Sunday, November 20, 2011

Life is good ... Happy Holidays - 11/26/11

Hey there, hi there and a longtime hello there. It's been a while since the last blog, a good few months I suppose. Not like I had anything going on at the time, except for that whole graduating Emory, work, volunteering and o ya, that wedding:) So, since I have a little free time now, thought I would reconnect with all the good people out there! I suppose I should probably go in chronological order and give you the read

ers digest plus some pictures and videos for your viewing pleasure.

This past August, I took my final exam (and passed thankfully), to graduate from Emory University with my Masters in Business Administration. In all, 54,312 miles to and from Emory, 648 hours in class, an amazing education across 2 continents and unforgettable friends - the Emory MBA is finally done! Funny news though, after a few months sitting on the couch, I decided to go after the next best thing ... my doctorate. Just this week I got the call that I was accepted into Creighton University's Interdisciplinary Education Doctorate in Leadership (they need an acronym) as I begin my journey to become a university professor. I start in January, and in just three short years, I will have my doctorate and be ready to operate … ok, maybe teach!

The Duck has been crazy good as well in my new role managing our Process Innovation and Control team.Our team is absolutely amazing and because of the hard work, we’ve continued to prove our value and grow our team. This afforded me a great opportunity to hire a few more people, a process I hadn’t gotten to go through in a few years, so it was funJ We have our 3rd Ann
ual Chili/Bake Off coming up as well as our 3rd Annual Canned Food Drive combined with our team service activity at the local shelter, a team full of servant leaders indeed! Additionally, Aflac afforded me a great opportunity to go through Emergenetics ( training this past Spring. It’s a great team tool that identifies your true thought and behavioral preferences creating the most comprehensive self assessment tool I’ve taken part of.After certification, I was able to be a trainer for a week and led a training class for over 100 analysts at Aflac which was an amazing experience indeed! I hope to use these skills as I progress throughout the career to consult organizations and provide them tools to help build successful teams.
The volunteer front has beenfun as well with continued work at the Literacy Alliance, Young Professionals and United Way. My two year term as Chair of the Literacy Alliance is coming to an end, so we’re pulling out all of the stops applying for grants, meeting with the Mayor to secure funding and building relationships to try and continue our amazingly impactful programs. If this video doesn’t make you want to give your time, talents and treasuresto support literacy, I don’t know what would ( Young Professionals has been fun as well focusing on getting our YPs engaged in the community. They recently asked that I be the VP of Membership to help drive new members and retention efforts which will be exciting indeed. United Way has been good times as well as we wrapped up a successful campaign for 2010/11 and jump started a great effort for this year. One of the main focus areas I recommended along with other board members is to continually engage in volunteer events for the community and the youth, which has turned into a great opportunity for our United Way to start up the Live United Youth Council. We have 15 high school students that have come together to Give, Advocate and Volunteer for local agencies. They have been learning about community needs, volunteering at a local shelter and will soon start FUNdraising efforts to raise money that they get to allocate to a local agency … it’s a great movement to truly engage our youth in the community!
And now for some randomness as well ... back in August I had the great pleasure of being asked to be in a wedding for a great pal of mine, Stefan D back in Iowa which was a blast indeed:) After that, Steph and Dad made an adventure out of it as we went to see the sacred Butter Cow at the Iowa State Fair and yes, I did eat fried butter as my heart stopped twice:) In honor of trying to lose those calories, Jenny decided that we would also run a marathon before we got married. It was great pre-marriage counseling, spending hours and miles upon end just running ... and running some more. October 16 marked my first, and last, marathon in Chattanooga, TN on a brisk morning where yes, we did get beat by a 70 year old:) Also, I have been very fortunate over the last few years to have the opportunities at Aflac and in the community, and thanks to my wife Jenny for nominating me, I was honored to be selected as one of Columbus and the Valley’s Top 5 Under 40 for 2011 ( Additionally, I have tried to stay engaged at the ol’ alma mater every time I come back and through SIFE, and a big thanks to one of my mentors for nominating me for the Mount Mercy Alumni Certificate of Merit Award (
O yes, I saved the best for last. It was between about 55 degrees and perfect on October 29, 2011 when Jenny and I got married a few weeks ago. Jenny was indeed a beautiful bride, and we can’t say thank you enough to all of the family and friends that helped make the day so memorable, from the early morning sky dive ( to the day full of fun that ensued, it was everything we wanted it to beJ Since pictures can tell a better story than words, check out what our amazing photographer put together for the day, capturing every moment wondermously (

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Why hello there! - July 17, 2011

Hey there, hi there and a long time hello there. Holy schnikes, I can't believe it's been two months since I hopped on here to say hello. We've had many birthdays and events to celebrate, including mom's birthday coming this Saturday ... happy birthday mom:)
Where do I even start ... it'sabout that time of year at Aflac where the craziness has begun! In between business planning,projects, people development and those "other duties as assigned", those days sure do get filled up fast ... and I love it. In June, I had a great opportunity to go through Emergenetics training( with some folks from corporate learning and the CEO of Emergenetics Int'l. It's a personality assessment tool that focuses onhow you have emerged through life and how that integrates from your genetics. Going through thisallows me to be an Emergenetics Associate/Consultant if companies/groups want to go through the workshop to learn about their people. I think I'm going to add this to my public speaking website someday for hire;)In addition to that, I was asked to help as the host for Aflac's video submission for the Fortune 100 Best Places to work ratings. It was a really fun experience working with the outside firm to do all sorts of crazy shots, including a half an hour in the elevator:) After that week, I was lucky enough to go on my first business trip to Boston for a tea party, or maybe to meet with some of our consultants. It was fun to head up there with my boss and other team members to learn about our opportunity areas and eat some clam chowder;) Lastly, probably the most exciting, has been the work I've been collaborating with our mentor initiative TEACH. We've got a small groundswell of folks together to help establish a mentoring culture at Aflac and it's really taking off ... good things to come!
Jenny and I had a good experience again this year in our 2nd triathlon at Callaway Gardens where we both beat our times from last year ... which was nice. Troubling though was when Jenny then thought it was a good idea for us to run a marathon together before our wedding ... hmm, wasn't quite sure about that one, but just signed up today for the 7 Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga, TN ... wish us luck!
One of the reasons for the tardiness in posts has been the craziness of this summer with some great visitors and visits. My best man Gump started off the summer with a Greyhound bus tour to Columbus. We had some good times hanging out and even entered a urban quasi-triathlon challenge for fun. Jenny and I also joined many a friend down in Panama City Beach for our good friend John/Miranda's weddingfestivities where yes, I brought my new engagement kayak (Jenny got a ring, she got me a kayak:). Shortly after that we visited PCB again with Candace and Andy after they drove down from Iowa, lots of good times on the beach and the water. Next up was Jenny's sister Tracy and family featuring Hambone Landon Urell (pictured here).A Braves game, touring Atlanta and chasing Caden around the house made for an exciting weekend indeed. O yeah, and Jenny's little sister Becca and friend Nicole are all down in PCB right now soaking up the sun:)
Not only did we have many a visitor down South, we also had some good times heading back home. Jenny had a great visit back home with a classic hot air balloon sky dive and a pretty amazing bridal shower put on by her sister crew. Thanks to all the lady friends and family for the gifts and kind words of encouragement ... especially those on our honeymoon registry ( Jenny's not the only one who had some pre-wedding fun as I was able to go back over the 4th of July weekend for my bachelor party. A 14 hour extraveganza began on the golf course with all the family gentlemen and groomsmen where we only hit four houses throughout the day! After playing for a few hours with some good times, we all headed to Mulligan's to good and warmed up for the rest of the day;) After some drinks, it was off to the Cedar Rapids Kernels game where at one point, members of the crew most definitely asked numerous officers if they could be tazed, yes with a real taser ... o, the memories. The evening came to a close at Fat Wally's with some pool and chillaxin' with some of the best friends/family a guy could ask for. Thanks so much for the memories and to Flugum for putting it all together.
The 4th of July was also a great celebration with the family/friends. It started off with some great food at the Ely Fireman's Breakfast with all of the fam. Some time out on the Res and downtown with Blake and Steph for the fireworks made for some great memories.
O yes, I've continued on with the volunteer front as well. My pal Meg and I had a great time with the Chase Home ladies teaching them about financial literacy and what a budget is. I even had one of them follow up two weeks later talking about how happy they were to participate and that she had already saved $200 because she made some life changes after the course ... pretty heartwarming. The Literacy Alliance and United Way boards have been ramping up as well with strategery and FUNdraising. I have board meetings for both of them this week, so let the good times roll:)
O, last and certainly not least is the final countdown for my MBA up at Emory. Just four short weeks left, and I will wrap up two years of driving, studying and learning ... where did the time go?
Hope you all continue well after the novel and have a great weekend!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

May 8, 2011 - Happy Mother's Day

Hey there, hi there and hello there to one and all mothers!!! Can't thank all the mothers, whether grand or the aunt style, for all that you've done for me over the years to help me get where I am today:)
Hanging out at the duck the last few weeks has been a whirlwind, but amazingly exciting as we just finished up our annual Employee Appreciation Week celebration. It's pretty impressive to see a company this big take so much time to recognize our employees, well, mostly with food I suppose! I was on the Executive EAW committee this year and got to help plan the event and volunteer throughout the week. The powers that be even asked me to ride around with our CEO, President and Executive VP and help announce our tenured employees at our various locations ... guess all those years as the voice of the Mustangs is helping to payoff now;)Friday morning was the big finale at the CivicCenter where all of our employees and some of our associates gathered together for a rock party, the Aflac Family Values Tour where I had the pleasure of being a correspondent in the crowd to give away some money. A few weeks ago I even had the chance to be Monty Hall, the 70s game show host of Let's Make a Deal ... and yes, that suit is polyester! Gotta love Aflac:)
I finished up my final presentations a couple weeks ago for my Spring courses, of which I think Project Management was one of my favorite of my time thus far. That leaves me with only two classes left this summer to start in about a week, Cost Accounting and Leading People/Organizations. Crazy to think about how fast that time went at Emory, o, and where all those miles on the Honda went! I'm thinking this Fall may bring a new educational adventure at Columbus State University in the Masters of Servant Leadership program. A big focus on coaching and organizational development makes me pretty excited about the possibilities.
Easter back home was one great time as well, thanks mom/Dan for the tickets! Hadn't been back home in about four months, so it was good to go back to see all the family and friends. Four Easter celebrations in three days was a bit much, but so worth it! Even had a chance to meet with th old MMU SIFE team and friends at Fat Wally's for some pool action. Won't be back until the 4th of July, but a bachelor party will be awaiting:) And o yes, Jenny caught her first fish ... wasn't quite ready to take it off the line though!
The weekend after Easter, Jenny and I with a bunch of friends all went up to Gatlinberg, TN for a camping trip at the Yogi Bear campsite, yes, the Yogi Bear:) Saturday we all got up early for some campside breakfast and a trek into town for some adventure on the white water rapids of the Smokies. I had only been white water rafting once before, but this trip was pretty awesome hitting some class III/IV rapids whilst floating down the cold rapids. Then we all went zip lining before spending the rest of the trip by the campfire eating mallows and hot dogs, great experience indeed!
The volunteer front has been pretty exciting as well. I had a great chance to speak to the PTA Presidents and Principals about how to gain and retain volunteers, which was a great public speaking experience that has sparked my interest to figure out how to get more gigs like that, more to come:) Back in April, we had a Live United Youth Camp reunion with about ten of the students back at the Habitat for Humanity Rennovation Station where we helped organize and move around materials for the store. Even better was the success story of one of the campers, Chariena. She came to the event that Saturday with a car full of clothes that she had collected during a clothing drive at school/church to donate to the Open Door Community House. Still working with the United Way staff and volunteers to try and institute a new Stuff the Bus campaign to gather school supplies for those students in need ... more to come, but could be a great good time for the city and UW. Still trying to figure out how to raise some money for the Literacy Alliance and have a couple calls out to some local CEOs to see if we can get some local sponsorships, fingers crossed!
Don't know if I could fit more into the month, but this one has already started off with a bang and later tonight Jenny, some friends and myself are going to go kick it old school with an NBA playoff game where my Bulls take on the Atlanta Hawks, should be some good times! Hope everyone finishes up a great Mother's Day and has a wonderful week!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

April 10, 2011 - Happy Birthday Bro!

Hey there, hi there and hello there ... o yes, a big shout out to my brother Blake on his 14th birthday, hope you enjoyed your celebration:)
It's been a great last month indeed both at work and at home. The new gig at Aflac is quite the daunting task, just learning the new responsibilities, but the people make it fun indeed! Last week I had 20 meetings, and that was just four days' worth ... I've gotten tricky with it now though, scheduling 1v1 meetings with myself just to get the work done:) It's kind of fun to learn about the aspirations of my new teams, plus have some fun using a pirate sword to cut a donut in half:) I have always had a good bit of confidence in my abilities, but any new adventure always test that. Especially when those reporting to you have had so much more experience, but it's such an amazing feeling to be able to sit down with them and learn that you do add value, as everyone can!
The end to the MBA is just right around the corner and the countdown has begun. Two presentations, one debate and half a final exam left in this semester, followed by my final two courses this summer. Then what to do with all that time? So I went and spoke with the President at CSU to get some insight last week. He encouraged me to look at some adjunct faculty work, which would be really fun maybe a night a week, so we'll see. Another option would be to go get a Masters in Servant Leadership at CSU, which would be so fun to learn about ... or, I guess I could take some time off to chill:)
The volunteer front is continuing to chug along with a great Live United Youth Camp volunteer reunion coming this weekend ... can't wait to see the students again! I was asked to help out with the United Way strategery committee as well, so that work will start up over the lunch hour here in the next few weeks as we strive to reach out more in the community to make a difference. One way we want to do that is with a Stuff the Bus campaign to provide students in need with much needed school supplies, hope we can get that one off the ground! Had a fun charity event a few weeks ago as well with the Relay for Life Softball Tourney ... where yes, we actually won a game this year!
This weekend has been great too, even though Jenny is back home, Caden and I had a blast! Listened to some great live music downtown at the Frogtown Hollow Jam festival, had some fun bike rides, lots of yard work which resulted in getting absolutely roasted and just chillin' with the pooch.
Life is good ... and got even better when I found out Jenny and I would be going back for Easter in a couple weeks to Iowa and the fam, that is awesome! Hope you all have a great week because I know I'm looking forward to it!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 20, 2011 - Spring is Here

Hey there, hi there and hello there one and all. I'm trying to get back to weekly blogging, but it seems like this may go on as a monthly gig moving forward:) Hope everyone enjoyed St. Patty's Day and Valentine's Day too!
Welp, guess I will start with some good news on the job front at the Duck. I recently was given the opportunity to interview for a promotion to Manager of the PIC team and by golly gee willickers it worked out. With a team of about twenty folks now, I get to continue with some of the tasks I had on the future state team, but now I also get to work with some great folks on our risk team that deal with state Departments of Insurance and our current state teamthatkeeps our systems running smoothly. It has meant quite a few more meetings, but also a great opportunity to get involved in more change throughout the division. Last week I decided to meet with everyone individually to get their thoughts on what they thought was going good and not so good on the team, in addition to what we can do to have some more fun. It was probably ten of the best hours I've had lately tojust sit down and chat with the team ... they really make it fun to come into work every day:) I also had a pretty great opportunity to present to our next CFO about all that we have going on with the PIC team ... great good fun!
Last month was also the 2nd annual Live United Youth Camp ( where another group of amazing students learned about homelessness, poverty and how to make a difference in our community. Check out the video for a great bit of inspiration. Also, we had our United Way Board of Directors strategery session this past week. It was pretty amazing to sit with all of the local community/business leaders to talk about the future of the organization and what we need to do to get there.
February 15th also marked our 6th Annual Literacy Alliance Trivia Bee, our annual FUNdraiser where the community came together for some wonderful times. We raised a lot of money, but more importantly, we raised awareness of what our organization is all about and how we help the community. We're in the midst of some great partnership chats with the library as we explore how we can be mutually beneficial for each group, that I think will truly help move our organization forward. O yes, then Jenny and I had a great opportunity to get all dressed up for a schwanky event and a great cause at the American Cancer Society's Crystal Ball. We had a pretty good time, but I think Jenny might have had a better time as the winning bidder of a autographed Brad Paisley guitar ... wow, all for a great cause right!?
Emory has taken up a good bit of time as well, but that light at the end of the tunnel keeps creeping closer and closer to the end! I had a great opportunity though to participate in the Washington Campus course in DC a couple of weeks ago. It was a one week crash course dealing with politics in business in our nation's capitol. I arrived a couple of days early to take in the Smithsonian Museums, the amazing Holocaust Museum, the various monuments and memorials that make DC a great place to visit. Throughout the week, we heard from various politicians including our GA State Senator Johnny Isakson, visited the Senate gallery to hear senators discuss our budget crisis and even had the chance to sit in the chambers of the Supreme Courthouse. It was a pretty amazing experience that I was able to share with a bunch of classmates, including a few that became some fun roommates ... even called dibs on the top bunk! I also just finished up with one of my best Emory experiences in the Leadership Academy. We had some great lessons about how to take a more personal look at how we interact with each other and ourselves. It's helped me to slow down a bit and start to look more at how to build upon my leadership abilities, good times indeed.
Welp, that's probably enough fun for now I suppose ... hope everyone continues to have a great start to the Spring!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

February 13, 2011 - Happy Valentine's Day All

Hey there, hi there and hello there to one and all. A special Happy Valentines Day to one and all ... especially Jenny of course, looking forward to making some VDay dinner tomorrow night compliments of Chef Nate:)
I probably should start off by saying, Go Packers!!! I wasn't able to say hello to everyone on the blog last week because it was at about this tie a week ago that my buddy Eddie and I were sitting in section 450 at Super Bowl XLV (by the way, Roman numerals are awesome!!!) The weekend started off Friday afternoon on what Garmin said would be an 11 hour drive putting us in Flower Mound, Texas at midnight ... little did we know that Mother Nature would stop us an hour outside of Dallas for 4.5 hours of waiting for trucks stuck in the ice.Two movies later and after a bit of a drive, we arrived at our buddies Blake/Jessica's house at 5:30am. We only needed a few hours of sleep before we headed off to wait in line for the NFL experience with cheesehead in tote.O yeah, did I mention we still did not have any tickets ... still had all of our fingers crossed and toes:) It was like a mini-combine at the NFL experience, so we did our broad jump, vertical jump, shuttle run and then we tested our football skills running some routes.O yes, then I stepped up and nailed a 40 yard field goal ... and as you can see, it was probably good from about 50 ... I'm just sayin', watch out Crosby:) It brought me back to the good ol' days.
That night we all went out to the Spaghetti Warehouse to fill up before going to a comedy performance by Dane Cook. Let's just say that my face hurt from laughter, that was one funny night indeed. O yes, and at this time we had only a sniff at some tickets for the next day ... but after a night filled full of anxiety for the next day's festivities ... we received one of my most favoritest text I've received when our buddy Tyler pulled through with two tickets to the Super Bowl ... holla! So, we did some shots of Splemonade (Sprite + Lemonade) and made our way to Jerry's House, North Texas Stadium, for Super Bowl Sunday. $85 parking was the cheapest we could find, only about a mile outside of the stadium though wasn't too bad. Then it was off to Cici's Pizza for our tailgate party, yes, Cici's Pizza had their $5 buffet all day ... tastylicious:)After walking around the stadium, taking pictures and hanging out with 100,000 of our closest Packer/Steeler fans it was time to pick up our ticket and make our way into the stadium. When the security man scanned my ticket, goosebumps up and down the arms!! Then it was into the stadium for a walk about to take it all in, including the ridiculously huge $40M HDTV. Eddie and I finally settled into our Steeler side seats where I was the only one with a cheesehead, but it didn't matter after that first quarter. A great first half led to an amazing halftime performance by the Black Eyed Peas. Edge of your seat football was brought to a close by a big defensive stand and my voice was gone by the end of the game to celebrate the Packers first Super Bowl victory in 14 years ... and I was there ... wow:) O yes, Eddie was a bit sad his Steelers didn't win, but had good times anyways!!!Itell you what, that was one amazing experience that I will not soon forget!!! Go Pack Go.
Work for the duck has been hectic, crazy and wonderful ... all together. I spent my first Saturday at work in the 3.5 years I've worked here, but to see all the progress and amazing things we put in this past weekend it was all worth it. Last week we had our State of the Company meeting with all of the leaders throughout the company. It's pretty amazing to hear our CEO talk about our company and where we're going for the next year, can't say that I've encountered a company quite like Aflac ... or if I ever will. I'm actually getting an opportunity this week to interview for the Manager of the PIC team position on Wednesday, something I didn't think would even be a possibility for another few years ... hope it goes well because I love the team/people I work with:)
Should be a fantcularly great week with a couple much-anticipated not-for-profit activities. First is happening Tuesday night with the Literacy Alliance's Trivia Bee FUNdraiser. Then, after our thank you celebration Thursday night, I will be working with United Way to put on our 2nd Live United Youth Camp. The lessons the students and volunteers will undoubtedly learn will change lives ... I think, forever.
Hope you all have a fantastic week and can't wait to get back with you next week.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 30, 2011 - It's been a while, but hey!

Hey there, hi there and hello there. It has been one crazy wonderful monthish with some Christmas, New Years and atrip to New Orleans all mixed in. Lots of great birthday wishes to send people and a big congrats out to cousin Chad/Kristal on their first born Charlie ... good lookin kid with lots of wonderful hair!!
Had anamazing trip back home for the Christmas holidays to visit with family and friends. Our 15 hour drive with the pooch wasa great time followed by about five Christmas celebrations in the matter of a week and a half. Time was spent up in Manchester, Cedar Rapids, Shueyville andeverywhere in between. Jenny, Caden and I put on quite a few miles and even had a great photo shoot with Jenny's cousin Katie ... pretty good engagement photos I would say in the snow:) We received some great gifts, but even better times were spent just chilling with family and the pooches.
When we droveback to Georgia, it was right back in the grind at Aflac. So much for a slow start to the new year, it has been probably the busiest time I've had thus far with the Duck. Taking on some new responsibilities has opened up some great doors for growth and learning. The team has really stepped up over the last months and continues to drive projects and create great relationships throughout the company. I'm fairly positive I had 29 meetings last week and sometimes I wonder how I get anything done ... then I realize the team's got my back:)
The volunteer front has been pretty exciting as well over the last month. We had our first quarterly board meeting for the Literacy Alliance couple weeks ago and invited in some new members to the board. We have a lot of opportunity to improve/grow this year and I can't wait to work with a great team to pull off our Trivia Bee this year, hope you can check it out 2/15 at CSU! Later that week it was off to the United Way board meeting where we're well on our way to meet our goal for the year with the big announcement coming in a few weeks. Plus, we have our Live United Youth Camp coming up February 17-19th. I am pumped as we have 14 students this year for a great lineup to teach them about poverty, homelessness and giving back to their community ... should be great good fun:)
Best volunteer gig over the last month though wasmy 5th trip down to New Orleans for some hurricane relief action with about 12 friends. It was a fantacular time as we arrived Thursday of MLK Jr. Weekend to our cozy bunkhouse outside the French Quarter. We volunteered Friday in the classroom at McDonough 42 Charter School and helped tutor some math and then on Saturday/Monday we helped to clean up and revamp a flower garden that needed quite a bit of TLC. It was a great service trip, but it wasn't just about giving back, it was about having fun too:) Instead of going too much into it, figured I would just let you check it out (
School has been going pretty darn good too with only five classes left to go and partway started on two of those five. I had a Networks & Organizations class in Dec/Jan and now have a class in Customer Relationship Management and maybe my most exciting one thus far in Project Management. In addition to all that learning at Emory, I'm going with about 30 classmates to Washington DC in March for a course in Politics & Business ... should be fun!
Welp, tryin to get back into the swing of working out so should hit the sack. O ya, did I mention my buddy Eddie and I are going to the Super Bowl this weekend ... check out the next blog for the excitement ... special shout out to my buddy Mike Hope for hookin me up with a wrist brace after a rough soccer match:)
Hope you all have a great week and keep your fingers crossed for some good deals on some tickets!!