The most important declaration you can make on this day of independence.

Happy Independence Day! On the 4th Of July in 1776 America declared its independence from, well, everyone who was not American. You may remember the Dear John letter the guys in Philly wrote, signed, and sent to the world. In essence, it said, It’s not you, it’s me.

In reality, it said:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

– The U.S. Declaration of Independence

Boom! I imagine the 4th of July fireworks are like the sound made when they dropped the mic after signing that bad boy. (Although the mic was actually a quill pen.)

Freedom

On the 4th of July, there is much talk about our freedom. Which is perhaps the greatest nepotistic gift our forefathers could have hooked us up with.

Today, we listen to great songs about freedom by Francis Scott Key, everyone who sings country music, and Wham.

We think about and thank those who fought and died for our freedom.

Happiness

But Thomas Jefferson saved the best part of that epic sentence for the end. Because the greatest adventure in life is pursuing your own happiness. And the most important declaration you can make is that you have found it.

The Pursuit

It is not enough to be free. Use your freedom to pursue your happiness.

Find your happy places.

Spend time with happy people.

Find work that makes you happy.

Work with other happy people who enjoy what they do.

Find hobbies and play that make you happy.

Perform volunteer activities that contribute to your happiness.

Eliminate addictions that make you unhappy.

Eliminate people that make you unhappy. #buhbye

Listen to music that makes you happy. #PharellWilliams #BobbyMcFerrin #MoreCowbell

Personal Note

My wife and kids thought that a dog would add to our family’s happiness. And I admit they were right. So maybe get a dog. Unless you are allergic to dogs. (Or to picking up their poop.)

Mini-golf, flip-flops and family time all contribute to my happiness.

Key Takeaway

Let the 4th of July be a reminder to relentlessly pursue your own happiness. Discover, embrace and collect all the things that contribute to your happiness. Eliminate the things that make you unhappy. If you are unhappy with your current situation remember that you can change your whole life in one day. Our forefathers taught us that on July 4th, 1776.

God Bless America.

Have A Happy America’s Birth Day!


*Please share this message with anyone you think would benefit from this reminder.

+For other ways to discover your own happiness check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

A good sign that you are doing things the right way.


One of my great goals in life is to provide great value to others. To become a trusted and valued resource for others. Like a human Google, Wikipedia, or Oprah.

A simple indicator I use to measure my value to others is the number of Non-Disclosure agreements I am asked to sign. The NDA is a legal document that says I will keep all the secrets I am told a secret. It’s the legally binding equivalent of the pinky promise. It contains adult language that essentially says that I will zip it, lock it and put it in my pocket. Or that I cross my heart, hope to die, and stick a needle in my eye.

I sign a lot of these NDAs. Because people and companies regularly approach me and my team at The Weaponry about secret new projects, products and plans. They are looking for insights, guidance and collaboration to help a big new idea become a big success.

I love being invited into the inner circle early. And you should too. It’s a great honor and indicator of trust.

Important Questions To Consider

Are people sharing inside information with you?

Do they bring you in early?

Do they want your input?

Do you get brought in to help plan, pressure test, and introduce?

Are you asked to problem-solve?

Do you find out about opportunities first?

Do you have a secret bat phone?

Key Takeaway

The inner circle is where you want to be. It is true in your career and in your social circles. It is a sign of trustworthiness. It means others value your opinions, ideas, and experience. It means you have problem-solving skills. Or turbo-charging skills. And it’s a sign that others enjoy spending time with you. When you get invited into the inner circle it means you are providing great value to others. Which is the greatest measure of all.

+If you found value in this post you will probably also find value in my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

When things go bad you are just getting to the good part.

I like it when things go wrong.

I love it when reality departs from the script and improvisation is the only way forward. (I just made that up.) In fact, most of my best stories are born when life doesn’t go according to plan.

It is the plot twist, that creates interesting stories. #ChubbyChecker.

When a wrench gets thrown into your plans it is a gift, not a grenade. Because on closer inspection you’ll see that that wrench is actually a memory maker.

The pop group AJR has a fun song called 100 Bad Days that talks about bad things that have happened to them. But it’s not a sad song. Far from it. It’s delightfully upbeat and positive. And I can dance to it.

Here’s the song’s hook:

A hundred bad days made a hundred good stories. A hundred good stories make me interesting at parties.

-AJR

I love that line. It’s a reminder to adopt a crazy straw mindset. Because when life starts to suck the twists and turns also make it fun and interesting.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

Key Takeaway

The best stories often start with something going wrong. Accept the challenge. Embrace the adventure. And overcome the obstacle that was placed in your path specifically for you to overcome. Then share your story. It will make you more interesting at parties.

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

+For more of the best lessons the universe has taught me check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Never yield to pessimism.

I am an optimist. Both by nature and by nurture. It enables me to see the good in people and in situations. It helps me see solutions and silver linings. And it continuously contributes to my happiness. Like pizza. Or laughing gas.

An optimist is hopeful and confident about the future and the potential for success. An optimist is not an eye doctor. (But an eye doctor can be an optimist.)

Optimism vs Pessimism

Optimism is the precious metal of mindsets.

While pessimism is useless.

It’s a dead end.

A forfeit.

Never yield to pessimism.

There is no value in being pessimistic about humans.

Or politics.

Or law.

There is no need to be pessimistic about our economy.

Or the state of humanity.

Or your future.

These are all things that we can influence.

Humans confront challenges and we respond.

We change things for the better

Errors get corrected.

New solutions are created.

New possibilities are created.

Humans always seek better answers and better outcomes.

We believe in happy endings. Like Walt Disney. And Robert Kraft.

And we make them come true.

Why I love my gaps and you should too.

I’m willing to bet that you are not as great as you want to be. If you are, you can stop reading here.

(I see you are still reading. Which means that either I was right, or the brakes on your eyeballs don’t work.)

You may not be as fit, rich, successful, kind, patient or brave as you wish you were.

In fact, you probably fall short of your ideal on a lengthy list of skills, states, and attributes.

That’s a gift.

The gap between where you are now and your ideal provides the motivation to act. It provides the motivation to improve. It creates the silent force that propels you. It fuels your hunger, drive, and growth.

And ultimately, your gap helps close your gap.*

*If The Gap at your local mall has recently closed it’s not your fault. Unless you were the manager.

The 2 things that can help anyone become happy, fulfilled, and successful.

Everyone has the potential to be highly successful. Everyone. Regardless of your background or socio-economic factors. Regardless of the opportunities you thought were or were not available to you. Even if you don’t currently maintain a minimum standard of personal hygiene.

The 2 Things

There are 2 things you need to achieve greatness, happiness and any other type of ness you are after.

  1. A Model

You need a model of success to follow.

Ask yourself some simple questions. Who do you want to become? What do you want to be like? This could be anything. A great parent. An influential teacher. A successful business person. An accomplished athlete. A great stay-at-home Dad.

Then look for your model. The person who has done what you want to do. A model that can show you what you could create or become.

Best of all, you don’t need to know what you want to do to find a great model. Simply start looking for people who are happy and fulfilled. When you find a person you admire or envy and want to emulate, you have found a model. But you still get to choose which model to choose as your North Star.

2. A Path

Once you have a model, you need a path. Your path is like your personal Yellow Brick Road. It is the course you must travel to achieve the model. And depending on your path it may or may not contain lions, scarecrows and trees that throw apples at you.

In short: The model is your destination. The path is how you get there.

The path provides the instructions and the coursework. The path includes the dos and don’ts. The path shows you the roads to travel, complete with onramps and interchanges.

The path includes books, schools, and teachers. It includes habits, practices and processes. And it may include other models to study.  And in my experience studying models doesn’t even feel like studying.

Mapping The Path

Once you find the model you want to follow you need to discover their path. Mapping their path becomes your research project.

Potential Questions To Ask Your Model

  • What did they do?
  • How did they do it?
  • When did they do what?
  • And where?
  • Why did they make the decisions they made?
  • Who helped them?
  • What would they do differently now that they know what they know?

Don’t guess. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Don’t spin your wheels either. The answers are there for you to discover. If your model is someone famous, or dead, research their story. You will find many of the answers you need through a little digging. (To be clear, I mean you can dig into their story, not dig up their dead body.)

Key Takeaway

Begin looking for your model today. And when you find that person, discover their path. The path is where the transformational magic happens.

If you have become a model, share your path. Share what you know. Inspire others. Bring others along. If you have found joy, happiness, success, and fulfillment in your life consider showing others how you did it. It may be the most valuable work you ever do.

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

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

10 things Dads should teach their kids to love.

Over the past 16 years, I have learned a lot about what it takes to be a good Dad. Most of what I now know I have learned by making mistakes. Like the time I dropped my 6-month-old over a railing at the Zoo. I knew I had made a mistake when everyone around me started screaming. #truestory

One of the things I’ve learned is that to be a good father you should spend more time with your kids than writing blog posts on Father’s Day. So let’s get right to the list.

10 things Dads should teach their kids to love.

  1. Books

Collect Books. Read to your kids. Let them see you reading. Dads who read books keep getting smarter, more creative and more capable. It’s a great way to teach kids to fill their free time with something positive. I recommend the books with more words than pictures, but do what you have to do.

2. Alarm Clocks

Love your alarm clock. Set it every day. Let your kids know that the alarm clock helps you get the most out of every day. Let them see you get up and get productive in the morning. It will teach them to find gold in those golden morning hours.

3. Their Mom

The greatest gift a Dad can give his kids is to love their Mom. Treat her with respect and kindness, even if you are no longer together. If you are still together gross your kids out with how much you love their Mom. It’s like forcing them to eat really healthy food that they think is icky, but is really good for them.

4. Travel

Show your kids the world. Roadtrips. Camping trips. Trips to the store. Sunday drives. Overseas trips. They all count. Show your kids new places and it will spark new ideas, new understanding, and a new appetite to see even more.

5. Hard Work

Teach your kids how hard work leads to great results. Show them that there is no elevator to the top. You have to take the stairs. And if they see you taking the stairs 2 or 3 steps at a time they will too.

6. Encouragement

Kids who receive encouragement encourage others too. It’s one of the best ways you can improve the world through your children. You can do it. I know you can!

7. Saving Money

A kid doesn’t need a role model to know how to spend money. But as a Dad, you can teach them the critically important value of saving. Teach them to accumulate money by always saving part of what they earn. So like 50 Cent, they can watch the money pile up. And as the money piles up so do your options and your peace of mind.

Bonus: Read Rich Dad. Poor Dad. to your kids. I have read that book to each of my kids. It’s the best way to teach them about money.

8. Laughter

The world is full of funny stuff. Enjoy it. Laugh loud and often. Teach your kids to laugh at all that goes wrong. It is the best medicine. And while it may be addicting, it doesn’t cause constipation.

9. Donating

Teach your kids to love donating to causes they care about. Show them how to give without expectations of a return. There are endless ways to give. Share your time, talents and treasure. Or, if you are like my Dad, give blood as often as they will let you. That stuff is more valuable than gold to a fellow human in need.

10. Friendship

Be a good friend to your friends. Collect and maintain as many great friendships as you can. Let your kids see you connect and share love with others outside your family. It will teach them to connect and extend their love too.

Happy Father’s Day!

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media. It makes a great belated Father’s Day gift. Or a great be-earlied Father’s Day gift for next year.

Collect and share the great value in your stories.

A life is a collection of stories.  

Are you collecting yours?

If not, eventually they will be lost forever.  

Like when Goose didn’t take Meg Ryan to bed in Top Gun.

But if you collect your stories they can be revisited, remembered and shared, forever. Like 21.

There are many ways to collect your stories.

You can write them down.

You can capture them with photographs.

Or video.

You can record yourself telling your stories with audio.

Or video.

You can record others telling their stories of you with audio.

Or video.

You can share your stories in posts on social media.  

But ironically, if you only share your stories on social media stories they will disappear in 24 hours.

You can capture your stories in tattoos.

(Warning: Grandmas don’t love the tattoo genre.)

Capture your stories and you are capturing their immense value.

Because your stories contain lessons,

Entertainment,

Insights,

Inspiration,

Humor,

And history.

Key Takeaway

By capturing and sharing your stories you are contributing value to the world.

I had a totally messed-up travel day. And it was amazing!

On Monday I flew from Milwaukee to Cleveland for work. I was excited about the trip. And not just because I have seen all 3 of the Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Videos. (If you haven’t seen them before take a moment now. You’ll thank me later.)

The trip had been planned for 5 months. And you know what they say about the best-laid plans…

Here is a list of things that went wrong with my travel:

  • My Sunday morning flight from Milwaukee to Cleveland was canceled.
  • I was rebooked on connecting flights 24 hours later.
  • My return flight from Cleveland to Chicago Monday evening was delayed by 4 hours.
  • I missed my connecting flight from Chicago to Milwaukee.
  • I arrived in Chicago at 11pm Monday night.
  • All rental cars were sold out.
  • There were no buses to Milwaukee
  • I had to spend the night in Chicago.
  • On the way to my Chicago hotel the cab driver kept taking wrong turns and turned a 15-mile cab ride into a 25-mile ride.
  • I had to sternly talk to him about his mistakes and let him know I wouldn’t pay for them.
  • I checked into my hotel at 1am
  • Tuesday morning I had to take a bus from O’Hare Airport to Milwaukee’s General Mitchell Field.
Getting my work on, on a bus!

That Was Interesting

It’s easy to say I had a terrible trip. But it was amazing! I would do it all over again in a second. Here’s why.

1. The Talk

The travel to Cleveland was for a speaking engagement. I got to talk to teachers, and teachers of teachers, at the NAEYC 2022 Professional learning Institute. (To know what NAEYC is just click the link.)

Here’s me and one of my slides. Which is not as fun as a slide on a playground.

I shared lessons from my book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? The audience was amazing. They listened intently, asked great questions, laughed at the funny parts, and they made the whole trip worthwhile, even with all the surprises. Thanks to my friend Jenn Koel for inviting me to speak.

Look, no one is asleep!
Talking to attendees and signing books.
Me and Jenn Koel of ACCESS. Jenn was one of the first people to request a speaking engagement after my book was published.

2. The Once In A Lifetime Experience

After my talk, I thought I would have an uneventful flight home. But my flight from Cleveland to Chicago was fouled up by the epic thunderstorms that rolled through Chicago like a Garth Brooks song on Monday evening.

If you know your Great Lakes geography (I know most of you don’t), you know that Cleveland lives a few hundred miles east of Chicago. And if you know your garden variety weather patterns, you know that weather typically flows from west to east.

This means that a flight from Cleveland to Chicago would pass a storm system traveling from Chicago to Cleveland like 2 youth sports teams high-fiving each other after a game. #GoodGameGoodGameGoodGameGoodGame

And that’s exactly what happened with my plane and that thunderstorm.

Once our 6:45pm flight finally left Cleveland around 10:30pm we started seeing flashes through the windows on the right side of the plane. However, I was in a window seat on the left side of the plane. Boo.

As a storm lover, I was eager to see what was happening on the other side of the aisle. (Kinda like a political pundit.)

When we first pushed back from the gate in Cleveland 4 hours earlier the plane was completely full. But because of the delays we returned to the gate and deplaned like Tattoo from Fantasy Island. Many of my flightmates were rebooked because of missed connections. So when we finally reboarded for The Windy City about 1/3 of the seats were empty.

I looked around and noticed the exit row on the right side of the plane was now empty. So I snuck down the aisle and slipped over to the window seat. I eagerly peered out the airplane window. And I was awestruck by what I witnessed.

I have been in a hurricane. I have seen the northern lights in Alaska. I have seen thundersnow. And I have seen lightning strike the same place twice within minutes, just yards from where I was standing. But none of the epic Mother Nature shows I have seen were as intense as what I saw out that little plane over Northern Ohio and Indiana.

The strobe lightning was non-stop until we reached Chicago. I filmed and photographed the storm so I could share what I saw.

On Tuesday, while riding the bus from Chicago to Milwaukee, I shared a video on Twitter. Fox News retweeted it. Then I was contacted by numerous media outlets asking if they could reshare the video. I have also been asked for interviews about the experience. Crazy right?

Here’s the video I shared. Note: that is NOT a time-lapse video. This all happened in real-time.

I assume someone below yelled ‘Rat Farts!’ on a golf course.

Here’s another video I took that you are seeing here first.

This pairs nicely with the song Thunderstruck by AC/DC.

The Twitter Activity

In 24 hours this has been seen over 14,000 times on Fox’s Twitter account alone.

Key Takeaway

Look for the good things in life and you will find them. Because of this trip, I made new friends, I enjoyed new experiences and I was able to share some of the best lessons I know with people who were eager to hear them.

Because of my flight delay going home, a window of opportunity opened that allowed me to witness the most incredible light show I have ever seen. (Sorry Trans Siberian Orchestra Pyrotechnics Director.)

After hours of delays, the view out of my window was so incredible and lasted so long, that I would have paid money and waited again just to see the show.

I will forget about the time I spend waiting for the plane. I won’t worry about the night I had to spend in Chicago or the bus ride back to MKE.

But I can never unsee what I saw out that plane window. So I’m not mad. Not even a little. I’m thankful for the opportunity, and the experience.

Remember to look for the great gifts that are wrapped in bad paper. And you will accumulate more rewards than you can imagine.

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

+If you enjoy a good life lesson, you’ll find many more in my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Special shout out to my new friends Vijay Shah and Apshara Ravichandran whom I met on my flight from Chicago to Cleveland Monday morning. #Row27Crew

Here’s what new graduates should do now to improve their careers.

Most high school seniors will graduate within the next week or two. High school commencement is one of the most exciting events in a human’s life. And with good reason. The best, most interesting chapters of your story start after high school. Unless, of course, you were in an epic high school-based movie. In which case, it’s all downhill from here.  (You can check the 50 Greatest High School Movies of All Time here to make sure you weren’t in one).

As you begin down the yellow brick road of life you will constantly encounter new challenges and opportunities. You will find people who are trying to help you, people who need your help, and people who just want to steal your slippers.

You’ll benefit from as much good advice from those who have traveled the road before you as you can get. So please allow me to contribute a little worthwhile advice from someone who has been there, done that, and discovered some secrets to a successful journey.


An Open Letter to High School Seniors.

Dear Seniors,

Four to ten years from now, when you graduate from college, finish your military obligations, or give up on your Hollywood/Nashville/YouTube/Lottery dream, you will start focusing on your real career. When you do, everyone will tell you that you need to start building your network.

But they are wrong. You need to start building your network now. So before you throw your binders in the trash, your graduation cap in the air, and carve your initials into the wood paneling of the senior lounge, you should begin building your professional network.

WTH Is A Professional Network?

Your professional network is a collection of the people you know that may be able to positively impact your professional career. The people in your network, or community, will be able to help with career advice, finding a job, and connecting you to other people and businesses that are important to your career advancement. You will also be able to provide the same sort of help to others in your network. Because it takes a village to keep a child from moving back into their parents’ basement.

Who Are My Connections?

Your connections are your friends, your family, and your teachers. Your connections are your friends’ parents. They are the adults you know from church, and the extracurricular activities you’ve participated in. They are your coaches. They are the kids you competed both with, and against, in sports. They are the kids you know from camp (like that one girl who played the flute).

Starting A Connection Collection.

The best career move you high school seniors should make right now is to create a profile on LinkedIn and start collecting your connections. LinkedIn is an online social networking site for the business community. And right now is the best time to start collecting your network. By starting now, you will collect the most connections. And the more connections you properly maintain, the stronger your network will be. It’s kinda like being popular in high school. Only this type of popularity can dramatically impact your salary (your salary is the adult version of an allowance).

Grow As You Go

You will want to continue collecting your friends and acquaintances throughout college, trade school, military service, your walkabout, or your creative exploratory period. Every time you meet someone new, don’t just think about adding them to Snap or Insta.  Sure, do that too. But definitely add them to LinkedIn. Granted, the filters on LinkedIn aren’t as good as Snapchat. But having a good job makes you look better than any photographic editing or augmented reality can.

It’s All About The Network, (and the Benjamins)

Eventually, everyone is going to tell you to network and build your network, and that it is all about your network. That’s just an adult way of saying:

Stay in touch with the people you know, because it will connect you to opportunities, advice and endorsements that will prove highly beneficial down the road.

Why Start As A High School Senior?

You know a lot of people now that you are going to forget. Those kids you go to school with are going to do amazing things with remarkable organizations. And they are going to have opportunities for you, but only if you stay in touch. You are also going to have opportunities for them. Even better, in the real world, there are things called referral bonuses. Which means you can make extra money for helping your organization find good talent. #cha-ching

Monitoring Your Classmates

Adding your friends to LinkedIn is like putting a tracking device on them. It will allow you to collect intel on each person, like where they went to school, what they majored in, and where they worked after college.

It also puts a tracking device on you, so that others will remember your educational track, your career path and your special interests and activities. That way your connections will know when their opportunities intersect with your skills, interests and abilities.

The Adult Rock Stars Around You

Your neighbors, teachers and friends’ parents are more successful and connected than you know. Four or five years from now you could end up in a job interview with them. Or with their friends or relatives. When that happens, you will want every advantage you can get. Like a good endorsement from someone who knew you were always such a good kid. (You were always a good kid, right?)

Trust Me. I Know.

I started my career in advertising as a copywriter. But I always envisioned becoming an entrepreneur and someday starting my own ad agency. 19 years later, that’s exactly what I did. In 2016 I launched my own advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry.

Do you know who my very first client was? My friend Dan Richards, whom I have known since 7th grade. Dan is the Founder and  CEO of a badass company called Global Rescue.  Which means that Dan and I went from high school classmates, and football and track teammates, to summer job coworkers, to trusted business partners. We have helped each other launch highly successful companies.

Today, one of my important clients is Sarah Wilde at Sonic Foundry, an innovative technology company based in Madison, Wisconsin. But Sarah and I have also known each other since 7th Grade, and we grew up together in Norwich, Vermont.

Sarah helped plan a couple of our Hanover High School class reunions. And I planned the most recent one. At that reunion back home in New England, we talked about potentially doing work together. Since then we have launched 2 completely new brands together from dust. As we would say in Vermont, that’s wicked awesome.

Note To Self

They say the best day to plant a tree is 20 years ago. And the second-best day is today. The same holds true for building your network. Start now by collecting your connections before you leave high school. But if you are already in college, serving your country, or in the middle of your career, and you haven’t been building your network, start now. (By now I mean after you read the next paragraph.)

Key Takeaway

There are amazingly talented people all around you. So start collecting them today. It’s the very best way to assure an abundance of everything you will need later in your career. By doing so you may help one of your high school classmates find their dream job. Or launch their own business. Or they may help you launch your dream business. I know. Because it happened to me.

-Adam Albrecht

Founder & CEO of The Weaponry

+If you realize that this is worthwhile advice, you might also like my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? It is full of more lessons like this. It features 80 of the best life lessons I have learned since graduation. Good luck graduates! It just gets better from here.

* If you know a recent graduate that you think could benefit from this message, please share it with them.