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Veterans Day- A Hero’s Welcome Home

As we celebrate Veterans Day, a good friend and client decided to raise awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project. About ten years ago, Dennis Haislip wrote “A Hero’s Welcome Home,” a song about the hard realities of war and the ultimate sacrifice that some give for our freedom.

Dennis invited me to his recording studio, Alexander Recording Kompany, a few weeks ago to get my insight about his project, the song and upcoming music video. We spent a couple hours in the studio talking about the song and Veterans Day. I offered what insight I could to help his project. His band, Dennis Haislip and The Blue Collar Opry  had already recorded the song. I was privileged to hear it before its release. Dennis also went over the story behind the song and his vision for the music video. Half of all the money raised will be donated to Wounded Warrior Project.

I encourage you to watch the below music video.

Please share this with your friends, family and veterans you know. We hope to raise a great deal of money for Wounded Warrior Project! You can purchase the song for $1.00 here.

The Fifth Annual Des Moines Zombie Walk

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Five years ago I founded the Des Moines Zombie Walk. The original idea behind it was to get like-minded people together – zombie fans and the community. In it’s fifth year, it’s grown into a family-friendly community event to help support the homeless in Des Moines. All the benefits (since the first year) have gone to Central Iowa Shelter & Services, a local non-profit focused on helping those less fortunate. Philanthropy has always been important to me, and I’m grateful that I can continue to have an impact in the lives of others.

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The first year we had 100 people attend and froze our butts off! The first year was also our longest walk, close to two miles. It was also the worst for weather – about forty degrees, very windy and no sun. Miserable. The second year we doubled attendance and had around 325 people attend. The sky was blue and the sun was warm, almost too warm in fact. The makeup on some zombies melted away during the walk. The third year’s attendance, once again doubled. The weather was similar to the second year. The mayor of Des Moines was invited and attended the walk, giving a speech. At the end of the walk, as a group, we posed for a photo at the capital. The fourth year we had our highest attendance, close to 1,200 people. While walking through the crowd, I met people who drove in from Minneapolis, Chicago and Lincoln. The Des Moines Police Department acted as an escort, as we had to avoid zombie protesters and the Anti-Zombie Squad.

des moines zombie walk, undead red, 515 brewing company

The fifth year, as a team, we decided to really raise the bar. Since the Des Moines Zombie Walk is an event for charity, we decided to charge those who attended. Children under 10 would be $5.00 per person and $10.00 for everyone else. We also decided to do a zombie pub crawl after the walk, for adults only. 515 Brewing Company created Undead Red, a special beer for our zombie pub crawl. It was amazing! The mayor wrote a proclamation, by declaring October 5th, Official Zombie Appreciation Day. Attendance was down just a little, but we still had between 800 and 1,000 people attend. We also raised over $25,000 for Central Iowa Shelter & Services, which will help keep 1,000 people warm this winter. Not bad for a bunch of zombies!

I look forward to next year and working with the amazing team that has come together to build an amazing event. Please note the photo of the team above.

Apple vs. Android (my story)

About a month ago I was eligible for a phone upgrade. I have had the iPhone for about three years and have been very happy with it. A great product with a lot of functionality. In the three years I had it, the only problem I had with it, was when it tried to synch with my CRM software (a tool I use for my business). On multiple occasions it lost all my contacts, that after long hours of stress, I was able to recover.

I’m writing this article on my iMac (which I love very much). I threw a fit in the Apple store when the first iPad came out and the sales associate (who later became a friend) told me they didn’t have any. In truth, I wasn’t upset because they didn’t have one (which they did, I was able to purchase the last one), I was however upset that nobody would help me. Service with a smile? Yes, please. I have an iTouch, which I don’t use very much, but do love. It was a great tool, before I purchased my iPhone.

google chromebook google nexus 7 samsung galaxy s 4

In November I was heavily looking into a Google Chromebook, which is a stripped down laptop. It doesn’t have any software, only Google and the internet. In truth, I wanted it because of the price and because 98% of my job requires me and the internet, that’s it. Okay, maybe a pen and pad of paper (yes, this is the digital age..). I decided to sell my iPad, because for as much as I loved it, I never used it. Most of the time I’m in front of an iMac anyway, plus I’m much quicker with a keyboard. I sold my iPad to my brother-in-law and purchased the Samsung Chromebook. I love it. The ten hour battery life, Chrome and it’s overall simplicity and minimalism. That’s truly what I wanted and still want out of a device.

Back to my phone upgrade. I had a decision to make, get the iPhone 5, which was a slimmer version of what I already had, or purchase something different. Now, you have to understand, I’m a person who enjoys change and believes that it’s inevitable anyway, so live a little. Yes, I made the switch. I did not purchase the iPhone 5 and instead elected to go with the Samsung Galaxy S4, which i LOVE. I have since fell in love with the flexibility of Android. Apple is a love that will never fade for me, ever. But, the reality of it is, is that I’m a Google guy. I have been for years. Honestly, my dream job is to work for Google. I don’t care if I was a janitor, just to be able to say I work for Google. Their goals, mission and vision relate to my on a personal and professional level.

To close, I also recently purchased the Nexus 7 (second generation). Yes, I’ve gone full on Android. Judge me if you will, but I have to be true to me. I haven’t even opened my Nexus 7. I ordered a case for it today. Once it arrives, I’ll break it out and start playing, but until then, it will sit waiting on my desk. Read more about the Nexus 7 and how the world feels about it. Also, check out the new device from Google, Chromecast.

So, where do you stand on the Apple and Android divide?

A German Friend

A couple weeks ago, at my wife’s birthday party we met Lars. Our fried Nick asked if he could join us for dinner and a baseball game. With my wife’s open heart to everyone and excitment about meeting new people, we had no issue with this whatsoever. Lars joined us from Germany, visiting the United States to work with Nick’s dad. He spoke English very well, and minus our tendency to introduce lingo into our language, he was able to keep up very well.

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Over the next two weeks we saw Lars often. It was his first time ever at a baseball game, stating afterwords “it’s kind of boring,” but the guy caught a t-shirt (who ever catches a t-shirt while attending a baseball game)? Everyone goes, everyone wants to grab a size XL t-shirt from the air, but it never happens. Later in the week we took Lars to the racetrack to watch the horses run, he’d never done that either. The fist race (me playing with real money and Lars playing with imaginary money) we placed our bets on the first race. He won! What are the chances of such amazing beginner’s luck. In total, we watched six of the nine races that night. We totaled that Lars would have won four of the six we watched. Amazing!

Lars was in the United States for a total of six weeks, spending the last two with us, running around like crazy people in Des Moines, IA. It was a blast and I’m sad he had to go back to Germany. But, like many things in life, we were able to experience together, create experiences for him, and learn about different cultures on both sides of the table. I think we’ve talked him into coming back next year, or inviting us all to fly over and run around Germany like crazy people. I, myself, would be fine with either option.

Since leaving, I’ve decided to learn German. I’m not bilingual and should be. In fact, I’d love to be trilingual at some point, focusing on German and French to add to my poor English (which most days sounds like Pirate). I, at times, have a tendency to swear a lot. In summation, I’ve learned that Germans don’t eat much for breakfast, having a very meat and potatoes diet, and are a very kind and polite people. I hope I’m able to travel to Germany to learn more about their culture, my roots (as I have German heritage in my family) and experience life with new, fresh eyes.

We miss you already, Lars. Don’t forget us, there’s no way we can forget you.

Sammie, The Halloween Kitty

My wife and I have never had a pet together. The first place we had (which we lived at for five years, and five years way too long) didn’t allow pets. I don’t think we could have even had a goldfish, but whatever. After dinner with friends one night, I thought about a cat a little longer than I should have. Mind you, that was under five minutes.

I work up several days later, from a dream where I’m sure I was running in a meadow and flocking with kittens. I wanted a cat or a kitten. I wanted one badly, it was kind of weird. I don’t just wake up wanting things..as random as a cat. Wake up with a hundred ideas, that’s every other day! But a cat, that was new.

I talked with my wife about the whole idea, to which she had her reservations. Mainly, because for a long time, I was anti-cat. The idea was discussed several times, and a few weeks ago, she came home with a heavy intent. “Let’s go today, I want to get a cat.” And so we did.

Say hello to Sammie, our Halloween cat. She’s 10 weeks old, quickly growing and learning, and becoming a great companion for the both of us. Maybe if we have kids some day, this will have been great prep work!

The Weddings

I’ve been in four weddings in my life. When I was younger, I remember it always being fun. You get to dress up fancy, hang out with adults, and people walk around telling you how nice you look. I also think there’s something about being dressed in a tuxedo.

The first wedding I was in, I was the ring bear. I can remember having my picture taken outside the church. There were these bushes outside the door with the most wonderful color of red. The flower girl was a cute little blonde, my first crush. I can remember that she wanted nothing to do with me. What can I say, I tried. It was not meant to be.

The second wedding I was in, I got to be the youngest groomsman. I think I was ten or eleven. I spent the whole day with those guys, telling jokes and laughing. I can remember not taking the rehearsal seriously at all. There is proof too, photos of me in my many funny faces while everyone else tried to look serious and happy at the same time. I remember getting a stormtrooper mug as my groomsman present, which I still have.

The third wedding I was in was my own – coming up on four years ago. I do remember a lot from that day. Some of the memories I have to relive through the photos. Your wedding day seems to be so busy and go very quickly. Some of my favorite photos of my dad were taken at my wedding. Our Halloween theme made it feel like a giant costume party rather than a wedding. We wanted to do something different, something us, and we did. Some in my family still talk about it often.

The fourth wedding I was in was my sister’s. This last weekend she got married in the church we grew up attending. The same church of my third wedding, where my parents were married, where my grandpa’s and dad’s funerals were held. This wedding was so simple and elegant, very different from my own. It was a great experience, even though I was the man of honor (yeah..I had to hold my sister’s flowers). I got to view everything from another point of view. She had dueling pianos and sprigs of green in antique vases everywhere.

I’m sure more adventures and experiences will follow these. Weddings can be fun, and a lot of work. It’s nice to be able to help ensure a couple’s special day goes well. How many weddings have you been in?

Headed To Boston

My grandparents obviously came from a different generation. When I started my business, Social Republick, they didn’t understand why I wasn’t interviewing for jobs, or why I couldn’t just take a job. It took over a year to get them to understand what I was doing (starting my own business). Thanksgiving, 2010, at the dinner table, my grandma asked me “how’s business?” A drastic change from what I had been used to – a welcomed opportunity I’ll never forget.

I enjoy talking about what I do, why I do it, and how things are going with my family. I do have moments where it is very hard though. My grandpa, a very skilled electrician and tradesman, had an opportunity to purchase a small business when my aunt and mom were both young. He never did, because he had two little girls at home and a family to provide for. I can see the regret in his eyes when I talk about what I’m doing – how he never had the chance. It breaks my heart, even though he has had a very successful career and retirement (he still works, because he wants to and does not like to be bored).

I’ve had many moments where I’ve wanted to offer to help him establish a name, build a website, create a logo, and help him build a small company for him. I don’t know what his thoughts or feelings would be on this, but I’ve always wanted to ask. I’m sure he would look at me and think I’m crazy. How can something so far out of everything he’s known be so simple? I think it just truly comes down to choice – deciding it’s something you want to do, then making it happen.

As for my grandma, she thinks I need to move to Boston. She heard on the news that social media is huge in Boston. I think she would have packed my bags had she had the chance. I know for the most part, neither one of them really understands what I do and how I make money doing it. I don’t care. I have their support. That’s more important to me than anything else they could ever offer.

Surpassing Talent with A Magic Number, 28

This year started off like every new year does, a little stressed about the idea of the unknown. I think in some form or another, we all go through it – wondering if we will reach the goals we have set for ourselves, doing the things we plan on doing, and living another day.

Coming into February, I was highly stressed. It was my twenty-eighth birthday this year. A good number, but one that has a lot of meaning. Thinking back to middle and high school, many of my heros were musicians, many didn’t make it to twenty-eight. Yes, my lifestyle is different, and no I don’t use drugs. The idea of these amazing musicians not even making it to thirty blows my mind. They did so much in such a short amount of time, then left us so quickly.

To say I’m afraid to die would not be accurate. I do, however have a long list of things I’d like to accomplish in life. I just want to make a dent in the universe before I’m gone. A possible serious stress when you grow up in a house effected with cancer, you learn to understand how quickly people can be gone from your life. I don’t forget that easily. I also try not to take anything for granted.

I was once a musician, more like a wannabe muscian. I did not want to join the 27 club.

Fifteen Years Without Playing Catch, Really?

Last Spring my wife and I went to Chicago for a week. We have been going to Chicago together at least once a year since 2007. With as much shopping and walking around to enjoy the city, we almost always try to go to Wrigley Field for a Chicago Cubs baseball game. I love baseball. I never played, because at Ames High, if you weren’t amazing, you didn’t play. So I never even thought about sports in school.

Before our trip last year, I decided it was time to buy a new baseball glove. My sister, who in middle school and high school played softball, stole mine. I guess that’s fair, since the last time I played catch with my dad, I would have been about twelve, maybe eleven. I admit, I went to YouTube to find info on how to purchase a glove. Yes, I’m a bit of a geek. Whatever. Anyway, I learned some stuff and found a glove that fit well and I liked. I think I got it at Target. No, I didn’t buy a very expensive glove. Why would I? I don’t play that often and its been fifteen years since I threw or caught a baseball anyway.

The funny thing is, that we didn’t even take our gloves to the game while we were in Chicago. We left them in the hotel room. After the first of four fly balls almost took our heads off we agreed that we had made a mistake in forgetting them. We never got hit, but I’m sure we looked stupid jumping out of our seats to escape the ball and ducking. Sad, I know.

This past weekend, at a family function, I decided I really wanted to throw a ball around. My brother-in-law, who was a pitcher and for lack of a better word is ‘athletic,’ was asked to bring his glove by me. I had a feeling I could convince him to take it easy on me.  With my wife, her brother and her parents, we made a large square and threw the ball back and forth for over an hour, easily. It was a blast and I felt amazing about it. 

I didn’t hurt anyone; I didn’t get hurt; and I didn’t break anything. I’m sure you don’t understand the pressure I was feeling when we walked out into the grass. I was excited and stressed. It was nice, however, that my brother-in-law decided to share (not tell) some quick and easy pointers. I didn’t feel talked down to or stupid. I felt enlightened and excited. Easy, simple tips to not suck and not hurt myself or anyone else. Check.

In truth, my arm doesn’t hurt, I felt great afterwords. I wanted to continue, but felt it was best to get out of the hot sun for a break. I plan on doing it again – as much as possible this summer, in truth. Really, it has been fifteen years since I played catch and I now have a better understanding on how and why I love baseball so much. You don’t have to be amazing to play. You just need a ball, a glove and maybe a bat (if you are going to really play a game).

What have you not done in a long time? Any reasons for not doing it? I can’t really say that I have any, but I don’t think I’ll wait so long to play catch ever again. I didn’t think I could love something so simple as I do now.