Sunday, November 28, 2010

November 28, 2010 - Happy Turkey Day!

Hey there, hi there and hello there to all you turkey lovers. I may be a week tardy, but too many good times were had in Iowa to sit down and blog:)
Guess I'll go backward over the last couple of weeks starting this past weekend with an amazing Klein wedding up in Manchester for cousin Kacie and Ron. It was an absolute blast to be around all the family, the crazy cousins and the dancing aunts/uncles. Made Jenny and I pretty excited about the possibilities for our gig in 11 months from tomorrow, wow! In the week leading up to the wedding, there was a good bit of family and friend time had. Everything from lunch with the ol' MMC SIFErs to breakfast with some of the P Hawks of old. Had a great visit at the Mount aswell ... would love to be a prof there someday, just some wonderful people indeed.
Lots of thanks and giving was had as well throughout the week with Jenny's family on Thanksgiving and my family a few different times:) Jenny picked out a wedding dress (yahoo, and it was under budget), then I was able to see the reception hall at Bella Sala after we did some taste testing with Hy-Vee. Pretty productive wedding planning week I must say! It was fun to hang out with the siblings of mine as well as Jenny's and see all of the nieces and nephews and how much they have grown. Crazy to think we'll be back in less than a month with the pooch to visit everyone for Christmas.
We had our big quarterly Literacy Alliance board meeting, not the greatest of turnouts, but an influential group nonetheless. We made some tremendous progress on our goals for each of the four committees and had some much needed discussions revolving around our board's diversity as well as our financials moving into the next year. Just hope that the funds continue andincrease the flowage moving forward!! Also had a YP lunch over the last couple of weeks too that is going to lead up to our board retreat here in a couple weeks with the exec committee.
We moved again at the Duck, so the whole PIC team picked up our gear and headed back downstairs again. I still have yet to unpack all of my stuff, but hope to accomplish that all tomorrow. Also, we had our quasi-annual Chili/Bakeoff where I had to redeem myself from two years ago finishing in dead last. Apparently my chili this year was much better, but still wasn't deemed "chili" by the esteemed panel of judges ... but at least I wasn't boo'd off the stage:) I did pull out the Marketing Award for my chili's brochure. Additionally, I've been given some additional responsibilities at work, similar to what I had done before as an undercover SIFE supervisor where some more tasks have been put on the plate. I'm pumped to continue to work with such a great team and see how we can get better for next year.
Should be a busy week ahead too with my final marketing class presentation tomorrow night and final negotiation on Wednesday night to round out the fall semester, only 6 more classes to go! Then we have the kickball championship game on Thursday, PIC team Christmas party on Friday followed by some pancake breakfast volunteering and the Aflac Christmas party Saturday night. O yes, we're squeezing holiday decorating in there somewhere ... maybe Tuesday:)
Hope you all had a tremendous Turkey Day and that these last few days of November bring you wondermous warmth!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

November 14, 2010 - Homeward bound

Hey there, hi there and hello there to one and all. Two weeks in a row on the blog circuit, haven't done that in a while! A special happy birthday wish out to my niece Lindsay, hope you had a great party. O yes, and Jenny, Caden and I can't wait for the trip back home this weekend for an extended Turkey Day celebration.
Last week was pretty fun on the volunteer front with our monthly Literacy Alliance exec meeting where we narrowed down our new list of officers to help build the bench for 2011. Wednesday was a day full of United Way when Jenny, Rick and I started off the morning down at the UW office to kick-start the planning for the 2nd Annual Live United Youth Camp. Looks like we're moving it to Thursday through Saturday with our main focus continuing to be on poverty/homelessness since it had such a huge impact on the students last year. Then over lunch I led the UW Volunteer Advisory Council meeting where we laid the foundation for some new marketing efforts including a monthly volunteer spotlight and another volunteer activity, Stuff the Bus. Should be a great year for that group, I'm looking forward to making progress with some great volunteers:) This week the we have our end of the year Literacy Alliance full board meeting all morning on Thursday where we vote in our new members and have a great time recapping the success we've had over the last year. A couple days before I am taking part in the annual Young Professionals luncheon as I'm being sworn in on the Exec Committee as the Secretary which should greatly help me work on my active listening and name remembering skillz!! This Thursday eve I get to speak with my mentor Bob Ottman at a CSU SIFE Presidential Dinner which I am pumped about, going with the trusty LIVE speech to educate students that they should Learn, Inspire, Volunteer and Enjoy life.
Had a pretty good time with school action this week up at Emory, even though I didn't have to go up for one of my classes! The highlight was this weekend during Leadership Academy when we went to an acting studio for our second installment entitled improvU, a full day of learning how the art of improv can improve your leadership style. It was pretty fun to get up on stage, do some skits and a bit of learning along the way. They reiterated one of the best concepts I have experienced in my professional life - create a "Yes, if" culture vs. a "No, because." They took the spin of saying, "Yes, and" vs. "No, and" because in every scenario, if you say Yes, and vs. the alternative, you create a very welcoming and innovative environment. People feel like you are engaged with them and care about their thoughts, even if they are wayyyyy out there. It was so much fun that I may try to figure out how to start an improv group at the Duck to help people overcome their fears of public speaking.
Speaking of overcoming your fears of public speaking at work, last week marked the first of many to come presentations I had one of my team members do. Public speaking is one of the most feared things to do in life, sometimes ahead of being bit by a snake, but everyone needs to have some comfort in doing it if they want to move on up the ladder. This week wasn't too crazy, which afforded me a good bit of time to have numerous 1v1 sessions with my team, my favorite part of the job:) This week we're kicking off a big usability study with a 3rd party vendor that will really shape the next year's worth of work, so fingers crossed it works well. More importantly though, we have our annual team chili cook-off. Sorry mom, your recipe doesn't go over well down here in the South where they want some spicy action (although I still love it:), so I'm mixin' it up this year to hopefully not come in last place!
Looking forward to the week ahead, but especially some kickball tournament action and the visit back home to Iowa to see old friends and family. Can't wait to see you all, and hopefully it'll warm up a bit so I don't freeze my southern hiney off:)
Welp, suppose I should leave a morsel for the week and it comes again from my buddy Robert Greenleaf - "Too much concern with how others did it may be inhibitive." Don't rest on the laurels or the way things have always been, venture out to create something new and give life a shot!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

November 7, 2010 - Back in the saddle again

Hey there, hi there and hello there. Holy schnikes, it's been a month since the last post ... I guess I would try to blame it on Jenny putting me up to wedding planning, but in reality ... there is no excuse:) Happy birthday wishes to all the October and November birthdays, which included my own and Steph's yesterday!!
Let's start with the excitement of a 26th birthday, yes, 26 can be fun. Jenny, Caden and I had a couple visitors over my birthday weekend as Dad and Barb came down to Columbus for a weekend of food and relaxation. Many a walk with the dog and relaxing at the house was coupled with a visit to downtown Columbus for an unexpected farmer's market followed by a relaxing bike ride on the Riverwalk. Ribs, monkey bread, a delectable dinner at Cheddar's and of course great birthday gifts made for a wondermous weekend. That's not where the birthday celebratory activities stopped though, as Rick and I continued our birthday week into the following weekend with the first annual birthday bash on a budget. After the home opener for the Columbus Cottonmouths, it was back to our place with the posse for ping pong until3am and then yes, we set up three tents in our front yard for the ultimate sleepover ... camping style! About 12 people made the venture, which the next morning we awoke to cars driving by asking if we were having a yard sale, amazing!A day at the park playing disc golf and grilling out wrapped up the birthday in wonderful fashion. Thanks everyone for the cards, gifts and birthday wishes!!
Wedding planning, although still a year away, is in full swing. Planning an event of this nature 1,000 miles away has presented some obstacles, but I think Jenny and I have gotten a good enough jump start to feel comfy. Apparently when the guest list is greater than the total number of people from both of the hometowns the couple grew up in, you will find only a few venues to host. So, we're on at St.Ludmilla's and Bella Sala ( for October 29, 2011. The colors have been chosen, the photographer, the shoes, the photo booth and we've started on the invites. Yes, there have been many a night when a wedding hurricane has taken over the living room, but we're pumped for the event and excited so many of our Columbus friends have said they will make the maiden Iowa voyage:)
School up at Emory has kept my quite busy as well, just not as intense as semesters in the past (which is nice:). I'm taking a Negotiations and Integrated Marketing Communication class right now and just recently signed up for my final electives ... ya, last electives!! I can see the end of the rainbow, but am still very excited about the classes ahead. In Dec/Jan I have an ACE course on Networks/Organizations to learn about howpeople work/connect in an organization. Then the spring semester I have signed up for Customer Relationship Management, Project Management and a week-long course over spring break in Washington DC to learn about politics in business. After I finish those up, I close out with two core courses in Accounting and Leadership.O yes, I was recently accepted into the Emory Leadership Academy as well where 25 of my classmates and I are taking a interpersonal dive into our leadership style to learn and grow. We have about one session/month for the next six months or so. Next weekend I will head up there to learn about leadership improv, should be exhilirating.To put the icing on the cake though, I was one of 1,500 folks that had the amazing opportunity to be a part of the Dalai Lama's visit to Emory University. It was an enlightening experience which included a morning session where he discussed the importance of optimism and consistency before the afternoon session with Richard Gere on the arts, science and religion and the effects they have on creativity. I walked away feeling very privelaged to have been a part of such an amazing conference.
Then, a couple weeks later my team at Aflac (about 20 of us) went up to the Atlanta Georgia Dome for another amazing leadership experience at the Get Motivated workshop. Colin Powell, Lou Holtz and Bill Cosby headlined a star-studded group of motivational speakers. So many nuggets of knowledge were passed through the crowds, but Lou Holtz stole the show with his light-hearted conversation on truth, commitment and compassionate leadership. Following that conference, I worked with a few other folks to put on the semi-annual leadership conference for the Customer Assurance Organization where 150 supervisors, managers and executives gathered for a conference based on the concept of Emergenetics. We received great feedback from everyone, including our Sr. VP and other VPs who said it was so good that they want to roll it out to the various leads and analysts throughout the organization. I'll consider that one a success!!
Work at the Duck has been pretty hot-n-heavy over the last couple of months I must say (including over Halloween when we dressed up as Alvin and the Chipmunks:). In addition to the infamous performance appraisal season, we've also elevated a few different enhancements to the systems that my team maintains. Many long weeks spilling over into the weekend resulted in a very successful project completion and now it's on to a usability study for our accounts. It's been fun working with a 3rd party vendor to identify improvement opportunities which may even lead to me being able to head up to Atlanta for lab testing (sounds pretty scientific eh?). I'm also getting the opportunity to help some of my peers with their Precision Leadership Certification presentations ... gotta love this leadership shtuff!
Finally, life on the volunteer front has been a little slower as of late. A high note though was finding out the MMC SIFE alum put together $10K over the last year to help build an endowment for the future Mount Mercy SIFE generations ( ... nice work team! Still keeping busy as the chair of the Literacy Alliance where we're on the brink of a new website and logo to help build our brand image in the community. More than that though, we're meeting this week to set our 2011 budget, 2011 slate of officers and maybe some other 2011 things. Crazy to think how much for-profit planning resembles not-for-profit planning, love the learning:) A couple weeks ago my ol' pal Kim Weaver called from the Young Professionals to see if I'd be interested in joining the exec committee. Although YP and I have had a bumpy road together, I still really believe in the mission they have to engage more young professionals in our community. After having a nice long conversation with her about the rest of the committee members, and of course Jenny, I accepted a position as the Secretary. So, between those two organizations and continuing work on the United Way board of directors, things are still hummin' right along.
Don't worry, Caden is doing well too with our morning runs and afternoon play times. Jenny also decided that we needed to turn the heat on for the first time of the year, so yes, it's getting a bit chilly in Ctown.
Well, I know that was a lot of catching up ... but it's been a couple months, so hope you enjoyed. Special thoughts and prayers out to the Rettenmeir family and those at the Arc that were so close to Stacie. I hope you all have a wonderful week and until next time, here's a morsel from my latest endeavor to better understand Servant Leadership from Robert Greenleaf, "But if one is servant, either leader or follower, one is always searching, listening, expecting that a better wheel for these times is in the making." Never settle for what is, always strive for what could be!