You started 2020 with exciting goals to achieve. But the aspirations of New Year’s Day probably feel like a lifetime ago. Whether you set goals specifically for 2020, or goals to achieve in your lifetime, you began the year with something important you wanted to accomplish. If the wild ride that is 2020 has caused goal amnesia, take a moment now to remember your goals for the year. (cue the Jeopardy music…)
It’s go time.
Today is December 1st, and you are down to your last month of 2020. The next 31 days are what you have left to work with to make personal and professional progress this year. Don’t let the remaining time slip away. These are the days to remember. Cause they will not last forever.
Remember, self-imposed deadlines are the key drivers of accomplishment and self-improvement. And as Buddy knows, elf-imposed deadlines are the key drivers of elf-improvement.
Don’t worry if you can’t complete everything in 31 days. A good start is plenty valuable. In fact, the more you can accomplish in the next month, the better you will be positioned for a great 2021.
Things You Can Still Do In December
Read a book
Start writing a book
Begin a business
Create a meetup group
Expand your network
Look for a new job
Give Blood (A life goal I accomplished in November.)
Learn a new skill ( I just subscribed to Master Class)
Develop a new product or service
Take a class
Learn to ski, skate, scat or ska
Improve your business development efforts.
Begin to learn a new language
Create a plan for your financial security
Spend quality time with your family. (Over Thanksgiving my family focused on family game nights again.)
Break the goal or project you want to make the most progress on into 31 smaller pieces. Do a little each day. Or break the goal into fewer chunks, depending on what day you first read this post. However, if you are reading this on December 31st I suggest you skip the last 2 paragraphs and get straight to work.
Remember, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. (I recommend starting with elephant ears covered in powdered sugar and cinnamon.) And the best way to complete your 2020 goals in December is 1/31st at a time.
Get going. The rest of the world may use the excuse that the end is near and give up, but the positive procrastinators say It’s Go Time! Don’t let these 31 days slip away. They are your opportunity for progress, change, new beginnings, or completion. It’s not too late to salvage 2020. Let the progress you make over the next 31 days be your holiday gift to yourself.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message today, please share it with them.
Do you know what the most valuable construction material is? In case you are no Bob The Builder and haven’t partied at The Home Depot since before the pandemic, here’s a quick refresher on some of the more popular materials:
Glass (If your house is made of this don’t throw Mick Jagger)
Corn (Mitchell, South Dakota only)
But the most valuable construction material of all, is time. You can use time, like blocks, bricks and legos to create anything you can think of. We all get a delivery of 1,440 shiny new minutes every day. They arrive at your doorstep at midnight.
Each minute is perfectly sized for human use. They enable you to create great things. To build your dreams. To construct the life you want to live. To make memories and relationships.
Your daily delivery of minutes can be used to build businesses. They can be used to write a book, a movie or a blog post. They can create quality time with others. They can be used for self-improvement, to build intelligence and construct confidence. They can be used to build homes. And they can even be volunteered to good causes.
The most interesting thing about your daily delivery of minutes is that if you use them you get to keep them forever. But if you don’t use them, they disappear at midnight.
Use your minutes today.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message please share it with them. It will only take a minute.
Thankfully, we have made it to Thanksgiving 2020. But this year the holiday will feel much different. Unless, of course, you are a turkey. But then again, almost everything about this year has been different. By March it was clear that this year was going to be like a box of choc-o-lates. Because in 2020, you never know what you’re gonna get, Jen-ny.
While it is easy to write the year off as a total loss, we shouldn’t overlook the many positives we all have in our lives. That’s why I took the 2020 20/20 Challenge, and spent 20 minutes listing 20 things I am thankful for in 2020. I hope you do too. Because like milk, reflecting on the things you are thankful for does a body good.
20 things I am thankful for in 2020
My Family When you are locked up at home for months on end, the quality of your experience is directly related to the quality of your cell mates. And I have thoroughly enjoyed the additional time with my family this year. My wife Dawn and children Ava, Johann and Magnus have made Albrecht Island a fun and funny place to be in 2020.
2. My Health Thankfully, I have been healthy this year. Healthier than most years in fact. Because I haven’t been close enough to anyone to catch their cooties. I have been masking up like the Lone Ranger. I have been hand sanitizing and 6-feet-apartizing. I have eaten a lot of doctor repellant, also known as apples. And I am thankful that it all seems to be helping.
3. My Bicycle My Cannondale was like my trusty steed this year. While my gym access was gone with the Schwinn, my bike provided both exercise and an escape into the beautiful and quiet Wisconsin countryside. I rode so much this summer I felt like Lance Armstrong. Only without the lying, cheating and testicular cancer.
4. Hilton Head Island After cancelling Spring Break and being locked at home for 3 months, in June my family and I road-tripped from Milwaukee to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. We stayed right on the beach, at our usual spot, as if 2020 was a usual year. The ocean, sun, and vibe of the island were a welcomed relief from our time at home. And somehow the jellyfish stings seemed to sting a little less this year. Even without urine. Thanks Covid-19!
5. Our Western Road Trip While our beach vacation was nice, our 2020 western road trip was epic. We put 4100 miles on our Family Truckster. We hit The Badlands, The Black Hills, Yellowstone, Idaho, Bozeman, Glacier National Park, Teddy Roosevelt National Park, and the bright lights of Fargo, North Dakota. That trip was so full of wow and wonder, like Billy Joel, it made us forget about life for a while.
6. School Mostly In-Person While our kids were schooling at home like everyone else from March-June, this fall has been an in-school success. My kids have all been learning in-person this fall for all but a 2 week stretch, when their schools transitioned to at-home learning to cool the covid flare ups like Preparation H.
7. My Children’s Development I noticed something interesting in my children this year. And it wasn’t a long cotton swab up their nostrils. Something about the isolation of 2020 seemed to allow them to focus on themselves, their interests, their identities and their individual growth. Each of them grew more confident and self-assured through this forced experiment. #ParentalPandemicPositives
8. Entrepreneurship I began my entrepreneurial adventure in 2016. And while I have loved everything about it from the start, 2020 made the benefits abundantly clear. Not only have I felt in control of my own job, career and income, I have have been able to help provide a steady place to work for the rest of my team at The Weaponry. I once heard that Bill Gates insisted on keeping a year of salary on hand for every Microsoft employee to help weather storms. So I followed Bill’s lead, and it has provided a major sense of stability in an unstable time.
9. My Work Teammates Speaking of work, my teammates have been ah-may-zing. I couldn’t be more thankful for The Weapons at The Weaponry, and all they have done to deliver for our clients this year. We are having our best year ever because of their hard and smart work.
10. Foosball Over the first couple months of the lockdown my kids and I played foosball (or what my French Canadian friends call baby-foot) every single night. It was a fun cherry on top of our days. Not only did we have a lot of fun, we all got a lot better. #PutThatOnYourCollegeApplicationKids
11. Spring Hikes In the spring, when everything but the grocery store seemed to be closed, and toilet paper was more valuable than a vaccine, my family and I started hiking on the weekends. The 1200-mile Ice Age Trail winds across Wisconsin, and we would knock off several miles of the trail every weekend. It was a fun adventure at a time when there wasn’t much adventuring to be done.
12. My Clients In a year that went sideways for so many, my clients have been solid as a rock, like Ashford & Simpson. The trust they have put in us has been humbling. We have gained 8 new clients since March. And only one of those new clients joined us because their former agency went out of business during the pandemic.
13. This Blog Writing this blog has been a great way to share my thoughts on so much of what has happened this year, including covid, the economy, George Floyd, and the election. Starting my morning by writing has kept me thinking about the big picture, and not overwhelmed by the small things. Plus it allowed me to share things I thought were funny when I wasn’t seeing any humans outside my family. Thank you for reading my blog. I hope it has provided a laugh and a positive perspective in 2020.
14. Investment Opportunities The tanking of the stock market has provided great opportunities for long term investors. Oil stocks have been in the toilet, and I have been diving in after them, figuratively speaking of course. I have taught my children about the opportunities to invest this year. And my 2 junior investors have almost doubled their money, buying airlines, restaurants, banks and oil. #MoreRichDadThanPoorDad
15. Beautiful Summer Weather This summer in Wisconsin we enjoyed perhaps the most perfect summer weather of my life. It made everything else about 2020 better. Thanks Mother Nature and Mark Baden.
16. Zoom We have used Zoom at work to connect with teammates and collaborate with clients. But the best part of Zoom is connecting with friends and family. Last night I Zoomed with a group of my closest friends from high school for over 2 hours. I regularly Zoom with my college track teammates and with family members. It is the next best thing to being together. Because when you can’t be in the room, Zoom. (That one is free Zoom Marketing Department.)
17. Backyard Bass The pond in my backyard has some great largemouth bass. I spent many an evening this summer fishing for largemouth from my backyard. Which felt like winning at life.
18. Canoes and Kayaks My family has 3 kayaks and a 17-foot canoe. We spent a lot of time paddling this year. Especially in the spring and early summer when we had a lot of rain and the rivers were ripping. My son Magnus and I got tangled in some windfall trees on a trip in June and Tipppedacanoe like Tyler too. It was one of the great thrills and stories of the year.
19. Tackle Football My sons Johann and Magnus played tackle football this fall. They both had full seasons, were healthy and had no covid issues. It marked our true return to normalcy. Except for the fact that even the face masks on their helmets had face masks this year.
20. Innovation There was more innovation created and implemented this year than any other year of my life. The way the people of Earth have stepped up and quickly found solutions to covid-related problems has been amazing. While we have advanced in major ways this year, the full impact of all we have learned will likely not be recognized for years to come. And we are going to be great at the next pandemic.
21. My Zyliss Sandwich Tool: I have a knifey-spready tool that is amazing for a regular sandwich maker like me. It is great for spreading mayonnaise, peanut butter, jelly and rumors. It is excellent for cutting the sandwich after you create it too. This thing is dreamy. In fact, I make sandwiches just to be able to use it. It will make a great Christmas gift for the sandwich maker on your list. (This has been an unpaid endorsement. But boy, do I endorse it.)
The way you experience life starts with your mindset. Even in 2020 there is much to be thankful for. Take a few minutes to reflect on the good in your life. And you will find even more good ahead. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving. And thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate your time.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
Business is the ultimate sport. Not only is it highly competitive, it is played for money. And the better you are at this game the more money you and your teammates make. And while many professional athletes are well paid, it is because someone else is making even more money in business by owning the team or the league the athletes play in.
Sports and Business
Will Jurgensen loves exploring the parallel between sports and business. In fact, he began a podcast called Sport Coats to profile the stories of athletes who applied their approach to athletics to successful business careers. I would have liked to have been in the room when Will realized how perfect the name Sport Coats was for his sports/business podcast. Because I bet that boy celebrated like Ickey Woods.
I recently sat down with Will to talk about my experience as a track and field athlete at The University of Wisconsin. But more importantly, we talked about how I have applied my approach to athletics to my career in advertising. And we talked about how my athletic career prepared me to become an entrepreneur when I launched The Weaponry.
Sound bites from the podcast:
‘I remember early in my career, getting hyper-focused on concepts for a campaign or ideas for a new business pitch. It felt the same as those times when I was in the weight room focusing hard on getting those last few reps. It’s the same thing, it’s the exact same feeling.’
On Transitioning: (Not like Caitlyn Jenner)
‘When you are done with your athletics, a lot of athletes say, “I was lost, I felt like it wasn’t me without sports.” I would say I never felt that at all. As soon as I graduated, I just turned my attention to my career and took the exact same focus and drive, and willingness to put in the energy to be great that I did for my athletics. I put that into my career and it surprises me how few athletes do this, because it is the exact same blueprint for athletic success that drives the rest of the success in your career.’
On Self Improvement:
‘Track and field is a little different than a traditional team sport because it is all you, and it’s so cut and dry. I would put a tape measure out or use a stopwatch to figure out if I was improving and if I was better than other people who have tried this. From that standpoint, I found the challenge of self-improvement to be intoxicating.’
“The structure, the discipline, the focus, the background work that you have to do as an athlete, you know, all the little drills that you do over and over to perfect a piece of what you do, when you do that in your career you become highly specialized. And you become world-class at the smallest things. You add extreme value to organizations that make money off of that kind of work.’
Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Ye Can Hear It Here.
You can listen to my interview here at The Sport Coats Podcast. You can also read more of the transcript if you prefer the voice in your head over mine. I listened to the podcast on the podcast app on my iPhone.
I think you will enjoy it, even if you aren’t into sports. It feels like a motivational talk. Will is a great host. And after listening to the episode I understood why people think I am excited about life.
Business is the ultimate competitive sport. It requires discipline, teamwork and strategy. Everything you know about athletic competition, hard work, focus and determination translates directly to business. It is an inherently fun game to play with others. And it is even more fun to win. The money is a bonus. But what a bonus that is.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, or from this podcast, please share it with them.
Businesses often spend a great deal of time identifying and declaring their core values. However, very few repeat them often enough, or bake them into their day-to day operations to make them meaningful. Just ask the Weinstein brothers.
Declaring your values is really declaring your priorities. Your values provide a framework for your decision making. Your values tell you where to focus your time and attention. Because when you have a clear set of values you know which things are important, which things are peripheral and which things are witch things.
At my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry we value 3 things above all else.
Great Creative Ideas
Excellent Customer Service
A Fun Experience For Everyone Involved
We talk about these 3 things in all of our company meetings. We share these with our clients. And we measure ourselves against them. They are at the heart of our operation. Like Junior Mints.
Declaring Value At Home
We have a clear set of values at our home. However, we don’t call them our values. Partly because my wife Dawn and I started teaching them to our children when they were too young to understand what values were. So instead, we call them our most important things. And here they are.
The Albrecht Family 5 Most Important Things In Life
1. Being Smart We have to focus on our education, learning, thinking, reading and developing our minds. If we are not smart, we won’t know what’s important and what’s not (and what’s snot).
2. Being Brave We have to try difficult things. We have to face our fears. We have to push beyond our comfort zone, and stand up for what we know is right. We have to jump off that cliff into the water below. When we do, we will feel the fear transform into excitement, and then into accomplishment and then into confidence.
3. Being Nice We have to treat others the way we want to be treated. Be kind to others. Even when we don’t feel like it. Because kindness has to start somewhere. And the world is a nicer place when people are nicer to each other. Especially in Nice, France.
4. Being Funny Humor is the best way to get through difficult challenges. It makes us feel better. It brings people together. It decreases pressure. Making someone smile or laugh is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. If laughter is the best medicine, being funny makes you a doctor, or a pharmacist, or a drug dealer.
5. Being Adventurous You only have one life. So go, do, see, feel, taste and live. Soak up as much of life as you can. Try things to know and learn what you like and what you don’t. Except for drugs. Drugs will ruin your life. Unless the drug is laughter (see point 4).
Putting It Into Action
We talk about the 5 Most Important Things weekly at our house. In fact, they provide a great framework for teaching, encouragement and behavior modification. Plus, I can usually defend my actions by citing Important Thing #4. Although you can never place #4 above #3.
If you see my kids, ask them what the 5 Most Important Things In Life Are. You’ll see that they are baked into Ava, Johann and Magnus like The Pledge of Allegiance and the Lord’s Prayer. I take comfort in knowing that they will carry those values with them as a guiding framework for life, even when Dawn and I are not there to help them make decisions. Which is the ultimate goal of parenting.
I find our 5 Most Important Things so valuable that I have been thinking of creating a family workshop to help other families develop their 5 Most Important Things. (Although it could be 3, 5 or 7 things in your family. Or 10 if you are a Letterman.) I’d like to do the workshop on January 1st every year. Because families are usually together that day. And I can’t think of a better way for a family to start a new year. Except for maybe skiing. Or Snowmobiling. (If this is something that interests you shoot me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk more about it.)
Know your values. Declare them. Share them with your organization, team or family. They will provide a strong framework for both thoughts, decisions and actions. Then live your values every day. Even when no one is watching.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
When I first started my entrepreneurial adventure I did it with a partner. My cousin Brooks Albrecht and I teamed up to put our complementary skillsets together to create The Weaponry out of dust. We were like Wonder Twins. Except we were cousins. And our superpowers went beyond transforming ourselves into water-forms and monkeys.
Brooks and I didn’t just divide and conquer responsibilities. We filled in our respective weaknesses with the other person’s strengths. Between the two of us, there was nothing that we weren’t excited to do. Which meant we made quick progress on all fronts. Or should I say, Albrecht fronts? (I shouldn’t.)
5 Benefits To Partnering
1. We motivated each other. The progress made by one of us inspired the other to make the next great leap forward. We were like foragers showing up each day to present the mushrooms, berries and the Wilson volleyball we had gathered. It made the other person want to do more of the same to show value.
2. It made the whole process fun. The work didn’t feel like work. It felt like a really fun elective project I took on with a teammate. Which is exactly what it was.
3. When you have a partner you feel a sense of responsibility for getting your work done. You can’t take a day off, or say, I’ll think about doing this later. The accountability you feel to each other helps keep you moving forward, like a black hole. Only without that uncomfortable crushing feeling at the end.
4. You feel like you have a strategic sounding board for every decision. Entrepreneurship, like so much of life, can be very isolating. Having a partner to evaluate your strategy, structure, investments, and hires improves your confidence that you are making the right decisions before you set them in stone. Like Sharon.
5. You have someone to take the lead when you need a moment to rest or slow down. Like running or biking on a windy day, creating a new business, or other organization, feels like you are always running against the wind, Bob Seger-style. There is a constant resistance from the unknown and unstructured. It is nice to be able to duck behind someone else occasionally and get a brief reprieve from the wind. Quack.
If you can find a partner to take on a major initiative with, do it. There is nothing quite like the team-feel to fuel your progress. Partners push, inspire, excite and balance you. They neutralize your weaknesses. They enable you to focus on your strengths. And they can afford you a moment of rest when you really need it. Plus, you have someone else to laugh with along the way. Which, in my experience, is the best part of all.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
Footnote: A year after we got business up and running Amazon stole Brooks from us (with my full support). Then Target stole Brooks from Amazon. Then Chewy stole Brooks from Target. Because Brooks is a rockstar. And The Weaponry is full of rockstars.
2020 has been the most interesting year of my life. It is so yiny and yangy that it is nearly impossible to define. It is arguably the worst year ever. It is arguably the best year ever. It depends on which of your eyes you look with. And whether or not you enjoy spending time with humans.
Back in March, I was concerned about what the coronavirus would mean to businesses in general. And more specifically, I was concerned about what it meant to my business and my team at The Weaponry. But my immediate concern was short- lived. In fact, my team has been busier than ever before.
Most of our clients been cranking away during the pandemic. As a result we have experienced growth that feels less like a pandemic and more like pandemonium.
Since March 16th, we have added 8 new clients. But that doesn’t even tell the full story. Because we have also had 3 clients, who had been hibernating, roar awake with major initiatives. (Major Initiatives is also my favorite military figure.)
Plus, we have 5 very strong new business prospects on our doorsteps right now. We expect the majority of those embryonic clients will become full-fledged clients by the end of the year.
But these are still strange times, indeed. The U.S. just added 1 million new covid cases in 6 days. That’s crazy for Covid-Puffs. Which makes it a weird time to invest in your business.
However, The Weaponry needs to continue scaling to meet the ever-increasing demand. Which means we are shopping for more great creative talent.
We are looking for envy-inducing writers, art directors, designers, account types and more. I love finding people who have created great work that I am jealous of. It is how I know their talent will make The Weaponry better.
But the question I am continuously asking myself is when do we pull the trigger, Tonto? Do we do it now, and just go? Do we wait for a vaccine to change the long-term prospects? Do we wait to see if things get worse? These are odd times and those are odd options.
We have the same issue with our office space. We don’t actually need any office space today. But if our full team was in the office right now we wouldn’t have nearly enough space. Which is like getting fat at a nudist colony. It doesn’t matter while you are there. But you won’t have anything to wear when it’s time to go.
Remote work has been a blessing for us in this respect. But once we transition back to everyone in the office we will need a space about 3 times that of our current office space.
But when do you expand your space? It’s odd to do it when everyone is still at home working in their Snuggies. But what kind of delay will we experience once we can actually be in the office, that we could have absorbed when fewer people were coming in?
There are no perfect answers to these questions. (Unless you know something I don’t.) But this is the type of interesting challenge we face right now.
If you are really talented and want to be on our radar, this a great time to talk. Even if you just graduated or are about to graduate from college. We are always looking for great people. If you know someone we should know, please share this post with them. You (and they) can always contact us through theweaponry.com or by emailing us at email@example.com.
I have a passion. I love advertising. I love everything about the creativity and strategery involved. My friends I grew up with tell me I was born for my career in advertising. They also tell me that I was born with a glitch in my brain. They are probably right on both accounts. Advertising plays to my natural interests and talents. Which makes my work easier and more enjoyable. It also led to me launch my own advertising and idea agency called The Weaponry.
However, discovering your true passion is fairly rare. Like a 4-leaf clover. Or a civil political debate. Over the course of my career, I have had conversations with countless people (meaning none of them were Counts) who have no idea what their passion is. In fact, I have come to think of the search for personal passion like the search for Sasquatch, or The Fountain of Youth. While it is exciting to think that it is out there somewhere there is a great chance you will never find it.
Don’t Worry. Passion Is Overrated
Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t discovered your special purpose. You don’t need to have one specific passion to be wildly successful in life. There are many conduits to wealth and happiness. So instead of focusing on discovering your personal passion, utilize any of the following drivers to experience fulfillment, joy and success.
7 Substitutes For Passion
Problem-Solving. If you like solving problems, you can be wildly successful. Because life, business and careers are full of problems. People who are good at solving problems are extremely valuable. That’s why they land in executive roles. Plus, problem-solving is inherently rewarding. Which is why Vanilla Ice was so into it, while the DJ revolved it.
Competition: If you like playing games and competing you can apply that to your career. This is why former athletes are often great at things like pharmaceutical sales. It isn’t as if they have a natural passion for antidiarrheals and commercial- grade wart removers. They simply approach their work as if it is a competition. Which it is. In fact, business is the ultimate competitive sport. Because you are playing for money, honey.
Goal Achievement: If you are goal-oriented, set lofty goals for your life and career. Because if you have audacious goals, like Goal D. Locks, you can use any business or career opportunities that come your way as tools to help you attain those goals.
Enjoying Team Work: Work is more fun when done as part of a team. If you like working with others and achieving great things together, use that to drive your success. Again, don’t worry about what you are doing if you enjoy doing it with others (snickering).
Enthusiasm: Some people are just naturally enthusiastic. It is a great quality to have. In fact, if you have enthusiasm, you don’t need to have one specific passion. Simply apply your positive energy towards whatever you do and you’ll experience positive results.
Personal Growth: Do you like getting better and better at things? You can put that to use in anything you undertake. And you can experience rewards on a daily basis. Enjoying your daily progress and growth is a perfect recipe for long-term happiness and accomplishment.
Love For Money: There is nothing wrong with loving money. Money is like a key that opens doors. It can help comfort and entertain us. It brings peace of mind. It can be used to experience real joy and adventure. If you enjoy having money and what it enables you to do, let that drive you. As Gordon Gekko said, greed is good. He also said that he was tired of being mistaken for the GEICO spokes animal.
Having a personal passion is nice. But is not a requirement for happiness and success. Don’t feel bad if you don’t know what you were born to do. In fact, not having one defining passion means that you can take many different paths to an enjoyable and rewarding career. Use any or all of the 7 drivers above to power you along your path. You may even find that these drivers are your passion. Enjoy the journey. It is the key to enjoying your life.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
I recently was introduced to the CEO of a really fun business in Milwaukee. A mutual friend introduced us via email. And in the quick hellos and thanks-for-the-introduction exchange that followed the CEO invited me to his office for a pow-wow.
When we met in person a week later we talked and developed a quick friendship. Despite the fact that we had just met it was clear that we were on the same wavelength. Our mutual friend, who I will call Erin, because that is her name, must have detected that too.
The two of us began talking about his business. I loved the conversation. I am a big fan of his company. Like one of those Big Ass Fans you see in a warehouse. I noted the remarkable quality of the product his team creates. I shared my enthusiasm for his brand and the great potential for growth, expansion and domination.
Then something interesting and unexpected happened. The CEO paused and said, ‘Adam, every agency in town has come to me wanting my business. They all talk about what they can do for us. And they share their vision for our brand. But you are the only one who has shared MY vision for the brand.’
At that point the conversation changed from 2 guys getting to know each other to two business leaders collaborating and working through problems and opportunities together. Which is what I love most about business.
I didn’t think of our conversation as a sales call. I didn’t think I was pitching him on working with me and my business. I was just excited to meet a new friend. I’m like a puppy in that way. And in the process of developing a friendship we talked about his business, the same way we talked about his family, the places he has lived and what he likes to do in his free time.
Make Friends. Not Sales.
But sales is not what most people think it is. So much of business development is simply developing friendships and rapport. It is showing a genuine interest in getting to know others. It is about helping and providing value. It is not about asking for business.
I always focus on friendship first. I was genuinely interested in this baller of a CEO first. I was not about to ask for a shot at his business. Perhaps that was part of the appeal.
As the sales expert Jeffry Gitomer says, people hate to be sold, but they love to buy. That is why I always let people buy into me instead of asking for the sale.
Does it work? Well, I now have a meeting scheduled with my new friend and his leadership team next week.
6 Key Takeaways From This Experience
A good introduction from a trusted mutual friend creates a great start to a new relationship.
Make friends. Not sales calls.
Add value first, last, and always.
Paint a picture others want to buy into.
Let your enthusiasm, energy and passion show.
Between the time I first wrote this post and published it a lot has happened. We had a great meeting with the executive leadership team. We were asked for a proposal. The proposal was signed last Friday afternoon. We kicked off our official relationship with a 3-hour meeting (Gilligan’s Island-Style) on Monday afternoon. We will present ideas next week. And we will have new ads live for the holidays.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message please share it with them.
Business development is a vital function of any healthy business. And it is dependent on interactions with non-customers. This is why trade shows exist. They are like massive dates for people with problems and people with solutions. They are the male and female counterparts that make business work. #Bowchickabowbow Lots of business opportunities are created at trade shows. Because people get to meet, mingle and leave non-single.
Right now, thanks to the Covid-19 curveball, in-person trade shows are simply off the table. As are most in-person networking events. Which creates a major impact on new business prospects for most companies. This is a significant problem to solve. And a significant business opportunity.
Calling It Off
New sales calls are challenged right now too. You can’t simply ask if you can swing by someone’s office to show off your cart of potions and elixirs. Because the people you want to meet with are not there. In fact, most of my clients at The Weaponry have not been in the office for 7 months. Some of them have even moved far from the city they work in, because it doesn’t matter where people live when no one goes into the office.
With all of the Zooming that is happening now, it isn’t easy to get prospects to jump on yet another video conference either. Especially since video conferencing today means inviting people into your home, where families are hosting a 3-ringed circus of work, school and personal life.
Where Do We Grow From Here?
This means that to continue growing your network and your new business prospects you have to find new ways to interact with people. So it’s time to adopt new approaches. Or act like Chubby Checker and put new twists on old ideas.
What I Have Been Doing
Over the past 2 months here is what I have done to expand my network during a time of social contraction:
I spoke to the quarterly gathering of Spearity clients. Spearity is a great management consulting organization. This introduced me to 40 impressive people I didn’t know.
I was a guest on the Sport Coats Podcast with Will Jurgensen. (podcast coming soon to a podcast player near you)
I published 25 new blog posts.
As a result of these actions I have grown my LinkedIn network. I have received new introductions, I have had in-person, yet comically-physically-distanced meetings. I have developed great new relationships. In fact, it looks as if I will have developed at least 4 new clients as a direct result of these activities.
I didn’t make a single cold call. I didn’t ask anyone for their business. I simply gave away my time, knowledge and expertise. I gave value first. And as a result I got even more value return. Anyone can do this. Even today.
Remember it is not who you know. It is who knows you. During these unusual times you have to make sure more people know who you are in order to grow your network and improve your long term prospects, opportunities and sales. Provide value first. And good things will come your way. Even in 2020.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.