Happy Leap Day! February 29th is your lucky day. In fact, it’s luckier than a 5-leaf clover. And it’s rarer than a mooing steak. In fact, it is so rare that it only happens every 4 years. Like the Olympics, a Presidential election, or Halley’s Comet.
However it is not the rarity of Leap Day that matters. It’s the opportunity. Today is a totally free, bonus day! Which means that today is the perfect day to do something extra. Like Michael Jackson said, today, ‘You got to be startin’ somethin’. Or finishing somethin’. Or working hard on somethin’. #MaMaSeMaMaSaMaMaCooSa
Saturday Day Fever
Even better, this year Leap Day is the perfect bonus day. Because it falls on a Saturday. Which means you probably don’t have to work or go to school today. So take a few minutes to think about those things you have always wanted to do. Those things you can never seem to find the time to start, plan or complete. And get rolling.
Possible Leap Day Activities:
Take a hike
Play a Game
Start a blog, vlog, slog, or drink Glogg
Start a business
Pick up a new hobby, or re-engage in an old hobby, like Holly
Create a podcast
Play an instrument
Create a product
Start a book (reading or writing)
Marie Kondo your house
Volunteer, or sign up to volunteer
Go to church (or find a place of worship to go to this week)
Start a meetup
Join a club or worthy organization
Ask someone to be your mentor.
Call someone you haven’t talked to for too long
Find a dentist
Find a doctor
Find a nurse
Find a lady with an alligator purse
Start your taxes
Plan a vacation
Organize a girls night, or a guys night, or a Michael Knight.
Make a career or life plan
Do something that’s more you, because no one knows you better than you.
I started planning my own business, The Weaponry, during a little bonus time like you have today. Now we have 2 offices and clients from California to Quebec. I also started this blog during a little bit of free time. And this is post number 411. #Information Now it’s your turn to go do something meaningful today.
Time is your more precious resource. Use it wisely. Alchemize it into magic. And when you get a bonus day, or a bonus hour, take advantage of it. Otherwise, when you come to the end of your time, you will wish you had.
Which begs the question: What will you do with your Leap Day?
I love books. They are like fertilizer for your brain. I like to read them and listen to them. I like to collect books and display them throughout my house. I like books that educate, inspire and entertain. And I just finished a great book that did all 3 of those things in one handy-dandy, hard-covered, Amazon-Prime-delivered package.
The 5-Day Turnaround
My great friend, former co-worker and serial (not cereal) entrepreneur, Jeff Hilimire, somehow stole enough time from his crowded calendar to author a book called The 5-Day Turnaround.
I’ll admit that when I first heard the title of the book I was quite skeptical. I mean, who needs 5 days to turn all the way around? I think the Earth itself only needs like 2 or 3 days to turn around, right?
When I dug into the book I realized it wasn’t about slow-turning humans after all. It was about how to inspire established companies to think more like startups. And how to get corporate leaders to think and behave more like entrepreneurs.
I found this book fascinating. And highly relatable. Because 4 years ago I went from a very large, publicly held organization to a startup. My own startup. And as I launched my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, I noticed how different the 2 organizations were in their approach to, well, approaching things.
Comparing and Contrasting
The 5-Day Turnaround captures the mindset, speed and aggressiveness embodied in a startup, and contrasts it with the cautious, conservative nature of a well established company. The book is written as a fictional novel. Which means that the reader follows the story, and through ahh-smosis, picks up on all the important lessons learned by the story’s floundering corporate character, Matt.
The Pitch. And The Proposal.
The book really kicks into action after an ad agency pitch, when the potential client (Matt), tells the agency that they didn’t win the pitch because their ideas were so good and innovative that the conservative corporation didn’t have the chutzpah to implement them. Which meant the company was likely to choose a lamer agency instead.
However, the agency’s leader, Will, comes up with a daring plan to help Matt transform from a beaten down corporate dog into a daring, entrepreneurial leader within his large organization.
The story is a bit like the Fairy Godmother turning Cinderella into the belle of the ball. Only Cinderella was a cautious middle manager, who became an aggressive, entrepreneurial executive. And in this story Cinderella kept both of his Allen Edmonds wingtips on as he headed for home, at midnight, in his Tesla.
The book is packed with relatable organization challenges. And Will teaches Matt how to overcome them all in just 5 days. Will does this using foundational fundamentals that help organizations and departments grow at startup speed. Which is only slightly slower than ludicrous speed. #wevegoneplaid
The book challenges the assumption that bad things will happen if you take a risk within a large organization. It walks through a worst case scenario to dispel the myth that bad things happen to people who stick their necks out. It encourages readers to become fearless in their thinking and actions. Which is a lesson that benefits everyone.
You Down With PVTV? (yeah you know me!)
The book walks through the importance of establishing your Purpose, Vision, Tenets and Values (PVTV). Which sounds like the local station in the Portland-Vancouver, WA metro area. It even guides you through a process to determine the PVTV for your organization or department. This alone is worth the read.
The book covers such important topics as:
The Do Or Die Mindset
Identifying the right and and wrong people for your organization, based on the PVTV. (I want my PVTV!)
Who Is It For?
This book is great for any leader interested in thinking and acting more like an entrepreneur, even if you never plan to start your own business. The entrepreneurial mindset is confident, inspired and fast-acting (like Tinactin). Which leads to more success, because it creates more opportunities for success.
The 5-Day Turnaround is not just a book you read once. It becomes an easy-to-use reference book that you can pick up anytime for a quick hit of inspiration. It provides a series of valuable guideposts to keep you on course. Plus, it is a quick, easy and engaging read that flies by, allowing you to digest a lot of new information in a short time.
I found a couple of other fun things in this book. A crazy, risk-taking example Jeff mentions in the book was inspired by a meeting Jeff and I had at Proctor & Gamble, that involved a surprise performance from an opera singer. It was weird, and fun, and memorable. #TakingRisks
One of the really fun surprises at the end of this great read was that I found my name in the acknowledgements section. It was the first time I remember receiving a literary shout out. I think the major contribution I provided was simply encouraging Jeff to write the book in English, and number the pages, in order, starting with the smallest numbers.
Thank for writing The 5-Day Turnaround Jeff. Thanks for sharing your insights, experiences and talent with the world. You have been a positive and motivational, and inspiration force for me and so many others. Now, you have inspired me to want to write my own book. I’m thinking of calling it The 4-Day Turnaround. Or maybe 6-Minute Abs.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this book, please share this post with them.
A year and a half ago I had a very big lunch in a very small town. Johnson Creek, Wisconsin has a population of just 2,738. But Johnson Creek sits halfway between Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin. Which is why I met Anne Norman there for lunch at Hiway Harry’s. Conceptually and architecturally, the restaurant lies halfway between a Rain Forest Cafe and a Frank Loyd Wright-inspired supper club. Which is a very unique space to occupy.
Anne Norman had just recently been named Chief Marketing Officer of the University of Wisconsin Credit Union. She arrived at the credit union after crushing it for such great brands as Culver’s restaurants and American Family Insurance. Our mutual friend Sue Northey told us that we needed to meet each other, and helped arrange the Hiway Harry’s adventure.
When we met, Anne was looking for an agency to help her make the UW Credit Union marketing as great as the UWCU member experience. And members looooove the UW Credit Union. I know. I became a member my third day on campus as a student at The University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Anne and I had a great conversation. We found that we were totally aligned on our approach to strategy, creativity and process. We laughed a lot. And we left Hiway Harry’s excited to work together. #suewasright
Making It Happen
My advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, quickly got to work on repositioning and rebranding the UW Credit Union. Then, on February 14th, 2019 we revealed the new look and the new work at the UWCU’s leadership conference at the beautiful, Frank Loyd Wright designed Monona Terrace Conference Center, in Madison. I wrote about the experience in A fresh new look for one of the most loved brands in Wisconsin.
Exactly 1 year and 1 day later, Anne and our teams were back at the Monona Terrace in Madison for the local Addy Awards. To be clear, I am not an advertising awards person. I prefer to avoid the conflict of interests between creating work to drive results for your clients and creating ads to win awards. I also prefer to avoid dressing up altogether.
But in this case, Anne Norman knew the work we created was really good. Our key performance indicators (KPIs) told us the campaign was working as anticipated for UW Credit Union. So Anne wanted to see how the creative stacked up against other work at the Addy Awards.
We entered a few billboards and a couple of radio spots in the awards show. Soon I was notified that we had won 5 awards. We were also strongly encouraged to attend the show. And to bring Anne Norman, her trusty sidekick Justine Kessler, and their husbands Devlin and Mike. So we did.
We knew which entries had won something. But we didn’t know what they had won. Kind of like when the Dad from A Christmas Story receives his fragile crate. Except when we busted our crate open we didn’t find a leg lamp.
The first entry to win an award was a radio commercial called Cool Mom. It won gold. Which apparently is good. It’s a cute spot that was fun to make. And always fun to hear on the radio.
The winning radio commercial
But wait! There’s more!
We also entered the 3 billboards above with the additional billboard below in an outdoor campaign entry called ‘Hello Milwaukee!’ It won a Judge’s Choice Award. Which meant that one of the 3 judges felt that this was the best thing in the entire show.
Here’s what Judge Carl (no relation to Judge Judy) had to say about our campaign. (My apologies if he is actually Judge Karl.)
I appreciate the fact that The Weaponry and UW Credit Union won these awards. But we didn’t need an awards show to know the work was good. We know that the ads work. They grab attention. They make people giggle. They are remembered. And they have helped the UW Credit Union quickly drive a XX% increase in awareness in Milwaukee. Which nailed our goal. (I put XX because I didn’t ask for permission to share the actual number. But notice that there are 2 Xs and not just one! Go UWCU!)
Roll The Credits!
Thanks to our Weapons Kristyn Lilley who designed the UW Credit Union brand look. And to Kevin Kayse, the writer who helped bring these adds to life. Thanks to Simon Harper for writing a great brief with a British accent. And thanks to Anne Norman for meeting me at Hiway Harry’s. For hiring The Weaponry. And for both demanding and approving great creative work.
Awards are nice. But they should never drive the work. In advertising the only thing that really matters is whether or not the work helps your clients grow. But if the work drives growth, like it has for the UW Credit Union, the awards are a nice cherry on top. Thank you to everyone at UW Credit Union for allowing us to join your team. We look forward to great things ahead!
Money does not grow on trees. Unless you work in lumber industry, you’ve likely heard this saying a hundred times. The takeaway is that money is not free. You don’t have an endless supply of it. So be careful how you spend it. However, there is another extremely valuable asset that you have at your disposal, right now, that I encourage you to give to others as often as you can.
If you have ever received a great compliment you know that they are worth more than gold. They are the currency that pre-pay many of the greatest accomplishments in our lives. They are the prizes that reward our greatest efforts. They positively reinforce our positive actions. They pick us up when we are feeling down. They keep us going when the going gets tough. And they help counterbalance the times we are told we have lipstick on our teeth, bats in the cave, or have left our barn door open.
Receiving compliments builds confidence. Compliments are proof that the world noticed you getting things right. They shine a spotlight on the skills and abilities that others value in you. Which reminds you to value them in yourself.
Get Comfortable With It.
However, paying people compliments can feel uncomfortable. We worry that our praise will sound weird. Or creepy. Or Weinsteiny. Or that a compliment won’t mean much coming from little ole me.
To avoid personal discomfort we often add a qualifier or a disclaimer to our compliments. We say things like, ‘Don’t take this the wrong way…’ or, ‘I don’t want to give you a big head but…’ (which is materially different than giving someone a big headbutt.)
Straight Up, like Paula Abdul
Don’t add disclaimers to your compliments. Serve them straight up. Share your positive feedback and observations without any negativity. That’s how it has the most positive impact, and greatest value. Compliments are a tremendous gift. And they should be offered the way you offer cash in a birthday card. Crisp. Clean. Un-crumpled, un-ripped, un-torn. And in reasonably large quantities.
Making It Rain Up In Here
I make a point of offering compliments any time I can. Which means that I notice all the good things I want to see in the world. And I encourage others to create even more of it. I find myself complimenting others for the following:
creating nice lists of bullet points
Mahatma Gandhi said that we must be the change we wish to see in the world. (He also said, ‘I feel like sheet today!’) But we must also call out and compliment the good that we want to see in the world. That positive reinforcement is the best way to ensure that you will see even more of it around you in the future.
Compliments are one of the most valuable gifts we can give another human. They are often the greatest payments a person will receive for their efforts. Compliments encourage. They reinforce. They have the power to change lives. So give them freely. Give them often. Give them without qualifier or disclaimer. And know that your small investment of time and effort may last a lifetime.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
This is one of the most important questions you you can ask yourself. It is right up there with, Am I eating well? Am I exercising enough? And, Am I getting enough sleep? The question is important because whether you like it or not, you are becoming more like the people you spend your time with.
Take a moment to think about those people you spend your time with, either by choice, by default.
Pausing For thought…Playing that song from Jeopardy in my head…Which I always thought sounded like ‘I’m a little teacup.’…
The Human Conveyor Belts
The people you spend your time with are like conveyor belts, taking you where they are going. That’s why it is critical that you carefully choose who you are spending your time with. Don’t settle for people who are simply nearby. Or convenient. Or who want to spend time with you. Make sure that they are people who will help carry you where you want to go.
My Journey (will always feature Steve Perry)
When I started my entrepreneurial journey I began spending a lot of time with other entrepreneurs. These were people who truly believed that they could make something out of nothing. Which made me believe I could alchemize my own success.
Their tolerance for risk made me more risk tolerant. Their boldness made me bolder. I quickly found myself thinking and acting like an entrepreneur. And before I knew it, I had established The Weaponry LLC. I had clients and revenue and employees and t-shirts. I also had other people wanting to know how I did it. And I have been sharing what I know ever since.
Seek out the people you want to be more like. The people who are headed where you want to go. People who are thinking and acting the way you want to think and act. Avoid the blamers and excuse makers. Ditch the complainers and the complacents. Attitudes are highly contagious. Make sure you are catching yours from the right people.
Become a better you by spending time with better people. Surround yourself with positive, can-do, will-do types. They will pull you forward. They will force you to grow to keep up. Then, as you grow, find more people who are even further ahead. Positive influence is a super fuel. Take all you can get. And share it with everyone you can.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
Over the past couple of weeks I have had several conversations with unhappy campers. Ok, so they weren’t really campers. They were entrepreneurs who were dissatisfied with the opportunities coming their way. As a result, they were not working with the types of clients or customers they wanted to work with. And they were not generating the level of revenue they expected.
As I talked to these entrepreneurs about their challenges a common theme emerged. Each of the unhappy non-camping business owners told me that they were not actively marketing themselves. (Audible Gasp!) They said they are generating their leads from word of mouth alone. (Even Audibler Gasp!)
Out of Control
Generating business via word of mouth alone is a mistake. It means that you are not determining the types of clients you work with. Instead, the quantity and quality of clients approaching you are limiting your business. Which means you are not in control of your brand, or your growth. Janet Jackson would be disappointed.
Being Lazy Is Crazy
If you are not actively marketing and promoting yourself you are settling for whatever comes your way. Which is like going to a singles bar, and waiting for people to come talk to you. That is a lazy approach. And not likely to lead to your happily-ever-after ending.
Don’t Float. Drive Your Own Boat
I have been to singles bars, back before I was double. And the ladies who would come talk to me were not the same ones I would choose to talk to myself. They were the most aggressive ladies. Not the most attractive, smartest, nicest or most dentally impressive.
Since before I even launched The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, I identified the types of clients I wanted to work with. I spent a disproportionate amount of time focused on developing relationships with my ideal client types. As a result, The Weaponry works with a lot of really great clients in interesting industries. Just like I envisioned we would.
Don’t settle for the opportunities that come your way. Go after the opportunities you want. Find the clients, customers or employers you want to work with. Then actively promote yourself to them. It’s the only way to build the business, brand and life you imagined. It takes more work. But it’s worth it.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
What do you do when you arrive at a crowded parking lot? Do you mutter to yourself about the crowd? Do you turn around, like Bonnie Tyler, and leave? Do you look for a spot in the back, farthest from the building, because it is most likely to be available?
When I come to a crowded parking lot, even when it looks like there are no spots available, I head straight to the front row. #BobUeckerStyle. I assume that even in a seemingly full parking lot, there is a great space waiting for me. And a funny thing often happens when I do this. I frequently find a cherry parking spot, open and waiting for me.
I don’t know why that spot is so often available. Maybe someone recently left. Or maybe most people simply figured there were no great spots left, so they didn’t bother to look. Either way, one of the most coveted spots was left unoccupied and waiting for me to claim it.
I believe rockstar parking spots are usually available. And I believe that I deserve one of those spots. I also believe that this is how life works. The same rules of availability that govern parking lots also apply to business, the arts, friendship, entrepreneurship, courtship, and all of the other desirable ships of life.
Great spaces are open and available to you in all areas of life. Believe you deserve yours. And go take it before someone else does.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this story, please share it with them.