Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Tag Archives: John

It’s Been A While

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Wow! Is it May already? It’s been nearly 3 months without an update/post. It’s certainly not for lack of things going on and thoughts worth sharing. But, this ‘digital detox‘ has a way of making you think less and less about the internet and more about just enjoying the moment. I’ll have a full update in June about how the digital detox is going, but at a high-level, it’s been easier than I thought it would be. The first few weeks were more challenging. Habits are hard to break. But, by February, I had little interest in social media and I was so much happier without it. Social media had become a dumpster fire of negativity, political views, and social justice warrior-esque reasons to complain. Without all of that in my life, every day, I’m genuinely more energetic, happier and relaxed. I also feel like a bit of a trendsetter. If Facebook is creating this commercial, I’m sure I’m not the only person who decided to get back to a more analog life.

Changing the page, in June, I’ll have my mid-year analysis of my 2018 predictions. But, at first glance, things are looking good. That new crystal ball I purchased on Amazon must be legit.

Some other odds and ends:

  1. I saw Avengers Infinity War, helping to make it a box office success. Although, I’m in the minority when it comes to not being enamored with the film. Too many characters, too many questions, too many plot holes and the ending wasn’t my cup of tea.
  2. Also saw, finally, Blade Runner 2049. While it performed poorly at the box office, by every metric it was critically acclaimed. I second all the people who gave it a high rating. Stellar performances across the board, beautiful (albeit at times, dark) scenery and a plot with so much subtext you need time at the end to really think about what it all meant.
  3. Nichole started a new role at Riley Hayes and also decided she wants to run her first 5K. I’ve been training her since January. That’s always a dicey proposition, but I’m happy to say, the training is paying off and she hasn’t wanted to strangle me (as far as I can tell).
  4. Despite being hit with mountains upon mountains of snow this winter, I resisted the temptation of purchasing a snowblower. I actually find shoveling to be therapeutic. I put in the earbuds, listen to a podcast and get to work.
  5. Had a gift card to the Verizon store. Used it on a pair of Apple AirPods. I’m not a fan. Good sound quality, not great. They fall out to easy for me to consider using while working out, biking, etc. I will say, however, the pairing with Apple devices is as seamless as it gets, the battery life is very good and the packaging is genius. Having the case also be a charge was incredibly wise.
  6. I joined the Instant Pot revolution. No pun intended, but while they’re much better than the old school pressure cookers, they’re not fully baked. That said, when it works well, it makes a world of difference in flavor and meat tenderness. For the record, I ordered the Instant Pot Ultra.
  7. John and Cora wrapped up Winter basketball with mixed results. This was their first year playing in Woodbury. To say that the same small town politics I grew up in the 80s and 90s are still alive, would be an understatement. I actually had a player’s mom come up to me after a game to lecture me about John. He’s a 3rd grader. He had to try out for the 4th-grade team he’s playing on. The mom of a 4th grader on his team was none too happy that John was playing up and taking minutes away from her son. She said, clearly, “He doesn’t belong here. He should be playing with his own kind.” Stunning to say the least.
  8. The kids are headed to the FC Barcelona USA soccer camp this Summer, in Atlanta, Georgia. I’m excited for them to learn from a different class of instructors and to train against talent from all over the country. I’m also incredibly thankful that UnitedHealth Group has such a progressive philosophy for remote working. I’ll be working out of our Atlanta office that week. Without that type of flexibility, it would have been very difficult for John and Cora to attend.
  9. Two years ago I decided to get into soccer and in doing so, I picked Manchester City as my club. Wow, that was a smart choice. After a meh first year where we came away with no trophies, this year we set the world on fire. We broke records left and right while dominating the Premier League. On top of that we won the English League cup. We were a questionable red card away from most likely going on to win the FA Cup. And, we made it to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League tournament. The kids and I had our first early morning pub viewing experience when we watched City best Manchester United at Brit’s Pub. I’ll always remember John yelling at a United supporter, “You spent $100M on that? On that?”, after a total whiff by Romelu Lukaku. What a year/season. Soccer truly is global and it’s helped me connect with team members at work and random strangers. As global as it is, it’s also incredibly local. This celebration campaign by Manchester City shows that well.
  10. Took the family to Vernon, NJ to celebrate my niece’s 1st birthday. Ahead of the party, we took a tour of Vernon and I showed the kids my old school, the fields I played baseball on and the courts where I learned to ball. John being John, found a ball and then proceeded to shoot and shoot and shoot.

The first 4 months of the year flew by. The list above only scratches the surface. But, I guess when you’re not busy trying to stream your whole life, you have a lot more time to enjoy life.

Earning Your Keep

John talking with his coach

This weekend, John’s traveling team played in a basketball tournament in Lakeville, MN. On Championship Sunday, John didn’t play a single minute and I could not have been more proud of him, his team and his coach.

John’s in 2nd grade and playing “up” with the 4th grade team. The kids are bigger, faster and more experienced. At this level, you have to earn your playing time. You are not guaranteed time on the court. There are no participation medals. Well, there are, but that’s just how the tournaments are run, not representative of his team.

I applaud his coach for explaining up front at the beginning of the season, that you need to work hard in practice, but working hard doesn’t mean you get to play and it certainly doesn’t mean you win. Rather than pout or complain about a lack of playing time, John clapped, rooted and supported his team. He stayed engaged, watching, observing, learning.

It’s such a nice change of pace from the “everyone plays” approach that seems to be becoming more mainstream. There are no handouts in life (well, there are, and there are too many, but you get my point) and learning now, that you have to earn opportunity and then when given that opportunity you must take advantage of it, is surely something that will benefit him in the long run.

Advice For New Dads

A really good friend of mine just found out he’s going to be a dad. He’s a hell of a guy. One of the best. He sent me an email, asking for advice on being a great dad. I have a ways to go, before I can claim to be great, but I did offer him 3 pieces of advice. As I read the email I sent him, it dawned on me, other new dads might enjoy those rumblings.

  1. You’ll screw up often. Or at least you’ll feel like you’re screwing up often. It’s ok, we’ve all screwed up. I’m serious. You can’t beat yourself up for the stupid mistakes. There will be plenty of them. I remember not realizing the reason Cora was so “sick” was that she wasn’t. She was just teething. But, all the signs said, no she’s deathly ill. You and your wife will make mistakes and that’s fine. No book, no web site, no person has all the answers. There’s no playbook. Remember that. Remember it often. It’ll help you stop beating yourself up for making mistakes.
  2. Cherish the middle of the night feeding. Totally serious. I’d always volunteer for the 1am/2am feeding, so my wife could sleep. Man, it was awesome. I told my daughter stories, we listened to Abbey Road over and over, we watched reruns of WWF wrestling. We did all the things she’ll never remember, but I will. For a solid hour, it was me and her. Remember to love this special time you get.
  3. Keep a journal. Could be a blog. Could be paper. The format doesn’t matter. Use it to write down everything from the serious to the mundane stuff that happens. I kept one for John’s first year. It was a combination of Post-It notes with dates, emails to myself, blog posts and other random ways for me to remember things. It had everything from the first time he watched Jordan highlights with me, to the time I changed his diaper 8 times in an hour and a half…then just gave up. You’ll laugh about these things. It’ll also make for a great reference manual when you have your 2nd.

Being a dad is the best job, even when it’s a shitty day on the job. Remember that when you get a call from an irate client. The work stuff is important. You’ll feel a burning need to “provide” for your child. It’s natural. But, at 1am, when you’ve got a bottle in one hand and the other cradled under your baby’s head, that bad meeting will seem so irrelevant and inconsequential. There will be other jobs. There won’t be another Cora or John.

I’ve edited the contents of the email slightly and added a few more notes. I’m glad I get to call myself a dad. It beats any fancy title out there and the ROI is tied directly to the effort you put in.

The Pride Of A Father

I love my son. I love him for his goofiness. I love him for his smile and belly laugh. I love him for his love of grill cheese and mac and cheese. That he would eat them both every day at every meal is strange and yet wonderful. I love him for the pure heart he has (definitely got that from his mother). I love him even when he’s a pain in the ass; which he can be, on occasion.

You simply do not understand the concept of pure joy, until you watch your own child, do something they love. John, loves basketball. Simply loves it. I bought him his first indoor Nerf hoop at 2 and it was easily one of the best investments I’ve ever made.

He outgrew it, quickly, and last year for Christmas I picked him up a taller and larger indoor Nerf styled hoop. Additionally, the outdoor hoop was lowered and moved towards the back porch deck. That let’s John practice shooting real balls against a real backboard on a real hoop.

With all that practice, I guess I should have been surprised when at his first game, he scored 6 points, dished out 4 assists and was basically the best player on the court.

John Paul Kmiec - The Basketball Player

Cora does dance. She quite enjoys it and like any dad, I enjoy watching her recitals. Both of the kids played soccer this Fall and really took to the sport. Growing up I didn’t dance and I certainly didn’t play soccer. So, while I took an interest in both because the kids took an interest, I didn’t really emotionally connect with the activity.

Basketball, however, was something I played often. 2 years ago at Walgreens, I played in the employee league and we finished in 2nd place. I love playing basketball and I love watching it live. I connect with the sport and still geek out watching old Michael Jordan highlights.

Watching my son, turn his practice into action was exhilarating. As he scored, passed and defended with purpose, other parents commented to me about how good he was. I stayed humble, thanking them, but I was bursting on the inside. This was from the opening tip off:

Are you kidding me? He scored in the first 4 seconds.

I have no idea, if John will pursue and/or be great at basketball. I do know, that for one day, over one hour, I felt a pride that I’d never felt before and hope to feel again.

Missing The Forrest

Minnesota is a cold state. There’s simply no two ways about it. Minnesota is also a state that caters to cold weather sports like hockey. Unfortunately, super cold weather and sports aren’t a great combination. It’s one of the reasons Minnesota has so many skating rinks. You can enjoy ice skating without dealing with 5 degree weather.

Just after Christmas I picked up ice skates for myself and the kids. I’ve been trying to teach them how to skate. John swears he’s going to play hockey when he’s older. Now, with Minnesota being a hockey state, it’s tough to find rink time for free skating. Usually rink time is reserved for hockey games and hockey practice. One place that is dedicated to free skating is The Depot It’s pricey at $8 for adults, $6 for kids of ALL ages and $4 for parking. The Depot is connected to the Renaissance Hotel and an underground parking lot. By connected, I mean you can literally access the rink without ever having to step outside. Smart, right? I mean, if you’re a hotel guest, you’ll never have to step out into the nearly 0 temperatures of a Minnesota winter.

The Depot

Well, imagine my surprise when yesterday, we found the door connecting the warm hotel to the rink, closed. Not just closed, locked. We and several other families were perplexed. A Depot employee came out to inform the group that the doors were locked and we would all need to go outside and use the alternate entrance. More than a few families were miffed. Given the lack of warm winter clothes I guessed many of them were hotel guests; we weren’t obviously. We stepped outside, braved the old (8 degrees today) and used the alternate entrance.

I asked the woman collecting the entrance fees what the deal was with the locked doors. She was exasperated and very clearly stated:

1. It wasn’t her call
2. She thinks it’s “silly”
3. Management decided to enact the new policy to minimize the chance of someone sneaking in and skating for free

The employee and I both agreed that the likelihood someone would sneak in was minimal. Not only would you need to sneak in, but even if you did, you’d stick out pretty bad since all skaters receive a wristband after paying. She encouraged me to voice my complaint to “management” and encourage others to do so, as well. I couldn’t find management.

Think about this situation. For the 1 or 2 people a day who might sneak in (a $16 loss in revenue) The Depot grossly inconveniences 100s of paying customers. If more than 2 people, because of the new policy, choose to go elsewhere, The Depot loses more revenue than they would have had they not enacted the policy.

This is a great example of seeing the tree, but completely missing the forest. In the scope of the big picture this makes no sense. In the scope of the “problem” it makes lots of sense. As we think about the challenges we face every day in our companies and our personally lives, we need to remember to see both the trees and the forest.

The Things We Do To Our Kids

The kids got to visit with Santa yesterday. The enjoyed chatting with the jolly fellow. But, honestly these moments are more for us as parents than they are for our kids. Looking at it that way is the only thing that explains why we dress our kids up and bring them kicking, screaming and crying (well, not my kids, but several others in front of us) to “Santa.”

John’s 2nd Birthday

Technically, the birthday is Wednesday, June 15, 2011, but we decided to celebrate his birthday today.  Great day for the celebration.  In the morning it was roughly 60 degrees and overcast.  While that might not sound like perfect weather, it’s ideal for great photos.  The overcast sky means no harsh shadows or squinty eyes.  We headed over to the baseball field for some early morning photos and this one was easily of my favorites.

The rest of the day was filled with fun.  Great food, family and friends created a very memorable day.  John definitely enjoyed himself and that’s all that really matters.

A Child’s Imagination

I love Legos.  I think I love them more as an adult than I did as a child.  In fact, there’s really only one major Lego initiative I can remember undertaking as a kid.  My dad and I, over the course of about a month, built Disney’s Magic Castle.  It was hundreds of pieces. I wish I had a picture; I looked all over Google for it, but couldn’t find anything.  Bummer, because it was impressive.

My son, John, loves Legos.  Love might even be an understatement, because Legos seem to be a passion for him.  This past weekend, John and attended the Lego KidsFest in Minneapolis.  It was a blast.  Just awesome.  John was tentative at first.  I think the scale of the event was just daunting for him.  But, he quickly warmed up and got to work with building towers, buildings and cars that could be raced down ramps.

I mostly sat back and just watched him dream up idea after our idea.  There’s something cool, raw, interesting and exciting about watching a child create something.  There are no rules, no boundaries, no need to be uniform.  It’s all wide open.  It’s pure creativity, just like how it should be all the time for everyone.

When did we stop imagining like a child?  And why?