreats in southern Michigan, and we’ve been on the wine tour circuit before. Those are prior experiences that I am looking to reminisce on while we make new memories.

On the next day, we will begin our presentations. I still have to prep, but our topic is the 80th Birthday Speech Exercise. This proves to be a challenging topic for me, but I know it will be worthwhile. By challenging, I mean emotional, introspective and thought evoking. We are to identify whether or not the way we currently live is conducive to how we want to look back favorably on our journey to turning 80. Are we holding ourselves back from achieving our visualized future selves as octogenarians? In order to gain this perspective, we are taking the Delorean to our 80th birthday party which will have close family and friends in attendance. Each TAU member will write three 30-minute speeches, in a role-play format, from the perspective of those closest to us.

This is the value of retreat. Reflecting upon yourself intrinsically and from different perspectives, in a safe place, where you can pour your heart out, be yourself, challenge yourself and receive it all back from your peers. You’ll get feedback through shared experiences and clarifying questions that might provide a perspective that you’ve never considered. I’ll probably shed a tear (I think it’s the Irish in me). This will be our newest members first retreat and I’m very excited for him.

I tend to reflect the most while staring at my windshield on the ride home. In years past, I have called people that I thought of while I was on retreat to tell them that I love them. Other times, I just sat in silence most of the way home, just thinking and reflecting on how I can apply what I learned about myself and my life to become a better father, husband and executive.

I hope that all EFBC Forums can appreciate the retreat experience as much as I have over the years. Every year I try to push myself a little bit more, no matter what the presentation topic is, to really immerse myself in the material and pour my heart out to TAU. By stretching your limits of comfortability, you’ll get the maximum benefit of retreat.


Neil O'Donnell
VP of Business Development, Progressive Industries
EFBC President 2021-2022



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