To have a great year start with Planuary!

For many people, 2021 was a year they would rather forget. But not me. 2021 was a year that I would take extra Ginkgo Biloba to remember. I had a remarkable year. Here’s a quick summary:

Noteworthy Happenings From My 2021:

  • I sold 2 homes during the hottest real estate market in history.
  • I bought the home I spent more than 2 years looking for. (Which means the soundtrack in my head finally switched from U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, to Kenny Loggin’s This Is It!
  • I coached high school track and field for the first time. (My daughter Ava made it to state in the discus as a freshman. Which made me look good as a freshman coach.)
  • I helped coach my son Magnus’s 5th-grade tackle football team. (I specialized in coaching the boys on their volume and hypeitude.)
  • I planned my high school class reunion in Hanover, New Hampshire. (And there was almost no drama. But enough to keep it interesting.)
  • I traveled to Vermont, New Hampshire Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, Ohio, Alabama, California, Texas, Minnesota, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Pennsylvania New York, Rhode Island, Tennesee, Massachusettes, Kentucky, Connecticut, Arkansas and Missouri.
  • The Weaponry, the advertising and ideas agency I launched in 2016 celebrated its 5th birthday. (I invited Marilyn Monroe to jump out of the cake but she didn’t return my calls.)
  • I bought 2 new cars. Because the old ones (10+ years old) asked for a rest.
  • I published my first book titled What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say?
  • My Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA Championship
  • The Atlanta Braves and my guy Austin Riley won the World Series.
  • And my man Tom Brady won yet another Super Bowl.
  • (The last 3 are just fun for me. I had nothing to do with any of them.)

How To Make Your 2022 Great.

Great years don’t just happen. They are made to happen. And it all starts with planning. That’s why I call January Planuary. Because now is the time to plan your great year ahead.

What makes a year great is up to you. But if you don’t know what makes a year great feel free to use my plan, and adjust it to suit your own goals.

The 10 Things I plan in January. (Or Planuary)

  1. Travel: Especially the Places I gotta See Before I Die type of travel.
  2. Things I want to learn: This includes stuff like music, language, how to perform standup comedy, how to perform crouch down comedy, taking a hunter’s safety course, CPR certification, or getting my motorcycle license.
  3. Books to read: I pick some important books to read each year. Or set a goal like reading a book per month. Or 3 books per month. Audiobooks count. And they are one of my great life hacks.
  4. Career goals: I pick new challenges, set new targets to hit, make a change, or start a new business.
  5. Life goals: Like writing a book, hiking the Appalachian Trail, coaching or volunteering
  6. Connections to make: I ask, Who do I want to meet next? If you haven’t planned this before try it. It could change your whole life.
  7. Reconnections to make: Like planning a class reunion, team reunion or a friend meetup.
  8. Making time for big progress: I block time for progress against my goals. Like writing every morning between 6 am and 7 am. Or time for exercise. Or beard grooming.
  9. Timelines: I determine when I will do the big stuff. And I create timelines and deadlines to bring the more complicated goals to life.
  10. Other: This could be anything. Except for the 9 things above. Because if it is one of the 9 things above you don’t need a 10th category.

Key Takeaway

Great years don’t just happen. You have to make the year great through your plans and actions. Now is the time to create the plans. Put dates on the calendar. Make your year look amazing in January. Then make your plan your reality by living into it all year long. Then look back on New Year’s Eve at all you experienced and accomplished. Do this year after year, and you will have created a great life.

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

If you like this idea and wonder if I have any more good ideas, check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Don’t just think big. Schedule big.

Great achievement begins with great thinking. The great news is that great thinking costs the same as terrible thinking. Because they are both free. But the return on great thinking is infinitely better.

As Napoleon Hill wrote in Think and Grow Rich:

Whatever Your Mind Can Conceive and Believe, It Can Achieve.”

Napoleon Hill

But it’s not enough to think big thoughts, dream big dreams, or goal big goals. You have to schedule them into existence. You have to set specific times on your calendar to do the important work of bringing those goals to life. You must schedule time for research, action and creation. Even God scheduled his creation days. You have to block specific times for connecting, scripting, ordering, booking or whatever other ings your plans require.

Calendering is Key

Dedicate time on your calendar to make progress. THIS IS THE KEY to alchemizing goals, hopes and dreams into reality. So when you think big make sure to calendar big too. Like Marie Callendar.

Shopping For Goals vs Buying Them.

Thinking big is like window shopping. Which means that you walk by stores looking at things and consider buying them. But by simply thinking-shopping you don’t get to leave the store with the stuff you want. Because to actually own those things you have to buy them. And you buy your goals with time on your calendar.

The Weaponry

Before launching The Weaponry, the advertising and ideas agency I lead today, I thought about every aspect of the business. I had a clear image of what we would create, how it would run, who would work there, and what the culture would be like. I imagined there would be no A-holes at The Weaponry. I even baked that into the logo.

Notice the A in our logo? There’s no A-hole. Because there are no A-holes allowed at The Weaponry. And since there are 5 letters to either side of the A, this rule is as central to our beliefs as possible.

This Blog

I then thought about writing a blog to share my experiences and learnings as an entrepreneur. I could see the whole thing in my head.

My Book

A few years later I had a goal of writing a book. I envisioned what it would be about and who it would be for. I could see the book being read by people around the world.

Bringing It All To Life

All the envisioning simply let me know what I wanted. It didn’t make any of it real. (Read that sentence again.) But I then put time on my calendar to do the real work of bringing the business to life. I scheduled time every morning to write my blog. This blog. And I gave myself a deadline and dedicated time to writing the book. Today all 3 of those dreams are realer than Real Deal Holyfield. All because I dedicated time on my calendar to bring them to life.

My new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? is now published because I made time to write, edit and push the book forward on my calendar.

Key Takeaway.

Don’t just think big. Schedule big. Give the big things you want to achieve big spaces on your calendar. It’s the only way to achieve your big goals. So block time in your day today. You’ll find that working towards your biggest goals is the most rewarding way to spend your time.

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

If you like messages like this you’ll also enjoy my newly published book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

You need one of these 3 things to maximize your carreer.

I have thought a lot about my professional career lately. Writing a book about the most important lessons you’ve learned in life will do that to you. And it’s far more enjoyable to reflect on your career because you are writing a book than because you are on your death bed, thinking about what you would have done differently. Although the death bed reflection involves far less proofreading.

Career Path

While writing, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say, I have examined my career path and the forces that have influenced it. The short story is that I started my career at the bottom of the advertising ladder, as a junior copywriter. (Although truth be told, I have never actually seen the professional ladder. Or the Emporer’s new clothes. Or a snipe.)

My professional titles progressed as follows:

  • Junior Copywriter
  • Copywriter/Producer
  • Senior Copywriter
  • Associate Creative Director
  • Creative Director
  • Executive Creative Director
  • Chief Creative Officer

Entrepreneurship

After I became a Chief Creative Officer I decided it was time to start my own advertising and ideas agency called The Weaponry. That was 5 years ago. Today, my title is Founder and CEO. Which is a lesson in itself. Because if you have the fortitude to start your own business you can give yourself any title you want. I just thought that Galactic Czar was a little too much.

But Wait. There’s More.

I have made the full professional progression from entry-level to C-suite to entrepreneur. But I’m not done yet. I am just days away from publishing my first book with independent publisher Ripples Media. And I have several other exciting and challenging chapters of my professional career ahead of me. Some of these chapters are already planned. And I am sure there are some surprises in store. There always are.

Your Career Guide

To make the type of forward progress I have made you need at least one of the following people in your life:

  • A Mentor
  • A Career Coach
  • A Spouse or Life Partner

These 3 roles all have the ability or responsibility to look after you throughout your career. They can all help you map out your entire journey, and offer feedback, guidance, encouragement, and direction based on your goals. But only the third one should ever see you naked.

The important commonality is that mentors, career coaches, and spouses are not concerned about your current employer’s needs. They are not trying to keep you happy today. They are focused on the big picture, which might not include your current employer.

Mentor

I have never had a real long-term mentor. I have had mentor-ish people help me at various times, with specific roles or challenges. But not someone with whom I had an official ongoing mentor-mentee relationship. I would be happy to have one. I simply haven’t. Maybe it’s not ment to be.

Career Coach

I have never worked with a professional career coach either. Again, I see great value in this role, and would certainly be open to adding a coach to my weaponry. Because I am smart enough to know that I still have a lot to learn and that I could use all the help I can get.

Spouse

My wife Dawn has been the primary career minder for me. She knows what my goals are and she knows the timeline I have set for myself. For over 20 years she has regularly helped me evaluate my professional development and career progress with 2 simple questions:

  1. Are you where you want to be?
  2. Where are you going next?

The answers to these 2 questions provide the regular reality check I need to make sure I arrive at each of my preset checkpoints, but that I don’t stay there too long if I want to complete the race I am in.

Key Takeaway

Find someone to help you map out, navigate, and complete your career journey. Someone who can be there for the entire journey. Who is unbiased towards any particular role or employer, but simply wants you to accomplish all that you set out for yourself. Don’t be afraid to request a mentor relationship. Don’t underestimate the value of a professional coach. And if you have a spouse or life partner that’s in it for the long run, let them help ensure you reach the finish line together.

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

Are you accepting your destiny or making it happen?

There are two ways to think about life. The first is to think that everything that is happening to you, or going to happen to you, is already predetermined. Your story was handed to you, fully written, and you are simply following the script. The second way to think about life is that nothing is written. You are the one doing all the writing. The world is waiting for you to figure out the next chapter.

Driver or Passenger?

The first approach assumes that nothing is up to you. The second approach assumes that everything is up to you. Your position on this issue leads you take on two very different roles. One allows you to be passive. The second requires you to steer. It says that nothing happens until you make it happen. Like Mariah Carey.

However, there is a third option. One of the most accomplished Americans of the 20th century, and one the most quoted philosophers, said this:

“I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floatin’ around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happenin’ at the same time.”

-Forrest Gump

This Gumpism is useful in explaining the universe and our role in it. It says that there are multiple forces at play at all times. It says that there are things we get to decide and things that are out of our control. It acknowledges that we all come into this world with some predetermined conditions, whether the insurance companies like it or not.

The Dealing

We are dealt a hand of cards that we have to begin the game with. Some hands are more advantageous than others. But the game isn’t over when the dealing is done. The dealing is just the beginning.

The You Factor

Gumpian doctrine allows for our own choices and decisions. It provides room for our grit, determination, motivation and action. We have the ability to set our minds on our own course, with our own goals and our own strategic plan. We simply must recognize that we don’t get to march unimpeded towards our goals, like Michael Strahan’s phony sack of Brett Favre in 2002 (as seen in this 20 second video clip).

The Cross-Traffic

There are too many people on this planet, all with their own goals, hopes and dreams for us not to get caught up in cross-traffic and competition on the way to what we want. There are natural phenomena and acts of God (or maybe Morgan Freeman or George Burns) that become obstacles in our way. All of which make life more challenging, and more interesting.

All Things Considered

Acknowledging that there are both pre-determined and self-determined forces at play is both a comfort and a frustration. It allows you to go after what you want. But it also means you may not find it, or that it will take longer, or be different than it was in your head. Because there are nearly 8 billion bees in this hive we all share. And some of them will occasionally get in your way. When they do, you may have to yield, but you never have to stop.

Key Takeaway

We all deal with a combination of destiny and autonomy. So set your own goals, chart your own course, believe in the greatest you that you can possibly imagine. But know that you are going to experience resistance and disappointment. Perseverance is king. You may need to try again, or take a detour to get where you want to go. Don’t be easily deterred. You may simply need to wait until it is your turn to complete your mission. That is half the fun.

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

Don’t spend your whole life busy and not make progress.

Being busy is not the same as being productive. In fact, busyness is like Fool’s Gold. It looks like business to the uniformed. But it is easy to be busy without getting ahead. In fact, you can spend your whole career extremely busy but not make any progress. The same thing can happen in your personal life too.

The 80-20 rule says that 80 percent of the results come from just 20 percent of the work. (And that 80-year olds seen with 20-year olds have money coming out of the wazoo.) In other words, if you are spending your time on the wrong things you could get little to no results. 

Earlier in my career, when I was with a very large advertising agency, the majority of my time was sucked up with meetings. And meetings about meetings. And to the uninformed, it looked like we were all super busy beavers. But very little wood was actually chewed. And we weren’t building any damn dams.

Today, as an entrepreneur, I see a direct link between how I spend my time and the value that time creates. The goal of any business is to make money. And if you are spending time on anything that ultimately is not helping your organization make more money, you are wasting your time.

Your wasted time and wasted motions at work hurt your career. Because they rob you of time that could be used for self-improvement, networking or creating value for your organization. Those are the 3 keys to making your company more successful, rising within your organization, and earning more for yourself.

If you find yourself in meetings that are not adding value, do one of the following:

  1. Change the meeting. Take the initiative to alter the meeting to make it more valuable to your organization and the people in it.
  2. Shorten the meeting. Help fast forward to the information that needs to be shared or decision that needs to be made, and be done. Often we take a lot of time to do what could be done in just a few minutes. 
  3. Pull the cord. Just like riding the bus, you can pull the cord and ask to get out of the meeting at any time. Be polite, but clear that you don’t feel it is a valuable use of your time. If you feel that way, it is likely that others do too.
  4. Text someone outside the meeting to pull the fire alarm. That works every time.

Key Takeaway

Time is your most precious commodity. Evaluate the way you are spending your time. Look for inefficient and ineffective uses, then eliminate them. Don’t let others waste your time. The opportunity cost is too high with this non-renewable resource.

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

Do you know where you are on your journey?

Life is a curvy journey. There is a definite beginning, a muddy middle, and a certain end. The government issues you a certificate to mark the start and endpoints. But the rest is up to you to chart.

Do you know where you are right now? Knowing where you are on your path is key to navigation. So is knowing your ultimate destination. So take a moment to evaluate where you are on your journey, like Steve Perry. You can use this evaluation on your personal life, professional career, or spiritual journey.

Where are you right now?

On the right road. This means you are doing what you expected to be doing right now. You have chosen a career you like or a role in your family or community that you enjoy, and it aligns with your vision. Keep going.

Make sure to bring Twizzlers and Funyuns.

On a detour. A detour means you were on the right road, but something has forced you off. Now you are having to find a new path forward. If you are on a detour keep your eyes open for opportunities to get back on track. It may take a series of approximations and corrections. Just make sure you a still magnetized to the original destination.

This is French for The Tour.

Driving aimlessly Yes, you are driving. But there is no destination. You are traveling just to travel, not with purpose. While this can be an interesting way to see what is around you, it is also a way to lose time, like Morris Day. It helps to set a limit on how long you will allow yourself to move this way. Then it’s time to pull out the map and determine where you need to go next. Which may also require you to redefine your ultimate destination.

Eventually, driving aimlessly will bug you.

Lost You thought you knew where you were headed. But somehow you have gotten turned around, bright eyes. A job, a boss, a workplace, or a significant other has made you question whether you were on the right path for you. Maybe you have never found your purpose and have been driving aimlessly for too long. It’s time to stop and think about your purpose, your goals, and your ultimate destination. Think about what makes you happy. Write your own obituary. The way forward can often be found through this exercise because it forces you to start again with the end in mind.

It’s time to find yourself again.

On a dead-end road. There is no path forward on the road you are on. If you find yourself here, turn around now. Any other road is better than this.

Turn around. There is a reason this is called a dead-end.

In a Cul-De-Sac This is like a dead-end, only it is really comfortable. You may be in a job that is paying you well, but it is not getting you all the way to your original goals. Or you may be settling for good enough. The Cul-De-Sac can be very comfortable today. But may lead to significant regrets in your final evaluation.

The comfortable dead-end.

Headed directly towards a clear destination This is the ultimate goal. If you know where you are headed and you are pointing in the right direction the only question is how fast are you moving? Check your speedometer, Casey Jones. Are you moving fast enough to get to your destination on time? Are you moving too fast, and likely to damage the equipment at your current pace? Or do you need to give it more gas? Chances are you could give it more gas.

Enjoy the ride.

Key Takeaway

To get the most out of life it is important to regularly evaluate where you are on your journey. Noting your where and when coordinates will tell you what you need to do next to get to your destination on time. Know your endpoint. Use all the navigational tools you have available to help you get there. And keep moving forward.

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

How to get the most out of each workday.

Yesterday when I arrived at work I sat down at my desk to plan my day at The Weaponry. I firmly believe that you must get on top of each day before the day gets on top of you. #ItsBetterOnTop

Like Lynyrd Skynyrd, I plan my days in 3 steps, mister.

  1. I open up my daily calendar to see my obligations for the day.
  2. I open Stickies on my laptop to see My Priorities List. I created a list that includes my clients, business development efforts, and major life goals.
  3. I open up my notebook and create my Daily Success List.

The Success List

At the top left corner of the page, I write Success List, because names matter. Then I add the date, for historic purposes.

Next, I fill the rest of the header section of the page with my 3 major career goals. I do this to keep them in mind, and to make sure the rest of the day aligns with my major goals. Because each day is like a tool we can use to achieve our dreams. Which means each day is kinda like a dreamcatcher, only without the feathers, string and rearview mirror.

After the page header has been properly transformed into a navigational tool, I begin my list.

Yesterday, I had no external obligations on my calendar. So I was free to make it the perfectly productive day. Which is probably why this topic is top of mind today.

With no meetings of any kind required of me, which is a real rarity, I filled my success list with my priorities.

The list included:

  • Creating a new planning process for one of our service offerings
  • Contacting several clients
  • Prepping for the implementation of our new 401(k) plan
  • Contacting potential future Weapons
  • Reaching out to friends in my network for no good reason
  • Strategic work for a client
  • Creative work for a client
  • Naming work for a client
  • Scheduling a client presentation
  • Reviewing an updated video script
  • Checking in on a logo design project
  • Contacting my tax accountant
  • Contacting my realtor
  • Contacting my favorite banking professional
  • Checking on our plans for an upcoming film and photoshoot

Making It Happen

When I was done creating the list there were 24 action items on it. The 24th action item was the most important. It simply said, Schedule Day Full. Which meant that now that I had my list of things to do for the day, I had to put them on the calendar in order to create a concrete plan to make the day productive. I then filled the rest of my calendar from 9:30 am to 5 pm with actions to take.

This meant that by 9:30 am I had transformed my day of no obligations into a day packed with actions and priorities. As a result, I knocked off 22 of the 24 items on my success list.

I even scheduled an hour for lunch at noon. Because eating food keeps me alive. And like the BeeGees, I find that staying alive is important to my long-term success. Over my lunch hour, I watched several videos on MasterClass, which I have added to my self-improvement program. More on that in another post.

Key Takeaway

Create a Success List every day. Start by listing your long term goals, and let them guide your actions and priorities on a daily basis. Schedule your workday full each day. And make sure to eat lunch and learn something new. Do this day after day, and not only will you cross your daily actions off your list, you will start crossing your long term goals off the top of the page.

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

Right after Labor Day is the best time for all professionals to do this.

Labor Day 2020 is in the books. We have put away our white pants, our seersucker suits and our inflatable pools. Summer is now history. This is the time that Don Henley sang about in Boys of Summer. But don’t look back, you can never look back. Because it is time to look forward to crushing the rest of the year.

It is September and you are ready to fully engage. You’ve adjusted to the new normal of life in the Covid Cabana. So let’s make the rest of 2020 great, just like Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters did.

Take Your Best Shot

Now that Labor Day is past, the first thing you should do is get new headshots of yourself. Right now you are tanned and healthy-looking from all that summer sun. You are still at your summer weight from all the warm weather activity you’ve been doing.

Let’s immortalize this version of you with a camera. Do it now, before the shorter days mean you get less sunlight on your skin than Boo Radley. Before you start replacing your summer fruits and vegetables with Halloween Skittles and Starbursts. Before Thanksgiving has you butterballing. And before Christmas time has you looking, well, jolly.

Look how good she looks!

Pre-Resolution You

There is a good reason we make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight. Because the next 3 or 4 months of the year have a way of adding to your weight collection. Which means it may take you until next June or July to look and feel the way you do now. So let’s get those new pics scheduled today!

Taking Care Of Business

Last September my whole team at The Weaponry got new headshots. Photographer Lucian McAfee did a great job. In fact, Lucian always does a great job with headshots. Or any other shots you ask him to take. Even Jagermeister.

Headshots should be fun.

Need Help?

If you would like advice on how to get great new headshots taken for you or your team, let me know. (If there is enough interest The Weaponry may put together a shoot day for you to join in Milwaukee)

If you are a photographer who loves to do headshots (or what professionals may call portraits) leave a comment on this post letting people know you can help them capture their best 2020 look. I suggest you write, ‘I can help people in (YOUR CITY HERE) get spectacular new headshots.’

If you know a great photographer, please share this post with them so they can use it to remind people that now is the time to get shot in the head with a camera.

If you know someone whose bio pic and social media photos look like they were taken during the dial-up era, consider sharing this with them too.

Soon, his fleeting handsomeness will begin to fade…

Key Takeaway

So remember, by the 21st night of September, you should get some new headshots taken. Capture how good you looked at the end of summer in 2020, despite all the craziness of the year. A few months from now you’ll be happy you did when you look great on social media, on your website, on your business cards or on your favorite dating app.

*If you know someone who could benefit from some new pics, or who would like to take some new pics, please share this with them.

Why you should have an excite hustle.

College is an exciting time. You get to pick a major that inspires you. Suddenly, it becomes fun to study and learn. You develop a vision of what your career will be like. And that vision provides motivation throughout your college experience.

More than 2 decades after graduation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison I can say that I have used the knowledge I gained while studying for my degrees in psychology and journalism every day of my advertising career.

The Great Compromise

But I noticed when I graduated that many of my classmates didn’t hold out for the jobs they really wanted. College debt, life expenses, nagging parents and a desire to simply get busy cause many, if not most college grads to take the first decent job to come along. Regardless of whether the job fit their original vision, major, or life plan.

This means that many of us end up in jobs or careers that don’t align with our greatest interests and deepest passions. That is okay. There are many good reasons we do this. But if you are not inspired or fulfilled by your day job, you should take on another project in your free time that fires you up like AC/DC in a high school weight room.

Excite Hustles

People often refer to these kind of side activities as side hustles. But I think of them as excite hustles. Because the best reason to take them on is that they give you something exciting to work on. They enable you to tap into your greatest interests, passions, and your desire for adventure, or self reliance.

Excite hustles can feel thrilling and dangerous because you feel like you are cheating on your day job. Because you are having a career affair with work that excites you more than your steady job. That is a great thing.

An excite hustle will wake you up early and keep you up late. It will call your name over the lunch hour, and during your commute. (I’m just kidding. No one commutes any more.)

An excite hustle provides even more reasons to look forward to the weekends. (Not The Weeknd. #ICantFeelMyFace) It will prevent you from filling your free time digitally grazing on your mobile device. It will prevent you from resenting your career, and going postal. (Can you still go postal if we don’t have post offices?)

An excite hustle is full of potential. It provides an outlet for your energy. It fans your flames. When you find your calling it creates a gravitational force that keeps drawing you forward to do more, create more and explore more. Like Roger Moore, Michael Moore, or Benjamin Moore.

My Excite Hustle

When I decided to launch my own advertising agency I created my ultimate excite hustle. I already loved my career, I just wanted an even greater challenge. And I found one. Today, as the Founder of The Weaponry, I couldn’t feel more excited about the work I do. I can’t wait to get to it each day. I approach each work challenge with enthusiasm. And at the end of each day I don’t feel spent. I feel invested and fulfilled.

Key Takeaway

If your day job doesn’t tap into your passions it’s time to find your excite hustle. Fill your free time with work that motivates you. That keeps you looking forward to more. And that makes you feel as if you are living into your vision for your life.

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

How to improve your natural ranking among humans.

There is a natural order among all humans. Put any collection of people into a room and that order will be revealed. It happens in businesses, schools and volunteer organizations. It happens in clubs and meetups. It happens in families and fraternities. It happens in the military and in mall food courts.

Like wolves in a pack or lions in a pride, we naturally sort and arrange ourselves. It’s as natural as the separation of oil and water. Yet our natural hierarchy is not arranged by height or weight. It’s not alphabetical order. It’s not by the color of your hair, eyes, skin or teeth. Actually, the color of your teeth may play a role. #keepbrushing.

Humans are sorted into their natural order by other humans based on their character and skills. This intuitive ranking system is as old as time. And it is baked into our DNA.

There are only 2 things that matter: character and skill. And maybe how you lean on wood.

You are valued and appraised for the content of your character. And for the quantity and quality of the skills you bring to the table. Even if there is no table. If you want to change your position within any group, focus on improving your character, and strengthening your valued skills, McGill.

To push yourself to the highest levels surround yourself with those who outrank you on both measures. There is little value in seeking out those with less character and skills than you. It is far better to sit at the bottom of the best collection of humans. Their character will strengthen you. Their skills will sharpen you. Just as iron sharpens iron, nothing improves humans like time spent with better humans.

Key Takeaway

To improve your standing in the world focus on your character and skills. Seek out those you admire. Spend time with the most capable and the most respected. They are the greatest teachers. They are the greatest guides. They hold the greatest influence. Not because they want influence. But because they have earned it, through their character and skills.

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