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A Note from Ann Generally, I let Eric write our annual letters. I find his style and humor to be refreshing and, frankly, he loves to use his time writing. It has been almost four years since Eric went to work for Northwestern Mutual in their Human Resources department—a job we’re very thankful that he’s been given and where he’s been blessed with many great co-workers and friends. However, Eric has now spent nearly six years at Fortune 500 companies. I’m beginning to wonder what toll this exposure to a world driven by metrics, process efficiencies, and bottom lines will have on him. Sadly, this letter may be a case in point. In recent years, during important family conversations Eric has been increasingly saying things like “Don’t you think Ambrose is becoming trapped in a development silo? I think we need to sunset that current track and expose him to other educational swim lanes, that way it will be easier for him to perform knowledge transfer moving forward.” Say, what? Then there was this response: “Let’s keep the lines of communication open and then circle back next week and reassess our position.” All I wanted to know was which farmer we should buy our potatoes from and he brings up “communication lines” and “reassessments.” Who talks like this? A couple weeks ago, Eric handed me his draft of this year’s annual letter. I didn’t have the heart (or the time) to edit it too heavily—to add our family’s heart and soul to his stale prose and glossy charts. His initial draft included a comprehensive spreadsheet report, complete with full-color Pivot tables and charts, apparently depicting that our family’s decreased reliance on conventional technologies increases our sustainability over time and secures our long-term growth. Our grandparents will have a hard enough time deciphering “the annual report” as it is, so I made him take the Pivot tables out. I also threw in a bunch of family pictures. Eric refused to put them in the body of the “report” because he said doing so would “introduce an element of intangibility that would undercut my account’s reliability and encourage our audience to reinterpret the hard data in light of subjective interpretations of family images.” I don’t care. I love my family and want to share our joy with

you, so I’m including them as part of this note—allowing Eric’s precious integrity to be retained. I did convince Eric to include a link to our family’s video page—though he insisted that it be clearly labeled as an addendum. So be it. On the plus side, I hope you’ll find Eric’s “Project Nelson Annual Report” to be—if not heart-felt—detailed, comprehensive, accurate, and, above all, efficient. On behalf of our whole Nelson family, have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.

Project Nelson Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2011 Tags: Family; 2011; Personal; Report

Scope This report details the happenings of Project Nelson (primary stakeholder: Eric Nelson, Ann Nelson) for the fiscal year 2011 (which for our group runs from Feb 14, 2010 through Feb 13, 2011).

Executive Summary: Project Nelson continued to successfully service their clients, both internal and external, throughout this past year. Our internal clients (Ambrose, Viggo, and Keanu) continue to demonstrate robust growth which, given current resource allocation and implemented processes, we anticipate should easily continue well into the next fiscal year. According to surveys administered by third parties, external clients (mainly immediate family, friends, church community, and Carthage) report high service levels this past year. Additionally, we continue to see increasing value in our focus on vintage communication methods as doing so has helped enhance the team’s capacity to foster strategic relationships, especially with family, friends, and church clients. The team has also found that synergy equips both parties to report increased productivity in core areas. These gains, mostly resource enhancement, will result in long-term increases in marketability and build a secure foundation with higher returns in the next 20-30 years as younger team members transition to the workplace and the investments the team is making today will be realized in the revenue streams generated by Ambrose, Viggo, and Keanu.

Resource Highlights Project Nelson contains multiple phases. Until 2008, the project had uniformity since the key resources only had an 18-month difference. Consequently, each component moved, more a less, through phases together. With the addition of Keanu to our resource pool, Project Nelson has had to shepherd resources through multiple phases. So, whereas Ambrose and Viggo are both in the elementary space, Keanu is alone in the toddler space.

Resource Management Supporting resources as they transition through separate spaces requires expert-level project management acumen, and Ann Nelson has displayed a strong competence in this area.

Ambrose Ann has deftly navigated Ambrose’s knowledge acquisition during this past year, helping him transition into a strong reader whose interests in reading is well-aligned with his reading competency. He has also identified and added other skills to his profile this past year, mostly in artistic space. This training has been outsourced to several on-shore resources. Through mentoring sessions with a third party, Dan Thornton, and classes (mostly pottery) at Racine’s Wustum’s Museum, Ambrose has proven himself an emerging artist with many potential development opportunities, and when coupled with his reading skills promises significant future monetary gains. (see video)

Resource Height Comparision Viggo

60 Height (inches)

Viggo, too, has skill development on an impressive scale—especially, in the musical space. Back in Q4 of 2010 he began lessons, recycling one of Ann’s old guitars and having session with Ann’s childhood guitar teacher, Jeff. The amount of change in Viggo’s guitar skills has an impressive delta. Although he still has several identified growth areas, particularly as he seeks to gain increased comfort playing before audiences outside the project team, the complexity he’s mastered in a year’s time is praiseworthy.

50 40 30 20 10 0 0

1 Age








Keanu Our toddler client, Keanu (or as he is called Keanu Viggo Ambrose by himself and other project team members, “Nu Nu”), has a distinct set of competencies and a skill set that, although still in the development stage, is finding clarity even as it emerges. His disposition continues to be well-suited for future success in inter-client relations, and although he shows little exhibition of adept business acumen, he does show strong tendencies towards technical learning, developing healthy peer relationships, taking direction from others, and humor. His interests are broadening, finding increased alignment with the rest of the team—appropriating free time towards activities involving Legos, Star Wars, Batman, reading, and Scooby Doo and less on former interests, like Sesame Street. This increasing alignment within the team is a great success, allowing for improved efficiency metrics as large group time can be more easily planned and executed with less segmentation or personnel push back. (see video)

Transportation In Q1, project leaders decided to initiate a cost-saving measure in the transportation sector. Having recently attained the 250,000-mile milestone with the team’s blue Saturn, it was decided to run a comparative cost analysis of the two vehicles: the Saturn vs. van. We had five years worth of data from the van and more than decade worth of data on the Saturn. From this data, it was determined that the van’s increased fuel and insurance costs did not result in enough added value to justify the expense. As these discussions progressed an opportunity arose to obtain another Saturn sedan—a vehicle just as old as our group’s blue Saturn but with half as many miles. Although the risk of acquiring an older vehicle didn’t work as favorably as we had hoped as the vehicle required more capital investments than initially scoped. If the saving in on-going costs continues on its current trajectory, the investment will likely prove to be beneficial to the bottom line.

New Technologies In the second quarter, Eric’s father increased his time allocation towards development on an iPhone/iPad music app. Eric has been offering on-going consultation on the app’s development, usability, and rollout. To improve his abilities, Eric’s father purchased an iPad for the project team to allow for hands-on quality assurance (QA) testing of the app. This device acquisition has led to the speculation that Project Nelson may be the only entity in the world to own an iPad but refuse to own a cellular device. While used for the music app’s QA, Keanu performs a surprisingly high percentage of device interactions. It seems his love of family photography is well matched for the device’s interactive, yet intuitive photo display. In fact, for a while, Keanu referred to it as “my Nu Nu.”

Quarterly Performance Quarter 1 (Feb—Apr) Summary  Annual Bethke group team-building retreat  Addition of new cousin Katharina Driver  Ann’s trip to Kansas City to serve as supplemental staffing for the Drivers  Project Nelson group travels for meet-and-greet in Kansas City  Eric’s continued knowledge transfer opportunity at Carthage, still teaching Christian Ethics  Launch of Eric’s experimentation in barefoot running Highlights This quarter was marked by dual trips to visit Missouri and assimilate our new niece into the national project team. Air travel was secured for the initial solo trip. For the second, the team shared transportation resources in a caravan with Team Larrabee. This team-building venture between Project Nelson and Project Driver was a success. Opportunities for trust and team building between the cousins secured better alignment and cooperation between the teams (see A Toddler Christmas video).

Quarter 2 (May—Jul) Summary  Two-week Toronto/Niagara Falls on-site information gathering tour (see video)  Project Nelson camping at Terry Andrae (Sheboygan) with Mike & Lisa  Manager/Direct Report camping at South Kettle Moraine (Whitewater) with Eric/Viggo  Unsuccessful attempt to job shadow Michael Bay on Transformers 3 set  Kaleb Miller annual age celebration Highlights Project Nelson activity can often be prioritized by reviewing picture-count data. Using that metric, the trip to Canada was clearly the most significant event this fiscal year. Visiting Toronto’s museums, space needle, and wildlife parks was informational and boosted team morale. The second leg of the trip went to Niagara Falls where picture acquisition spiked. A client survey revealed that our visit to the travelling Harry Potter Exhibition where the team saw costumes and props from the movies was the highest rated interaction experienced during the tour. (see Keanu’s one-minute tour video)

Quarter 3 (Aug—Oct) Summary  Manager/Direct Report camping at Perrot State Park (La Crosse) with Eric/Ambrose  Annual trip with the male members of Bowers project team (Lake Kegonsa)  Annual Project Nelson trip to the Twin Cities  Death of Grandma Larrabee  Eric’s fall knowledge transfer opportunity at Carthage  Addition of new cousin Jossy Miller (see Keanu’s welcome video) Highlights Trips also marked this quarter’s time. The final camping excursions of the year occurred, peaking with Eric and Ambrose’s trip where they saw over a dozen species of wild animals, including bald eagles, pelicans, a muskrat, and even a close encounter with a fox snake. Proving that quantity doesn’t win over quality, the annual trip with the Bowers culminated in the discovery of a snapping turtle nest with

dozens of eggs. Our trip to the Twin Cities was marked by a birthday celebration for the boys’ greatgrandmother emeritus and a behind-the-scenes personal tour of Minneapolis’s impressive new Guthrie Theater. Finally, the second addition to the family finally arrived in September when Joselyn Miller finally heeded Keanu’s “Jossy come out!” exhortations.

Quarter 4 (Nov—Jan) Summary  Midnight screening of Harry Potter 7  Wisconsin Dells team-building trip with entire Bowers project team  Ambrose and Viggo Disney World trip with Larrabee grandparents and cousin Alie  Graduation acknowledgement for Eric’s cousin  Eric becomes Super Bowl champion of his work’s fantasy league with all-Packer roster  Death of Grandma Bethke  Groundhog Day Blizzard (see videos) Highlights Sadly, this quarter was marked by the death of Eric’s Grandma Bethke. It was long in coming, but sad to see the last of the century-long ancestral connection to Sheboygan pass away. The funeral afforded dual opportunities to see Eric’s cousins, the Gordons, twice in one quarter. Cousin Josh Gordon graduated from college, and the team celebrated the milestone with the family in Stevens Point. (see highlight video) The highlight for Ambrose and Viggo was their trip to Disney World with the Larrabees. The longweekend trip afforded them opportunities to see the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Apparently Splash Mountain is still a big hit. It was around this time that Eric completed his running season with over 250 miles of shoe-free running, no injuries, and improved performance metrics. The Harry Potter theme carried throughout the year as the family read several books together and then Ann, Ambrose, and Viggo went to the midnight screening of the new film. Everyone actually stayed up the entire time—arriving home around 3 am—and then leaving the next day to go to the Dells with the Bowers. Eric’s absence from the Harry Potter screening was offset with the opportunity to see two Oscar-nominated films prior to their release date: Inception and True Grit.

Addendums Project Nelson has a limited online presence, but more details can be found at

Nelson Valentine Letter 2011  

Annual Nelson family newsletter, complete with links to video.

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