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,


Sunday, August 10, 2008

August 10, 2008 - Don't worry, be happy!

Hey there, hi there and hello there everyone. Another week in the books, and a wonderful one at that!

Aflac continues to be crazy busy, but I would have it no other way. The team hit a milestone this week by completing documentation we've been working on for the past 2 months ... so obviously I had to bake muffins and get poked fun at for the miniature size of them:) This week was again filled with business planning, including what was supposed to be a two hour meeting gone 6 hours ... very informational though. My boss-man Mike and I had some great conversations about my performance and the outlook for the future, so it was very beneficial. Our team has become, more or less, the new hub for online services at Aflac and I think we have some ideas that could really move it forward and increase the lines of communication a great deal! The team also embarked on our mission to document business rules for the department, which has been a year in the making ... finally, we decided to jump in the pool and flap our arms. This week also marked my first attempt at performance appraisals. I want to do quarterly updates with my team, and this week we went over their performance to date. Fortunate for me, none of them were too surprised by their marks and they each have "opportunity" areas where they plan to improve. I also had a great lunch with my mentor Joe this week as we discussed various things going on in our lives and of course he gave me some pointers on how to handle some sticky situations going on at work. He has a passion for reading, so we're going to pick up again with the book, "What got you here won't get you there." (Thanks for the recommendation ma:).

This coming week marks the arrival of some new SIFErs to Aflac, so we had to break them in with style yesterday. A little La Cantina action was followed by a photo shoot with a panda bear and a rousing round of mini-golf for all. Alisha and Patrick seem like two cool cats that should fit in well here at the duck. Yesterday was also the long awaited bike ride up at Callaway. Joe, his son, Mike/Jolynn, Tina and myself trekked up to the beautiful Callaway Gardens for an enjoyable ride through the sights ... it was very relaxing and has got me back in workout mode.

This was a big week for the Young Professionals program at the Chamber. I held my second committee meeting and the FUNdraising group decided that bowling would be our first event. In addition, we're starting to plan for the annual YP Gala in May ... that'll be an amazing event! We had a board retreat meeting where I was able to give a brief presentation of what we've been up to and we received some great insight on how to move forward. I also picked up my u12 coed soccer roster and it sounds like we'll have a pretty decent team, so practices will begin soon!

Well I hear Michael Phelps callin' my name from the pool, so I'm going to get back to the games. Hope you all enjoy your week and I'll leave you with a morsel from my latest book, The Power of Nice; "And in the end, the pie you take is equal to the pie you bake." If someone lends you a helping hand or extends a smile your way, make sure to keep it going and pay it forward. Until next time ... you stay classy planet earth.



ps, glad you enjoyed your bday gift Jenny:)

Monday, August 4, 2008

August 4, 2008 - Making it Count

Hey there, hi there and hello there to all of the wonderful people. A special hello goes out to auntie Karen for her bday tomorrow, hope the school year starts off well for you! O, and I want to give a shout out to my bro (who is now a famous person on radio). Sounds like you and ma had a great time at the volunteer camp, I can't wait to get that going down here.

Wow, a year under the belt in the real world ... someone must've told my boss because it was the craziest week yet:) We are right in the midst of business planning season as I said last week, but numerous 2-3 hour going-over-profile-plan meetings was somewhat ridiculous! The boss man also asked if I could take a shot at putting together the new SIFE analyst rotation, so after meeting with some folks I think I've got a pretty good one set for Alisha. O yes, and in addition to the planning (which is quite interesting and beneficial even though at times ridiculous) I have become the point of contact for Aflac Online Services ... whew. Let's just say that I've learned more about myself and my leadership style over the last couple of weeks. I've coined a new phrase for what I'm doing now, it's called the SIFE Analyst Undercover Leadership program where I get to do the thing I love (lead a team) but have to do it undercover so as to not let HR know;) Today was a great day at work as I had to bust out serious Nate, whom doesn't make an appearance that often, but it's time for the team to start gittin' ir done and they were very receptive ... I'll let you know how it goes in the weeks to come!

I had a few great experiences outside of work as well this week. On Friday, there were about 50 people helping out the ol' Literacy Alliance with our Dictionary Project. We tagged and bagged over 3,000 dictionaries for all of the 3rd graders in Muscogee County! Earlier in the week, I was able to take part in our Evening Enunciators Toastmasters Humorous Speech contest. After brainstorming and writing the night before, I was able to practice a couple of times on my way to work and of the three contestants ... "My Hiney Hurts" a story about running with the bulls, pulled off the victory:) Next is the area contest where I'll compete against 3 other folks from other clubs, so it should be a good time!

The ultimate this past week though was my trip over the weekend to Indianapolis. (This would be the reason that my blog is late). I've mentioned a couple of times about this Making it Count organization and this was the weekend that it all came to fruition. There were around 100 people from across the country that all came together for a training conference. We had people from Georgia, Texas, Cali, Boston, Wisconsin and many more that converged on the Adam's Mark for an intense certification weekend. When we arrived Saturday morning we got together to learn about what an amazing organization Making it Count really is. As a subsidiary of, they provide true Educainment (education + entertainment) and motivational speeches to students from 9th grade and through college. It focuses mainly and the choices that students get to make throughout their schooling and what options are available to them. They're amazingly interactive presentations that are free to schools because of corporate sponsorships and the quality of speakers are amazing. I was in a room with people that spoke for a living, did training sessions, wrote books and taught college courses ... pretty interesting folks. It was like having a Type A conference where every person was a high-achieving-over-the-top-smiling ball of energy ... I was like a kid in the candy store. I know it's hard to believe, but even I had to take the back seat to some folks' antics ... although I did bust out a pretty sweet Cupid Shuffle that no one was expecting from the white boy from Iowa ... go Shueyville! We had to get certified on the presentation based on our knowledge of the script (14 pages of memorized material) and our style of speaking. Throughout the weekend we were in groups of 5 or so and we would just get up and speak out different segments of the material for numerous judges. There were some absolutely amazing trainers/speakers there that helped me out a great deal, thanks! I met some of the craziest people that I could see being great friends with for years to come. Sunday morning bright and early was our certification time and I'm feeling pretty positive that I nailed it. I won't find out for a couple of days whether or not I did as they compile all of the notes from the weekend. Of the 2,000 video submissions, they only have 200 speakers that are independently contracted each year and historically, 75% of the fresh-meat certify the first time. So even if I didn't, it's still an honor. Assuming I did, they'll send me to high schools around the area and actually pay me to speak to them about getting involved and choices ... who ever thought you could get paid for something like that? Some of the trainers are certified in almost all 8 of the programs and would do 75-100 presentations every semester! Let's just say, I'm pretty sure I don't have that much PTO left but I hope to get a few at least. I dunno, it sounded really interesting and the training was excellent ... this could open up the door to a whole new world of possibilities down the road ... only time will tell.
Well I suppose that's enough for Monday night, but I'd like to leave you with one final thought from my buddy Lee Iacocca, "You don't get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waitin for somebody else to take action." Get out there and git ir done:)
PS, Jenny says hi;)
PSS, Happy birthday Jenny, now I can say that I'm dating someone my age and not robbing the cradle!