Our Moment in the Sun

It was an experience that surpassed all expectations.

As I sit on this plane and reflect on the past few days, all I can really say is wow. On Sunday I flew to Las Vegas feeling nervous and excited; tonight I return home feeling relieved and empowered.

It was a great three days wearing this credential.

Lindsi and I made the most of our moment in the spotlight. Vegas was the temporary higher education marketing capital of the world this past week and we made our mark. Not only did we get the chance to network with the more than 1,400 higher professionals who attended the conference, we got to present to a large portion of them.

After earning the right to present via our successful proposal, we spent eight months preparing for our presentation. We were able to build something that adequately described Coastal Carolina University’s creative and innovative Generation Z-optimized Instagram strategy. With many rehearsals under our belts, we also developed the speaking confidence required to supplement our ideas.

We presented “Stop Posting, Start Collaborating: Digital and Gen Z.”

But, just to be sure, you could find the two of us rehearsing our presentation once more in a random hallway of Caesars Palace on Monday morning at 6 a.m. When we concluded, we looked at each other and said we got this. Although still nervous, we knew we had done pretty much all we could do.

At 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, the stage was ours. For the past 20 minutes we had watched person after person filter into our conference room, taking up every single chair and crowding around the sides and back. The room was overflowing with conference attendees either standing or literally sitting on the floor.

People filled the conference room for our American Marketing Association presentation.

There was no turning back.

We hit the audience with our special intro and then we aced each of our initial speaking moments. It was at this point that the jitters went away and we could simply do our thing. To be on that stage was exhilarating and we couldn’t have asked for a more engaged crowd; they laughed at the appropriate times, asked questions throughout the entire presentation, and stuck around long after we finished to chat with us face-to-face.

Me presenting on Monday.

The 60-minute opportunity allowed Lindsi and I to represent Coastal Carolina University but more importantly to really credit our incredible University Marketing and Communication team for providing the necessary talent and support to implement the tactics of our Instagram strategy. You see, the most repeated question we received during our session and throughout the entire conference was this: How are you able to do so much?

Simple. It is because we have the best team.

After we finished the presentation, Lindsi kept saying Oh my gosh, Brent. Oh my gosh. The adrenaline was still pumping through our veins as we tried to contain our excitement after presenting in front of a capacity crowd made up of the brightest higher ed marketers in the country. We were on Cloud 9.

We wouldn’t step off that cloud for the rest of the conference. As Lindsi described it, it was as if we were celebrities. Throughout the next two days we were stopped not just inside the conference but in the elevators as well. People wanted to compliment our presentation and engage with us about our social media strategy. To develop so many new connections based off our presentation was really cool.

I wouldn’t have wanted to present with anyone more than Lindsi Glass. As our associate vice president for marketing and branding (and my supervisor), she has allowed #CCUSocialMedia to do what we feel is necessary to successfully connect with our audience. As I mentioned before, we make a great team and it was evidenced again this week.

It was an honor to present with Lindsi.

It will be tough to forget this week. We took the ideas we came up with in little Conway, S.C., and presented them in LAS VEGAS at CAESARS PALACE in front of lots of people. I am thankful for this career highlight but even more appreciative to everyone at Coastal Carolina for making it possible. Don’t Blink.

A Career Moment in Las Vegas

In just a couple hours, I will be hopping on a plane bound for Las Vegas with my supervisor so we can go do something we have worked hard on for the past eight months.

In March, Lindsi Glass, our associate vice president for marketing and branding, asked if I wanted to work on a proposal with her to present at a conference. But it wasn’t just any conference. She wanted to submit to the American Marketing Association in hopes that we would receive an invitation to present at the 2019 AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education.

Lindsi and I will be presenting at the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education on Monday, Nov. 11.

Long shot? Perhaps. But we had a great presentation topic and we drafted an intriguing proposal. A couple months after we submitted, we received word that our proposal had been accepted! We took a day or two to celebrate the achievement and then we started the process of mapping out our presentation. Little by little it started to come together. Lindsi and I are both Type A personalities so we set deadlines and objectives to make sure our prep was productive and that we would be in a position to succeed come tomorrow.

Ah yes, tomorrow. In front of higher education marketing executives and staffers from all across the country, we will take the stage at Caesars Palace to represent Coastal Carolina University the best way we can. We will present “Stop Posting. Start Collaborating. Gen Z and Digital.” Using research and examples from our #CCU social media strategy, we will explain how we optimized our Instagram account (@ccuchanticleers) for Generation Z. We will provide six tactics we used to formulate our strategy and the research that inspired each one.

Monday afternoon will be a career highlight for me. This will be my first time presenting at a national conference and to have it come at one of this stature makes it even sweeter. But this milestone isn’t just about professional growth, it is about personal growth too. I probably took too many trips to Las Vegas in my early and mid-20s simply to have fun. Six years after my last visit to the city, I will return to Vegas not as a young, immature know-it-all but as a higher education professional.

I can’t thank Lindsi enough for allowing me to work with her on this. We make a good team and it has been a pleasure watching everything come together. Cross your fingers that it all pays off tomorrow! Don’t Blink.

Under the Lights Thursday Rundown

Last Thursday Rundown I was writing on Halloween! It is now November and we are four weeks away from Thanksgiving. Here we go with my first Thursday Rundown of the month…

My Little Girl – We recently got back our family photos and I hope to share some of those in the near future. But tonight I just wanted to share Sloan’s school photo. There is only one question to ask: Does she look like mommy or daddy?!

This little girl though…

Trick-or-Treating with Sloan – Before Sid called to tell us to come home, Sloan and I had a great time navigating the streets of our neighborhood on Halloween. I once again pushed Sloan in her car as we trick-or-treated at some pretty festive houses. In South Carolina, because it is always nice out, you don’t go up to the door because people just set up a table at the end of the driveway and pass out candy that way. This was my sixth Halloween in Myrtle Beach and I am still not used to candy melting because it is so hot.

Sloan and I pulled up to one of those houses that had a bucket outside with nobody occupying it.

That’s A Long Time to Celebrate Christmas – My friend posted the below image on her Facebook wall. I know a lot of people who follow a similar calendar, including some who don’t even bother to circle the Thanksgiving dates. Anyway, I thought it was pretty funny.

Do you follow a calendar like this?

Cheer for the Chants – Tonight, Coastal Carolina University will be on national television once again. Our football team is hosting a Thursday night contest against Louisiana at 7:30 p.m. ET. To all my west coast friends, make sure to tune in to ESPNU if you want to see our teal turf in all of its glory under the lights. Go Chants!

Watch the Chants on Thursday night football.

C-SPAN Bus – A rather large vehicle rolled onto campus today. The famous C-SPAN Bus, rivaled only in popularity by the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, stopped by Coastal Carolina University for a few hours today. The bus travels the country and stops at colleges and high schools to expose Americans to C-Span’s political and educational resources. I had a chance to visit the bus while covering it for social media and was impressed by the interactive experience that it offered.

It was interesting to visit the C-SPAN Bus today. It made a visit to Coastal Carolina University.

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Thanks for spending part of your Thursday evening with me. I will be leaving the state on Sunday but will touch base with you that morning with details. Don’t Blink.

Ranking the Cap’n Crunch Cereals

On Friday evening, I found myself in Kroger. The supermarket chain has incredible deals it rolls out on Fridays and Saturdays for members of its loyalty program. This past weekend, you could purchase boxes of Life and Cap’n Crunch variety cereals for $.99. Shelling out less than a dollar for premium cereal isn’t bad! I went in and promptly purchased four boxes.

A look at the Kroger cereal sale I took advantage of last Friday.

When I was deciding what specific kind to purchase, I found myself thinking about my history with Cap’n Crunch and how much I actually like it. Although it didn’t make my short list for my favorite unhealthy cereals, it is definitely an honorable mention. In tonight’s blog post, I want to rank the traditional Cap’n Crunch cereals. Notice how I used “traditional”? Very limited edition varieties such as the Blueberry Pancake Crunch flavor I tried last year are not eligible.

5. Cap’n Crunch – Someone had to be at the bottom, right? It isn’t that I don’t like the original Cap’n Crunch cereal, it is just that it is a little too boring for me. I love the flavor and I will put these yellow pieces of goodness on my froyo in a heartbeat, but I can’t say it is my favorite variety.

The original Cap’n Crunch. Good, just a little boring.

4. Ooops All Berries – When I eat Crunch Berries, I eat all the yellow pieces first so I can save the best for last. No doubt about it, the berries are tastier than the yellow pieces, which is why it is ahead of the original version. With that said, both pieces still need each other to be a great team. Thus, the Oops All Berries cereal finds itself in the bottom half of the countdown. While I really enjoy the taste of the berries, it needs the yellow pieces just like the marshmallows of Lucky Charms needs the toasted oat pieces.

Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.

3. Peanut Butter Crunch – This variety is kind of interesting because it contains no components of the other cereals…no yellow pieces or berries. Rather, you get peanut butter-flavored puffs that have no taste-resemblance to anything else within the Cap’n Crunch brand. Not that it matters to me. As a peanut butter fanatic, I really enjoy this cereal. I could eat it for at least a week straight but it does have one problem: its main competitor, Reese’s Puffs, is just so much better. It is like Peanut Butter Crunch is the less cool, chunkier older brother to the rich, lighter Reese’s Puffs.

This cereal is good…but not as good as Reese’s Puffs.

2. Crunch Berries – A classic! Not even Mike & Ike has anything on this duo. Just the aroma given off by this cereal is a winner. Not only do I like Crunch Berries but Sloan does too, eating it both dry and with milk. Speaking of eating it with milk, Crunch Berries is a cereal that tastes really, really good soggy (even if it takes away the “crunch”). A cereal that was a favorite of mine as a child and as an adult, it finishes in second place.

Can’t beat this combo! I love Crunch Berries.

1. Christmas Crunch – As a kid, I knew the Christmas season had arrived when I saw the boxes of Christmas Crunch on the shelves. Basically a clone of Crunch Berries just with different colors, the taste didn’t need to be sold on me. But the Christmas tie-in with the Captain on the front of the box with the Santa hat is what makes this cereal so magical to me. It screams the holiday season and even made a 2017 blog post that listed my top seasonal treats. In the introduction I mentioned that I wouldn’t include limited editions in this post but Christmas Crunch is produced every single year so I don’t consider it “limited,” I just consider it good.

This cereal brings back so many great holiday memories.

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Who needs Morgan when you have Crunch? There is no question about who the superior captain is in my book. Have a great night, friends. Don’t Blink.

The Most Valuable Currency

Chew on this for a moment…

Ponder this for a second.

No need to write a lot tonight because the above quote pretty much says it all. Yes, it is from last year’s Life’s Little Instructions Calendar but it is as relevant today as it was 15 years ago and will still carry the same weight 15 years from now.

As we start to think about Thanksgiving and the holiday season, it is important to keep in mind what true wealth is. In an age where our culture and those around us might measure richness by material objects, we must remember that the greatest thing given to us is love––both in the capacity to give and to receive.

So I ask that throughout the rest of 2019 to be especially mindful of those people who love you. Appreciate them and thank them, because the currency they transfer to you is much more valuable than the American Dollar.

But don’t keep all that love in the bank. Make sure to give it and express it to those around you. In much the same way that we can easily accept monetary gifts while neglecting to give back, the same goes for love.

Remember, if you love and are loved, you are richer than most. Don’t Blink.

No Soda November

Last night, I saw something on Facebook that was eye-opening and a little discouraging. One of my friends had shared a graphic that delivered the below sobering news.

Do you like soda? If so, you must REALLY like sugar.

SIX donuts?! EIGHTEEN cookies?! How could a harmless Dr. Pepper pack as much sugar as a half dozen Krispy Kremes?

In a way, I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised. I distinctly remember a junior high PE coach bluntly telling us that soda was “poison for the body.” Perhaps my parents weren’t crazy for only letting us drink it every now and then. Obviously dentists don’t warn about its enamel-decaying tendencies for nothing.

But man oh man, even with the warnings, that is a boatload of sugar! Unfortunately for me, I can’t ignore it. Over the past few years, I have bathed my teeth in layer after layer of sugar. As someone who avoided soda and would develop a headache if I even drank a small glass of the stuff, I ended up developing a taste for it. I now drink soda more days than not.

And I like it.

Although I would probably participate in No Soda November before No Shave November, I don’t plan to participate in either this month. I drank some Kroger peach soda on both Friday and Saturday so I already have a couple blemishes on the challenge.

I opened the month of November by indulging in this.

My thoughts on No Soda November? It definitely isn’t a bad thing. Despite the fact that I believe many of these well-intentioned initiatives become a little diluted just because there are so many of them, if it motivates at least some people to skip out on carbonated drinks it can’t be a bad thing. Another positive is that even if people don’t commit to the challenge, it does raise awareness. Even though I am still drinking soda, I now know the outrageous amount of sugar I am consuming with each serving.

So friends, remember: most of the added sugar in our diets comes from what we drink, not what we eat. As we reflect on this fact over the next four weeks, let’s remember to reach for a bottled water every now and then instead of that Coke. Don’t Blink.

First Ever Halloween Thursday Rundown

Happy Halloween! The last time that Halloween fell on a Thursday was in 2013 and I did not write a Thursday Rundown that day. So, that means this is my first ever Halloween Day Thursday Rundown. Oh my, the pressure!!

Preparing For a Long Night – Our neighborhood is insane on Halloween. Think of a Halloween movie that shows a daytime, over-the-top trick-or-treating scene because that is where we live. Children in the Myrtle Beach area come from near and far to trick-or-treat in our hood, numerous lawn parties take place, and the flashing lights of police cruisers illuminate the streets. We will undoubtedly run out of candy sooner rather than later but there is little we can do––even if we raided the Hershey’s factory I doubt we would have enough to satisfy the crowds we will soon see.

Sidney and Sloan hanging out on the driveway on Halloween night in 2018.

Please, Mommy – Passing out candy in our neighborhood on Halloween is an experience but actually trick-or-treating in it is too! Because Sloan has already attended three different trunk-or-treats and accumulated a lot of candy, Sidney floated the idea of having her sit tonight out. Thankfully, she listened to my pleas and will allow Sloan to have one last trick-or-treating hurrah as Peppa Pig. I had to reason that the previous functions were just tune ups for the main event and that her daddy would be just a tad disappointed if he didn’t get to trick-or-treat too. My understanding wife conceded! Peppa Pig and her child-like father will be on the streets tonight.

Sloan participated in her third trunk-or-treat event on Tuesday night. It was hosted by the Spadoni College of Education (Coastal Carolina University). Her best friend, Jacqueline, participated too.

Another Pig in the Family – Sloan isn’t the only person in our family dressing up as a pig for Halloween. Sid joined her fellow fourth grade teachers by dressing as a pig to fit the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf theme. Don’t they all look great? When Sloan saw Sid in her costume, she said “Oooohhh you’re Mama Pig!” (a character from “Peppa Pig”). Not exactly, but I guess it works.

Sid (on the far left) dressed up as a pig to fit the Three Little Pigs and Big Bad Wolf theme that her fourth grade teacher team executed.

Baby Update – Time is flying in Sidney’s second pregnancy. On Saturday, she will reach 23 weeks. We know the sex and we have the full name picked out. We even have a delivery date scheduled! I could feel the baby kicking for the first time yesterday and I must admit it was pretty cool. Sid keeps telling people that this pregnancy has been easier than the previous one so let’s hope that it continues.

Sid is doing great as she approaches 23 weeks.

All About the Presentation – I often say that the food at all family Mexican restaurants tastes the same to me. Although I have recently made some concessions, up until last Saturday I would still say that my two enchilada platter at Place A looks very similar to my two enchilada platter at Place B. This past weekend we ate at the El Cerro Grande location on 29th Ave. Let me tell you, the exterior of the restaurant is as welcoming as the way the food is presented. Usually I don’t notice things such as food presentation but the neat and colorful way my dinner came out made me take a moment to appreciate it.

Have you ever seen a Mexican restaurant with a facade quite like this? I bet you haven’t seen enchiladas, rice, and beans looking this good either. Well done, El Cerro.

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Okay, I really got to go because trick-or-treaters are starting to come to the house! I hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween. Make sure to give your best candy to the trick-or-treaters who dress in the best costumes. Don’t Blink.

Sloan’s Opinion of Halloween

Sid and I are exact opposites when it comes to Halloween. I really enjoy the holiday while she can’t stand it. The basis for this difference of opinion is simple: I like scary and spooky things and Sid doesn’t.

I get a thrill going through haunted house attractions and although I usually don’t binge watch anything, I will watch horror movie marathons. I love a good ghost story and I find cemeteries fascinating. Sid doesn’t embrace the “spooky scary” feeling I enjoy and that is just fine.

But what about Sloan?

We wondered how the child of two parents with opposite opinions on all things spooky would embrace Halloween. Sloan was too young the past two years to really gauge how she felt, but this Halloween season it has been made clear: She is a fan!

Sloan is a Halloween fan!

Well, I guess it didn’t even take until “this Halloween season” to realize her preference. Halloween-related videos started playing on her iPad back in May. When she didn’t skip over them I knew she would most likely take after me. The long six-month buildup to October 31 has turned Sloan into one of Halloween’s biggest and youngest fans. She sleeps with a Halloween book, sings Halloween songs, and spontaneously yells “Happy Halloween.” She likes to drape a blanket over her head and run around the house like a ghost. She likes to “play vampires” with me. She pleads with us to drive by houses that have Halloween displays in the front lawns.

Even without a piece of Halloween candy in her system, she is absolutely giddy for the holiday.

I can appreciate that. Although I figured she was still too young for me to take her through Dr. Screams this year, that future daddy-daughter date night might not be too far away. It is great to have another Halloween fan in the house! Don’t Blink.

It’s a Peppa Pig Halloween

On our way to Target, Sid and I agreed that we would let Sloan decide on her Halloween costume this year. What better way to empower her to start making her own choices, right? We got to the store and went to the costume section. Sid and I let Sloan roam free as she looked up and down the aisles. After a couple minutes, we asked Sloan what she wanted to be. Our little girl pointed at a costume and enthusiastically said, “THIS!”

It was a food truck costume.

I mean, it’s cute, but not what we necessarily wanted Sloan to be for Halloween.

Sid and I looked at each other. We had good intentions but we didn’t know if the food truck costume would be the best representation of Sloan. After some husband-wife nonverbal communication, we pivoted.

“How about Peppa Pig?” Sidney countered to Sloan.

It’s a Peppa Pig Halloween for Sloan.

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After a weekend full of Halloween festivities, Sloan’s costume is no longer a surprise. She danced and honked her way through three different Halloween events as the loveable British pig on Friday and Saturday.

This girl was meant to be Peppa.

Trust us, Sloan going as Peppa makes much more sense than a food truck. She watches Peppa Pig so much that she randomly speaks in an English accent at least a couple times per day. Heck, because of the show she refers to Santa Claus as Father Christmas.

Sloan makes a pretty convincing Peppa.

Luckily, Sloan quickly forgot about her food truck ambitions and has embraced Peppa. Although she prefers to push back the hood of her costume, she is still pretty convincing. The general public seems to feel the same way as the feedback from strangers has been positive. I never knew Peppa Pig was so popular!

Sloan has already got her (our) money’s worth with her Peppa costume.

Pig. Unicorn. Flamingo. The Halloween legacy of Sloan Anne Reser continues. She will still don Peppa several more times this week so it is still early to think about next year, but it will be interesting to see what else will be added to her eclectic Halloween mix. Don’t Blink.

Photo Bomb Thursday Rundown

Let the Halloween festivities begin. We are exactly one week away from the spooky holiday so you can expect plenty of appropriate activities and events over the next several days. Before you start to celebrate too hard, let’s begin with the Thursday Rundown.

Classic Photo Bomb – As I mentioned last night, we went to a Gamecock football game with my dad last weekend. After we finished at our tailgate, Sidney and I took a go-cart shuttle to the stadium while our dads decided to walk. We made it to the gate before they did so we decided to pass the time by taking a selfie. It turns out that they were closer behind us than I thought. As I pushed the button on my phone, my dad came out of nowhere and jumped perfectly into the frame for an epic photo bomb.

Well played, dad.

Maui Burst Mt. Dew – In an act of kindness, Geoff, my friend and co-worker, gave me a can of Maui Burst Mt. Dew to take home to my wife. The limited time new flavor, only found at Dollar General stores, is pineapple-flavored. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, my wife’s pregnancy craving is pineapple. Apparently her pineapple craving wasn’t on the brink of overpowering last night because she split the soda with me. My opinion? It is a very smooth, tropical-tasting soda with a detectable pineapple flavor. I thought it was pretty good! And yes, Geoff is the same dude who let me try Voo-Dew last month.

The Maui Burst Mt. Dew is pretty good.

Funnel Cake Mix – A few weeks ago, a couple girls in high school rang our doorbell. They were part of their school’s choir ensemble and were selling cookie dough and other items for a fundraiser. One of those “other items” was a funnel cake mix. Sid is a funnel cake fanatic so that is what we ordered. A couple nights ago, the girls were back with the product we purchased. Perhaps I should have waited until we (“we” meaning Sid) prepared it, but I couldn’t resist. Pretty soon, we will be bringing the carnival to our kitchen! Stay tuned…

We purchased funnel cake mix from a high school fundraiser.

Family Photos – We did something for the first time as a family last Friday…we went to have formal family portraits taken. St. Andrew is putting together a church directory and we answered the call to participate. The company that our parish hired gave us a pretty comprehensive photo shoot and had us feeling pretty good. However, my positive feeling faded away when we sat down to talk packages. Dang, they are expensive! They talked us out of settling for the complimentary 8×10 photo that all parishioners receive and shelling out a good amount for an elaborate package. Oh well, these photos will last forever and I am pretty excited to see some of them.

In addition to the photos we took as a family, the photographer also took individual pictures of Sloan.

Teacher Memes – Four years ago, Sidney shared with me this link that contained 61 absolutely HILARIOUS teacher memes. Then, three years ago, my wife wrote a guest blog post on Don’t Blink counting down her personal five favorite teacher memes. You don’t have to be a teacher or a teacher’s spouse to appreciate these…as long as you have learned from a teacher in your entire life you are bound to laugh.

You got to read some of these teacher memes…they are just as funny now as they were four years ago.

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For those hitting the Halloween party circuit this weekend, be safe! Thanks for reading my latest rundown and have a great night. Don’t Blink.