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 (bellasalaevents.com) 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 (http://www.mtmercy.edu/magazine/alumni/alumni-feul-sife-endowment/) ... 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!