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