Sunday, July 27, 2008

July 27, 2008 - One year ... wow!

Hey there, hi there and hello there to you all. Mom, hope you had a wondermous birthday! Hard to believe that this week will mark the one year anniversary of my move to the south, wow it's gone by fast!
Quick would describe the pace of this last week at Aflac, but again very productive. I had my first stay past 6pm this week, but I was fortunate to be hangin' out with the boss man working on business planning for the department. It's quite interesting to be involved with the process, but it is ridiculously bureaucratic ... startling actually! We also held our first all-PI&C team meeting this week, which was very informative and every one was appreciative that it finally came together. I also started to create some very fancy reporting for the department and the week was full of analytical work ... I think that'll help out a great deal with my future schooling! I am working on my delegating skills, and this week I gave a project to Thunder (one of the team member's American Gladiator names) and we worked on it a good bit. After I returned from the class "Connecting Across Generations" I was caught off guard when Thunder approached me, and was adamant that I had punked him with this project. Granted the account in question was Dumas, he actually made me swear on a Bible before he believed that his assignment was legit ... just another thing to add to my book:)
It was also another great week of volunteer action where some folks are getting involved with FUNdraising for the YP group. A few of us also helped the summer reading program at the library, CSI style (thought you might like that dad). I was the lead interrogator, and we ate a lot of sugar ... it was amazing. Then I was able to help out with one of the greatest things I've seen an organization do for a community, Kits for Kids. Thousands of underprivileged families and kids came to the rec center to register for school kits, get medical screenings, receive brand new school bags and just have a good time. It was a very fulfilling sight to see, glad I could be a part of it.
Also had some Toastmasters action this week with the new club where I gave a speech and signed up for the Humorous speech contest for this Tuesday ... I should probably start writing what I'll be talking about:) This weekend also marks the Making it Count ( certification/training seminar in Indianapolis. I've been practicing quite a bit, but 14 pages is a bit much ... we'll see how it goes.
Today also marks the day when I move in with John Mobley, which would be the hilarious boyfriend of a fellow SIFE analyst. We partied at the new pad last night which sits on 16 acres of glorious land with a pond, skeet shooting and his parents' house which is home to a pool and ping pong table! Fantacularness:)
I don't have too much left at the pad to pull a morsel out of, so like my good friend Brett Favre, I will be retiring for the evening ... ok, maybe not;) Have a great week all, and I'll check ya later! PS, please notice the glorious picture depicting my BBQ judging skillz!
Alwayz, Nate

Sunday, July 20, 2008

July 20, 2008 - Happy Birthday Ma:)

Hey there, hi there and a special hello there to my ma on her birthday week:) I wish I could be there to celebrate with you, but I know you will have a wonderful celebration nonetheless!

Although the week didn't start off too busy at the ol' Duck, it picked up quite a bit with new projects and proposals throughout the week. After a few meeting moves/cancellations, I was able to meet with our VP of Client Services to chat about the rest of my rotation action. I learned a bit more of what she's looking for from me, and I haven't screwed up too badly yet so I think I'm doing alright. They guys on the team made my day Thursday when both of them approached me with projects they were initiating/finishing without me having to prompt them, I was pretty pumped! We have a long road ahead for the ol' PI&C team, but we're starting to head in the right direction. The whole team, about 17 of us, went to the BA (bowling alley:) on Friday for our first team outing. We had a blast just being able to let loose and get to know each other a little better. You'll be proud to know that after a weak warm-up game, the electric blue shoes and myself busted out a high game of 161 which forced me to do an Irish heel click ... berry nice!

It was a pretty good week on the volunteer side of things, mostly meetings though. The YP group I'm a part of set-up our first FUNdraising event for September; a Corks & Canvas wine and cheese tasting shindig at the Columbus Museum ... should be good times! I facilitated my first Literacy Alliance meeting as the program chair and we have decided to put a greater focus on the high-school aged folks to help deter drop-out rates, which are around 42% for Georgia ... very sad. Last meeting of the week was for the Hands on the Valley Advisory Council where I was able to help plan volunteer events for Hands on Georgia week. Hopefully our SIFE group can help kick off the week and a half long event at the end of September.

Thursday night our group invited some of our mentors out to the Columbus Country Club for a night of gift bag stuffing, socializing and munching on some scrumptious food. We put together toy bags for our trip up to the Aflac Cancer Center in Atlanta where a bunch of us spent the morning playing BINGO with some of the children that are patients of the hospital. A doctor called one of the mothers out during our stay and found out that she gets to take her child home this weekend, so it was a good trip!

Had some golf action on Friday with Mr. Ed where I only lost 3 balls ... so it was a good day! We had a little house warming action for the Frank's with some serious bag game and Rock Band playing. If it wasn't for that dang foot pedal I would've been able to rock out on the drums! If you haven't seen the new Batman movie yet, I would go ahead and highly recommend it. I'm putting my vote in for the late Heath Ledger for Best Supporting Actor ... it was amazing!

Well I've got about a week left in the ol' apartment complex which means I've almost been here a year, wow how the time flies by! Our morsel this week is from George Will, "The future has a way of arriving unannounced." No matter how much we plan and how much we think we know what will happen to us in the future, you'll never truly know what the future holds until you hold on to the present. Keep livin' the dream ... and wish my mom a happy birthday:)



Sunday, July 13, 2008

July 13, 2008 - Just waddlin' along

Hey there, hi there and hello there. Well, it was just another week in the neighborhood down in Columbus. Dribbles has a big birthday coming up this week, so happy birthday auntie Deb! Also, don't know if I mentioned but congrats to Mike and Leanna on their baby boy Nathan ... what a great name:)

Work this week was kind of slow ... I think we're in a holding pattern for some of our strategic projects and just waiting for the ok. We did finalize all of our hires for the department this week which was very exciting I must say; I do enjoy the whole interview process a good bit. I submitted a couple of proposals to my boss man and boss lady and they were actually quite impressed. It's amazing what a little time, effort and flash can do for a project ... I'm very happy with the plan and now it's all about executing it. We have some big meeting this week that should be a tell-tale of how we'll finish out the year. I set objectives for the team this last week to help determine the direction they have before the performance appraisal year is up ... also a very interesting process, kind of messed up if you ask me. This week should pick up a bit as all of the strategic projects start to get approved and I begin to dive into future state of Policy Services!

I attended my first Evening Enunciators (Toastmasters) meeting which is the new club I'm joining. They're having a humorous speech contest at the end of the month and I think I may give it a shot. I also received my script for the Making it Counts program coming up in a few weeks. I have to memorize a 14 page script for the training in Indianapolis the first part of August, so it's been quite fun getting back into memorized speeches again ... brings back memories of the ol' SIFE days.

The ol' Aflac SIFE group got together quite a bit this weekend. We got together for some Rock Band and Bohemi Golf on Friday night to celebrate Miranda's big girl job and Rio's outstanding performance in the Aflac Iron Girl race. Then Jason, Lucia and myself helped to lay some sod on Saturday for the Habitat for Humanity ... it was a very fulfilling volunteer experience I must say. After laying by the pool a few of us met up for a nice chat at TGI Fridays where I consumed approximately 5 strawberry-lemonade slushies which most likely equated to more than 1,000 grams of sugar .... I think I'm still on a high!

Wednesday was our first soccer game ... not so good, but tonight I had a hat trick (3 goals for those not acquainted with the soccer lingo) and we ended up tying anyways. You'll be proud to know I have yet to get a yellow card this season, it's almost like I'm growing up ... not:)

It was a pretty short week this week after getting back down south from Iowa, so I believe this next week will pick up a bit.

Hope you all have a fantacular week and I leave you with a note from Brendan Buchard, the author of Life's Golden Ticket: "When you've come to the edge of all the light you know, faith is knowing one of two things will happen; there will be something to stand on or you will be taught to fly." Give life a shot and take some chances ... you may just learn how to fly (or your parachute will work and you will land gently after a sky dive as pictured above:)!



Tuesday, July 8, 2008

July 8, 2008 - Roll Up the Sleeves & Celebrate!

Hey there, hi there and hello there ... wow, where do I start? Of course I must start by wishing my godfather Dave and aunt Tracy a happy anniversary this week, thanks for all you've done for me over the years! Also, congrats Sunshine on landing the dream job ... I knew it'd work out for you!
I just looked at my schedule of what went on over the last week and said wow out loud, so just pretend you were able to hear me say that. The work week went by extremely fast I must say. We finished up the first round of interviews and today we actually had the second round of panel interviews. We had it narrowed down to 3 candidates for 2 positions and made a tough decision today and I am happy to say that as of 5:31pm both candidates had enthusiastically accepted the positions ... one even asked if she'd be working for me, or the other supervisor (who is an awesome lady) and when I told her me she shrieked with excitement ... I hope that was a good excitement:) I also was able to work with our manager over the last week to set objectives for the members of our team and after some tweaking, I think I've got it nailed down. Documenting business rules, however not exciting as it sounds, was actually pretty fun to dive into last week. I love putting together presentations, so I've whipped up a simple solution (I think) to something our team has been tasked to start for over a year now ... so hopefully this will help! Had some more cost benefit analysis, which I surprisingly enjoy and finished the week with my monthly goal sessions with the team. That is one of my favorite activities I must say in leadership!

Even before I came home I was able to have an absolutely wondermous week of altruistic behavior. I've been trying for the last 9 months to get the Columbus State University SIFE team off the ground and it is finally coming to fruition. Swinny and myself met with the Entrepreneurship char Kirk Heriot to discuss the possibilities and it sounds like he is game on to give it a shot. I'm trying to get on as a business advisory board member to help get things going, but I think there is a lot of opportunity to make an impact. That next day marked my first meeting as the chair of the FUNdraising committee for the Greater Columbus Georgia Young Professionals. We have a small yet amazing group of individuals that came up with some very intriguing FUNdraising ideas (notice the capitalized FUN since I made them change all the YP materials to read that way:) that will be great for the organization. Our first YP event happened the same day when we met with the mayor to discuss the new Local Option Sales Tax proposal ... very interesting, a little!

All of the week's activities though paled in comparison to the 4th of July weekend celebration back home in Iowa! I've been pretty fortunate to have been back so much lately, but this trip was bitter sweet as I love coming back, but this time would be tough as I wanted to help with the 2008 flood relief efforts. Had a great grill out with Jenny, the Fish fam and some friends on Thursday eve (shout out to Ryan, Kim and Tally). Friday the 4th Steph and I went to the United Way 2-1-1 call center to help direct folks to needed services and help to enter data about the previous weeks' calls. There were some pretty interesting calls and it provided a good landscape for when I went downtown. I've done the Hurricane Katrina relief gig a couple of times, but when it's your home town it just feels a little different. The only people around the downtown area were folks gutting businesses and cleaning up ... no traffic ... no people. We went down by the river to check out the bridge damage and it was pretty sad to see all of the devastation that had hit home. Luckily that afternoon Jenny provided us with a pick-me-up in the Bridgewater hot air balloon. Steph and I rode with Jenny and her dad up above the Benton county farmland in the balloon and it was one of the most peaceful experiences that I've had in a long time. It's crazy to think that a bunch of nylon and fire can get you that far in the air, but there we were atop the trees and fields having a grand ol' time! After a rough landing, we met up with my good pals Ryan/Jenna Flugum (yes, now they're married:) for the fireworks at Kirkwood. It was great to see the fireworks, but even better to see those two ... congrats on passing the CPA Ryan, never forget when we burned our accounting notes together!

Saturday Steph and I needed to get off of the phones and roll up our sleeves to help out. We ventured downtown to help a local building/business incubator gut the first couple of floors. The crew tore down walls, ripped off doors and started to clean up the trash for rebuilding. I met a few great folks including Kevin who happened to be for a week to help from Nebraska ... thanks man! After 6 hours of ripping stuff up, we needed a break so we headed to DQ to catch up with my buddy Funke and then was off to dad's for a great dinner with the extended fam. Solomon is great and the two nieces are growing so big, plus they smiled at me ... most of the time. Saturday night Steph and I volunteered in the beer tent, yes there is such a thing, at Floodstock 2008 which was a benefit concert put on by local/regional bands to benefit the community. Our tips alone in the beer tent raised close to $500 and it was a fantacular event I must say. I tried to have a sleepover with my bro Blake that night, but my reputation precedes me as a bed hog ... my bad.

Sunday we started off the day at church but then headed back to the Cherry Building for a few more hours of demo. Friday I had met up with Lynette Richards who worked with me when I did a SIFE project with Metro High School back in the day. Her and her husband Michael (the inventor of soy candles) had their home and business run through by the floods and were left looking for people to help them. For a couple that has helped so many over the years ( it hardly seemed fair that this would happen to them, but they really showed true resilience and hope the few hours that I helped. We tossed to the curb hundreds of copies of Mike's book he had produced and they were in high spirits the entire time. That experience also afforded me the opportunity to meet Michelle from the not-for-profit Micro Giving ( She flew in from Florida to help out small businesses and lend a helping hand ... thank you so much and I truly hope we can work out a plan to help grow your cause! It's people the Richards family that make me smile every day knowing that even though hundreds, thousands and even millions of people face unthinkable adversity each day ... but many don't wait for it to get worse, they go out and make it better! Thank you for your inspiration.

Sunday night was dinner with Jenny and the fam, which included Cold Stone of course ... thanks for all, and yes ... hello to you too Doc. I got to hang out at Jenny's new pad and it is very stylin' I must say! Monday morning I met up with Josh Parise who is a Regional Sales Coordinator with Aflac in Cedar Rapids. We went out to breakfast and discussed sales and life ... he is a great guy and I hope I get to work with him in the future. After that, I had the great fortune to present a $10,000 check to the local Red Cross on behalf of Aflac. That was a wondermous feeling knowing that an organization 1,000 miles away can care enough to give back to a town in Iowa. After some Zio Johno's it was back to the airport ... sorry, only a delay and no exciting flight stories this time.

Wow, what an amazing week. Plus I just finished a book by Daniel Pink, "A Whole New Mind" ... a must read I will say! My morsel this week though is from a new book that I picked up, "212 Degrees: The Extra Degree. It is based on the principle that at 211 degrees water is hot, and the one extra degree makes it boil which in turn can power a locomotive. This phrase sums up the efforts of the hundreds/thousand of people supporting the folks back home, "It reminds us that seemingly small things can make tremendous differences." It used to be very hard for me to walk away from a volunteer activity knowing that I only made a small difference, but over the years I have realized that it does not matter the size of the difference you make in some one's life, but rather that you made the effort to make the world a better place. It was so great to see all of my family and friends over the weekend as well as my new friends ... you are all in my thoughts and prayers and I thank you for the continual hope that you shine through!

Alwayz, Nate