Several years before I became a father, I learned of another father who had put a tradition into place with his daughters that affected and moved me profoundly. He instituted a custom where he was the first date his daughters would have when they became of age to begin dating. He planned to take them out, bring them flowers, open doors for them, take them to a nice meal and most importantly provide a good example of how a gentleman should treat a lady.
Several years later when we learned that our first child would be a girl, It wasn’t long before I started dreaming of the day when I could institute this practice with my own daughter. It’s not easy being the father of a beautiful, intelligent young woman but that is precisely the blessing that we have received in the case of our daughter Anissa.
When she was a little girl, I often joked about how I wouldn’t allow Anissa to date until she was 35 years old. Of course I knew no matter how hard I tried to avoid it, this day would come and it has. That day is today. This evening I will experience this special milestone with my daughter. I am nostalgic and perhaps even a bit bittersweet about the threshold we are about to cross but too, I am filled with pride and joy and love that this day has come and I remain faithful that God will fill the beautiful young woman Maria and I are raising with wisdom to carry her forward through the life that awaits her; always respecting herself and the loving example we have always tried to set for her.
Your mother and I love you very much Anissa. Our parenting will continue and I will probably continue to be a pain in the rear more often than not but we’re proud of you and excited for all you have and will become. May God bless you and illuminate the path that lies before you.
Yesterday the world lost a great man when Nick Pflumm passed away. To be honest, I always felt unworthy to call Nick a Friend and Mentor but that’s precisely what he was to me and so many others. Despite Nick’s significant success in his profession, he had a gift for inspiring those around him to do more and be more and man did he have a spirit and a laugh that could raise your own spirits! There’s a reason we all called him, “St. Nick!” My heart remains so unbelievably heavy for Nick’s family and the seemingly endless circle of influence of humanity, which seemed to grow on a daily basis.
I received an email invitation last week, passed along from Nick’s family, when it became evident that Nick would soon pass, to share some thoughts about him and his affect on my life and, I have to admit, this brought me a tiny measure of contentment to gather these thoughts, reflect upon and publish them for my own catharsis. I humbly offer these now here on my site in reverence and respect for a man I esteem as highly as any as well as to serve as a call to myself personally to live life with greater purpose each and every day.
During the summer of 2003, I had been living in Spain continuously since 1998 and was enjoying Madrid, as well as the Spanish culture immensely as I’d worked hard to integrate completely within that culture but invariably felt homesick every time I returned to KC for the summers to visit with family. It was during this particular summer trip, the day after taking my father to play golf for the first time in his life, when he and I returned home all smiles and excited for this new milestone in his life. However, those smiles were dashed as soon as we walked through the door as another milestone was about to viciously insert itself into our lives. My mother had just gotten off the phone with my father’s doctor. My dad had recently had a biopsy performed on a lump in his throat which results showed was malignant. Our family came to understand the word “Cancer” that day in a very real and brutal manner. Further tests revealed three separate category four tumors in my father’s throat and throughout his neck. His chances of surviving treatment were very low. And, I was due to return to Spain that next week with my family. Our world changed in a moment.
My family and I stayed an extra week but did eventually return to Spain but our hearts remained in Kansas City. The next six months were unspeakably challenging for everyone; my father of course most of all. But he was a champion and, even when we were all told around Christmas time of 2003, say your goodbyes, he kept a better attitude than most while the rest of us slowly fell apart; ripped by the realization that we were about to lose the rock of our family and, for us and others, our hero. I bought a ticket to come home to KC for the first time in years that holiday season to spend time with my father and say my own goodbyes. My father had a very, very challenging 2004 but slowly began to improve and miraculously beat cancer but, around the middle of that year I felt like I needed to return home and be near my family.
That’s where a chance, long distance encounter with Nick Pflumm changed my life and started me down a path that has made me a better man, both personally and professionally. A long-time friend, who was employed with First National Bank of Olathe needed help with a presentation he was putting together for an awards meeting at the bank where Nick was the EVP and Chief Operating Officer. Actually, to be more accurate, this was a PowerPoint Presentation and my friend and two colleagues had been working on creating a “Jeopardy” style presentation for this meeting for a few weeks or so and just could quite figure out how to pull off a Jeopardy presentation from within PowerPoint. I received a frustrated email from my friend saying, “Tony, can you help me out? We can’t seem to get this to work.” Now, I’m a systems engineer and technology project manager by trade. “Engineering” PowerPoint presentations wasn’t precisely my core competency. And, as stated previously, I had been looking to return to Kansas City since my father’s cancer diagnosis in a similar capacity but between Sprint laying off thousands and Garmin not in a hiring cycle, pickings were slim for me.
As a matter of fact, when my friend emailed me, I was just arriving home, late in the evening, as Madrid is 7 hours ahead of Kansas City, following a 10+ hour work day and was pretty beat but my friend and I were very close so I said to myself, What the hell… I’ll try and do this for him. Well, the PowerPoint Presentation they had sent me was in bad shape. I had to scrap it and start from scratch. I was able to rebuild it and send it back to him about 40 minutes later completed and ready for use at the event, which was scheduled for that very evening, if memory serves me correctly. I later learned that the Jeopardy board was such a big hit that my friend was asked about how he pulled it together by Nick, who was seated at the same table that evening. My friend mentioned to him that it had been put together by a Kansas City native, living and working in Spain who was looking to find a job back home. Nick was intrigued and asked him for a copy of my résumé.
To fast forward, 7 phone interviews later, I had a soft offer to return to KC and work for First National Bank of Olathe in “some sort of IT capacity” to be determined and I jumped at it because there was something inspiring and motivating about Nick and the people who surrounded him that was palpable and I could even sense it over the phone and an ocean away. Selling my home, business, packing up everything I owned to ship back to the U.S. just made sense and Nick was the positive force that set me perfectly at ease with this decision. I never doubted myself. I still find it funny that, after working in Europe all of those years as an Telecommunications Engineer, Project Manager for European Commission funded Technology Projects, building eLearning, eBanking and other eCommerce related websites and end to end systems, it was a Jeopardy themed PowerPoint presentation that got me back home to continue my professional development and enjoy the gift of additional time with my father and the rest of my family. I would eventually become the Vice President of IT for the bank but I’d have taken this same leap of faith regardless in order to work with Nick, to be honest.
Working with and for Nick has been one of the most privileged experiences of my professional career. But working with and for Nick was never purely a professional interaction, as has been my experience. Nick took the time to get to know each member of his team and used the foundation of each relationship and his uncanny intuition to put each team member in a position to succeed by gifting each of us a measure of trust. I’m reminded of the parable of the talents as I felt that, regardless of the quantify of talents in measure of trust that I was gifted, Nick always left me with a desire to work very hard to validate this trust and earn additional opportunity; never for my own gain but rather for the team’s gain. This has always been Nick´s “Secret Sauce” in my experience. If he’d decided to be the manager of a sports team, he’d have won championships without a doubt but community banking was Nick’s playing field and he the consummate, hall of fame professional! Nick worked as a champion and inspired others to give a championship effort every day, like no other leader or colleague I’ve ever been around. Nick was one of a kind; there will never be another like him!
I know I’m not alone in this assessment but Nick is and always has been in a category of three men, I esteem well above any other famous athlete, business or inspirational figure and aim to model my own life after as a professional, husband, father and man. I place Nick in a category with my father and my father-in-law, the other two men I most admire and respect for their examples of leadership, work ethic, vision and sacrifice and aim to emulate each and every day. I consider my life enriched and better for having had the honor and the privilege of working with and for Nick Pflumm. I’ve also had the honor to get to know Donna and other members of Nick´s immediate and extended family and am thankful for having been warmly and respectfully treated by all, in any encounter I’ve had with the Pflumm family.
I feel like the effect Nick had on my life; both as a man and a professional is a part of me and always will be. Whether I needed a friendly set of ears about how to survive raising a child through their teen years or needed his critical review of a key technology strategy proposal, Nick always made you feel like yours was the most important issue on the table. It’s because of Nick that, whenever somebody comes into my office with something they need to vet, I take the time to make those investments of active listening in those relationships because that’s what Nick would do. I apply the same principle to my personal relationships as well. And that’s just it. I’ve come to measure myself as a human being in many respects by emulating the example that Nick gave to so many of us who were fortunate enough to spend time in his circle of influence. I’m better for this. Those who Nick’s life touched are also better for this as well.
God bless Nick and the entire Pflumm family.
I admit it. I’m a proud Lerd. What is a Lerd, you ask? Well, it’s not an Iranian village located in the Ardabil Province by the same name. Nor should it be confused with the popular Urban Dictionary definition citing it as a pejorative compound of the words Loser and Nerd.
Nope. To be called a Lerd in my universe is a great thing and should be worn as a badge of honor. Myself, along with several other technology professionals, who all happen to be Latino, began calling ourselves Lerds, which is short for Latino Nerds, over the past year. We routinely have fun one upping each other; always digging up the newest tech toy, tool, coding technique, etc. most often before many of the rest stumble upon them. This is a good way to stay up to date and ahead of the next budding trend before it hits the mainstream.
So, when I was invited by Sprint to test the new Samsung Galaxy Note II, you can imagine how I was quick to announce my good fortune to the rest of the Lerd faithful. Quickly, I was the envy of the circle and, I must admit, I’ve really had a lot of fun with the Note II and find it a remarkable device for multiple reasons.
However, it’s one thing to get a Lerd excited about testing the new gadget and it’s something very different to vet this product from the perspective of those who don’t spend the time and effort we do immersing ourselves in technology as the Lerds do. I had my work cut out for me, for sure. Here’s what I learned about the Galaxy Note II along with a sprinkling of my thoughts and commentary for your consideration:
- Size: The Galaxy Note II is the big, REALLY big brother of the Galaxy S family of Android mobile devices manufactured by Samsung. The screen on the Note II measures a whopping 5.5 inches! However, it’s not bulkier than the first Note. It’s actually slimmer and weighs less.
- Screen Resolution: The screen resolution of 1280 x 720 is actually slightly lower than the first Note. However, when you factor that the device is equipped with a 3100mAH capacity battery to give abundant life to the 1.6ghz quadcore processor, you have enough firepower under the hood to do quite a bit and a beefy enough battery to leave any other comparable iOS or Android device owner running to charge their device long before you even start to sweat!
- Operating System: I was especially excited to test the Note II’s Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system that comes with some neat Android features like Smart Stay, which keeps the screen on as long as it detects a face in front of it. Also of note, I enjoyed Jelly Bean specific app functionality like Google Now as well as enjoyed the generally speedier UI performance thanks to Project Peanut Butter. This operating system seems to have joined a lot of neat, cutting edge functionality in one package for a pleasant distribution.
- S Pen Improvements: While I’m not completely sold on the S Pen or “Intelligent Stylus” which, for example, will launch the on-board Note app when you pull the stylus out, seems to continue to improve at offering an appeal to those whose text input skills aren’t as refined as others’. However, the S-Voice improvements are considerable and are so advanced that you man be tempted to say: “SIRI who?” after a while.
- The Camera!: The camera is a strong point for the Note II. The rear facing camera is a solid 8 megapixels with auto focus that comes with and LED flash, which can be very bright but generates high quality photos. The front-facing camera comes in at 1.9 megapixels and is capable of HD recording. It’s up there with the best on-board mobile device cameras on the market though. My latest Twitter AVI was snapped on the Note II.
All of this really cool, well thought out functionality considered, a mobile device has to make sense for your life and personal/professional necessity. It’s in these simple terms that I feel the Galaxy Note II could really be useful for a user that falls into one of two main categories:
- Tablet Purgatory Folks: Are you a user who prefers the increased real-estate and ease of use of a larger screen Tablet device but also needs the portability and simpler mobility that comes with a standard, smart-phone type of device? If so, the Note II may be the ideal device to consider. It’s not as big as it seems and the simple act of reading and browsing news and emails on this larger screen is really a Goldilocks-esque “just-right” feel if you find yourself caught in that space between point A and point B for your mobile needs.
- Searching for the NOT iPhone, Android Device: Many Android users are loyal, just as many iPhone users are loyal. Many would argue that the Android manufacturer that has come closest to emulating what is good about the iOS user experience while offering the openness that Android operating systems are famous for, is Samsung. And the Note II isn’t their first trip to the Rodeo. But it may be their best offering yet. And, this device may be landmark in that is is a true hybrid between tablet and smart-phone, mobile device that’s quite unlike other offerings you may have seen previously.
I had a lot fun giving the Galaxy Note II a test drive. I received the call about this opportunity a couple of weeks after the Super Bowl commercial featuring Seth Rogan and Paul Rudd… along with a cameo by Lebron James at the very end. This was honestly one of my favorite Super Bowl commercials this year and did factor into getting me excited about this review and the inevitable bump it would provide within my “Lerd” circles when I was contacted so I feel it only appropriate to close out with that same spot. Who knows, if all of the rest of my Lerd-y commentary hasn’t convinced you to give the Galaxy Note II a look, heck, maybe this will: