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 secret to success summarized in just 11 words.

If you want to be successful in life there are no shortcuts. But there is a short formula for success that is easy to remember. Because it rhymes, like LeAnn and Buster.

Here it is:

Early to bed. Early to rise. Work like hell. And advertise.

-No One Really Knows Who Said It First

It’s a simple statement. Just 11 words. And 4 periods. Like a hockey game that goes into overtime. But it is dense in value.

Early to bed. It’s a reminder to get plenty of sleep. If you want to accomplish great things you’re going to need all the energy you can get. Your bed is your recharging station. So treat yourself the way you treat your smartphone, and make sure you get recharged to full power every night.

Early to rise. Getting up early is the best way to make the most of your day. Waking up early gives you bonus time to get more elective work in before the mandatories of the day. Remember, it is your elective activities (exercising, reading, studying, writing, practicing, preparing, volunteering, etc.) that separate you from the masses. By that, I mean the general population, not the church services.

Work like hell. Work creates value. The more you work the more value you create. The more value you create the more you are compensated. Note: the compensation goes far beyond money. Note Note: the compensation also includes money. #AwYeah!

And Advertise. To maximize your positive impact on the world people need to know you exist. You need to be top of mind. When you are top of mind more great things come your way. You need to share the word about your capabilities and willingness to help. Adverting helps people connect their dots to you. It helps others solve their problems with your help. Which makes you more valuable to the world.

Key Takeaway

Start each day early to accomplish as much as you can. Put in as much work as you can. Because we exchange work for gold (gold metals and medals, gold moments, gold relationships, etc.) Let people know who you are and how you can help them. Because the world is full of challenges that you can help overcome. Then get to bed early to rest up and get the most out of tomorrow too.

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

How to use the power of unhappiness as motivational fuel.

The more of life that I experience the more I realize that my happiness is fueled in large part by my unhappiness. It feels dumb to write such a thing. But it is absolutely true.

Here’s how it works.

  1. I have a vision for who I am, and what my life is like.
  2. Everything that is already aligned with that makes me happy.
  3. All the areas where I fall short of my vision make me unhappy.

The unhappiness is a combination of unsatisfied, disappointed, frustrated, and embarrassed. However, that unhappiness is where my motivation comes from.

Family And Friends

In my head, I see myself as a great parent, husband, friend, and family member. But in reality, I am not always great at those roles. Certainly not as great as I want to be. I’m not as level-headed or as patient with my kids as I would like. I am not always as supportive or responsible as a husband-partner as I should be. I’m not always the kind of friend who walks in when the world walks out, or whatever the cross stitch about friendship in your grandma’s bathroom says. And I am unhappy about all of this.

Business

As an entrepreneur, I experience a lot of unhappiness. Because I have significant goals and expectations of my business. And I have high expectations of myself as the leader of the business. But if it all came to an end tomorrow I would be massively disappointed that me and my businesses didn’t accomplish more. Which is how the first kid tossed out at the National Spelling Bee must feel.

However, that unhappiness I experience, which stems from my personal and professional shortcomings, drives me to work, grow and improve. That drive is a huge source of happiness for me.

  • The work makes me happy.
  • Growth makes me happy.
  • Improvement makes me happy.
  • Hitting new milestones makes me happy.
  • Contributing the way I expect to in my relationships makes me happy.
  • Clapping along, and feeling like a room without a roof makes me happy.

Getting To It

Getting up at 6am to get back to work makes me happy. (It is currently 6:55am and I am about to finish writing my second blog post of the day.) Every step forward makes me happy. Executing the plan makes me happy. Laying the groundwork makes me happy. And watching Adam Sandler golf movies makes me happy. Especially when he fights Bob Barker. #ThePriceIsWrong

I recognize that I don’t have to be at the destination to be happy. Traveling there does the trick. Building, growing, and progressing are highly rewarding. As long as I am on the right path and moving in the right direction I get a little happier every day.

Key Takeaway

Your unhappiness is a great navigational tool to lead you to happiness. Determine the source of your unhappiness and you will know the direction to travel to find what you are after. Lose weight, get in shape, start that thang you always wanted to start. Do more. Strengthen your weaknesses. Become the person you always wanted to be. Those things can lead to a lot of happiness. Unhappiness is simply point A. Let it motivate you to get to point B.

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

Don’t be the cheapest. Be the best.

There has been a recurring theme at work lately. My team at The Weaponry has been involved in several new business pitches. Which means we are competing with other advertising or design agencies to win a project. Sometimes there are 2 agencies. And the pitch is like a rap battle, or the knife fight in Michael Jackson’s Beat It video. Sometimes it is a Royal Rumble where you are competing with every superhero and their sidekick.

The 3 Factors

There are 3 factors involved in winning a new project from a client or customer. At least where organized crime is not involved. (Those organizations add a few other important factors. Like how much you enjoy your family, and your limbs.)

  1. The Proposal. This is the written plan detailing what you are going to offer the customer or client if they choose you. This is quite literally the overview of the product or service being offered.
  2. The Price: This is the summary of how much your offering is going to cost. Your price relative to your competitor’s price is important. The critical question is how does the price and value of your offering stack up against the other options they are considering.
  3. Your likability. Do the deciders like you? Do they trust you? Are you funny, smart, kind, good-looking or tell great stories? Do they want to spend time working and problem solving with you?

All Things Considered

Recently we have heard several times that our price was more expensive than the other options we were weighed against. However, they chose us anyway. This creates a valuable math equation boys and girls.

The Math

In this case, what we were offering and our likability combined was greater than the price we were charging for it.

Offering + Likability > Price

This is exactly where you want to be in business. When you offer superior products or services, and a combination of likability, fun, and trustworthiness, more times than not you will not lose out on price. In fact, if the other two factors are strong enough you can charge more, because you are offering more value. And everyone comes out ahead.

Key Takeaway

In any business transaction, there are always more factors at play than price. As the seller, your responsibility is to provide a superior product and service. And if you deliver that with more likable, more trustworthy people you will not only break any ties, you will add more value to the overall experience, and people will be willing to pay more for your offering. So don’t fight others on price. Compete with them on the offering itself, and on the people who offer it. And like Bob Barker said, the price will always be right.

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

Why you should invite yourself to all the great things you want to do.

In all areas of life, there are gatekeepers. They are the deciders. The ones who offer permission. They are the ones who give you the thumbs up or thumbs down on all of the things you want to do. People line up in front of the gatekeepers like Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan in A Night At The Roxbury hoping that someday they will be granted permission to slip inside where they will hear What Is Love. And baby won’t hurt them no more.

The Gate-Kept Secret

But there is always a way around the gatekeeper. There is an unguarded entrance that is always available to you. And you should take it any time you don’t feel like waiting in line. Or anytime you won’t take no for an answer.

Your Private Gate

When other people are blocking your path, remember that you always have your own private gate. No one can stop you from using it. Your private gate is often the better, faster and more rewarding way in. And it is always playing Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way.

Entrepreneurship

If you want a job and no one will offer you one, make your own. Start your own business. Become a freelancer, contractor or consultant. Then show everyone who didn’t hire you what a mistake they made. (Huge!) Then steal business from them. And laugh all the way to the bank. (Or credit union, where they are nicer and always treat you like a member.)

Entertainment

If you want to be an entertainer and no one will give you air time, or stage time, go to YouTube. That is quite literally what YouTube is for. Your big self-made break is waiting for you there between the cute cat videos, videos of people getting hit in the tenders and tutorials on how to replace the flux capacitor on your Delorean.

Writing

If no one wants to publish the book you wrote, then self-publish that bad boy. If the newspaper, magazine or website won’t hire you to write for them start your own blog. I publish 3 blog posts every week. And I don’t need permission from anyone. Heck, I kan evan spel thyngs rong aynd knot git fihred. Buuwm!

Social Groups

If no one invites you to join their meet-up, club, group, or society simply create your own. They are all made up anyway. I should know. I have made up several of my own. And they are my favorite groups of all.

Key Takeaway

To live the great life you imagined for yourself fire the gatekeepers who are trying to hold you back. Become your own insider. Don’t wait for an invitation. Don’t ask for permission. Just go. You always have access through your private gate. And no one can stop you but you.

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

The simple trick to make your dreams a reality.

For months I thought about making a t-shirt design I really wanted. But I didn’t do it. For many years I loved the idea of writing my own blog. But I didn’t write one. For nearly 2 decades I thought about starting my own advertising agency. But I continued to work for someone else. You probably have similar stories. Because as Maya Angelou said, ‘We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.’

It is easy to consider me a dreamer, not a doer.

However, today I am wearing the t-shirt design that I wanted to print for so long. I am writing my 596th blog post. And for over 5 years I have worked at The Weaponry, the advertising and ideas agency that I always dreamed of starting. And when I pinch myself it actually hurts.

So what changed? What happened that turned these want-to-dos into dids and doings? The answer is simple. Like an OBGYN, I gave myself a due date.

‘Goals are dreams with deadlines.’

Someone Smart (But we don’t seem to know who.)

Dreams and fantasies float in infinite time. Reality, progress and completion are time-bound. To convert a dream into a reality you have to set a due date. And deadlines are like horse jockeys. (You should choose the shortest one that can do the job effectively.)

Key Takeaway

We often have a hard time getting started on big projects and life changes. So remember this: A Due Date gives you a Do Date.  When you have a deadline, even a false deadline, you alchemize fantasy into reality. You prioritize. You do what needs to be done. You can then put all the steps of the process onto a timeline. And timelines are like trains that deliver final results. Choo Choo!

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

** This blog gets published 3 times per week, because I set those 3 deadlines.

What my first boss said when he found out I was starting my own business.

While researching a longer post about key people who supported my entrepreneurial adventure I came across an email from my first boss in advertising, Neil Casey.

Neil was a partner at Cramer Krasselt and the Executive Creative Director. I started as a junior copywriter and thought I would get fired every day for the first 6 months. Neil and I were opposites in many ways. But I liked his style, and he tolerated mine. Neil is a really great swearer. I am not sure he knows this. He also taught me a lot about advertising, writing, strategy, creative thinking and how to stand up for your ideas.

The following email was from August 25, 2016. I had officially launched The Weaponry, an advertising and idea agency just a few months earlier. I was moving form Atlanta to Milwaukee for family reasons. Neil found out what I was doing and shared this note.

The note:

Hey Adam, Paul told me you were opening an ad agency in Milwaukee. ARE YOU NUTS?! Yeah, Paul had I went bonkers circa 1980 and opened Counsell & Casey. After melding back into C-K things turned out pretty well. Luck is always a component, bad or good. We were fortunate to have good luck.

Put yourself in situations and environments that foster good luck. Then add your unique talent and you’re on your way to fame and fortune. Oh yeah, I forgot about all the drudgery and long hours. Hang out with talented people. Keep the faith.

I always saw you as a Brand Enthusiast, Adam. Milk it for all you can.

Let’s have lunch sometime soon.

Neil

Key Takeaway

Support and encourage people whenever you can. Every bit helps.

Sidenote (actually below note): Neil hates the name The Weaponry. But I love it. And I have always enjoyed being the pea under Neil’s mattress.

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

The Weaponry turns 5 years old!

I always wanted to start my own business. Not because I was an unhappy employee or a free spirit who couldn’t stand to work for The Man. I just like a good challenge. And everything I ever heard about entrepreneurship made it seem like it was the career equivalent to bull riding. Or free solo climbing. Or streaking at the Super Bowl. I knew it was dangerous. The likelihood of failure was very high. But if you are successful, there are few endeavors as rewarding.

On the set of a recent TV shoot with Jonathan Taylor of the Indianapolis Colts. I tried to steal his necklace, and he tried to defend it. It was all very subtle.

Some Fun Entrepreneurial Facts

  • There are 31 million businesses in the United States
  • 90% fail within the first 5 years
  • Only 4% ever make $1 million a year.
  • The average age of startup Founders is 42 years 
  • A first-time entrepreneur has an 18% chance of succeeding
  • 70% of entrepreneurs were married when they started their first business
  • 60% had at least one child
  • 44% had two or more children
  • 66% of start-up founders pay themselves less than $50,000
  • 69% of American entrepreneurs start their business at home
  • 80% of small businesses are non-employer businesses. 
  • 51% of small businesses make less than $100,000 in annual sales. 

Riding The Bull

With these facts in hand, I launched The Weaponry, an advertising and idea agency, in 2016. I wholeheartedly believed that we would succeed. The statistics didn’t scare me. They motivated me to prove that I was one of the few, the proud, the elite non-failers. Although I am sure the failers also felt confident when they first started out. After all, you don’t jump out of an airplane unless you are highly confident your parachute will open. Unless maybe there were snakes on the plane.

A constant reminder in our offices to think.

Turning 5 Years Old

Today, I am thrilled and proud to say The Weaponry is 5 years old! We gave grown significantly each year. And despite the global pandemic, 2020 was our best year yet. Now 2021 is off to a strong start. We continue to add to our team. And we have added 2 new clients in the past 2 weeks.

From a trip to India in 2018 to work with our clients Fifth Third Bank and SLK Global Solutions. I didn’t get the White Shirt Memo.

Funner Entrepreneurial Facts

  • The Weaponry has offices in both Milwaukee and Columbus.
  • We have 24 clients
  • We have clients in all 4 US Time Zones.
  • We have clients in 3 countries: The United States, Canada and India.
  • We offer Health Insurance and Dental Insurance
  • We have a 401(k) plan with a 4% match
  • We have two red refrigerators
  • Both of our offices are in Suite #206 (Although the signs say Sweet #206. Because I thought that was funnier. Those are the kinds of dumb things you can do when you start your own business.)
This is where the magic happens.

What’s Next?

I feel as if we have only just begun, like Karen Carpenter. We have much more to accomplish. We expect us to grow and expand significantly. It is clear that we are having great success with happy clients who have hired The Weaponry 2 and 3 times as they have changed jobs. Which I think is the best compliment a client can give you.

Our 3 Pillars of Success.

Before we won our very first client (Global Rescue), I declared The Weaponry’s recipe for long-term success. And unlike that finger-licker Colonel Sanders, I am happy to share it with you.

  1. Great Creative Idea
  2. Excellent Customer Service
  3. A Fun Experience for Everyone Involved.
Me and Dan Richards, CEO of our first client, Global Rescue. We were trying to look tough while wearing polos.

What’s Next?

If we continue to deliver on these 3 points we will enjoy perpetual success. And while I am very thankful to have made it to 5 years, I believe the job of leadership is to keep a business in business forever. To do that we will have to continue to listen, learn, adapt and improve. I am fully committed to it. Just like a streaker.

Key Takeaway

Entrepreneurship isn’t easy. In fact, it offers one of life’s greatest challenges. But if you want to try it, I highly encourage you. It is extremely rewarding in more ways than I have room to share in a concluding paragraph. To dramatically improve your chances of success start a business doing something you know well. Choose work you love to do. And you will have the intellectual equipment and the magnetic pull to get you to 5 years and beyond.

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

My adventurous Saturday drive.

How was your Saturday? Mine was pretty unique.

I woke up in the middle of a crazy thunderstorm at 5 am. I say the middle of the storm because I was on the 24th floor of the JW Marriott downtown New Orleans, Louisiana. The storm was literally all around us. It was a pretty wild wake-up call for me and my family of 5. The lightning flashes and cracks of thunder were biblical. I was starting to think God or Al Roker was sending me a personal message to get in my ark.

Pack It Up. Pack it In.

We had already planned to begin our trek home to Milwaukee, Wisconsin yesterday. But the storm, which was still ragin’ like a cajun a couple of hours later meant that there was no reason for one last stroll through the French Quarter. Because not even Tom Benson’s Boogie umbrella would have done us any good in NOLA yesterday.

My boys and a few plates of kiddie-cocaine

On The Road Again

At 8:30 am our Ford Expedition was fully loaded and we were pulling out of the hotel. The weather was wild and added to the mystery of just how far we would be able to travel in one day. The navigation system told us the full drive, without stops, would be 1032 miles straight north. The adventure was on.

The Crawfish-Cheese Run Route.

Kentwouldn’t

Our first stop was in Kentwood, Louisiana for a bathroom break and fuel. It took me 3 fuel pumps at 2 different gas stations to find any gasoline. There are plenty of great places to stop for a bathroom and fuel. Kentwood is not on that list. #DoNotRecommend

Mississippi: The 4 I’d State.

Soon we rolled into Mississippi, like Tina Turner, or CCR. The state was lovely and green. Jackson was bigger than I imagined. I wondered where Deion ‘Prime Time’ Sanders lives. (Probably on some prime real estate.) I thought about Kid Rock screaming, ‘I feel like Jackson, Mississippi!’ But I couldn’t get a feel for what that would feel like. So we kept rolling.

Memphizzle

We skirted around Memphis and saw downtown as we crossed the Mississippi for the first time. The Bass Pro Shop Pyramid dominates the Memphis skyline. It’s like Tennessee’s version of the Statue of Liberty. (Give me your crankbait, your plastic worms, your red and white bobbers…)

The Middle Passage

We grabbed lunch in West Memphis, Arkansas and my wife Dawn took over driving duties so I could grab a quick nap. I tried not to giggle when the girl working at Arby’s kept referring to the gyro (sandwich) as if it was part of a gyroscope. Dawn drove us through Northeast Arkansas, the Missouri Bootheel, and across the Mississippi again into Cairo, Illinois. Which meant we had made it halfway home.

Yes, You Kankakee!

We stopped for another quick bathroom break just north of Cairo, and I started driving again at 4 pm. We had a whole lot of Illinois in front of us. But we were on a roll. And we rolled all the way to Kankakee, where we grabbed Culver’s for dinner at 9 pm. (I thought it would be fun to open a pancake restaurant there called Kankakee Panckees.)

Chi-Town

We hit Chicago late enough that there were no issues. But as always, I saw lots of billboards for hair replacement. So if I ever have that problem, I’ll call Brian Urlacher.

Wisconsinin’

Once we crossed into Wisconsin someone hit the fog machine and visibility dropped to near nothing. We had 60 more miles to home. And it appeared the drive would end the way it started, with weather spicing things up.

Home With My homies.

At exactly 11:30 pm we pulled into our driveway at home in Mequon. We made it 1040 miles in 15 hours. We did the whole drive in one day. I had driven 1000 miles in a day several times. (And I would walk 500 miles.) But this was the farthest and fastest of my major road days.

The Po-Po

After avoiding the police for 15 hours, just before midnight, as I was cleaning out the car in my driveway, a police officer walked up my driveway and introduced himself.

I assumed he was there to congratulate me and my family on completing our cannonball run. Instead, he told me he had received a report of shots fired at about the time we got home. He asked if I had heard anything. I resisted the temptation to tell him that I thought I heard some Jello shots and maybe a Jagermeister or two in my neighbor Paul and Jane’s house. (He then told me if there really were shots fired you would usually have several calls. So he assumed it was nothing.)

Key Takeaway

Take on significant challenges. Do hard things. Set goals. Push yourself. See what is really possible. It’s fun to take on challenges with a great partner or your entire family. Extra obstacles like storms, fog, and police just add to the adventure. And they help turn miles into memories. Which is what life is all about.

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

What really happens when you share your content.

Content is the marketing buzzword of the millennium. If Jan Brady was alive today, (and was a marketing expert), she would be exclaiming, ‘Content, content content!’ instead of, ‘Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!’

Experts say that both personal brands and business brands need to put out content to draw more attention. It’s easy to understand why Netflix, Hulu and HBO need content. It is the product they sell. But why do non-entertainment brands and individuals need content? Inquiring minds want to know.

Connect The Dots

Think of life like a giant game of connect-the-dots. When you share your content you are enabling others to connect to your dots. Your dots may be your ideas, products, services, advice, knowledge, experience, expertise or friendship. All of those things have value in this epic game of connect-the-dots we are all playing.

A Recent Example

Last weekend Angie Eger from Columbus, Ohio posted a picture of her son on Instagram. And when she did, a curious chain of events happened.

I thought about Angie for the first time in quite a while. Angie cut my hair from 2009 to 2014 when I lived in Columbus. Then I remembered that I have a problem. I need a haircut. However, I have a bigger problem, which is that my hair person in Milwaukee, Sara Holzem, moved to Naples during the pandemic. And I have only had my hair cut once since. The cranky woman who cut my hair did a good job, but the experience was poor. And by the looks of it, she has been fired by the hair place where I saw her. It’s likely because her cranky pants were a violation of the salon’s dress code.

As I read Angie’s Instagram post I realized that I would be in Columbus, Ohio the following Friday. So I sent Angie a note through Instagram asking her if she had any spare hair time on Friday. Luckily for me, she did.

This is Angie, with a mask, for safety.

So last Friday morning I got my hair cut by Angie for the first time in 7 years. It was a major win-win. Angie offered a great solution to a problem I was struggling to solve. My fresh new hairdo looks a lot better than my expired one. I got to start my Friday morning catching up with an old friend. And Angie increased her business last week, by re-attracting a lapsed customer. As a result, she made money doing something she loves.

Share Your Content

This transaction only happened because Angie posted a picture of her son on Instagram. I was connecting dots, and she put her dot right where I needed it. Which meant that I connected Angie’s Instagram-post dot to my hair-problem dot to my trip- to-Columbus dot. Problem solved.

This is the image of Angie’s son on Instagram that started it all. Happy Birthday Cole!

Key Takeaway

Keep sharing your world with others. Every piece of content you share has the potential to help someone. It makes you or your organization top of mind when others are trying to solve a problem. We are all playing a giant game of connect-the-dots every day. So add your dots. And help others win.

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