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The Ahlquist Top 10 of 2019

For the last six years, Lloyd and I have created a top 10 list featuring moments, highlights, and announcements that made the year memorable for the Ahlquist fam. Some were hard, most were super happy. That’s the ride of life.

As much as this is a public post, this annual piece has become an important reflection point for Lloyd and me – no matter the number of views. So if you’re checking this out, howdy and hello.

Feel free to check out the last years too 201320142015, 2016, 2017 and 2018!

So here is 2019, in no particular order… 

The Ahlquist Top 10 of 2019

1. Mrs. Hutchinson is Officially Retired!

After 35 years of teaching primarily Kindergarten, my mom, warmingly referred to by many as “Mrs. Hutchinson” retired. We all traveled to throw her the best gathering we knew how. As the daughter of a teacher (in a very small town), I experienced the awe of her students seeing their teacher “off duty” at the grocery store. But my favorite thing was seeing how she could light up her classroom, with a cartoon/fairy godmother transformation she took once stepping into her classroom. She held the room with a simple cheer, “Good morning boys and girls!” Her impact with be felt for years and years – but I also know she has most of her attention now on the next generation of Hutchinson’s (as seen in the pic below).

2. “I Do” – 10 Years Later

Lloyd and I were married on October 18th, 2009. It was a freaking fairy tale – Pinterest worthy – before the darn platform even existed.

This year we celebrated our TEN year anniversary!! We’ve got some big celebrations planned for 2020, but we were sure to set a couple of days aside to recognize this mile marker. So, we took a local road trip to Joshua Tree National Park.

3. Epic Rap Battles of Higher Ed History

For the first time ever Lloyd and I took the stage together. At the NASPA Annual Conference, an association/conference I have been part of for nearly 15 years, we were part of a ted-talk like program. Our talk: Epic Rap Battles of Higher Ed History. Check out the program description below and you can even catch the recorded battle in the youtube vid right below it! Who do you think won?!

What could a two-time Emmy-nominated YouTube series, with 14.5 million subscribers, three billion views, and 15 gold records teach educators about innovation and student learning? What if you paired the co-creator of Epic Rap Battles of History with a higher education digital engagement and leadership scholar? This duo will perform an original higher education rap battle and share how campus leaders can apply tenants of creating a viral sensation like ERB for student engagement and learning.

4. Papa Bruce Hits 70

We were very thankful this thanksgiving to head to St. Petersberg, Florida for an Ahlquist gathering, especially to celebrate a big milestone for Lloyd’s dad, Bruce. We chartered a boat and headed out fishing. Lloyd’s brother Kirk is a talented chef, so for thanksgiving, we definitely had our fill. In addition to the warm Florida weather, we also soaked up our niece and nephew.

5. Research on Campus Executives Online + Book Progress

This year for the book was a whole lot of re-writes and edits. But I was thrilled to partner with my podcast (Josie & The Podcast) sponsor, Campus Sonar on a research projected called: Examining the Influence of Campus Execs on Twitter. Check out the description below and grab your free copy here.

Campus Sonar Social Media Data Analysts researched, listened to, and analyzed the digital presence of 194 higher ed presidents and vice presidents over six months, segmenting them into: presidents vs. vice presidents, institution type and size, length of time in current position, and geographic region. 

6. ERB Season Six

Last fall, Epic Rap Battles of History announced the series long-awaited return and has been putting out videos all through 2019. The latest video (included below), Thanos Vs J. Rober Oppenheimer was even trending #1 in the world on YouTube for nearly an entire day.

Another highlight for the ERB crew was taking home a Streamy Award for Best Costumes. This was the first season that ERB was completely independent, so they decided to build a community on a cool platform called Patreon that allows fans to support and be part of creating the battles. If you love the show, we’d love for you to consider becoming a Patreon – you even get free swag and insider info!

7. Lake Tahoe Triathlon + Napa, CA

I trained for my third Olympic Triathlon, which has become a wonderful summer tradition. As I looked to locations with lake options (no thank you ocean swims, full of sharks and rouge seals), I remembered how much Lloyd and I loved our getaway to Lake Tahoe last summer. So I delighted to find one at the end of August. It was also a treat to have my dad fly in, as he’s cheered me on at every major race. Lloyd and I decided to make it a longer trip, and stayed a few days after the race (thank goodness for me to recover) and then went on to Napa to enjoy some of our favorite wineries.

8. Twenty Years of Mission IMPROVable

In 1996 while attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst, six guys met through the college improv team, Mission IMPROVable. They loved improvising together and had so much fun doing it that in 1998 they all moved to Chicago to be trained at Second City and Improv Olympic. One year later, in 1999, they “went pro” and turned their improv comedy group into a touring business called The Mission IMPROVable National Touring Company.

Since then they have performed at thousands and thousands of colleges, received dozens of awards through NACA, traveled around the globe – especially with their partnership with the Navy and in 2009 expanded into the ownership of a theater in Santa Monica called Mi’s Westside Comedy Theater whose stage has held Jerry Sinfield, Ally Wong, Conan O’Brian, Dave Chapel and all the best improv teams of the world. Here’s to another 20!

9. The Mountains are Calling

This May we will have lived in Los Angeles for 17 years – oh yes – imagine learning the LA freeways without reliable GPS back in 2005. The longer we are in the middle of the city – the more we are called to escape to the mountains at least a couple times a year. We kicked off 2019 in Montana and Idaho to celebrate Lloyd’s birthday. We fell in love with the area of Corvallis, Idaho – near where we skied in the picture below. It was also neat to meet up with my brother and his family that live in the area.

10. Speaking at my alma mater, CLU

As part of my consulting business, I get to speak all over the country and each engagement has unique and memorable moments. But the highlight of 2019 for me was being invited back to my doctoral program alma mater, California Lutheran University, to serve as a keynote for their entire university. Looking forward to more travels, stages, and programs in 2020.

What’s Next in 2020?!

It is quite the thought to be entering into a new decade! I love this time of year to reflect and plan – and to back off a little bit on the #hustle gas.

That said, we are itching for this year to be filled up with travel, business ventures and time with family.

January we are heading to the United Kingdom for a work/play trip, where Lloyd has some improv shows. We are also planning an extended trip in early summer, to try out living and working in another country for over a month! If you’ve got recommendations we’d love to hear them – we are currently exploring Italy or France.

I hesitate on sharing a book release, as it keeps changing but it WILL definitely be out in 2020. Such a labor of love and I’ve been touched on just how much community has come to my aid during the process.

Epic Rap Battles will be back in 2020 as well but will have a slower start back, as Lloyd’s partner Pete and his wife Kristen are expecting their second baby. Lloyd hopes to get back into the studio to work on original music and get even more shows on the books.

Talking about second baby’s, my brother and sister-in-law are due the end of February – so Auntie Josie & Uncle Lloyd will be on the ready to welcome him or her in our lives.

Thank you for joining us on this ride of life – whether we’ve known each other for decades, just recently connected or you’re a fan of my work (okay, or Lloyd’s too). We appreciate you.

From our corner of the world to yours,

Josie & Lloyd

…and the rest of the Ahlquist Animal House: Izzy, Parker & Luna


Subscribe to stay updated on all the things I’ll be working on in 2020!

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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