Don’t be one of those people.

I pay close attention to the language that people use. I always have. I notice local nuances in word choice, phrasing and pronunciation. And I can tell the difference between the cursing of an educated and uneducated human.

I also quickly recognize when new words and phrases gain popularity.

A few years ago I noticed the increased popularity of the phrases, If I’m being honest…, and To tell you the truth… There is a time and place to use those phrases. But they shouldn’t be sprinkled before everything you say or you sound like your default setting is Big Fat Liar.

The latest phrase to ping my ears is One of those. Here are a few uses:

He’s one of those guys who….

She’s one of those bosses who….

They are one of those friends who…

I dislike the use of this phrase for 2 reasons.

  1. It is unnecessary. Whatever you say after this introduction could simply stand on its own. She’s one of those bosses who people love to work for could simply be: People love working for her. And, He’s one of those guys who never seems to have a bad day could simply be: He never seems to have a bad day. Or He’s always in a good mood. Or, I think he’s on drugs.

2. I don’t like to think of people as being common types. Humans are complicated, nuanced and unique. We are oversimplifying when we lump people into one of those categories. And I hate to be lumped.

As a champion of marketing, advertising and branding I am constantly looking for the unique, unoccupied spaces for brands to live. It’s important to own distinct real estate in customers’ minds. It is how brands become irreplaceable.

The same holds true when it comes to your personal brand. You don’t want to be one of those types. It decreases your value. It makes it sound as if there are a large number of you. As soon as you are one of those types, you are interchangeable with all the others. Like a commodity. Don’t be that kid.

Key Takeaway

Don’t allow yourself to simply be one of those. Lean into your uniqueness. Develop your own intriguing combination of strengths and style. Become uncategorizable. Be unlabelable. Own a unique place in the minds of those you interact with. It is the best way to maximize your value and memorability. It’s true of brands, products and services. And it’s true for humans too.

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

+ For more thinking like this check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

How to get the most out of any experience.

Every experience in your life has the potential to be valuable. Every day, every meeting, every interaction. From major holidays to kickoff meetings to casual conversation, there is gold to be found everywhere. But too often the experience comes and goes without living up to the potential it promised. This is the deeper message behind the play Our Town and the movies The Sixth Sense and Weekend at Bernie’s.

The best way to get the most out of any experience is to imagine it is already over before it has begun.

Before the meeting starts imagine you are walking out of it. Before you get in the car with another person imagine the drive is over. Before your guests arrive imagine they are leaving. Before you try that pick-up line imagine what the other person looks like when you are sober.

Then ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What went right?
  2. What went wrong?
  3. What would I do better next time?

With this quick and easy pre-mortem evaluation you can ensure that you will:

  1. Make the right things happen.
  2. Fix what went wrong before it occurred.
  3. Do things better THIS time.

I use the simple evaluation technique all the time. And I use it on massively different types of experiences.

Before Christmas or a birthday, I imagine the perfect day, map it out and schedule the day to live up to my expectations. More detail is better. So is more eggnog and more smiling. Smiling’s my favorite.

But I also use this technique when I drive my kids to or from school. I think about the conversation I wish I had. I think about the opportunity to connect, encourage, or entertain as if it already slipped away. Then I make sure to connect, encourage or entertain while I still have a few minutes. And when the ride ends with my kids opening the door laughing I feel like we are winning at life. Especially if they remembered their backpacks.

Key Takeaway

Understand your opportunities before they are gone. Imagine the final outcomes before they are baked. Then adjust anything you can to align your actual experience with your ideal. Great events don’t just happen. You make them happen. And a little forethought provides the road map you need to a better ending.

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

+For more ways to create better outcomes, check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

The Weaponry Turns 6 today! Here are 6 things I’ve learned along the way.

On the eve of my 40th birthday, I sat down and wrote about the things I was most proud of from my first 4 decades on The Big Blue Marble. It was a fun process. I thought about my family and friends. I thought about my wins. My adventures. My career successes. I thought about that time I petted a hummingbird in the wild. (I have now done that twice!) And I thought about how I was creating a better person every day. (Not in a Mary Shelley kind of way)

Then I shifted my focus to my unfinished business. I asked myself this very simple question.

If you died tomorrow what would you most regret not doing?

-39.99 year-old Adam Albrecht

The first and most obvious answer was that I had not tried to start my own advertising agency. So I put that at the top of my list. And I got to work on a plan to avoid that regret. The more I thought about it the more real the plan became. I was like Joaquin Phoenix in the movie Her. Or maybe like the dudes in Weird Science bringing their project to life.

To start your own business you need the support of your family. A couple of mums and pumpkins don’t hurt.

Go Time!

When I was 42 years old, I did it. I launched the advertising and ideas agency The Weaponry.

That was 6 years ago today!

Simply trying to start my own agency would have eliminated the regret. Because I put a premium on simply trying. It was the not-trying that I knew would have bothered me most when things started heating up at the crematorium. It’s a major bonus that things have worked out and that The Weaponry is thriving 6 years later. Plus, most businesses don’t last past 5 years. And I never wanted to be like most people. Except maybe Johnny Most. (Bird Steals The Ball!)

Just keep swimming!

Earning and Learning

I have learned a lot from starting my own business. And fortunately, when I started planning the business I also created this blog to share what I was learning along the way. (Cue Dana Carvey’s Church Lady saying ‘Well isn’t that special!’)

6 Things I Have Learned About Business.

`1. Every year in business is a success in itself. Leadership’s primary responsibility is to keep the business in business forever. Each anniversary is proof that we are doing our jobs. Just like we should be thankful for each day on top of the topsoil, having your doors open is a success. Although today businesses don’t even need doors. Kinda like a Jeep Wranger in summer.

2. You have to keep looking for ways to improve. I am always thinking about the gap between the ideal version of The Weaponry and who we are today. So the mission becomes to continuously work on closing that gap. We meet every Friday to talk about ways to improve our processes and strengthen our weaknesses. You have to call that stuff out into the light in order to be able to address it, work on it and improve it. Fall in love with that process and you’ll fall in love with business. Kinda like Lee Majors in that TV show where he was the stuntman.

3. You need great people. Our team is amazing. We are loaded with nice people who like to collaborate to get great team results. We take a lot of pride in doing what we said we would do. Our team members love to solve problems for our clients. The team is quick and productive. They are great at accumulating knowledge and applying that knowledge to create more and more value for our clients. They are smart people who are really enjoyable to be around. Recruiting and working with a great team has been one of the greatest rewards of the past 6 years.

4. You have to keep adding new clients. Like Lucille in that Kenny Rogers song, a client could leave you at any time. The decision-makers could quit, get pushed out, die or simply change their minds at any moment. So you have to always be growing your business with new clients because you can’t protect yourself from all client attrition through hard work, great ideas and excellent customer service alone. Plus, you need to create a diverse portfolio of clients to protect against shifts in markets, dry spells, spending cuts, or making a client so wildly successful that they no longer need to do anything to help their business thrive.

5. You have to have fun. Fun comes in a lot of different forms. And I love to have fun in everything I do. Including business. Here are just some of the things I find fun at The Weaponry.

  • Learning new things.
  • Game Planning
  • Problem Solving
  • Meeting New People
  • Sending out job offers with a lot of funny non-traditional language.
  • Saying silly things in meetings.
  • Making clients smile and laugh
  • Storytelling
  • Travel
  • Typing funny comments into the chat during Zoom meetings
  • Creating new stuff
  • Getting new swag
  • Eating lunch together
  • Winning new business
  • Helping our clients grow
  • Wowing our clients
  • Putting on a show
  • Receiving compliments for a job well done.
  • Being told we are fun
  • Baking humor into our setup slides.
  • The humorous final slides of our presentation.
We love to laugh. Like that song in Mary Poppins.

6. You have to be paranoid that the business will collapse. I am never comfortable with our success. I am afraid that if we are not careful everything we have been doing and building will go away. You can’t ignore the opportunities to get better. You can’t let things slide. Just like you should try to win over your spouse again every day, you have to be concerned that things could go bad with your clients if you take your eye off the ballpoint. And if you worry enough, and do something about it, the bad things will never happen.

Key Takeaway

A great business is simply a collection of great people running great processes, contributing great value to customers, having fun, and worrying that it will all end if they are not careful. I am extremely thankful for all of our Weapons, our great clients, and our partners who work as a trusted extension of our team. Here’s to 6 fun years. Let’s keep this thing going forever.

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

+ To see more of the lessons I’ve learned throughout my career check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

How highly successful people win even when they are tired.

Sunday was the first day of Daylight Saving Time in America. We all gained an hour of sunshine but lost an hour of sleep. Which is a pretty good trade, unless you are a vampire.

Late Sunday afternoon I told my 14-year old son Johann that it was time for us to go to the gym. Not surprisingly, he told me he didn’t want to go. He said he was tired. I told him that I was too. But that we were going to go lift weights anyway.

When we got into the Jeep I knew it was time for a Father-Son talk. Thankfully, it wasn’t going to be one of those Father-Son talks where you have to use all the anatomically correct language and try not to giggle.

Me and Johann the moment I first held my book.

As we pulled out of our neighborhood and headed towards the gym I told Johann that I was about to share one of the most important lessons I would ever share with him. And I wanted him to listen closely. Here is what I said:

The Daylight Saving Day Lesson

You will always be tired. For the rest of your life, you will be tired every frick’n day. And being tired will always be an excuse you can use to get out of doing anything.

But if you use the I’m tired’ excuse you will never accomplish great things. You will never have big successes. You will never break away from the massive pack of average.

When you are tired, you have to go anyway. Work anyway. Compete anyway. Exercise anyway. Maintain your best habits anyway.

Become the type of person who does things despite being tired. And you will build momentum. You will separate yourself from others who use being tired as an excuse to not do what they know they should do.

You will do special things. You will make something great of yourself. You will make your parents proud. You will make yourself proud. And you will know that you are a badass. A badass who gets tired, like everyone else. But when you are tired and don’t feel like doing hard work you do it anyway. That’s how you win at life.

-Dad

Key Takeaway

You will always be tired. Don’t use it as an excuse. Go anyway. And use it as proof that you are a tough mofo who does the necessary work, even when you are tired. Because that’s what great people do.

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

+If we are on the same frequency, you’ll also enjoy my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

May the Super Bowl remind you that the size of your audience matters.

Welcome to Super Bowl Sunday! For American advertisers, this is the biggest opportunity of the year. Because Super Bowl viewers make up the biggest American audience advertisers can reach at one time without a white Ford Bronco.

Messages need eyeballs and earballs to be received. More receptors and detectors mean that your message can have a bigger impact, more influence, generate more demand, create more persuasion and generate more revenue. It’s all you need to know to understand the popularity of the lip-sync platform Tik Tok.

The cost of running a Super Bowl commercial is super high. Because a commercial that airs during the Super Bowl has super potential to generate sales. Like an army of Mary Kay saleswomen in pink Cadillac’s invading the suburbs.

Remember, it’s not about who you know. It’s who knows you. Your idea, brand, product, service, movement, cause, or candidate’s success is limited by the number of people who are aware you even exist.

Key Takeaway

The shortcut to marking success is to get yourself in front of the biggest audience you can find. It’s ok to start small, but don’t think small. Keep ratcheting up your reach. Converting your audience will always be a percentage game. The greater the audience the greater the opportunity. Just ask the NFL. Or Kris Jenner.

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

The hard truth about word-of-mouth marketing.

Lately, my advertising and ideas agency The Weaponry has been enjoying a lot of word-of-mouth marketing. Which means that happy clients and partners have been telling others about us. As a result, we have been getting a lot of new opportunities. Which we love.

However, it is important to remember that word-of-mouth marketing doesn’t begin with your customers. And it doesn’t start with an advertising agency either. Unless, of course, you are an advertising agency. Which we are. (Which kind of confuses things.)

Where does it come from?

Word-of-mouth marketing originates within your organization. It is a result of a job very well done. It stems from great products, great services, and great experiences. All of which come from great processes and great people. Which is some real Tony The Tiger stuff.

When a customer gets all that they want and more from you they can’t help but tell other people about you the next time they find a relevant opportunity to share. It’s fun to tell others about the smart decisions we made and the great experiences we had. It’s enjoyable to share good news and inside information. Like Michael Jackson said, ‘Tell them that. It’s human nature.’

Word-of-mouth marketing is usually considered free advertising. It is not. Far from it. In fact, all the time and attention you pour into delivering a great product or service are like buying advertisements. Your special product or service is the media. It carries a positive message about your brand to your customer. They simply push that same message along to others. Like one of those Newton’s Cradle ball knocking thingies.

Newton’s Cradle. The Ball Knocking Thingie

Key Takeaway

Your great product, or service, is the media on which word-of-mouth marketing is carried. Make your offerings great. The better they are the bigger the media space you have bought to carry great words about your brand.

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

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

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

Entrepreneurship

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

Beyond Business

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

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

Social Creation

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

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

Key Takeaway

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

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

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

The 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.