Tuesday, May 27, 2008

May 27, 2008 - Secret to happiness = L.I.V.E.

Hey there, hi there and hello there all. Wow, it has been a long time since my fingers have tickled the ol' keyboard. I hope everyone has been wonderful and happy that last week and a half and my heart goes out to all those affected by the terrible storms that took over Iowa this past weekend. It really does put life into a bit of perspective!
What a wonderful week at Aflac as it flew by yet again! This leadership gig is a pretty sweet deal thus far, the guys on the team are getting at it and everyone has been quite supportive. Now we have to get crackin' on some things as we'll have a couple more folks joining in the next few weeks, should be exciting. I had a great opportunity to listen to our Chief Administration Officer Teresa White on Monday as she addressed a small crowd of folks about "Conducting Feedback & Mentoring Sessions." It is very timely as our team starts our goal building sessions tomorrow, so hopefully I can use some of her expertise in this situation. We finished up our 2009 project profiles as well and continued on '08 initiatives. I also had to give up one of my projects I've been working on since I arrived at Aflac which was pretty difficult, but I'm trying to learn how to prioritize activities and this was the first step. The best part of the week at work though was most definitely the Sales Support & Administration (SS&A) 500: Race for the Leadership Cup. It was SS&A's first leadership conference that I helped to plan up at Callaway Gardens. It was a great overnight event with all of the leadership in the department. All of the teams built PVC pipe cars and had to race them down a track ... or carry them as some teams did! That night before bed they each received a real Aflac project and had to work through the night to come up with creative solutions. I was in charge of all the technical/video/editing portion of the event and of course everyone wanted to shoot a commercial with new hard/software which kept me up through the night. Boy was it worth it, the presentations were amazing and the conference was a huge success. The exec team has even suggested some of their ideas that they shared be presented at a company-wide meeting. It was a great learning experience and a wonderful opportunity to work with some great leaders at Aflac.
I think I finally finished the Miss Georgia Pageant program for the event in June ... wow, what a relief! Although some of these ladies are quite "talented" (wink ... get it:) it was quite a bear to get everything I needed and I don't think I'll be doing this project again anytime soon! Our SIFErs in Action group finally made our way over to Easter Seals and let me tell you, it was an absolutely fabulous experience. To be able to interact with those students and adults was very uplifting and I believe it helped put life into a bit of perspective for folks that have never seen how happy and care-free those labeled with disabilities are; I think they're the ones that have it all together!
Best part of the week I believe was heading back home for a surprise visit to Shueyville and beyond. I went back for the Prairie commencement speech, but it worked out well that I was able to see so many of the great people. Saturday I was able to go up to see Grandma Naber to give her a big hug, it was so good to her smile again ... made me feel wonderful, thanks Grandma! Mr. Model Chad came over to say hello in the Shueyvilletown which was a nice surprise that was enhanced when Jenna and Gump came over with their pup Alfie and we wrestled. I can't wait to get a dog I can wrestle with, it'll be amazing. Headed over to Byron and Mar Joan's for a nice celebration and saw a bunch of good ol' folks. Saturday night I met up with the new Gump family, Horman, Jessie, Funkmaster, Jenny and a sleuth of other random folks down at Chappy's Drydock ... wonderful times were had, especially by the toothless karaoke star dancing by herself (there's one in every bar;). Sunday was my first test with Jenny as I headed over to her work in Marengo to meet her compadres and yes, I was bear-hugged by Kim. She works with some great people and I can understand why she can have so much fun working 13 hours in one ... plus she's kind of a crazy dork and I can tell how she fits in;) Also had the chance to meet her good pals at Olive Garden for some scrumtrulescent pizza - mmmm. Sunday night was of course Stefan's 23rd birthday, which is great because now he only has two more years until he gets a reduction in his car insurance. All the good people were out that night too as the storms bombarded Iowa, quite scary. I ended the trip whooping up on Funke in some ping pong action, he couldn't handle the truth and I almost put Jenny in the Kleiner ReKleiner, she's pretty feisty though. Whew ... what a great Memorial Day weekend, thanks friends and fam.
O, I almost forgot the reason I went back ... it was simply to L.I.V.E. I was honored to be named the Prairie High School class of 2008 commencement speaker a couple of weeks ago and there was no way I was going to turn down that opportunity. I was able to reminisce with my great mentor/friend Mr. Westphalen and chat with some of my most favoritesst teachers of all time ... obviously the English teacher did not make the cut! Since I don't remember a single thing from either high school/college commencement speeches, I decided on Friday to change my whole approach and at least make it funny if not memorable. I laced the 15 minutes with stories of airballs, missed field goals, running with the bulls and hurricane relief trips intertwined into a single message: the reason we were put on this earth and the secret to a happy life is simple, it is to L.I.V.E. I gave the students an acronym on how I tried to go through life and it went something like this: L = Learn every day, I = Impossible is nothing, V = Volunteer your time and E = Enjoy what you do. I think the students, faculty, staff and guests in the crowd were quite receptive and I knew it was at least funny when I caught my old football coach laughing. All in all, speaking in from of a few thousand people was a very uplifting experience and I appreciate it a great deal.
Well I should probably hit the hay, but I wish you all the best during this Memorial Day week. Never forget the ones we've lost, but continue to cherish the ones we still have including all of my family and friends! I think if you take the commencement morsel, to L.I.V.E., and try it out for a bit I'm pretty positive you will never regret the life you have chose to live.
Alwayz, Nate

Sunday, May 18, 2008

May 18 - MMC SIFE Wins Again!

Hey there, hi there and hello there to you all in the world! I hope life is treating you all well and a special hello to my uncle Greg celebrating his 25th birthday as well as my cousin Haleigh celebrating her graduation. Congrats to you both and all of the Mount Mercy mustangs that graduated yesterday ... best of luck to you all in the "real world." (It's not so bad;)

Work went by fairly quick this week since I was only in the office for about two and a half days. I'm still learning and growing into the supervisor role and it's been great to see the progress already that the team is making. We are working together much better now and even sharing ideas on how to get things done. We've been charged to head up the creation of the 2009 project plan and it's been a whirlwind ever since. I left on Tuesday for SIFE Nationals and they kept on top of their assignments all the while I was gone ... most importantly, they took initiative when questions arose and tackled them together. It's been very promising and will continue in the weeks to come.

First off, sorry I fibbed some of you into thinking I was not coming to SIFE Nationals ... I never would've missed it for the world! I think I may have given a few of them whiplash from the double-takes, but overall it was a very warm welcome. It was amazing to finally catch up with the ol' advisers and team, they hadn't missed a beat! I woke up early on Wednesday to see the 2008 MMC SIFE presentation for the first time and it was absolutely amazing. It brought tears to my eyes knowing that I was once a part of something that special. They truly changed the world over the last year and you could see the passion in each of them as they told their story of what they had done, absolutely amazing! In addition, to see how much each of them had grown over the years as they stood up and spoke in front of executives was absolutely breathtaking. Nothing can ever take away the impact you've had on people's lives ... including mine, congrats on the Top 60 finish. I also got to go out to eat with the ol' team at Bubba Gump Shrimp and the MMC SIFErs by far know how to have the best time of any team at Nationals! The group of seniors that graduated will be sorely missed (pictured above minus Sunshine), but there's an amazing group of underclassmen that will continue to carry the torch for years to come! O yeah, I actually had to work some as well for Aflac since they footed the bill (get it, footed the bill ... like a duck's bill!) We spent many-a-hour recruiting the top candidates and there were a plethora of juniors that will be great prospects next year. I think we met some mighty fine candidates for this year, but we will just have to see how it goes. We fellow SIFE Analyst had a great time hanging out, recruiting and eating some Chicago style pizza. Thank you all for an unforgettable time in Chicago!

It was a fairly slow sports week since I was out. We did win a big soccer game Friday night (no red cards thank you) to take 3rd place during the regular season. Tournament starts in a couple weeks, so we're looking for a big upset! We also had our end of the year u10 team party at a pizza joint. Almost everyone showed up for pizza, games and celebration. I made the kids promise to go out for soccer next year and I would continue to coach ... they agreed, so it looks like I'll be coaching in the fall. I handed each of them a trophy and they returned the favor with an amazing wood framed picture of the team with our team name "En Fuego 2008" burned into the border, what an amazing gift ... thanks! I can't wait for next season.

I think I have finally compiled my last bit of information for this dag-gum Miss Georgia program. I will be happy when that is finally over with, and not just because I now have a girlfriend;) O yes, on another note ... I've been asked by the graduating class at Prairie High School, my Alma mater, to speak at their commencement. So it looks like I will be back in Iowa this upcoming weekend for the great honor of addressing the graduating class ... hope I can come up with something clever!

Should be a crazy busy week as usual, but wonderful nonetheless. Please continue to keep my Grandma Naber in your prayers as she battles back ... she's a fighter and can kick just about anything, but your prayers are always welcome. Can't wait to again see everyone from back home, therefore my next post will be a bit tardy next week.

Have a wonderful week and keep your nose clean. As Rhonda Byrne once said, "It is impossible to feel bad and at the same time have good thoughts." Please keep the positive thoughts flowing and good feelings will overcome.



Sunday, May 11, 2008

May 11, 2008 - Happy Mother's Day!

Hey there, hi there and a special hello there to all the mothers in my life! I can never thank you all enough for all that you have done for me throughout the years and wish you the greatest Mother's Day. Mom, Barb, Nicole, Sarah and my Grandmas Naber, Seda, Park, MarJoan and my aunts Dribbles, Karen, Carolyn, Tracy, Diane, Anne and Mindy ... you all have changed my life in one way or another and I thank you very much! I also want to wish Dustin a happy birthday and wish Haleigh best of luck with the grad party ... wish I could be there lady!

So a new chapter began at work this week in my rotation as I've been asked to become the Supervisor of the Future State Process Innovation & Control team for Policy Services (PS). In common terms, there is currently a group of 3 analysts and myself that are working with the different production areas throughout PS to determine what the current state of operations are, research/brainstorm where the future state should be and then come up with a strategic plan to get there ... yes, very involved! The guys on the team are great people and have been very helpful as I get started in leadership at Aflac. Thus far, they've been very responsive and supportive as we figure out where we want to go to improve the department. I've been able to get involved with administration's planning of our 2009 initiatives as well as continue my work with the leadership conference. Also, a bunch of the ol' SIFErs were involved in the interview process of the next generation of Aflac SIFE Analysts coming this fall. In addition to all of this, it was Aflac's Employee Appreciation Week (EAW) which is basically a week of celebrations, prize give-a-ways and free food! Every employee received Aflac duffel bags and other goodies in addition to all of the registered volunteers receiving a grill/cooler combo gift ... pretty swanky! They gave away stock, gift certificates and thousands of dollars throughout the week. It all culminated on Friday morning with a huge celebration at the Civic Center where nearly all 4,500 or so employees gathered for 3 hours of prizes, games and give-a-ways. I helped set-up the night before and of course I volunteered to dress up as the monkey, which ended up turning into an appearance as Spongebob Squarepants, a French wolf and a gorilla that was locked in a safe with my patented fitness band giving away $1,000 (got to love the costume changes, brought me back to the ol' show choir days:)! It was an absolutely crazy event and an amazing week.

Also, I did a couple volunteer gigs this week that were pretty fun. I went back to the Lasseter Academy again this week to help them work on teamwork with a cool tennis ball activity. I had a wake-up call when one of the kids asked, "Why in the heck (insert PG-13 word) are we doing this stupid activity?" I tried explaining the importance of teamwork throughout life, but it got to a point where I said to the boy group I was working with that if they didn't want to participate they could leave. I was afraid they all would leave, and at the beginning of the year I think they would've, but more than 3/4 of them stayed and one of them said that they weren't going to quit like they always do, they wanted to have some success. It was another one of those "aha" volunteer moments where you realize what you are doing really makes a difference. I also went to South Columbus Elementary School on behalf of the Literacy Alliance to read to about 40 pre-k students and give them all 2 books. The kids really got into the book and even laughed at most of my jokes ... which is quite an accomplishment I'd say for 4 year olds, guess I just relate well to little kids ... on maturity level:) I beat you all to the punch b/c I know you were thinking it!

Had a mildly successful sports week as well with a couple goals scored between two soccer games. We tied in co-ed and won a laugher in the 18+ league. I also stepped on the ol' baseball/softball diamond for the first time in about 12 years for the Relay for Life softball tourney. I didn't do as bad as I thought I would going 1-2 with a snag in left center. We lost, but that just gave me an opportunity to work on my tennis skills by beating Swinny at the apartment's court. I played a bit of golf today as well where the ol' driver didn't treat me too bad. The Caddyshack slice did make an appearance a few times, but for the most part I hit the ball pretty well with a couple pars:) Lastly, I had a dominating performance at the Zoo City go-kart track beating the Bradley's and Swinford ... bring it on Jenny!

I want to wish the MMC SIFErs the best of luck at Nationals this week in Chicago, wish I could be there to cheer you on. I know you've all done amazing things throughout the year and impacted people's lives more than you'll ever imagine. Best of luck to you and all of the MMC seniors as you approach graduation this week. It's the best times of your life and the "real world" is right around the corner, so live it up and prepare for more good times. Don't just settle for any job, but find one that you'll enjoy going to everyday and it will never feel like you "have" to work!

As my good friend Dr. Seuss once said, "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. YOU can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go." The time is yours, make the most of what you've got and be on your way to great things!Lastly, I want to say hello to all of my family and friends back home, at the mount and wherever you may be. I miss you all so very much and could not be doing half of what I'm doing now without all of your support from 1,000 miles away ... thanks!
Alwayz, Nate

Sunday, May 4, 2008

May 4, 2008 - Thanks Jenny & an ode to a man's best friend

Hey there, hi there and hello there and happy May to you all. This has got to be one of the most up and down weeks of all time, but I guess that sometimes you're the squirrel and sometimes you're the nut ... think about it:) Happy birthday to my cousins Emily and Mr. I'm-Taller-than-Nathan-but-Still-Can't-Wrestle-Him-to-the-Ground Derek!

It was another crazy work at Aflac, but I've gotten used to it I believe. I finished up my rotation a bit early in Sales Support & Administration and began to hand off the project I'd been working on. It's gotten interesting trying to stay on all of the projects from all of the departments I've been to so I'm trying to make some smoother transitions as I head out. The people in that department were all very kind and quick to thank me for the work I had done ... which always puts a smile on some one's face. I had my last Level 1 Leadership Development course this week which consisted of good ol' Kenny Blanchard's lessons on situational leadership. I learned that on paper I seem to be a pretty flexible leader that attempts to focus both on coaching and supporting. I need to work on my delegating a bit, but for many years I have realized that! I had a chat with my now former boss-man Bob to try and figure out how to say "no" in work/outside of work situations and he let me in on his little secret ... he didn't know how to say no either, which made me chuckle! On Thursday I started in my new rotation under Mike on the Policy Services Process Innovation & Control team for my second go-round. We had a strategic planning meeting on Friday and it appears that there are a lot of opportunities and I think I will soon have a lot more responsibility throughout my rotation, so it should be very exciting;) I also spent some more time on the SS&A 500 Leadership Conference planning that is coming in the next couple of weeks which should be awesome! Employee Appreciation Week starts tomorrow, so I should have many more stories in the week to come.

Team En Fuego had our final game of the season in the tournament this weekend. We finished the season with a great practice where all of the kids played vs. all of the adults and they had a blast. We ended up losing on Saturday 3-2, but the kids played great and had a blast. I'm hoping that they all return next fall ... if so, I'll probably coach again because it was a very fulfilling experience. I also had the good fortune of attending the annual Volunteer Luncheon for the community at the library ... can't beat free food and good fun!

O yes, I almost forgot ... the girlfriend came down for an amazing visit! Jenny is kind of crazy, which I like, and she decided it'd be a good idea to come visit, which it was. She arrived Tuesday night and hung out by the pool, which she continued throughout the week to try and catch me on the tan bod contest;) I made a couple of meals throughout the week including Alfredo chicken pizza and my world-famous ... spaghetti, both of which left her with a smile of approval! Wednesday night was by far the best when we hopped in the ol' Honda for Atlanta for a romantic dinner at the Varsity Drive-In and one of the best shows on Broadway; The Lion King. It was absolutely wondermous with all of the costumes, characters and songs. Simba, Timon and Pumba were good but my good pal Rafiki the blue-butt monkey stole the show. It left us with goosebumps, and Jenny left with a bump on the knee after a race up the stairs in heels ... of which she almost won, but instead took a bit of a biff, shook it off and kept on truckin ... now that's amazing. Thursday we went to lunch with the gang at Fuji and I took her to soccer practice Thursday night. Even though she'd never played before, she laced 'em up and kicked it around with the kids and parents. A couple of the players on my team even gave her the nickname "underwear." Not quite sure, but it was hilarious! Friday came too fast as usual, but it was an absolutely wonderful time ... thank you so much Jenny, it was fantacular!

Thank you everyone for your prayers for my Grandma Naber, but keep 'em coming b/c it seems to be working as the Cubbies won again this weekend! Hope you start feeling better and that all of my grandparents can go through this week in good spirits and health!

Last but certainly not least I must bid farewell to a man's best friend. Back home in Shueyville I learned that our family dog of the last 14 years Cash made his way to dog heaven. He was absolutely the best pet a family could ask for. He was always willing to wrestle around and never did he shy away from a good head rub. Cash was there through the thick and the thin and I will always remember the times when we played with the remote control cars and jumping around together in the snow. You will be missed pup and thanks for the memories!

I know Cash lived by this motto: "The goal in life is to live young, have fun, and arrive at your final destination as late as possible, with a smile on your face."

Thanks all for your thoughts and have a great week ... good luck all you Mustangs taking finals and stepping into the real-world ... where has the time gone?!