Saturday, July 17, 2010

Business Travel

As I write this I prepare for a week long business trip to my
company's corporate headquarters in Philadelphia for the first session
of a 22-week Leadership Development Program designed to prepare myself
and 19 others for promotion to a multi-unit level of responsibility.

As you read this I have already returned home from that trip, and
these are some of the highlights (and possibly lowlights) of that

Sunday, July 10, 11:15 am

We'll be leaving for the airport in an hour and fifteen minutes for a
3:12 flight. I haven't traveled overnight on business in almost seven
years. While I'm honored to be chosen for this program and considered
for promotion, I'm not crazy about spending the next five nights away
from the wife and kids. The closer it gets to time to leave the more
my dread increases.

Sunday, July 11, 12:40 pm

This is the worst part of any business trip: the actual leaving. We're
on our way to Indianapolis International Airport right now, where I'll
be boarding a U.S. Airways Express flight to Philadelphia. One other
Manager from Indy is traveling with me, which gives me a head start on
the networking aspect of the trip. But, given the choice, I'd rather
network with the three people driving me to the airport right now.

Sunday, July 11, 3:34 pm

In order to make things a little less hectic for my wife dropping me
off at the airport with two kids in tow, we said our goodbyes at the
curb. It was a sad moment, as it appeard that my son might be on the
verge of tears as we said goodbye. The last time I was away from home
for any considerable amount of time he was less than two months old.

The process of checking in at the airport went relatively smooth. I
was "randomly selected" by the security gates for a pat down by a
latex-gloved TSA agent. Other than that, I sit her now on a well
loaded but not packed flight wishing I had selected a different book
to read from my carry-on bag before stowing it away.

Sunday, July 11, 8:23 pm

After what seemed like a very bumpy flight, and a very long wait to
taxi to our arrival gate, we arrived at Philadelphia International
Airport at 5pm. The adventure continued as we tried to figure out
where to pick up our baggage as the sign showed it on one carousel
while the bags came rolling out on a different. one.

We then boarded a taxi for the drive from the airport to the Crowne
Plaza Hotel. No, not that one -- the one on City Avenue that doesn't
quite live up to its name. It's nothing any fancier than a Days Inn,

Upon checking in at the hotel we learned that we were set up two to a
room. Luckily I was put in the same room as another Manager from my
market in Indianapolis, so I'm not stuck in a room with a stranger.

Dinner tonight was at Potbelly Sandwich Shop on City Avenue. A warm
roast beef sandwich on wheat with kettle style potato chips and a dill
pickle. Pretty good stuff -- I recommend it.

Monday, July 12, 10:25 pm

Today was a full day of training activities at the company's corporate
headquarters after a less than stellar continental breakfast at the
hotel. Cold eggs, cold potatoes, and stale tasting coffee started the
long day. I learned today that the Crowne Plaza Main Line on
Philadelphia's City Avenue used to be a Holiday Inn. I don't know how
accurate that is, but it would certainly explain quite a bit.

Our training sessions today included some in-depth exercises from
Kouzes & Posner's Leadership Challenge. Some informative and
enlightening information. We also spent some time with the CEO and
Executive Vice President.

Training sessions such as this are often held at corporate
headquarters for a certain motivational factor involved. Of course,
what I'm motivated by right now is the anticipation of being home
again with my family.

Dinner tonight was a quick Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pizza from Target.
It was as good as it sounds (I'll let the reader figure that one out).

Tuesday, July 13, 11:58 pm

I just finished watching the Major League Baseball All Star Game,
which was the highlight of the day, as the National League (including
four Reds) broke a 14-year AL winning streak with a 3-1 victory. More
importantly, the NL champions will have home field advantage in this
year's World Series, and that could very possibly be my beloved
Cincinnati Reds.

The training session today was much like yesterday's, as we wrapped up
Kouzes & Posner's "Leadership Challenge." Tomorrow we will meet with
our assigned mentors and work on an improvement plan from these

Dinner tonight was provided by the company at a place called The Pour
House. It appears to be a bar or pub in which the upstairs was
reserved for our gathering. Wings were served (of which I am no fan)
and Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches (which were very enjoyable). While
I wouldn't recommend the place for it's atmosphere, the sandwiches are
highly recommended!

Wednesday, July 14, 9:25 pm

Today was the most beneficial day of this entire training program for
me so far. I met with my assigned mentor throughout the day and we
worked on developing a plan to help guide me through the program
toward promotion on the other end. I was quite impressed with him, the
relationship we've already struck up, and how someone accidentally
paired me with someone who has workplace values so closely aligned
with my own.

After today's session we had the second of two company-sponsored
dinners -- this one designed for us to meet informally with our
mentors and do some networking. The Vice President of Human Resources
joined my table and we had some of the most stimulating and
enlightening conversation of the week. The dinner was at the hotel, so
I obviously can't recommend it as a place to dine, but I can recommend
that you take any similar opportunity to dine that allows you to
network with people you might otherwise not have the chance to meet

Thursday, July 15, 8:13 pm

Today felt like the longest day of the week. Maybe because the
material was starting to become repetitive, maybe because it was the
last full day of training and I'm looking forward to going home
tomorrow evening.

In addition to classes today a couple of members of the executive
staff came by to speak to us about the company's expansion (yes, we
are opening new retail locations while other retailers are closing in
this economy -- we did it last year, as well) plans as well other
thoughts about our people.

So I've packed my things with the exception of what I'm wearing now
and what I'll wear tomorrow. I've already checked-in online for my
flight, printed my boarding pass, and checked and paid for my baggage.
I'm ready (anxious, really) to get back home to see my family.

Friday, July 16, 2:54 pm

Class is over and we're on our way to Philadelphia International
Airport -- 13 people with luggage packed like sardines into an
extended Ford Econoline 350 van. I'm hoping to get on an earlier
flight home. Currently I'm booked on a flight for 6:05 pm.

Friday, July 16, 5:12 pm

Sitting in the airport right now and my plane just pulled up to the
gate. We're supposed to be boarding in about 20 minutes. Getting

Friday, July 16, 11:38 pm

The flight back from Philadelphia landed in Indianapolis about twenty
minutes early. The plane was nearly filled to capacity.

My wife and kids picked me up at the airport and we went to Donatos
for pizza. When we got home the kids gave me a HUGE homemade welcome
home card they made for me. We had brownies and ice cream, then my son
had a song he wrote (literally wrote the lyrics out on paper) for me
that he sang and played on his new guitar. I can't even begin to
explain how exciting that was!

The trip was informative. I got to network with some great people. But
it's wonderful to be back home!

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

FREE William Brooks Download Today Only

Magnatune Song of the Day
for Saturday, July 10, 2010

Genre: Folk
Album: Buffalo Treason
Artist: William Brooks
Song: 8. A Misdemeanor or Two

Listen to the album: hifi lofi


(only available today, Saturday)


Today's free song is from the album:

William Brooks
Buffalo Treason

Total time: 36:00
Release date: 3/24/2004

Location of artist: NY, USA

This artist has 5 other albums

You will be able to download a high quality version of this artwork when you purchase this album.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Vote Votto!

Reds first baseman Joey Votto is leading the National League All Star
final ballot. Help put him on the roster with fellow Reds Brandon
Phillips, Scott Rolen, and Arthur Rhodes.

Vote now by texting N3 to 1122. There is no limit to how many times
you can vote.

Sent from my mobile device

Sunday, July 4, 2010

All Star Reds

Brandon Phillips, Scott Rolen, and Arthur Rhodes have made the
National League All Star team. But first baseman Joey Votto needs your

Vote now at or to vote by SMS text N3 to 1122.

Let's get this very deserving player to the All Star Game.

Sent from my mobile device

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Vacation Day Nine

It's all over. Tomorrow, our nation's birthday, is the day I return to
work. It would have been nice to stretch my vacation out one day
longer, but it just didn't work out that way.

Today was a day of rest and relaxation -- the only way to end a
vacation. Other than tearing down and putting away the tent we camped
out in the other night, I pretty much did nothing today.

My wife and I played tag with the kids in the yard for a while. I
grilled a couple of steaks for lunch, trying out my new grill burners
for the first time. We took the dogs on a family
walk around the neighborhood, during which I took note of several
violations of our subdivision's covenant (something I'll need to know
if I do decide to run for President of our Home Owner's Association).

We watched a movie together, then I took the kids on a bicycle ride
(my daughter rode her bike and my son rode his scooter). Then I let
the kids play with their slip and slide and run through the sprinkler
for a while before bathtime.

Now we're relaxing on the couch watching "Hoodwinked" while my wife
prepares homemade ice cream for an Independence Day celebration
tomorrow evening.

It's been a nice vacation, and I hate to see it come to an end.

Sent from my mobile device

Friday, July 2, 2010

Vacation Day Eight...

...Only one day left.

Nine days off might seem like a pretty nice stretch, but it sure does
go by fast. Then again, I think a vacation of any duration probably
goes by too fast.

Today was a pretty much do nothing kind of day. No major project
(other than cleaning and fixing my grill and cleaning and organizing
the garage), no trips, just a little rest and relaxation around the

The garage turned out to take a little longer than I anticipated
because it has been the victim of several home projects (hardwood
flooring, cabinet refinishing, dining room table restaining,
repainting a hutch, and the list goes on). We've accomplished quite a
bit around the house in the first half of 2010, but there's so much
more we want to get done in the second half. Our house has become so
much more of a home this year.

Since we moved here, I've contemplated taking a dive into local
politics. Very local. Subdivision local. I've played with the idea of
running for a position on our Home Owners Association board. A couple
of months ago I volunteered to head up the Crime Watch Committee.
Today I found a couple of former board members (including a former
President of the board) encouraging me to run for President in
September. The current President and Vice President are ineffective
and potentially corrupt. I'm giving it some serious consideration.

Of course, work once again invaded my vacation. I had to join a
thirty-minute company-wide conference call that covered information
that could have just as effectively been put out through some form of
electronic communication. I'm getting used to work running into my
time off, though. I'm just lucky to have an understanding and
supportive family.

Tomorrow, for my last vacation day, I plan to do nothing more than
take down the tent and grill me a steak on my newly repaired grill in
my nice back yard. It's been a nice eight days.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Vacation Day Seven

It's almost over -- only two days of vacation left before returning to
work. I'm not looking forward to it, but then who would be?

Today was mostly relaxation. We got up and went to the Zoo this
morning. Each year we buy a membership in a museum or zoo or
something. Last year was the Indianapolis Childrens Museum. This year
it's the Indianapolis Zoo. What's best about the membership isn't just
being able to go any time you want, but not having to worry about
staying long enough to get your money's worth.

We only spent a few hours at the Zoo today. I was really looking
forward to the new Cheetah exhibit, where you're supposed to be able
to race a Cheetah. Seriously: check them out on the web if you don't
believe me. I was extremely disappointed to arrive and find that all
of the cheetahs were lying in the grass sleeping and the only thing I
could race was a cheetah's track time. It would be an understatement
to say that I felt cheated -- and no, I didn't do it, though I would
have raced the real thing if I could.

Of course, my wife had to visit the dolphins, my son had to visit the
penguins, and my daughter had to ride both the carousel and roller

Afterward we had Red Robin for lunch (one of my favorites -- use the
search box to learn more) then just relaxed for the remainder of the

We have no major plans that I'm aware of for the next two days, other
than to rest and relax before returning to work on Sunday.

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Vacation Day Six

That was yesterday, actually. Our plans changed from going to the
Indianapolis Zoo to taking a short road trip to Ikea. The wife asked,
and I gave in, so we loaded up the car and headed for that shoppers'
mecca, where my wife exercised surprising restraint in her spending.
I've never been crazy about Ikea and frankly don't see what the appeal
of it is for women.

I can say the same thing of Garden Ridge, which was our second stop.
Now that our yard is fenced in, my wife has been in the market for a
patio set, and she'll go just about anywhere to find it.

Before heading back home we stopped at a United Dairy Farmers for ice
cream. See, you just can't get ice cream like that in Indy. Not
hand-dipped in a cone, anyway.

After returning home I set up the tent in the backyard so the kids and
I could camp out. We were slaying monsters and guarding the house with
our faithful monster-eating Chihuahua, Nacho.

The worst part of the day was learning that my District Manager went
into my store and had a fit about staffing. He sent my Assistant out
recruiting and I spent the entire drive reviewing applications and
calling people to schedule interviews. What started as a nice,
relaxing vacation has quickly turned into one not so relaxing.

Today, the Zoo, I think. We'll see if I can find any peace among the cheetahs.

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