Was asked to me via IM
Was asked to me via IM
My first business was selling old edition textbooks online through a company called DiscountedDepot. It was very lucerative for me until the bookstores, I contracted with, realized they could do the same thing and cut me out. I really enjoyed growing the business, but I also really enjoyed growing my knowledge about how to grow a business. This was the first time I realized I had a love for not only the team (DiscountedDepot), but also for the game (business).
When Kevin and I started Swift Kick to do college leadership trainings, we got excited every time a new school booked us. In four years, we grew Swift Kick to be one of the top leadership training programs in the country and were voted top speakers on the college market for three years in a row. We loved seeing Swift Kick (the team) grow, but we also loved dissecting the game (college speaking).
My love for the team and game spreads beyond just business.
When I got engaged to ACbert, I started asking everyone around me, with marriage experience, what advice they’d give me as a male going into a marriage. Then, when we actually got married on Feb 5th, 2009, I continued to ask that question. In love, just like my textbook selling business, I’m extremely passionate about not only increasing the success of our marriage, but also about growing my understanding of what ‘love’ is. Once again I have a love for the team (me and ACbert) and for the game (love).
My knowledge hungry approach for the team and the game continues to stay with me as I ramp up Student Launcher. The better I understand the game, the more successful I can make the team.
On the grand scheme of things, I’m very much a marriage newbie as I know couples who’ve been together for 30, 40, and even 50 years! But like everything in my life, I love learning, getting better, and then helping others to do the same. Marriage is no different.
An interesting self-reflection, and probably shared by many male minds, is my desire to fix what I can see is broken. If a chair screw is loose, I want to tighten it. If a bulb is out, I want to change it. If a gas tank is empty, I want to fill it up. It’s easy to fix what I can see. But what about the things I can’t see? Intangible things are harder to fix because they are harder to identity as broken or not.
Love and marriage, in their entirety, are intangible things. Beyond the tactical actions of love and marriage, there is no physical gas tank to know if things are getting better or worse, and since my mind likes to work with tangible objects, one trick I’ve created is called “The Love Plant.”
A house plant that hasn’t been watered in a week will probably die. But if you give it water on a regular basis, it will continue to be healthy and grow. The same is true for love and marriage. Both need to be watered to be healthy and grow. So I now have a virtual plant in my mind that represents my relationship with ACbert. Every day I check in with my Love Plant to see if I’ve taken the time to water it or not.
By turning an intangible into a tangible, I find myself taking the extra moment to write her a note in the morning with her tea and in those little moments our marriage continues to grow and be healthy.
It’s the end of August and most schools are gearing up for students coming back to campus. That means it’s also my busiest travel season. As an example, over the past three days I took three flights, stayed in three different locations, and rented three different cars. Fall travel craziness gets insane really fast.
But for me, it’s all worth it. The past three programs were almost euphorically amazing. Three standing ovations at three different schools. I crushed each program. I mean REALLY crushed them. I felt so amazing on stage and the students just got it. I mean they REALLY got it. I can’t tell you how awesome it feels to have people come up afterwards and tell me not just how excited they are, but also tell me how it’s going to change the way they think about their student leadership position…and life! I mean to be in a position where I get to do that to 1000s of students every month is freakin’ awesome.
Over the past seven years I’ve played many roles within both Swift Kick and Red Rover. Every position came with it’s own learning curve and challenges. But the excitement of trying to figure it out didn’t always sustain after I did figure it out. Doing trainings and keynotes is something that took me a long time to figure out, but now that I have, it is still just as exciting to me. I love building a speech from the ground up and then presenting it, and I love growing the Swift Kick community so we can impact even more lives with our work and message.
It took me seven years to figure out what within Swift Kick was most exciting to me, but now that I have, I don’t know why I’d want to do anything else.
Yes, taking a bus from NYC to Pittsburgh takes eight hours and flying only takes two hours. Yes, it would actually be cheaper to fly if I added in how much my per hour cost is and added that to the cheaper bus tickets.
But it’s 2:58 in the morning, I’m drinking a beer (I snuck on the bus) while listening to This American Life, and ACbert is fast asleep on my lap. That is priceless.
We’ll be able to fly for the rest of our lives, but for now I’m going to enjoying a bus trip with the one I love curled up sleeping on my lap while we road trip to Pittsburgh because that is something I don’t see a lot of older couples doing.
After being together for nine years, it’s exciting for me to know that I’m still discovering new stuff about Annie.
Today we watched Big Fish at the Sony Technology Center. Anyone who knows the film, knows if you don’t cry at the end you are not human. In the dark theater we teared up along with the rest of the audience. Then the lights came on and you could see everyone wiping away their tears.
As we walked out, I told Annie how I had to hold back on going into full crying mode. She said whenever she is trying to hold back tears, she thinks about sandwiches. SANDWICHES?!? Really?
Happy to have learned something new about Annie today
On my flight home today, the couple in front of me spoke to each other in sign. Though I had a bunch of work to do, I couldn’t keep my eyes off their conversation. It was filled with facial expressions, body movements, eye contact, and of course lots of hand gestures. All the external clues of the conversation showed they were very much in love.
Across the aisle from me was another couple about the same age who were speaking verbally to each other. Though they were also in a conversation, it was missing the passion. The guy had his head turned away from his partner the whole time. They rarely made eye contact as they talked and hardly smiled at each other.
In watching the two conversations unfold, it was amazing to see how engaged the sign language couple was in the conversation compared to the other couple. Unlike verbal communication, sign language forces one to stay engaged in the conversation. You can’t turn your head or eyes away from your partner. I suspect this minor difference makes all the difference in how engaged sign language speakers are in conversation.
I know I have trouble sometimes staying focused within a conversation and wonder what it would be like for me to learn sign. I suspect by forcing me to physically keep my attention on the other person, it would increase my engagement in the conversation.
While speaking at UMSL, I got the chance to hear another speaking go after me. He spoke on Ethics, Character, and Integrity. He did a wonderful job at weaving stories throughout his speech to make each point and keep the audience engaged the full 90 minutes. (Side Note – I want to keep getting better at story telling as it's such an amazing tool to be good at.)
One story he shared was about how Lacrosse players will dive head first when a ball goes out of bounds because the rule is the stick closest to the ball gets to bring it back in. He then asked the room to think about when was the last time you dove head first for something you wanted? Most people had to think pretty far back in life, even all the way back to childhood. It got me thinking about my answer to the question and I would say my two times were falling in love with Annie (literally saying "I Love You" on New Years in Berlin, Germany with fireworks falling all around us), and giving my all to Red Rover (while speaking under Swift Kick was a surefire income).
I tend to be a level headed person, so the idea of diving head first into something goes against my logic, but so far in life, when I've given my all to something, I've come away happier than before.
"Being married is like having a color television set, you never want to go back to black and white."
We sat inside the theater for a bit to cool down and Annie was, as she should have been, annoyed by the fact we fast walked to the theater to make it on time, only to have me forget the tickets. And this wasn't the first time I've forgotten something, and probably won't be the last. I balance a lot of different things in my life, and some are bound to slip. As a counter, I have pretty good systems in place to help me, but it's not going to catch everything.
From here, I've seen other relationships blow up into a huge emotional deal with a lot of yelling and character attacking. Annie, on the other hand, has an amazing ability to experience the emotion internally, and then express it to me in such a way so to let me know how, and why, she is feeling without blowing up. Then gradually she moves past the emotion so we can still enjoy what is left of the night (like buying a huge molded hand at Fishs Eddy).
Annie's skill at feeling, expressing, and letting go of emotions is something I can't even begin to fully appreciate in words, but know it's one key to our relationship and something that continues to make me love her more each day.