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 (http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/news/coladvice/reallife/rl980811.htm) 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 (http://www.microgiving.com/). 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

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