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Some of you may know that I like to give each year a theme that helps set the tone and gives focus to what I hope to accomplish. The theme for OEW this year is “Year of Empowerment”. Let me talk you through why I think this is a great moniker for 2022. 2020 started off as one hell of a year. We were locked in our homes due to Covid. We lost our President, Eric Schmitz. Everything we knew as normal went out the window. That drove 2020 to become the “Year of Community”. It was about reaching out to the family, making sure that we were all doing ok and dealing with isolation and a new virtual environment. Our focus became weathering the storm together and we did exactly that.

2021 brought us a bit of a different view. We were trying to return to some sense of normalcy and to get back to focusing on our Honorees. It became the “Year of Rebuilding” and saw OEW start to emerge from the darkest part of the pandemic and begin to figure out how to operate in the new normal. 2021 saw several firsts for us. Our first Gala, though virtual, gave us all a chance to come together and celebrate each other (even if it did cost me one epic beard…). We started to figure out how we were going to operate in a year faced with uncertainty and doubt. I am proud of how all of you handled that challenge. We saw new businesses form, blogs were created, people started to venture out and reclaim some part of their lives. OEW began to rebuild its leadership and charted a path for the future. It has not been a smooth journey, but we continue to move forward to become the OEW that we want to be.

Coming into 2022, I had a chance to look back at what we had accomplished over the last two years. We had some great challenges and even more great success stories. After my December holiday letter was sent out, a very thoughtful individual asked me about my motivations and gave me a chance to think about how to tackle the upcoming year. Last month’s letter was about seizing the opportunity to make a difference. Time is fleeting and waiting for the perfect opportunity to do something or make a change could mean it never happens. I don’t want to see that happen to any of us. The time to change, the time to make a difference is now. That lead me to the theme for this year, the “Year of Empowerment”. We are all responsible for our path. How we react to things, how we decide we want to spend our time and efforts, and yes, how we choose to recover and grow. No one can do that for you. Whether you are an Honoree or an OCA, OEW is here to help you achieve your goals. We will empower you to do great things, but we cannot do them for you. You must take charge of your progress. You must stick your hand in the air and say, “I want to do an event”. I urge you to challenge yourselves to be better than you were yesterday. Do something that makes you uncomfortable and forces you to grow. We won’t do it for you but we sure will be here to empower you to succeed.

Welcome to the Year of Empowerment, let’s crush 2022 together!

Memento Mori


P.S. For all of you that joined us at the Gala, thank you! It was great to see so many faces in person and I had an absolute blast spending time with you. Be on the lookout for the date for next year’s event. I hope to see more of you there.

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Happy January OEW Family! I hope you all had a great Holiday Season and are ready to hit the ground running in 2022. I know I am, and I’m looking forward to seeing you all at events and gatherings this year.

The letter to start the year comes from a response to the holiday message that went out in our card. I want to start by saying that when I was afforded the opportunity to lead this organization, I asked anyone who had a concern to please let me know because, without candid feedback, I can’t make things better and I am very grateful for this opportunity. I truly appreciate the response because it gave me pause to take an introspective look at what I want to tell my OEW family and allows me to share with you a bit more about how I think and lead. The individual asked why I signed the letter Memento Mori. They thought that maybe it was a bit tone-deaf when compared to the rest of the letter. For those who aren’t fluent in dead languages, Memento Mori is a Latin phrase that means “remember you must die”. That sounds grim when taken at face value, however, when we look at it more deeply, it has a very relevant meaning, especially to those who put their lives on the line.

Many of the ancient philosophers and Stoic leaders like Marcus Aurelius (if you haven’t read his work Meditations, I highly recommend that you do) believed it has a much deeper meaning. For them, it was an inspirational phrase that meant life is fleeting and tomorrow is not guaranteed, so make the most of today. It teaches us that it’s important to be present in the moment and to take stock in and enjoy today’s success. If we look at another Latin phrase, Carpe Diem… seize the day, I think we get another look at what our Stoic ancestors would have us think about today. I’m not talking about the YOLO kind of moment where someone does something ill-informed, but one that reminds us each day is a gift and that we should make the most of it. We shouldn’t waste our time on the trivial or vain but instead, live a life of purpose and meaning. Don’t waste your time on things that don’t matter (now if you think that means things like making your bed or doing the dishes… WRONG. Would you rather come home to a messy bed and a sink full of dishes or take a few minutes to put things in order, and reclaim your day? I bet we all come to the same conclusion…) Try to make yourself, and the world, a little better each day. It’s not about being perfect because perfection is an unobtainable goal. Don’t compare yourself to others because you aren’t them and you don’t deal with their challenges nor do they deal with yours. The only thing worthy of measuring yourself against is you. I’ve told many people, “if you are not where you think you should be, don’t be sorry, be better”.

So, that leads us to my challenge to you. Take a good hard look at yourself and ask one question, “am I better today than I was yesterday?” If you don’t like the answer, FIX IT! If you’re not sure how, FITFO… figure it the F* out. I realize that actual, deep introspection is not necessarily pleasant (and probably shouldn’t be) but it is necessary. It’s the only way to truly get better. Don’t wait for some arbitrary date like the New Year to start your journey. Today is the first day in the rest of your life. Don’t let things go unfinished – tomorrow is not guaranteed. Your best life starts now!

So, to all of you, Memento Mori!


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