More than two and a half years ago, I moved to Chicago and embraced the city as my own. I’ve eaten some amazing food, watched the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup, survived three football seasons as a Packers fan and met lifelong friends. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start my post-college life.

The corner stone of my Windy City experience  is my office and my co-workers. The environment is challenging but nurturing, our clients are industry leaders, and the people I work with are intelligent, driven, and some of my best friends. I’ll never be able to replicate this group of people and the environment but I’m excited to say:

I’m moving to London.

Source

Where did this come from?

A few months ago I started searching for opportunities to diversify my experience and set myself apart from my peers. After a week in New York, I came back to Chicago and reached out to my mentors and the agency’s leadership for guidance. During one of these conversations, someone pointed out that my plan didn’t exactly line up with the goal. It was during this conversation that we started to talk about opportunities abroad and how to make the most of my skills.

When am I leaving and for how long?

My plane leaves Chicago on Saturday, March 19th, less than two weeks from today, and I’ll start working at Weber’s London office on Wednesday, March 23rd. My apartment in Chicago is already down to the bare minimum, thanks to Mama Piehl, and I’m quickly evaluating everything I own and deciding what will come with me. My work visa is for three years and near the  end of each year, I’ll evaluate my experience and work with the London office to determine if I’ll stay in the UK or move back to the US.

Am I nervous?

You bet! I’ve been looking for new opportunities since September and have been discussing logistics with London since the middle of January. You would think this is enough time to overcome any fear or doubt, however, the reality of my situation didn’t sink in until this past Wednesday when my friend Sami gave me a book about Chicago and wrote on the inside, “Now you get to keep some of Chicago with you!” Like a slap across the face, I finally felt the reality of my transition.

Thankfully, the timing couldn’t be better! My apartment lease is up at the end of this month, my family is tremendously supportive, and there is nothing permanent connecting me to Chicago. I’m going to miss my friends and it seems weird to move now that I’ve established myself in the city’s different networks and social circles, but my fear is that if I don’t do this now, I never will. As a fun bonus with this change, I’m able to cross off two of my 25 in 25 goals in one move: visit Europe and move some where new.

What’s next?

Packing and partying – but not necessarily in that order. Help packing is always wanted but it’s not expected. However, this upcoming Friday I’m tearing it up and enjoying my last weekend in Chicago. Location: TBD.

Cheers,

Joe

Windy City

It’s the end of Restaurant Week in Chicago and I can’t think of a more appropriate time to write about food. During the last 6 months I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the US and visit some amazing cities. From braised rabbit in the Big Easy and homemade Italian in the Empire State to expensive steaks in Sin City and vegan food back home in the City of Broad Shoulders, I’ve made an effort to go out of my way and try new foods.

With Chiara and her family.

One of my favorite experiences was a cooking demonstration by Chiara Lima, the daughter of legendary Italian chef Mamma Agata, during her cookbook tour. While Chiara captivated the small group with stories about Pierce Brosnan, Jacqueline Kennedy and Humphrey Bogart, she showed us that it doesn’t take a Top Chef-esque kitchen to produce flavorful food. (Fun Fact from Chiara: Parmesan cheese does not belong on every pasta dish… I’m looking at you Olive Garden. On the wrong dish it can mask the chef’s flavors instead of enhancing them.)

Many of my favorite trips and dining experiences have been with male co-workers and college buddies. And while I love sharing a meal in the company of women, I appreciate the bond established with my guy friends over food and drinks. Those experiences becomes less about the conversation and more about the people there and the food we ate. When I think about these trips, I can remember where we’ve eaten, what we had, and who was there more than I can remember the topics we discussed.

Trying a new cuisine is exciting but it took almost a year for me to build up my nerves and try vegan food. The thought of tofu and seitan, appropriately pronounced Satan, masquerading as chicken, beef, and pork frustrated and scared me. Why would I give up real delicious ribs for fake ribs? Thankfully, an expiring Groupon and cute lady friend pushed me out the door and into a well-known vegan restaurant, Karyn’s Cooked. The meal wasn’t great but it opened my mind to idea of vegan food.

At N9NE Steakhouse in Las Vegas after consuming an unhealthy amount of red meat, wine, and whiskey.

Beyond the French menu tasting I went to before Restaurant Week started, I didn’t have time to take advantage of the week’s offerings. However, the idea behind Restaurant Week is for diners to try new menus and go to places they wouldn’t normally visit. This spirit of adventure shouldn’t be limited to just one week of the year and only certain cities. If you live in a city that doesn’t have a Restaurant Week or if you’re schedule didn’t permit you to participate, I hope you find an evening sometime in the next few weeks to try something new or go outside your comfortable level.

Cent Anni!

-Joe

(Cent Anni is an Italian toast Chiara taught my cooking group and it means, “May we have 100 years of life, love, health, and happiness.”)

“Do you remember our first date? It was a little awkward, neither of us knew what to expect, and we kicked around a couple ideas about the future.”

“We’ve had our ups and downs (a.k.a. not posting in over a month), but that’s because I needed a little “me time” to figure out where we’re going.”

“You’re right some things will have to change, but I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

This last month has been a whirlwind of activity everywhere except PeelingOut. Instead of blogging here, I’ve been contributing to other sites and trying to figure out what direction to take my blog. I’ve never been excited about my blogs theme and a few formatting things have been on my nerves… I’m talking to you super small font size and awkward spacing.

On top of that, I’m trying to find a new direction to go and an topic focus. Right now my posts are an awkward mess of public relations, food, travel, and a small slice of social media. To really have fun and be something I’m proud of, I think it needs to be focused on a few topics. I love writing about food and travel but I’m a little nervous because those topics are covered by so many people already.

I’m definitely going to stay away from PR and social media posts because those posts make me feel like I’m writing a text book… and I barely read all of my text books in college. (I’m just kidding mom.)

Thanks for hanging with me as I figure out a new direction, a new look for the site, and maybe a new name. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions, so feel free to drop them in the comments section below, send me a Tweet or shoot me an email.

Cheers,

Joe

p.s. You can check out my other work (blog posts, restaurant reviews, and funny videos) on the new “Beyond PeelingOut” tab at the top of every page.

Photo Source (Legs)

Photo Source (Donkeys)

Just before Christmas, I shared a few highlights from my Month at the Museum application and I’m extremely grateful for all of the help and support I received during the process. Even though I didn’t win, I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason.

My month NOT at the museum was filled with travel, challenges, and a couple firsts. Here are some of the things I’m glad I didn’t miss.

Frequent Flier Miles Like You Wouldn’t Believe

A couple months back I mentioned my crazy travel schedule for work and the craziness never would have happened if I was locked in the museum. Instead, I hopped on flights to Charlotte, LA, Portland, San Francisco, Miami, and Milwaukee… Okay it was the Amtrak to Milwaukee but Chicago’s Union Station is just as crazy as O’Hare. From avoiding rush hour on the 405 in California to cruising Ocean Drive in Miami, I’m thankful these back to back trips are happening now, because I think it would be tough to do this with a family.

An End to “Wedding Season”

This year’s wedding season was nothing less than phenomenal. Every month from August through November, I had a chance to watch a two people tell the world how much they love each other.  The final wedding was in November and if I would have won MATM, I would have missed my friends Aaron and Heather tie “the knot.” I’m sure they would have understood my absence but I would have regretted it for years to come. Many congratulations to my married friends and to my cousin Melissa who was proposed to during this year’s wedding season.

  • Mike and Ginny Ogle (August 21)
  • Sean and Cassie Flanagan (September 11)
  • Tyler and Alex Brownfield (September 18 – I wasn’t able to attend this wedding but I received updates via the maid of honor, my little sister Erin.)
  • Jeff and Melissa Snodgrass (October 9)
  • Aaron and Heather Sechler (November 13)

A First for Everything

I’m a huge advocate for experiences over tangible items.  Yes, my memories will fade over time, but hopefully my computer hard drive or one of my two external hard drives will help the memories stay fresh.

My alma mater, Saint Louis University, is responsible for the first forward pass recorded in American football history, but our football program was discontinued in 1949 and I never attended an NCAA football game during college. However, when I could have been packing my bag for MATM, I was taking in a Notre Dame football game with my buddies. Experiencing a Notre Dame win was great but the cherry on top of this experience is that the movie Rudy was the first sports movie I remember seeing.

Another awesome first, and hopefully not last, was driving a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder!  I’m a steadfast supporter of Jeeps but the Lamboghini was amazing! It was the smoothest ride I’ve ever driven and 520 horsepower engine was delightful. My colleague Mark and I rented it for a video shoot in Miami and commented throughout the day how surreal it was to be driving on A1A and Ocean Drive in a car worth about $220,000.

We specifically requested this obnoxiously bright orange color.

I’m glad everything happens for a reason. Applying for MATM pushed me to try something new but the rejection letter was a blessing in disguise. I hope your next “rejection letter” is also a blessing in disguise.

Cheers,

Joe

*If you open your football history books, you’ll learn that the first forward pass ever recorded in American football history was attempted by SLU. The first pass attempt was incomplete but the second attempt resulted in a 20-yard gain. GO Billikens!

Merry Christmas

Posted: December 25, 2010 in Joe's Life
Tags: , ,

Merry Christmas! Even when my immediate family doesn’t have to host our extended family, Christmas is a busy day in the Piehl household. Between celebrating Mama Piehl’s birthday (she’s a Christmas baby), dad cooking a big breakfast, and everyone rushing out the door to go see my mom’s side of the family, we’re all on the move… or trying to avoid the work. : )

Three Christmas traditions we celebrate every year are putting baby Jesus in the Nativity scene, putting the angel on top of the tree and celebrating Mama Piehl’s birthday before we open our Christmas gifts. I hope you enjoy the fourth tradition I started in college, a ridiculous card staring yours truly.

Do you have any fun traditions, trips, or special events that you do every December?

Cheers,

Joe

p.s. A Christmas note from my favorite show 30 Rock: Happy Holidays… is what terrorists say. Merry Christmas – Avery and Jack (View the full episode here.)

My colleague Ashley starts her morning off like every good PR professional should, she scans the major newspapers for important and interesting articles. One morning back in July, Ashley came across an article that made her say, “I would never do this, but Joe probably world.”

A few moments later I was reading about an opportunity to live in the Museum of Science and Industry for a full month!  After reading the Chicago Tribune’s article about this project I was hooked because I’m always looking for my next adventure.

The museum wanted to find an adventurous, outgoing person with a strong interest in learning about science to be their “roommate” and share their experience through blog posts and Twitter. When I told my friends and co-workers what I was applying for the reaction is typically the same “Wait! What?!? Why?” The answer is easy, when else am I going to have a change to live in the Museum of Science and Industry without hiding in an exhibit?

After visiting the museum on a “fact finding” mission, it occurred to me that I might not be able to handle the museum for a full month. Sure it would be a blast but a month inside a museum is a really long time. My doubts lead to nearly a month of procrastination and with literally 48 hours before the deadline decided I would regret it forever if I didn’t apply.

With the help of my amazing friends Amit, Abbey, Sean, Brendan and Ashley, we pulled all of the pieces together for my application and submitted it on time.

All of my materials were placed in an Ian's Pizza box because every good roommate brings pizza.

Clearly, I wasn’t selected but since so many people were supportive, I want to share with you some information from my application. Applicants were encouraged to have fun with the process and I hope you get a kick out of a few highlights from mine.

Name: Joseph Piehl

Nickname (if any; otherwise, you can make on up): Joe or “Inspector Gadget”

Name three of your favorite hobbies or activities.

1) Outdoor sports: I’m on two Summer softball teams, one Summer volleyball team, one Fall flag football team, I run outside almost every day (sometimes in the rain) and I learned to kayak on the Chicago River this summer. 2) Helping other people: I’ve spent more than 1 month on various service trips around North America. 3) Trying beers that I’ve never tasted: Every 2 weeks I buy a 6 pack I’ve never tried.

Name three of your least favorite hobbies or activities (yours or others’).

Except my application was better than the best pizza in Chicago.

My least favorite hobbies / activities that I’ve tried at least once in my life: 1) Coin collecting – I like to collect stuff but I couldn’t get into coins. 2) Washing dishes – Unfortunately I have to do this every day. 3) Cleaning the family hot tub when I visit Milwaukee. FYI – Twice a year a hot tub needs to be drained, scrubbed and then refilled with water. This task is not fun to do in the winter.

Let’s get this out of the way. Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Are there any outstanding… please describe the circumstances involved, including time, place and offense, as well as any penalties  imposed.

No thank you! I’m “on the level.”

Now back to fun. List three adjectives that best describe you.

Universal, Passionate, Sociable

How would you rate your knowledge and understanding of basic science relative to most people?

Even though I can’t build a lightsaber or pick up a rock and know exactly what kind it is, I have a pretty solid understanding basic science across a variety of disciplines including geology, physics and mechanical engineering. The different jobs that I’ve had play a large role in this understanding and some of my favorite shows include the Discovery Channel’s “Modern Marvels,” “MythBusters,” “Dirty Jobs” and “Man vs. Wild.”

My one minute intro video:


The video that made me nervous to apply:

The winner’s video:

The finalists were flown in from around the US for an in-person interview and on October 6th the winner, Kate, was announced. Two weeks later Kate was living in the museum. Even though she was blogging and Tweeting about some really cool activities, she wasn’t the only one that did some awesome stuff!

My “Month NOT at the Museum” was also pretty unforgettable… but more about that in my next post.

Cheers,

Joe

The first year I participated in Movember, I signed on because it’s a great cause and I thought it would be a unique experience. Even though we’re still searching for a cure to prostate cancer, each year continues to be a sweet experience and this year WE raised some major cash ($970) to kick cancer in the crotch.

Unlike previous Movembers, this was the first year my team had more than two people. The experience was completely different because there was more enthusiasm, we turned heads whenever two or three of us entered the same room or bar, and we had more opportunities to nudge our friends into parting ways with their cash. (Just kidding. We didn’t nudge our friends/co-workers into donating, we blackmailed them.)

The White Russians (minus Owen Donnelly)

Before the month was over, all of our friends and co-workers knew about Movember and almost daily we were approached by colleagues that would say “[Insert name] told me I needed to check out your moustache” or “Are you part of the Movember crew? You guys look hilarious. Keep up the good work.” This year’s crew consisted of the following gentlemen:

  • Dave Bauer
  • Owen Donnelly
  • Brian Gabriel
  • Amit Patel
  • Joe Piehl
  • Danny Prokup
  • Mark Rasmussen

We all have funny stories to share but the thing I loved the most was watching someone’s facial expression the first time they saw me rocking a moustache. As you can imagine, the looks ranged from “you’re creeping me out” to instant laughter. However, I was a little concerned when people wouldn’t react and instead they thought my crazy cookie duster was my usual look.

The second best experience from Movember was the photo shoot I did during the final days of Movember. On top of having an awesome time raising money and aware, I now have a packed album of ridiculous photos.

Ladies, let me know if you want an autographed copy.

Many thanks to the wonderful people below that supported my team and me financially. Every donation brings us a little bit closer to a cure (and throwing a really big “We beat cancer party”).

The Movember Gala this past weekend. (FYI - Men with moustaches rarely smile.)

  • Sami Air
  • Melissa Chalus
  • Cathy Calhoun
  • Tim Cassady Jr.
  • Vanessa Daniele
  • Abbey Ervin
  • Caroline Guth Lainio
  • Jaye Hilton
  • Sarah Lang
  • Melissa Layton
  • Emily Luiz
  • Noelle Overly
  • Kimberly Piehl
  • Mama Piehl
  • Papa Piehl
  • Amy Pfeiffer
  • Elizabeth Stiles

This weekend a buddy mentioned that he wanted to participate in Movember but he wasn’t able to get a group together from his office and some co-workers discouraged him from participating. Clearly his co-workers didn’t understand the point of Movember and that had to suck.

If you had a similar experience this year, if you can’t convince a buddy or two to face 30 days of almost constant rejection from women, or if you’re a woman that would be intimidated to raise money by yourself, consider this blog post an open invitation to join my team next year.

Cheers from a clean shaven bro,

Joe