Reflection: 14 Things That Went Great In My 40s.

May is my favorite month of the year. May is spring, and new beginnings and good weather. May is track & field season. May brings Memorial Day weekend, which kicks off summer. Although in Wisconsin, sometimes it’s a Charlie Brown kickoff, and Lucy pulls the ball away before it ever gets a chance to fly.

May is also Birthday Month for me, my 3 sisters, my son Johann, and a couple of nieces and a nephew. This year, my birthday was no small milestone. On May 25, I turned 50. Which is significant on several levels. Mostly, because I make it significant in my head. To make the most of each decade I set major long-term goals by the decade. Today, I am excited about the possibility and promise of my 50s. Because by all accounts, my 40s were a raging success. Here’s my reflection.

14 Things That Went Great In My 40s.

  1. My Career: I started my own business when I was 42, and I spent the majority of my 40s leading the advertising and ideas agency, The Weaponry. Starting an advertising agency was my #1 goal of my 40s. Not starting a business would have been my greatest regret. The business is now well into its 8th year and growing. Check the box!
Me at The Weaponry. And a leaf like the original Adam wore.
Several Weapons

2. Travel. In my 40s I traveled all over America. I think I visited 45 states. The only state I have left to visit is Hawaii. In the past decade, I also traveled to Argentina, India and Canada. And I would have traveled to Europe if it wasn’t for that meddling pandemic! But I have a trip to London, Paris, Bern and Munich locked and loaded. So go 50s!

My trip to India was an epic part of my travel over the past decade.

3. Writing: I have now written 881 blog posts. All that writing prepared me to write my first book: What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? I started writing the book when I was 46 and published it when I was 48. I co-authored my first book with Jeff Hilimire too, titled The Culture Turnaround. There are more books planned (and mostly written) for my 50s. Plus there is a newsletter in the works…

The first time I held my paper baby.

4. Speaking: Publishing my book led to speaking opportunities. This year I am on track to earn more money from speaking than I did in the first year of my advertising career. I really enjoy speaking and sharing stories and lessons with others. On my 50th birthday, I took the day off of work to enjoy my big day, but I then volunteered to speak to students at two schools about my career. Which means I really enjoy it. Or else I just really like hanging out at Middle Schools.

My first talk of my 50s.

5. Coaching Track: I started coaching high school track and field 3 years ago. I didn’t know any more about coaching than anyone else who had participated in a sport through high school and college. I didn’t even have a clipboard, whistle or a Throw-one-for-the-Gipper speech. But 3 years in I have coached a boy discus thrower to 181 feet, the second farthest throw in Wisconsin last year, and my daughter Ava hit 130 feet as a junior. For context, 3 years into coaching, I have only seen 4 girls hit 130 feet or more in a meet, and Ava is one of them. Exciting things are ahead for my daughter-athlete next year. And both of my sons plan to throw next year too. Their training has already started.

Some of the great girls I’ve coached.

6. Coaching Football: I started coaching youth football. Again, I started knowing very little beyond my own experience as a player. Today I am the defensive coordinator for the 6th-grade team in Mequon, Wisconsin. Which will be the 7th-grade team next year. I have learned a lot and developed rewarding relationships with a fun group of boys in my son Magnus’ class. And I’m trying to help create a positive experience that the boys will remember forever. Or at least get them to break a huddle in unison.

My son Magnus is #55. You can see my knee beside his.

7. Parenting. I started my 40s with 3 children who were 7, 5, and 2 years old. Today they are 17, 16 and 12. (Because math works like that.) I am proud to say that I have a strong relationship with my 3 children. Even though they are teens or tweens, we remain very close through what I expected to be the most challenging period of our relationship. I know them well enough to know that none of them are teen-wolfs. I am highly involved in each of their lives, and I will miss them greatly when they fly from the nest in my new decade.

Me and the offspring on my 50th!

8. Marriage: I have now been married for 20 years to my wonderful wife Dawn. We are closer than ever and our marriage works well. Our communication is strong. She is my best friend. Sorry everyone else who thought they were my bestie. (You are my next-bestie.)

Me and Dawn when we were just babies. Now we are both 50+ and feeling Nifty+!

9. Fitness: I wanted to hit my 50s in great shape. One year ago I weighed 224 pounds. For context, I am 6 feet tall. And I graduated from high school at 215 pounds and from college at 211. I lift weights several times a week and am about as strong as I was at 18. Plus, I do cardio work 4 times per week. On my 50th birthday, I weighed 206 pounds. And I have a goal of doing 20 pullups at 50 years old. I haven’t attempted it yet. But I did hit 20 pullups 3 times in the past 2 weeks, so I expect it will be no problem. #dothehardworkearly.

10. Hair: I still have a full head of hair. I am not bragging. I am thankful. Or grateful, or whichever one is politically correct.

Still flowing at fifty.

11. Reading: I have read more in my 40s than in any other decade of my life. I can feel the effect of my reading. I am continuously learning and adding to my understanding and knowledge. My thinking keeps getting better. My brain feels well exercised. And I have set a new record for paper cuts. I got up on my birthday and read from 5:30 am to 6 am when it was time to write. ( I am currently reading The Greater Journey, about Americans in Paris in the 1880s by David McCullough, and listening to How Successful People Think by John C. Maxwell. I have already completed 17 books in 2023, and should finish 1 more today!

My initial reading list for the year.

12. Relationships. Through the past decade, I have lived in 3 states. And I have gained tons of new friends. I have also maintained my many friendships. I’m like a friend hoarder. Only I let people live in their own homes instead of piling them in my kitchen. I have organized social groups. I planned and hosted my 30th high school reunion. I make friendships very quickly. It is one of my greatest or favorite strengths. However, in the past 5 years, I have also had an odd falling out with one of my (formerly) closest friends, which I really don’t understand. But I accept it and have moved on. There is a lesson in that too.

Some of my favorite Marauder friends from Hanover High School in New Hampshire, 30 years later.
I’m thankful that my original family is all still here and that we remain close. Although we look a little too happy considering this was taken right after my Grandma Albrecht’s funeral. (You know we love you Grandma. And you were 99.)

13. Skillz. I added some new skills in the past decade. Entrepreneurship, blogging and authoring are the obvious ones. But also surfing, coaching, mentoring, keynoting, wake surfing and parenting teenagers to name a few. I am currently working on my French aussi. You are never too old to keep adding skills. And girls like guys with skills. Like nunchuck skills.

I learned to surf in my 40s. I even got off the sand and into real water!

14. Home During my 40s I lived in 4 different houses in Ohio, Georgia and Wisconsin. 2 years ago, after shopping for 2.5 years and not making a single offer, Dawn and I walked into our current home the first day it was on the market. We immediately knew it was the home for us and made an offer that afternoon. We have loved living in our current home. It is the first time in my adult life that I have lived somewhere that I didn’t consider temporary. Which is a great base for a great next decade.

Me and the Crew at home.

Key Takeaway

There is a difference between aging and living. Don’t confuse the two. Focus on the living and the aging won’t bother you. Life is what you make it. Setting goals for each decade helps you think long-term and act in the short term. Decade thinking gives you enough time for great accomplishments and great change. But it provides a clear and unmoveable endpoint that creates the everpresent gift of urgency. So enjoy your life. Enjoy your decade. And make the most of every day.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

How you can make great improvements the easy way.

When I was a kid there was a lot of motivational material around our home. Most of it was in the form of cross-stitch art. Because during my childhood cross-stitch was a popular form of philosophical expression. And my home was a hotbed of the cross-stitch movement.

Over the past several weeks one of those pieces of cross-stitch motivation has been sparkling my brain again. Here’s the memorable and rhymey message:

Progress by the yard is hard. But by the inch, it’s a cinch.

As an entrepreneur, I love this message, because it reminds me that we can build a successful business brick-by-brick, action-by-action, and day-by-day. As long as we bring the IRS along for the ride.

As a writer, it reminds me that my books and blog posts are created word-by-word. Even my 290-page book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? was created one word at a time. (Ok, so it was actually written one letter at a time, but that would be measured in fractions of an inch, and that makes for a clunky cross-stitch message. So we will stick with words.)

As a coach, this message reminds me that great performances are built on tiny improvements in technique, strength, explosiveness, speed, endurance, focus and mental toughness. These are almost imperceptible individual improvements, that add up, in aggregate.

As a discus thrower in high school, I improved by 30 feet each year. When you convert 30 feet into inches you get 360. Which is an inch of progress every day for 1 year. (While also allowing a day off for Christmas, New Year’s Day, My Birthday, Thanksgiving, and Tubestock on the Connecticut River.)

As a person who wants to lose weight, the inch-by-inch approach translates to an ounce-by-ounce approach. This mindset has made it fairly easy for me to lose 20 pounds in the past 11 months. I’ll be sharing more about what I’ve done to accomplish this as I reach the 12-month mark of my weight-eviction plan. (Unless I accidentally lose all of my weight and have nothing left to type with.)

As parents, my wife and I teach the progress-by-the-inch mindset to our children. It has helped them excel in academics, athletics, music and hair growing.

Key Takeaway

Set long-term goals. And create a long-term, inch-by-inch action plan. Small gains made day after day add up to big differences over time. Because the easiest way to make great gains is simply by focusing on the smallest increments of progress.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

3 Great books you should read now.

I set a goal this year of reading 24 new books. As we are nearing Memorial Day Weekend I am already on pace to read nearly 40 books. Half of those books are physical books, half are audiobooks, and unlike in past years, none are coloring books.

Like a wiley old prospector, I have struck gold with my recent book choices. I have discovered valuable reads exposing me to new ideas that I can use to live a better life. Interestingly, my last 3 books have all been based on the concept of time. Like Morris Day’s band.

When by Daniel Pink

I would read anything written by Daniel Pink. Even his grocery shopping list. He offers great insights into how humans operate. When is no exception. In this fascinating deep dive on timing Pink (the author, not the aerobatic rockstar) exposes the importance of when things happen. He reveals the well-documented worst part of the day for humans, so you will know the worst time to have surgery or defuse a bomb. He shares the peak times for divorce filings, and why. He reveals when you are most likely to run your first marathon. There is even a tutorial on the most effective timing for naps and how long it takes coffee to kick in. I learned about the life-long impact of starting your career during a recession, and how to restart anything when you are struggling. Plus, he shares the interesting effect of midpoints. You also learn what the ideal score is for your favorite team at halftime. There are a lot of great nuggets in this book. I encourage you to read it next.

A Calendar of Wisdom by Leo Tolstoy

This book is crammed with 366 days worth of profound wisdom. Tolstoy collected valuable insights, quotes, and verses from throughout his life to share in this amazing tome. There is one page dedicated to each day of the year, including February 29th. With each page you read you feel as if you are being mentored by a wise old sage. Like Yoda. Only taller. And Tolstoy’s words are all in the right order. The book’s brief sentences and paragraphs of wisdom are dense with life lessons and truisms from great philosophers, leaders, authors, poets and religious books. Each day follows a singular theme. This is a great nightstand book, if you have a nightstand. If you are not typically a reader but wish you were, this book allows you to get your recommended daily allowance of new wisdom in a single nutrient-dense page.

Die With Zero by Bill Perkins

This book is not about Coke Zero. It’s a thought-provoking book on the relationship between time and money. Perkins’ basic philosophy is that we should hit the grave with no money in our bank account or in the coffee cans buried in the backyard. (Those stupid K-Cups are no good for burying money.) Instead, we should spend our money, while alive on experiences that make our lives richer. These experiences turn into memories. And memories are the real wealth of life that money can help you buy. Perkins believes that any time you spend working to earn money past the amount you can spend in your lifetime is wasting your life on work. It’s a fascinating and compelling philosophy. Two of the great takeaways from the book are that you shouldn’t save your money just in case you need long-term medical care at the end and that beyond a certain age you will have a hard time spending your money because your physical ability to do things that cost money diminish with age. Read this book while you still can.

Kris Barger loves gifting this book to grads and showing off how many books she can hold at once.

Bonus Book

If you have a high school or college graduate in your life, consider giving them my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? It offers 80 Important life lessons the universe is trying to share with you. Each chapter is short, funny and packed with wisdom. Like my Mom. The book has been a very popular graduation gift since it was first published. If you live near Milwaukee or plan ahead a little I am happy to sign the book for you.

Key Takeaway

Read great books. Build your personal library. It is the best and easiest way to gain wisdom, insights and perspective that will improve your life.

Why you should set a great example for other people to follow.

I am always looking for good ideas on how to live a better life. We are only here for a limited time. Like the McRib. So, in the words of Alexander Hamilton, or at least the words that Lin-Manuel Miranda put in his mouth, I am not throwing away my shot.

The latest idea I have been thinking about is what I am calling Exampleism. Which is like the word example, but with an ism at the end. And the idea is this:

Live in a way that everything you do is a great example for others to follow.

This is a great and valuable challenge. The best example I know of this is Jesus. He showed that if you are successful, not only will people follow in your ways, they will live better and more fulfilling lives, and they will get into heaven, buy your book (The Bible), and wear your merch (WWJD bands).

I find that when evaluating my actions and behaviors with the Exampleism criteria, I am a good example of many things most of the time, and I am a bad example of other things too often.

However, just like the Golden Rule encourages us to always think about how we treat others, Examplesism shows us every day where we are going right, and where we are going wrong, and need to improve.

  • When you encourage and support you are a great example.
  • When you smile at others you are a great example.
  • When you work hard you are a great example.
  • When you give your time, talent and Takis you are a great example.
  • When you neglect your health you are not a great example.
  • When you lie, cheat or rob casinos with 10 of your friends you are not a great example.
  • When you lose your temper at something your kids did instead of showing your disappointment and teaching them the right way, you are not a great example. I sometimes get this right and sometimes get it wrong. But I am working on being a better example every day.

Key Takeaway

Set your standards for all actions and behaviors. Then live up to your own standards. When you live in a way that sets a great example for others to follow you are pursuing the greatest success, and creating a great model for others to follow. That model, your example, will be the greatest impact you have on the world. And that impact will last as long as your example is followed. Which could be forever.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

How Our Team Won An Impossibly Close Championship.

I have loved track and field since I first joined my high school track team as a freshman. I loved it when I was no good. I loved it when I set a state record. And I loved the whole self-improvement journey in between. (Other than the times that I threw up. Which was a lot.)

While track and field is thought of as an individual sport, some of my favorite memories were winning conference team championships, both in the Connecticut Valley Conference as a Hanover High School Marauder and in the Big Ten Conference, as a University of Wisconsin Badger. There is something about being part of a great team win that makes you feel like part of a gang. A very fit gang with good nutritional habits.

Today, my day job is running the advertising and ideas agency The Weaponry. But in the spring, my later afternoon job is coaching athletes to throw the discus and put the shot on the girl’s track team at Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisconsin.

Conference Championships

On Tuesday afternoon we had our North Shore Conference Championship meet. Our conference is loaded with 10 great schools with top-tier talent and excellent coaches. (I note that because it is true and because some of them also read this blog.)

We knew the meet would be close, but just how close we never would have imagined.

The Homestead girl’s team is deep and talented. But so are our competitors. And despite our high hopes and the fact that we have won the team championship the past 2 years, we stumbled right out of the blocks. #UhOh

We had a talented runner, Sophia LaGalbo, hit a hurdle and take a nasty fall. We had an athlete we expected to score in several events, Korynne Moga, get hurt in her first event and have to drop out of the competition. We got disqualified in an early relay for passing the baton outside the zone. And we had other girls enter the competition ranked high in their event and wind up just outside of the top 8 places that score points. #gulp

As the defending conference champions this was all very disappointing. Especially as we watched other teams rack up great performances and the well-deserved points that go with them.

But despite the poor luck and poor performances, the Homestead Highlanders kept going. And we kept collecting points. Senior Savannah Fraley won the 800-meter dash like a rock star. And Eva Brandenburg dominated the 300-meter hurdle race. Plus Sophia LaGalbo, road rash and all, finished 7th in the 300 hurdles to add 2 more points.

Too Little. Too Late?

It was getting late in the meet and we were still well behind. But we had some late events with great potential to add points to the team total. In the 200-meter dash, Brandenburg took 3rd and Natalie Mueller took 8th to add 9 more points. Which was great. But that was followed by the 3200-meter run, where we had no entries, which was bad. Then came the discus results. One of the events I coach. And I was a very proud Coach-Dad when my athlete-daughter Ava took 1st place by 7 feet. And Senior Mariah Reynolds took 5th. This meant we added 14 points to the team total, which was great.

The Final 2

The meet came down to the final 2 events. The triple jump and the 4×400 meter relay.

We have a strong 4 x 400 relay. And we started strong with Grace Zortman finishing the first leg in first place. Then Shaylin Swenson ran an equally strong 2nd leg to lengthen our lead. Natalie Mueller added a great 3rd leg to maintain the lead. Which meant the race all came down to first-year track athlete Charlotte Lueck, a smiley and talented sophomore, and her 4th and final leg.

Charlotte, who is one of my favorite athletes on the team, came around the first 100 meters strong and steady. But a strong runner from Grafton High School charged hard and was right behind Charlotte by the time they reached the backstretch. But Charlotte kept her cool, and at 200 meters the challenger had dropped back several meters. The Homestead home crowd was going crazy. But on the final 100 meters, the race tightened up again, getting closer and closer as they approached the finish line.

But Charlotte held the lead and ran a very fast lap against very tough competition. Like all-you-can-eat-steak-buffet tough. With the victory, we added 10 more points to our total. Which meant that the conference championship all came down to the triple jump to determine if Homestead or Slinger High School would be conference champs.


Our team is great at the triple jump. Standout athlete Anisa Barnett won the event. And Sheba Bentum-Mensah grabbed 8th to help us rack up 11 more points. However, the Slinger Owls are also great at the triple jump. And they placed 2nd and 6th, to also scored 11 points. OMG!

The Final Tally

In sports, there are close competitions. And then there are really, really, really close competitions. In football, basketball and baseball you can win by as little as one point. And our track team would have been thrilled to have just one more point than our competitors. But we fell short.

However, in track and field, because of ties within the field events, (typically in the pole vault and the high jump, where competitors can finish at the same height) you can be awarded half points. And when the final total was tallied our team had won the North Shore Conference Championship by 1/2 of a point. A freaking half-point!

This meant that if any of our scorers had finished just one place lower we would not have won. It was the truest possible team victory. Every performance matters. There was no literally no breathing room. No room for error. But we won. And winning by 1/2 point is as good as winning by a mile. Maybe better.

There are 3 great things about team championships:

  1. Your teammates are there to help you out when you stumble, fall or pull a hamstring.
  2. Celebrating a victory together is far greater than celebrating alone.
  3. The win creates a team bond that lasts forever. And at the end of the day, the relationships and team memories are what you will remember and value most.

Key Takeaways

  1. Sometimes bad things happen. Keep going.
  2. Get up when you fall.
  3. Never give up.
  4. Work hard.
  5. Run your race.
  6. Lean on your teammates. You’ll go farther together.
  7. Finish Strong.
  8. It’s not over until it’s over.
  9. Sometimes 1/2 point is all it takes.
I am very proud to coach and win 3 conference team championships in a row with this crew of Laura Bosley, Jay Fuller, Me VonMe, John Krueger and Heather Krueger.

Congratulations to the following girls on their hard-fought team championship!

  • Ava Albrecht
  • Anisa Barnett
  • Scout Bonkoski
  • Eva Brandenburg
  • Savannah Fraley
  • Sierra Gill
  • Alexandra Gaskin
  • Korynne Moga
  • Natalie Mueller
  • Kyah McCray
  • Savannah Fraley
  • Shaylin Swenson
  • Charlotte Lueck
  • Sophia LaGalbo
  • Julia Gaskin
  • Sheba Bentum-Mensah
  • Mariah Reynolds
  • Emma Rader
  • Grace Zortman
  • Leila Lu Maye
  • Annika Johnson
  • Grace Zortman
  • Kelsey Hart
  • Caroline Garsha
  • Addie Kane
  • Amelia Horwitz
  • Ava Lamb

*If I missed anyone I am sorry. If I duplicated any names you are welcome. The search engines will find you first.

10 things to do to increase your personal energy.

There is one thing about me that people comment on all the time. It’s not my very subtle good looks. Or my intelligence. Or my sense of humor. It’s not even about my hair.

I get a lot of comments about my energy. In fact, recently, in a 24-hour span, I was asked where my energy comes from, I was told that my energy is even more noticeable in person than on the phone, and that my energy is just what my fellow elevator passenger needed that day.

Last week as the keynote speaker at an energy symposium in Dallas (thanks to David and Molly Sengstock), I gave a talk on how to energize your life. After my talk, the entire audience stuck around for 20 minutes asking more questions. This was despite the fact that my talk ended at 6pm and there was free alcohol and appetizers awaiting them just outside the room.

What makes this energy thing even more exciting to me is that I am in the last 10 days of my 40s. So as I approach my 50th birthday with energy that makes people comment I expect I am doing something worth knowing.

So lately I have been evaluating my personal energy inputs. I have collected a list of 10 things I do that contribute to my energy. But before we get into them it may also be worth noting that I don’t drink coffee or energy drinks. And I have never drunk alcohol. I don’t know the actual effect of the things I don’t do. So the rest of this is focused on things I do do. (I just dropped a do-do…)

10 Ways To Increase Your Personal Energy.

  1. Sleep. I make sleep a priority. I think of sleep like stopping at a gas station to fill your car with gas. Your sleep is doing the same thing for your body. (Except you can’t grab a Slim Jim and a 64-ounce Bladder Buster soda pop in bed.) Every night you should fill your body with as much sleep fuel as you can. Note: I also like to nap. Especially on the weekends. And when talking to boring people.

2. Eating. I make sure to eat 3 good meals a day. I prefer not to snack. But I have snacks around in between meals to keep me going. Together, sleeping and eating provides a great foundation for my energy. But I have also implemented a policy of only eating until just-full. This helps prevent me from feeling sluggish and chunky. I have lost 16 pounds over the past year with this approach. Being less fat is definitely more good for my energy.

3. Exercise. I exercise about 5 days each week. Exercising for energy is a paradox. Because while it is easy to feel like you are too tired to exercise, the exercise itself is energizing and ultimately increases your go. Within the past year, I have added significant exercise resources to my home gym. This includes a treadmill, elliptical trainer, Rogue Monster rack, bench, and about 600 pounds of free weights, and dumbells up to 90 pounds. I found that I had plenty of will to workout, but often lacked the time to get to the gym during normal operations. So the home setup has helped me get my workout on. And all that weight and equipment in my basement should make my house less likely to get sucked up in a tornado.

4. Work I Love. Your work is a major part of your life. Finding work you love adds significantly to your daily energy. When you look forward to going to work, performing the tasks required of your day, and when you are challenged in a healthy and enjoyable way, it fuels you. Rather than dreading work, your work becomes exciting and interesting. You start loving Mondays the way other people love Fridays. Or Applebees on a date night, eating Bourbon Street steak with the Oreo shake.

5. Smiling. The smile is like the pilot light of the human body. When you put a smile on your face, everything seems to catch fire. Your body feels the energy and responds appropriately. The people around you smile back and add their energy to yours. It’s remarkable. And overlooked. I smile a lot. Smiling is my favorite.

6. Goals: I have a lot of goals. Both having goals and making progress toward your goals are energizing. They excite, inspire and encourage you to bring more to every day. My goals keep me busy and focused. I suspect that my goals are one of the greatest sources of energy that I tap into that others don’t. So get yourself some goals that you really, really want. Like a Spice Girl.

7. Surround Yourself With Great People. We feed off the energy of others. I am no different. I love to be around ambitious, energetic, and successful people. I am inspired by the success and undertakings of others. They push me to do and accomplish more. I am always seeking more world-beaters to spend time with. Their appetite for work, accomplishment, and adventure is like positive peer pressure. Which is better than an appetite for destruction, Axl.

8. Time Scarcity: The lack of time I have left to achieve my goals and experience all that I want provides a great source of energy. It creates urgency in each day. That urgency makes me go. I know that time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping, into the future. Which means it is always go-time.

9. Optimism: If nothing else, I am optimistic. I believe that good things are coming. And I can’t wait to greet them. Or make them happen. I believe both me and the world around me will be better tomorrow. That belief is exciting. And energizing. I believe that hard work pays off. I believe I will reach my goals if I just keep working toward them, and I don’t get hit by a bus or a mosquito carrying malaria. I believe that new friends are around every corner. And I believe my friendships are getting better and deeper all the time. Those are great reasons to get out of bed every morning.

10. A Healthy Home Life: I really enjoy my home. I enjoy my relationships with my children Ava, Johann and Magnus. I am blessed with a wife I love talking to and spending time with, even after 23 years of togetherness. A healthy, happy and supportive home life helps feed and reinvigorates you.

Key Takeaway

Tap into your own energy sources. Start with the basics of sleep, food and exercise. Then discover the people, situations and activities that energize you. Set goals you really want to achieve. Work toward them every day. Smile. Believe in yourself, in others, and in the world. Share your energy with others. When you do, it will multiply and come back to you.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

For once, I’m not the one writing about me.

I have fun news to share! The latest edition of The Milwaukee Business Journal features a fun executive profile of me! (I’ve now learned that means they write a story about you, not that they run a picture of the side of your face.)

The great article, written by Rich Kirchen, covers a lot of ground, from The Weaponry to my writing and speaking, to track and football coaching, to my energy level and positivity. Rich actually asked me during the interview, ‘Where does your energy come from?’

Thank you to clients Chris Dawson and Anne Norman for saying such great things about me in the article. You made me feel like Sally Field winning an OSCAR. #YouLikeMeYouReallyReallyLikeMe

Here’s the article to see what Rich, Chris and Anne had to say.

A couple of notes on the article:

  1. The original version had The Weaponry’s solar energy client Sunrun listed as Sunburn. (That was a hilarious autocorrect issue. Sunburn is not a good name for a solar company)
  2. The article says that I disliked working for a company owned by a private equity firm in the past. That is not true. I thought Halyard Capital was great. I just said that is not what I want right now.

Have a great day!


Here is the critical first step of self-improvement.

Self-improvement is a fun and exciting challenge. Perhaps the greatest challenge is that in order to improve, which strengthens your confidence and self-image, you have to do something that negatively affects your confidence and self-image. It’s a paradox. Like two physicians. Or two places to park your boat.

Here’s The Deal

To improve you must see your faults.

If you can’t see them, or refuse to acknowledge them, you can’t work on them.

You will be a clumsy dancer for the rest of your life unless you recognize the flaws in your footwork.

You will be a flawed parent or spouse unless you spot your subpar patterns. But you will be a poor golfer unless you understand your over-par habits.

You will lose out on closing the sale over and over until you understand why you are losing.

If you go to your eye doctor and don’t admit that you can’t see very well you won’t get the corrective lenses you need.

And if you don’t see the Martin Shortcomings in your actions and behaviors you won’t take the corrective actions to Pauly Shore up your weaknesses.

Those who make the most progress and improvement see their faults. Which also empowers them with the prescription for improvement.

Key Takeaway

To improve you must know where you stand today. That means acknowledging your flaws and accepting the recipe for fixing them. It is in the deficiency that we find the key to improvement.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Goal setting allows you to make these 2 valuable evaluations.

Careers are journeys. They have a starting point, a middle, and an end. Which direction you travel, and how far you go are up to you. But setting your career goals is important because it tells you how quickly you need to paddle and which turns to make.

But if you’ve never been in a canoe, think of your career like an airplane flight. That flight starts with an origination and a destination. The interesting thing about commercial flights is that they are off-course for 95% of the flight. This is because of the air highways that pilots follow, weather, traffic, the fact that the runways are not lined up like Evil Knievel ramps, and occasionally because the pilot didn’t ask for directions and took a wrong turn at Albuquerque.

But knowing where you want to end up paints a vision of your ideal carer path and allows for a constant set of adjustments that allow you to reach your destination. And with that in place, you can use it to make the following 2 valuable career decisions.

1. Opportunity Evaluation

Opportunities of all shapes and sizes will come your way. You need to decide which ones are right for you. But how do you know? The career goals tell you if the next opportunity is aligned or misaligned with your goals. It is like choosing rocks to step on as you try to cross a stream.* Does the rock opportunity take you in the right direction? Your path doesn’t need to be a straight line. It just needs to add to your skills, knowledge or experience in a way that will serve you on your journey to your goal. (*If you are not hunting ghosts it’s okay to cross streams.)

2. Pace Evaluation

Your career won’t last forever. This is true of your work career, athletic career, music career or whatever other career you may have in high school, college, or after graduation. Although if you are sentenced to life in prison, that career will last as long as you do.

Because you have a finite amount of time to reach your goals, you need to keep yourself moving and progressing at a minimum pace. Unless you are a monk you can’t sit in any one position too long, or you won’t be able to make it to your goal before the career buzzer sounds.

Size Matters

Don’t set your goals too small or you won’t challenge yourself enough. Don’t let anyone tell you not to set your goals too big. Because big goals help you grow. And even if you don’t reach them, they will push you to go as far as you can. Which is the goal of an aggressive goal. Which is totally meta.

Key Takeaway

Establish your goals. They will keep you moving in the right direction. They will force you to think about your pace and progress. They will force you to think about the skill development work, self-education, and training you will need. And goals provide a scorecard and progress indicator that make your career a fun and interesting game to play.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Why it’s so valuable to think about who will show up for your funeral.

I am a big believer in beliefs. I like a good framework to guide my actions and behaviors. And as I wrap up the last few weeks of my 40s, I have been planning for a great new decade ahead. Heck, AARP has already invited me to the party.

I am wiser than I have ever been. The important things in life keep getting clearer. That’s why I approach my next decade with a new funeral mindset.

In this mindset, I regularly imagine the sanctuary where my bon voyage service will be held. No sound. So commentary. Just the attendance.

I am focused on who and how many people will show up. And who will shake the pews for me. (I come from a family of pew shakers who laugh silently at everything we find funny in church.)

I have always been concerned that I wouldn’t have many people show up for my last shindig. It’s a healthy concern about what happens if you do the wrong things in life. When I was in college Jeffrey Dahmer’s funeral was at my church in Madison, Wisconsin. I planned to go because I thought that would have been an interesting life experience. And it would have been. But I had a class at that time and decided not to skip it. I read in the paper that only 26 people attended the service. I expect most of them were there to confirm he was really dead. And to finish the job if he wasn’t.

Dahmer did bad things that left him with a lonely funeral.

I want to live each day in the opposite way. Which means collecting as many friends as possible. Maintaining and strengthening my relationships with my friends, and family. Conducting business in a fair and honorable way. And having a strong positive impact on my communities. I want to have a positive impact on people in both my innermost circle and my outermost rings of influence. And I want to remember not to eat anyone.

I want to be known as a listener. And as someone who shows up to help. I want to be known as a friend. I want to be enjoyable to be around. I want to share my time and knowledge with other people to have a positive impact on their lives. If I do all those things, at the end of it all, I hope people will dress up and come shake a pew with me for an hour. But just to be safe, I’m going to insist on serving delicious ham sandwiches afterward. And maybe free beer.

Key Takeaway

Always keep your funeral attendance in mind. Live in a way that will pack that house with those you have positively impacted. Put effort and care into your relationships. Build bridges. Mend fences. Share your gifts and lessons. Create great memories. And set a strong example for others to follow. Be a positive force in your communities. And the community will show up to confirm your contribution.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.