How the most difficult decision in my career is still paying off today.

Our careers are full of choices. Some are small and arbitrary. Some feel ginormous. The tough thing about tough choices is that the right answer is never clear at the moment we need to make them. And we may not know whether we made the right call for years. Or decades.

Tough Call

Recently I was asked to think about one of the toughest business decisions I had to make in my career. Several decisions popped into my head. Including big ones like whether or not I should quit my job and launch my own business. And whether I should risk asking a coworker to go on a date. (I have now been married to that coworker for 20 years.) But there is one particularly challenging situation I faced that not even Robert Frost could help me through. I call it The Roanoke Decision. Here’s the story.

Roanoke

In the summer of 2008, I had a business trip to Roanoke, Virginia. I worked at an advertising agency called Engauge. And I was to fly to Roanoke from Columbus, Ohio with a client for a night of focus groups. I was excited about the trip because I love the knowledge and insights gained from a focus group of my client’s customers. I had never been to Roanoke. And visiting new places is one of my favorite things. Along with brown paper packages tied up with string.

A New Challenge

But a funny thing happened on my way to Roanoke. A new client of our advertising agency, Nationwide Insurance, scheduled a TV commercial shoot on the same day in Charlotte, North Carolina. #RutRo

To this point in the project, all of the work I had done was behind the scenes. My boss, the Chief Creative Officer, had been meeting with the client and presenting the work. The client had proved to be challenging, and after each meeting, there was a new story about the over-the-top client and how difficult they had been to please.

Could You, Would You, On A Plane?

Eventually, we landed on a TV commercial script to produce. And because of other scheduling conflicts, I was asked to attend the Nationwide TV shoot. We determined that I would be able to travel to Charlotte the day before the shoot for location scouting and the important pre-production meeting. Then I could attend the first half of the TV shoot, and leave for the airport at lunch to catch my flight to Roanoke. At that point, the 2 experienced Associate Creative Directors on the account would manage the rest of the shoot. Easy Peasy.

The Best Laid Plans

Things did not go as planned. While attending the preproduction meeting I met two clients from Nationwide Insurance. One was Steven Schreibman, who was as over-the-top as advertised. He wanted the spot to be Spectacular! The other was Jennifer Hanley, who I was ice cold in the meeting. She had clearly done this sort of thing before, knew exactly what she wanted, and wasn’t about to suffer any fools who didn’t know how to deliver. This was going to be interesting.

The Commercial

The commercial was a simple idea. It was called ‘Burnout’ (think NASCAR victory, not Jeff Spicoli). The spot opens on a shot of a cul de sac in a quiet suburban neighborhood. Suddenly, a sports car speeds into the cul de sac and begins doing donuts. We cut inside the car to a shot of the driver, NASCAR champion Kevin Harvick, who tells the camera that he just saved a bunch of money by switching to Nationwide Insurance. Hence the celebratory burnout.

The 100-Degree Wrinkle

However, it was supposed to hit 100 degrees that day in Charlotte. So everyone involved was worried about how the heat would affect our shoot, the talent, and the car.

My team, including talented ACDs Jason Thomas and Oscar Reza, got to the set early. And it was already hot as balls. When the two clients arrived we met them and gave them the plan for the morning. We enjoyed a nice on-set breakfast together as the crew readied for the shoot and the sun began to broil the blacktop.

The Thaw

As the day warmed, so did my relationship with Hanley and Schreibman. The iciness and the craziness of the initial meeting didn’t come to the set that morning. Instead, they were both very pleasant. They were excited about the shoot and excited to work with Harvick for the first time. But they were also greatly concerned about the heat. (And not Dwyane Wade’s former basketball team).

Secretly Sweating

I too was concerned about the heat. I was worried it would drench Harvick in sweat as he delivered his lines to the camera. I was worried about the impact the heat would have on the Corvette, which would be repeatedly pushed to its max as we spun it in high-speed circles. I was worried about the young stuntman who was going to be performing the donuts that afternoon. And I was worried about making a graceful exit in the middle of all of this to head to Roanoke.

What To Expect When You Are Expecting

The day went exactly as I expected. Meaning that I was quickly bonding with the new client, and the heat was causing real logistical problems for Kevin Harvick. He was a great sport, but would quickly sweat through his Nationwide polo and we would need to repeatedly break to freshen Kevin and his wardrobe. Which was slowing things down, and generating tension on the set.

Tick Tock Tick Tock

As the heat was burning up our time, I was making regular phone calls back to my office in Columbus. I was updating the account supervisor who lead the other account that was conducting the important focus groups in Roanoke. I was originally supposed to leave for the airport at 11am. But with the delays and tension on the set in Charlotte, I felt like I couldn’t leave at that hour.

What to do?

We decided to rebook my flight for another flight 2 hours later. I would have a car service pick me up at 1pm and speed me to the airport. I would then OJ Simpson through the airport, and make the flight just before they closed the boarding door. (Remember when we used to Associate OJ with running through airports?)

Bond. Personal Bond.

It was a good plan. But I still hadn’t told the Nationwide clients that I would be leaving the shoot. As so often happens in difficult situations, we were bonding. There was both stress and gallows humor as the clock raced faster than our progress. I worked with the producer, director and client to create a workable scenario and adjustments that would enable us to get all of the shots we needed. We decided that during some air-conditioned cool-off breaks we could record some voiceover work for the commercial and radio spots to save precious time.

Here it comes!!!

But 1pm was coming faster than Kevin Harvick in an 800hp stock car. And like The Clash, I had to decide, do I stay or do I go now? I knew that if I stayed there would be trouble. But if I go, it may be double. What to do?

The Walk

I walked off by myself for a moment, and carefully evaluated the situation. Not just the logistics. But the intangibles. The relationships. The commitments. The business development potential. And both clients’ needs. There was a lot to process in a little time.

The Call

Then I called Peter Zenobi, the account supervisor, and reluctantly told him that I would not be flying to Roanoke as planned.

The Decision

I decided that I had to be on Nationwide’s side. The degree of difficulty we were dealing with in the heat with the stunts and the celebrity talent was too high to walk away from. I recognized that I was quickly developing a strong rapport with both Jennifer Hanley and Steven Shreibman. And the focus group, while it was my original commitment, and I really, really hated to back away from it, would be recorded. And there would be a detailed report produced.

Ahead Of The Curve

While I didn’t technically go to Harvard Business School, I did read a book about it. In Ahead of the Curve, author Philip Delves Broughton writes about his experience as an MBA student at Harvard Business School. He reveals that the 2 greatest things gained in this prestigious program are 1. A remarkable network. 2. Confidence to make difficult decisions when you don’t have all the information you would like. And The Roanoke Decision was a clear case of having to make a tough decision without all that information.

Was it the right decision?

The heat-related challenges continued the rest of the afternoon. But we worked through it all. We got the footage we needed of the Corvette doing burnouts. But barely.

The young stunt driver needed a lot of time to get his driving dialed in. Which, in the 100-degree heat, took a toll on the car. In fact, the brand new Corvette, borrowed from a local dealership, overheated and shut down completely. So by late afternoon the car literally shut itself down, and could not be started again for 6 hours.

But we had what we needed. No one got hurt. And the Nationwide clients and I headed to the airport, together.

That night, on the flight home to Columbus, Jennifer Hanley and I sat together and talked the whole way. We developed a fast friendship. And before we landed, Jennifer said that she had a lot more work that she wanted to send to our agency.

The Partnership

Nationwide and Engauge quickly developed a very strong partnership. Soon we had an annual retainer with Nationwide of over $5 million. We handled the advertising for Nationwide’s sports sponsorships, including their high-profile NASCAR and  PGA sponsorships, and work with NCAA basketball and the NHL. We refreshed their pet insurance brand, VPI. We rebranded Titan Insurance and created a very high-profile disaster response commercial, featuring Julia Roberts as the narrator.

My relationship with Jennifer continued to strengthen. And I developed strong relationships with many other great friends at Nationwide. In fact, my Nationwide relationships are among the strongest personal relationships I have developed in my career. (I considered listing all the great friends I made through Nationwide Insurance here, but it would double the length of the story.)

7 years after The Roanoke decision, when I made another difficult career decision to start my own advertising and idea agency called The Weaponry, those Nationwide relationships benefited me once again. In fact, they have led directly to our work with Hertz and Thrifty rental cars, Fifth Third Bank, and American Family Insurance. (Thank you Matt Jauchius, Dennis Giglio, Nick Ferrugia, Tiffanie Hiibner, Susan Jacobs, and Dawn Pepin.)

Steven

Starting that hot summer day in Charlotte I developed a very special relationship with Steven Schreibman. And when Steven passed away in May of 2018, the tribute I wrote about him on this blog became the most popular post of all time. And just last month, over 4 years after Steven’s passing his Mom, E.J. Bloom called to thank me for writing the story about Steven, and how she reads it often to enjoy wonderful memories of her wonderful son. We talked for an hour, like new old friends. Last week I received a package in the mail from E.J. that contained a copy of Steven’s book, Blood in My Hairspray.  You can find the blog post here: Our time here is short. Make the most of it, like Steven did.  

14 Years Later

Did I make the right choice on that blazing hot day in August of 2008, in the subdivision in Charlotte? When Roanoke was calling, and Charlotte wouldn’t let go? With more than a decade of great friendships, partnerships, and funny memories now in the bank, it would certainly appear I did.

Key Takeaway

When making difficult decisions, trust your instincts. There may not be a right or wrong choice. You may not have all the facts you want. But be confident in your decisions anyway. When you walk confidently in the direction of your decisions the universe rewards you. Know that you have the privilege of choosing your own adventure. Take advantage of that. Take control of your career and your life. Things will work out. Someday I expect to visit Roanoke. And I will thank the city for all it gave me in that trade years ago.

*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 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.

I met a man who loves my all-time least favorite job.

Yesterday a window washer came into my office to wash my windows. I found the experience fascinating. Not because I had never seen someone wash office windows before. But because I have.

My summer job before my freshman and sophomore years in high school was working at the office complex where my dad worked in Vermont. I was on the grounds crew. Actually, I was the grounds crew. (It was just me and ol’ ground.) I also helped with construction as they built and remodeled buildings. I painted and did other odd jobs. The odder the better.

But on days when it rained, Frank Gilman, the owner of the office complex, sent me inside to wash windows.

I hated that job.

In fact, if we were sitting around a dinner table, bar or campfire and we started swapping stories about the worst jobs we have ever had, mine would be washing windows. And mind you, I have shoveled manure and picked rocks out of fields all day long.

The last time I was asked to wash windows I washed a couple and then said I wasn’t feeling well so that I could go home. I wasn’t exactly lying. Because I was really sick of washing windows.

But the man in my office washing windows clearly enjoyed his work. He was experiencing no pain from all those panes. I’m no doctor, but he didn’t look the least bit sick of washing all those windows.

Realizing that I could learn something from this man, I asked him how long he had been washin’ dem windows.

He proudly replied, ’30 years!’

Wow!

30 frickin years!

What struck me about his response was that it contained the enthusiasm that I would offer if someone asked me how long I have worked in advertising.

Yet this man had made an entire career out of my least favorite job of all time.

But I didn’t tell him he was wrong. And that his job was horrible. Or that I would have rather spent the past 30 years in the Gulag than firing Windex and dragging squeegee.

Instead, I sought understanding. I asked him what he liked best about his job.

He smiled and replied, ‘The views.’

Key Takeaway

We are all wired differently. We see, experience and enjoy the world differently. Your views and opinions are your own. They are not universal. There are other humans with very different ideas and ideals than you. And there is far more value in learning from others whose experiences and choices are different than yours than in telling others how wrong they are for being different. Step back and see the big picture. It offers quite a view.

*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 taught 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.

You don’t need a passion to have a fulfilling career.

I used to think that in order to be really happy in your career you had to find something you were passionate about. Then you just make that your life’s pursuit. But I no longer believe that is true. And neither should you.

Passions are: 

  1. Difficult to find
  2. Difficult to define
  3. Difficult to turn into a lucrative career.
  4. Likely to make you cut off your ear and mail it to someone you admire. #WayToVanGogh

The problem is that most people’s passions are things like music, art, yoga, puppies, food, sleep, alcohol, video games, and sexual activities. These are all good passions. And it’s easy to express how much you love these things with bumper stickers. It’s much harder to turn them into lucrative careers.

To become really happy with your career you don’t need to start out with a passion. 

You simply have to find an interesting challenge. 

If you are into problem-solving or skill development, almost anything can be considered an interesting challenge.

Next, focus on getting really good at that interesting challenge. As you get better and better at it, people will notice. They will turn to you first as a trusted resource. Then people will turn to you as an expert in that area. And that feels great. (Unless you are a hired assassin. In which case you probably have mixed feelings.)

Through the process of becoming really good at your chosen work, you are highly likely to develop a passion for your area of expertise. Consider that most people aren’t born with a passion for supply chain management, textile manufacturing, or currency trading. But a surprising number of people die with those passions.

Which means that when you dive into an interesting challenge, the challenge itself can ignite your passion. We develop passion in areas that make us feel strong, skilled and admired. We become passionate when we understand nuances and develop extreme intelligence in specific areas. Because what we are really becoming passionate about is self-improvement, mastery, and excellence.

Key Takeaway

Passions develop over time. Don’t make finding your passion your goal. Instead, recognize that the world offers an endless supply of interesting challenges and problems to solve. Grab one of them. Any of them. Then dive in. The challenge itself will be interesting. Your professional development will be fun and rewarding. Your expanding knowledge, skills and perspective will increase your value to others. Which is highly rewarding. And somewhere along the way, your interesting challenge alchemizes into your passion. When it does your work no longer feels like work. It feels like passion. And it will make others wonder how to discover their own passion so that they love their work as much as you do.

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

+ For more life lessons the universe is trying to share with you check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

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.