OK, I survived the first evening. Actually although I dread these events and find them very tiring, there is also reason to be proud. When I joined the company 17 years ago, there were less than 200 employees, a small company in an uncertain business. Now, we have 1800. We have been a public company for at least 10 years - at the moment I'm too tired to remember the actual year. Could be 1994? I am honored to be considered part of the "cultural bedrock" (as the president described those of us who have been with the company more than 15 years). The company reflects my values. How many people can truly say that?
We watched silly skits - one was actually very funny - listened to reasonably inspiring speeches by our president and chairman, ate some truly awful buffet food (do not eat coconut chicken, ever), and generally had a good time seeing coworkers. Many of these men and women have become friends, too.
Success is sweet. We have worked long and hard, and done it honorably. A good feeling... I found myself smiling on the drive home.