Do great people want to be on your team bus?

Humans are social creatures. We seek out other humans for all kinds of reasons. From companionship and protection to the division of labor and reproduction. There is great value in surrounding yourself with other great humans. Because like ants and bees, humans can do far more together than we could alone. (Especially the reproduction part.)

All human groups have a culture. Like yogurt. The culture creates rules, whether explicit or implied, that govern the way members behave.

I have been part of great cultures and I have spent time in organizations that had very negative cultures. The difference between the two types of organizations is immense. Not just in the enjoyability of the environment, but in the results they produce and the talent they attract and retain.

If your team is regularly losing good people you have a culture problem. But if good people are seeking you out, you likely have a very good thing going. Don’t eff it up.

A great culture is the secret sauce that helps separate great organizations from the merely good. In Jim Collins’ book Good To Great, he writes that an organization is like a bus. You have to get the wrong people off the bus, get the right people on the bus, and get everyone in the right seats.

But there is more to the bus analogy.

While an organization is like a bus, the organizational culture influences what the bus ride feels like. Is there music? Are people talking? Are there roars of laughter? Is it quiet and serious? Is there a team activity happening on the bus? Storytelling? Games? A leader playing tour guide? Or are there jerks sneaking up behind you to dish out wet willies and wedgies?

It is what is happening on the bus, the feel, the vibe, the energy, and the activity, that makes the bus ride enjoyable, or not. And we all spend far too much time at work and with our various other teams not to enjoy the ride.

Key Takeaway

Culture creates a magnetic force within your organization. A positive culture attracts great people who share the same values and enjoy team success. They come together on the bus to spend as much time interacting and feeding off of each as they can. A negative culture forces great people away. Which means they either don’t get on the bus, or they keep to themselves the entire ride, minimizing the collective power of your organization. So make sure to pay close attention to the kind of force your culture creates.

*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? and the soon-to-be-released The Culture Turnaround that I co-authored with Jeff Hillimire. Both books are published by Ripples Media.

Cover image courtesy of Prevost

Want to become a mid-career entrepreneur? Here are 20 actions to take now.

I always loved the idea of being an entrepreneur. But like most normal people, I started my career as an employee. I worked for my first employer for 10 years. I worked for my next employer for 9 years. I liked my jobs. But I always knew that in my dream scenario I wanted to own my own business. I bet your dream scenario has a similar entrepreneurial ending. And maybe a swim-up bar.

After years of semi-scientific research, I have concluded that there are 3 great times to start your own business. I have published my findings below for your evaluation.

The 3 Great Times To Start Your Own Business.

  1. When you are first out of school, and have nothing to lose.
  2. When you retire, have plenty of money and time, and have nothing to lose.
  3. When you are 40ish, have a lot of experience, skills, contacts, and confidence. And a lot to lose.

The first 2 paths are popular for obvious reasons. Like the-nothing-to-lose part. When you are right out of school, you aren’t giving up anything. And at the end of your regularly scheduled career, you get to choose an overtime period. Which is fun. And only threatens your shuffleboard time.

I am a mid-career entrepreneur. Jeff Hilimire started his entrepreneurial adventure while still in college. We’re both happy with our decisions.

Track Switching

But how in the world do you switch from the employee track to the entrepreneurial track mid-career? Even more challenging, how do you do it if you have a really successful career and are well compensated? How do you make the transition when you have a significant mortgage? And car payments? And kids? And a spouse you really want to keep? Plus, there is the insurance thing. And the annual company Christmas party with all the free alcohol! How do you walk away from all that gravy?

Dream it up and make it happen.

You can do it!

Well W-2 Nation, I did it. And it has been an amazing experience. When I turned 40, I realized that if I died then and there, on the dance floor, while doing the Electric Slide, my greatest regret would be that I never started my own advertising agency. So I resolved to start my own business within the next 2 years.

I launched The Weaponry, an advertising and idea agency, 6 years ago. Today, we have 26 clients, 2 offices, health insurance, dental insurance, and a matching 401(k) plan. (Never forget the k, or all you have is an area code.) We are looking at a 50% year-over-year revenue growth rate. And most importantly, I got to create the dress code.

Make the move!

Now, I want to help you begin your mid-carer entrepreneurial adventure. What lies below the fold is the collection of tips, how-tos, and advice I wish I had 7 years ago. This isn’t how-to-build-a-unicorn stuff. I’m not talking about a Zuckerberg, Gates, or Jobs path, where you drop out of college and start a trillion-dollar business. I am talking about advice for regular people, with regular careers, who want to use their experience as a launchpad to entrepreneurial success.

That’s what I did. And you can too. Here’s how, brown cow.

20 Key Steps To Becoming A Mid-Career Entrepreneur.

  1. Surround Yourself With Entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is a mindset more than anything. It helps to spend as much time as you can with other entrepreneurs. It helps rewire your brain to see opportunities and become a problem solver. It will help you develop your risk tolerance. Because once you are around entrepreneurs who are enjoying the rewards of their risk tolerance you will realize the nice homes, cars, vacations, and freedoms are well worth the wager. Ask your Mentorpreneurs all the questions you can think of. They will want to help. And by hanging with your Mentorpreneurs, you realize it is far riskier to leave the control over your income to someone else. Plus, you quickly realize that you can create anything you dream up. Like the word Mentorpreneur.

2. Become really great at what you do. When you are great at what you do you become sought after. And when people seek you out, it means you no longer need your employer to develop opportunities for you. Because you can create those opportunities for yourself. This is called career capital. The more you develop the easier it becomes to call your own shots (shots shots shots!) When your clients at your day job are more in love with you than the company you work for you have a green light to start your own business. And green means go, Mario!

3. Develop And Maintain Your Network. People work with people. And they love to work with people they like and trust. Continuously expand and strengthen your relationships. The more people who like and trust you the better. Those people will become customers, partners, connectors, and referrals. And those are the 4 most important people in an entrepreneur’s life. (After the supportive spouse and great coworkers.) If you’ve neglected this area of your career, it’s time to get to work. When I started The Weaponry I quickly realized I had done much of the hardest work of entrepreneurship decades earlier through my relationship-building.

4. Save Your Money. By having reserves in your bank account or investments you can tap into, you buy yourself running room to start your own business. Most people can’t consider starting their own business because they don’t have the luxury of not having a dependable paycheck for several months. Don’t be that kid. If you don’t have the money on hand yet, start your Run-My-Own Business Fund today. You might not need the money. Or not much of it. But simply having it available provides the confidence to jump, like David Lee Roth.

5. Live Below Your Means. As your income increases, don’t let your expenses rise at the same rate or you will always need your current level of income. That’s a problem. You’ve heard of the golden handcuffs of a high-paying job that keep people locked into their employer. But the most dangerous career situation is the one where you need your current income level to support your lifestyle. Because you will never be able to downshift into a lesser-paying situation, even temporarily. And the first move an entrepreneur needs to make is downshifting into a lesser-paying situation for an undefined length of time. That is the price of entry. That is the entrepreneurial initiation ritual, my friends. Tip #4 helps you bridge that gap. My dip only lasted about a year. But it really made me hustle. And hustling helps you make money. #dothehustle

6. Don’t Quit Your Day Job. To combat the money challenges outlined in the previous points, don’t do something rash, like quit your job. Hold onto your job as long as you can. It will be the primary source of funding for your startup. Use your current job to help pay for the expenses of your next job as long as you can. Work on your startup at night and on the weekends. Like Shania Twain said, no one needs to know right now. Not quitting your day job allows your startup to gain speed, momentum, and cash flow. Not quitting until you have to makes it much easier to jump from the Employee Train to the Entrepreneur Train. If we were swinging from ring to ring on a playground, think about not letting go of the ring you are holding until you have your hand firmly on the next one. And if you never have a firm grip on the next ring, then you never let go of the one you were already holding. No harm. No foul. You tried. You can be proud of that.

7. Read The Book The E-Myth by Michael Gerber. This book is the bible on how to start and run your business the right way. (Only there is no Jesus.) I followed all of the guidance in this book before launching The Weaponry. It helped me think about the whole process the right way, and avoid a lot of problems. When people tell me they are planning to start a business, or are floundering in their startup, I always recommend they read this. And everyone always thanks me. If I were you I would hit the link above and order the book right now. Tip #8 can wait.

8. Create Your Legal Entity: It’s easy to create a legal business entity. Start simply by applying for your FEIN. Which is your Federal Employer Identification Number. It’s like your business’s social security number. This ID number enables you to do everything the way the government and IRS want you to. With this in hand, you can file your legal business entity with your state as an LLC (Limited Liability Company), Corporation, Limited Partnership, General Partnership, or as a Sole Proprietor. I set up an LLC. (Yeah you know me.) It’s quick and easy. Then you can open your business bank accounts and get your company credit card. With these things in place, you have your financial and legal structures ready to roll. Which means you won’t need to ask your customers to pay you in cash. Or chickens.

9. Get Quickbooks. Quickbooks is the accounting software that makes it easy to track and manage your accounting. You connect all of your bank accounts and credit cards to this. It makes it easy to create and send invoices (bills) and to know what is due and when. It also provides reports (profit and loss, profitability, balance sheets, etc.) and dashboards that help you manage your business. Get this going as soon as you can afford to. It will become the backbone of your accounting system. And your scoreboard. Best of all, Quickbooks is not the book equivalent to quicksand.

10. Get A Good Bookkeeper. Bookkeepers are God’s gift to entrepreneurs. They are reasonably priced specialists who have a valuable skillset that you likely don’t have. They can help you stay on top of your accounting while enabling you to spend more time on the things only you can do. Like finding paying clients. And putting on your deodorant.

11. Collect Recognizable People And Logos: You can start your business by working with anyone. But the goal should be to collect recognizable names as customers. That could mean that you work with well-known brands or people that other people know. When you share the kinds of brands or people that you work with you are elevating and legitimizing your brand by using theirs. If you work with individuals, work with the most popular most trusted, and most respected people you can. Their decision to work with you will carry more weight than say, your grandma. Sorry, Grandma.

12. Get involved in your community. The more involved you are in your community the more you will be connected to others and the opportunities they can introduce you to. You could be involved as a volunteer, member, attendee, or sponsor. You are going to want strong ties to the people around you and this is one of the best ways to get to know as many people as possible. Even better, when you support your community you will find that your community supports you too. It’s a thing.

13. Grab Chocolate Milk. Entrepreneurs understand the power of spending time with other people. Getting together for chocolate milk, (my preference) or coffee (most of America’s preference) is not about the beverage. It’s about the sharing and comparing of experiences and ideas. Through the process is sitting down with another person and talking you discover new ideas and resources. It creates a great transfer of knowledge and experience. It is the best way to tap into another person’s perspective and network. You could also meet for breakfast, lunch or drinks. Or fricken caramels. It’s all ah-bu-trary. #namethatmovie

14. Start A Blog, Podcast, Or Regularly Published Knowledge Share. It is not about who you know. It really is about who knows you. The more people who know about you, what you know, and what you are doing, the better. I started a blog right when I launched The Weaponry. And it has been a great vehicle to share my thoughts, ideas, successes, and learnings with the world. By doing so, my business and I are both top of mind when people have relevant opportunities. Podcasts, newsletters, columns, and social media channels all work too. The key is to share information and value with the world broadly so that more people than you could reach through individual messages know about you, your skills, philosophy, and eventually your business offering.

Me and my crew.

15. Find a supportive spouse. In the middle of your career, you are likely to have a spouse or life partner who is tied to your success or failure. Their support and encouragement are critical to your success. My wife Dawn has been amazingly supportive. She never batted an eye or raised an eyebrow when I shared my entrepreneurial vision with her. I would share this post with your partner so that they have an idea of what you are trying to do. That way they can help and support you as much as possible. If they are not supportive you have an important decision to make. And that’s all I have to say about that.

16. Read Read as much as you can about business ideas, successful companies, leaders, and entrepreneurs. This is the greatest entrepreneurial hack there is. Learn all you can from others who you admire and want to emulate. Read about how other Founders did what they did. There is no end to what you can learn from others. Read books, online articles, and blogs. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks as you commute. Drink that knowledge in. Create your own curriculum. And give yourself your own, self-directed advanced degree. You can even walk across your own stage and hand yourself an official-looking piece of paper. That would be weird. But you could do it.

17. Grow Your LinkedIn Connections. LinkedIn offers the best measure of your network. Create a profile if you haven’t already. Become an active user. Add everyone you meet to your LinkedIn profile by sending a custom invitation reminding them of how you know them or why you want to connect. This will become ground zero for raising your profile and staying in touch with your broader network and the opportunities they bring. Like, comment, and share content from other people. Make people who don’t know you curious about who you are. Insider Tip: LinkedIn offers an audio icon next to your name that let’s you share how your name is pronounced. Click on mine to see how it works.

18. Learn As Much As You Can About The Business You Are In Now. While you are still employed by someone else, take advantage of the experts in the organization. Learn from the finance or accounting teams. Talk to HR about how benefits, recruiting, and reviews work. Talk to sales about how they generate leads and close deals. Talk to operations about what makes them such smooth operators. Talk to IT about, well, IT. You can learn about all of the things you are going to need to know as an entrepreneur while in your current job. Think of it like studying. Your coworkers will love your interest in their work. And they will be flattered when you start your own business and credit them as your sliver mentor in their specialty. You’ll also know who would be a good resource to hire after your non-compete clause expires.

19. Write down your plans. It’s one thing to think about starting a business. It’s another to write down a plan to make it happen. Once you have a vision for your dream business, write it down. The more details the better. That written plan becomes your blueprint to build it for real. I followed the written plan approach from The E-Myth, and it gave me great structure and clarity around what I was creating. Do this too. Also carry notebooks. Not only are they great for capturing spontaneous ideas, but if you get shot in the notebook, it just may save your life.

My great client-friend Nicole Hallada was one of the first people I told about The Weaponry.

20. Talk To Former Clients About Your Plans. Your best prospective future clients are your past clients. When I launched The Weaponry I discussed my plans with several former clients. Within the first week of discussions I had 5 clients tell me that if I created a business they would send work our way. That confidence, interest, and demand in my offering made it much easier to jump. 4 out of those 5 former clients became future clients. The other one is living with constant regret. Right Chad?

Key Takeaway

Starting your own business in the middle of your career can sound intimidating. But the more you know, the easier it is. You can do it. Utilize the knowledge of those who have gone before you. Most of it is easier than it seems. With the tips above (that I wish I knew when I was starting out) you will be able to start taking steps today. Then simply never stop. If you need a Mentorpreneur, just reach out to me through Linkedin. Tell me I sent you.

*If you know someone who wants to start their own business and could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

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

The important career lesson my daughter learned from her summer job.

My 16-year-old daughter Ava has a new job this summer. She is a cashier at our local Piggly Wiggly grocery store. The store name sounds both deliciously made-up and midwestern. Ava doesn’t know it yet, but it will also provide her with a fun talking point for all future job interviews.

Like any eager Dad, I like to talk to Ava about her job and what she is learning about life, business, and pigs. In my head, I imagine that our talks will be an important part of her success story. Like Robert Kiyosaki’s childhood talks that inspired the book Rich Dad. Poor Dad. In reality, she’s probably going to write a book called Nosey Dad. Annoying Dad.

Ava really enjoys her job at The Pig. The store is central to our community and she gets to see people she knows all day long. When she gets home from work I like to greet her with questions like, How was work? And, How was the paper-to-plastic ratio today? And, What are the Bosleys having for dinner tonight?

The Bigger Lesson

Last night I asked My-favorite-child to share the greatest lesson she has learned from her job so far. So she did. And the answer was far better than I was expecting. Which is why I am writing about it now. Here’s her answer.

What’s the greatest lesson you have learned from your job so far?

I’ve learned that a good job is not so much about the actual work you do as much as it is about who you are doing it with.

I expect that in your actual career the kind of work probably matters more. But the key to happiness at work is to surround yourself with people you enjoy spending your time with.

The wrong people can make you miserable, even if you enjoy what you are doing.

But the right people can help you enjoy what you are doing, even if you are not crazy about the work itself. And even if it’s not your dream job.

Being surrounded by the right people will help you do your job better than when you are around miserable people. Because when you are around happy people who take pride in their work, you will want to too.

Happy people rub off on each other, and lead to better customer service.

I’ve now learned that both good and bad atmospheres build on themselves. But in opposite directions.

Last summer my work environment was terrible, all the way from the top managers to the lowest levels of the staff. It was a hard place to work. And toxic.

But this summer, the work environment is so positive and enjoyable that the positive relationships between coworkers keep building, and then spill over to positively impact the customers’ experience.

-Ava Albrecht (16)
My deep-thinking cashier.

Key Takeaway

A good job is less about the work you do and more about who you do it with. Find work you like to do, and people whom you enjoy spending time with. And you will win at life. And work.

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

+For more of the best life lessons the universe has shared with me, 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.

Tuesday is the most important workday of the week.

Like cogs in a machine, or tools in a toolbox, every day of the week has a different purpose.

Tuesday is the Do-Day.

After setting the goals and objectives for the week on Monday, Tuesday is the day to make things happen. Bite off big chunks. Pull the long levers. Create evidence of progress.

Tuesday is for tackling. Not tinkering.

Tuesday is for chopping. Not chipping.

Tuesdays should be spent in the shop.

Or in the lab.

Or at your desk and cranking.

Or on the pole and spinning. (If that’s the kind of work you do.)

As Redman said, Tuesday is time for some action.

There should be clear quantifiable evidence of progress by the time you turn off the lights Tuesday night. You should have sunk your treads deep in the soil of your workground, gained traction, and propelled your projects forward.

Tuesdays are great days to work alone. Put away your phone. Hold your calls. Forget about email for a day. And make some frick’n magic.

Spend as much time as you can afford in Total Focus mode.

Remember that scene in Elf when the rest of the workshop is disappointed in Buddy for only making 85 Etch-A-Sketches?

That’s a Tuesday mindset.

Key Takeaway

Tuesday is the difference-maker. Tune out the distractions. Get to your most important work of the week. And make things happen. The progress you make on Tuesday creates momentum that propels you the rest of the week.

*For maximum impact, share this message with your team on a Tuesday morning.

+For other important life lessons the universe is trying to share with you 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.

There are no A-holes allowed at our agency. In fact, we baked the rule into our logo.

I’m not a huge fan of rules.  Creative people as a species are naturally averse to them. But if you want to develop a business with a strong culture you need some rules to guide you.

When I joined my first advertising agency executive team our first order of business was to create some simple rules to govern the organization. Because we believed that a great organization is made of great people who enjoy working together the first rule we unanimously agreed on was the ‘No Assholes’ rule. For those not familiar with the rule, or the obviousness of the phrase, it means that your organization will not tolerate people who act like A-holes.

Prevention

Preventing the A-holes from joining your team isn’t easy. Because they are on their best behavior in interviews. Sometimes we sniff them out (yeah, I said it). But often they sneak past our filters.  So as much as we try to prevent an A-hole from getting into our organizations in the first place, they get in. So now what?

The Problem

You just get rid of them, right?  After all, no one likes an A-hole. Unfortunately, it’s typically not that simple. Because let’s face it, there are a lot of talented A-holes. The drive, intelligence, confidence and will of a typical A-hole make things happen. It’s common for them to make a quick impact and create immediate wins.

But that upside comes with an equally significant downside. Because A-holes are uncomfortable to be around, they drain morale and sap energy. The unfortunate reality is that when you retain an A-hole, it sends a terrible message about your values to your most valued employees. You’ll watch them drop like flies.  Among the employees that you retain you’ll lose untold dollars in productivity as co-workers gather to talk about what an A-hole the A-hole is.

Of course, the worst problem of all occurs when the A-hole develops a close relationship with the client.  Because then the agency has to decide whether they want to lose the valuable contributions of the A-hole and irritate or lose a client.

Removal

I recommend a proven 2-step process to handle such problematic employees.  

  1. Ask a handful of cross-functional team members if they think the co-worker in question is an A-hole.  
  2. If the consensus is yes, put on your scrubs and perform an Assholectomy.

No Compromise

There simply is no room for the distraction, the division and the drama caused by A-holes. Accepting them tells the rest of the organization that it’s okay to be an A.  That can’t happen. Because eventually enough people will leave, or threaten to leave that you have no choice but to get rid of the jerk anyway.

After implementing the A-hole rule in the past, I’m proud to say we purged several very talented but very difficult people. And the culture, vibe, productivity and love for the organization improved as a result.

That’s why when I started The Weaponry I wanted it to be rule number one. I felt so strongly about it that we designed the rule right into our logo. We purposely removed the A-hole from the letter A in the word Weaponry. It is a constant reminder of our persona non grata.

Notice the A? Notice there is no A-hole?

Key Takeaway

Don’t be an A-hole. And don’t let A-holes on your team. They kill the culture and they ruin the fun. If an A-hole does sneak onto your team get rid of them quickly. It will send a message to the rest of your team that you care about them. And it shows that you care about creating an enjoyable work environment for your team. Which is worth more than all the A-holes combined.

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

+For more of my foundational life and business philosophies check out 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.

There is nothing like being together in person.

Last week I had a film shoot in California. It was a multiday shoot with a new division of a company we have been working with for many years. Thanks to Covid, we had never actually met any of the clients we worked with on this shoot in person.

The shoot represented more than just another day out of the office. It meant that we began an official relationship, in person, with 7 new people. It was a great reminder that some people are much taller and some are much shorter than they appear online.

The Insight

Everything changes when you meet in person. The conversations are different. The connections are different. The chemistry is different. The compliments feel different in person. And there is much less asking, ‘Can you guys hear me?’

You can’t experience the full pull of human magnetism on the phone or via video conference. Zoom doesn’t allow for the simultaneous conversations that happen naturally among teams when they meet in person.

The warmth of a smile and the heartiness of a laugh feel different in person. The power of a handshake or a hug dwarfs the impact of an online wave. As a result, you leave the in-person experience with a greater affinity for one another. And you remember why you are supposed to brush your teeth and wear pants to meetings.

The power of the in-person experience is why we can’t all work from home all the time. While the flexibility of virtual teams offers several advantages, it eventually creates a disadvantage. Because in-person connections are more powerful than online. And you leave yourself vulnerable to stronger in-person relationships developed with someone else. It’s true at work, at school, and in our personal lives.

Key Takeaway

See your people in real life. You create stronger bonds with your clients, coworkers, friends, and family when you are together in person. The energy exchanged in person is powerful. Leading to a more meaningful experience. And a stronger desire to see each other again. Which is the key to long-term relationships.

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