Tuesday, December 30, 2008

December 30, 2008 - Happy Holidays

Hey there, hi there and hello there everyone. I hope everyone had an absolutely amazing Christmas and that this New Year brings you everything you hope for:) It's been a little while since my last post and a lot has happened, but instead of writing a thousand words, I thought I would post a picture collage of the past weeks with captions ... I hope you enjoy!

What a good lookin' crew ... the ol' MMC SIFE gang, best team I've ever been on hands down!
Grandma Naber gets a surprise visit from the grandkids ... great seeing you Grandma:)

Christmas Eve celebration with Dan's parents in Shueyville. This was my first chance to start Kindling:)

Packers game at Lambeau with the fam ... need I say more?
70 degrees in Columbus, GA had nothin' on 10 degrees and snow in Iowa. So, Blake and I decided to make a snowman with a red mohawk and blue eyes while battling our dog Doc for our gloves 'Marley and Me' style!

Klein Christmas up at Grandpa's house with all of the aunts, uncles and crazy cousins ... it doesn't get any better than a Manchester celebration!

Roomate bonding time at the Irish Democrat. Hormy and I dominated Gump in pool ... I will have to say, we three roomies did pretty darn good with our ladies:)

Jenny made me the most amazing Packers blanket (to the left)! Thank you so much for everything, it was a great week of wondermousness hangin' with you:)

Can't forget Poc, MarJoan and Grandma Park for Nicolasa's birthday party on Sunday morning ... you're all awesome!

This was Christmas number one at Dad and Barb's house witht the sisters, guys and nieces. Addison and Lindsay even said hi an played with me without crying:)

Thank you so much to everyone at Aflac and in Columbus, GA for a fantacular 2008 and to all of my family and friends back home. It was probably the best Christmas yet and I have all of you to thank for it! I appreciate not only the gifts you gave me, but the time that we shared together and the memories that will last forever.
I can't wait for 2009 to begin and experience the great things that are in store. I wish you all a happy New Year and hope that all your dreams come true:)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

December 14, 2008 - It's beginning to look a lot like Chirstmas!

Hey there, hi there and hello there ... one more week and I will be saying hello from Iowa:) A special happy birthday to my pal Ashley "Kabash" Hartman and my sister Nicolasa as well as a happy anniversary to Chad and Kristal.

Someone once told me that work around the holidays was slow ... ha! It was another wonderfully busy week at Aflac, catching up on projects and gearing up for 2009 planning. The team is becoming very close-knit and we're having a great time getting work done. I'd like to see us be able to seek out more cost-saving opportunities but it appears that around every corner there is a mess that we identify or are helping to clean-up ... hopefully 2009 will allow us to do some more innovation in the department.

I had a few meetings for the ol' YP organization this week as we are preparing for 2009 as well. I decided to get a bit more involved with our signature event we're planning for the summer, our YP Gala. I think we're going to have a Young Hollywood theme, hopefully at the Civic Center. We also had our Aflac Christmas is for Kids gift handout on Saturday. It was pretty fulfilling to walk around with these families and help them pick out what most likely were the only gifts they'll have for the season ... always leaves a smile on my face:)

This past week I also had my second Dirty Santa party, this time with my old lady friends ... yes, the average age was around 60 and I was the youngest by at least 10-15 years:) They were a rowdy bunch and very fun; not to mention they had some amazing food! This week we have our PIC team Christmas party as well which is going to be a great time indeed.

Well, hopefully by now you have all received your Christmas card and poem, if not, please enjoy:

It's the most wonderful time, of the year
And now it is time to spread to you some holiday cheer.

Another year has passed in the blink of an eye
So here is a brief glance at the time gone by.

It seems so long ago that I hit a stroke of luck
But this August was my one year anniversary with the duck.

I'm now with some great folks on the Process Innovation & Control team
As the Team Leader, I'm still trying to figure out what that means;)

I continue to volunteer in the community and try new thins
By giving back to those in need, it's wonderful the joy it brings.

Time with the Literacy Alliance and coaching soccer I have lent,
But don't ask how I got involved with the Miss Georgia Pageant!

With my speaking skills that I learned back at the Mount,
I am now also a contracted speaker for Making it Count.

I even did something this year many thought I could not achieve
I am now dating a girl named Jenny, I know it's hard to believe.

We met at a wedding back in Iowa and have had a blast hanging out,
We've been skiing, to the beach, hang gliding and gone fishing for trout.
(ok, that last one is a lie, but it rhymed quite well:)

Life has been good and I'm thankful for the opportunities it lends
Much of the happiness I owe to good times with some fantacular friends.

Been back to Iowa for weddings, help with the flood and I'll be back soon
Time spent with family has been cherished this year in Vegas and Cancun.

Thank you to all of my family and friends that have visited me down here,
You are always welcome and continue to bring me tidings and good cheer:)

Being with friends anf amily back home very soon will be quite pleasin'
Thank you all and I hope you have a wondermous holiday season!

Don't know the next time I will be blogging, but until then ... have wonderful holiday cheer! See you in a week Iowa:)



Sunday, December 7, 2008

December 7, 2008 - My Favorite Word is Fantacular

Hey there, hi there and hello there to you all. I hope the holiday season is continuing to be wonderful for you and that your December started off spectacularly! Thank you again Jenny for the visit and I hope you enjoyed the Fuji and fun:) A big congrats to my dad and sister for their new gigs at Van Meter and Teach for America (LA, CA) respectfully ... you both made my week:)

This past week was, in a word, productive. Only had about 15 meetings this week, so that left me quite a bit of time to catch up on projects and start up on some new ones. We implemented a training this week to introduce some new automation that our team helped put together to save the company over $100k per year in addition to a project we finished up this week saving the company >$20k. Looking at the savings alone, our team had a pretty darn good week. Our PIC team was the first PIC team to be featured in the Employee Matters company book for our innovative Customer Experience walk-a-round Brown Paper Fair ... very exciting! This coming week will be full of planning for the 2009 business year which should be exhilarating:)

This week was full of volunteer action from start to finish. On Monday, we had our YP board meeting to try and narrow down our 2009 activity list. Then on Tuesday, we had our YP FUNdraising Dirty Santa party and planning which was a blast. Then on Saturday we got together for some early morning flap-jack-flipping for Easter Seals with their semi-annual Pancake Breakfast. Much of this week was spent in preparation of the big Favorite Word Gala. Saturday we had set-up most of the afternoon and today was the big event. As you can see, I turned into the mascot with a two-canvas outfit. One of which is my favorite word, Fantacular (a mix between Fantastic and Spectacular that will one day be in Websters:), painted by my good pal Mary Johnson from the Chamber. It was an absolutely wondermous event in partnership with the local TV station WRBL. We had around 200 people come in and bid on 101 various canvases from elementary school kids to local artists and influential community members to national celebrities like Rachel Ray, Vanna White and Chipper Jones. We helped to raise more than $2,200 for the Literacy Alliance and some of it probably had to do with the superb choice of music for the event ... the Rat Pack:)

Peter Pan at the Springer was a fun new experience on Thursday as Aflac rented out the entire theater. We also had our first planning meeting for our Hurricane Relief Trip in January with the SIFEr group of 10. Then, last night we had our Aflac Christmas party with Shaka Kahn ... wow, that was an experience. No doubt I was out there cuttin' a rug with the classic lawn-mower and shopping-cart moves! (Yup, that's a picture of my team - Haleigh).

Overall, it was a great week and I'm sure this one will go by just as fast with just as much fun! I will leave you with a fun quote from one of the canvases today:

"Smiling is infectious,

You catch it like the flu,

When someone smiled at me today,

I started smiling too!"

No matter where you are smiling in the world, people will know that you are having a good time. So, surprise someone with a smile tomorrow and see how good it can feel:)

Until next week, have good times!


ps, keep your eyes peeled for a Christmas card and Nate special poem:)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

November 30, 2008 - Hang ing out

Hey there, hi there and hello there to you all. Jim and Mr. Funke, I hope you both had a wonderful birthday and that everyone had a fantacular Thanksgiving. It's hard to believe, but November has passed us by and December is here yet again ... craziness!
It was a pretty darn short work week, like most holiday shortened weeks there were not a lot of people there and a large volume of work was probably not completed. I did start a couple new initiatives, but mostly worked with the ongoing projects and reporting; did I mention I love reporting ... not! We did have our first annual PIC Team Chili Cook-off with 7 entries, one being Mom's Easy Chili aka Shueyville Sweetness. While I believe I won the creative chili brochure contest, most will remember my 7th place finish ... I guess people in the South don't really care for simple pork-n-bean chili:) I'll get 'em next time.

Steph was still down for the beginning of the week until Wednesday and than I had another fine lady join the fun, my girlfriend Jenny whom arrived on Monday eve. They joined me at Aflac for the chili cook-off to meet the rest of my team and then that evening had some delicious pizza before the fantastic Fantasy in Lights show at Callaway Gardens. We witnessed over 8 million light bulbs in our hour long trolly tour with some of my SIFE pals as well, it was a glorious experience. I did have to bid farewell to my wonderful sister early on Wednesday morning. It was so amazing to have you come down Steph and I thoroughly enjoyed all of our chats and time together ... althought I think moving out to LA for your first gig would be absolutely amazing and a life-changing experience, you need to do what's best for you and what will make you happy! (Keep me posted b/c I'd love to visit too:)

Wow Jenny, what a week. I will say to all that were wondering, she passed the cooking test with flying colors. Thanksgiving ham, mashed taters, green bean casserole, sweet rice, corn bread muffins, Ovaltine (ok, I made that) and pumpkin pie ... mmm mmm good! Best part about it was she made plenty for leftovers as well ... you done good Jenny! This weekend was also payoff time for Jenny's birthday present; hang gliding at Lookout Mountain. We headed up early on Friday and stopped to visit Ruby Falls. We took a wonderful tour of the caves and beautiful falls before heading to our 300 sq. ft. cabin. Saturday morning we got all dressed up in our gear for a day of flying. We started off with some instructions and practice runs on flat ground to get the technique before going up 2,000 feet. Then we moved over to the bunny hill where we both nailed our first solo flight with a near perfect take-off, flight and landing ... well ahead of where Dan-the-man wanted us to be. Can't say that for my second solo flight. I started off well, feet running in the air and then I got excited, pulled back a bit and then took a nasty nose dive resulting in the largest divot our instructor had seen, a loud bang from my head and two bent hang gliding poles. Guess the adrenaline kicked in b/c I didn't feel it until a couple hour later, what a crash! However exciting that was though, it turned out Mother Nature had seen enough and for the rest of the weekend we didn't get to finish our training or tandem flight ... big time bummer! Guess Jenny and I will just have to venture up there again sometime for a 2,000 foot flight!

Saturday night we went out on the town for a Murder Mystery dinner theater, high school reunion style. Chattanooga is a pretty cool place and the dinner was amazingly hilarious and much needed. I was able to pull away with the Top Sleuth award by guessing the murderer and even had a small acting part while Jenny and I danced with some old folks:) We finished the night off with a movie, Australia (pretty good), and a cruise through the fog back to the cabin. Although we didn't get to do our tandem flight, it was a fun weekend of leftovers and hanging out ... very much enjoyed. Jenny will be here until Tuesday, but I don't believe we have any big plans besides her favorite restaurant, Fuji on Tuesday for lunch. Thank you so much for coming down, cooking some grub and hanging out ... it's been awesome!

This is going to be one of those crazy weeks with a YP board meeting, our first hurricane relief trip meetings, volunteer action, Aflac Christmas Party and the Favorite Word Gala next Sunday ... wahoo! I've got most of my shopping already done and four Dirty Elephant parties to attend in the next three weeks (one with my over 60 year old lady friends ... gotta love it!)
Other than that, I hope you all have a wonderful week and a great beginning to the holiday season.

Can't wait to see all of the family in a few weeks ... until then, have a holly jolly Christmas.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

November 23, 2008 - Steph's in town ... here comes Jenny:)

Hey there, hi there and hello there all. Well, congrats to Mr. Funke for making it another year on Tuesday ... wow! O yes, and this is probably one of the greatest weeks as my wondermous sister Stephanie is joining me right now (I think she's eating for the 4th time tonight) and Jenny will be hanging out with us tomorrow night ... which I am excited about!

Aflac was pretty fun this week as we're making some more headway on our projects. I did have to bust out the stern Nate once this week ... really didn't want to, but sometimes that is just the way it is I suppose. I've had a real rough time with all of the red tape over the past few weeks, it gets pretty darn frustrating jumping through all these hoops just to get simple things done; very disappointing I must say. On the flip side, our team came together and on Monday we're going to donate more than 100 canned goods to a local charity, pretty amazing for a small team I must say. Also, the team all got together and went out for a fall luncheon out at the Farm House which was delicious.

Had a wonderful service week as well as we donated the Born Learning Trail with the United Way, the Columbus Mayor and our Chief People Officer there for the ribbon cutting. I also had a few meetings for the YP Gala and our Favorite Word Gala ... sure looks like there are a lot of galas coming up and I don't think I've ever even been to one!

Best part of the week though was having Steph come and fly into town, only a few days after her Teach for America offer (congrats on that). To celebrate that, and the profit sharing bonus (thank you Aflac), I went and picked Steph up for a dinner on Friday night at PF Chang's. I surprised her with an overnight stay in Atlanta at the Sheraton. Saturday we went out on the town and of course we had to visit the Georgia Aquarium which was again amazing. Then we did cartwheels in Centennial Park and checked out the CNN Center for some ice cream of course. Saturday night we busted out the ol' bowling shoes for some good times with some of the SIFErs at the BA and today we just did a lot of hanging out. It was great just to have some brother sister time and much needed I must say.

We're both looking forward to, ok me probably more, to having Jenny join us tomorrow eve for some extended good times throughout the holiday. Sad to say that Steph is leaving on Wednesday, but Jenny will be staying for a good 8 days ... which is awesome!

Well I got a late start this eve and have a big day tomorrow I will have to leave a short tip. So, here is the morsel I gave my sister as she is making her career choice, "Do what makes you happy ... and you'll be happy."

I wish all of my family and friends back home in Iowa a terrific Turkey day. I wish I could be there to eat some pumpkin pie and have the good times, but I will be thinking about you as Jenny and I are hang gliding off a mountain ... until next time, have a great week!



Sunday, November 16, 2008

November 16, 2008 - Howl at the moon

Hey there, hi there and hello there to you all. A special anniversary hello to Byron and MarJoan, I will never forget the box car ride down Aspn Lane ... thanks for the memories:) O yes, and a special thank you to my good pal Ryan Funke, the reasoning behind this is further down in the blog (this is foreshadowing, I read about it ... in a book;)

We had a very productive week at Aflac this week as well as some good times. I only had 20 meetings this week, so I was able to get quite a bit of work done on the side. We did quite a bit of work planning this week for different enhancements to all of our systems in 2009 (please don't fall asleep, it gets better). Then on Thursday we had a department wide celebration at the BA, or bowling alley for those of you not in the acronym business. About 300 or so folks came out for some bowling, dancing and karaoke. I will have to say, I am glad the performance appraisal season is over with because I had to take my boss-man down with a 180-168 victory on the bowling lane; it had to be the electric blue shoes. Then our PIC team got up to see Brick House by The Commodores, hilariousness ensued. It was a great way to celebrate the successes and wrap up the week indeed. Then the weekend started early ...

I left work a bit early on Friday so I could venture down to visit my good pal Ryan Funke ... yes, pronounced like funky. I know, it's hilarious. As I was driving down to Melbourne (which happens to be about 7 hours away) I got the call for Neil Armstrong that the Endeavor Shuttle was launching from the Kennedy Space Center on Friday night, so I met up with Funke alongside of the road and waited. We were about 2-3 miles away from the center, but we could see the launch clear as day and it was spectacular. It was amazing to see the fireball take off and then appear to tail away with the wind as it left Earth's atmosphere. A couple minutes after the initial launch we saw the boosters fall off like shooting stars, it was majestic and a grand experience I must say! I was able to meet some of Ryan's pals while watching the good ol' Iowa Hawkeyes at a local establishment and then we cruised around in the 85 degree weather, it was wondermous. Saturday night we ventured up to Orlando to visit a wonderful establishment, Howl at the Moon. Four of us went up and got front row seats for the most amazing dueling piano/band bar I have ever been to, probably the best night club since Big City in Cancun. The atmosphere was great and the musicians were quite excellent throughout the evening. You had your normal dollar requests for songs, but then people could put money up to write a phrase on these two huge mirrors behind the performers. The phrases started off at $5 for things like, "Happy Birthday Eric" or "Congrats Liz and Ed." As the night went on more money went up for "Go Florida Gators" and my personal favorite, "The hottest girls in the world are from Canada!" Seeing an opportunity, Funke and myself put in some money to change the previous phrase to, "The hottest fellas in the world are from Shueyville, Iowa" which was followed by lots of Iowa chanting ... it was a glorious feeling to know that the bar had more people in it than the entire town of Shueyville:) I had a great weekend with the Funkmaster, but it all had to end too quickly with a long drive. Thank you though Ryan for the air mattress and home made cookies, it was a great time!

Did not have a lot of volunteer action this week besides a few YP/Literacy Alliance meetings, but I did put a start on the Change the World tour. OK, I just made that up, but we do have about 10 SIFE alums that have signed up to join me on a service trip to New Orleans over MLK Jr. weekend in January and I am elated. It's going to be a great time and I'm glad so many people decided to join in on the fun, it'll be a life changing experience no doubt! (Easter Seals Halloween pic to the left, gotta love that place).

I have two of the greatest ladies making ventures to visit in the next week or so and I can't wait to see Steph and Jenny! We are going to have a blast and I'm really looking forward to some good times!

With that I will leave you with the morsel of the week. With all of the turmoil in the economy right now, I thought two quotes from the 'Traveler's Gift' would be very suitable: "Challenges are gifts, opportunities to learn ... Adversity is preparation for greatness." We will all run into obstacles in our life and although at times I agree it is beyond difficult to see why that wall is put there, life will be sunny on the other side. I have my fingers crossed Steph and Dad ... love you and wish the best of luck. Thank you for the greatest family and friends, that's what makes every day a beautiful day!


Sunday, November 9, 2008

November 9, 2008 - Makin' a livin'

Hey there, hi there and hello there to everyone enjoying the high 60's and to those back home enjoying the high 20's ... wish I was there to witness the snow! A special happy birthday again to sister Steph and niece Lindsay this week; what a cutie pie!

Everything is quaking well at the duck as last week was full of wonderful reporting and planning. I have learned that the various operations/strategic management classes I've taken over the years have prepared me quite well for executive reporting ... but, no matter how many hours in the classroom, management will always find a new way they want to see something:) It keeps me on my toes each and every week and I love it! Our Brown Paper Fair (pictured last week) was such a success that we did it again this week and had the corporate photographer join us on our journey. Our boss-man Mike decided to join in on the fun where he was truly able to see the great benefit of discussing the customer experience directly with the specialist by their cubicles ... we're going to try and sell our idea back to the consultants that came up with this whole "customer experience" bit, I'll let you know how that one goes for me later:) I was also able to participate in the Fast Forward Leadership class to learn a bit more about generational leadership and the benefits of understanding how the different age groups react to the ever-changing corporate environment.

We had a great SIFErs in Action meeting this week where we presented our new project initiative to educate students about insurance needs when they step into the workforce. I also decided it'd be a good idea to get back on the service trip kick, so a few of us (don't know how many yet) will be traveling to New Orleans over the MLK Jr. holiday in January for some extended hurricane relief. The other two times I took part in hurricane relief it had a life changing effect on my attitude and I'm sure it'll do the same for others. I also had a few more meetings with the Young Professionals group as well as the Literacy Alliance as we prepare for our Favorite Word Gala in December. The YP group teamed up with another organization I'm involved with, Hands on the Valley, to put together a Born Learning Trail (bornlearning.org) out at Shirley Winston Park. Basically, we put up posts for 10 different stations to help engage parents/care takers with their children to learn that every situation in life has a learning opportunity from hop scotch to learning your ABCs. It was ironic that the local Hands On group got a hold of the United Way of East Central Iowa, where I used to be a board member, for best practices when putting it together ... what a small world indeed!

It was a sad yet wondermous end of the season for the ol' En Fuego soccer team. Although we lost our final game of the season, we did get together on Saturday for some scrambledog action at Cook's. Almost all of the kids, parents and siblings came out for our end of the season bash. I had a wild bunch this year, but they improved so much throughout the season that it might me a bit sad to see the season end but excited to see their improvement. They were all very appreciative and the parents all had very kind words for me. They've asked me to return as the En Fuego coach next year and they even gave me a visor with "Coach Nate" on the front ... gotta love those kids!

How about them Iowa Hawkeyes though, what a win. I even was able to play a little flag football over the weekend and enjoy the 70 degree weather ... gorgeous, sorry to rub it in friends back in Iowa. Just a couple more weeks until I have two of the great ladies out there visiting me, I can't wait:)

I just finished up a very interesting marketing book, The Numerati, which talked about how marketers in the future will base their investment on behavioral vs. demographic marketing ... a change in the way it's been done for decades, a true marketing revolution! The book I'm reading now, The Traveler's Gift by Andy Andrews, is where this week's morsel comes from: "just because I use the expression 'good luck' doesn't mean that luck actually has anything to do with where you end up." I've heard many times that luck is where opportunity meets preparedness ... so, with that in mind, always be prepared for the next opportunity life has in store for you and you never know ... you might get lucky!



ps, I made some amazing chili tonight ... thanks for the recipe ma:)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

November 2, 2008 - Happy days

Hey there, hi there and hello there to you all. A belated happy birthday to Ms. Sarah Jencks, a big happy anniversary to dad and Barb and a wondermous celebration of happiness to my sister as she gets one year closer to a reduction in her car insurance on Thursday ... 22, holy schnikes you're getting old!

Crazy busy work week = wonderfulness! I tell you what, I love giving a good ol' presentation and hanging out in meetings. Maybe I'm a little weird, but I really feel good after a productive gathering of the minds and I had many of them this past week. Trying to join forces with IT on some initiatives was very exhilarating this past week especially with the emphasis with Online Services. We also held a customer experience "brown paper fair" for our department. To give a little background, in the past we would put huge pieces of brown paper in the hallways and have the production specialist come out and give us suggestions for process improvements throughout the department. Well my team started thinking outside of the box and thought it'd be a good idea to bring the "brown paper fair" to the customer. So, we created sandwich boards with all of the information and wore them around to visit all of the teams throughout the day. I have to say I looked pretty schnazzy in a blue sandwich board and it worked like a charm. We may have had some ... ok, a lot ... of people giving us crazy looks, but it was very effective and caught the eye of our management! The most exciting time at work was had not at work, but rather out in the boon docks for our 2008 Client Services Leadership Trek. All of the leadership for our department from supervisors up to our VP attended the event where we split up into teams and competed in various challenges throughout the day. We built a shelter from the storm, had relay races, told stories and climbed an inflatable rock wall which was not too stable:) We had a great time and learned about the ABCs of leadership (Antecedent - Behavior - Consequence). It is pretty awesome to be a part of a company that can take all of the leadership in a department for an entire day and devote it to leadership development.

We were even to end the work week on a positive note with Halloween where we could dress up. Pictured above you will see a wonderful Top Gun representation from Patrick and myself representing Goose and Maverick respectively. About 7 of us from the Aflac SIFE group dressed up and left work early to deliver treats to the children and adults at Easter Seals. That is such a great organization and the kids were so grateful, it was a blast! I was able to help out Easter Seals yet again today as I manned the booth to sell Precious Moments down at the Trade Center for Christmas in the South where over 200 vendors sold trinkets and candy ... mmmm!

Did a little Toastmasters action this week which followed my first ever Miss Georgia Pageant Board of Trustees meeting. There are some great people on the board and it is for a great cause, I just hope the future meetings are a little bit more full of substance! We do have our end-of-season soccer tourney beginning tomorrow night so keep your fingers crossed for an En Fuego victory!

This past weekend was probably one of the most fun and exciting that I've had in a good bit. Of course we had to go out on the town to show off our Top Gun outfits which didn't even compare to some of the effort of the golden Buddha, the Peeps Easter candy and the TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for those non-1990's-cartoon-watching-fans:). Then on Saturday I was able to attend my first Steeplechase up at Callaway Gardens. It was basically a minor league Kentucky Derby with various feathered hats, horse/dog races and good times had by all in the terrace boxes and the infield. Next year I will most definitely be entering the fancy hat contest! It was a bit haiwty taiwty (not quite sure how to spell that one) up in the boxes, but it was a great show nonetheless.

It was obviously a full week of wonderfulness and this week will hopefully only get better! I wish all of the people celebrating something the best of days and especially you there Steph ... have good times, wish I was there but I get to see you in a couple weeks anyways;)

My morsel comes from a card Jenny sent me, "Some days are hopscotch kind of days, some days are waiting to get nailed at dodge ball kind of days ... I hope today is the hopscotch kind of day." Hope you have wonderful days ahead for you this week and go get 'em tiger.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

October 26, 2008 - Is it already the end of October?

Hey there, hi there and hello there everyone ... phew, this year is going by ridiculously fast I must say! I do owe a birthday wish to my cousin Kristi and a special hello to all you fans of Halloween; I can't wait for Friday;)

It was another swift week at Aflac, but not quite as crazy as weeks in the recent past. We finalized performance appraisals this week and I must say, bureaucracy does get to me a bit after a while. I think if people perform at a high level and exceed expectations that they should be recognized, but that's all I have to say about that. We continued planning activities for the various projects we're working on and it appears that we'll be doing quite a bit of planning in the coming weeks for 2009 ... yipppeee. The highlight of the work week though was a very unique opportunity that Aflac offers their employees with Habitat for Humanity. Over 900 of the 4,500 HQ employees put their name in the hat to be selected for the 250 spots to help build an Aflac Habitat House. I was very fortunate to be one of the chosen and was able to help out on the last work day ... yard work! After countless wheel barrels of dirt, pick-axe tilling, tree planting and hundreds of squares of sod being laid we finally completed the house. It only took Aflac 12 business days to build the house from ground up and on Friday we dedicated the house to Patricia, a very kind lady whom happened to be blind. She was moved by the support our group gave and it was very rewarding to see the happiness of her and her family when she was handed the keys to get a hand up ... not a hand out.

It was a pretty busy week on the volunteer front as well, which I always enjoy:) We had a couple YP meetings this week where we made a plan of action on how to fund raise for various events. In addition, I proposed the idea of the Get on Boards activity in Columbus, since it worked so well back in Cedar Rapids with the ol' MMC SIFErs, and everyone loved it. We should have a pretty eventful year for 2009 with the YP! Also, we had our quarterly Literacy Alliance board meeting. We learned about the Favorite Word project (now set for Sunday, December 7th) where we will feature local philanthropist, elementary aged kids, national celebrities like Vanna White and sports idols like Chipper Jones and John Smoltz as they display their favorite word to raise literacy awareness in our community. They asked me to be the project chair, but the event is pretty much set ... all I have to do is make sure people show up (which is a task at times:)

Of course I had to save the best for last as my soccer team, En Fuego, goes on to win our second straight game. We're 2-0 in the last two games, and if you count the scrimmage we won on Thursday, that's 3-0 ... never mind the 7 games to begin the season:) The kids had a great time and the parents were elated after the game. I have really seen the kids grow in the last few weeks as they're starting to play as a team and have some fun. One more game and then the tournament ... anything can happen.

Well, there's a busy week to be had this week again and I am looking forward to all the new things. I have my first Miss Georgia Pageant Board of Trustees meeting tomorrow, we have a leadership retreat for work on Wednesday, Halloween with the consumers at Easter Seals on Friday and the Steeplechase on Saturday ... what a week!

Dr. Robert Firestone is going to help me out with this week's morsel, "You're not going to find the meaning of life hidden under a rock written by someone else. You'll only find it by giving meaning to life from inside yourself." I truly believe in the power of giving back ... whether you coach a team, serve soup in a kitchen, teach a child to read or help to rebuild someone's life, it will change your life forever ... give giving a shot.
Until next weeek, have some wonderful days!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

October 19, 2008 - Thanks for a great bday!

Hey there, hi there and hello there everybody. First off, I want to say thank you to all my family and friends for the wonderful gifts, cards and good times in celebration of me making it to my 24th year ... only one more and I'll get a reduction in my car insurance, I can't wait:)

What a week at the office, I tell you what ... the duck is a pretty dern good place and I've got a great team! We made some great progress on all of our projects this week and I counted 22 meetings this past week alone, holy schnikes! I do love meetings though, productive ones that is, because I think you can get a lot accomplished and I usually get to meet new people. I kicked off our Online Services Advisory Council meetings with a bang this last week and we're already hittin the road running for 1st Qtr. 2009 elevations ... woooeeee. I also learned a bit more about the competitive research environment as we're looking to work with an industry magazine, LIMRA, to learn more about the market. We also had our annual SIFE Round table discussion to chat with HR about the SIFE Analyst program and suggest improvements. It was a very productive meeting and had some good follow-up with the HR team.
Probably the highlight of the work week though was when my team punk'd me on my birthday. I arrive at my desk around 7:15ish on my bday to find an email from Haleigh at about 3:49am. Now Haleigh has a little boy on the way and had an appointment scheduled in the morning, but informed me that she had no clothes that fit so she would not be able to make it in after her appointment. I would've known it was a prank right away, but I thought ... who wakes up at 3am to prank their boss, so I sat around for 1o minutes trying to figure out how to respond to her email. I had to be firm, but caring at the same time ... wow, that was tough. So, then I was on my way to a speech when I get a call from Adam "The Tank" Hart, the nickname will play into his story. He calls me all groggy to let me know that he had been celebrating a bit much the night before and that he had a hangover. Anyone else on the team I wouldn't have thought anything of it, but this is the Tank ... so after a few clarifications I said alright, see you tomorrow. Then, John calls me to let me know he had went to El Carrizo's the night before. Now this is a new Mexican restaurant that I have not heard good things about, so he tells me that he may have eaten something bad and won't be in that morning. At this point I was a bit suspicious waiting for the 4th person on the team to call, but she never did. So did I call out the bluff? No, I immediately try to think of excuses for my boss if they ever would've walked by that day b/c one of my people was shopping, one was drunk and one was on the toilet ... how could I explain that one?! Luckily, as I walked around the corner getting back to work they were all waiting to let me know they had punk'd me ... pretty good to say the least! In addition, for Boss's Day the next day they had all gotten me a card and gift card to Barnes and Noble plus lunch. We're a squirly group, but I really appreciate the team I have ... they keep me on my toes but are all good people!

I also received a late birthday present on Thursday night when the soccer team I coach, En Fuego, picked up our first victory of the season! It was so exciting and the kids/parents were extremely pumped, they still haven't given up:) To add to the fun, I got in a little talking match with the other coach as she tried to "tattle" on a couple of my kids. I've never had a 40-something come up to me after a game to tattle on my kids, sorry mom, my sarcasm came out a bit but it was funny ... even the parents laughed;) I had a couple Young Professional gigs this week as well as a meeting for our Hands on the Valley Advisory Council. They even baked me a cake for the birthday before we re-capped the Hands on Georgia event success!

In addition, I had a speech on my birthday for the Jordan High senior class. I've had some interesting speaking experiences, but this one is right up there. I went to chat with them about choices after high school and my L.I.V.E. motto when I realize it's their homecoming week. Not only is it there homecoming week, but the day I am there to give a speech is cross-dress day! A couple minutes into my speech I see these big ol' football players walk in with skirts and stockings on, even a bright pink wig for a couple. How am I supposed to deliver an inspirational speech with gentlemen turned gentle ladies? But I think it worked out as they were very attentive and the teachers enjoyed it.
All in all, it obviously was a great week. I can never thank all of my family, friends, co-workers and yes ... even Jenny, for the birthday wishes and gifts over the last week or so. I could never ask for better family and friends ... you've all made it a truly special celebration!

Until next time, have a fantacular week!
ps, thanks Steph/Blake for the 31" Penguin and check out the pumpkin:)

Monday, October 13, 2008

October 13, 2008 - Wonderful times in Shueyville

Hey there, hi there and hello there to you all. I hope everyone had a great birthday week last week and enjoyed the declining gas prices:)

Last week was a big one for the duck as we had a great deal of PIC team projects that elevated over the weekend. We now have a new workflow system, real-time processing of transactions and we even had an Online Services elevation that was quite successful. I was able to chat about our OLS to a few groups this week and I even had the opportunity to talk with all of the managers throughout Aflac about their role in building their direct reports. We were on a panel of about 6 young professionals that got to shed some light on mentorship, vision and what we saw in good leaders ... it was a great exercise I must say. I also had a wonderful time with the team going over their goals to see where they'd like to be in the next year and start trying to figure out how to get them there. It was fun to look at all of the suggestions for our department and start to figure out where the best bang for the buck would be! O yes, and I finalized my first formal performance appraisals for the team which was a very intriguing experience to say the least!

Outside of work was wonderful as well this week as there was a great deal of volunteer action. The ol' En Fuego soccer team is still sporting a goose egg in the win column (think I found something I'm not too great at) but the kids are having a great time and the parents haven't fired me yet. I also had a few meetings for the Literacy Alliance to discuss our Word Gala coming up and I even got the Aflac President Paul Amos II to commit to helping us out with the event by painting his favorite work on a canvas ... wahoo:) Young Professionals (YP) had a big week as well with our monthly FUNdraising meeting. It's pretty difficult now with the times to ask for big funds, but we're trucking along. We had a wonderful political event as well on Tuesday with some local candidates ... I even made it on the ol' WTVM late night news to chat about YP political engagement. Last week was also my last Making it Count speech for the semester, but I go to Columbus, OH in December to re-certify for the Spring so I am looking forward to it.

After all the working and volunteering was done I flew back to Shueyville for the weekend. Friday morning I had a little breakfast action with Steph and the Jenny at ol' Victor's Place. It's great to see his business up and running after all of the madness with the Summer's flood. After that I went and spoke in a Marketing Communications class for my good pal Anne King about Aflac and getting the most out of the college years. After lunch with Coach Amir and some ol soccer buddies, I went down to the U of I to chat with some folks about applying to be accepted into their Doctoral program for Management and Organizations ... won't find out until March but I'll keep you posted. Friday was a wonderful time when the Flugum family, Jenny and myself headed up to Des Moines for a pretty awesome Secondhand Serenade concert followed by some intense shuffleboard and pool action ... where Gump and I dominated an old couple of course!

Saturday morning was full of food in Shueyville to hang with the bro, grandparents, parents, sister and new boyfriend (whom seems like a good guy ... good work Steph:). Had a little lunch action with some ol' MMC SIFE gals at Zio Johno's; delish. Thanks ladies for coming out to say hello and I'm glad to hear you're all doing well! Saturday afternoon/evening was the big bash for Miranda/Dylan's wedding which was beautiful. Jenny and I cut a rug on the dance floor and I was able to see some great people I hadn't seen for a while ... congrats again Miranda and Dylan! After a stop at the Shueyville Drydock to dance with ma, I was able to just hang with Jenny for a bit and Doc of course (he's huge now;).

Sunday I had to say farewell to Jenny, some one's got to put food on the table back to work, before I headed over to pops' for a brunch. I think there is a reoccurring theme here that every event was centered around food! Thanks again to Barb, the fam, grandpa and all the aunts/uncles/cousins for stopping out to say hello ... it means a lot to me to see all the family I did on Saturday/Sunday!

I had a wonderful time and received some great gifts for an early birthday celebration which was topped off by a molded thumbs up from Jenny and a 36' lighted cow for the front yard from Blake/Steph ... thanks all, I really enjoyed it. It's always too short when I go back home, but it's great to see wonderful family and friends when I do.

I think Oprah will close out our morsel this week, " Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough." So, thank you again to my great family and friends back home and afar for everything ... I can never thank you enough!



Sunday, October 5, 2008

October 5, 2008 - Public speaking isn't such a bad gig.

Hey there, hi there and hello there one and all. Wow, big birthday month of October is here and the big birthday week is this week. Happy birthday celebrations to cousin Haleigh, Grandpa Seda, Uncle Dave and Sarah Bear ... hope you all have wonderful days! Also, a big good luck to Miranda and Dylan for the upcoming weekend ... can't wait to be back home:)

Work was pretty amazing this week, turns out my move a few months ago to the PIC team has been the best one yet. We did quite a bit of planning for Online Services (OLS) this week as we gathered data for a competitive analysis and are attempting to work with LIMRA to figure out industry statistics with the Competitive Intelligence department. I was also asked to help with Triple Crown at the Trade Center which is a contest for first year associates throughout the U.S. We promoted OLS for a few hundred associates and had our CEO come and reassure the audience that we are financially stable. At this point, I have to take his word for it but it's kind of tough seeing the financial sector how it is ... I think Aflac will be alright b/c we've been pretty diverse in our investments and we've got the duck on our side:) We had another PIC presentation this week to try and help the Sales Support division start something up for themselves, and I think it'll work out well for them. It's also performance appraisal season and it has been pretty interesting to start putting those together and reading the self-appraisals of the team. I have to turn in my final appraisals on Tuesday, so we'll see what the boss-man has to say.

This whole speaking in public thing has gotten pretty darn cool I must say. On Thursday I went to Jordan High for a Making it Count presentation for about 300 freshman, pretty good crowd I suppose. They were pretty darn rowdy, but I had a handful come up to me afterwards and thank me for the tips so it was all worth it! The counselor even asked if I would come back and speak with her seniors in a couple of weeks about the college search and getting involved ... right up my alley I suppose. Then when I got back to work on Thursday we had our Toastmasters Boss' Day Luncheon where I was fortunate enough to give a speech for all of our management and fellow Toastmasters. I think it went pretty darn well, I even had the corporate training manager come and ask if I'd ever thought about becoming a corporate trainer. Making it Count also invited me to Columbus, Ohio for another training session in December for the Jr/Sr programs ... should be a great time.

The Young Professionals program is taking up quite a bit of time, but it's a good time. We had a board chair meeting this Monday where a few folks said we were providing our members with "too many events" ... I think we just accomplished our mission, but we're going to take a more strategic approach in the coming months and I think our FUNdraising will pick up in the next month or so. We had another YP event downtown this week for a bit of light jazz and hanging out. I also did quite a bit of work with the Literacy Alliance this week for the Favorite Word Gala and had the first few execs accept the invite ... so hopefully more get on board this week. Then our SIFEr group got together with the Easter Seals organization on Saturday to do a bit more painting ... that is one class act organization I must say.

Had a busy week last and this one should be just as packed ... except this one ends up back in Shueyville to hang out with the fam and friends. I can't wait to see you all and until then ... have a wondermous week! Remember that if you want to change anything about yourself, the best time to start is now:)



Sunday, September 28, 2008

September 28, 2008 - Happy Birthday to the People!

Hey there, hi there and hello there to all of the people in the world. Big birthday week with a hello to Barb, Addison and Chad as well as a congrats to Roger/Trish on the anniversary! Also, I have to say hello to my ol' roomy Jynx as he celebrates getting older, even though he's a Cowboys fan I still like him:)

Had a fantacular week at the ol' Paul S. Amos campus in Columbus, GA. Big highlight of the week was the Process Innovation & Control (PIC) team presentation for our Chief Administrative Officer. My boss man gave me a great opportunity for a presentation and we knocked it out of the park. We actually had another VP from the Sales Support area ask if we would come and speak to her group about starting a PIC team within her organization ... I would say that's a successful presentation:) Had quite a bit of meetings this week as well to go over the numerous projects we're working on and it feels like the team is clicking on all cylinders now, which is great! Our Online Services continue to roll and this week should be a good one as I've been asked to help out with one of our field contest, Triple Crown, where a bunch of first year successful associates come to town to learn more about Aflac ... should be great. I'm also having dinner with the Iowa State Sales Coordinator and a Regional Sales Coordinator to chat about their opportunities. This week will probably go by pretty fast I assume!

I had my second Making High School Count presentation in Dadeville, AL for about 250 freshman from 3 county schools. The set-up was a bit better for this one and I think it went wondermously. I received my reviews for my first one and received a 10/10 for both value and effectiveness from the counselors while the company average sits at 9.71 and 9.55 for both measures. My student value was a 9.25 with effectiveness at 9.52 where the company average is 8.41 and 8.79 respectively ... so I think it's going pretty good after the first couple. Over the next two weeks I have 2 gigs in Columbus; one for over 300 and another at a private school so it should be good times!

Our volleyball team is still dominating and the ol' soccer team is still struggling. I'm getting quite a bit of support from the parents, it just stinks that we can't get a win ... hopefully this week:) We had some great news for the Literacy Alliance this week as we secured an event sponsor for our newest program, the Word Project. The director asked me to be the chair of the event where we're going to have 100 individuals creatively draw/write their favorite word on a donated canvas. So far we've secured local TV personalities, regional sports coaches and Rachel Ray! We're trying to get the local elementary schools to select a student as well in addition to local artist and business men/women. We'll then host a red carpet event with a silent auction of the words as a fundraiser to help raise awareness of literacy in our community. It's going to be a great event, right smack dab on Steph's birthday (ps, congrats on making it to the next round of Teach for America:). The Hands on Georgia volunteer week started off with a bang as well. I helped to plan 15 community events to engage our citizens in volunteerism during the annual event. Today I helped to paint an after school classroom in a low income housing area, next Saturday our SIFE group is helping Easter Seals paint again and then our Young Professionals group is getting together on Sunday to put in a Born Learning trail at a local park to encourage early childhood learning experiences ... what a week!

In addition to all this amazingness, our Aflac SIFE alum group received a great award this week. At the annual Easter Seals Board of Directors Award luncheon our group received the Organization of the Year award for our efforts to assist the organization with painting, fundraisers and just coming to interact with the children/adults. It is an amazing honor and a tribute to the work the group has done over the year. It was perfect timing because the alumni director from SIFE Worldwide Headquarters came to visit our Aflac SIFE group to see what we've been up to. She was blown away at our progress and it appears she'd like to feature us in an upcoming publication for our efforts;) Saturday I went up with a couple of the SIFErs to meet some other SIFE alumni in Atlanta in an effort to start up a local alumni group that gets together on a regular basis to give back and socialize. I tried not to volunteer for anything, but no one spoke up to lead the volunteer activities so of course I could not stand the silence and said I would. Funny that happened because just today I met an employee at Hands on Georgia which coordinates volunteer activities in the Atlanta area ... what a coinkidink!

Wow, what a week! I'm sure this one will be just as exciting, so I'm looking forward to it. Less than 2 weeks before I get to come back and see the family, friends and the gal ... it'll be awesome. Until next time, I'd like to leave you with a tid-bit of info to improve your personal/professional life I learned from Marshall Goldsmith; "The ability to make a person feel that, when you're with that person, he/she is the most important person in the room is the skill that separates the great from the near-great." When you're chatting with someone, keep the focus on the conversation and not trying to do 10 other things ... it will payoff huge dividends in the end. This is something I am working on quite a bit and it has helped at work a great deal ... give it a shot.



Sunday, September 21, 2008

September 21, 2008 - Farewell to the Bradley Family

Hey there, hi there and hello there to all the people. I've got to wish a couple of cousins, Kacie and Kristal a happy birthday week, hope the celebrations are well! Sadly also, I must bid adieu to Blake and Jessica Bradley as well as their pooch Ranger. It's been a great run over the last year or so guys but I know your new opportunity will be fantacular! Never forget the good ol' times with putt-putt, tennis and just hanging out. I wish you the best in the next chapter and make sure to keep in touch, I'll miss ya!

Back at work, we had quite a busy week on the PIC team yet again, but I think we're starting to get a good handle on it all. I was able to use some power point skills this week to prepare a presentation for our VP of Client Services. We presented what our PIC team has been up to over the last year, with some pizzazz of course, and this week we get to take our show on the road again for a presentation with the Chief Administration Officer ... should be a pretty exciting presentation I must say. We also had a good deal of Online Services action throughout the week and all of our initiatives seem to be really helping out the bottom line. I've been asked to help out with one of our associate contest, Triple Crown, in the next couple week to tell our field a bit more about the benefits of Online Services. The team is also tackling some quality and financial error rate issues, so it should be an interesting next few weeks.

Last week also marked my first contracted public speaking gig in Montezuma, Georgia for Making High School Count. After driving in some deep back country of Georgia and seeing my first wild hog, I arrived in Montezuma to speak to the 9th grade class of 120. The principal opened up with a stern chat to his students ... "At this rate, about half of your will have to repeat the 9th grade and tomorrow, I'm posting the 1 name out of 120 that is on the honor roll." Wow, what an act to follow; four weeks into the school year and only one of them is on honor roll, phew ... what an intro for me. After that though, the speech went great. The students seemed to really enjoy the presentation and so did the counselors when I spoke to them afterwards ... so I'll consider the first gig a success:) I have another in Alabama this week and three in Columbus over the next couple of weeks, so it should be fun:)

It's been a great start to the volleyball season for the Setting Ducks (yeah, pretty corny name I suppose). On the otherhand, I've had another rough coaching start with the u12 soccer team going 0-3. The kids are still in it and we're not getting blown out by the big kids, we just miss opportunities here and there ... the first win is just around the corner I can smell it ... and I have a big nose so take my word for it;)

We had a little partay for the Bradley's on Friday night with some football, baggo, bohemi golf, Apples to Apples and good times before the sleepover at Jason's. This weekend was pretty lazy and then today I joined Rick (new SIFEr) and his fiance Whitney on a trip up to Atlanta for my first Braves game. They played spoiler to the Mets in the playoff hunt. I was highly impressed with the Brave fan base and the Dippin Dots! I did get in a heckling match with a 60 year old Mets lady fan when we started to chant "let's go Phillies." She left her seat and chanted, "Go to he!!" Of which I replied, "Get a haircut" ok, so I guess you had to be there but it was well deserved and very appreciated by the Brave faithful:)

That's about all I have for the week, I wish you all the best with the start of the fall season and go Packers!



Sunday, September 14, 2008

September 14, 2008 - Learn to Lead

Hey there, hi there and hello there. A special birthday hello to Roger and Cheryl this week. Also, I hope everyone took the chance to remember 9/11 and keep the folks on the Gulf Coast in your prayers through these tough times.

I started off the week at the best conference I've probably ever been to; the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum at the Trade Center. On Monday I joined about 800 other folks from in and around Columbus to hear Newt Gingrich speak on real change in leadership as well as General Russell Honore on his topic of preparedness. Tuesday brought a pretty big slate as well with Chief Justice Sears, author Daniel Pink, leadership guru John Maxwell and Pulitzer Prize winning author/columnist Thomas Friedman. I think I gained the most information from Daniel Pink as he discussed the shift to right-brain leaders. Everyone besides Friedman and Sears brought me a great deal of information and I met some very interesting folks at the forum. I felt like I was back in college with all the notes I took, but it helped me to come back and share some knowledge with the team at Aflac ... it was fantacular!

That made my week at the duck fairly short, but it's funny how 5 days of work can fit into 3 days so well:) We continued making progress with Online Services with advancing enhancements and meeting with different folks. I also started in on the performance appraisal season where I had everyone on my team fill out self-appraisals before we went over them. It was interesting to sit back and see how some people saw themselves doing so well and how some were very modest. I also had a wonderful lunch with one of my mentors, Bob Ottman ... he has been very helpful thus far in my post-grad career I will say!

We had our first volleyball match this week and thanks to the lessons from Steph, I did well and the Setting Ducks dominated:) I also coached my second game of the season with En Fuego of which our team was dominating, until Mother Nature said ... no soup for you. I tell you what, we have a great team ... especially since we're the only coed team with girls, which is interesting. I will say that our girls dominated and I even had one that knocked down the other coach's son ... she was sorry, but I gave her a high five when I saw he was alright;) Hopefully we can keep the momentum going!

The FUNdraising Committee with the Young Professionals had our first corporate ask this week, which was probably one of the most nerve racking experiences of the week. I've been involved in a lot of fundraisers in the past, but never like this ... but it was a success nonetheless as the CEO said he would help us out by sponsoring an upcoming event! Saturday I went over to the Hope Harbour shelter to play some hoops with some of the kids. We played some basketball for a while and then they wanted to play some soccer, so we kicked it around for another hour. It was great to see the smiles on their faces, we even came up with some sweet handshakes before I left which included the classic: up high, on the side, down low ... too slow Joe. Don't pretend that didn't just act that out! Last night I also had a good opportunity to help out with a fundraiser for Westville at their silent auction and program. It was pretty hectic, but I was able to use the ol' Break Zone convenience store skills as the money collector for the auction (which was hilarious to watch as folks battled for the win).

I have my first speaking gig for Making it Count on Tuesday, so I've been brushing up on that a bit and it again should be a very eventful week as it shapes up. I'll leave you in the light of Dr. MLK Jr., "Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness." Remember that you have the talent and skills that could help out a great deal of people ... there is always someone out there in need, all we need to do is take the time to realize that we can make a difference. Change the world.



Sunday, September 7, 2008

September 7, 2008 - Six months ... holy schnikes!

Hey there, hi there and hello there. A special hello to all the grandparents today on Grandparent's day as well as a happy b-day to aunt Tracy and happy anniversary to Pat & Karen! Phew what a week ... and it doesn't stop there, 14 years to the parents hanging out in Shueyville, IA ... impressive, seems like so much longer than that:) O yes, and six months for Jenny and myself ... I know somewhere there are pigs flying!

The week most definitely flew by at Aflac with a shortened week and lots of informational meetings. We've truly accomplished a great deal with our Online Services over the last month and it has been fun to steer the effort from a business unit standpoint. We've had to rank all of our priorities and justify all of our efforts lately which has been a great exercise. The team is doing great as well leading all of their projects. They're becoming a bit more independent and confident in their abilities, which makes it easier as the "team leader." I'm looking forward to this week as I get to spend a couple days sharpening the saw at a leadership conference with John Maxwell, Newt Gingrich, Daniel Pink, Thomas Friedman and more ... should be a great experience with some of the best minds in leadership development.

We had our first soccer game this past weekend, unfortunately we did not come away with a W. The kids played great though and I think we have a pretty promising season ahead of us. I've also begun the volleyball gig and we have our first match on Tuesday against the other big company in town TSYS which should be a great time.

I didn't have too much volunteer action going on this past week besides coaching, but I was able to go to the nation's largest United Way campaign kick-off at the Trade Center. It was a great event where hundreds of people gathered to get motivated for the beginning of the UW campaign ... which surprisingly does not generate as many dollars as the ol' UW back in CR.

I did have quite the relaxing weekend where I was able to catch up with old friends Todder and Flugum after I spent some time up at the Georgia Aquarium with the SIFEr folks. Boss-man Mike and Bob, as well as a few other execs joined us for a good time checking out Nico (the beluga whale), the whole sharks and all their friends. It was a wonderful time and the weekend brought great weather for a bike ride and the most exciting thing ... four loads of laundry and ironing; I feel so domesticated:)

Just wanted to say thanks Jenny for a great last six months. I can imagine the bookies over in Vegas had it at least 100:1 odds of me going out with a girl, let alone for six months but you have made it some good times ... much appreciated;)

My morsel of the week comes from a book I've been reading lately, "People don't stumble upon success, they choose it." If you can see it in your future, go out there and git ir done ... I've learned that life doesn't always get served up on a platter like I once thought, you have to make the conscious choice to strive towards success! Have a fantastic week, and until next time ... go get em tiger!



Tuesday, September 2, 2008

September 2, 2008 - Hurricane Gustav ... eat my shorts!

Hey there, hi there and hello there to you all ... sorry for the delayed blogging action, you can blame that one on Jenny:) Happy birthday to Poc and a belated wonderful Labor Day to you all!

Aflac over the last month has been a phenomenal whirlwind of activity and last week was a wonderful success story for the big Online Services project. Not very often have I been caught in a situation where I cannot communicate with folks, but people from IT are a whole new bird. I learned that telling them stories of what we're looking to accomplish really holds no bearing ... they just want to know what the heck is going on and what we're looking for. So, needless to say it's been a great learning experience facilitating all of these meetings for this initiative. Our efforts are continuing to pay off as we roll-out new enhancements and I'm sure it will just continue at this pace for the rest of the year. We had a great team learning event this week where the whole PI&C team got together to enhance some of our technical/analytical skills and the team was studly over the last few weeks. We're dominating some projects, providing some great insight/leadership and documenting some wondermous processes (ok, so that's not very exciting but some one's got to do it:)!

Had a pretty decent week and a half of volunteer action starting with Hands on the Valley Advisory council. We put together our plan for Hands on Georgia volunteer week and just learned that Aflac again will be a generous sponsor ... what a nice duck! Today we made some great progress with our Young Professionals FUNdraising committee which I chair. We've laid the groundwork for a capstone annual YP Gala for next year that will hopefully be coordinated with the opening of the new Infantry Museum, it'll be amazing. Soccer practice for the kids continued to go well and I really think we'll have a great team this season.

I also received my first few gigs as a Making it Count contract speaker ... who would've thunk a kid from Shueyville, Iowa would go and speak in a town called Hueytown, Abalama (yeah, I spelled it right:) coincidence, I think not! I also started up a little volleyball action this week which I am thoroughly looking forward to!

The best part of the week though was having Jenny come down for an extended weekend of fun in the sun. She bopped on down Thursday evening as the Bradley family joined us for some Mellow Mushroom action and then she came with to the PI&C team luncheon on Friday to meet my co-workers. All the folks on the team had a heart to heart with Tank to make sure he was civil, but I tell you what ... we've got a great team and they made Jenny feel very welcome as she chowed down the steak, what a champ. Then it was off to Seagrove, Florida for a little weekend getaway by Panama City/Destin. We arrived at our condo (which was free, thanks Billy;) Friday eve and just went out to walk on the beach for a couple of miles and the Gulf's beaches I must say are some of the most beautiful I've seen. We ventured to the local market for some delicious fish and hush puppies before hanging out for the eve. Saturday we slept in (that was a first for us) and went down to Panama City to hang out on the beach, get a tan and check out the local hot spots. Of course we had to eat at Margaritaville and walked around at Pier Park before some more beach time. Jenny had her heart set on a boat tour to see some gators, but as soon as we arrived Saturday night, Gustav peeked his little head out to say hello and dropped some rain on our parade ... o well, next time. Sunday we headed up to Destin for some more beach action and this time some fun crashing against the waves and building a sandcastle. We hit up a little outlet mall and somehow Jenny conned me into buying myself clothes, which I usually don't do but she had an uncanny way to make me enjoy it ... I think it's a gift, or maybe a girl thing:) We went to Elmo's grill that night for a wonderful shrimp and seafood meal with some live music that was scrumtrulescent. We had some great experiences with the little hole-in-the-wall restaurants on the trip and then we had some of the most wonderful shortcake in Seaside where the Truman Show was filmed. It was pristine and picturesque throughout all of Seaside and Seagrove where we stayed ... immaculate. Monday brought the most wonderful beignets and biscuits & gravy ... mmm ... before we cleaned up the place to say farewell. The double red caution flags were out on Monday, so we decided to get some pictures of the ginormous waves before we headed out of dodge. We didn't hit any weather on the way home, and of course we had to do the ol' Fuji hibachi grill before we came back home. Unfortunately, it all had to come to an end today when Jenny flew back home, but I will say it was the best time we've had together. Just being able to relax, eat some good food and hang out ... much needed and wonderful, thank you much bib!

That's about all I have for now, but until next time please keep all the folks affected by the hurricane in your thoughts and prayers as they recover. As Ben Lee says, "We're all in this together."

Stay classy



Sunday, August 24, 2008

August 24, 2008 - Happy birthday pops!

Hey there, hi there and hello there everyone. Happy belated birthday to my godmother Anne and a happy anniversary to Greg/Carolyn ... the Olympics brought back amazing memories of the infamous Dominque Mocianue (or however you spell her name) slip plate gymnastics:) Birthday wishes also go out to Thad, Sam the man, Diane and a special one to my pops ... imagine I'm there to give you a big hug and nuggey (not quite sure on that one either) this Saturday!
Wonderful works times continued at Aflac this week with more glorious business planning ... I think it may almost be done, but most likely not. I will say that this whole process is quite ridiculous, but I suppose people making more money than I do really like all of the information we've put together over the last month ... hope it all works out. Our team has really taken on the Online Services for the company and it's been pretty interesting to say the least. We've been the point of contact for the improvements to the services and had many a meeting with IT and other business units. We even had an elevation over the weekend that I had to validate, so it has been a good learning experience. I did have the great opportunity to listen to our Chief Information Officer chat about developing people and the affect it'll have on the future of Aflac; it was quite interesting I will say.
Had a fantacular week of volunteer action as well since I started up the little league soccer coaching again with team En Fuego. Although we are pretty tiny, I think we have a better team and more talent this season so it should be a good time. Eddie and I got together to help out Hope Harbour as well this week with their spaghetti dinner and we were going to play some ball with the kids, but apparently Hurricane Fay didn't want that to happen! Probably the coolest gig this week though was with Swinney when he and I went to Columbus State University. I've been trying to get the CSU SIFE team up and going for about 8 months now and we finally connected with a professor that is going to take it on in one of his classes. Jason and I went and spoke with the class and it gave me the chills talking about the impact you can have on people's lives through this organization. Some of the students seemed really excited and I think we're going back in a couple of weeks to help with some project ideation. Had a couple meetings for the YP group as well, but nothing too big.
We did have a Young Professionals event that went wonderfully at a place called Belloos (not named after the Jungle Book bear, I was disappointed). I also got to hang out with my good pal Mary Jo Nie (not to be confused with Mary Jonie as the announcer called her). MJ was on the Iowa state championship softball team that came down to LaGrange, GA for the national tourney. I drove up to watch some ball on Friday night from about 6:45 pm - 3:45 am ... ridiculous! They decided to play the entire tournament in one night since some nasty storms were brewing, and they ended up winning so it was all good. It was fun to hang with MJ and her pals and I by far was the best fan; ok, so I was the only fan but who's counting? Saturday was another late evening with Miranda's bday party action, Elvis style (as you can tell with the shades and chest hair in the picture:).
The weekend was full of chillaxin' though, so it was great because next weekend will be wonderful! Jenny is coming down over Labor Day weekend and we are going to venture to Panama City for some time in the sun ... if Fay allows it. I've heard the beaches are wonderful and I did some volunteer work for a guy who happened to have a condo on the beach that he's letting us use ... for free ... sweeeeeet! It is going to be a great time, I just hope we get to go wranglin' with a gator.
Well dad, I hope you have a wondermous birthday week and that all your wishes come true! Can't wait to see you again, but until next time ... have fun!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

August 17, 2008 - Happy bday Dad & thanks Hazza/Richard

Hey there, hi there and hello there all. I know it's a bit late in the evening, but I just arrived back home from a wondermous weekend in Savannah, GA. First off, happy birthday dad ... glad you enjoyed the collage and hope you had a good time with the fam and grandparents!

I've come to terms with the fact that work is just going to be Crazy Busy (good book by the way) for at least the next month ... or year:) We had a good bit more of business planning this past week and it turns out our boss-man was very well-prepared for his presentation on Thursday ... but of course, changes need to be made! I was a bit disappointed to learn that a project profile that I worked on for a good week creating and revising got cut pretty much before the meeting started; bush league! Our team has taken on more and more projects and this past week was a very productive week for everyone on the team, it was pretty uplifting I must say. I did get to have the first goal session with the new gal on our team Connie, and she is going to be awesome. She has a very positive outlook on life through all of the circumstances/challenges and it appears that she is very appreciative of the opportunity. I also was asked to help get the new SIFE crew acclimated, especially Alisha in Policy Services. I talked with both her and Patrick and it appears that their first week was a success, so hopefully they can begin to become fully engaged and on some meaningful projects here in the near future.

This week Jason and I also had a breakthrough with the professor from CSU. He emailed me for lunch and it looks like all of our efforts are finally going to pay off as he is starting up the SIFE team back at CSU. We get to go "motivate" his class on Thursday, and possibly two other classes next week. He's making SIFE 10% of their grade and encouraging them to come up with creative projects so it looks to be a great success thus far; I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I also had a great opportunity to work with the Hands on the Valley crew and the government filming channel. They were doing a showcase for Hands on Georgia week and Terri, from United Way, asked if I would be the featured volunteer. We shot a half hour long program that will run throughout the rest of the month and part of September ... it was wicked cool if I do say so myself!

Best part of the week though was booking a trip to Savannah, GA. I've been here for a year and never ventured to the historical landmark, so after I learned that a couple pals from across the pond would be stopping through I found a great excuse to go. I met Harry & Richard when I did my European tour two years ago and they were so kind to put Casey and myself up at the end of the tour when we stayed in England a couple more days. I told them if they ever came over to the states, I would meet up with them ... so Friday night I drove four hours to Savannah. Unfortunately, their Greyhound Bus did not get in until Saturday night so I just chilled in the city by myself. I had some amazing seafood and jumped on a haunted tour called "Ghosts and Gravestones." It was pretty interesting to ride in a trolley through the haunted historic district at night. Then I hung out a bit on the Riverfront which is very peaceful and serene. Next day I woke up to take a day tour of all of the sights, including where the movie Forrest Gump was shot (yes, that is me impersonating Forrest, Forrest Gump). The whole city is made up of these historically preserved squares and buildings, quite fascinating indeed. They had an immaculate Cathedral and great shops all up and down the City Market and Riverfront ... including the most delicious freshly made praline and taffy, scrumtrulescent. Then I headed out to Tybee Island for a bit of fun in the sun before the boys arrived. We went and chilled on the Riverfront before a wonderful meal including fried green tomatoes, okra and the best tilapia I've ever had. It was a pretty relaxed night and today we headed over to Hilton Head Island. We made a pit stop at the Legends putt putt course and since they have no Wendy's in England, Harry fancied stopping to have a world famous Baconator! We hung out at the beach and kicked the ball around a bit before hopping in the water only minutes later all three of us were stung by something, we said a jellyfish because it makes for a good story! After we made the trip back, it was pretty much time for the good-byes. They're continuing on to Orlando, Tampa and Miami so I gave them some pointers for Disney World and how to spot Tigger and the gang. They were pretty excited to hear about the Animal Kingdom, so I think they should have a great time. Thanks for a great time guys and wonderful stories, hopefully our paths cross again in the future ... stay in touch.

That's about all that I could pack into one week I suppose. I've started a new book, "What got you here, won't get you there" so I will share a pretty darn good quote with you ... "When we do what we choose to do, we are committed. When we do what we have to do, we are compliant." Try to find those things in your life that you choose to do, that is truly when you will be happy and you'll never walk through life just being complacent with what is going on.

Best wishes,