Thompson Burton Challenge: Round II

Part of Thompson Burton’s commitment to redefining the art of law also includes redefining work culture at law firms. As described more fully here, the Thompson Burton Challenge is a 90 day challenge where participants have 90 days to achieve their objectives–a personal development goal that must be attainable, but challenging. If participants achieve their goal, they will be awarded cash bonuses that can only be spent on an experience that they would never do otherwise.

TB Challenge’s first round of participants finished up their challenges in November, and their stories can be found here.

TB Challenge’s second round of participants began their challenges in January 2016.

Jackie Dusek’s TB Challenge: study for and pass a high school mid-term test in advanced German language skills in 90 days.

Final Update from Jackie:

The purpose of my TB Challenge was to finish something for myself.  It’s not a concept with which I am familiar.  For my whole life, I have enjoyed doing things for other people – surprise parties with far-away guests, special help when I think someone may need it, a special meal that I know they like, surprise vacations, etc. But when it is time to do something for myself, I may start but I don’t finish.  Something else is always more important, and truthfully it feels selfish to do things for me, so I don’t get joy from it.

So, the one thing I have wanted to do since 1985 is learn German.  Not just a few travel words, but to actually learn enough that I can build sentences, understand concepts and use the language.  And so was born my TB Challenge.

I bought two different high school German curricula – Komm Mit and Deutsch Aktuell.  Text books, work books and teacher’s edition so I could be tested.   Six of twelve chapters so that I could pass a mid-term exam in 90 days.  This clocks out to be one chapter every two weeks. Easy.  I’m Ms. Organization.  It’s a cinch, right?



When is the last time you looked through a high school foreign language book?  OMG.  Those chapters are not just a few pages long!  I found some websites from schools (mostly in PA) where I snagged vocab lists.  Again, OMG.  ONE chapter’s vocab list was more than 100 words.

Die, der das.  It doesn’t really mean “the.”  In German “der Apfel” (which we translate to “the apple”) is not always der Apfel.  Der Apfel.  Ein Apfel.  Den Apfel.  Er. Ihn.  Get it??? They not only conjugate the verbs, they change the nouns as well.

I studied.

I did the exercises in the text book.

I did the chapter tests in the text book.

Then I did the workbook pages test-style (closed book, except for occasionally referring to the vocab lists).  15-20 pages of workbook page/tests PER CHAPTER. That’s “times six.”

I can say that by the end of chapter 5 if chapter 6 had not been “the end,” this story would end differently.   THANKFULLY chapter 6 was about telling time and eating and the helping verb “wollen.” I can tell time and I can eat!  Wollen – one verb.  Easy, ja?? NEIN.

Kayla [TB’s office manager] graciously chose 369 questions to serve as my test, and I made a 93%.  Thankfully “wollen” wasn’t the only section of the test . . ..

Today is Saturday.  My first post-TB Challenge weekend. What to do?? YEP.  YOU GUESSED IT!!!  I’m headed upstairs to start Chapter 7.

THANK YOU, TB!!!!  This didn’t feel so selfish in the end.  It feels unnatural, I must admit.  But still like it has a purpose.  I could easily turn this into a “someone else” project – maybe teach/study with my grandson.  And I think that’s okay.  What matters is that I didn’t give up.  I didn’t quit to focus on something else (confirmed by the dust bunnies in my house).  I didn’t wait until the last minute and then cram to get it done.  And I didn’t burn myself out!  I made enough progress and had enough “a-ha” moments to intrigue me to continue further.

I may make a vocab book to carry with me on the TB Challenge reward flight to The Great American West next fall.  I probably won’t encounter any German-speaking natives out there, but I could pretend to be a German tourist . . ..


Photo from Jackie’s trip to Germany in 2014. Germany is where she and her husband first met many years ago, making it a place–and culture–very near and dear to her heart!

Alex Fisher’s TB Challenge: aggressively gain muscle mass in 90 days.

Final Update from Alex:  My goal was to aggressively gain muscle mass. To quantify this goal, my plan was to gain 1″ around my biceps, gain 1″ around my quads, gain 1″ across the diameter of my shoulders, and lose 1″ around my waist. My goal was also to gain weight–I thought my starting weight was 136, and my goal was to increase my weight to 140. My actual starting weight was 133, so the TB Challenge Committee agreed to a variance of 3 lbs for my weight gaining goal–down to 137 lbs due to my miscalculation of my starting weight. In addition, my goal was to reduce my BMI (body mass index) by 2%.

I began working with a trainer once a week to reach my goals. My schedule totally change–I went from 4-5 classes of power yoga a week to 3 days of heavy lifting, one day of moderate lifting/HIIT (high intensity interval training), and two days of yoga. I had to significantly change my diet–adding in protein shakes for breakfast and post-workout, cutting carbs and sugars and adding in more protein to both my lunch, dinner, and afternoon snacks.

The first month I just felt sore and tired all the time! I felt like sleeping about 12 hours a day. In mid-March, I check in with my lifting maxs: 205 squat, 80 bench press, and 185 deadlifts. Pretty good for a runner and yogi!

My goal of gaining muscle mass had been a goal of mine for about 15 years, and to learn more about why I wanted to achieve this goal, and the non-physical benefits of lifting weights for a yogi and former runner like myself, check out my GetFit615 blog post here.

My challenge began on January 6th. As of April 2nd, these are measurements (as verified by my trainer) compared to January 6th:

Weight: 140 lbs (starting weight of 133 lbs)

BMI: 3.75% reduction in body fat (from 15% down to 11.25%)
Biceps: 2 inches gain
Quads: 4.5 inches gained
Calves: 2 inches gained
Chest: 2.5 inches gained
Shoulders: 3 inches gained

Waist: 1 inch lost

With our TB Challenge reward, my husband and I are planning a trip to Iceland for the Iceland Airways Music Festival in November to celebrate!

Version 2

Justin Campbell’s TB Challenge: run the Country Music Marathon in under 4:15:00.

Justin’s Update: My TB challenge is to run the Rock n’ Roll Marathon in Nashville (April 30th) in a time under 4:15:00. I have previously run a half-marathon, but not a full marathon. Running and completing a full marathon is a bucket list item for me.

In order to complete the training for my marathon within the required 90 days, I’ve had to drastically modify the standard marathon training plan. I’ve been running 3 training runs during the midweek each week, and a longer training run on the weekend. The first long run started at 4 miles and will culminate with a 21 mile run this weekend.

Typically training allows for lower mileage long runs at points during the process, however, my long runs have been a steady uphill climb to 21 miles this coming weekend. I’ll spend the last two weeks before the marathon tapering back off to rest my legs.

I believe the two toughest challenges for me have been the large amount of miles I’m putting on my body, and have to adjust my work and weekend schedule so much to accommodate my training runs.

I looking forward to wrapping up my training, and actually competing in the marathon. If successful, I intend to use my TB Challenge winnings  on my wife and I’s trip to San Francisco in early June, to celebrate our 30th birthdays.

TB congrats Jackie and Alex on achieving their goals, and looks forward to watching Justin complete his marathon in the next few weeks. Good luck Justin!