Who are you when the dust settles?

THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL POST, but is inspired by the results of the 2016 Presidential Election.

A friend of mine stated this morning that this election shows that “coming together is going to be much harder than most hope.” I think my friend is right, but in response I suggested that most times hope alone won’t be enough.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that hope has its place in the world, but I’m more interested in finding out what someone will do when hope alone doesn’t cut it.

Take a moment to think about who you are in these scenarios…

  • Who are you when an outcome doesn’t end in your favor? 
  • Who are you when nobody else in the room is on your side? 
  • Who are you when it feels like your back is up against a wall? 
  • Who are you when you feel like you’ve run out of options? 
  • Who are you when the thought of quitting enters your mind? 

Countless leaders before us had hope, but also never gave up when it came to fighting for what they believed was right, fair and sometimes humane. Whether you’re dealing with members of a club at school, a team you’re a part of at work or an interpersonal relationship with a family member or friend, I think it’s important to stand up for what you believe in, and more important that you never give up.

So who are you when the dust settles? Please comment and share your thoughts with me.



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5 Tips for Successful Networking



Have you ever walked into a room, meeting or event and not known a single person there? You might initially feel isolated, lonely and maybe even a bit intimidated. Eventually, you warm up and somehow strike up a conversation with someone who likely feels the same way you do.

I recently attended an event where I didn’t know anyone else in the room. Although we were all there for the same reason and shared something in common, I felt like I was on an island of one until the group participated in a few ice breakers.

Networking events and meeting new people is incredibly uncomfortable for some people, but incredibly important if you want to be successful. If you create a strategy beforehand and take advantage of the opportunity, there’s a good chance you’ll walk away feeling invigorated.

So what can you do to make the most of your next networking experience? Here are 5 tips for success based on my own experience.

  1. Know your “why” 
    • Knowing your why is important in many parts of life. Knowing why you’re attending a networking event will help you walk into the room with the right intentions. Consider what it is you want to take away at the end.
  2. Be first to move
    • Don’t be afraid to approach someone and introduce yourself. Breaking the ice is tough, but if you start early you’ll be perceived as friendly and engaging. You’ll also make it easier for others to open up.
  3. Ask open-ended questions
    • Keep the conversation going by asking questions starting with what, why, where, when and how. This prevents short yes/no responses and helps you get to know that person better.
  4. Be genuine
    • Networking is about creating trust and relationships, and you’ll only do that if you’re honest, authentic and real.
  5. Follow-up
    • You likely walked away with some business cards, phone numbers or email addresses. If you don’t follow-up with the people you met, then you’ve wasted your time and theirs. Reach out to your new contacts and remind them of what you talked about and how you might be able to help each other.


Whether you’re networking to generate sales leads, to seek and share new ideas, or simply to build your reputation in your industry, hopefully you put these tips to action and make the most of the experience!

Let me know what other tips you’d suggest!


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Volunteer Leadership

Over the summer I attended the National Volunteer Leadership Retreat hosted by Delta Sigma Pi, the professional business fraternity that I joined as a business student at Kent State University. I’m currently serving in my second year as District Director (a volunteer leader) for the chapter at Kent State, acting in an advisory role suggesting ways to improve chapter operations.

Led by incredibly successful entrepreneurs Adam Carroll and Tim Augustine, the retreat provided an opportunity for more than 60 volunteer leaders to network and build relationships, but most importantly gave us an opportunity to enhance current leadership skills and grow through the development of new skills.

I’m incredibly excited to share that I’ve been asked to present at a Delta Sigma Pi conference this November on the topic of volunteer leadership. I’ll share with collegiate members the importance of serving the fraternity as a volunteer, as well as the many benefits that come with volunteering.

So what comes to mind when you hear the words “volunteer leader?” Volunteer is obvious, but I think the definition of “leader” in this case falls into a bit of a gray area. Many times it’s assumed that you must be in a position of power to be a leader. That’s just not true. If you’re serving people, in small or large amounts, with integrity, honesty and authentically, then you’re a leader in my book.

One of the topics we covered at the retreat over the summer was that volunteering tends to be misconstrued and people think that only the organization receiving the services sees any sort of benefit. That’s also not true.

The Corporation for National & Community Service provides plenty of benefits associated with volunteering, including:

  1. Pride, satisfaction, accomplishment, etc.
  2. Connecting with other volunteers.
  3. Improving and strengthening your community.
  4. Health benefits.

Volunteering is also a great way to develop many different leadership skills. Depending on the type of organization and role you’re in, you can interact with people from a diverse range of backgrounds, you can learn how to communicate with different types of audiences, and you just might find a new passion or career path.

A simple search will show you that there are PLENTY of organizations looking for volunteers, especially volunteers with leadership skills. Non-profits in industries such as healthcare, animal care/adoption, community development, and even organizations with more focused missions, such as chronic illnesses or child advocacy.

If you’re currently serving as a volunteer for an organization and want to share, I’d love to hear about your experiences and any leadership skills you’ve offered others, or skills you’ve developed through volunteering! Please comment below!





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Addiction – Focus on the real issue


Just a couple days ago the city of East Liverpool, Ohio shared a gruesome image of two people in a drug-induced unconscious state while in a vehicle with a young child in the backseat. If that scenario doesn’t grab your attention, then I don’t know what will.

In just two days the original post received over 4K comments, 10K reactions and over 20K shares. I’ve always been intrigued with media that goes viral. Whether it’s a Facebook post, a tweet or the next YouTube sensation, there’s always some characteristic that draws in views and shares. In this case that characteristic is “shock and awe” and the inability to look away. Since the original post on September 8, 2016, the story has been shared by The Washington Post, NBCnews.com, The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed.

Here’s the story as shared by The Washington Post: CLICK HERE

It’s obvious that this country has a drug problem and it’s obvious that users of the Internet love and feed off of controversy, and this story is not short of controversy. There’s the drug problem, there’s the “love to hate or hate to love” drug Narcan that resuscitates people who have overdosed, and there’s the image of the scene itself.

Many people are up in arms over the original post because the city decided not to blur the child’s face. I’m sure the city had its reason for not doing so, even if it wasn’t the popular decision. At the same time, I’ve read plenty of reasons that the child’s face should have been blurred.

I’m not here to question ethics or debate about what should or should not have been done. Instead, I want to focus less on the “how and more on “why” the photo was shared in the first place. Here are some of my thoughts and rhetorical questions to consider.

  • I think the post was shared to stir discussion around the plague-like drug problem we have at our hands. Would this specific issue be so far widespread if that photo hadn’t been shared the way it was? Mission status – accomplished: we’re discussing.
  • I think the post was shared to show that small towns are just as much (or more) at risk as large cities. Mission status – accomplished: the story about East Liverpool, Ohio has been shared internationally.
  • I think the goal was to get people to focus more on the drug issue than anything else. Mission status – questionable?

While people are spending time debating about how the photo should have been shared, I feel like the reason the photo was shared has blatantly been disregarded and that little is being done to resolve the real issue at hand. It’s incredibly easy to feed off of controversy, fear and hate that is shared in the media. Unfortunately, it’s hard to make a positive change in the world because it truly requires more than just sharing opinions in a social media post. Change requires action.

I’m not a doctor, therapist, addiction specialist or medical professional of any sort, but I do have a voice and I want to use if to offer assistance, if possible.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, the resources below are available so you can take action and offer the help that is needed. 








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My Views on Nature and Running

Once upon a time (back in high school, 10+ years ago) you could say I was a long distance runner. I was likely in my peak physical condition and for the most part healthy, only having to battle some issues with my shins. After high school, I grew apart from running, but remained active by cycling and hiking local trails.

Shortly after starting a new job earlier this year, a company-wide email with information about the Akron Marathon was sent to all employees. As I scrolled through and skimmed the info, one detail that caught my eye was that the company will cover the cost of registration for anyone interested in running. The gears in my brain began turning!

I immediately reached out to my marathon running group of best friends to see if they thought I could complete the half marathon. They said YES! I took the plunge by registering, bought a new pair of running shoes and started working on getting in shape. A few months of training are in the books and now I have only a few weeks until the race. Luckily, my goal is to complete the race, so the only person I’m up against is myself.

The point of this post is to share one of my favorite parts of this entire experience so far with you. Of course I’m feeling better, eating healthier and maybe even shedding a few pounds, but something all of this running has done for me is connected me to my outdoor surroundings via local trails and metro parks. I’ve seen all sorts of animals, insects, plants, streams and wildflowers. I’ve ran on paved trails, dirt trails, sidewalks and streets. I’ve ran through neighborhoods, prairies, bogs, forests and a national park.

Here are some photos of the places I’ve been. Experiencing just about any location on foot will definitely expose you to your surroundings and help you appreciate everything that’s out there. I urge you to get out and see some new places. You just might get a little exercise in, too…

*All photos taken within Summit Metro Parks or the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.







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The Small Things can be Life Changing

Earlier today I read an article on LinkedIn based on a speech given by James Citrin at the Wesleyan University Phi Beta Kappa Commencement Address.

The main idea of the article is that anyone can make small life changes that can lead to great happiness and success. Many of my favorite topics are covered, including finances, leadership, and goal setting. He even covers fitness! (You better believe I’m going to download ‘The 7 Minute Workout’ app that he mentions.)

James says…

I’ve come to discover that small things, when applied consistently and over long periods of time, have the ability to change your life. Small things, applied consistently and over long periods of time, also lead to massive success. In addition, they can help you achieve health and happiness. And indeed, they can help you change the world.

This is easily one of the best articles I’ve read in a while. The lessons shared through the author’s experiences are invaluable!

Please take the time to read the article here or follow the link below. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and discuss if you’d like!




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Top 15 Photos of 2015

Even though the calendar says we’re nearly two weeks into the new year, I still want to celebrate last year by participating in Ryan Avery’s top 15 photos of 2015 challenge. Honestly, it took me AT LEAST one week to narrow an entire year down to 15 photos. I was incredibly fortunate last year to have plenty of reasons to take pictures, and I have no doubt that this year will be just as great.

Here are my top photos of 2015:


What happens when a childhood friend runs the Boston Marathon? You and three other friends go with him to cheer him on! Erik (in yellow), finished in the top 1,000 his first time running this event. Our trip the 2016 event is already booked! 


My wife, Allison, and I enjoy supporting causes that we believe in! We participated in a benefit walk for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo


Many of our friends in northeast Ohio were shocked when they heard Allison and I had never eaten at Swensons, especially since we live only a few miles from one. Now, WE are shocked that it took us so long. Galley Boy and teezers is where it’s at! 


Allison surprised me with Garth Brooks tickets for my birthday! Seeing him live is something I want to do since I was little. Luckily, his tour came through Cleveland! 


In addition to the Garth concert, my mom, sisters, nieces and nephews visited us on my birthday weekend. I sure do love this crew! 


My high school track/cross country coach retired at the end of the 2015 track season. Some of his past runners surprised him at the last meet! I’m glad I was able to be there! 


My father-in-law introduced me to road cycling back in 2008. I look forward to the annual organized ride. In 2015 we spent a weekend biking 100+ miles of trails starting in the small town of Franklin, PA.  


Allison created her photography business (Allison Ewing Photography) at the beginning of 2015. I surprised her with this cake (a replica of her camera) to celebrate before she shot her first wedding! A few close friends were able to join in, too! 


We spotted these vehicles parked on a street in the Soho/Chinatown area of New York City. Being a lifelong Batman fan, I was very excited! What’s even better, I witnessed these cars in action as later that night the show “Gotham” was filming outside of our hotel! 


Allison faced her fear and flew for the first time! Our flight, NYC to Akron was a great first flight for her. She made this face when she felt the nose o the plane lifting up. A proud moment for me! 


This picture is easily one of my favorites. One of my best friends admiring some artwork at the Art Institute of Chicago. He justifies the wardrobe (not that is needs justification) by stating that we were heading to the beach afterward (and we did), but his shirt was complimented by plenty of other museum goers and staff before we left. 


I was honored to stand and support one of my best friends as he got married! 


My oldest niece is driving. OMG! She insisted that she drive us to Taco Bell for practice. I didn’t say no. Despite the fearful look on my face she did a great job! 


My nephew, Kade, decided to wear his cape to the park. I think this picture should inspire others to always be brave and be themselves, no matter what others think. And that wearing an actual cape is always an option.


Our dog, Bogart, absolutely loves me, and sometimes it drives Allison crazy. I snapped this photo after one morning after loading him into the car. At first, I didn’t think it was a big deal, but then Allison saw it and FELL IN LOVE! I believe it’s still the background photo on her phone. 


I hope your 2015 was as exciting as mine! Do you have 15 photos that you would like to share? Even though we’re into the new year, it’s not too late! I would love to see your highlights.

Thanks for reading!




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