Monday, December 1, 2014

TRAVEL TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS

At least once a year I normally will attend an offsite meeting that requires me to travel the “friendly skies.”  This year was no different. We purchased a new core software system and were offered two tickets to a Banking Conference in Orlando, Florida. Fun...right? The conference was fantastic, but once again I had another action packed trip in the air.
For a little background, in June we had just finished a huge software conversion that required about a year of planning and information gathering. Every day we were signing, amending, and terminating contracts and building reports to supply the new vendor with information. Our new software provider offered us the tickets and it sounded like an interesting trip. I had taken a week off to travel to Colorado with my family when Jill e-mailed me and asked if I would like to attend. After some discussion I agreed to go and politely said I would let her handle the reservations as I had no preference.  Big mistake!  Never let your boss order your tickets. If she had it her way you would be flying with the luggage if it would save a couple bucks.
The trip started off great. I picked up Lori and we headed to Des Moines. We worked our way in and my bag was under the 50lb limit and I breezed through security with my three totes so I could take my work laptop along.
Last year I wasn’t so lucky. I had to cram stuff into Jill’s bag. Then I thought I would carry on my cleanup bag forgetting that you couldn’t take liquids over 3.4 ounces. My face was red when they stopped me and I told them to just throw the stuff away. I then had to buy new upon arrival to my destination. Things were really looking up.
Prior to leaving I reviewed my itinerary. What? I had four flights? Ok, wait a minute. I wasn’t flying non-stop and I had a layover in Detroit. How do you go from Iowa to Michigan if you are headed for Florida? Let me tell ya. You save $20! We flew to Detroit strolled around the airport and enjoyed our layover time before boarding the busiest flight I have ever been on. Families headed to Disney World! This was a completely full flight. The passengers were crammed in like sardines.
After my wife and I had our first child I have been pretty much housebound. Trying to make sure our son doesn’t get sick or make a scene. This has caused me to pack on a few extra pounds. Maybe I am a little bigger but the seats this year sure seemed smaller.  Then we took off. The couple behind us bickered.  The dad was telling the mom how much money he made while the child relentlessly kicked the back of Lori’s chair. I thought this was actually kind of humorous until the little guy decided it was time to go to the bathroom fifteen minutes in on a two and a half hour flight. Needless to say we sat in the brown cloud for the next two hours and 15 minutes.

At the same time Lori and I both made the comment we should have got more involved in the planning of this trip. Maybe Jill was trying to teach us something but I think she was just saving a dollar or two. One thing is for sure. When we arrived in Orlando we quickly called the airline and upgraded, not to first class, but premium economy. Trust me people….. it’s worth the $19!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Meeting "Fred"


The first day I showed up to work at LSB I was given a copy of a book called The Fred Factor and it was explained to me that all employees of the bank were to read “Fred” that quarter.  To give you an idea how much I like to read, I can tell you I hadn’t read a book for pleasure since graduating from college.  I was certainly glad I was assigned the task of reading the book though, as it was one I ended up enjoying very much.   I’ve particularly been captivated by the use of The Fred Factor at LSB and most recently by the book’s author’s speech at our annual meeting.  As Mark Sanborn the author of the book spoke at our annual meeting, I couldn’t help as my mind wandered to a real life Fred I know.  I’m sure he has never read the book, but he epitomizes Fred is every sense, and it’s been fun to watch as that spirit has helped lead him towards success.

I met this fellow Iowan several years ago at the Circle of Gold Pig Sale in Oklahoma where we had both consigned hogs.  Andy was penned directly down the aisle from me.  He walked up to my pens, looked over the hogs, and made a little small talk with me about their pedigrees.  I figured he was simply checking out the competition and didn’t think much of it.  I had an absolutely horrible sale that weekend.  I’d hauled 4 pigs to the sale, only 2 made the sale, and only 1 sold.  At the end of the sale, I backed the truck up to the corner of the barn to load my tack and 3 no sales.  My wife had come along for the trip and was helping with this process.  I’d no more than gotten backed up to the barn when Andy stepped in and told my wife she could relax, he would help me out.  Andy made quick work of the loading process, and we were on our way back to Iowa. 

To this day, I don’t think Andy knows how important his gesture was to me.  I would hardly have considered him an acquaintance at the time, and he certainly didn’t owe me any favors.  The fact that he jumped right in and helped me out spoke volumes about what type of person I was dealing with.  The small little gesture is probably a big reason why I made my way to his place the following spring to find a barrow for a family I’ve placed pigs with over the years.  That small gesture that required so little effort on his part is what kicked off the start of a great friendship. 

Over the last couple years Andy and I have spent hours together in the pickup traveling the country to hog shows and touring boar studs.  We talk about a lot of topics on our travels, but probably the most common thing we discuss is developing our businesses.  Although Andy and I both raise showpigs, our models are very different.   Given we have our differences; we share a common idea that customer service is of the utmost importance.  We probably spend as much time talking about customer service and adding value for our customers as any other topic.  We sell pigs to folks, but rarely does the relationship end the day of the sale.  We answer questions for months following the sale on daily care, health issues, nutrition, showmanship, and any other issue that may arise.  Heck, a lot of producers in our business don’t even understand that people are looking to buy more than just a pig for their kid to show at the county fair.  

Andy has told me a story several times that has “Fred” written all over it.  He had a family through his farm one spring to look for pigs.  There was a small boy that was part of the family, probably not more than a few years old.  He had a small plastic stick horse that he’d brought from home that Andy said he spent most of the tour entertaining himself with.  Keep in mind we are talking about a toy small enough to fit in your pocket and of little material value.  To that little kid, it was hours of entertainment, and probably one of his favorites if he took it everywhere he went.  Andy noticed shortly after these folks were gone from his farm that the little boy had dropped his toy in the driveway.  He packaged it up in a small little envelope and mailed it to the young man with a note that read, “A cowboy can’t be without his horse”.  It is one of the many ways I have seen Andy represent the main theme of what makes Fred so great.  The smallest acts, requiring the fewest resources, often leave the biggest impression.

            A couple of weeks ago Andy and I headed to El Reno, Oklahoma to the Circle of Gold Pig Sale.  It was the first time we’d traveled together to the sale where we’d met 4 years earlier.  When Saturday night rolled around we had all our deliveries off the trailer, the sale pigs had been through the ring and sold, and the tack was loaded.  We waited around as the buyers of the sale hogs slowly made their way back to the pens as the sale was winding down.   Andy loaded them 1 by 1 into the rigs of their new owners.  As we were driving out of the parking lot headed back to Iowa Andy turned to me and said, “You know, I think it is really important to help load those hogs for their new owners.  I want those people to know I care how they get along after they buy a pig from me.”  I just smiled at him and nodded my head.  If it only meant half to those folks what it meant to me, then it left a heck of an impression.                            

Monday, October 20, 2014

First Year at Libertyville Savings Bank

         The end of the year will mark my first year in banking, and WOW what an exciting year it has been. I have met a lot of great people and learned a ton of new things. So when I say this is my first year in banking that isn’t entirely true it is my first year as a full time bank employee. I started working at Libertyville Savings Bank in February of 2006 as a part time teller. I worked summers and weekends through high school and college. I really enjoyed my part time job here so when I graduated from The University of Iowa last December I knew this was the place I wanted to be. So on January 2nd I started full time as the banks Investment/Training officer.
My year started by finding out that I had been accepted to the Iowa Bankers Association Leadership Institute. I was very proud of this since the IBA only selects 20 people per year to be a part of this program. I need to thank Lori Mitchell for pushing me to apply because I didn’t think I would be accepted since so few people are selected. This was a five month program where we meet a few days a month at different locations around the state. I was able to meet a lot of great bankers from around the state and learn great leadership skills that will help me with my career in banking. This program ended in June then came the month of July!
In July we acquired Farmers Savings Bank in Keota making that Libertyville Savings Bank’s fifth location. I of course had two weeks vacation scheduled in July which looking back was not great timing. I did not realize how much work acquiring another banks bond portfolio and merging it into our own really is. I probably owe Ryan one for all of the extra work he had when I was gone. Things have settled down now and the transition has gone well. We are excited to have a new branch location and the Keota employees have been a great fit to our team.
OH and did I mention as all of this was going on we are also adding on to our Fairfield office. This brings its own unique challenges to work through. The construction has been fun to watch progress but I think I speak for everyone when I say we will be glad when it is finished. Also in October the bank was nominated as one of the top 100 places to work in Iowa. I had the privilege to attend the banquet the Des Moines Register put on it was a great experience, and great honor for the bank!
Wow what a year it has been. This is exactly what I was looking for when I decided to come back and work full time at Libertyville Savings Bank. It has been a fun and exciting year to be an employee of Libertyville Savings Bank! I am looking forward to what next year brings here at LSB!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

First Ever Trip to the Lake

My grand daughter is 2½ years old and as with most completely prejudice grandparents, I think she’s pretty awesome.  Last month she made her first trip to the Lake of the Ozarks and had the grandest of times.  Collyns has had some baby swimming lessons, but she had only been in a pool and of course never on a waive runner or in a boat.  After only a short spell, she made herself at home at the lake house and back and forth to the dock…..and back and forth to the dock……and back and forth to the dock….life jacket on…..life jacket off……life jacket on…..life jacket off and that didn’t end  for 3 days. J   

It was HOT and on the first day we found ourselves floating in the lake before noon.  Collyns’s dad has a complexion at least as fair as mine, maybe lighter.  I said, “Josh, do you have sunscreen on?” to which he replied in a big, tough guy form, “No, I’ll be alright”.   Needless to say, he was toast…..literally and figuratively….for the rest of the trip.  He looked like a lobster that was now quarantined to the A/C and the recliner.  On a positive note, he learned a valuable lesson, the hard way.

Collyns was having a blast.  She required a little assistance down the slide and off the diving board (no running and jumping off yet), but swimming in the lake from one guardian to another was a wonderful new world and her eyes sparkled with pride and accomplishment.   I noticed right away that she liked sticking her tongue in the lake and I didn’t think that was such a great idea, so I started down the road to change that behavior.   I started with the obvious, telling her “no”, which of course was like pouring gas on a fire.  Then I tried grabbing her tongue every time she stuck it out, that too was pretty much fun and games.  Finally I said, “Collyns, there is fish poop in the lake!” (she starts swimming for the ladder)  “Why?”  “Because fish live in the lake.” (she climbs up the ladder and out of the lake)  “Why?”  “Because this is their home.”  (tongue is out)  “Why?”  “Because fish live in the water, just like you live in your house.”  “Why?”  (there will be no more lake for several hours)  “Because, that’s just the way it is honey” J

We went out for lunch every day and swam in a different pool.  At Shady Gators they have a gradual decline pool.  Perfect for a toddler, until she walked right out with her bare feet and stopped on the hot concrete.  I waive of panic and I was on my way, but before I could get to her the tears and screams were in full force.  I swept her off of her feet and ran for the pool.  Fortunately, it wasn’t far and even more fortunate, she did not suffer any serious burns, but the crowd was not impressed. L

The next day we went to The Horny Toad.  She didn’t want to leave there, even with all of the big, hairy, men bellied up to the bar.  Scared me a little even.
 
That afternoon we cruised up to Frankie and Louie’s, but my little energizer bunny had finally burned out, sleeping on the boat seat with mom and grandma holding a beach towel for more shade.  Such breaks are few and far between.  It wouldn’t be long before she’d be back in high gear, back and forth from the house to the dock, life jacket on, life jacket off!  Wish I had that kind of energy!  Until next time……

Amber Stump McDowell

Sunday, September 14, 2014

College Bound

I sent my first child to college this fall.  For those of you that have done it, you know what a big event this is not only in your child’s life but in yours.

I spent most of my summer analyzing what it would be like. As the day grew closer, I was not sleeping well. Is she ready? Did I raise her right? How would move in day go with all the traffic? How could we possible get all her stuff into that small dorm room?  Would she like her roommate? Would she be home sick or would I not hear from her until Thanksgiving? My mind would not shut off.

When I boiled it all down, it was more about me and my identity as a parent. Not only was this a reality check that my life was moving by at what I consider a high rate of speed, but what does parenting look like when they move out? As a parent we are given no handbook, no instructions, and no guidelines when those bundles of miracles are placed in our arms for the first time. They hook us in with their smiles and their amazing personalities and just when we kind of get them figured out they are gone.

This is what I know:
 I am thankful I still have two amazing boys at home waiting for me most nights.
I need my work and purpose in life.
Sydney still needs her mom, not for all the little things but for the things that matter.
I love the reduce laundry load that has occurred since she has left.
I am enjoying more free time.
I am so glad she is having the time of her life!


Jill B


Friday, August 29, 2014

Milestones


It’s mid summer; 2014 is flying by.  I can’t help but take notice of some milestones that have occurred so far in 2014; both professionally and personally.  A few that top the list are:

  • I celebrated my 25th year work anniversary with LSB in April.  It’s gone by in a blink of an eye. When I look back at all the technology changes and how much the bank has grown, I start to feel the years.  I absolutely love coming to work every day and am very grateful for the opportunity to work at LSB.
  • We’ve just completed our 1st week in our new Keota location!  This takes me to the above paragraph.  When I started in 1989, LSB had assets of 25 million and 8 employees.  With the Keota acquisition, we are above 300 million in assets and close to 50 employees.     Libertyville was the only location then, and now we are happy to be in and support 5 communities.  We are thrilled to be a part of the Keota community! 

  • It’s been a year since my diagnosis of Sjogrens Syndrome.  It is impossible for me to put into words what the last year has been like for me both mentally and physically regarding this diagnosis.  I know I am a better person today because of it.  It has made me stronger, more determined, better educated, healthier, and so much more.  I am doing great. J   

  • My nephew Wyatt, 10 years old, showed pigs for the first time at the Jefferson County Fair.  Although he had great success with his pigs, it wasn’t about the color of ribbons won.  Anyone who knows Wyatt’s story of his premature birth knows that he is a miracle worthy of its own blue ribbon.  He was probably embarrassed by the fan club of grandparents, aunts and uncles watching, but we wouldn’t have missed it for the world and couldn’t have been more proud.    

Here’s to the rest of 2014 and the milestones to come!

Lori Mitchell

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Devil is in the Details

I consider myself to be a “big picture” guy. Given enough time, I can usually come up with a viable solution to a problem. My shortcomings lie in the 238 intricate steps and processes that lie between finding the problem and actually getting it resolved. That’s right, I’m talking about the details.

After several years of self evaluation in this realm, I’ve come to the conclusion that patience or rather the lack thereof, is part of my problem. I want my tractor fixed now and I don’t want to waste a lot of time on the phone with the dealer, waiting on parts, tearing the tractor apart or putting it back together. I just have no patience for those things. But a lack of patience is just a part of my problem.

In a lot of cases, I’m just not particular enough. “Close enough for me” and “that’s fine for now” are big parts of my vocabulary. For example, on the rare occasions when I wash my truck, if I notice I’ve missed a spot or two it’s no big deal. I can live with a little dirt. I didn’t get it all but I got “close enough”. If I’ve already put the lawn mower away and I notice a spot I missed, I can guaranty you “it’s fine for now”. You certainly wouldn’t want me performing surgery on ya.

My daughter Audrey is the polar opposite of me when it comes to the details. Audrey will stick with a project until it’s perfect and I really admire her for that. Let me give you an example of how she and I differ on the details.

Just last week, Audrey entered a dozen of her home raised eggs in the egg judging contest at our county fair. She didn’t just grab any old egg out from under the hen either, no sir. She started saving those eggs three weeks before the fair. She selected them for size, shape and uniformity. She weighed them on our egg scale and I swear there wasn’t a gram difference in the whole dozen. The only problem was, she’d only come up eleven perfect eggs by show time. I was in charge of getting the eggs from the house to the fair grounds on the day of the show. I opened the carton marked “DO NOT EAT” and noticed she was one egg short. I called her and was very surprised to hear her say “just grab one out of another dozen and bring them”. I found what I thought was the perfect specimen (the first one I grabbed). I quickly put it and one of the originals on the scale. The one I chose was “close enough” in weight to the others and away I went.

On the way to the fair, I decided I’d pull a fast one on Audrey. I marked where I’d put my egg in the dozen. I popped the carton open and asked her if she could point out the one I’d picked out of that dozen. I knew I had her. All white eggs look alike, right? Wrong. It took her less than 10 seconds to pull it out and hand it to me. Once I regained my composure, I asked her how she knew? Evidently the one I’d picked out was slightly more “pointed” than all the others… Details!

Anyway, Audrey brought home a great trophy for her grand champion eggs, all because she paid attention to the details. Just scramble mine please, and if you get a little shell in them don’t worry, it’s good enough for me!