The best-known cure for business worry.

Businesses are complex machines. They have lots of moving parts. They need constant attention. They are challenging to maintain, and even more difficult to grow. Which means that if you own or lead a business there are always plenty of reason to grow gray hairs.

6 Things For Business Leaders To Worry About.

  1. Are you growing your business? Businesses are either growing or shrinking. And no one likes shrinkage.
  2. Do you have the people you need? Businesses are simply a group of people running a group of systems. Having the right people is everything.
  3. Are your people delivering what they need to deliver? Even the best people don’t always perform the best without the right direction.
  4. Are your products and services good enough? Are the things you deliver superior? Competitive? Still functional?
  5. Are you heading in the right direction? Industries and opportunities are fluid and constantly changing. Are you moving towards the next great opportunity? Or are you trying to rent people VHS tapes in a Netflix world?
  6. Are you going to be sunk by a global pandemic? Or do you have a plan and reserves to outlast it?

The Cure For Worry

Just as vaccinations stop viruses, antidotes combat poisons, and clothing cures nudity, there is a surefire cure to business worry.

Work.

The best way to combat anything that threatens your business is to get to work.

Work on your business development efforts to make sure you are growing.

Work on your recruiting, training and development to makes sure you have the right people in the right seats on the bus.

Work on your processes to make sure you continuously improve what you deliver and how you deliver it. Especially if you are a stork.

Work on product development and service refinement to dial into what the market wants next and is willing to pay a premium for.

Work on your strategy and plan to make sure you are ready to take advantage of the next great opportunities. And make sure you are protecting your business against the negative impact of external factors.

Key Takeaway

The best cure for worry is to do something to avoid, minimize or fix the problem that concerns you. By putting in the work you take control of a situation, instead of letting it take control of you.

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

Make bigger bets on yourself.

Investing is like betting with really good odds. The best investments happen when you know something the rest of the world doesn’t. Just ask Martha Stewart.

But the best odds of all come when you invest in yourself. Because when you invest in yourself, the odds are stacked in your favor. And you do all the stacking. Because you have complete control over yourself. Like Janet Jackson.

The Decider

You decide how much work you put in. You decide not to quit, give up, or cut corners. You force yourself to make things turn out right. You put yourself first. You decide not to embezzle from yourself. You also decide not to bedazzle yourself.

The Safe Bet

Betting on yourself is always the safe choice. Because you have control over the outcome. Better yet, you know the outcome you are looking for. (And the income you are looking for too.)

You are your own best resource. You are your own most reliable asset. Put all your eggs in your own basket. And then protects the basket as if it is your only job in life. Because it is.

More Biggie. Less Smalls.

Too often our bets on ourselves are too small. So think bigger. Go bigger. Because there is no better bet. Plus, the bigger the bet you make on yourself the more pressure you put on yourself to grow.

Spend more time investing in your education and self-improvement. Invest in a coach. And in resources that you can utilize to achieve more. Read. Network. Learn. Listen. You will discover how much more you are capable of if only you pushed yourself to do what you are capable of doing.

Key Takeaway

The safest bet you will ever make is on yourself. You control the odds, the effort and the outcome. It is a completely legal form of insider trading. So bet big on yourself. Push yourself. Tip the odds in your favor. And other people will line up to bet on you too.

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

What keeps me up at night.

I usually sleep very well at night. I think it has to do with expending a lot of energy during the day. I kick off significant human wattage between the rooster’s crow and the cricket’s chirp. As a result, when my head paperweights the pillow I am quickly in La La Land, like Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

But last night I was up in the middle of the night for a couple of hours. I finally got out of bed and went down to my office to put some thoughts on paper. And in the dark and quiet hours of the barely-morning, I thought about other times when this happens. And I asked myself the proverbial/literal question:

‘What keeps me up at night?’

-Me

The Answer:

As The Most Interesting Man in The World might say, ‘I am not always up at night. But when I am, it is because of excitement!’

It is almost always because I am too excited to sleep. I get The-Night-Before- Christmas syndrome. Or I-Just-Spent-The-Day-At-The-Amusement-Park syndrome. The excitement of the day, or the days, months and years to come turn my machines back on like Randolph Duke demanded at the end of Trading Places.

Big and fun thoughts, plans, and possibilities are like crack. Or at least like a really great late-night infomercial that I can’t turn off. Pursuing creative ideas in the middle of the night makes me feel like Rumpelstiltskin. Only I get to keep the girl, the gold, and the first-born child. All of which is far more appealing than simply catching Zzzzs.

Explore Your Excitement

You have to find the mental candy to enjoy in life. I hope that you fill your days with enough fun, interesting, and exciting professional and personal pursuits that they spill into your sleeping hours. I hope you have interests that get your juices flowing even when the pump should be turned off.

Key Takeaway

Focus more on the wow and the wonder than the worry. Find the things that excite you in your work and play. Not only will those things make it easy to get out of bed in the morning, they won’t let you wait for the alarm. That’s a great way to face the day. Even in the wee hours of the morning.

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

Don’t be the cheapest. Be the best.

There has been a recurring theme at work lately. My team at The Weaponry has been involved in several new business pitches. Which means we are competing with other advertising or design agencies to win a project. Sometimes there are 2 agencies. And the pitch is like a rap battle, or the knife fight in Michael Jackson’s Beat It video. Sometimes it is a Royal Rumble where you are competing with every superhero and their sidekick.

The 3 Factors

There are 3 factors involved in winning a new project from a client or customer. At least where organized crime is not involved. (Those organizations add a few other important factors. Like how much you enjoy your family, and your limbs.)

  1. The Proposal. This is the written plan detailing what you are going to offer the customer or client if they choose you. This is quite literally the overview of the product or service being offered.
  2. The Price: This is the summary of how much your offering is going to cost. Your price relative to your competitor’s price is important. The critical question is how does the price and value of your offering stack up against the other options they are considering.
  3. Your likability. Do the deciders like you? Do they trust you? Are you funny, smart, kind, good-looking or tell great stories? Do they want to spend time working and problem solving with you?

All Things Considered

Recently we have heard several times that our price was more expensive than the other options we were weighed against. However, they chose us anyway. This creates a valuable math equation boys and girls.

The Math

In this case, what we were offering and our likability combined was greater than the price we were charging for it.

Offering + Likability > Price

This is exactly where you want to be in business. When you offer superior products or services, and a combination of likability, fun, and trustworthiness, more times than not you will not lose out on price. In fact, if the other two factors are strong enough you can charge more, because you are offering more value. And everyone comes out ahead.

Key Takeaway

In any business transaction, there are always more factors at play than price. As the seller, your responsibility is to provide a superior product and service. And if you deliver that with more likable, more trustworthy people you will not only break any ties, you will add more value to the overall experience, and people will be willing to pay more for your offering. So don’t fight others on price. Compete with them on the offering itself, and on the people who offer it. And like Bob Barker said, the price will always be right.

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

Why it’s important to give yourself permission to be an amateur.

When I became an entrepreneur one of the greatest gifts I gave myself was permission to be an amateur. Entrepreneurs ultimately need to know everything there is to know about starting and running a business. Yet the vast majority of this knowledge comes from on-the-job training. Which is how you learned to ride a bike. It’s how the Wright Brothers learned to fly. It’s how MLK learned to give great speeches. And how we all learned to do the Electric Slide (boogie woogie woogie).

By allowing yourself to be an amateur you allow for mistakes and put a premium on learning, not knowing. Remember, you could never learn to juggle without making mistakes. The same is true with standup comedy. And parenting your children. (Don’t tell my kids I said that. Who am I kidding, they already know.)

In every area of life, we start out stupid. Being okay with that and adopting a trial-and-error-and-correction mindset is the smart approach.

As an entrepreneur, I do what I know to do until I discover a better way. The secret is to always be looking for and open to that better way. Once you find it, you add it to your personal weaponry and you take another step forward. Those who reach the highest level of achievement simply never stop taking steps forward. Neither should you.

Key Takeaway

Allow yourself to be a beginner. Allow for mistakes. When you accept your amateur status the journey from ignorance to intelligence is more enjoyable and rewarding. Learn and grow as you go. Recognize your improvements. And know that you can apply this technique to anything in life.

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

I had a lot of help becoming an entrepreneur. Here are 16 names.

19 years into my advertising career I did something cray-cray. Despite the fact that there were already a bazillion ad agencies I could have worked at I decided to start my own. That agency, The Weaponry, just turned 5-years old. Which is kind of a big deal because so many businesses bite the dust before they hit the 5-candle cake.

Reflecting

Our recent milestone has prompted me to reflect on my entrepreneurial journey. What I have discovered is that entrepreneurship is like an epic game of connect the dots. Most of those dots are people. And in my case, none of them are actually named Dot.

I have been thinking of many of the people who have played an important dot in my experience. And I quickly go back to the very beginning. Which is a very good place to start. Because the hardest part of entrepreneurship is simply getting started. Here are some of the people that inspired me to get started and the role they played in my adventure.

16-ish People Who Have Played An Important Role In My Entrepreneurial Adventure.

  1. Bob and Jill Albrecht My parents gave me the confidence to think I could do anything I set my mind to. Except maybe play baseball. Or win at The Quiet Game.
My parents, during one of my speeches.

2. Dawn Albrecht My wife fully supported me trading in a well-paid career as an employee to chase the elusive success of entrepreneurship. And she had the most to lose. Like food, shelter, and wi-fi.

Me and Dawn: The Early Years. A good life partner makes all the difference.

3. My Uncles I have 18 uncles, most of whom are either farmers or other forms of entrepreneurs, or both. Seeing that kind of self-reliance all around you makes you believe in yourself. My Aunts (rhymes with wants) were also important partners in the team’s success. Which provided a template for Dawn and me to follow. And some shared genetics.

4. Roger Rathke My college journalism professor at the University of Wisconsin was a copywriter who eventually owned his own agency and made plenty of money in the process. He provided a model and a path I wanted to follow. Plus he had a fancy sports car. Which is not something most professors have. He also introduced me to an agency CEO named Paul Counsell, which was the first domino. We all need a first domino.

My college professor Roger Rathke really got my career rolling.

5. Paul Counsell Paul was the CEO of Cramer Krasselt, and hired me for my first job in advertising. He provided another great agency leader model for me. He had also started his own agency. And when I asked what he would have done differently in his entrepreneurial journey he said he would have gone after bigger clients sooner. I never forgot that and followed his advice when I started The Weaponry. He also once told me I had no diplomacy. He was right. I fixed that.

Roger, Paul, and me at an awards banquet. I was voted most likely not to wear a sport coat.

6. Neil Casey My first boss. At a lunch 2 years into my career, he told me I had the skills to lead the whole agency. I was 25. That made a major impression on me.

Neil Casey, without the sunshine band.

7. Ashley Lazarus Ashley is a world-class director, who in 1999 told me I had to start my own agency to stay in control of my own career. I believed him. Our discussion was a key driver in my career. I wrote about it here.

Ashley was the first person who told me I had to start my own agency to protect my career. He also made cranberries look delicious. Not like the little balls of face-contortion that they really are.

8. Chris Dawson Chris and I first met 21 years ago when he was a marketing hotshot at Ski-Doo, leading their advertising agency review. Me and my team pitched and won the account. Chris is hyper-smart and we became good friends and excellent collaborators. In the summer of 2015, Chris called me and encouraged me to start my own agency. While the idea of entrepreneurship had been simmering for years, that call and that encouragement was the tipping point. Chris has now helped hire The Weaponry 3 different times for 3 different companies.

Chris Dawson, before he grew his ZZ Top beard.

9. Chad Thompson Chad was a former client of mine at Nationwide Insurance. He called me 2 hours after I talked to Chris Dawson and also told me he was interested in working together again but didn’t think my current agency was right for his needs. I told him that was good news because I was going to start my own agency. This second call of the afternoon felt like the universe hitting me over the head, telling me it was time to get going.

Chad Thompson, inducing hair envy with a smile.

10. Mark O’Brien I had a 4-hour dinner with Mark, a close friend, and former client a few days later at Marlow’s in Alpharetta, Georgia. #SweetTeaBender I told him that I was thinking of starting my own agency. He said, ‘You HAVE to do this!’ Not you should, or could. He made it clear that success was certain, and the world needed what I was planning to build. That was a huge endorsement. A few months later he hired The Weaponry to work on Mizuno.

Mark made me wear this Clay Matthews jersey for a presentation. I have no idea why.

11. Nicole Hallada My friend Nicole and I had a phone call shortly after my dinner with Mark. When she asked me what I was up to I told her I was planning on starting my own agency. She told me that if I did she had work for me. She has now been a very important client for 5 years.

The first freelance project I did for Nicole in 2006 was paid for with a sandwich, and a bag of chips.

12. Christien Louviere Christien is a friend and entrepreneur in Atlanta. But most importantly as it relates to me, he is also a content creator. His blog post Top 10 Things You Don’t Need to Do To Start Your Own Business had a major impact on me. Because in the post he enlightened me to the fact that I should start my business before quitting my day job. He said let your day job fund your startup as long as you can. That key unlocked the gate for me. It took the pressure off of the need for immediate success. In fact, that advice was so important to me that I have now published nearly 600 blog posts since then in hopes that I help unlock something important for someone else by sharing what I know.

Don’t stare at Christien too long or his handsomeness will hypnotize you.

13. Jeff Hilimire Jeff is a serial entrepreneur and was the President of Engauge when I was the Chief Creative Officer. After Engauge was acquired by Publicis, Jeff started Dragon Army and was fully immersed in his new agency when I was ready to start The Weaponry. He was and has been a great advisor and supporter throughout my journey. I remember sitting on the deck at Dragon Army with Jeff in Atlanta when he asked me, ‘What is the percent chance you will actually start your own agency?‘ I told him ‘100%. I will fail at this before I do anything else.’ Which illustrated how committed I was to entrepreneurship. I wrote about it here.

Jeff and I and a meaty backdrop.

14. Dan Richards Dan and I grew up together in Norwich, Vermont. We played football and were on the track team together at Hanover High School. He is one of my closest friends. He is also an amazing entrepreneur and Founder and CEO of Global Rescue. Dan hired an embryonic version of The Weaponry to do its very first project on October 31st of 2015 in Boston. Over the following 12 months not only was Global Rescue our biggest client, Dan was a great mentor, sharing everything I wanted to know about running a business. Every aspiring entrepreneur should have a Dan Richards.

Just a couple of Green Mountain Boys. Never meaning no harm.

15. Troy Allen Troy and I both lived in Dublin, Ohio. We were both advertising guys. But when I met him he had already started his own agency called Elevate. Then he started another amazing business called Rise Brands, which creates amazing brands, including the wildly successful 16-Bit Arcade, Pins Mechanical, and No Soliciting. Troy was extremely helpful in sharing his experience and providing insights into pricing and offering revenue numbers to benchmark against. Having someone to talk real numbers with you is huge for new entrepreneurs.

Troy and I representing the bookends of the hair spectrum.

16. Brooks Albrecht My cousin Brooks was in Seattle working for Amazon in 2015. But we talked often. We have a lot in common. Including a good chunk of our DNA and our last name. Brooks played football and baseball at The University of Minnesota. I was on the track team at the University of Wisconsin. We both were on Big 10 Championship teams. And we were both looking for our next career challenge. So we teamed up to launch The Weaponry together. We planned and prepped and researched together. Brooks solidified our operations and was part of The Weaponry for the first year. He was a huge help, and really fun to work with. We still talk frequently and are always looking for our next collaboration.

My cousin Brooks and I demonstrating the 2 basic ways to wear a hat.

Key Takeaway

Entrepreneurship may appear to be an individual sport, but it is far from that. It is full of supporters, encouragers, and role models. Finding those people is key to your success. Surround yourself with great people. It increases the likelihood of you doing great things too.

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

What my first boss said when he found out I was starting my own business.

While researching a longer post about key people who supported my entrepreneurial adventure I came across an email from my first boss in advertising, Neil Casey.

Neil was a partner at Cramer Krasselt and the Executive Creative Director. I started as a junior copywriter and thought I would get fired every day for the first 6 months. Neil and I were opposites in many ways. But I liked his style, and he tolerated mine. Neil is a really great swearer. I am not sure he knows this. He also taught me a lot about advertising, writing, strategy, creative thinking and how to stand up for your ideas.

The following email was from August 25, 2016. I had officially launched The Weaponry, an advertising and idea agency just a few months earlier. I was moving form Atlanta to Milwaukee for family reasons. Neil found out what I was doing and shared this note.

The note:

Hey Adam, Paul told me you were opening an ad agency in Milwaukee. ARE YOU NUTS?! Yeah, Paul had I went bonkers circa 1980 and opened Counsell & Casey. After melding back into C-K things turned out pretty well. Luck is always a component, bad or good. We were fortunate to have good luck.

Put yourself in situations and environments that foster good luck. Then add your unique talent and you’re on your way to fame and fortune. Oh yeah, I forgot about all the drudgery and long hours. Hang out with talented people. Keep the faith.

I always saw you as a Brand Enthusiast, Adam. Milk it for all you can.

Let’s have lunch sometime soon.

Neil

Key Takeaway

Support and encourage people whenever you can. Every bit helps.

Sidenote (actually below note): Neil hates the name The Weaponry. But I love it. And I have always enjoyed being the pea under Neil’s mattress.

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

The Weaponry turns 5 years old!

I always wanted to start my own business. Not because I was an unhappy employee or a free spirit who couldn’t stand to work for The Man. I just like a good challenge. And everything I ever heard about entrepreneurship made it seem like it was the career equivalent to bull riding. Or free solo climbing. Or streaking at the Super Bowl. I knew it was dangerous. The likelihood of failure was very high. But if you are successful, there are few endeavors as rewarding.

On the set of a recent TV shoot with Jonathan Taylor of the Indianapolis Colts. I tried to steal his necklace, and he tried to defend it. It was all very subtle.

Some Fun Entrepreneurial Facts

  • There are 31 million businesses in the United States
  • 90% fail within the first 5 years
  • Only 4% ever make $1 million a year.
  • The average age of startup Founders is 42 years 
  • A first-time entrepreneur has an 18% chance of succeeding
  • 70% of entrepreneurs were married when they started their first business
  • 60% had at least one child
  • 44% had two or more children
  • 66% of start-up founders pay themselves less than $50,000
  • 69% of American entrepreneurs start their business at home
  • 80% of small businesses are non-employer businesses. 
  • 51% of small businesses make less than $100,000 in annual sales. 

Riding The Bull

With these facts in hand, I launched The Weaponry, an advertising and idea agency, in 2016. I wholeheartedly believed that we would succeed. The statistics didn’t scare me. They motivated me to prove that I was one of the few, the proud, the elite non-failers. Although I am sure the failers also felt confident when they first started out. After all, you don’t jump out of an airplane unless you are highly confident your parachute will open. Unless maybe there were snakes on the plane.

A constant reminder in our offices to think.

Turning 5 Years Old

Today, I am thrilled and proud to say The Weaponry is 5 years old! We gave grown significantly each year. And despite the global pandemic, 2020 was our best year yet. Now 2021 is off to a strong start. We continue to add to our team. And we have added 2 new clients in the past 2 weeks.

From a trip to India in 2018 to work with our clients Fifth Third Bank and SLK Global Solutions. I didn’t get the White Shirt Memo.

Funner Entrepreneurial Facts

  • The Weaponry has offices in both Milwaukee and Columbus.
  • We have 24 clients
  • We have clients in all 4 US Time Zones.
  • We have clients in 3 countries: The United States, Canada and India.
  • We offer Health Insurance and Dental Insurance
  • We have a 401(k) plan with a 4% match
  • We have two red refrigerators
  • Both of our offices are in Suite #206 (Although the signs say Sweet #206. Because I thought that was funnier. Those are the kinds of dumb things you can do when you start your own business.)
This is where the magic happens.

What’s Next?

I feel as if we have only just begun, like Karen Carpenter. We have much more to accomplish. We expect us to grow and expand significantly. It is clear that we are having great success with happy clients who have hired The Weaponry 2 and 3 times as they have changed jobs. Which I think is the best compliment a client can give you.

Our 3 Pillars of Success.

Before we won our very first client (Global Rescue), I declared The Weaponry’s recipe for long-term success. And unlike that finger-licker Colonel Sanders, I am happy to share it with you.

  1. Great Creative Idea
  2. Excellent Customer Service
  3. A Fun Experience for Everyone Involved.
Me and Dan Richards, CEO of our first client, Global Rescue. We were trying to look tough while wearing polos.

What’s Next?

If we continue to deliver on these 3 points we will enjoy perpetual success. And while I am very thankful to have made it to 5 years, I believe the job of leadership is to keep a business in business forever. To do that we will have to continue to listen, learn, adapt and improve. I am fully committed to it. Just like a streaker.

Key Takeaway

Entrepreneurship isn’t easy. In fact, it offers one of life’s greatest challenges. But if you want to try it, I highly encourage you. It is extremely rewarding in more ways than I have room to share in a concluding paragraph. To dramatically improve your chances of success start a business doing something you know well. Choose work you love to do. And you will have the intellectual equipment and the magnetic pull to get you to 5 years and beyond.

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

The money lesson I taught my son that he then shared with his class.

Over the past year, I have been able to spend more time with my family than ever before. For several months I conducted all of my work from my home office. Which allowed my 3 kids to see more of what I do during the day. This created interesting new opportunities to talk to them about work, business, and making money.

As an entrepreneur and business owner, I couldn’t resist talking to my kids about the challenges the pandemic was causing for businesses. And how toilet paper didn’t grow on trees. (They corrected me). But more importantly, I shared how much opportunity there was for businesses to innovate, solve new problems, and benefit from helping others.

As the stock market went into the toilet like a dooky, I shared that this was an amazing time to invest. My kids asked me if they could invest some of their money. So I helped them buy their first stock.

We also read books on money, investing, and wealth. I was surprised by how interested they were in the topic. And it gave me hope that someday they may be able to afford to put me in the good nursing home.

I was even more surprised when my youngest son Magnus came home one day and told me he wrote a story in school on how to get rich. I was curious to read it. I wanted to know what his 10-year old mind was thinking. When the paper finally came home I was tickled, like Elmo, to read what he wrote. I have reprinted the story here in its entirety with permission from Magnus.

How To Get Rich!

The first thing you need to know to be rich is the difference between what you need and what you want. Another way you can put this is you need to know the difference between an asset and a liability.

A asset is something that makes you money. A liability is something that wastes your money.

Some assets would be starting a business, buying stocks, set up a lemonade stand, or any stand, mow someone’s lawn or sell things.

But buying stock is the most efficient way to make money. Especially at a time like this when all the stocks are down.

If you don’t know what a stock is, it’s something you buy on any device and without doing anything you make money. You can also hold on to your stock and get paid four times a year.

My stock pays me 30 cents four times a year. When I bought the shares of my stock each one cost me $3.75. So in total I paid $37.50. And that stock has went up so high that last time I checked it was worth $120 if I sold it.

You can sell things, but I sometimes wouldn’t recommend it. What my Dad taught me is sell when it is high, buy when it is low.

A book I would recommend to get you started is called, Rich Dad. Poor Dad. That was the first book I read about how to get rich. So after reading this get up and ‘Act Now!’

-Magnus Albrecht 3-9-21

Key Takeaway

Teach others what you know. By sharing your knowledge you raise the intelligence and confidence of others. Talk to kids about important life lessons and skills, including financial literacy, when they are young. They are like sponges, primed for learning. Make it fun. Make it interesting. And you can make a positive, life-long impact. It may just be the most valuable investment you ever make.

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

Why adults should tap into the power of playing Pretend.

When I was a kid we didn’t have electronics. Check that, we had one television in our living room. It had no remote control, so you had to get up and go to the TV to change the channel and volume, or to fix the vertical hold. I didn’t have any video games. Our only phone was wired to the wall. And the only fun things you could do with the phone was prank call your friends, or dial 867-5309 and ask for Jenny.

The Pretender

As a result of my Amish-ish youth, I had to find other ways to fill my time. One of my go-to activities was playing Pretend. It worked like this: I pretended I was someone else with a more interesting life than my own. That’s pretty much it.

My pretending covered a wide range of roles. Sometimes I pretended to be a farmer, doctor, astronaut, or soldier. Other times I pretended to be a professional athlete or a cowboy. I used to pretend to run a chapel in my basement. And my older sister Heather and I even used to regularly play (wait for it…) Brother and Sister! We played together the way we saw brothers and sisters play on TV, or in the movies. Which meant that we got along better and did way more adventurous stuff.

Today I am full-grown-ish, yet I still play Pretend. Because I now recognize that if you play Pretend long enough, and really commit to the part, you can make things happen for real.

How it has worked for me.

College

In college at The University of Wisconsin, I pretended I was going to be an advertising creative. So I declared a major in journalism to learn about writing, strategic communications, and the other isms behind journals. I also declared a psychology major, because I wanted to know more about human thinking and motivation. I realized that declaring a major is simply a fancy name for playing Pretend. Just like kilt is a fancy name for man-skirt.

Entrepreneurship

In 2015, at the height of my employed career, I started pretending I was an entrepreneur, and that I owned my own advertising agency. So I started doing all the things I thought entrepreneurs do. I read books about launching and running businesses. I hung out with successful entrepreneurs. I wrote down all my plans. And I talked to people as if I was a real entrepreneur. Suddenly, real people started asking me if I could do work for them with my pretend business. When that happened, my pretend business instantly became a real business. Just like Pinocchio became a real boy. No lie. And no strings attached. Today that business is called The Weaponry.

Blogging

About the same time, I also pretended that I was a blogger. So I did what I thought real bloggers did. I went to a blogging website called WordPress.com, I created a pretend blog, and I started writing pretend posts. Then, after I had written 5 of those, I started publishing them. Within minutes people started reading them. You, my reader-friend, are proof that I am a real blogger. Because you are most certainly a real reader. (Maybe you could write ‘Real Reader’ in the comments to confirm my Real Reader hypothesis.) My blog has now been read in nearly 130 countries around the world. (Because there aren’t 130 countries crowded into one part of the world).

No ending to the pretending.

Today, I am playing Pretend more than ever. Over the past year, I have pretended to be a cartoonist, an author, a community organizer, a high school track coach, an investor, an employee of a tech start-up, a t-shirt maker, and the owner of a food business. All of these things that I have pretended to be are now in various stages of reality. Just like Kanye West.

What About You?

Are you pretending to be who you really want to be? Are you pretending to do the things you really want to do? It’s easier than you think. Just act like you did when you were a child. You knew what to do then. Simply do the same thing now. And if you pretend all the way, you will get all the way to what you were pretending to be. Just like Jackson Browne. Or Chrissie Hynde.

Key Takeaway

Never stop pretending. It is the first step to creating. It is how you activate your beliefs, manifest your dreams, and live into your vision. Because when you pretend hard enough everyone will take you seriously. Including yourself.

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