When they talk about someone being a life saver, the first thoughts that usually come to mind are those of a First Responder or someone in the medical community.

But an Assistant Vice President at Nationwide Financial’s Retirement Plans Operations…and my boss…is not normally the person that one would picture!

But it happened!

Late one morning, my boss, Andy Haws…one of the smartest & most talented individuals I have ever met in my entire life AND one of the absolutely-nicest people on Earth!!!…invited me & 2 of my peers/buddies, Jeff Karl & Wil Montoya, downstairs to lunch in our cafeteria.

It was still pretty early for lunch, around 11, so there weren’t many people around.

We got our stuff & sat by a table near the exit. No, we weren’t planning on a quick getaway!

So we’re just sitting there, munching down on our meals & having a normal everyday conversation.

Jeff, Wil & I were all rather new to Nationwide, probably there no more than a year or so, and all were hired by Andy.

All of us had the same skeptical view of the Retirement Plans business at Nationwide…how the hell could they continue to lose millions & millions every year, drop at least 10% of assets annually, and still be alive to talk about it???

In fact, I believe we had all recently came from an annual business review session with Ann Arvin, the RPS/Retirement Plsns Services President where they actually highlighted the fact that we “only” lost 10.9% of our assets the previous year as compared to 11.4% the year before that!


We all admitted that our former employers (all large corporations) would’ve totally cleaned house after more than one year of similar business results.

Here? They patted themselves on the back for “not being as bad as we were”! Yeah, there are certainly good things to be said for positive, upward trending, but really now…

Anyway, we’re just having a normal lunch when I look across the table at Wil & could see that he was “struggling”.


I immediately scream “He’s choking!” & jump out of my chair, trying to get to Wil.

Andy, who was not only a brilliant mind but an exceptional athlete as well, beat me to it as he was sitting right next to Wil.

Before you knew it, he grabbed Wil from behind & applied the Heimlich maneuver…completely lifting Wil off the ground!

Thank God that Andy was probably 6’2” & solid as a rock with long arms as Wil was not a small man!

He tugged a few times & Wil choked up a small piece of food. Then one final tug & up came this sizable piece of bread.

Apparently, Wil had swallowed the very end of a hard roll & was struggling, trying to drink something to dislodge it.

Thank God for Andy’s quick thinking & immediate action or I’m not sure what would have happened!

And it was all so surreal as there were no other people around us on the cafeteria at the time.

Choke. Zip. Zip. Everything back to normal.

We cleaned up & returned to work as if nothing happened!

About a half an hour later, I said to myself, “Screw that!” & I sent out a general e-mail, briefing recapping that Andy had just saved Wil’s life downstairs & praised him for his quick thinking & responsiveness.

I know most people are familiar with the expression of “save a head” when referring to a business’s budget, but this time, it was an entirely different matter!


Thank you so much for listening!

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