Reflections from Malindi: Where Magical Encounters Lead to Impactful Relationships

Discover highlights and unforgettable moments from The Room’s Odyssey Retreat in Malindi, Kenya

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to spend a weekend at one of the world’s most luxurious villas? Recently, Odyssey members of The Room got to experience just that as they embarked on an exclusive retreat at a villa owned by none other than supermodel and Room member Naomi Campbell in the tropical seaside town of Malindi, Kenya.

Hosted by founder of The Room Fred Swaniker and facilitated by Steve Boehlke, a master of leadership learning, it was a weekend of laughter and music, beach walks and memorable meals. Most of all, it was a time for deep bonds to be fostered through shared stories and meaningful interactions, where connections grew into impactful relationships.

Aligned to the mission of The Room to create opportunities for the leaders of tomorrow, a select group of young members were invited to join the retreat and spend time engaging with the influential leaders in attendance. It led to new opportunities for mentorship, collaboration and even job creation — proving both the calibre of talent that exists in The Room and the power of relationship building.

Read on to discover a series of inspiring reflections from Malindi, highlighting what happens when a group of people come together with purpose and a shared commitment to make an impact in the world.

“We forged a small community”

Over the course of a few short days, we forged a small community with a shared commitment to generate new opportunities for one another.

Mingle and mix, inquire and question, connect and converse — the Odyssey Room Retreat at Malindi was an exceptional opportunity to relax and rejuvenate while at the same time engaging in structured group activities that underscored the difference between connections and relationships. Over the course of a few short days, we forged a small community with a shared commitment to generate new opportunities for one another as well as the younger Room members who joined us for a day. Whether storytelling after dinner or snorkeling at sea, the energy was palpable as we shared adventures that have been formative in our respective journeys.

With clear intention and dedicated time and space, we can review and renew who we are and how we are in relationship to others.

For me, our time together reinforced my conviction that with clear intention and dedicated time and space, we — as busy, easily distracted, always in motion professionals — can review and renew who we are and how we are in relationship to others. The mere fact that I had a chance to talk personally with someone I have known of for five years but not known in person gave me a new perspective on how to integrate work and play, even as he was playing his guitar and taking a zoom call while standing in the sea. I smile even now when I recall the animated spirit that this one person brought to our retreat.

An intentional presence and trust emerged as we moved through the weekend together. Relaxation and fun balanced with personal reflection and interactive exercises, which brought out something in us that too often is never shared. Could you imagine yourself joining in a mime guessing game with people you have never met before? And having fun doing so?

Steve Boehlke, Global Leadership Consultant

“We have more similarities than differences”

If we want to change the narrative about Africa, we must give opportunities to the future leaders.

When I got an invite to the Odyssey retreat in Malindi, I thought it was time to take a break from my busy schedule. I didn’t quite know what to expect. I wondered who the other members were and if I was going to fit with the group. I toyed with the idea of just shelving it when a strong sense of desire to know more about The Room came over me. My logic was: “What is the worst that can happen?”

Surprisingly, it turned out to be the greatest time of my life! The members of the group were amazing. They were authentic, resourceful and experienced in their areas of expertise. It was like we had known each other for years.

What came through for me in the retreat is that if we want to change the narrative about Africa, we must give opportunities to the future leaders. This occurred when we were joined by 6 young leaders who were very clear of their visions but had no platform or support to actualise their dreams. That was a wow moment for me!

After listening to each of their stories, I took on one David Vilembwa, a graduate of International Trade from African Leadership University Rwanda, to demonstrate how he would revive my failed business. The zeal with which he took up the challenge greatly impressed me. I made a mental note to continue with this conversation outside the meeting. The short of this long story is that David was hired by the Great Lakes University of Kisumu to start up an aquaculture farming initiative. With the right support and funding there is a high probability that David will employ many more youth to help him grow the business. I am just waiting to see how this explodes — it’s going to be mega!!

By the end of the retreat, I realised that we have more similarities than differences and therefore can work together towards a common goal. Each of us has something to give and to get within The Room. And oh yes — I loved the fun! Drinking and merrymaking and storytelling that came with the unforgettable experience.

Professor Hazel Miseda Mumbo, Vice Chancellor of the Great Lakes University of Kisumu

“Take opportunities as they come”

I would like to encourage young people to take a more proactive approach to their careers and take opportunities as they come.

The Room has been very impactful for my career growth and development. Recently, I got selected to join the retreat in Malindi, together with five other young, inspirational leaders.

During the retreat, I had the rare opportunity to interact with business leaders and executives, and got to learn and share experiences with them. What stood out for me was the experience of meeting Professor Hazel, the founder and VC of Great Lakes University, who soon offered me a position at the university!

I am very fortunate to have been selected since I have not only gotten a job but also expanded my professional network. I would like to encourage young people to take a more proactive approach to their careers and take opportunities as they come. You may not feel ready, but I believe you can learn along the way.

Special thanks for this opportunity goes to Dr. Fred Swaniker, founder and chief curator of The Room.

David Vilembwa, Young Leader in The Room

“It signified a lot of firsts for me”

I was able to connect with like-minded people who are committed to working together to support each other.

Have you ever received an email, a call or even a text that signifies the start of a new experience? Well, that was what happened when I was invited for a retreat to Malindi by The Room Founder, Fred Swaniker. It signified a lot of firsts for me, including my first flight, which was an amazing one.

We met and learnt from senior members of The Room, while sharing meaningful experiences with them. It afforded me an opportunity to establish a relationship with Emily Kamunde-Osoro, the CEO of Rise and Learn Kenya, who offered me an internship where I will be mentored and able to gain experience in different departments within the organisation while putting my skills into practise.

Through the experience in Malindi, I was able to connect with like-minded people who are committed to working together to support each other and establish long-lasting friendships. The Room is such an uplifting community for everyone at different career levels.

Brian Chirchir, Young Leader in The Room

“It was an incredible time of building relationships”

I left Malindi with a clearer perspective on life and a renewed hope concerning my career and purpose.

The Room is a gift that keeps on giving. And the Malindi trip was the highlight of all I have received from this wonderful community.

When I arrived in Malindi, I had no idea what was in store for me but I came with an open mind to receive — and receive I did! From the team building interactions that brought out our vulnerabilities and bonded us to each other to the casual chit chat with people I would normally not interact with in an official setting, I can confidently say that it was an incredible time of building relationships.

I left Malindi with a clearer perspective on life and a renewed hope concerning my career and purpose as I mingled with senior members of The Room and formed new friendships with my peers. With all that I gained, I must say I wouldn’t mind a repeat of that!

Helidah Wagude, Young Leader in The Room

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