Sunday, May 31, 2009

May 31, 2009 - Yup, I've got a house!

Hey there, hi there and hello there to one and all. Yes indeed, it is the last day of May already and that means that I am now a first time homeowner (!
This week was pretty hectic with only four days but five days worth of work. We are in the midst of business planning season and this is the time of year that when we get tasks, the deadline is now yesterday:) I love working under pressure and having lots of things going on, but I think that some of these things could be handed out as projects prior to the 24 hour turnaround that everyone expects. O well, life does go on and we do git ir done! We also had the internal kickoff meeting for our Aflac social forum site that I am going to be the community manager for. Still haven't quite figured out what that is all going to entail, but I'm pretty sure it's not going to be as fancy as this weekly blog ... ok, it probably will:)I turned in the final draft of the Miss Georgia program book on Friday morning, what a relief! I think this will be my final act on this board as I'm trying to determine what I'm really passionate about and have time for. In doing that, I also determined that my time will be better spent not with the Young Professionals group as well. There are just too many good things going on in this community and with the potential of grad school in the fall, I need to start learning to say no:)
Speaking of grad school, Saturday I put the final touch on my application to Emory's Evening MBA program application. I drove up to the amazingly gorgeous campus tucked away in Atlanta for my interview with an Emory MBA alum. I think it went great, we connected very well and although I don't have the amount of years that many of the applicants probably have, I think I have some great experiences in and outside of work. I've been wanting to get into this program now for two years and as the #2 Evening MBA program in the entire US, it'd make me pretty elated if I got in ... heck, I'd even do a mid-air heel click:) So, guess we'll see how well they thought it went in a few weeks.
What could be more exciting than that you say ... how about closing on my first house, wow! If you get the chance to watch the video above, that is the deal that I landed about a month ago which was made official on Friday. I met some of my neighbors, Jim and Esther as well as Connie, our association president. I chatted with Jim and Esther for about an hour and a half on Friday night and they filled me in on all of the scoop about the neighborhood and gave me some tips on how to fix up the place including a tour of their home and gorgeous backyard. There is a lot of TLC needed with the home including all new paint and flooring that goes in this week, but with Jenny moving down in about a week, we'll have part of her family and some of mine there to help out:) Don't worry, I've already started the to-do list so there will be plenty to do;)
It was an absolutely gorgeous weekend where I was able to take advantage of some golf with the boys, laying out by the pool and a good ol' car wash and wax back in Waverly Hall for my last weekend at the pad. Next week I will be blogging from 605 Sonoma Court - Columbus, GA 31909!
Hope everyone has a fabulous beginning to June and Jenny, I hope all of your packing goes well and that you have great times with your friends and family ... can't wait to have you down here:)

Monday, May 25, 2009

May 25, 2009 - Back home for a wondermous weekend!

Hey there, hi there and hello there everyone ... even those I just said farewell too:)  What a great week and amazing extended holiday weekend.  O yes, a happy birthday is in order for Mar Joan and happy anniversary to Tim/Mindy as well.
It was another quick week at work with so much going on.  
Again I had the opportunity to present our 2010 plans to our new VP, and I must say he was impressed with what we have going on ... good work team!  Another department also asked me to come and present our 3-5 year plan since they provide us with a great supporting role, so I was able to show what our plans are for about the 10th time, I think I could do that presentation in my sleep:)  We've kicked it up a notch with planning for the Aflac blog action and I've been given even more tasks as the community manager, so the next few months are going to be a blast at Aflac!  And yes, the Aflac's Got Talent win is already paying off as one of our departments have solicited the help of Steven and I (with Rick as well) to help them promote some new technologies with the use of some jazzy tunes.  More to come and hopefully I will have the winning video this next week to show off.
I didn't have a great deal of volunteer action going on this week, just wrapping up some activities.  The Miss Georgia Program book is about complete and I should have the final sign off by next Monday so they can send it to the publishers.  I was able to share the good news at the trustees meeting this past week that we eclipsed the $41K mark on ad sales which put us well over double of what we had last year.  I believe this will be my last year with that group.  Although it has been fun to see how much money I have helped save/raise from last to this year, I don't feel that all of the hours I spend proofing the program are the best use of my time, so after the pageant later in June, I believe I am stepping down.  I also had a bit of a disagreement with the Young Professionals program I've been working with at the Chamber.  I signed on to help start this organization about a year and a half ago when it was in the planning stages and it has taken a turn I didn't think it would.  Originally, I was under the impression it was going to be a volunteer driven organization, but after trying to plan a big even for the last year and the Chamber coming in to have to change it more than 5 times, the final straw was this week.  I think it's a great organization for people that are looking for a purely social group, but the Chamber has taken control of pretty much all of the planning and the hard work of the committee I headed up has kind of gone down the drain.  There are too many other great things to do in the community, so I let them know I would love to help out in the future if they are planning on making it an organization that engages young professionals in the community!  I did bring my buddy Rick on with the United Way's volunteer group as we continue to plan our youth volunteer camp in the fall.  There will be more to come with this, but let me tell you, I am stoked!
The most exciting part of the week though was heading back home for Memorial Day weekend.  There were so many amazing things that went on, but Steph's graduation was my main reason for being back.  
I came back Thursday and hung out with Jenny and her nursing buddies for some fantastic food and fun.  Friday, I helped Steph move in to her new pad (which is sweet I must say, even with the new grill Blake and I got for her grad gift;).  Hung out for most of the day before Jenny and I headed to Kim Leonard's wedding in Peosta.  I got to see a lot of the ol' MMC SIFE gang and cut a rug on the dance floor, so it was a tremendous time indeed.  Saturday brought the main event, Commencement at the Cell Center.  Steph graduated Summa Cum Laude (super smart pretty much) and received all sorts of honors the weekend before.  The ceremony's keynote speaker was the author of "Marley and Me" John Grogan.  It was nice to have something a little different at the event, but the after party was where it was at!  I went back up to the Mount to see some old professors, friends and mentors alike.  Some day (maybe 5-10 years) I would love to go back to Mount Mercy College and become a business professor (so keep your fingers crossed for my interview at Emory University this Saturday:).  The festivities were great and it is crazy to think that my sister is graduated and moving into the real world.  O yes, my little brother also reminded me that I will be 30 when he graduates from high school.  I reminded him that I'll still be able to whoop him!
Saturday night I met up with some old friends and Sunday I was able to get out on the golf course for some pretty good hittin' on my part.  Blake didn't beat me, so that was my only goal for the outing;)  The rest of the weekend was pretty relaxing hanging out with friends and family, and then today came!  Jenny had planned a "Jenny is Leaving and Come Meet Nate" party for all of her dad's side of the family (he is one of ten kids ... about 60 people today).  
So, I got to meet the family out at the barn in Blairstown, Iowa and it was an absolute blast.  Her family is amazing and all of her relatives are great, I only got a hard time from about 5, which was <10%:)>
The next two weeks should be pretty crazy preparing for the new house and Jenny's move down here.  Keep your fingers crossed for a smooth house closing this Friday, good MBA interview on Saturday and smooth sailing to get the house ready.
I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and you remember all those that you love that have gone before ... you'll never be forgotten.
Thanks again for a great weekend of fun with friends and family ... have a great week.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

May 17, 2009 - Short week ... good times!

Hey there, hi there and hello there to you all.  First of all, I must say congratulations to my uncle Greg ... another year down, another birthday to be had:)  Hope it's a great one ... your birthday present = one can of slip plate, in the mail;)  Also, congrats to my sister as she found out she really does get to graduate on Saturday!  I can't wait to be home for the Memorial Day weekend to watch Steph walk across the stage.  Wow, I feel old because now I can say, "I remember back in the day when I graduated from college!"  
It was a pretty short work week after getting back from Philly on Tuesday night, but it was jam packed.  Wednesday we had an all day planning session to discuss the tactical steps we're going to take for 2010.  O yeah, I think I missed the memo that I was facilitating the whole day ... but, we've got a great team so flying off the cuff actually worked quite well!  
The rest of the week the team was really pressed to hammer out 2010 project profiles, how they would benefit Aflac and the cost-benefit analysis.  Although it was a daunting task, they all stepped up to the plate and we had two of the best days we've had on the team since I came over a year ago.  Even the boss-man was pretty excited about how we pulled together, another reason I love what I'm doing!!
We had our follow-up meeting for the Columbus Heroes Read program this week and it continues to be one of the best volunteer groups I've been a part of.  We're already generating pretty amazing ideas that will necessitate a venue change by next year.  I think after about five hours of work today that I finally finished up the Miss GA program book.  An increase in ad sales from $17k to $41k in one year, I think I'll treat myself to a splemonade!
We also had our end of the year En Fuego soccer team party.  It was a tough season, but one thing the kids learned, is how to lose with dignity:)  But really, they played hard, they played as a team and they had fun doing it ... they also improved quite a bit from week one until the end.  I hope I can continue coaching a little bit in the future, but we'll see where this whole grad school thing goes.    I also played in a game for our co-ed team this week and yes, I had a hat trick ... you can pick your jaw off the floor now.  Our team is in 3rd place out of niner teams.  I also had some fun this weekend taking a blast back to the 6th grade when a bunch of folks got together for an afternoon of kickball action, it was awesome.  There is actually a league starting in Columbus, so it should be a blast!
That's about all I have for the week.  I did see Angels & Demons and I highly recommend it to all.  Steph, (and all your roomies for that matter) congrats on all of your awards that are very well deserved.  Probably the coolest set of roommates (after Gump, Horman and I of course) to graduate from MMC.
These next few weeks are going to be great, Steph graduating, closing on the house ... and o yeah, Jenny moving down!  I'm excited for them all:)
Until next time, take it easy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

May 13, 2009 - We got you ... remix:)

Hey there, hi there and hello there to you all.  Wow, it's late but there's so many exciting things that have gone on over the last week and a half that I had to stay up past my bedtime to tell you about them.  Everything from a parent/kid scrimmage to Aflac's Got Talent to SIFE Nationals, the weeks just keep getting better.  First off I just want to say a big happy Mother's Day to all the mothers, aunts and grandmothers out there ... thank you so much for always being there.  I hope you all were able to celebrate in a fun and family-filled kind of way.  It was Employee Appreciation Week at Aflac, which is our annual celebration from management to employees to let them know how much they mean to us and our customers.  Festivities were planned throughout the week including every employee receiving a sweet lawn chair, ice cream for the department and many other snacks.  Tuesday was Thank You day where I put together a pretty sweet video of all of our management just saying thank you that we posted on our intranet.  Wednesday we were supposed to have some crazy events, but 5 o'clock rolled around without many festivities so myself and a couple ladies threw together some great ideas to make Thirsty Thursday even better.  We got there early Thursday morning to decorate the halls, set up the music and the games ... it was a hit!  The Policy Service employees really liked the games, the free drinks and camaraderie with the thrown-together event, not bad for an hour worth of planning:)  
You're probably asking, did you do any work last week ... and yes, plenty of work was done as well.  We are going to kick start our social forum again here soon with Mike asking me to be the community manager, which will be exciting!  
Also, we're continuing our planning sessions again tomorrow and I have to complete our 2010 tactical action plan by Friday, yahoo!  Best part of the work week though was most definitely the finale to the EAW festivities down at the Civic Center.  About 5,000 headquarter employees, agents and guests filled the Center for our final blow out where execs get up to give away trips, prizes and bring everyone together for good times.  We had our emcee Michael Hoffman back for some good laughs and we even had a special guest this year, America's Got Talent winner, and Aflac associate, Neil Boyd!  He was there to help us kick-off our 1st Annual Aflac's Got Talent competition.  
Well, my buddy Steven and I auditioned a few weeks ago 
and made the final cut of 6 from a pool of 30.  We 6 were then asked to perform our gig on stage in front of the entire company on Friday to be judged and awarded prizes.  
They asked Steven and I to do our R&B/Rap/Aflac jargon remix last of the 6 right before the event ended.  There were some amazing performances that ranged from country singers, comedians and even a gospel choir ... and then there was Steven and I.  The video isn't on YouTube yet (hopefully next week), but let's just say the crowd went absolutely crazy, or so they say.  We started off with a smooth R&B song that about 45 seconds in had me bustin' a rap remix with an Aflac twist.  All I could see was the front row because of the lights, but our President, CEO, one of the Founders, our head HR lady and all the other execs rose to their feet and were jammin' ... and the whole crowd went nuts for the performance!  
It was such an amazing experience to be in front of the whole company and have everyone enjoy what we were doing ... they enjoyed it so much, that the judges handed Neil the final results, which he announced on stage that the Steven/Nate "We Got You Remix" received first place to go along with $1,000 prize!  What a way to start off the weekend, I will try and have the video uploaded by the next blog for your viewing pleasure as well;)
That was just the beginning to the amazingness of the weekend though, because a bunch of us decided to make it great.  Saturday a big crew of us went up for Aflac's day at Six Flags.  We all rode the rides, dropped from the sky, ate some funnel cakes and took pictures with the characters.  
The water rides were probably my favorite, although the wallet isn't doing so well lately:)  It was a great day with wonderful weather and good company.  We stayed in Atlanta that night for a little shin dig and also because a few of us had an early morning flight to Philly, SIFE Nationals ... here we come:)
It doesn't seem that long ago, but it's been two years since I last competed at the SIFE National competition.  This year moved to Philly where Meg, Jason, Alisha and I ventured to tour the historic city and meet up with our alma maters.  On Sunday we took the big city 
bus tour around the historic districts to see all of the culture, the art, the Liberty Bell and of course ... to run up the Rocky Stairs.  
And yes, I ran them and yelled "ADRIAN" at the top ... only to look over at Jason to see him shaking his head in disbelief.  We tried an original Philly Cheesesteak in one of the most amazing food markets I have been to.  The real reason I booked the flight though was to see my old friends on the Mount Mercy College SIFE team.  
I met up with the advisors Tom, Beth and Anne and some of my old teammates for the opening round ceremonies.  
There, Tony Dickinson, one of my mentors and a MMC SIFE alum received the National SIFE Alumnus of the Year award for his efforts to continue the SIFE spirit at Wells Fargo and in the MMC community.  It was great to see a mustang on stage receiving the award.  I met some of the new team members, including four rock-star freshman that are going to make a big splash with the organization in years to come.  After dinner with Janet Baker, a Sr. VP in corporate learning at Aflac, it was time to get some sleep for the rest of the events festivities.  Monday morning I went to many presentations to try and find the next SIFE Analyst crew for Aflac and saw a few good candidates.  One of the last presentations of the day was the MMC SIFE team which is why I was there.  Although they did not make it to the second round, there stories and projects revolving around flood relief efforts were nothing short of heroic.  They brought tears to my eyes with their commitment to service and passion to help rebuild Cedar Rapids that was devastated by the Midwest floods last year.  
They physically helped a business, blend, back on their feet with
 sweat equity and marketing assistance.  They gave countless hours to the relief and their efforts are continuing on.  I think they understand and realize that it doesn't matter the amount of trophies or prize money that you win, 
because at the end of the day, what really matters are the people's lives you have changed.  The owners of blend won't mind too much that you didn't get a trophy, but you helped them open their doors less than six months after the flood destroyed their dreams.  It's pretty amazing the kind of impact a group of students can have on a community through volunteerism, you make me proud to be a MMC SIFE alum and have inspired me to give back even more.  
Thank you!!
Well, on top of all that goodness, I also had the final practice of the year for the En Fuego soccer team.  Although we didn't finish the season with a stellar record (1-9, ouch) the kids have grown so much not just in their skills, but as a team.  I had another great set of parents this year, so we held my 3rd consecutive Parent/Kid scrimmage.  Every kid had at least one parent or family member participate as the adults played against the kids.  Again, the parents came through victorious, but everyone had an absolute blast and I couldn't have asked for anything more ... except maybe less rain so we could've practiced more.
O, and one last thing ... last Monday I learned that effective this Friday, I am officially done with the SIFE Analyst rotation that I have been doing for the past 20 months because I was offered a promotion to be the Supervisor of the Process Innovation team.  I am elated to now be a part of the leadership team moving forward into the future.  The six person team I have is running on all cylinders and I can't wait to see what the future will hold for us.  There are a great deal of expectations, but I think we're all up to the challenge ... I can't wait!
Well, that's about the extent of my novel (and yes Travis, I am going to start writing my book, thanks for the encouragement and good luck with the job:).  I'll tell you more in the weeks, months and most likely years to come on that one!
Until next time, you have a great rest of the week.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

May 3, 2009 - Real Heroes Read

Hey there, hi there and hello there to all you heroes out there!  The good times are continuing to roll with another great week here in the South.  Happy Anniversary to Anthony and Cheryl and a big happy birthday to cousins Emily and Derek ... hope the wonderful Iowa weather is treating you well!It was another wondermous work week at Aflac with Six Sigma training taking up pretty much every day.  I never thought I would be diving into so much analytics with this program, but it was basically a college course in statistical analysis ... which was a good refresher for me.  Class took up most of the week, but my boss-man also pulled me out to be a part of the 2010 planning sessions for about a day and a half.  Wednesday we laid the groundwork for Employee Appreciation Week (EAW which is this week, wahoo) as well as our agenda for Thursday.  It was off to the Double Tree on Thursday for our all-day planning for 2010.  We talked about what our department will look like over the next year as well as various leadership certifications that we'll be going through.  Naturally, I've been tasked with writing up the 2010 plan to present to our management ... nothing like putting together a tactical action plan:)  I'm actually looking forward to it, good thing I paid attention during that Professional Writing class back in college!  EAW is a week-long celebration of our employees with free ice cream, thank you cards, gifts, prizes, food and a big celebration on Friday down at the Civic Center.  Steven and I are tweaking our duet for Aflac's Got Talent since we made it to the final six.  I don't think it crossed my mind until this weekend, but we'll be singing in front of over 4,000 people ... which is ridiculously awesome!  It should be a pretty fun week indeed.I've been in charge of the Miss Georgia Pageant program book for the last couple of years, and on Monday I presented our final statistics to the rest of the Trustees.  Our ad sales went from $17,000 last year to over $41,000, a $24,000 increase in just one year!  I wish I was on commission, but I tell you what ... that's a pretty good feeling to know the kind of impact I had on that part of the organization.  Wednesday I had another great volunteer night when I went over to help out the CSU SIFE team with their final recruitment effort for the year.  They took 5 students up to Atlanta for Regionals just a month ago, and after Wednesday night, the CSU SIFE team had 16 members from all grades and many majors.  Even better than that, a girl I worked with since she was the President, Crystal, landed a job with a SIFE sponsor company because of her involvement over the last year.  Even thought it's been a rough two years trying to get this team up and going, it's stories like that which keep me going to give back to their team;)By far the best part of the week though was Saturday at the 1st Annual Columbus Heroes Read program.  I've been a part of hundreds of volunteer activities, but this core volunteer crew from the Literacy Alliance is one of the best, if not the best, group I have been a part of.  As the Program Chair, I was asked by one of our committee members in February if we could participate in the Free Comic Book day that happens the first Saturday each May.  As a committee we decided we were going to kick it up a notch and make an amazing event, which we did.  It was one of those projects that when I looked down at the task list, I only saw my name on one thing, to organize volunteers for the event.  Every other task was quickly taken on by the rest of the committee, and everyone came through!  We invited real heroes from our community, including military personnel with their Stryker vehicle, EMS in an ambulance, fire fighters with their truck and the Columbus Police Department.  We secured a TV sponsor in WRBL and they ran free ads for us over the last couple of weeks.  Our event was in the paper three times in the last four days and even on the radio.  As of Friday I had about 18 volunteers signed up to help, so I gave each of them something to do ... but, then Saturday came and to my surprise, we had about 40 volunteers lined up to help!  It was amazing to see how excited the military folks, board members and even some of the SIFErs were to help inspire kids to read.  So, fifteen minutes before the event I put on my cape to turn into Super Nate and corralled the crew for final instructions.  Everyone was so excited, and I tell you what ... we needed all the excitement from the volunteers we could get because the kids were lined up right at 11am.  We registered every child, gave them at least two free comic books and set up stations for story telling as well as drawing stations where kids learned from local teachers how to draw their own super hero.  One child even chose to draw me, or I guess it was my alter-ego, Super Nate:)  The kids had an absolute blast and the volunteers thoroughly enjoyed their time.  More than 360 people attended the event and we handed comic books out to 218 kids from 3 years old to 11th grade and they represented more than 75 learning institutions throughout the area!  We couldn't have asked for a better first year event and everyone, including the library director, is talking about we can make it bigger and better for next year.  Thank you to everyone who either joined us for the fun or helped make it happen, it was a hit!
O, and how could I forget that I bought a new TV, audio and appliances.  After wheeling and dealing to save thousands of dollars at HH Gregg (which yes, meant I had to spend a few bucks ... thank you first time homeowners credit:) I ended up with a Whirlpool fridge, convection oven and dishwasher.  Which will compliment the Samsung Blu Ray 5.1 surround sound system that'll hook into my brand new 46" Samsung LED TV ... yeah, I'm excited ... and so is Jenny;)
I'm not quite sure how to top a week like that, but we're going to give it a go this week.  I've submitted my application for an MBA program at Emory University, which is the #2 Evening MBA program in the nation ... no pressure or anything I guess.  Aflac has expanded it's Tuition Assistance Program, so I figured I would give it a shot at least and see what happens.
EAW should make for a great week, and on top of that, a bunch of us will be heading to Six Flags on Saturday for Aflac day at the park.  My blog post may be a bit tardy too since Jason, Meg, Alisha and myself are flying out to Philly on Sunday morning for the SIFE National Exposition!  I am so excited to see the ol' MMC SIFE team for the first time this year, I wish you all the best of luck ... I know you'll do great.
Well, looks like a busy week so I better get at it.  My morsel for the week comes from the new book I am reading by the Dalai Lama, "The Art of Happiness": His hope is based on the belief that while attaining genuine and lasting happiness is not easy, it nevertheless can be done."  With all of these great things happening and Jenny moving down in a month, I would have to agree with the Lama and I hope you will too!
I am not quite sure how to top that week again, but I'm sure EAW will give this week a boost!