Archive for August, 2010

Voicemail, Sunday: “Hi Joey, it’s Mom. I just called to say hi, see how you’re doing and chat for a little bit. Give me a call when you have a chance. I love you.”

Voicemail, Wednesday: “Joey, it’s your Mother. Please give me a call when you have a minute. I need to talk to you about a couple things. I love you.”

Voicemail, Monday: “Joey. Call me. I need to talk to you. I love you.”

Text Message, Monday Night: Call your mom. – Dad.

When work gets really busy, I normally experience a series of voicemails and text messages like the example above. It’s not because I’m trying to ignore my mom or disappear from the social scene, it’s because the balance between my work and personal life is off.

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Some people preach the phrase, “If you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life,” but that phrase can only apply in a world where your work is your life. Otherwise, it ignores the pressures of a personal life and the sacrifices we make to achieve success.

The people that love their jobs the most, are the people that have the best work life balance. For some people this might mean they work 50 hours in 4 days but Friday is the beginning of a three day weekend.  For others, this balance is a perfect 40 hour work week and a few vacation days throughout the year.

Since my past post, life has been a blur due to some challenging projects at work, client requests that had an extremely tight deadline and a professional development project. This also meant that Peeling Out had to take a seat on the bench until stability was restored.

Unfortunately, I don’t know if that will happen this week. Instead, I’m taking some time off and tipping the scale in the exact direction it went last week.

On Saturday, my college friends Mike and Ginny are getting married in Minneapolis and I have the pleasure of being part of the ceremony. I couldn’t be happier for these two amazing people and the future they have ahead of them. For me, this means I have even more motivation to GSD and leave the office on time Thursday to catch my flight.

Inevitably someone will ask this weekend about my job and if I like it, to which I’ll say, “I love it.”  I love my job because the people I work with are some of my close friends, the clients we have present unique challenges, and the office environment allows us opportunities, like a long weekend in Minnesota, to achieve a work / life balance.

As someone that’s always interested in exploring new ways to maintain a healthy balance, I’d love to hear what works for you. If you’re struggling to find balance, what are you doing to find it?

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For the last couple months, I’ve thought a lot about what makes me happy. I have things that I “love” like beer, whiskey, baseball and a strong cup of coffee, but I struggled to find an answer to the question “What makes you happy?” (#WMYH)

A little less than two weeks ago, I started to find my answer during a phone call with Papa Piehl. Papa and Mama Piehl we’re visiting my older sister Kim in Arizona and Papa Piehl told me about the awesome things my sisters were doing that weekend. He reminded me to send a note, so I wrote a Facebook status update highlighting my amazing sisters and almost immediately the responses came in about the amazing women in my life.

The final piece of the puzzle came together at the Brewers vs. Cubs game this past Tuesday when a friend of mine started to get tired. When I asked if we should call it night, she pushed back and said “Nope, you bought the tickets. I want to leave when you want to leave.” But that didn’t make sense because I can watch baseball for hours and I know she wasn’t up for that challenge – I wanted to know what would make her happy. It was at this moment that I realized what made me happy: Supporting my friends and being their “cheerleader.”

So in the spirit of being the ultimate supporter and doing something that makes me happy, I’ve decided that every Friday I’m going to highlight one of the amazing people in my life and be their cheerleader. And since supporting my older sister Kim helped me figure this out, this one is about her.

Kimberly Piehl (Don’t call her Kimmie – she’s not a fan)

Over five years ago, Kim went on a Spring Break trip to Arizona and spent a week volunteering at Maggie’s Place – a community that provides a home for pregnant women who are alone or on the streets. As a baby fanatic, it was no surprise that about 4 month later she started a one-year volunteer position with Maggie’s Place.

“Kim just told me ‘Dad, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to leave this place.'” These were the words of Papa Piehl about nine months into Kim’s one year commitment. It speaks not only to her passion for helping others but also her dedication to the women and children of Phoenix.

To up the ante even further, she’s a full time staff member for Maggie’s Place but instead of a salary she receives a comfortable place to live and a stipend every month. It’s easy to ask “How do you live like that?” or ‘What do you do for fun?”, but consider yourself forewarned, her active schedule will make you tired just listening to her. Have you ran a marathon or triathlon in the past year? Because Kim’s probably ran 2 of them in between her skiing and hiking trips to Flagstaff. And at work her energy doesn’t stop either!

The weekend I posted a comment about my awesome sisters, Maggie’s Place was celebrating their 10 Year Anniversary and guess who coordinated it, Kim did – including a special speech by Brenda Warner, Kurt Warner’s wife. If that isn’t enough, she helps coordinate the annual Christmas Party and gift distribution that Maggie’s Place hosts for current and “alumni” families. The donation “pile” is so large for this event that in years past they filled a completely empty Scottsdale, AZ house with donations. No wonder people know her as Santa!

Not only does she do amazing things for Maggie’s Place, but she’s also a supportive sister and a loving friend. I have an opportunity to work with some amazing clients like Harley-Davidson and Combos – the awesome cheese filled snack – and in April Combos hosted a NASCAR viewing party in the Phoenix area. Even though NASCAR isn’t Kim’s forte, she still brought a throng of people almost an hour way from her home in Tempe, AZ to the party. It’s actions like this that make it tough not to love and support a girl like Kim.

If your ever in the Phoenix area, let me know because you definitely need to meet Kim!

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The same Tuesday I went to the Brewers vs. Cubs game, I decided to be a little dorky and do the “I think you have something on your shirt” joke to my friend, to which I promptly received the response, “You’re such a dad. You know that’s a dad joke right?” Hopefully someday I actually will get to be a dad, but until then I’m willing to accept the fact that every so often I’m a 42-year-old dad trapped in a 24-year-old’s body.

Whether you work in any environment where sending and receiving 200 emails a day is the norm or in a retail environment discussing the latest and greatest product, acronyms pop up everywhere. Some of them are easy to figure out (e.g. “FYI” – for your information or “IDK” – I don’t know) and other you may have to ask about but most of them have a purpose. As someone that has had the pleasure of working in both office and retail environments, I have a secret love for acronyms – especially when I get to introduce someone to a new acronyms.

Here are some of my favorite acronyms and how to use them:

ABC – Always Be Closing. People in sales should recognize this immediately because it’s what they do on a daily basis. While this isn’t used on a daily basis in my office, the spirit is thriving! Sometimes it’s coordinating an interview with a reporter and other times developing a client proposal, no matter what the task, we’re always taking one step closer to closing a “sale” and helping our clients “win.” (Also, if you haven’t seen the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin gives an amazing speech about ABC. Note, the clip involves profanity.)

FML – F-ck My Life. Everyone from the top down has had a rough day and sometimes this one slips out. The best way to approach this abbreviation is to say it, get it out of your system and turn on a GSD attitude. Remember you aren’t alone. [Ex: It’s 2 pm, I haven’t eaten since breakfast and I have another conference call in 5 minutes. FML.]

GSD – Get Sh-t Done. A GSD attitude is one of the key to success and it has a positive connotation. One of my supervisors was recently promoted to the level of vice president and I’d be surprised if his GSD attitude didn’t play a large role in the promotion. Everyday he walks into the office with a positive and upbeat tone that shouts gets conquer the day! His GSD attitude attracts other people with a similar drive and in doing so, he surrounds himself with a powerful GSD team. [Ex: It’s Monday guys, let GSD!]

OPM – Other Peoples Money. Unless you own your company, and you produce a physical product, you’re always spending somebody else’s money. If you’re low on the totem pole like myself it’s important to watch how you use your company credit card because the habits you develop early on, might be tough to break a couple years down the line – especially if someone in accounting starts to look into the $20 steak you had for lunch on a Tuesday in Cleveland. [Ex: I didn’t have to buy groceries this week because I have a client meeting in New York and I’ll be living on OPM.]

LMK – Let me know. Constant communication within a team is crucial and sometimes a friendly reminder to keep each other in the loop is helpful. [Ex: LMK your schedule for this week when we meet later today.]

PTO – Paid Time Off. I hope you don’t need me to explain why this is so valuable.


Do you have any helpful acronyms that you use at work?

Somehow my friends and I have lucked out like you wouldn’t believe. In January 2007, my close buddies and I agreed to conduct “Quarterly Meetings” – a reason to see each other and catch up in a way that phone calls and Facebook messages could never accomplish. These meetings have resulted not only in a closer bond but a laundry list of stories we’ll never tell our future wives but will definitely tell each others’ future children.

This past weekend our “Quarterly Meetings” was held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual air show and convention – Airventure 2010. For the group that was able to attend, the weekend was riddled with conversation about the upcoming wedding season, whether Summer Shandy is better than Sunset Wheat and if it’s more fun to watch a squadron of F-15s take off or the massive C-5 Galaxy – a plane so big it makes a Boeing 737 look small (see photo below).

It looks like Southwest's 737 is going to fit inside the C-5 Galaxy!

No matter what the topic, our conversations were always laced with plans for the future and how we’ll adapt to future changes likes spouses, kids, increased work responsibility, etc. Over the last couple years, I’ve learned that when you find his kind of support network, you can’t let go of it – it has to be nurtured.

One of the things I struggle with the most is keeping in touch with friends I don’t see very often. This normally results in the awkward “first date game” (e.g. So what are you up to? Do you still have a dog?) and it prevents us from discussing issues like the importance of a strong bullpen or if Brett Favre is still playing football.

To help avoid such the “first date game” and plan our future meetings , my friends and I established a Google Group called KittenKall (don’t ask about the name). We mostly share news and funny jokes but even those simple notes create a connection the makes the 1,000+ miles between Denver and Chicago seem like 25 miles.

On your commute this week, think about your “KittenKall” and what group of friends you should be staying in touch with more often. They might be your sorority sisters, high school teammates or the group of fellow parents you don’t get to see as often as you like. Whoever they are, find those them and reconnect through a simple email. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to stay in touch once you have a convenient outlet to do so.

Do you have any other ideas for staying in touch with family and friends that you don’t see / talk to as often as you’d like?