Why it is so smart to get a little dumber every day.

‘You have probably heard the saying, ‘You learn something new every day.’ a bazillion times. It’s a great reminder that there is always new knowledge to be gained. In theory, this also means we get a little smarter every day. But if that were true you would also know how many zeros are in a bazillion by now.

Smarter is a relevant term. We become smarter based on the ratio of things we know compared to the things we don’t know.

A funny thing happens when you learn something new. You also realize how much more there is that you don’t know that you hadn’t realized before. This means the more you know, the more there is that you don’t know. Which is what Yoda and the dude in The Matrix were trying to teach us.

Whether you are accumulating knowledge related to your career, parenting, a hobby, sport, or specialized skill, consider your knowledge ratio. It is akin to comparing yourself to those further developed than you, rather than those you have already surpassed. (Which is a Judy Bloom mindset.)

You will quickly realize that the more you know, the more there is to know. That acknowledgment of the mounting body of unknown is one of the most powerful drivers of growth and self-improvement.

Key Takeaway

As you grow and learn, enjoy your newfound knowledge. But more importantly, profit from understanding how much more there is that you don’t know. It will help you maintain a growth mindset. You will learn more from the perspective and experience of others. You will operate more creatively. More empathetically. And ultimately, through acknowledging your own relative ignorance, you become more intelligent. At least I think so.

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

Do you make money from your writing?

My son Johann saw me writing in my office early this morning, as I do at least 5 days per week. Today Johann stopped and asked me, ‘Dad, do you make money from your writing?’ I paused for a moment. Then, instead of answering his question, I said, ‘Come back and ask me your question again when I am done writing. And bring me the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of The West. NOW GET OUT…’ (Ok, so half of that is true.)

The answer is not cut and dry.

The simplest answer is no, I don’t get paid to write this blog. I am not making it rain up in this URL. I don’t have advertisers, sponsors, or paid subscribers. In that respect, my blog writing is not a job. It is a volunteer activity. An elective.

Your Electives

However, I have found that what separates us from each other are our electives. The things that we undertake that we don’t have to do. The things that not everyone does. Those are often the things that make you different, interesting, and valuable to others. But not so different and interesting that the circus wants to add you to their Tent of Freaks.

Adding Value

What I am trying to do when I write my blog is provide value to others. I am trying to share insights, experiences, ideas, techniques, inspiration, motivation, positivity, or humor. By sharing these things I am creating a value-adding resource.

Universal Math

I believe in a very simple math equation. The value of your income is equal to the value of your contribution.

Income = Contribution

So if I add more value to the world, eventually, somehow, the world will add more value to me.

But there is more to my writing than that.

  1. It keeps me top of mind.
  2. It demonstrates relevant capabilities.
  3. It means more people know me.
  4. It helps expand and strengthen my network.
  5. It keeps me engaged with my clients, customers, friends, and family.
  6. It allows me to share my expertise.
  7. It makes me a thought leader.
  8. It makes great people think about joining my team.
  9. It helps my team think they are on a pretty good team with a leader who thinks about and cares about their wellbeing and happiness.
  10. My writing, if funny enough, may someday cause someone to blow milk out of their nose. This is the superpower I have always wanted. As in, ‘You saved us, Snarf Man! We never would have escaped if you hadn’t made that bad man laugh and blow his beverage out of his nose!’ My catchphrase would be, ‘Can I buy you a drink…?’

The Greatest Reward

Perhaps most importantly, as I write, I am learning. I am sharpening my thoughts, perspectives, and techniques. All of which makes me better and more capable in other areas of my work and personal life. This enables me to do better work for others. Which ultimately helps me make money. Sorry for the long answer, Johann.

Key Takeaway

The more you write and share your thoughts the more you will profit from it. The value may not come in direct cash payments. In fact, it probably won’t. It will come through the inevitable compensation you will receive for the value you created and shared with the world. It will come through your connections with others. Through your own learning and development. Through the awareness and positivity you generate. So keep writing. Or start writing. Be patient. But persistent. And good things will come your way.

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

To increase your value surround yourself with better people.

In real estate, it is valuable to be the smallest home in the nicest neighborhood. It is not just for the smaller utility bills, and because there are fewer places to lose your keys. It is because the rest of the bigger, nicer homes will drive your value up by association. #HomeOwnersAssociation

Humans

The same holds true for humans. There is tremendous value in associating with humans that are better than you. Think of better as further developed than you in areas that you want to improve. (Because rockstar, there ain’t nobody better than you are going to be!)

But what does it mean to be a better human? It could mean the people you are spending your time with are:

  • Smarter
  • Braver
  • Kinder
  • Funnier
  • More adventurous
  • More driven
  • More generous
  • Healthier
  • Fitter
  • Wiser
  • Sexier (not a chance)
  • Wealthier
  • More patient
  • More thoughtful
  • More educated
  • More confident
  • More openminded
  • More Benjamin Moore

The Positive Pull

When you associate with people who are better at the things you want to be great at they will pull you along with them. They serve as a constant source of inspiration. They provide a better model for you to use as a measuring stick. And they can show you the path to get where you want to go. Like Glinda showed Dorothy.

Key Takeaway

To increase your personal value spend more time with people who are better than you. They will motivate you to grow, learn and act. They provide a gravitational pull towards better. And they will enhance your personal brand through association. Because good people who spend time with great people are destined for greatness themselves.

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

Imagine you are Oprah. Now find your Dr. Phil.

Over the weekend I listened to a podcast with Dr. Phil. It was full of great advice, insights and guidance. Which was not surprising. Since Dr. Phil McGraw has made a career of offering great advice, insights, and guidance. That, and world-class mustaching.

The part of the podcast I found most interesting was when he talked about Oprah Winfrey. Dr. Phil and Oprah first met when his consulting business helped Oprah with a Mad Cow disease court case she was involved with, involving some mad humans in Texas.

Oprah later invited Dr. Phil to be a guest on her talk show. He was a great guest, and soon he was invited back once a week to do his own segment. A segment on the most popular tv show in daytime history.

What can you do?

This story inspired me to think about how we can all use our platforms, access, careers, businesses, and relationships to be a transformative influence on another person’s life.

Things To Consider

Think about who you can help through your social, business, networking, or technological assets.

  • Who’s life can you potentially transform?
  • Who can you fast track?
  • Who can you set up for life long success?
  • Who can you hand a microphone?
  • Who can you give airtime?
  • Who can you set the stage for?
  • Who can you polish and guide?
  • Who do you love like George Thorogood?

The Great Multiplier

When you set someone else up for success, it will inevitably be paid forward. Over time your efforts will likely multiply many times over. Potentially for generations. It can have a transformative effect on a life, a family, a community or even the world. Yet it’s easy to do. You simply have to share what you already have.

Key Takeaway

Recognize when good people could benefit from your resources. Then set them up for success. Offer your assets to help others build their own momentum. Jumpstart or fast-track their success. It’s easy to do, yet extremely rewarding. And there is no limit to how far your help will ultimately go.

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

Why you should bring an entrepreneurial spirit to your social life.

At some point we all experience dissatisfaction. You may find yourself disappointed by your career path, your opportunities, your social interactions, or this game Prince called, Life. But don’t go crazy. Because if the elevator tries to bring you down there is always something you can do.

Entrepreneurship

Remember that you have the power to start your own business, be your own Bruce Springsteen, and control your own career. It changes everything. Entrepreneurship is the big excuse eraser. Because you no longer are at the mercy of the decisions of other people.

Beyond Business

But regardless of whether you decide to start your own business, you can take an entrepreneurial approach to everything else in your life. Instead of starting your own business, you can start your own social group. Made up of people you want to spend time with. That’s what Mark Zuckerberg did. (And besides the congressional hearings and the Winklevoss twins, it’s going pretty well for him.)

A group of some of my oldest friends at a gathering I organized this summer.

Social Creation

By starting your own group you are creating new connections and ultimately, a new community. That community may have a greater impact on your life than simply starting your own business. In fact, the community may create new opportunities for you to grow and expand your career in ways you had never considered before.

Create your own social circle. Then put a camera on the floor and take a selfie.

Key Takeaway

If you love the idea of being an entrepreneur, but don’t have the risk tolerance to give up your job and strike out on your own, start a social group. Find great people. Organize them. Activate them. Foster and strengthen the connections between them. You will have created your own organization that could offer far greater profits than a business alone would provide.

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

Fun Fact: This pic is me and my cousins after our Grandma Albrecht’s funeral.

The great value in taking a moment to reflect on your day.

This fall I have helped coach my 11-year old son Magnus’ football team. The experience has been extremely rewarding. It’s fun to get back involved in tackle football and all that it teaches players about teamwork, strategy, execution, brotherhood, and eye makeup.

It is fascinating to see how much our team is improving every week. Several parents came up to me after our game on Saturday to tell me that they are impressed by how much the team has grown over our first 5 games.

A significant part of our improvement plan is watching game film. We film each game and then use a platform called Hudl to share it with the players. We break each play down Clint Eastwood-style, noting the good, the bad, and the ugly. #DoodaloodalooWaaWaaWaaaa

We call out the good plays, the great tackles, the key blocks, the great hustle that made a difference. But perhaps more importantly, we call out where players did the wrong things, and what they should do differently next time. Sharing the example and the recipe for correction is a huge part of the learning experience.

When I see how much learning and improvement comes from studying our team game film I find myself wanting to rewatch my days and see my opportunities to get better.

  • I would look for wasted time and missed opportunities.
  • I want to look for better alternatives to the decisions I made.
  • I would want to review the times I could have accomplished more and been more productive. That is a frequent concern of mine at the end of each day.
  • I would like to study the cause and effect of my actions.
  • I would like to find opportunities to grow and learn.
  • I would like to find more ways to connect with my kids, my wife, my coworkers, and friends.
  • I would like to see the hilarious things that happened around me that I missed.

The Problem

Unless you Truman Show yourself, you are never likely to have a full game film of your day. Plus, it would take a full day to watch. Which is as practical as getting a life-size tattoo of yourself on yourself.

Journaling

However, at the end of each day, you can reflect on your day. You can watch the game film of your day in your head. You can keep a journal to help you grow. You can write down what went well, what you learned, and what you would do differently next time. The writing itself will help reinforce the lessons. But revisiting the journal later will be like a self improvement book you wrote for yourself.

Key Takeaway

Take 5 minutes at the end of your day to review the game film of the day in your head. Quickly step through your events, interactions, accomplishments, and misses. Capture the key wins, learnings and observations in a journal or an app. Consider what you should do differently and your corrected or improved behavior. And make yourself a little better every day.

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

Become more focused and more productive by adding more pressure.

I recently moved into a new house. Moving is like putting your world into a blender. Or a tornado. Or a tornado full of blenders. You box up all of your belongings, move them into a foreign space, then you have to find spaces for everything in the new house. It creates chaos, disorganization and discomfort. It can be hard to know where to focus your efforts to make progress before a producer from the show Hoarders shows up on your front steps with a contract and and a pen.

Last Week

This past week I had a plan to help add focus to the chaos. I knew that Sunday night the Patriots were going to play Tom Brady and the Buccaneers for the first time since Brady left New England. #Boo

Under normal circumstances the game would have created a good opportunity for me to have some guys over to watch the game in the lower level of our new home. The problem was that the lower level was a high level disaster.

Despite the disaster, I invited some friends to come over for the game. #WAAZZZUP #ChillinHavinABud

Then I got to work. Like Daniel in a Karate Kid training montage.

I unpacked boxes, and put things in cabinets and drawers. I moved furniture. I organized the exercise room. I calibrated the downstairs refridgerator and filled it with a variety of beverages. (Ok, so my wife Dawn did that.) I set up the ping pong table, I mounted the downstairs TV and put the video game station together. I moved the piano into its new space. I organized the bar and pulled out the bottle opener. I made sure the downstairs bathroom was clean and ready. Then I stood in the middle of the basement and did The Crane Kick.

The result was that by Sunday night at 6:30 pm the lower level of our house was organized and ready for my friends. The false deadline gave me focus and motivation. It spurred me to action. And I checked a major to-do off my list.

You Can Too.

You can do the same thing. Invite guests over to force you to prepare your home. Sell a product, service, or event before it is ready. Then work like crazy to deliver it on time. Sign up for the race or competition to make yourself train. That pressure is great for you. It turns your electives into requirements. Which is where the magic happens.

Key Takeaway.

Force progress and growth by adding pressure to pressureless situations. It is a great way to create motivation and urgency. It’s a simple trick that makes you immensely more productive. And the rewards of the pressure often compound far into the future.

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

If you want your pot to boil just keep the heat on.

Inc. Magazine is a great publication about entrepreneurship. I got a subscription to Inc. when I was in my early 20s. Every month I would devour the magazine. (To be clear, I did this with my mind, not my digestive system.)

From my readings I learned about every aspect of starting a business. I knew all the lingo. I knew the major influencers. I felt like I was part of the entrepreneurial tribe. I had everything I needed except my own business. Which is kind of like having everything a cowboy needs except the horse, ranch and loneliness.

I had been a subscriber to Inc. for nearly 2 decades before I became an actual entrepreneur when I opened The Weaponry, an advertising and idea agency. But when I did, I was well prepared. And it was well worth the wait.

Preparing

It’s natural to give a lot of time, thought, and energy to a dream. By dream I mean things like the following:

  • Starting your own business
  • Hiking the Appalachian Trail
  • Buying a vacation home
  • Epic travel
  • Running a marathon
  • Learning to play an instrument
  • Moving
  • A career change
  • Taking on a major hobby
  • Buying a motorcycle
  • Starting a club, group or society
  • Learning to dance properly
  • Writing a book
  • Streaking the Quad

Don’t get down on yourself for having a dream that you think about a lot but haven’t yet realized. Keep pouring your thoughts and energy into preparing for your dream to come true. Keep reading and studying. Learn all you can. Talk about it. Write your plans down. Know the next step you need to take to make it real.

The next steps could be saving money, finding resources, getting prices, or simply putting a date on the calendar. The key is to make directional progress instead of swirling. Because no one likes a swirly.

To boil a pot of water you have to light the burner, then just keep pouring on the heat. It won’t look like anything is happening for some time. But eventually, that water will boil. As long as you keep increasing the energy you invest in your goal and keep looking for the next step forward to take, you will make it happen.

Walt Disney

Walt Disney didn’t start his epic journey by opening Disney World. He started by reading comics. Then he made drawings. Then he made up stories and put on plays for friends. All of these are easy, small steps in the right direction. Make sure to keep taking your easy small steps. Eventually, they lead to your goals.

Key Takeaway

Set your goals. Then read, learn and prepare yourself. It may take months, years, or decades to get where you want to go. Be patient, but persistent. And keep the heat on. It’s how you make the pot boil.

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

If you want something good to happen put a date on it.

There was a consistent theme in my week. I had several great interactions with friends, neighbors and business associates. Then, at the end of our call or in-person conversation, the other person said, ‘We really should…’

What followed the really should were things like:

  • Grab coffee.
  • Grab lunch.
  • Talk further.
  • Do this again.
  • Do this more often.
  • Have you over.
  • Plan a retreat.
  • Get together with our whole crew.
  • Not tell the police.

All of those comments were true. We should all do more things together. We should deepen our relationships with others. We should share more and learn and be inspired by each other more.

But in order to do that you can’t let the plans float. #NoFloaters You can’t simply lob a ‘We Should’ out there and think that anything will happen. As JFK said, things don’t just happen. They are made to happen.

Calendar It.

The next time someone floats a good plan your way, stick it on your calendar. Find a date as soon as you can and make it real. Find a time that works for you both that day. Or the next day at the latest.

Then the floating plan becomes a calendared plan. And calendared plans become real plans. It is the best way to make your shoulds, wishes and wants a reality.

Better yet, make your plans repeating events. This could mean you get together automatically every week, month, quarter, or year. Then enjoy the compounding effect of your interactions by making just one easy plan.

Me and my friend Troy Allen made a plan last week to get together in Columbus. And because it was on the calendar, we made it happen. (I know you were checking out Troy’s butt in the mirror.)

Key Takeaway

When a good plan is floated your way make it real by giving it a date. Put it on your calendar. Make it a scheduled event, not just a hypothetical occurrence. By turning your ‘we shoulds‘ into ‘we dids‘ you will live a fundamentally different and more rewarding life.

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

** If you think we should make a plan together let’s get it on a calendar.