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.

Are you offering others promises of what you can do, or proof?

Winning new business is exciting. It means you convinced a customer or client to take a chance on you. (Like ABBA said.) But at this point, you are selling the promise of what you can do for them. Because in the beginning, the promise is all you’ve got.

The best moment in business is when a customer or client comes back for the second helping. Because this time it is not because of a promise you made them. It is because of the proof you gave them. (It’s in the pudding.)

The first transaction is based on your promise. The second is based on your proof.

The first engagement is based on hope. The second engagement is based on expectations met. Businesses live and die based on met expectations. Which is why repeat business is so important. It is the lag indicator that you are offering value and a positive experience.

If you track just one measurement on your way to success it should be repeat purchases. It is the pass-fail measure of long-term success. Because without repeat purchasers, you will run out of new prospects. And your business will be all grind, and no bump.

Recent History

Last week I had two great repeat experiences.

First, The Weaponry, the advertising and idea agency I lead, got a call from one of our first-time clients. We were almost done building a website for this client, and they called to tell us they want us to take on another website build for another division of their business.

Second, we had our first creative presentation to another new client. At the end of the presentation, The Boss Man told us he wanted us to work with their procurement team to get set up as an official, long-term supplier. Boom!

These second projects came because we lived up to expectations. We passed an important test. We weren’t one and done, like a University of Kentucky freshman basketball player. Which means we are running a sustainable business.

A Personal Note

The same principle holds true in your personal life. You get a first shot at relationships, opportunities, and trust based on the promise of delivering the goods. The second shot comes because you proved you were worthy the first time. Keep delivering and good things just keep coming your way.

Key Takeaway

Winning new business is simply an opportunity to prove what you can do. It is where the hard work begins. Make sure to deliver on the promises you made to that first-time customer. Because when you do, they’ll come back for more. And businesses only thrive if happy customers keep coming back for more.

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

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To grow your business you have to find great customers yourself.

I get a boatload of emails, calls, and LinkedIn requests from strangers who are trying to sell to me. Most of them want to help me generate more business leads for The Weaponry, an advertising and idea agency that I lead.

It is crazy how many people want to help me with this. It is as if they all looked at my demographic information alone and want to sell me a hair growth tonic. But if you knew me, or ever looked at my LinkedIn profile pic, you would know I may have problems, but growing hair is not one of them.

The sales promises are often quantified. They say they will deliver hundreds or thousands of qualified leads per month. To the uninitiated, unsuccessful, lazy or naive this must sound amazing.

But business growth and development doesn’t work that way. Qualified leads and prospects are not a commodity. You can’t outsource them to a stranger. The type of clients or customers you want to work with are not like crops in a field. You can’t simply run a harvester through them, load them into a wagon and sell them on the open market.

Prospective customers and clients are not all created equal. The valuable ones come from relationships, connections, and conversations. From shared philosophies and values. You and your team should find the right ones for you. Then earn their trust. Develop a mutual attraction. And decide you are right for each other.

For a stranger to spam* me and tell me that they can find me a steady supply of qualified leads is like telling me that they can find me more friends. ‘We’ll dump a list of friends on you. You’ll really like them and they will like you too.’ But it doesn’t work that way. That’s a job we have to do ourselves.

*No offense to Spam, the innovative meat. If a stranger offered me some fried Spam for breakfast we would be friends for life.

Key Takeaway

Earn your own customers and clients. Create systems and processes to find them. Develop relationships. Keep your promises. Deliver results. Create a core of happy customers that spread the word about you. That never fails.

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

The important thing to remember about desserts, and life.

Early this week I had dinner with an entrepreneur in Saint Paul. He’s a real go-getter. He fills his time with major initiatives that over time will lead to remarkable results. He is hyper-ambitious, hyper-hardworking, hyper-productive. Which makes me feel like I am not trying very hard at life.

My guy has been working on a new startup. The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, has been helping him with marketing, packaging, design, and all the other things a startup needs to look like a well-established business. #theygrowupsofast

The Dessert

The product is an interesting and novel dessert. (Remember, 2 S’s means a sweet treat, not a dry sandy place.) I asked him how things were going. He shared that almost everything was going well. Suppliers, facilities, equipment, funding, prospects, and strategy were all in place. There was just one challenge. The product was just ok.

To be clear, he started with a great product. But they have been experimenting to find the perfect combination of price, shelf-life, and manufacturing process. It’s the type of stuff that makes a viable business product less fun than the ideal product you would make for yourself.

Other people who were with us who had tried the latest version of the product were supportive and said that they liked it, and shared that other people had liked it too. My guy shook off the support and noted that they had recently performed taste-test research, and the results were just ok. Because like Shakira’s hips, tastebuds don’t lie.

Not Good Enough

The great problem is that when you are creating desserts, okay doesn’t cut it. Desserts have to be worth the splurge. The taste has to be worth the cost. And the experience has to be worth the calories.

A just-okay dessert is a failure. Like 38 Special, it won’t get a second chance. It has to rate as good at a minimum. Ratings of great, amazing, indulgent, to-die-for, and better-than-sex mean you have a winner.

Key Takeaway

Unless you are trying to be the low-price option, evaluate your products and services as if they were desserts. Good is the starting point. Don’t expect any repeat business or happy customers until you get to great or better. Make your offering worth the money. It’s the only way to make the work you put in worth it.

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