Here's where we discuss adventures in leadership

How does one go from internet start-up to experiential leadership company?

Posted by Jay Palace on Wed, Jun 24, 2015 @ 10:40 PM


How about a Throwback Thursday that explains how GEL came to be? Let's journey back to1997, when I gathered sixteen '...

Posted by Group Experiential Learning on Wednesday, June 24, 2015



Tags: leadership development, sailing, team building

Boston Corporate Sailing Adventure Photobook

Posted by Jay Palace on Mon, Jul 14, 2014 @ 08:46 AM

Great shots from a recent GEL Program which we turned into a photobook for clients.  Our photographer's information is:
Matthew Cohen Photography


Tags: sailing, leadership, team building

Spithill weighs in on San Francisco team building at the RBYAC

Posted by Jay Palace on Thu, Aug 29, 2013 @ 07:35 AM

"These guys are gonna face some real challenging moments out there. They're gonna be under a lot of pressure, but the number one rule is to stick together as a team. You do well as a team, you're having a bad moment, you go through that together, and you move on. The team that comes out of this will be a team we'll see in the future."

That's the takeaway from Oracle Team USA Skipper, James "Jimmy" Spithill after visiting the Red Bull Youth America's Cup teams last week. Amid the cloud of allegations about cheating and other scandalous claims that have plagued The Cup in recent weeks, Spithill's prophetic words ring true -- teamwork will ultimately prevail for the young guns who, for the first time in the venerable sailing event's 161 years, are being given a shot at a spot in the title competition over four consecutive days of sailing starting on Sunday.

The physicality of the sport is daunting and demands that reaction times be precise, but at the end of the day it will all come down to how six young athletes channel their individual talent and determination into a collective win. That kind of effort doesn't just happen and is nothing shy of how elite military forces train for combat.

Active Team Building San Francisco

Group Experiential Learning has been putting corporate work groups through their paces like this -- both on and off the water -- for over ten years. It's no coincidence; we've enlisted Olympians, America's Cup sailors and international match racing champions as coaches for our corporate team building and leadership development programs. 

If you want to know more about what our group can do for yours, give us a call at 888-GEL-TEAM or tell us about your team via our contact us form.  

Contact us to plan an adventure for your team

Tags: sailing, yacht racing, team building

Teamwork at very high speed! Red Bull Youth America's Cup Sept 1-4

Posted by Jay Palace on Fri, Aug 16, 2013 @ 02:25 PM

Earlier this week, the ten teams representing eight countries in the upcoming Red Bull Youth America's Cup took possession of their AC45 catamarans. The sleek, one-design vessels level the playing field and place more emphasis on boat handling and tactics since all crews are sailing identical yachts. By his own admission, Oracle Racing CEO Russell Coutts said that the AC45 was designed to be tough to sail. Pair that with the fact that teams of six are tasked with doing what could easily take seven, and the margin for error is reduced to zero.

British contender, Andy Sinclair, whose GBR Youth Challenge team didn't make the final cut during the February qualifiers had this to say about it, "They go so fast. That's every team's problem -- we're not doing stuff early enough. We'll get to a mark and we haven't done half the jobs we need, and it'll just be absolute chaos and bedlam."

Welcome to the world of elite team building, a discipline that requires each member to be at their personal and collective best. As the official supplier of leadership development and team building services to the U.S. Sailing Team AlphaGraphics (USSTAG) from 2009-2012, we know a thing or two at Group Experiential Learning (GEL) about what it takes to develop that kind of world-class collaboration. We've been developing high-impact teams for the private sector for over a decade. Sailing is just one of the many immersive experiences in which we take groups of 4 to 60 out of their comfort zones and into the outdoors to become high-functioning teams in the workplace. We also create mountain-based experiences involving hiking, skiing, snowboarding and specialize in experiential workshops that have both a classroom and outdoor component.

"The coordination and communication required to get the teams to sail quickly, close together and in the right order was true teamwork in action," observed a recent Rite Aid participant whose group coalesced through the honest exchange provided by our BoatWorks experience.

An Ernst & Young executive had this take-away, “The parallels between what goes on on land – i.e., our working environment—and what went on on the water were uncanny. The day on the water has...opened the course for some honest exchanges on how we can do things differently."

We've also done the same with other Fortune 500 companies and groups from Genentech, Northrop Grumman, Booz Allen Hamilton, the Boston Consulting Group, The VF Corporation, Microsoft, and CVS/Caremark.

Want to see how we can help put your team to the test? Contact us via the form or phone, and we'll schedule some time to give you a quick overview of our proven approach.

Contact us to plan an adventure for your team

Tags: sailing, team work, yacht racing, Coming Events

America's Cup TV coverage schedule posted.

Posted by Jay Palace on Tue, Aug 06, 2013 @ 10:54 AM

For America's Cup enthusiasts, the America's Cup website has been updated with the schedule for NBC's coverage of the racing action starting this week:

And because blog postings are so boring without images, here's one of GEL's founder, Jay Palace, taken a few years ago when he had an opportunity to race with John Kostecki and a few other members of Oracle Racing. In the shot below, the team is match racing against another Oracle Racing yacht, and are getting ready to dowse the spinnaker.  Jay is wearing a yellow GEL sailing team cap on the foredeck.  Photo Credit - Ellen Hoke.

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Tags: sailing, yacht racing

Ultimate in Teamwork: America's Cup - Resources for GEL Alumni and HBS Guests

Posted by Ann Gusiff on Thu, Jul 25, 2013 @ 08:26 AM

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The Louis Vuitton challenger series leading up to September's America's Cup is in full swing here in San Francisco, and we want to share some of the best links to view and learn about the sailing action.

Tags: sailing, Coming Events

America's Cup: San Francisco Team Building & Leadership on Fire!

Posted by Jay Palace on Tue, Jun 25, 2013 @ 05:22 PM

The America's Cup is just around the corner and there's a ton going on in the world of sailing.
If you're a non-sailor attending one of the Harvard Business School Association events we're hosting, the youtube video below is a great source of information.
If you only want to know what's about to happen, skip forward to 5 minutes, 50 seconds (5:50). Here's where they start describing the Louis Vuitton Cup, the challenger series which HBSA/NC members will be watching from a front row seat at the Saint Francisc Yacht Club.

The LV Challenger series determines which team will challenge Oracle Racing for the oldest trophy in sports, and on July 30th, we'll be watching Round Robine #5, Artemis vs Emirates Team New Zealand.


As always, here's the BoatWorks button to click if you think your team needs some help working at high velocity and delivering enhanced results.  

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And, you can subscribe to be notified whenever we post something new to the blog by clicking here:

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Tags: sailing, teambuilding, yacht racing, leadership

Team Building Event Coordinator Kicking Butt in Championship

Posted by Jay Palace on Sun, Jun 16, 2013 @ 07:16 AM

Last week when GEL was in Chicago conducting BoatWorks programs with our new partner, the Chicago Match Race Center, our stretch goal was flawless execution, and our intermediate goals were training the CMRC staff in the intricacies of a non-racing, iterative experiential training program and delivering against our clients' objectives.  One of the leaders responsible for these short and long term objectives is Stephanie Roble, the center's Event Coordinator.

There are many things impressive about Stephanie, and the ones that stand foremost in my mind from last week's four days of team building are her ability to assimilate rapid fire information, get it out to her team, and stay calm under pressure.  

It's no surprise that she's also a fantastic match racer, as evidenced by her performance to date in the Women's Match Racing Championship.  Read on for details in the CMRC press release. 

Stephanie Roble

Stephanie Roble, Jay Palace, John Ponsetto (CMRC) and Tim Perlick (CME) in the BoatWorks EC Protector

CHICAGO, Ill. (June 14, 2013) - With an undefeated scorecard earned after six completed flights, Stephanie Roble (East Troy, Wis.) and her team have taken the early lead in the 2013 U.S. Women's Match Racing Championship, held at the Chicago Match Race Center. One flight remains to complete the first Round Robin, with a second also planned for tomorrow to complete the first stage of the competition for the prestigious Allegra Knapp Mertz Trophy.

Besides having spent the last three seasons at CMRC, Roble was also on the winning team as crew in both the USWMRC and the Open US Match Racing Championship, and is thus considered one of the favorites among the field of eight competing today through Sunday.

Race conditions today were nearly ideal, with the 10-14 knot northeast to east breeze building up 2-3 foot swells, giving all the teams excellent opportunities to display both their tactical as well as boathandling prowess in the Tom 28's. These skills been sharpened with help from a clinic held yesterday and this morning by CMRC Director and Alpari World Match Racing Tour card holder Taylor Canfield. Both on the water coaching and off the water in debrief sessions, Canfield has been engaging teams with personalized advice on moves and maneuvers to help improve their game.

These tips helped many, including Clerc Cooper (New Orleans, La.) who had a weak start to the event and looked to finish the day without a win until the last match when she defeated Madeline Gill (Norwalk, Conn.) in a close match.

This was just one among many hard-fought matches today that featured close starts, multiple lead changes, and for those being too aggressive, penalties assessed by the umpire team led by Kathy Lindgren.

Sitting in third place with four points is match racing veteran Sandy Hayes (Scituate, Mass.) whose team looked solid throughout the racing today but a few mistakes put them behind leaders Roble and Wilson. Look for them to be a Finals contender as we head into the weekend and they gain more experience in the boats. Hayes and crew went 4-2 today.

Perhaps the most hotly contested battle of the event is the one for the fourth and final spot in the semifinals. Intercollegiate sailor turned match racer Rachel Austin and crew led by veteran match racer Suzy Leech are tied with umpire-turned-skipper Katie Maxim and her San Francisco based team. After losing her first two races of the day, Maxim went on a winning streak and currently has the upper hand having won her match against Austin.

With just one defeat suffered to the Roble and her team, another CMRC regular has done well in the first day to sit in second on the leader board. Jennifer Wilson (Chicago, Ill.) and her team have amassed a 5-1 record, and if the favorable wind conditions hold through tomorrow, they will have another shot at Roble to avenge this loss in the second Round Robin of this first stage of the competition.

The winning skipper will earn the right to race in key match racing events in 2013, including the U.S. Match Racing Championship this September in Sheboygan, Wis. and the Women's International Match Race Series event this July in Oyster Bay, N.Y.

The intended racing format includes four stages, beginning with double round robins followed by a round robin to determine places 5-8, a semi-final knockout series for places 1-4, a petit final for places 3 and 4, and a final knockout series for places 1 and 2. Races are being conducted by PRO Darcy Cook and her race committee team, while the umpire team will be led by Umpire Kathy Lindgren.

Racing occurs outside Belmont Harbor in front of the break wall, an ideal viewing location for spectators with bleacher-style seating. The course is Windward/Leeward twice around with a downwind finish and possible leeward gates. Racing is scheduled to begin at 9 am CT on Saturday with the intention of completing the double round robin (start times subject to change).

The Mrs. Charles Francis Adams Memorial will be awarded to the Runner-up position. US Sailing gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded to the skippers and crews placing first through third, respectively. Only a U.S. citizen may be declared U.S. National champion.

The CMRC is one of the first match racing centers of its type in the United States and brings top level racing to the Great Lakes region. In addition to hosting world class regattas, the CMRC also provides weekly training programs to experienced sailors interested in learning more about the growing discipline of match racing.

For results, standings, photos and more information on the 2012 U.S. Women's Match Racing Championship, please visit the event website at

For breaking news and race results from Chicago follow us on Twitter @USSailing or @MatchRaceCenter. Use Twitter hashtag #WMRC13 to participate in the conversation throughout the championship.

Tags: sailing, teambuilding, yacht racing, CMRC

Harvard Club Team Building BoatWorks

Posted by Jay Palace on Thu, Jun 13, 2013 @ 01:29 PM

Saturday's BoatWorks program for 20 members of the Harvard Club of Chicago was fantastic!  

Our team of coaches, support boat drivers, facilitators and score keepers at the Chicago Match Racing Center loved this group, who were all smiles, all day long.  See?

Smiling BoatWorks Sailors

Some more great photos taken by Kathleen Virgina Page are up in an album on Group Experiential Learning's Facebook Page  Don't foget to like us while you're there!

Stand by for some more photos as we sort through them, and if you sailed with us, look out for an email certificate of completion... you guys conquered the BoatWorks Challenge

And in addition to having fun, the team really caught fire after they gelled. Check out the improvement between two runs through the BoatWorks Challenge course, with some commentary from their Observer/Controller thrown in for good measure.

Chicago team building fun 

Your own team in need of fun or focus on collaboration and leadership?

Contact us to plan an adventure for your team

Tags: sailing, team work, team building

GEL Facilitator speaking at Bay Area "Ask a Ski Instructor" Event

Posted by Jay Palace on Sat, Nov 03, 2012 @ 08:28 PM


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GEL's lead facilitator, Jay Palace spends his winter weekends teaching skiing at Northstar in Lake Tahoe. He will be participating in a 'Ask a Ski Instructor' event at the Sports Basement in San Francisco on November 10th from 10am to 2pm. Along with a team from Northstar at Tahoe, Jay will be speaking about stress free family skiing vacations, and how to introduce your kids to the sport.

The event will feature short films and presentations about topics relevant to first timers as well as families who already ski or board together. The team will also be doing short presentations about specific topics, which should lead to good Q & A. Jay and the team will also be providing tailored advice on gear, skiing as a family, and avoiding common stresses of family ski vacations. 

If you are interested, sign up on the facebook event page! The Sports Basement will be giving a 10% discount to folks who attend and want to shop for anything while they're there.
Come on down to the Presidio, meet Jay, and get all of your questions answered for a fun and stress-free ski season!

Tags: Coming Events