LitJoy Summit 2023: Top Gun Academy

LitJoy Summit 2023: Top Gun Academy

9 minute read

At LitJoy, we believe in nurturing a vibrant and engaging work culture that inspires creativity, fosters connection, and celebrates the power of stories. That's why our annual employee retreat, the LitJoy Summit, is an eagerly anticipated event that brings together our incredible team to embark on a thrilling adventure.

The LitJoy Team at LitJoy Summit 2023

Kelly and Alix, founders of LitJoy in flight school uniforms

Introducing the Top Gun Academy: A Theme for Team Spirit

This year, we took inspiration from the iconic Top Gun Academy, infusing the retreat with a high-flying theme that soared beyond our wildest dreams.

Goodness gracious, great balls of fire!

The Top Gun Academy theme was carefully chosen with our remarkable team in mind. We wanted a theme that would ignite everyone's passion, create a sense of camaraderie, and allow us to curate an unforgettable experience. Just as we meticulously curate our products and projects at LitJoy, we sought to curate an extraordinary retreat that would capture the essence of teamwork, adventure, and innovation.

As soon as our team members arrived at the LitJoy Summit 2023, they were greeted with a flurry of excitement. Aviator sunglasses, fake mustaches, and personalized dog tags with their chosen call signs awaited them, instantly transforming them into honorary members of the Top Gun Academy. The stage was set for a weekend filled with camaraderie, learning, and unforgettable memories.

LitJoy's Top Gun Academy goodies

Unveiling Our Vision

During LitJoy’s Top Gun Academy, Kelly and Alix, the brilliant minds behind LitJoy, took the opportunity to share our company's vision, expounding on our purpose and the values that drive our daily approach. These guiding principles reflect who we are as a team and shape the way we approach every aspect of our work.

LitJoy's Purpose

LitJoy’s purpose is to cultivate connection and joy through stories. We believe in the transformative power of literature, and our mission is to create products and experiences that bring people together, spark imaginations, and nurture a love for storytelling.

LitJoy's Core Values

At LitJoy, we cherish a set of core values that empower us to reach new heights:

LitJoy's Core Values

Synergy: Synergy is the magic that happens when we align on common goals for success. It is the connection founded on authenticity and trust. Collaboration is better than isolation.

Focus: We understand the company’s vision and goals and our unique contributions to them. If we lack clarity or cohesion, we take action to better define and align our efforts.

Generosity: We extend the most kind and nonjudgemental interpretation to the intention, words, and actions of ourselves and others.

Creative Thinking: We exemplify Creative Thinking. We approach ourselves and others with a proactive attitude, openness, and are ready to problem solve in new and unique ways.

Communication: Clear is kind. We are thorough, honest, and brave in our communication. Through respectful communication we challenge our own assumptions and understand that in our differences lies our strength.

Heart: We show tenacity in our work, are centered in our purpose, and are open to growth. We care.

Extreme Ownership: We take accountability in small and large settings for our successes and failures. Learning from our mistakes is demonstrated in our language and future work. We are responsible for exactly one person’s Extreme Ownership—our own.

A Sneak Peek into LitJoy’s Literary Horizon

LitJoy's commitment to bringing you exceptional special edition books and bookish products continues to soar. During the Summit, we were thrilled to unveil some exciting upcoming projects that are set to capture your imagination:

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman for Top Gun Academy author reveal

Brace yourself for an enchanting journey through the masterful storytelling of Neil Gaiman. His captivating narratives will transport you to extraordinary realms where magic and wonder abound. Take a look at our Neil Gaiman Special Edition Book Collection!

Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo portrait for Top Gun Academy article

Get ready to be spellbound by the lyrical prose of Leigh Bardugo. Her captivating tales will immerse you in the richly imagined Grishaverse, where unforgettable characters embark on epic adventures. The Grishaverse collection is calling you!

What else?

Of course, there’s more, but we don’t want to spoil any surprises. If you want to be one of the first to know what’s coming up, we’d love for you to become a Lunacorn, LitJoy’s Exclusive VIP Membership. Learn about all of the benefits of joining!

The Activities That Took Our Breath Away

The LitJoy Summit 2023 was a whirlwind of exhilarating activities that challenged us, fostered teamwork, and ignited our imaginations. Here are some of the unforgettable moments we shared:

Book Club Rumble: Unleashing the Power of Vulnerability

Dare to Lead book cover

Prior to the LitJoy Summit this year, we all read Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead. At Top Gun Academy we came together to rumble about vulnerability in a safe and supportive environment. We engaged in candid and vulnerable discussions about personal values, embracing the power of authenticity and connection. Through these discussions, we explored our shared humanity, fostering empathy, and deepening our understanding of one another.

Living a Vision-Led Life with Courtney Brown:

We had the privilege of learning from the insightful wisdom of Courtney Brown, who guided us towards living a vision-led life. Through an interactive session and introspective exercises, we discovered how aligning our personal vision with our professional endeavors can unlock our fullest potential. Courtney's guidance illuminated the path to purpose-driven success, reminding us that our dreams can take flight when we embrace our authentic selves.

Talk to Me Goose - Communication Activity:

Our first team activity “Talk to Me Goose” put our communication skills to the test. Through effective teamwork and clear communication, we navigated a series of challenges that highlighted the importance of effective information exchange and collaboration.

I feel the need...the need for speed!

These challenges included:

A “Laser” Maze:

Katie conquering the lazer maze at Top Gun AcademyAs we maneuvered through a complex maze of “lasers” (red thread), our agility and problem-solving abilities were pushed to the limit. Each step required focus, quick thinking, and precise movements while our teammates gave us encouragement and advice on how to navigate the maze. This was an adrenaline-fueled adventure that showcased our determination and resourcefulness.

Number Pyramid Math Game Joseph explaining the rules

Number Pyramid:

During the “Talk to Me Goose” activity, the teams also had to embark on a numerical journey, unraveling themysteries of a number pyramid with a very complex solution. With mathematical prowess and strategic thinking, we attempted to conquer the pyramid with collective intellect and problem-solving. We’re pretty sure none of us beat the clock on this one, but we all tried, and that’s what counts!


What better way to showcase our unity than by spelling out "LITJOY" with our bodies? Each team member contributed a letter, coming together to form a vibrant tableau of camaraderie and shared purpose. It was a visual representation of the passion that fuels our work at LitJoy.

Blindfold Box Assembly and Packing:

Sara and Erin blindfolded, Stefanie directing

This activity required trust, coordination, and precise communication. Blindfolded team members worked together toassemble and pack boxes, relying on clear instructions and the guidance of our teammates. It was a test of both communication skills and the ability to work effectively in a dynamic environment.

Complete the Mission: From Ideation to Product Delivery

Alix as a Roadblock in the Amazing Race Game

In a thrilling homage to the iconic television show, we embarked on an Amazing Race -style mission that mirrored the journey of product development at LitJoy. From ideation to delivery, we navigated through a series of challenges, putting our problem-solving skills and teamwork to the test even with the ever-present roadblocks that inevitably came up. This hands-on experience allowed us to appreciate the intricacies of our work and the collaborative effort required to bring captivating stories into the hands of our cherished customers—YOU!

Dessert Fun— Chopped Style: Creativity and Tasteful(?) Delights

For this activity, four teams came together in a culinary showdown, channeling their creativity and culinary skills in a Chopped-style dessert challenge. With secret ingredients like chocolate and jalapeño, strawberries and balsamic vinegar, popcorn and caramel, and bacon and maple syrup, each team attempted to craft visually appealing and delectable desserts. But there was more to the challenge than taste alone—they were encouraged to create a taste story, infusing their desserts with narratives that evoked joy and wonder. Some were beautiful, some were delicious, some maybe missed the mark...but teamwork, fun, and a plethora of laughs were had by all!

The Chronicles of Strawberry Shortcake

The Chronicles of Strawberry Shortcake dessert in a mason jarA deconstructed vanilla cake infused with strawberries, topped with strawberry whipped cream, strawberry syrup and drizzled with a balsamic reduction served in a mason jar.

Caraval Caramel Corn Cake

Caraval Caramel Corn Cake on plates with chocolate swirls

A vanilla cake layered with caramel and chocolate, topped with a caramel frosting and decorated with homemade caramel corn and drizzled with chocolate. 

Maple Bacon Cake

Maple Bacon Cake served as a cake

Vanilla cake infused with maple syrup, with a maple infused buttercream, topped with a chocolate ganache and candied bacon bits.

Is It Dessert…or Dinner?

Chocolate & Jalapeño mash up "dessert"

Sweet with a spicy kick, and the appearance of a Thanksgiving meal that makes you feel like you're back at home with your family.

Debra the baking queen

Joseph holding the cake batter pre oven

Ali eating the winning dessert - Strawberry Shortcake
Mindy and Amikka dessert fun at Top Gun Academy LitJoy Summit Shanna, Lindsay, and Stefanie finishing their creation Robin, Olivia, Sarah, Debra and the Caraval themed cake

The Judges: Ali, Courtney, Alix, and Kelly
The Judges

Sound Bowl Meditation/Journey: A Harmonious Retreat

Sound bath at LitJoy's Top Gun AcademyIn a serene and tranquil setting, we immersed ourselves in the soothing sounds of sound bowl meditation. The resonating vibrations calmed our minds, allowing us to embark on an inner journey of reflection, relaxation, and rejuvenation. It was a moment of mindfulness and self-care, where we reconnected with ourselves and found balance amidst the demands of our vibrant work.

LitJoy Jeopardy: Where Knowledge and Laughter Collide

LitJoy Jeopardy with Mindy, Stefanie, Robin, and Kara

As the Summit drew to a close, we engaged in a spirited game of LitJoy Jeopardy. Teams competed to showcase their knowledge of products, departments, employees, and of course, our company values. Laughter filled the room as we tested our wits, celebrated our shared love for LitJoy, and reminisced about the incredible experiences we shared throughout the Summit.

Wrap Up: The Adventure Continues

LitJoy Summit 2023 Top Gun Academy was a resounding success, encapsulating the spirit of collaboration, creativity, and connection that defines LitJoy. LitJoy's Top Gun Academy proved that when passion, vision, and creativity come together, the possibilities are limitless. As we continue to cultivate connection and joy through the magic of stories, we invite you to join us on this incredible adventure. Together, let's soar to new horizons, embracing the thrill of discovery, and celebrating the transformative power of literature.

Remember, at LitJoy, the sky is not the limit—we're just getting started.

Until next time, fly high and embrace your inner Maverick!

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