Not all remarkable people start out that way.

I love to listen to audiobooks when I drive. It’s the only time I multi-task. (I am a devout mono-tasker.) This week I began listening to Titan by Ron Chernow. It is the biography of John D. Rockefeller. The Rockefeller. The man who practically invented oil. The world’s first billionaire. And, I assume, the guy who invented oysters and The Rockettes.

I expected the audiobook would be long. After all, there is a lot of money to cover. But when I discovered the recording was 35 hours long, it exceeded my wildest ear-spectations. Today, I am only 3 hours into the book and The Original Rock is still just 16 years old.

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
Notice how it says HER on his forehead?

The Inspiration

There is one thing that stands out about young John D. that I find tremendously inspiring. At 16 years old, the most remarkable thing about the future world’s richest man is just how unremarkable he still was. There was nothing that indicates his future success. He was no child prodigy. He was no Doogie Howser. No Stevie Wonder. No Sundance Kid.

I find stories like Rocky’s thrilling. Calvin Coolidge became President of the United States, arguably the most powerful man on Earth. But his childhood, and even half of his college-hood, was bland and mediocre at best. Sara Blakely was another late bloomer. She was selling fax machines door-to-door for 7 years before creating Spanx and becoming a self-made billionaire.

You Are Not Done Yet!

Keep Rockefeller, Coolidge and Blakely in mind as you travel your path. You have the ability to do, be, create, and accomplish much more than you have so far. Whether you are a high school student or a retiree, there is still time for you to discover your calling, your perfect pitch, and create your personal legend.

Keep Going!

Remember, your achievements, accomplishments and impact will continue to grow until you stop pushing them. So think bigger. Take more action. Surround yourself with the right people. Take risks, and make them pay off. It is how you write a great biography for yourself, in real-time.

Key Takeaway

It’s not the beginning of your story that matters. Keep growing and learning. Keep pushing yourself. Discover what you are really capable of. Maximize your gifts and you can create the You that You always wanted to be. The You that You know you are. Have a vision for yourself. Dream no small dreams. Make the story of yourself in your head come true. Anyone can do it. Why not you?

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

You know you love your job when…

Last night I was up until 1am. But I wasn’t partying.

I was reading. But I wasn’t lost in a page-turning mystery, or a salacious celebrity biography. I was alone, in my home office, reading a 48-page Master Service Agreement.

For those unfamiliar with MSAs, they are the legal documents that businesses sign with each other in order to form legal working relationships. They are like company prenups. And 48 pages is like a Kardashian-level prenup.

As I was carefully pouring over the legalese somewhere west of midnight, I was struck by how much I enjoyed what I was doing. It’s not that I love reading legal documents. The theretofores and hence-stateds always seem stilted and unnecessary. Like the nerdy shop talk of those who want to get back at the world by going to law school.

I enjoyed reading the long and dry document because it is part of the entrepreneurial experience.

When I first launched The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, I hoped that I would have clients join me on my adventure. Because a business without clients is like the sound of one hand clapping. Better yet, I wanted The Weaponry to work with large, successful companies who could afford armies of legal resources to write 48-page MSAs for them.

Today I have a great collection of large, successful clients. I’m doing what I set out to do. And I am happy to take the fun, the pride and the spoils of entrepreneurship, along with the 48-page MSAs.

Remember not to view legal contracts, insurance and taxes as headaches or necessary evils. They are symbols of success. And they are worth losing a little sleep over.

Key Takeaway

Find the things in life that you enjoy so much that you gladly embrace the tedium that goes with it. It is how you know you are on the right path.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

Be kind when you rewind your life in your mind.

Imagine your life as one long continuous recording. As Mo Gawdat notes in his book Solving For Happy, at our core, we are the observers of our lives. Your 5 senses record your life, from beginning to end. At any point, pre-Alzheimer’s, you can replay a part of it again. This is what you are doing when you tap into your memory. You are rewinding, and watching the game film of your life.

Watch Your Wins

What you decide to replay for yourself makes all the difference. Replaying past successes is good for you. It reinforces how capable you are. It reminds you how you win at life. It builds confidence, determination and a positive outlook. It reminds you that you are good enough, you are smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.

Watch Your Failures Once

Don’t make a habit of watching your failures over and over. Your failures, shortcomings and mistakes should only be watched once. This allows you to study the game film, see where the mistake was made, learn, and correct the behavior. After you have learned the lesson, let your failures go. They are done.

Create Your Personal Highlight Reel

How you view your life, and thus how you view yourself, is a result of which game film you choose to watch. Rewatch the good parts often. They will become your personal highlight reel. And just like your favorite movie quotes, those memories will be quickly accessible anytime you need them. So you’ve got that going for you. Which is nice. #NameThatFilm

My Highlight Reel

When I watch game film of my life here are some of the go-to moments I go to often:

• Tests that I scored 100% on. It reminds me I am a good learner

• Breaking the state record in the discus in high school, 8 months after having my ACL reconstructed. It reminds me of the power of my determination.

• Winning a new business pitch after a client told me I had no chance. It reminds me I can win, even when the odds are stacked against me.

• Founding The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, with $16,000, and growing it to a multi-million dollar business. It reminds me to take risks.

• Meeting my wife Dawn It reminds me of my good luck.

• Vacation adventures with Dawn and our 3 kids. It reminds me of how fun life can be.

• Seeing a map of the 120+ countries where my blog has been read around the world. It reminds me to keep writing.

• The positive notes from people who heard me speak or give a presentation. It reminds me that my messages have value to others.

The time I made a joke and someone laughed. It reminds me that it could happen again.

Binge Watch Your Best

To live a great life is to watch the good parts over and over. Remind yourself of your strengths, great performances and wins. Remember your positive interactions, collaborations, friendships and love, and you are sure to see more of it in your future.

Key Takeaway

We all have successes and failures. When you rewind your life, watch your failures once, to learn. Replay your successes often. Remind yourself you are a winner. You are smart, kind, and brave. Always focus on your good film. It will increase your happiness, and lead to more good film to watch.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

Do more of the things you know you should.

Ever wonder what the difference is between successful people and unsuccessful people? It is not physical. Both people look very similar on the surface. If you cut them open you would find all the same things inside both. You would also discover that both groups highly dislike being cut open.

The difference between successful, accomplished people and those who never progress is not in knowledge. Everyone knows what to do:

  • Eat right
  • Exercise
  • Work hard
  • Network
  • Study
  • Show Up
  • Volunteer
  • Collaborate
  • Save
  • Invest
  • Rise early (to get the worms)
  • Take risks
  • Read
  • Follow up
  • Wear deodorant

The Difference

Successful people do what they know they should do. They act. They make. They move. They try. They try again.

The unaccomplished know what to do, but don’t.

Don’t be a don’ter.

The Cycle

The more you do the more you will accomplish. And the more you do the more you will be inspired to do. It is a virtuous cycle. Get yourself into the positive feedback loop of action and you are sure to get more action. (And who doesn’t want more action?)

Getting Started

Make a list of the things you know you should do today. The whole list can be written in 30 seconds. 5 minutes if you have a slow pen. Then simply spend your day doing the things on your list.

Key Takeaway

Take action. Do what you already know you should. It’s the not-so-secret secret to success.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

How to fill your life with Category 3 people.

There are over 8 billion people on Earth. That’s hard to wrap your head around. In fact, wrapping your head around anything is hard to do. And it’s not good for your head. But despite the astronomical number of Earthlings, all people fall into 3 categories.

The 3 Categories of People

  1. People you don’t know.
  2. People you kinda know.
  3. People you know.

An Important Distinction

So, what is the difference between Category 2 and Category 3? To be categorized as someone you know, you must know their name. This is the gateway to a real relationship.

Key Idea

To fill your life with Category 3 people you should introduce yourself to everyone you spend time with.

Category 3 is The Magic Category.

Category 3 is full of your friends and family. This is your network. It’s your safety net. The more people you have in bucket 3 the more support you have. The more love you feel. Category 3 is where your opportunities come from. These are the people that can help advance your career, can help you make a sale, or offer you a kidney. These are the only people who will show up at your funeral (other than random people who love little ham sandwiches and sorrow).

Turn 2s into 3s

Category 2 contains people that you see or interact with. However, you remain anonymous to each other. Literally. The definition of anonymous is a person not identified by name; or of unknown name.

What you do with your category 2 people has a major impact on your life. The greater the percentage of people that you move from category 2 to category 3 the richer your life will become.

Conversely, the more people you allow to accumulate in category 2 the more loneliness and isolation you feel. A negative emotion builds in us when we are surrounded by people that we don’t know on a first-name basis (And I don’t mean like Cher, Madonna and Pele.)

The Power of 2s

This means Category 2 people are the swing people in your life. Leave them in Category 2 and they will always be familiar but nameless strangers. A natural tension accumulates between such people. You will wonder why you don’t actually introduce yourselves to each other. You create theories about dislike, or snobbishness, or standoffishness, or Eliot Ness. These theories are almost always unfounded. And almost always negative. Just ask Al Capone.

Most people simply avoid making the first move to introduce themselves to their 2s. It may be the discomfort of making the first move, a fear of rejection from a disinterested party. Or it may be that a body at rest simply tends to stay at rest.

It’s Smart To Hide Your Smartphone.

When we have a free moment among category 2 people we often invest our time and attention in our smartphone and its endless rabbit holes. It would be a much more valuable investment of your time and attention to introduce yourself to those around you. Exchange names and pleasantries. Find commonalities. Express your desire to turn your 2s into 3s. (You may have to reference this post for it all to make sense.)

Key Takeaway

Introduce yourself to everyone you spend time with. Clear out your category 2 bucket Move as many people to category 3 as you can. You will find your life fuller, friendlier and more enjoyable. More people will know your name. Which makes your world feel smaller, more personal, and more rewarding. By filling your world with category 3 people you win at life. It is how you develop a successful career. And it is how you create positive energy everywhere you go.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

20 Things I Am Glad I Did in 2020.

On New Year’s Eve, I sat down and reflected on the year gone by. The last day of the year is always a good time to look back and learn what worked and what didn’t. In 2020 I didn’t eat any bats. I didn’t break any windows that didn’t belong to me. And I didn’t act like a cranky baby during a nationally televised debate. I like to focus on the positive. So here are 20 things I am glad I did do last year.

Things I am glad I did in 2020.

1. I wore a mask a lot. It’s really easy to wear a mask. And it helps you and the people around you not get sick and die. That’s why Batman and The Lone Ranger both wore one. And they both saved a lot of people.

2. I saved for a rainy day. I have been fiscally conservative with my business, The Weaponry. Which means that I left money (my fiscals) in the business to make sure it could weather challenging times. So when the economy went sideways in March I didn’t panic. Not worrying whether we would be open to see 2021 allowed me to focus on opportunities instead. And opportunities kept coming.

3. I played foosball. During the March-May lockdown, my 3 kids and I played foosball together every night. It was something fun to look forward to each day. It was the only competitive sport we saw during that time. All 4 of us got much better at the game as we bonded and created foosy memories.

4. I went to the beach. In June my family and I went to Hilton Head Island for a week. While traveling and hoteling has some inherent risks, we were cautious, wore masks around others and socially distanced. But the change of scenery was valuable to our mental health. And the beach itself made us forget about life for a while (like in that Billy Joel song, with Davy, who is still in the Navy).

5. I bought lobster. While we were in Hilton Head my kids asked what lobster tasted like. As a New Englander, I have had a lot of lobstah. It was surprising to realize that my kids had never had it. So one night at dinner I allowed my kids to order the lobster, the most expensive thing on the menu. They loved it, and greatly appreciated the splurge. Remember, sometimes you’ve gotta splurge for the lobster.

6. I organized Zoom calls with friends. I probably had 1000 Zoom calls in 2020. After spending hours each day Zooming with clients and coworkers, I thought Zoom would be a great way to see my friends and family too. My sisters coordinated our family Zooms. But I organized calls with my college track teammates from The University of Wisconsin. I had calls with my high school football teammates. I had many calls with friends from New England, Georgia, California, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, Florida and on and on. It was a lot like having friends over for beverages. It simply required someone to take the lead.

7. I kept exercising. During the lockdown, I relocated our home exercise equipment to a more prominent place in our basement and started exercising at home with my family. Now, as my daughter Ava and son Magnus play basketball, my son Johann and I go to the gym and lift weights together several times each week. As a result, I am stronger now than I was 30 years ago. And I am way stronger than I was 40 years ago. (This sounds good until you realize how young I was 40 years ago.)

8. I rode my bike a lot. Bike riding during the pandemic was like going to therapy. (It was also like a song by Queen.) Most nights during the summer I would ride for 30-90 minutes. Not only was it good exercise, it was freeing in a time that didn’t feel so free.

9. We took an epic road trip. At the end of July, my family and I went on one of the 3 greatest road trips of my life. We took 11 days and drove from Wisconsin to Idaho. We visited several national parks, including The Badlands, Yellowstone, Glacier, and Theodore Roosevelt. The trip was an educational and inspirational adventure. It was the highlight of 2020.

10. I sent an email saying we were ready to help. On March 16th, I sent all of our clients an email saying we were up and ready to work remotely. We were fully functional from home on day one of The Lockdown. Our clients were ready to roll with us. We just kept on crushing it throughout the lockdown and the rest of the year. Not only did we pick up more work from agencies that didn’t make it, we ended up having our best year ever by 25%.

11. I gave blood. Giving blood has been something I always wanted to do, but just never started. I come from a family of blood donors. My Dad has given so much blood that I expect he looks like dehydrated fruit on the inside. I finally donated blood this fall. And I will definitely do it again. It is not difficult to do. And I am very proud to have finally checked the box on this oddly elusive life goal.

12. I spoke to college students at 4 different schools. In 2020 I spoke to students at The University of Wisconsin, Marquette University, Concordia University of Wisconsin and Carroll University. Yet I never set foot on any of the campuses. I spoke about advertising, marketing, creativity, business, entrepreneurship and leadership. But I was also able to develop stronger relationships with the professors, lecturers and other school staff members. The academic and business world should be more closely linked. Because we need each other (not knead each other, or kneed each other).

13. I gave bonuses. Throughout the year I was very open with my team about our goals for the year, both before and after we knew anything about covid-19. My team worked very hard to not only keep our business going and growing, but to keep our clients thriving during a very unpredictable time. And when a company does well the team should benefit too. So I was extremely proud to hand out bonus checks on December 30th. Because when the whole team shares in the success you experience more success.

14. I wrote 151 blog posts. I maintained my 3-post-a-week habit throughout the year. I tried to share good news and an upbeat, positive perspective throughout 2020. I hope it helped provide a little light and a little levity in brevity during the unique challenges of the year.

15. I became even more adaptable. The great gift of 2020 was adaptability. It was not an option to reject the opportunity to learn to adapt. It was a requirement. As a result, I learned how to function with new rules, under new conditions, in new settings. I learned what I could live and work without. I became more inventive and open-minded. I saw my children take classes, music lessons, and even athletic practice via Zoom. As they say at Progressive Insurance, you have to be able to go with the flow.

16. I helped people who needed help. I tried to help people who needed the kind of help I could offer in 2020. Sometimes it was encouragement. Sometimes it was business, marketing and entrepreneurial advice. Sometimes it was a bit of work for those who were having a hard time finding work and making money. Because we all need a little help from time to time.

17. I wrote a book. In 2020 I wrote a book. My goal in 2021 is to get it published. In 2022 my goal will be to have someone who is not related to me actually buy the book. More on this in a later post.

All Rights Reserved

18. I read Rich Dad. Poor Dad. to my kids. I have now read the book to all 3 of my kids. The financial literacy the book teaches is simply not taught anywhere else. In fact, the first two kids I read the book to this spring both asked to buy stocks and have done extremely well with their investments. I highly recommend that you read this book if you haven’t. Read it to your kids if you have kids. And if you don’t have kids, don’t have kids! They are expensive. Especially if they like lobster.

19. I switched dentist. My former dentist was fine. The kind of fine that will lull you into accepting a lesser experience for a long time. But our delayed dental care of 2020 encouraged my wife Dawn and me to reconsider the dentist we have seen for the past 3 or 4 years. We love the new dental practice we found. In fact, I had a chipped crown replaced and I literally didn’t have a moment of discomfort. Don’t settle for fine. Seek outstanding. And get your teeth right.

20. I said yes a lot. I had many requests for my time and talent in 2020. I was asked to help, to get involved, to serve and to contribute in many different ways. Yes was my default. I felt like the world needed more yeses in 2020. Perhaps I did too. Yeses help you grow and make the world a better place. Yes, even if you are the owner of a lonely heart.

Key Takeaway

It is important to reflect on your year, your actions and your attitudes. Note what is working for you and what is not. Learn and grow as you go. Be deliberate in your actions. Embrace a life of continuous improvement. It’s the best path to the best you.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

You imagined a great life. Now make it happen.

When you were young you had an exciting vision for your life. You knew that in the future your life would be amazing. You would have a career you loved, a family who spent a lot of quality time together, and a fun friend group. Perhaps you imagined travel and adventure. Or you contributed significant time, talent and money to important causes. You created art or music. You looked great for your age. And you imagined yourself reading a blog post that reminded you of your life’s vision.

There may be hundreds of details about your life that you pictured differently than they are right now. But remember, you have the power to change those details. You have the ability to continuously improve your life. In fact, your life will become more like the life you envisioned until you stop trying to make it so. Or until you die. Whichever comes first.

Don’t settle for less. Remember that things don’t just happen. They are made to happen. You are the author of your story. You are the architect and builder of your world. You are the head of quality control. You are the bouncer, deciding who gets in and who gets thrown out. You are the boss, determining what work needs to be done next. You are the Dean, setting the coursework you must study. And you are the timekeeper who announces when you have spent too long on something that is not working.

Key Takeaway

You can change your life to be more like the life you imagined at any time. Don’t settle. Don’t give up. Revisit the vision you have for your own life often. And live into it a little more every day.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

How the fun UW Credit Union commercials with Jonathan Taylor happened.

Indianapolis Colts rookie running back Jonathan Taylor has been the talk of the sports world this week. He lit up the NFL on Sunday, rushing for a Colts record 253 yards and 2 touchdowns. He completed the regular season with 1169 rushing yards, 3rd best in the NFL in 2020. He also used his remarkable speed, agility and hand-washing skills to avoid covid all season long.

Taylor’s standout NFL season comes on the heels of a record-setting college career.

Jonathan Taylor highlights at the University of Wisconsin:

  • 1st running back in college football history to rush for 6,000 yards in 3 seasons.
  • 6th most rushing yards in college football history, despite only playing 3 seasons.
  • Winner of the Doak Walker Award as America’s best college running back in both 2018 and 2019.
  • 2 time unanimous 1st-team All-American in 2018 and 2019
JT talking about colts and cowboys.

Marketing Opportunities

In 2020, as Jonathan Taylor began his NFL career, he also began a partnership with UW Credit Union. Taylor first became a member of UW Credit Union his freshman year in Madison. It was the first bank account the Salem, New Jersey native ever had. In fact, it was Taylor who first approached UW Credit Union about a possible partnership, noting the strong connection he felt towards the brand.

The interview portion of the program.

Starting and Stopping

The first scheduled collaboration between Taylor and UW Credit Union was supposed to happen back in March of 2020, just before the NFL draft. JT was hosting a series of football camps for youth in Milwaukee and Madison that was sponsored by UW Credit Union. But the camps were scheduled for March 14 and 15th. Which was the weekend the coronavirus pulled the plug on all fun and games in America.

Not only were the camps canceled, the entire country went into lockdown-mode for the next 2 months. The only sports happening in America were toilet paper hunting, cleaning supply gathering, and an epic game of covid dodgeball.

JT demonstrating the no-look one-handed catch.

One Last Chance

By the middle of summer, we had all settled into the new normal. Anne Norman, the Chief Marketing Officer of UW Credit Union approached our team at The Weaponry about the JT partnership again. She asked us if we thought we should still try to create some new content with Jonathan if logistics would allow. We said absolutely. So we contacted Team Taylor and Everett Sports Marketing, JT’s marketing agents, to see what if anything was still possible.

Good News

As it turns out, Anne’s call was well timed. JT needed to report to training camp with the Indianapolis Colts the next week. As luck would happen, he was going to be in Madison a day before that to pack up his apartment, move, and enjoy some Toppers Pizza. So we had one day to capture what we needed. However, we had less than a week to prepare.

This meant we had less than a week to figure out what we were going to do with JT, where we were going to do it, and who we were going to work with to film and photograph him. Under normal circumstances, this would be a very tight squeeze. But during the covid-era the opening was so small we didn’t know if even JT could run through it.

The Location

The location was difficult to find. The University of Wisconsin was in full lockdown mode, and wouldn’t allow anyone on campus, including the athletic facilities. Dane County put tight restrictions on gatherings of non-household-sharing humans. So we were in a tough spot.

Jonathan Taylor and Adam Albrecht in pre-game warmups.

Finally, we found a high school that would allow us to film on their football field. It is probably more accurate to say that they said, ‘We don’t want to know anything about this, but the gate might not be locked, and you might be able to get on the field if you are all masked and socially distant.’

The Crew

We found a Milwaukee-based film crew that had safety protocols in place and could run a safe covid-era shoot. We tapped our good friend and great photographer Lucian MacAfee for photography duties. Now we just needed scripts to film and ideas to photograph.

This was the first time in my career that my team had locked in a shoot location and both film and photo crews before we had any ideas about what we were going to create. But then again, this was also my first pandemic.

The socially distanced film set.

The Ideas

Our creative team of Kevin Kayse and Kristyn Lilley fired off a barrage of potential video scripts for JT to deliver for social media and the UW Credit Union website. But our timing was limited. And we didn’t know how JT would be on camera, or whether he could deliver humorous ideas. Plus, we couldn’t shoot other actors with JT. To their great credit, the UW Credit Union marketing team trusted that we would come up with something. And we did.

JT and his lucky Bucky Badger debit card.

The Shoot

Despite all of the twists and turns we had experienced since March, on the day of the shoot everything went according to plan. Everyone showed up at the right location at the right time. Everyone wore masks. We used long lenses that allowed JT to be a significant distance from the camera. And we rolled film.

JT was great. He was as good at working with the teleprompter as anyone I have ever worked with. He was extremely coachable and took direction well. We were pleasantly surprised that he was able to deftly deliver the light humor several of the videos required.

In fact, while we were planning on creating a series of online and social videos, we were so pleased with how they turned out that we decided to turn the videos into TV commercials as well. And the response to the spots has been great.

Here is the first commercial to air.

We had a little fun with this spot. Fun fact: It is my voice that talks to JT from off-camera.

Here is the second commercial to air, which focuses on UW Credit Union’s mobile app.

Wisconsin has 2 NFL rival teams. We played off of that in this commercial.

Thanks to UW Credit Union for the opportunity to create this work. Thanks to Anne Norman, Becky Hubing and Jill Rickert of UWCU for your help at the shoot. Thanks to Rachel Everett and ESM for all your help. Thanks to producer Mandi Nodorft for pulling things together. Thanks to Lucian McAfee for all the great photography. And thanks to Jonathan Taylor for being great to work with, and funny too.

JT with Rachel Everett of Everett Sports Marketing. ESM encourages all of its athletes to focus on the brands they have authentic, credible, significant relationships with. Which is a very good philosophy for brand partnerships. Which is why they have also attracted other top NFL players, including Nick Chubb, Tee Higgins and D’Andre Swift.

How to use video conferences to improve your appearance.

According to the Chinese calendar, 2020 was the year of the rat. No one is likely to argue that designation. But for most of us, 2020 was also the year of the video call. In 2020 I used Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, Go To Meeting, Ring Central, Skype, and PantsOptional. (Ok, I may have made the last one up.)

Zoom and its various alternatives have provided a way for life to continue with some sense of normalcy since covid-19 burst on the scene and began stealing our toilet paper. Thanks to these platforms we can still have meetings and meetups. We can still conduct business. We can still educate our youth. And we can still answer No when asked if we drink alone on those pesky diagnostic questionnaires.

The Zoom Advantage

While it is easy to think of a Zoom meeting as inferior to in-person meetings, there is at least one major advantage Zoom offers over in-person get-togethers. And it’s not related to deodorant.

Watch Yourself!

Zoom offers you the unique opportunity to see yourself the way others see you in meetings. It is arguably the greatest gift of 2020. And it’s a gift you should take advantage of.

When you are on a video conference, and you select to view the meeting in gallery mode, meaning that you can see all participants, you also get to view yourself, in real-time.

This self-view is extremely valuable whether you are talking and presenting or simply listening to others.

7 things to look for when you see yourself on Zoom.

  1. How do you look? Check your attire and your grooming. Do you look professional and respectable? Are you well dressed? Are you properly groomed? Or do you look like you just stumbled in from a pajama party? Your clothing and your hair still matter on Zoom. Look the part.
  2. Are you smiling? Do you look friendly? Are you scowling? Do you have RBF? It makes a big difference. Especially when you are not in the room together. A pleasant smile is a good default.
  3. How is your posture? Are you upright and attentive? Or are you lounging like you are watching a late-night informercial? I am surprised at how many loungers I see on Zoom. Especially among the student population. Don’t be that kid.
  4. Do you appear engaged and interested in the conversation? Or do you look like you would rather be anywhere else? People take as much interest in you as you take in them. So engage.
  5. Do you come across as energetic or lethargic? When you bring energy to the screen others do too. When you lack energy you put people to sleep, like narcolepsy.
  6. Are you providing affirmations? On video conferences, simple head nods go a long way to convey that you agree and support the points being made. However, one long head nod means you have fallen asleep.
  7. How are people responding? You can easily tie your delivery to the response you see on screen form others. Are you connecting? Are you knocking it out of the park? Or have you lost the audience? Make adjustments to make sure you are getting the response you are looking for.

Additional Considerations

To make sure you are presenting yourself well check the following:

  1. How is the lighting? Are you bright enough? Are you too bright? Do you look like you are beaming in from Heaven? Adjust your lighting using lamps or windows until you look great.
  2. Does your background help your brand image or hurt it? Be aware of what is behind you. It has the ability to make you seem more interesting, or reveal that you are really a slob.
  3. Check the camera angle. Think about TV news anchors. The camera should be at eye level. It should not be looking up your nose. Use books or boxes to raise your computer camera if necessary.
  4. Are you looking at the camera? If you have a second monitor it can appear as if you are never looking at the camera. This happens to me sometimes. It is weird. Fix it if you can. It makes you appear distracted or disinterested.

Take The Fast Feedback

Zoom and other video conference platforms provide you with a mirror during meetings and meetup. They allow you to monitor, evaluate and adjust how you are presenting yourself to the world. This is a rare opportunity to see what you are offering the world in real-time. It is like watching game film. It enables you to see how you are being received. And it allows you to change up your style and delivery, on the fly, and see how your audience responds.

Key Takeaway

Take advantage of the opportunity video conferencing offers and tune in to see how others see you. Notice how others respond to you. And experiment with adjustments. Zoom will teach you how to become a better presenter and a better audience. All you have to do is pay attention.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this idea, please share it with them.

My 2 goals for 2021 are More and Better.

Here we are again at the beginning of a new year. The shelves have been restocked with hope. We have resolutions to keep and gym memberships to use. Okay, so you aren’t going to the gym because of covid, and because you have some kind of exercisey-thingie at home. (I have been going to the gym, because there is no one else there.)

The Resolutionary War

I don’t make resolutions. I set goals. And I have 2 very simple goals for 2021. They cover everything I want to do this year.

My 2021 goal: To do more and better.

I want to do more on the X-axis. I want to get better on the Y-axis. And I want all of the arrows in my life pointing up and to the right.

I want to do more of everything.

  • More fun
  • More joy
  • More work
  • More growth
  • More rewards
  • More winning
  • More exercise
  • More reading
  • More adventure
  • More volunteering
  • More helping others
  • More quality time with my family
  • More time spent with friends
  • More Dinty Moore

But it’s not enough to simply do more. I want quantity and quality. Like chocolate and peanut butter. Like tastes great and less filling.

I want to do everything better.

  • Better work
  • Better play
  • Better husbanding
  • Better parenting
  • Better friending
  • Better thinking
  • Better ideas
  • Better writing
  • Better contributions
  • Better skills
  • Better quality time
  • Better health
  • Better commitments
  • Better investments
  • Better conversations
  • Better advice
  • Better leadership
  • Better Homes & Gardens
  • Better Baby Buggy Bumpers

Key Takeaway

It’s impossible to know exactly what lies ahead over the next 12 months. But you can commit to growth and self-improvement. Your capacity is a matter of self-perception. Self-improvement is a mindset too. Getting your mind right is how you get your life right. So here’s to a More and Better Approach to everything in 2021.