I’m flying to Atlanta tomorrow for two reasons:
1. To support LSU in the SEC Championship game on Saturday (they are playing Tenn. at the Georgia Dome).
2. To attend my buddy TT’s bachelor party (after 6+ years of dating the same, wonderful girl, he finally got smart and is tying the knot).
The game is a little bitter-sweet. LSU should be playing for a berth in the BCS championship game, but they lost a heart-breaker in triple-overtime last week against Arkansas. However, a win in this game virtally guarantees LSU a spot in the Sugar Bowl, which would still be pretty sweet (pun intended). It might also be my last chance to see Coach Les Miles in person, since all signs point to him taking the vacant Michigan job.
I’m also really looking forward to seeing all of my high school/college buddies. We all get together at least one weekend a year for a “guys” trip and we always have a blast.
So in September I made the Big Announcement that Jess was pregnant with our second child (due April 1). Well I am now proud to announce that it is going to be a little girl. Jess and I are very excited since a little girl completes our set 😉
Grant is also very pumped. It’s funny, when we first told Grant that Jess was pregnant, we asked if he wanted a little brother or a little sister. In a very “Grant” way he said, “Hhhmm. . . I think I’ll take a little sister.” He’s a pretty smart cookie.
So yesterday I started my Thanksgiving early. Getting up at 6 a.m. in order to eat, change and ride out to the Turkey Trot. The Turkey Trot is an annual 5K and 10K run in Fort Worth that is sponsored by the Moritz family of dealerships. Since Moritz also sponsors our cycling team, we lead out the runs every year.
It’s was about 7 miles from the house to the start, but it was also 35 degrees with a windchill of 26, which makes it more like a 18 degree windchill on the bike (moving 20 mph). So needless to say I was an icicle. I was just starting to warm-up as I reached the start, but I made good time there so then I had to wait with the rest of my team for about 30 minutes before the start of the 5K. I started to get really cold again and literally couldn’t stop shivering.
We led out the 5K (right behind the motorcycle police) and finished pretty quickly since the lead runner was smoking (Corey Stiles who finished the 3.1 miles in 15:16). In fact, he was so fast that we had to weave through slower runners at the finish where the course looped back on itself. That became such a big issue that the police asked us to not lead out the 10K since they thought it could cause problems (slower runners weren’t responding to the police sirens). I headed home with the intentions of riding another 30-40 miles, but literally couldn’t warm up and headed home.
All day Thursday I was cold and today wasn’t much different. I took off work at ThinkCashwith the intentions of doing a long ride in the morning (75-80 miles) and then watching the LSU game with Jess and Grant in the afternoon. Since there was rain in the forecast for the weekend, this would be my only chance to ride outside for a while. However, this morning I still couldn’t warm-up and rode the indoor trainer instead (which is torture) and did some work from home (a few things came up at the office, don’t they always?).
My core temp. finally feels normal again, but alas . . . it’s raining outside.
Posted in cajun, cycling, Family, fort worth, moritz, racing, running, texas, thanksgiving, ThinkCash, turkey trot, Uncategorized, weather
West and Clear has a great write-up on our cross race yesterday. The event was a success in every measure. We had a record turnout of 90 entries and raised more than expected for the mental health community center.
Big props go to my teammate Art Exum for putting the event together (Art is also an excellent coach for anyone in Fort Worth looking for a cycling coach – www.exumcoaching.com). Everything went really smooth and everyone I talked to (I didn’t race this one) raved about the course. I was the “crossing guard” on the backside of the course along the banks of the Trinity for the last two races and it definitely got me excited to do some ‘cross racing next season.
There was also a ‘cross race in Fort Worth on Saturday (hosted by Colonel’s and Broken Films). This event was held at Trinity Park and had an “interesting” crash captured on video here.
So last week I wrote about why I work at ThinkCash and the positive impact we have on people’s lives. To follow-up on that thought, Mitch Duprey of the Motley Fool has a great article today that really explains why short-term loan or installment loan products are important for consumers. One line in particularly sums-it-up best,
The fact is, while we wish individuals would always be Foolish (smart) with their finances, life intrudes, and the ability to make it to the next payday requires a short bridge loan. Traditional financial institutions have abandoned customers with this need
So I dropped Jess and Grant off at the airport today – they are going home to Louisiana for a week. This will be the first year that we don’t go home to Louisiana for Christmas, so Jess and Grant are going to “make-the-rounds” and go visit the Great-Grandparents, cousins, etc. Although I will miss our traditional Cajun Christmas back home (lots of gumbo) it will be nice to stay home as well – no traveling, no schedules, opening presents Christmas morning at our house, etc.
It’s funny. Whenever Jess and Grant go back to Louisiana without me, people always ask, “what will you do with all your free time?”. My answer is always the same, “Ride my bike and watch lots of movies”. Since we had Grant, my movie consumption has decreased dramatically. With baby #2 due in April, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. So normally when Jess and Grant head out I’ll go to the theater and catch a flick or two and also rent a couple of DVDs. The one plus of not seeing many movies at the theater is that I have a large pool to choose from if I swing by Blockbuster for a new release.
Also, my team is hosting a cyclocross race this Sunday (Moritz Cowtown Cross). So I am volunteering on Sunday to help out, which should be fun. I am about to enter serious training mode again because I am focusing my efforts this year on a couple races in February and March (before baby #2 comes). It would be nice to get a couple good results before the baby comes and the only way to do that is to stay very focuses this off-season. This unfortunately means lots of time on the stationary trainer . . . no pain, no gain.
So Michael (one of my co-workers at ThinkCash) and I just got back from NY where we attended AdTech. AdTech is the biggest conference in the online advertising business and has literally grown to ridiculous proportions over the years. One of the traditions of AdTech are companies (mostly run by young CEOs/Founders and flush with cash) throwing very extravagant parties. This isn’t a bad thing. I enjoy attending the parties and seeing old friends; however, it seems like every year they become more and more decadent/strange. This years winner for strangest party took place at Pacha (a very hip NY club). The party was hosted by no-less than 10 different companies and featured performances by Rob Base (of “It Takes Two” fame) and Turbo from the movie Breakin (an 80’s classic). But this wasn’t the strange part. The strange part were the people walking around the party in mascot outfits. There was a Chuck E. Cheese, a Paddington Bear, etc. It was a little surreal to see Paddington Bear dancing to Rob Bass.
The big news at the show was Facebook announcing it will offer new advertising options. The “social ads” will take several forms on the site, propelled by an ad system that, according to the company, “enables people to provide trusted referrals to their friends and helps businesses to spread information.” For example, Movie Clique is a new Blockbuster application built on the Facebook Platform that enables Facebook users to search thousands of movie titles and create lists of movies they want to see, movies they’ve already seen and all-time favorites — along with ratings and reviews — to share with their friends. Users who subscribe to Blockbuster’s online rental service can also rent movies directly from Blockbuster without leaving the Facebook website. I think this platform will work well for a handful of advertisers, but it just isn’t relevant for 90% of the products and services out there.
It was a productive conference because Michael and I got to visit with about 10 of our biggest partners, which is much easier and cheaper than flying all over the country to visit the same partners. However, my favorite part of the trip was on Monday night when I took Michael to my favorite pizza place in the world – Lombardi’s in Little Italy
Lombardi’s was the first pizzeria to open in the US (in 1905).
The pizza is Neapolitan-style, cooked in the original oven (over 100 years old), and is amazing. It used to only seat 25-30 (so there were often long waits) but they recently expanded so we had no problem getting a table. I requested that we be seated on the “old side” so Michael could get the full experience. So the waitress sat us at a table next to none other than John Mayer. It’s always fun to go to NY or LA and have a “star-sighting”.
So when I came to ThinkCash (then PayDay One) in January 2006 most of my friends/colleagues were surprised. Why would I leave Blockbuster Online and a very high-level, well-respected position in a fast-growing entertainment company to go work for a “payday loan company”. There were several factors. One was Kevin and the trust/respect I have for him. Another was the opportunity to truly change the paradigm in an industry. I know that’s kind of a “cheesy” buzzword/phrase, but it’s true. I was impressed with the ideas Ken (our CEO) and Kevin had for creating a company that helps consumers with their emergency cash needs, but does so in a fair and balanced way (unlike most traditional payday lenders).
I feel like we are really making progress towards that goal. One huge step was the launch of ThinkCash. We truly built ThinkCash from scratch (the name, logo, website, look/feel, product attributes, etc.) and customers are loving it. It truly is a better alternative for consumers and we literally help 1,000’s of people everyday with their very real financial problems and emergency cash needs. We get a lot of thank you emails from our customers and I try to read some every now and to remind myself of the positive difference we make in people’s lives. Below is an example of one such email:
“I have been threading water with my finances over the last 3 months. A series of unforeseen events really put me behind the eight ball September 2007. I was behind on a few bills and rent was due by the next day (5th). I was broke and would not get paid until the 7th. I am a proud and private person so borrowing from family and friends is not going to happen. My business is just that, mines. I have been banking with that popular national bank that has a logo which resembles the US flag for 7+ years. Guess what happened when I needed them most? 3-4 months of financial hardships outweighed 7 years of good credit standing. They would not approve me for a 500 loan citing my credit rating (I do admit being late on two cards). However, I am the perfect customer for 7 years; I take a stumble and its sorry can’t help you. I google for “loans” and thank God I clicked the link that later led to me getting 750 that I really had to have. I needed the money so bad. If you ever been in a tight situation you know the feeling of relief I am feeling right now. ThinkCash saved me. Thank you, C.”
We are in an industry that takes a lot of heat (much of it deservedly so based on the practices of our competitors), but we are doing what we can to help a huge segment of our the population that has been ignored by traditional financial institutions. It’s not just about making money, it’s also about helping people with problems and treating our customers right . . . otherwise I wouldn’t be here.
As you can see, Grant decided to go as Superman for Halloween this year. He is in an all-things-fireman obsession right now, so Jess and I were surprised when he picked the Superman costume. However, he got his money’s worth this year – having 5 different opportunities to wear his costume between all of the class parties, Halloween Festivals, etc.
I think Jess and I had as much fun as Grant – playing games at Halloween parties, baking Halloween cookies, etc.
We have some amazing neighbors and every year we all gather at the house at the end of the block, have pizza (beverages for the adults) and the kids (roughly 20 kids under the age of 9!) get to run around and play together before we all leave to go trick’o’treating together.
As you can see from the pictures, Grant had a blast and I’m sure he’ll put on his “muscles” again a few more times before he outgrows it.