Why You Won’t Get Our Christmas Card

Tis the season. Each year about this time, we start to receive Christmas cards from friends and family across the United States. Some send a card. Others send a newsletter with updates on what is happening with their family. All are enjoyed by our family and received with much love and appreciation. We too used to send the annual Christmas card. We did the photos, printing and postage.

Then one year I heard that you could feed and help someone in need for as little as $2.25 per person.

I’m not the sharpest guy in the room, but when I did some 8th grade math and looked at our annual spend for the cards, photos and postage, I knew that those dollars could be better spent. We talked it over as a family and decided that rather than send a card that will one day end up in the trash, or a box, we would dedicate those dollars to provide meals and help through Faith Mission of Columbus. We have kept that tradition going each year and now, thanks to social media, you probably already know more about our family than any card could ever tell.

To those that have sent us your annual card, thank you! We love seeing all that is happening with your family and in your life. Please consider this our annual Christmas card and know it is shared with the same thought and love. Also know that by accepting this token, you were also a part of helping to feed and assist someone in need right here in Columbus, Ohio.

Merry Christmas to each of you and a Happy New Year!

The Conrad Family

I’ll Always Remember You Young

We are just days away from loading up the car and making our way to Mount Vernon Nazarene University for your freshman year. As I stood next you yesterday, all I could think to myself were these simple words…..it’s your time now.

For as long as I can remember you have stood by my side. From the time I carried you to the time you were old enough to stand on your own. Basketball games, baseball games, concerts, church, conversations with everyone from celebrities to our neighbors and friends. You’ve done what you do and quietly observed. Believe me when I say that I knew you were there and each word I said was being recorded in your memory. As they say, it was all “caught not taught.”

As we drive away from the campus I will no doubt hope it was enough. There was no manual. There were no instructions for parenting when we put you in that car seat to come home for the first time. We did what we knew to do. We did the best we could. Your mom was far more influential in your spiritual journey. She taught you early and often to love Jesus. She wrote scripture on your heart. She was and is the spiritual rock in our family. Trust me when I say you will lean on that as you head off on your own.

From the beginning, I have tried to show you the world and all it has to offer. I’ve tried to show you what it means to lean in to every opportunity and experience. We’ve seen it all. I’ve taught you my experiences both good and bad. I’ve warned of the mistakes and shared the joy of a moment. Now it’s your turn. The pages are blank and the pen is in your hand. It’s your time now.

Several years ago we were at a friends house for a cookout. When a frisbee we were throwing went over a rusty, rickety old fence, you insisted that you go get it. I saw danger. I saw a concrete pad on the other side and a fence that would never hold you. I saw a face plant, ambulance and several missing teeth. You saw a frisbee. While everything in me screamed to not let you do it, I did. This was your adventure and I had to let you take it. Needless to say, no face plant. No ambulance. No missing teeth. Just a frisbee and confidence you had done it on your own.

It’s your time now.

This past weekend I stood next to you in your big six foot something shadow. You tower over me now as I once towered over you. In many ways my introverted extrovert personality hides behind you the way you once hid behind my leg. You’ve saved me in large crowds, public places and gatherings. I bet you never knew that. This is your time now.

Hey babies crawling on the carpet
No, you won’t be that little for long
One day you’ll move away but you’re still gonna stay
This innocent after you’re gone
‘Cause no matter how much time goes by
And no matter how much you grow up
For worse or for better, from now ’til forever
I’ll always remember you young
-Thomas Rhett (Remember You Young)
This is the circle of life. This is what our job was when we found out we were having a child. God placed you in our care that one day we would release you to the world to do the same. I can think of no better place for you to begin that journey. It was clear from the start. This is where your journey begins.
As we drive away know this much Austin Armstrong Conrad……this is your time now. All of the stories I told you now become the stories you will tell us. While I could not be more proud of who you already are (Mom gets 99.9% of that credit), I can’t wait to see all that you will become.
This 18 years has been my joy.
The future is too
This is your time now.

Responsible vs Accountable

A few years ago I was invited to a select training for future leaders of the organization I was a part of. We spent an entire week at our Corporate Headquarters learning what it took to succeed in leadership not only within our billion dollar organization, but anywhere you may find yourself in a leadership role. The course was called “Building Successful Leaders” and included some time with the CEO at the end of the week. During a Q and A session, he said something that I have carried with me ever since.

The question – “What do you look for in the top leadership of this organization?”

The answer – “You may not be responsible, but you ARE accountable.”

When we all gave him an odd look, he explained it as follows: “Let’s say that you are the captain of a ship. Let’s say that you put someone in charge of commanding the ship while you go take a nap. While you are asleep, the person you put in charge of the ship slams it into an iceberg and it begins to sink. Here’s the thing I need each of you to know – you may not have been responsible but you were accountable. It’s your ship. You will answer for what took place. You may not be responsible, but you are accountable.”

Those simple words have shaped my entire leadership philosophy ever since. No matter your area of leadership, it is important that we understand that we are accountable for the department, area, team, group, and the people that are under our leadership. Good leaders delegate. Great leaders understand that they are accountable for the results (good or bad) of those that you delegate to. It goes hand in hand with one of my other favorite leadership qualities –

“Own it”

As you lead your team, do so knowing that you are accountable. Accept that accountability when it goes well or when it goes wrong. If you “own it”, you can step forward to accept the consequences as much as you can accept the applause. Accountability also forces leaders to make sure that all details are covered before they release the control. So many want the title but won’t accept or own the responsibility that comes with itStop blaming anyone and everyone else. It’s your ship! OWN IT!! 

When it comes to leadership, you may not be responsible, but you are accountable.

*originally posted March, 2013

What I’ll Miss The Most

I see you travel baseball mom and dad. I’ve been there. You’re currently in that 2-3 week insanity that starts about a week or two before the season ends. Maybe it’s a text or an email. Could be a phone call or a cryptic comment around the fence at the game. “What are YOU doing next year?” I have worked in Senior Leadership at a fortune 500 company and been the Director of Operations for a 114,000 square foot dome. I’ve always said that this was the most stressful 2 weeks of my life. NOTHING compares to this 2 weeks. You become an agent for your travel baseball playing son. It’s insane.

I have news for you…

You’ll make it through it.

I have more news for you….

Just wait until the 18u year.

I tweeted that a week ago. Today I just watched our BJE 2019 team win another tournament. Last year it was about showcasing each player. Now that every player on the team is committed to play at the next level, this year is about staying ready and having fun. I’m not sure who is having more fun – the boys or the parents.

This is the end of the line.

This is the last run through long weekends in the sun.

and I’m gonna miss it.

I’m gonna miss the laughter

I’ll miss the meals and drinks after the games

I’ll miss the inside jokes and cutting up while our boys are playing their hearts out

I’ll miss opening up our home to a family driving a long way to play and spending the weekend in hotels.

I’ll miss the community we’ve developed

I’ll miss this circle of friends

As I thought about this driving home from another successful weekend, I couldn’t help but think of how exciting the next four years will be. While our boys will be competing for various colleges, I will watch each one with great interest. I’ll celebrate their success just as I have this summer and when they played for their various high schools.

What I’ll miss most is knowing that next summer we won’t all be back together again on some field for some tournament. We won’t get to cheer these players on and enjoy the gathering of all of our friends one more time.

There’s 2 more weekends and then we close this chapter. I want to thank the players and kids for giving us so much to cheer for. I want to wish each and every one of you nothing but success as you play in college. I also want to thank you for welcoming in my son to your team and our family into your circle.

It’s been our honor.

It’s been our joy.

It’s what I’ll miss the most.

P.S. Travel dad and mom…… I hope you make it to the day where you know exactly what I mean when you read this. I hope you make it to the same finish line. You will. Give them the best opportunity you can give them, no matter what that is. Enjoy the summers no matter how stressful. They’ll be gone before you know it.


These Eyes

Tomorrow these eyes turn Sweet 16. It doesn’t seem possible. I originally wrote this a long time ago. It’s still true today. Happy Sweet 16 Miss Emma. You’ll always be my Princess 1.0. I love you.

These eyes captured me the first time I saw them

These eyes ushered in being the father of a daughter for the first time

These eyes teach me about compassion, joy, sensitivity and courage

These eyes scan the room, the court, the gym to make sure I’m watching and approve

These eyes have seen me fail as a dad but extended grace over and over again

When these eyes lock mine, I melt

In these eyes I see so much potential and promise

These eyes are intelligent and silly and know how to balance both

These eyes welcome a stranger and make them a friend

These eyes are so similar to her mamas

These eyes can bring tears to mine with surprisingly little effort

These eyes will one day change the world

How do I know?

Because these eyes forever changed mine.

I love you Miss Em.