How we took care of business during the first week of remote work.

Last week marked a major shift for our country. The mood changed. The rules changed. Which meant that many brands had to change their messages and tonality in order to sound in sync with the times. While other brands that had not been part of our collective conversation finally found their pick-up lines working like Joey Tribbiani’s best material.

This meant a McFlurry of activity at The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency. While other business were grinding to a halt, our services were sought after like a jumbo pack of toilet paper at Costco.

Did I mention that my entire team also moved to our spring offices this week?  Which is a fun way to say that we all worked from home. So did all of our clients. You probably did too.

Here are some of the highlights from our week.

Monday

  • We had our first client meeting at 9am on Monday morning.
  • In that meeting we planned significant messaging adjustments to respond to new social and economic conditions.
  • We spent the rest of the day ideating. It felt like we were in a movie about advertising. Complete with Glen Frey’s The Heat Is On playing in the background.
  • At 5pm we presented a new creative campaign for that same client we met with at 9am. Boom!

Tuesday

  • We added 2 news clients to our roster.
    • 1 in Columbus, Ohio.
    • 1 in Los Angeles
  • We had a kickoff meeting to get the L.A.-based client rolling. Because there was no time to waste.

Wednesday

  • I had a 2-hour video call with my CEO roundtable to talk with other business owners about what they are facing, and the challenging decisions that need to be made in response to the current uncertainty. Several of the member’s businesses were essentially stopped in their tracks by the current ban on gatherings. Which made me extremely thankful for the strong demand for our services.
  • I did an interview with Julia Fello from WTMJ-4 (NBC) in Milwaukee about working from home. You can see the interview here. Thanks to Monica Baer for connecting me and Julia.

Thursday

  • We presented a new fully-integrated campaign for a new sponsorship that we created on behalf of one of our clients.  The campaign included TV, outdoor, long form video, print, in-store displays, event activation, barn painting, social media, digital display and vehicle wraps. That was about it. #ThingsBubbaSays
  • We presented 37 new logos designs for a long-existing brand as part of a major rebrand initiative. Our 4 clients were all on video-conference, from home, while under house arrest.
  • Thursday night at 11pm I received an email from one of our clients inquiring about availability to meet the next day. They wanted to discuss ideas for a new promotion to take advantage of the new normal. I responded minutes later with a meeting time on Friday to kickoff the project.

Friday

  • We presented a new content campaign featuring online videos, ranging from 15 seconds to 4 minutes long.
  • Late on Friday afternoon we received client approval on a re-edit and new voiceover language for a television commercial. I contacted the recording studio to book time with them to record and master 2 new spots. They asked if I wanted to book time on Monday. I said no, I wanted time today, or tomorrow, which of course was Saturday. Since it was late in the day on Friday, and most people had gone home for the day, we settled for first thing Saturday morning.

Saturday

  • My team, the audio engineer, voiceover talent, and editor gathered virtually to help speed new commercials to market to help our client respond to our current climate.
  • We sent brand new commercials to TV stations for immediate airing.
  • We took a deep breath, and were thankful for the ability to take deep breaths.

Key Takeaway

These are unique times. The rules, challenges and opportunities are different right now. Help your customers, clients neighbors, family and friends get through this and they will never forget what you did for them. Yes, the stage is different. Most of us are everything-ing from home. But what it takes to shine during these times is the same. So shine on you crazy diamonds.

A reminder of the business leader’s primary responsibility.

We’re all experiencing some crazy right now. But if your biggest challenge is that your kids are home from school, demanding fruit snacks, and TikTok-ing around the clock, you are dealing with a great kind of crazy. Enjoy it.

Business Crazy

Unfortunately, many business owners and leaders are dealing with a more challenging kind of crazy right now. For many, everything has gone off script. And now they have to figure out what to do next. Kind of like the fake wrestler who gets hit in their real face, with a real medal folding chair, and it really hurts. But the show must go on.

Right now leadership is all improv, all the time. In many industries business and revenue have been shut off like a water faucet. In times like this, entrepreneurship feels a lot less sexy, and I know it.

Decision Making

If you own a business, or are part of an organization’s leadership team, you are likely facing some very challenging decisions in the immediate future, or as part of your early planning for worst case scenarios (not to be confused with wurst casing scenarios at the sausage factory).

In your war room you will weigh the pros and cons of various decisions. You will model and remodel. You will debate and disagree. And none of it will be easy.

But before you make any final decisions, remember this:

A business leader’s primary responsibility is to make sure the business survives forever.

Key Takeaway

Do what you have to do to keep the business going. The difficult decisions you make now will ensure that once the current climate changes you will once again be able to provide great opportunities for great people and great partners.

*If you know a business leader facing difficult decisions right now, please share this with them.

You are luckier than you realize.

I recently discussed my upcoming travel plans with my teenage daughter, Ava. I told her that the next morning I had a flight that left at 5:40am. Her jaw dropped. She looked at me in disbelief. Finally, she said, ‘You are sooo lucky!!!’

I was not sure she understood what I had said. I clarified that my flight left at 5:40, AM. Which is the morning one. She said, ‘I know.’

I asked, ‘What time do you think I need to get up to make a 5:40am flight?’ She ran some quick calculations in her head and confidently replied, ‘4:00am.’ Which both Steve Harvey and Richard Dawson’s surveys said was the number one answer on the board.

I asked, ‘Then why do you think I am so lucky? To which she responded:

‘You are lucky because you get to go on a trip! For work! Dad, you are getting paid to travel! Which means you are killing it! Plus, you love your job. And you won’t be working the entire time. So you’ll get to enjoy some good meals and free time in a fun city. And I have to go to school.’

-Ava Albrecht (14 y/o)
Me and my daughter, Ava, and some Chihuly glass.

From The Mouths of Babes

What a great perspective. When I was planning the launch of my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry I dreamed of the day that a client would pay me to travel for business. Today, we have 3 Weapons traveling to Las Vegas for a week to do important work for one of our great clients. And I am feeling extremely lucky. Like a rabbit with its lucky rabbit’s feet all still attached.

One Last Reminder

As I boarded my flight at 5am, I spotted my friend Mark in line behind me. We greeted each other enthusiastically. He told me that he and his family were headed to Costa Rica for spring break. He continued, ‘I assume you are traveling for business.’ I confirmed that I was. To which he responded, ‘Yeah, but you love your work.’

Indeed I do. Which makes me really lucky.

Key Takeaway.

If you enjoy your work you are lucky. If you get paid to travel you are lucky. If you start a business and attract customers or clients who dig what you do, you are lucky. It is easy to lose sight of your good fortune. Or to take it for granted. So this is a simple reminder that having family and friends to remind your of the good things in your life is lucky too. Have a great day! I hope you kill it!

*If you know someone who could use this reminder, please share it with them.

Now is the time to be bold.

This has been an interesting 2 weeks for our planet. Like the movie Parasite, the coronavirus has come out of nowhere, and messed up plans from Wuhan to Hollywood. As a result, the financial markets have gone totally Tom Petty. From Learning to Fly Into The Great Wide Open, to Free Falling.

In the midst of one of the strongest sustained period of economic growth in American history, suddenly we are dealing with travel restrictions, cancelled national and international events, medical supply shortages and panic at the disco.

The Stock Market

Today, the stock markets are in the toilet. And I couldn’t be more pleased.

Because if you are looking for an amazing financial opportunity, this is it. In bad times, when people are panicking, the table is set for you to dig in and take advantage. If you need a refresher course on this lesson, rent the movie The Big Short or Trading Places tonight.

Be Bold Like Barbecue Sauce

If you have a little money to work with, it is time to be bold. You have to find your chance, and take it, like Steve Winwood. Which means picking up an asset that others have dropped like a bad habit in January. It means doing your homework. Taking action. And having faith, like Tim McGraw. Because nothing is guaranteed. And you could go bust. But there is a very good chance that you will go boom boom pow.

The Mortgage Crisis

During the subprime mortgage crisis from 2007 to 2010, American banks were in major trouble. There were fears that some banks would not survive. And some didn’t. But there was an opportunity with those that did. To take advantage of the opportunity you had to buy into those stocks during the darkest days of uncertainty.

During that time I went dumpster diving, and bought stock in 4 different banks that were in the trash. I bought those stocks for as low as $2 per share. And I learned a valuable lesson from that experience. I swore that if I was ever in such a position again, I would buy far more next time. Because those banks stocks have proven to be the smartest financial investment I ever made. Aside from my decision to start my own advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry.

Key Takeaway

I am not telling you to buy stocks. Or to start your own business. I am simply reminding you that fortune favors the bold. And this is a prime time for the bold. So be bold. Make bold choices. And see what happens next.

Why I am no longer writing The Perfect Agency Project blog.

In 2015, with the enthusiastic support of several former clients, I decided to create my own advertising agency. During the planning process I started this blog to help share my entrepreneurial adventure. I called the blog The Perfect Agency Project. I wanted to write about what I was doing, learning and thinking as I was launching, improving and growing what would become The Weaponry. That way, if I made huge mistakes, and wondered, What was I thinking!?!, I could simply go back and read what I wrote.

I Didn’t See THAT Coming.

However, in an unforeseen turn of events, creating this blog has become as significant to me as creating the business. The simple act of writing about my experiences has taught me even more than I have been able to share with my readers. And the feedback I have received from readers has made it one of the most rewarding elective projects of my life (even better than the 3 inch goatee I grew in college).

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The more I write, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I write. That’s why I decided to  get my virtuouscycle rider license.

Doing Time

Over the past few years I have spent 10 to 15 hours per week writing my blog. I publish new posts every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday morning. And I have been able to collect, sharpen and share more knowledge and insights than I ever expected. I learned so much about blogging that I wrote posts like, What I have learned about blogging after 200 posts. And 12 things I’ve learned from writing 300 blog posts.

A New Chapter

When I turned 40 years old I made a commitment to start my own advertising agency. I did it by the time I was 42. And as I continue to build and grow The Weaponry, I have added new goals.

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Some of The Weapons, laughing and smiling, as if someone was taking a picture.

I have another startup business that I would like to launch soon. I want to write a book. Ultimately, I hope to write more than one book. But before you can write many books you have to write one. Kind of like, before you become a porn star you have to first have sex, on camera. #pleasedontdothis

Broadening My Horizons

To share my various business experiences, my book writing adventure, and all of the other life lessons, insights and humorous experiences along the way, it is time to expand the scope of this blog. For those of you who read this blog regularly, you know that I have regularly wandered far from topics related to The Weaponry. In fact, one of the great things about having a personal blog is writing about whatever you want. Like A strange encounter at the Piggly Wiggly. And I find myself wanting to share my broader experiences, learnings and observations.

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I may share more stories, like what I learned on my family’s 2019 Father’s Day hike on Mt. Rainier.

As part of the broadening of the blog I am changing the name of the blog too. It will no longer be called The Perfect Agency Project. (#audiblegasps #CallCNN #WeInterruptThisBlogCast) I also want to make my writings easier to find, by humans and search engines alike.

So I am changing my blog title to… wait for it… The Adam Albrecht Blog. I know, this sounds crazy, like rich Asians. And you will never believe the new URL I will be using. So I will tell you. It is… AdamAlbrecht.blog. (However, theperfectagencyproject.com will still direct you to the blog. Because a rose by any other name may not immediately smell as sweet to Google and Bing.)

The rest of the blog will be totally the same. I will still share what I am learning. I am committed to humorous asides and totally random pop culture references that separate insiders from outsiders. (Use Google as your secret decoder ring for random references.) I will keep hashtag-style commentary. And captions will be written to make you giggle.

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Maybe I’ll share more stories like the time Danica Patrick and I filled a motorhome with 1.2 million ping pong balls. As DP said, ‘That’s a lot of balls!’

Key Takeaway

Thank you to all of you who regularly read my blog. Thank you for the comments, likes, emails, texts, phone calls, proofreading help, and in-person feedback on my writings. I know your time is limited. And I appreciate that you take the time to read my posts. But if you like what I have written in the first 412 posts, you will like what I write over the next 4000. And if you like this blog, I expect you will like the book. Which I look forward to spending more time writing in the year ahead. Thank you for reading all the way to the end of this post. Which is actually not here. Or here. It’s right here.

Want to think more like an entrepreneur? I have the book for you.

I love books. They are like fertilizer for your brain. I like to read them and listen to them. I like to collect books and display them throughout my house. I like books that educate, inspire and entertain. And I just finished a great book that did all 3 of those things in one handy-dandy, hard-covered, Amazon-Prime-delivered package.

The 5-Day Turnaround

My great friend, former co-worker and serial (not cereal) entrepreneur, Jeff Hilimire, somehow stole enough time from his crowded calendar to author a book called The 5-Day Turnaround.

I’ll admit that when I first heard the title of the book I was quite skeptical. I mean, who needs 5 days to turn all the way around? I think the Earth itself only needs like 2 or 3 days to turn around, right?

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Five copies of The 5 Day Turnaround at Five Guys at 5:00 pm.

The Book

When I dug into the book I realized it wasn’t about slow-turning humans after all. It was about how to inspire established companies to think more like startups. And how to get corporate leaders to think and behave more like entrepreneurs.

I found this book fascinating. And highly relatable. Because 4 years ago I went from a very large, publicly held organization to a startup. My own startup. And as I launched my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, I noticed how different the 2 organizations were in their approach to, well, approaching things.

Comparing and Contrasting

The 5-Day Turnaround captures the mindset, speed and aggressiveness embodied in a startup, and contrasts it with the cautious, conservative nature of a well established company. The book is written as a fictional novel. Which means that the reader follows the story, and through ahh-smosis, picks up on all the important lessons learned by the story’s floundering corporate character, Matt.

The Pitch. And The Proposal.

The book really kicks into action after an ad agency pitch, when the potential client (Matt), tells the agency that they didn’t win the pitch because their ideas were so good and innovative that the conservative corporation didn’t have the chutzpah to implement them. Which meant the company was likely to choose a lamer agency instead.

However, the agency’s leader, Will, comes up with a daring plan to help Matt transform from a beaten down corporate dog into a daring, entrepreneurial leader within his large organization.

The story is a bit like the Fairy Godmother turning Cinderella into the belle of the ball. Only Cinderella was a cautious middle manager, who became an aggressive, entrepreneurial executive. And in this story Cinderella kept both of his Allen Edmonds wingtips on as he headed for home, at midnight, in his Tesla.

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At first I thought this said, ‘Always Lead White Porpoise!’ But it doesn’t.

The Lessons

The book is packed with relatable organization challenges. And Will teaches Matt how to overcome them all in just 5 days. Will does this using foundational fundamentals that help organizations and departments grow at startup speed. Which is only slightly slower than ludicrous speed. #wevegoneplaid

The book challenges the assumption that bad things will happen if you take a risk within a large organization. It walks through a worst case scenario to dispel the myth that bad things happen to people who stick their necks out. It encourages readers to become fearless in their thinking and actions. Which is a lesson that benefits everyone.

You Down With PVTV? (yeah you know me!)

The book walks through the importance of establishing your Purpose, Vision, Tenets and Values (PVTV). Which sounds like the local station in the Portland-Vancouver, WA metro area. It even guides you through a process to determine the PVTV for your organization or department. This alone is worth the read.

The book covers such important topics as:

  1. The Do Or Die Mindset
  2. Identifying the right and and wrong people for your organization, based on the PVTV. (I want my PVTV!)
  3. Moving Faster.
  4. Establishing Trust
  5. Embracing Failure.

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Here’s a great picture of Jeff and a whole pile of books he birthed himself. But I am fixated on the sign in the background that says, ‘Welcome to Igital Elights Anis.’

Who Is It For?

This book is great for any leader interested in thinking and acting more like an entrepreneur, even if you never plan to start your own business. The entrepreneurial mindset is confident, inspired and fast-acting (like Tinactin). Which leads to more success, because it creates more opportunities for success.

The 5-Day Turnaround is not just a book you read once. It becomes an easy-to-use reference book that you can pick up anytime for a quick hit of inspiration. It provides a series of valuable guideposts to keep you on course. Plus, it is a quick, easy and engaging read that flies by, allowing you to digest a lot of new information in a short time.

Personal Experience

I found a couple of other fun things in this book. A crazy, risk-taking example Jeff mentions in the book was inspired by a meeting Jeff and I had at Proctor & Gamble, that involved a surprise performance from an opera singer. It was weird, and fun, and memorable. #TakingRisks

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Pleasant Surprise

One of the really fun surprises at the end of this great read was that I found my name in the acknowledgements section. It was the first time I remember receiving a literary shout out. I think the major contribution I provided was simply encouraging Jeff to write the book in English, and number the pages, in order, starting with the smallest numbers.

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Don’t bail on this book before page 235. Or page 236 if you want to know what Qaadirah’s full last name is.

Thank You!

Thank for writing The 5-Day Turnaround Jeff. Thanks for sharing your insights, experiences and talent with the world. You have been a positive and motivational, and inspiration force for me and so many others. Now, you have inspired me to want to write my own book. I’m thinking of calling it The 4-Day Turnaround. Or maybe 6-Minute Abs.

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

Are you spending your time with the right people? 

Who are you spending your time with?

This is one of the most important questions you you can ask yourself. It is right up there with, Am I eating well? Am I exercising enough? And, Am I getting enough sleep? The question is important because whether you like it or not, you are becoming more like the people you spend your time with.

Take a moment to think about those people you spend your time with, either by choice, by default.

Pausing For thought…Playing that song from Jeopardy in my head…Which I always thought sounded like ‘I’m a little teacup.’…

The Human Conveyor Belts 

The people you spend your time with are like conveyor belts, taking you where they are going. That’s why it is critical that you carefully choose who you are spending your time with. Don’t settle for people who are simply nearby. Or convenient. Or who want to spend time with you. Make sure that they are people who will help carry you where you want to go.

My Journey (will always feature Steve Perry)

When I started my entrepreneurial journey I began spending a lot of time with other entrepreneurs. These were people who truly believed that they could make something out of nothing. Which made me believe I could alchemize my own success.

Their tolerance for risk made me more risk tolerant. Their boldness made me bolder. I quickly found myself thinking and acting like an entrepreneur. And before I knew it, I had established The Weaponry LLC. I had clients and revenue and employees and t-shirts. I also had other people wanting to know how I did it. And I have been sharing what I know ever since.

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Dan Nowak, Darren Fisher and Jordan Meyer are all great entrepreneurs who I spend a lot of time with. They try to teach me things,  like how real entrepreneurs pose for photos.

Heat Seeker

Seek out the people you want to be more like. The people who are headed where you want to go. People who are thinking and acting the way you want to think and act. Avoid the blamers and excuse makers. Ditch the complainers and the complacents. Attitudes are highly contagious. Make sure you are catching yours from the right people.

Key Takeaway

Become a better you by spending time with better people. Surround yourself with positive, can-do, will-do types. They will pull you forward. They will force you to grow to keep up. Then, as you grow, find more people who are even further ahead. Positive influence is a super fuel. Take all you can get. And share it with everyone you can.

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