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Celebrating 100 Days!!!

 Today is the 100th day of 2008.  Did you forget?
As of today, I feel like I have accomplished quite a bit so far this year:
350.6 miles of running
24.6 miles of biking
182 floors of the stair master
5,050 sit-ups
Resumed playing the saxophone
Practiced 37 times (not including my lessons)
Accepted a promotion at work
Helped to lead a marriage small group
Read 3 books (and parts of several more)
Successfully memorized 24 verses relating to Evangelism
Painted a couple of rooms at the house
Planted my "grape vineyard"
So far, it's been a great year, and I look forward to many things to come.
One of the things that I am most looking forward to is my annual camping trip with the guys over Memorial Day weekend.  That's right in 44 days, I will be camping.  I have been part of this event for 18 or 19 straight years (minus one missed year for a family function).  This is a weekend that I look forward to every year.  Obviously, I look forward to the good times together with great friends.  The main reason that I look forward to this weekend is that these are guys who have my back.
One of the verses that I'm memorizing right now is found in Hebrews 10:24-25:  "And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching."  As the years have passed, we've all experienced various challenges.  It is incredible to know that we have this brotherhood and a common bond in Christ that keeps us glued together despite the fact that we all live miles apart and see each other only a few times a year.
Until the next post, I'm looking forward to celebrating the 200th day of 2008…

Meet Elizabeth Rose Stolpe

Here's a message from my brother.  They just got Elizabeth from China.
Hello everyone,
It is official. Yesterday we went to the Nanjing center for adoption affairs and we were handed a beautiful Xi Yan Xin,now Elizabeth Rose Stolpe. Today we completed our 24 hour trial period ( I know it sounds wierd) and we decided we would keep her ( Like we would have said no?) and we signed the Chinese adoption papers and now she is officially our daughtert.  More paper work to come for travel and immigration into the US. She is beautiful and calm and content and giggles and smiles at daddy and Sam. She calls Rachel mama and loves my beard. She has a cough and an ear infection, made worse by the bad air quality, but we put her on an antibiotic and she already seems to be doing better. Getting back to the clean air of Wisconsin will be good for her. She is really tiny, maybe 17 pounds or so. Eliza is easy going and very fun. She loves to eat though.

We have all had a great time in China, but now that we have elizabeth we just want to come home. But we still have a week and a half before everything is finalized. I will tell you all about it when I am home, or you can check out the blog at .

Thank you all,



2008 – Week 10,11,12 Exercise Review

Okay, I’ve been a little lax on my exercise and my exercise postings; however, I’m still moving forward.  Between being extremely busy with some exciting changes in my life, dealing with minor knee tendonitis and IT-band strain, and trying to break in new running shoes, I’ve had to alter my training over the past few weeks.  Here’s my mileage, etc…
Week 10:
3/2 – 12.0 miles (flat trail workout)
3/3 – 6.0 miles (treadmill)
3/5 – 6.0 miles (treadmill)
3/7 – 6.0 miles (treadmill – hill interval)
Weekly Total – 30.0 miles
Week 11:
3/10 – 6.0 miles (treadmill)
3/12 – 7.5 miles (treadmill)
3/13 – 11.5 miles on the bike
Weekly Running Total – 13.5 miles
Weekly Biking Total – 11.5 miles
Week 12:
3/16 – 4.1 miles (hilly local course in the fine rain)
3/18 – 4.0 miles (treadmill)
3/19 – 4.0 miles (treadmill), 4.0 miles on the bike
3/20 – 182 floors on the stair machine – now that’s a workout
Weekly Running Total – 8.1 miles
Weekly Biking Total – 4.0 miles
Weekly Stair Total – 182 floors
Here’s a recap for the year so far (not including this week):
305.6 miles of running
15.5 miles of biking
182 floors of stairs
(And 3,828 sit-ups through 3/26.  I’ve been trying to do sit-ups everyday since the new year started.  I started with 1 sit-up on the first day, 2 on the second day, 3 on the third day, and so forth.  So this morning, I did 87 sit-ups.  We’ll see how long this thing lasts.)
Until the next post…

Update on Adoption

Here’s the latest picture of Elizabeth.  My brother and his family are departing on Easter Sunday from Chicago to travel to China.  It should be the adventure of a lifetime for the whole family.  They will be in China for 3 weeks until they return with Elizabeth Stolpe.  The whole family is excited to finally experience the reality that we’ve all been praying and hoping for over the past few years.  Please keep David, Rachel, Sam, Elizabeth, and Rachel’s parents in your prayers as they make this trip.
Until the next post, bon voyage…

Execution – Outline Part III

Here’ are my final notes on Execution by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan:
III. Part III – The Three Core Processes of Execution
A.  Chapter 6 – The People Process:  Making the Link with Strategy and Operations
1.  “If you don’t get the people process right, you will never fulfill the potential of your business.”
2.  “A robust people process does three things…”
a.  evaluates individuals accurately and in depth
b.  provides a framework for identifying and developing the leadership talent the organization will need to execute its strategies down the road
c.  fills the leadership pipeline that’s the basis of a strong succession plan
3.  “The first building block of the people process is its linkage to strategic milestones over the near (0-2 years), medium (2-5 years), and long terms, as well as the operating plan targets.  The business leaders create this linkage by making sure they have the right kinds and numbers of people to execute the strategy.”
4.  “Meeting medium- and long-term milestones greatly depends on having a pipeline of promising and promotable leaders.  You need to assess them today, and decide what each leader needs to do to become ready to take on larger responsibilities.”
Jon’s comments:  People are key to meeting strategy and operations plans.  When we know are strategy and plans, we need to diligently find and develop the right people to meet these short term and long term goals.  Strategies and plans without the right people are just a bunch of words on a paper.
B.  Chapter 7 – The Strategy Process:  Making the Link with People and Operations
1.  “The basic goal of any strategy is simple enough:  to win the customer’s preference and create a sustainable competitive advantage, while leaving sufficient money on the table for shareholders.”
2.  “A good strategic planning process requires the utmost attention to the hows of executing the strategy.”
3.  “A contemporary strategic plan must be an action plan that business leaders can rely on to reach their business objectives.  Developing such a plan starts with identifying and defining the critical issues behind the strategy.”
4.  “The substance of any strategy is summed up by its building blocks:  the half-dozen or fewer key concepts and actions that define it.”
5.  “If the building blocs are clearly defined, the essence of even the most complex strategy can be expressed on one page.”
6.  “To be effective, a strategy has to be constructed and owned by those who will execute it, namely the line people.”
7.  “Milestones bring reality to a strategic plan.  If the business doesn’t meet milestones as it executes the plan, leaders have to reconsider whether they’ve got the right strategy after all.”
8.  “Businesses have to prepare themselves to adapt to an economy of constant change.”
C.  Chapter 8 – How to Conduct a Strategy Review
1.  “The business unit strategy review is the prime Social Operating Mechanism of the strategy process.  It provides the penultimate ground for testing and validating the strategy – the last chance to get things right before the plan faces the ultimate test of the real world.  As such, it has to be inclusive and interactive:  it must feature a solid debate, conducted in the robust dialogue of the execution culture, with all of the key players present and speaking their minds.”
2.  “Asking questions constantly keeps the critical issues in mind.”
3.  Follow through is important to solidify and confirm agreements made during the strategy review.
4.  “Be sure to communicate your strategic thinking and programs to your entire organization.  Their commitment and involvement will drive your success.”
D.  Chapter 9 – The Operations Process:  Making the Link with Strategy and People
1.  “An operating plan includes the programs your business is going to complete within one year to reach the desired levels of such objectives as earnings, sales, margins, and cash flow.”
2.  “Synchronization is essential for excellence in execution and for energizing the corporation.  Synchronization means that all the moving parts of the organization have common assumptions about the external environment over the operating year and a common understanding.  Synchronizing includes matching the goals of the interdependent parts and linking their priorities with other parts of the organization.  When conditions change, synchronization realigns the multiple priorities and reallocates resources.”
3.  Follow through is important in this process also.  Two “parts of follow-through are contingency plans and quarterly reviews.”
E.  Conclusion:  Letter to a New Leader
1.  “Get a good handle early on about the beliefs and behaviors of the people under your direction.”
2.  “You need to be certain that appraisals are honest and direct, and that your people get the feedback, coaching, and training they need to grow.”
3.  “Make sure you and your people really understand your customers:  their needs, their buying behaviors, and the changes in those behaviors.”
4.  “Always look for ways to improve you results.”
5.  “Maintain and sharpen your intellectual honesty so that you’re always realistic.”
6.  “Take care of yourself.”
7.  “Consistent behavior is a sign of a contained ego, and inspires confidence in you from those around you.”
Jon’s comments:  This short letter at the end of this book is priceless.  In my opinion, the notes above provide great advice for any leader.  I know this book will help me in the business world, but I also believe it will help me in my community leadership roles as well.  If you are a leader, I’d highly recommend reading this book.  It could provide the advice you need to take your organization to the next level.
Until the next post…

Execution – Outline Part II

Here’s part two of my review of Execution by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan:
II.  Part II – The Building Blocks of Execution
A.  Chapter 3 – Building Block One:  The Leader’s Seven Essential Behaviors
1.  “Know your people and your business.”
2.  “Insist on realism.”  “Embracing realism means always taking a realistic view of your company and comparing it with other companies.”
3.  “Set clear goals and priorities.”  “Leaders who execute focus on a very few clear priorities that everyone can grasp.”
4.  “Follow through.”
5.  “Reward the doers.”  “You have to make it clear to everybody that rewards and respect are based on performance.”
6.  “Expand people’s capabilities through coaching.”  “One of the most important parts of your job is passing it on to the next generation of leaders.”  “Good leaders regard every encounter as an opportunity to coach.”
7.  “Know yourself.”  “Good leaders learn their specific personal strengths and weaknesses, especially in dealing with other people, then build on the strengths and correct the weaknesses.”
a.  Four core qualities that make up emotional fortitude:
i.  authenticity
ii.  self-awareness
iii.  self-mastery
iv.  humility
Jon’s comments:  It all starts with the leader.  This chapter provides valuable encouragement to any leader.  I especially appreciated that the authors offer hope to leaders who make mistakes.  We can all learn from our experiences – successes and failures.  What we do with what we learn is key.
B.  Chapter 4 – Building Block Two:  Creating the Framework for Cultural Change
1.  “To change a business’s culture, you need a set of processes – social operating mechanisms – that will change the beliefs and behavior of people in ways that are directly linked to bottom-line results.”
2.  “The foundation of changing behavior is linking rewards to performance and making the linkages transparent.  If a company rewards and promotes people for execution, its culture will change.”
3.  “You should reward not just strong achievements on numbers but also the desirable behaviors that people actually adopt.”
4.  “You cannot have an execution culture without robust dialogue – one that brings reality to the surface through openness, candor and informality.  Robust dialogue makes an organization effective in gathering information, understanding the information, and reshaping it to produce decisions.”
Jon’s comments:  Who and what is your organization?  Figure it out through discussion.  Go after it.  Reward people for it.
C.  Chapter 5 – Building Block Three:  The Job No Leader Should Delegate – Having the Right People in the Right Place
1.  “An organization’s human beings are its most reliable resource for generating excellent results year after year.  Their judgments, experiences, and capabilities make the difference between success and failure.”
2.  “To consistently improve its leadership gene pool, every business needs a discipline that is embedded in the people process, with candid dialogues about the matches between people and jobs, and follow-through that ensures people take the appropriate actions.”
3.  “If you want to build a company that has excellent discipline of execution, you have to select the doer.”
4.  “Getting things done through others is a fundamental leadership skill.”
5.  “You can’t spend too much time on obtaining and developing the best people.”
6.  “If you sit down with your boss and your boss hasn’t said something to you about your weaknesses, go back!  Because otherwise you’re not going to learn anything.”
Jon’s comments:  You can’t put a square peg in a round hole (and vice versa).  As leaders, we need to be extremely diligent in finding the right people and putting them in the right place.
Until the next post…

Virgil’s Micro Brewed Root Beer, Etc…

Without question, one of my favorite times of the year is Memorial Day weekend. Every year since I started college (except for one year – which is another story), I have ventured up to the Poconos with some of my closest friends who are originally from the Mount Holly, NJ area. The weekend has really become a retreat and fountain of youth for most of us. I could go on for a long time about this event.

At any rate, one of our many traditions is the naming of the Virgil. This is the name we give to the newest guy on the trip. Last year, Tom Nesspor was the Virgil. And John Kosydar is the Virgil every year he comes up. In a way, we consider it an honor to be part of this trip, so the Virgil title is not really as bad as it might sound. Well, today at the end of my saxophone lesson, I stumbled across a beverage that pays tribute to our tradition – Virgil’s Root Beer. You can also get other flavors like Cream Soda and Black Cherry Cream Soda. I couldn’t resist putting their website up on my blog for all my camping buddies to enjoy.

Until the next post, “you’ll swear it’s made in heaven”…

Proud Parent

On Saturday, I took a break midway through my painting project to head to the YMCA for Isaac’s basketball game.  Here’s a little history on Isaac’s team:  They lost their first five games.  They tied the next three games.  So heading into Saturday’s game, they hadn’t won a game yet (although, the last few games have been extremely exciting).  We all wanted to see our kids win at least one game this year, and we were quickly running out of time as the season ends this coming Saturday.
Here’s a recap of the game.  Isaac sat out during the first quarter of the game.  At the end of the first quarter, the other team was winning 2 to 0 (what a defensive struggle).  Isaac entered the game as the defensive center; by the end of the half, the score had ballooned to 4 to 2 in favor of the other team.  Isaac continued to play the rest of the game at center.  Towards the end of the third quarter, Isaac had hit a long basket (from around the free throw line) to make it 6 to 4 or 6 to 6.  The parents were all beginning to wonder if this game would finish in a similar fashion to our first eight games.  We were in for a surprise.  Suddenly, our team (the Jazz) came alive.  Isaac hit three or four more shots from “way outside,” and another kid hit a lay-up.  When the final buzzer went off, the Jazz prevailed 14 to 6.  This may not sound all that exciting, but I can assure you that this was won of the most exciting basketball games I have ever attended.
This week, we finish off the season against the only undefeated team in the league.  While that seems a bit scary, I think our team is up for the challenge.
Until the next post, come fly with me…

2008 – Week 6 Exercise Recap

Here’s my recap from last week.  While it was the same mileage as the previous week, I was certainly a building week.  This week included my longest run so far this year and my first two-a-day.  Here are the details:
Sunday 2/3 – 9.0 miles (on the muddy Perkiomen Trail)
Monday 2/5 – 6.0 miles
Tuesday 2/6 AM – 7.6 miles
Tuesday 2/6 PM – 2.4 miles
Thursday 2/7 – 7.0 miles
Total for the week – 32 miles (Total for the year – 160.5 miles)
I was hoping to get a few miles in on Saturday, but I spent the day painting instead.  I got a good ladder workout.
Until the next post…

Good to Great

Today, I had my company’s annual kickoff meeting at Harrah’s Chester Casino and Racetrack. There were several positive messages from the day. All these messages seemed to point to the same thing – go the extra degree, go the extra mile, stretch a little more. We had a very good year as a district, but we have been encouraged and challenged to go from Good to Great. Here’s a video that was shown at our meeting that presses the point.

Until the next post, consider what is takes in your own life to go the extra degree…