20 Things I Am Glad I Did in 2020.

On New Year’s Eve, I sat down and reflected on the year gone by. The last day of the year is always a good time to look back and learn what worked and what didn’t. In 2020 I didn’t eat any bats. I didn’t break any windows that didn’t belong to me. And I didn’t act like a cranky baby during a nationally televised debate. I like to focus on the positive. So here are 20 things I am glad I did do last year.

Things I am glad I did in 2020.

1. I wore a mask a lot. It’s really easy to wear a mask. And it helps you and the people around you not get sick and die. That’s why Batman and The Lone Ranger both wore one. And they both saved a lot of people.

2. I saved for a rainy day. I have been fiscally conservative with my business, The Weaponry. Which means that I left money (my fiscals) in the business to make sure it could weather challenging times. So when the economy went sideways in March I didn’t panic. Not worrying whether we would be open to see 2021 allowed me to focus on opportunities instead. And opportunities kept coming.

3. I played foosball. During the March-May lockdown, my 3 kids and I played foosball together every night. It was something fun to look forward to each day. It was the only competitive sport we saw during that time. All 4 of us got much better at the game as we bonded and created foosy memories.

4. I went to the beach. In June my family and I went to Hilton Head Island for a week. While traveling and hoteling has some inherent risks, we were cautious, wore masks around others and socially distanced. But the change of scenery was valuable to our mental health. And the beach itself made us forget about life for a while (like in that Billy Joel song, with Davy, who is still in the Navy).

5. I bought lobster. While we were in Hilton Head my kids asked what lobster tasted like. As a New Englander, I have had a lot of lobstah. It was surprising to realize that my kids had never had it. So one night at dinner I allowed my kids to order the lobster, the most expensive thing on the menu. They loved it, and greatly appreciated the splurge. Remember, sometimes you’ve gotta splurge for the lobster.

6. I organized Zoom calls with friends. I probably had 1000 Zoom calls in 2020. After spending hours each day Zooming with clients and coworkers, I thought Zoom would be a great way to see my friends and family too. My sisters coordinated our family Zooms. But I organized calls with my college track teammates from The University of Wisconsin. I had calls with my high school football teammates. I had many calls with friends from New England, Georgia, California, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, Florida and on and on. It was a lot like having friends over for beverages. It simply required someone to take the lead.

7. I kept exercising. During the lockdown, I relocated our home exercise equipment to a more prominent place in our basement and started exercising at home with my family. Now, as my daughter Ava and son Magnus play basketball, my son Johann and I go to the gym and lift weights together several times each week. As a result, I am stronger now than I was 30 years ago. And I am way stronger than I was 40 years ago. (This sounds good until you realize how young I was 40 years ago.)

8. I rode my bike a lot. Bike riding during the pandemic was like going to therapy. (It was also like a song by Queen.) Most nights during the summer I would ride for 30-90 minutes. Not only was it good exercise, it was freeing in a time that didn’t feel so free.

9. We took an epic road trip. At the end of July, my family and I went on one of the 3 greatest road trips of my life. We took 11 days and drove from Wisconsin to Idaho. We visited several national parks, including The Badlands, Yellowstone, Glacier, and Theodore Roosevelt. The trip was an educational and inspirational adventure. It was the highlight of 2020.

10. I sent an email saying we were ready to help. On March 16th, I sent all of our clients an email saying we were up and ready to work remotely. We were fully functional from home on day one of The Lockdown. Our clients were ready to roll with us. We just kept on crushing it throughout the lockdown and the rest of the year. Not only did we pick up more work from agencies that didn’t make it, we ended up having our best year ever by 25%.

11. I gave blood. Giving blood has been something I always wanted to do, but just never started. I come from a family of blood donors. My Dad has given so much blood that I expect he looks like dehydrated fruit on the inside. I finally donated blood this fall. And I will definitely do it again. It is not difficult to do. And I am very proud to have finally checked the box on this oddly elusive life goal.

12. I spoke to college students at 4 different schools. In 2020 I spoke to students at The University of Wisconsin, Marquette University, Concordia University of Wisconsin and Carroll University. Yet I never set foot on any of the campuses. I spoke about advertising, marketing, creativity, business, entrepreneurship and leadership. But I was also able to develop stronger relationships with the professors, lecturers and other school staff members. The academic and business world should be more closely linked. Because we need each other (not knead each other, or kneed each other).

13. I gave bonuses. Throughout the year I was very open with my team about our goals for the year, both before and after we knew anything about covid-19. My team worked very hard to not only keep our business going and growing, but to keep our clients thriving during a very unpredictable time. And when a company does well the team should benefit too. So I was extremely proud to hand out bonus checks on December 30th. Because when the whole team shares in the success you experience more success.

14. I wrote 151 blog posts. I maintained my 3-post-a-week habit throughout the year. I tried to share good news and an upbeat, positive perspective throughout 2020. I hope it helped provide a little light and a little levity in brevity during the unique challenges of the year.

15. I became even more adaptable. The great gift of 2020 was adaptability. It was not an option to reject the opportunity to learn to adapt. It was a requirement. As a result, I learned how to function with new rules, under new conditions, in new settings. I learned what I could live and work without. I became more inventive and open-minded. I saw my children take classes, music lessons, and even athletic practice via Zoom. As they say at Progressive Insurance, you have to be able to go with the flow.

16. I helped people who needed help. I tried to help people who needed the kind of help I could offer in 2020. Sometimes it was encouragement. Sometimes it was business, marketing and entrepreneurial advice. Sometimes it was a bit of work for those who were having a hard time finding work and making money. Because we all need a little help from time to time.

17. I wrote a book. In 2020 I wrote a book. My goal in 2021 is to get it published. In 2022 my goal will be to have someone who is not related to me actually buy the book. More on this in a later post.

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18. I read Rich Dad. Poor Dad. to my kids. I have now read the book to all 3 of my kids. The financial literacy the book teaches is simply not taught anywhere else. In fact, the first two kids I read the book to this spring both asked to buy stocks and have done extremely well with their investments. I highly recommend that you read this book if you haven’t. Read it to your kids if you have kids. And if you don’t have kids, don’t have kids! They are expensive. Especially if they like lobster.

19. I switched dentist. My former dentist was fine. The kind of fine that will lull you into accepting a lesser experience for a long time. But our delayed dental care of 2020 encouraged my wife Dawn and me to reconsider the dentist we have seen for the past 3 or 4 years. We love the new dental practice we found. In fact, I had a chipped crown replaced and I literally didn’t have a moment of discomfort. Don’t settle for fine. Seek outstanding. And get your teeth right.

20. I said yes a lot. I had many requests for my time and talent in 2020. I was asked to help, to get involved, to serve and to contribute in many different ways. Yes was my default. I felt like the world needed more yeses in 2020. Perhaps I did too. Yeses help you grow and make the world a better place. Yes, even if you are the owner of a lonely heart.

Key Takeaway

It is important to reflect on your year, your actions and your attitudes. Note what is working for you and what is not. Learn and grow as you go. Be deliberate in your actions. Embrace a life of continuous improvement. It’s the best path to the best you.

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

You imagined a great life. Now make it happen.

When you were young you had an exciting vision for your life. You knew that in the future your life would be amazing. You would have a career you loved, a family who spent a lot of quality time together, and a fun friend group. Perhaps you imagined travel and adventure. Or you contributed significant time, talent and money to important causes. You created art or music. You looked great for your age. And you imagined yourself reading a blog post that reminded you of your life’s vision.

There may be hundreds of details about your life that you pictured differently than they are right now. But remember, you have the power to change those details. You have the ability to continuously improve your life. In fact, your life will become more like the life you envisioned until you stop trying to make it so. Or until you die. Whichever comes first.

Don’t settle for less. Remember that things don’t just happen. They are made to happen. You are the author of your story. You are the architect and builder of your world. You are the head of quality control. You are the bouncer, deciding who gets in and who gets thrown out. You are the boss, determining what work needs to be done next. You are the Dean, setting the coursework you must study. And you are the timekeeper who announces when you have spent too long on something that is not working.

Key Takeaway

You can change your life to be more like the life you imagined at any time. Don’t settle. Don’t give up. Revisit the vision you have for your own life often. And live into it a little more every day.

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

How to think of 2021 in the story of your life.

That was quite a year we just had, huh? Which is why 2020 had more nicknames than Sean ‘P-Puffy-Diddy-Daddy’ Combs. 2020 was called Train Wreck, Dumpster Fire, Sh!t Show, The Worst Year Ever. And then, of course, there were the really bad names.

But none of those labels are helpful. So as we start 2021, consider reframing how you think of 2020, and the year ahead.

The Story Of Your Life.

Think of each year as a chapter of your life. Chapter 1 was your birth. Your Genisis (only without Phil Collins). The next few chapters covered your childhood. Several chapters later, you left home on your life’s journey. The following chapters were full of exciting rising action, as you found your path, gained momentum, and enjoyed success, happiness and stability.

Then Came 2020.

In the story of your life, 2020 was the plot twist. It was where your plans were disrupted. The path was blocked. The rules were changed. The villain showed up and started messing with your toilet paper. Maybe you lost all you had. Or lost someone close to you. Or lost an election.

But remember, the best part of the story always happens after the plot twist. The story gets really good after things go sideways, or downhill, or into the dumpster and set on fire.

As humans, we can’t wait to see what happens next. We are dying to know how the hero of the story responds. Do they splat or do they bounce? Do they give The Wicked Witch the ruby slippers, or do they moisturize her and steal her cleaning equipment? Enquiring minds want to know.

Welcome to 2021 everyone.

This year, and this chapter, represent the critical choice of your story. This is where you, the main character, responds to the plot twist. This is where you make the critical decisions that ultimately lead to the climax of your story.

So, we all want to know, what are you going to do now that it is 2021? How are you going to respond? What are you going to make happen next? How are you going to get your happy ending? (Robert Kraft wants to know.)

It’s up to you. You are both the author and the main character of your story. You are in control. You choose the adventure. You choose the tone and the pace. You choose your supporting characters. And your choices make all the difference.

Key Takeaway

2021 is a pivotal year in your story. Remember, you get to write what happens next. So write a really great chapter. You have 365 days to work with. Use them all.

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

30 Important questions to ask yourself at the end of the year.

We have finally come to the end of 2020. This year is certain to be a first-ballot inductee to the Year Hall of Fame. The unprecedented health, economic, political, racial, and social issues of 2020 have made this a year like no other.

Yet the adaptability, innovation, resilience and humanness revealed in 2020 have shown just how amazing humans really are. While cockroaches are known as the species that will survive anything, 2020 has proven that human survival skills are very well intact. Right Mr. Darwin?

Preparing For 2021

Now it’s time to prepare for a great 2021. Why prepare? Because great years, like great lives, don’t just happen. We make them happen.

A key element of living a great life is self-reflection. Asking yourself good questions is like conducting your own performance review. It’s a simple way to discover where you need to course correct, where your course is already correct, and where your corset could correct.

If you don’t know what questions to ask yourself, you’ve come to the right blog post. Here are 30 questions to ask yourself now to prepare to make 2021 your best year yet. For best results, write your answers down. In fact, I created a Google Doc that you can print or make a copy of right here.

30 Questions In A Particular Order.

1. Am I educating myself? Getting better starts with getting smarter. Continue to self-educate and your knowledge, abilities, and competitive advantages will grow like compound interest. 

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2. Am I exercising enough? Your body is your life vehicle. Regular exercise keeps it in top shape. Which will allow you to travel further, faster and over rougher terrain.

3. Am I giving enough to others? Shel Silverstein famously wrote about The Giving Tree. But there is also a magical Giving Boomerang (perhaps made of wood from the giving tree). Because when you give your time, talent and treasure to others, good things come back to you in even bigger and better ways.  

4. Am I disciplined enough? Discipline is what gets the job done. If you are not doing the things you’ve committed to, or if you are not avoiding the things you should avoid, check your discipline. Remember, you only need enough to create a habit. Then the habit takes over and discipline can be deployed towards something else.

5. Am I thinking big enough? The answer for 99% of us is no. Think Bigger. Think as big as you can. Think Elon Musk-y. Because bigger thoughts lead to bigger results. It costs the same amount to think big as it does to think small. But the return on your thinking investment is much different. You can always go bigger. #TWSS

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

6. Am I taking the actions that matter most? Not all actions are created equal. Remember the 80/20 rule. Find the small actions with the biggest rewards. There are a lot of actions that generate very little results. Simply taking the right kinds of action (interacting with the right people for example) can change your life. For proof see Sliding Doors or Run Lola Run.

7. Am I empathetic enough? Are you putting yourself in other people’s shoes? (Like Dr. Scholl’s) Are you really thinking about issues from someone else’s perspective? Want to make and keep more friends? Or develop more sales? Develop your empathy.

8. Am I providing more value than I am costing? This is the key to becoming a highly valuable and sought after human. Always give more than you take and you will remain in control of your destiny. As soon as that ratio flips you are no longer in the drivers seat. Sorry Charlie.

9. Am I getting better or getting worse? Check your trajectory. You are either headed up or down on every possible measure. The good news is that with all but some physical aging issues you can always improve your own angle through focused effort, commitment and mindset. 

10. Am I strengthening my network? Most people think far too little about the strength of their network. But take it from the mobile carriers, it is all about the strength of your network. Continue to develop and maintain meaningful relationships. Make as many genuine friendships as you can. When you do, your social, professional and political capital will continue to grow. Which opens you to more opportunities. Remember, opportunities are human things. 

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11. Am I valuable to know? Do you add value to others? Are you kind, helpful, or inspiring? Do you offer access and connections? Are you are great listener? Really think about the value you offer others. The more value you offer, the more people will seek you out. And you want to be sought after. 

12. Am I stretching myself? Growth occurs by stretching beyond your previous abilities. By stretching you expand and strengthen. If you are not stretching you are prone to atrophy and shrinkage. Nobody wants shrinkage. Just ask George Costanza.

13. Am I surprising people? Are you simply doing the things others come to expect of you? Or are you surprising them with new abilities and ambitions? Have you become predictable? Or are you endlessly interesting? Keep the surprises coming. 

14. Am I keeping my word? Trustworthiness is the bedrock of relationships, and the gateway to opportunity. Check your trustworthiness more often than once a year. Keeping your word is required on a daily basis. Like flossing and changing your undies.

15. Am I living into my vision for myself? You have aspirations. But simply having aspirations is not enough. You have to get yourself to the destination. You have to become the person you imagined, dragon. Do the doing, not just the dreaming. 

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Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

16. Am I noticing those who need me? We all have people who need us. Family, friends, clients, employees, community members. Do you see them? Do you notice what they need from you?  Do you notice what you have to give?

17. Am I being present? Be now. This is all you ever have.

18. Am I taking care of my health? Have you seen your doctor and dentist lately? Do you have a doctor and dentist? How about a mental health specialist? A chiropractor? Take care of yourself. Because everybody needs a body.

19. Am I eating well? You are what you eat. Literally. Be mindful of your personal building materials. It makes a difference. Because you don’t want to look like a Cheeto in your Speedo. 

20. Do I have a healthy way to destress? The world is an all-you-can-eat stress buffet. You need to have ways to rid yourself of the stress. Sleep, exercise and church are my go-to’s. Find your ways to destress best.

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21. Do I have enough human interaction? It is easy to become isolated from others, especially during a global pandemic. Humans are social creatures. We need a minimum of human interaction. Positive human interaction is often exactly what we need for comfort, belonging and perspective. During times of isolation, use technology to get your daily allowance of humans. Don’t use Chat Roulette.

22. Am I spending enough time in nature? Spending time in nature is great for re-grounding yourself. A little quiet time with Mama Nature provides peace and perspective you can’t get anywhere else.

23. Am I getting enough sleep? Sleep is the great reset button. It enables you to regenerate your best self. Take advantage of it. Get as much as you need. 

24. Am I finding joy in my work? Work fills half of your waking hours. Finding joy in work is finding joy in life. If you are not finding joy it is time for a change. A new approach, a new job, or a new career should be on the table.   

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25. Does my boss value me? An unfair amount of your happiness is tied to your relationship with your boss. If you have a boss that values you and treats you well you have won half the battle. If not, make a change. Life is too short for bad bosses. 

26. Am I living a story worth reading? You only get one shot at life. Make it great. make it a story worth telling, worth hearing and worth reading.  

27. Am I positively impacting others? At the end of our days the only thing that really matters is the impact we have on others. Focus on making a positive impact and you will live a great life.

28. Am I laughing enough? This is the easiest way to measure happiness. Laughter is more valuable than money. Spend more time with the people who make you laugh. They will make you feel most alive. 

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All Rights Are Reserved. All Lefts Are Outgoing. 

29. Am I making others laugh? We are drawn to people who make us laugh. Are you able to see the humor in life and share it with others? A humorous perspective is always a valuable resource. Especially during difficult times.

30. Am I investing enough in my most important relationship? Think of the one relationship that means more to you than any other. A spouse or significant other. A parent, child or sibling. A friend, partner or neighbor. Are you investing in that person as much as you should? Always give the most important people the most. 

31. Am I giving more than people expect? When you offer up 30 questions do you actually give 31? It’s not that hard to do. Overdeliver. People remember.

Key Takeaway

Self improvement starts with asking yourself good questions. You are a work in progress. Knowing what you should work on is how you make the progress.

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

Here is the link to the Google Doc with the 31 questions.

Happy New Year! 2021 Is going to be great! No Question.

Why it is so valuable to wonder as you wander.

In 2005 I spent a week working in Iceland and never saw the sun go down. While in the land of the ice and snow (with the midnight sun where the hot springs flow), I enjoyed a few closeup experiences with icebergs. In fact, one day we filmed my friend Thor Kjartanson waterskiing among freshly-calved icebergs. Which made Thor the most badass Viking since Fran Tarkenton.

Icebergs are magical creations. They are beautiful. Like floating sculptures. Icebergs are always moving and always transforming. However, as magnificent as one of these floating masses of Titanic-sinking ice art is to look at, roughly 90 percent of an iceberg is below the surface, and thus goes unseen.

Below The Surface

I feel like an iceberg. On a typical day, 90% of my activity is below the surface and goes unseen. Because my mind is always going somewhere. I am always thinking, wondering, and building in my brain.

Mental Jogging

One of my favorite hobbies is mental jogging. I simply start to think about anything I am interested in. Then I quickly jump from topic to topic and idea to idea, noting the connective tissue between each. It’s an enjoyable and useful form of mental parkour. (If you don’t know what parkour is check out this video explanation and the hilarious twist on the sport from The Office.)

Valuable Thinking

I spend a large percentage of my time thinking. But I am not just thinking about things I need to do or remember. I am exploring, creating, ideating and wondering as I wander. Like Fred Savage.

But despite the millions of miles of mental jogging that I have logged, only recently have I ever thought that not everyone does this. Which I think is a form of thinking bias I didn’t think I had.

I can jump into full ideation and creation mode, anywhere, anytime. I have made a career out of it. Heck, I have created two businesses out of it, including my t-shirt business, Adam & Sleeve, and my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry.

This person has magical feet that leave the footprints of many people.

Get Quiet And Get Thinking

I can think of new ideas, adventures, inventions and connections all day long. You can too. But do you? It simply requires a little quiet spot in your day. You can find time while you drive, or shower or lie in bed. Don’t fill your quiet moments with digital distractions. Allow yourself a little boredom, and let your thinking fill the void.

Thinking is the most valuable activity you can do.

Here are 14 Reasons Why:

  1. Thinking is what creates new ideas.
  2. Thinking is where winning strategies are born.
  3. Thinking leads to paradigm-shifting innovations.
  4. Thinking is where entertainment comes from.
  5. Thinking solves problems.
  6. Thinking creates opportunities.
  7. Thinking creates advantages and helps reveal them.
  8. Thinking changes perceptions and outlooks.
  9. Thinking inoculates you from a sense of helplessness
  10. Thinking provides freedom.
  11. Thinking creates adventure.
  12. Thinking turns the tables
  13. Thinking develops habits
  14. Thinking can give your courage, and heart, and a brain, and helps you find a lift back home.

Key Takeaway:

Thinking is the seed from which all great realities are born. To improve both your situation and your outlook, improve your thinking. Make a habit of thinking, and your thinking habit will make you.

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

Why I have joined MasterClass and you may want to too.

I am always looking for ways to get smarter. I could use all the help I can get. So I read as much as I can. In fact, I consider myself a book collector. Mostly because I like to collect knowledge. I listen to audiobooks when I drive. I listen to podcasts when I mow the lawn. And I occasionally read directions.

Online Education

I have long been fascinated with online learning. The idea of taking classes online lowers the bar to continuing education in a significant way, eliminating the geographical barriers to access. Which is exciting for anyone who lives in BFE, or what more civilized people call the middle of nowhere.

MasterClass

I love to read books by or about people who are at the highest level of performance and achievement. So when I heard about MasterClass I was intrigued. In a nutshell, MasterClass offers a wide variety of classes taught by people who are masters of their craft. Each class consists of a series of short, easy-to-watch videos. The instructors teach lessons on a variety of nuanced topics within their specialty. But their lessons can be applied to a wide range of disciplines.

There are also instruction books that come as downloadable pdfs, which allow you to follow the lessons in written form. There are no tests. So it won’t induce that recurring dream about the college exam you forgot to study for, and then showed up to naked. (Did I just overshare?) MasterClass simply provides lessons and ideas to absorb and incorporate into your own life.

Some of the faculty at MasterClass in their yearbook photo.

So Far So Good.

Like The Carpenters, I have only just begun my MasterClass experience. But I am intrigued and impressed with the nuggets and reminders I am picking up. I think of the MasterClass videos like college lectures.

However, to make the most of MasterClass I would like to create a discussion group. I think of this like the discussion portion of a college class. Or a book club, only without the books, drinking and gossip. The point is to absorb the materials, think about what you are learning, and then consider the applications and implications with a group of other intelligent people to enhance the impact power of the lessons.

My MasterClass Club

My expectation for my MasterClass club is that we will decide on a class or two to take each month. Then we will meet for an hour or two to discuss what we have learned. We will explore key takeaways, and how we plan to apply what we have learned to our lives and careers.

My group will be run via Zoom, both because of covid (had you forgotten about that?) and because I don’t want to limit those who can participate due to geographical access. Which is what is great about online education.

Cost

When I signed up the cost was $15 per month, or $180 a year. Which is a small price to pay for insights, education and inspiration. However, when I signed up they also offered a buy-one-get-one-free membership. I just checked, and they are running that promotion now. So you should get BoGoing before the offer is BoGone.

A Scholarship Opportunity

I have a membership to give away too, like a scholarship. I have been thinking of people who I know that would really appreciate this. It turns out one of the people I was thinking of gifting my bonus membership to, my rockstar friend Nicole Hallada, already has a membership. Which doesn’t surprise me at all. If you sign up now, consider gifting your bonus membership to begin or grow your own club.

Your 2021 Improvement Plan

If continuing your education and self-improvement are a priority to you, consider joining MasterClass as part of your 2021 plan. If you do, or you are already a member, and you are a fun and interesting thinker who likes to discuss ideas with others, consider creating or joining a MasterClass Club.

Key Takeaway

There are valuable lessons to be learned from those who are at the top of their craft. Seek them out. Study their ways. Discover their keys to success. Incorporate their approach into your own. And surround yourself with others who are doing the same thing so you can learn from each other.

If you are interested in learning more about the MasterClass discussion group I am creating please let me know. Respond to this post, or send a note to adam@theweaponry.com.

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

Hey adults! It’s time to make your wish list too.

One of the highlights of childhood is making your Christmas list. Which involves writing down all the things you want in life, with no regard for your parent’s tax bracket. Then you share your list with Santa so that he can overcome your parent’s financial limitations, and bring you exactly what you are looking for. It’s a nearly perfect idea. Nearly.

However, as an adult, it is just as important for you to write down your wish list. Taking time to think about what you want, what you really, really want in life is key to long term happiness and achievement. Just ask the Spice Girls.

If you don’t think about what you want you won’t recognize it when you see it. You need to know specifically what you are after. It is the only way you’ll know how to prioritize your time. Your list will determine how you budget your efforts. And like a good cult, your list will show you what you need to sacrifice to get what you want.

Don’t simply think about what you want. Like that note to Santa, it is time to write down that list of things you want most in life. Seeing those things on paper makes a difference. Revisiting the list often makes it important. Taking the actions required to attain the things on your list makes them real.

Key Takeaway

Creating a wish list of all the things you want in life is not just for kids. For adults, it works like a shopping list that tells you where and how to spend your time and energy. I hope you get everything you want in life. But first, you need to know what that is.

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

How to benefit from the positive power of a bad boss.

I love the idea of having a mentor. In fact, I’d love to have a mentor as much as I’d love to have a beachfront mansion between Ricardo Montalbán and Magnum P.I. But I don’t own any oceanfront property, yet. And unfortunately, I don’t have an official mentor either.

To be fair, I do have a couple of sliver mentors. These are not people who teach me how to remove splinters. They are experts who I look to for insights and information about specific topics. But again, the relationships aren’t formal or consistent. So even my sliver mentors are unofficial and thinly used.

Anti-Mentors

However, I have had anti-mentors. These are bosses, leaders and managers who have shown me what not to do. They are people who set examples that I intuitively knew not to follow. (Mr. Lemming, maybe we shouldn’t jump off that cliff…) They are the types of leaders that are easy to complain about. But simply complaining about them means you are missing the value they provide.

Put Them To Work For You.

Instead of complaining about your supervisor, boss or otherwise-positioned anti-mentor, go to school on them. Study what they are doing wrong. Heck, write a book about them. Or write a song about them like Johnny Paycheck did. #TakeThisJobAndShoveIt

With everything you find wrong about your anti-mentor and his or her style, write down what you should do instead. You instinctually know where they went wrong, and you know where the gap is between what they did and what you know to be right.

This is extremely valuable. It is like learning to walk by falling down or learning to ride a bike by crashing. Watching an anti-mentor at work is like watching game film of your poor performances to see your mistakes from an external perspective. Once you have witnessed the failure you better understand the right things to do.

Pro Tip: If you have had nothing but great bosses, binge-watch The Office and let Michael Scott be your anti-guide.

Key Takeaway

Don’t overlook the power of those who show you what not to do. Anti-mentors can help you grow and learn as quickly as positive mentors, because we are wired to learn from pain and discomfort. Anti-mentors are easy to find. They are everywhere. Now, it’s time to put them to good use for you.

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

**If you were one of my great bosses, supervisors or managers and don’t think this is about you, you’re right, it’s the other ones.

The most valuable construction material in the world arrives at midnight.

Do you know what the most valuable construction material is? In case you are no Bob The Builder and haven’t partied at The Home Depot since before the pandemic, here’s a quick refresher on some of the more popular materials:

  • Lumber
  • Brick
  • Concrete
  • Steel
  • Glass (If your house is made of this don’t throw Mick Jagger)
  • Bamboo
  • Corn (Mitchell, South Dakota only)
  • Plastic
  • Aluminum
  • Adobe

But the most valuable construction material of all, is time. You can use time, like blocks, bricks and legos to create anything you can think of. We all get a delivery of 1,440 shiny new minutes every day. They arrive at your doorstep at midnight.

Each minute is perfectly sized for human use. They enable you to create great things. To build your dreams. To construct the life you want to live. To make memories and relationships.

Your daily delivery of minutes can be used to build businesses. They can be used to write a book, a movie or a blog post. They can create quality time with others. They can be used for self-improvement, to build intelligence and construct confidence. They can be used to build homes. And they can even be volunteered to good causes.

The most interesting thing about your daily delivery of minutes is that if you use them you get to keep them forever. But if you don’t use them, they disappear at midnight.

Key Takeaway

Use your minutes today.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message please share it with them. It will only take a minute.

20 Things I am Thankful For In 2020.

Thankfully, we have made it to Thanksgiving 2020. But this year the holiday will feel much different. Unless, of course, you are a turkey. But then again, almost everything about this year has been different. By March it was clear that this year was going to be like a box of choc-o-lates. Because in 2020, you never know what you’re gonna get, Jen-ny.

While it is easy to write the year off as a total loss, we shouldn’t overlook the many positives we all have in our lives. That’s why I took the 2020 20/20 Challenge, and spent 20 minutes listing 20 things I am thankful for in 2020. I hope you do too. Because like milk, reflecting on the things you are thankful for does a body good.

Take 20 minutes after reading this to list your own 20 things.

20 things I am thankful for in 2020

  1. My Family When you are locked up at home for months on end, the quality of your experience is directly related to the quality of your cell mates. And I have thoroughly enjoyed the additional time with my family this year. My wife Dawn and children Ava, Johann and Magnus have made Albrecht Island a fun and funny place to be in 2020.
My Cell Mates

2. My Health Thankfully, I have been healthy this year. Healthier than most years in fact. Because I haven’t been close enough to anyone to catch their cooties. I have been masking up like the Lone Ranger. I have been hand sanitizing and 6-feet-apartizing. I have eaten a lot of doctor repellant, also known as apples. And I am thankful that it all seems to be helping.

3. My Bicycle My Cannondale was like my trusty steed this year. While my gym access was gone with the Schwinn, my bike provided both exercise and an escape into the beautiful and quiet Wisconsin countryside. I rode so much this summer I felt like Lance Armstrong. Only without the lying, cheating and testicular cancer.

Me and my biker gang.

4. Hilton Head Island After cancelling Spring Break and being locked at home for 3 months, in June my family and I road-tripped from Milwaukee to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. We stayed right on the beach, at our usual spot, as if 2020 was a usual year. The ocean, sun, and vibe of the island were a welcomed relief from our time at home. And somehow the jellyfish stings seemed to sting a little less this year. Even without urine. Thanks Covid-19!

I am thankful we still got to boogie in 2020.

5. Our Western Road Trip While our beach vacation was nice, our 2020 western road trip was epic. We put 4100 miles on our Family Truckster. We hit The Badlands, The Black Hills, Yellowstone, Idaho, Bozeman, Glacier National Park, Teddy Roosevelt National Park, and the bright lights of Fargo, North Dakota. That trip was so full of wow and wonder, like Billy Joel, it made us forget about life for a while.

Hiking in Glacier National Park in Montana was a high point of the year. Literally.

6. School Mostly In-Person While our kids were schooling at home like everyone else from March-June, this fall has been an in-school success. My kids have all been learning in-person this fall for all but a 2 week stretch, when their schools transitioned to at-home learning to cool the covid flare ups like Preparation H.

7. My Children’s Development I noticed something interesting in my children this year. And it wasn’t a long cotton swab up their nostrils. Something about the isolation of 2020 seemed to allow them to focus on themselves, their interests, their identities and their individual growth. Each of them grew more confident and self-assured through this forced experiment. #ParentalPandemicPositives

Feeling alive in Deadwood.

8. Entrepreneurship I began my entrepreneurial adventure in 2016. And while I have loved everything about it from the start, 2020 made the benefits abundantly clear. Not only have I felt in control of my own job, career and income, I have have been able to help provide a steady place to work for the rest of my team at The Weaponry. I once heard that Bill Gates insisted on keeping a year of salary on hand for every Microsoft employee to help weather storms. So I followed Bill’s lead, and it has provided a major sense of stability in an unstable time.

9. My Work Teammates Speaking of work, my teammates have been ah-may-zing. I couldn’t be more thankful for The Weapons at The Weaponry, and all they have done to deliver for our clients this year. We are having our best year ever because of their hard and smart work.

10. Foosball Over the first couple months of the lockdown my kids and I played foosball (or what my French Canadian friends call baby-foot) every single night. It was a fun cherry on top of our days. Not only did we have a lot of fun, we all got a lot better. #PutThatOnYourCollegeApplicationKids

11. Spring Hikes In the spring, when everything but the grocery store seemed to be closed, and toilet paper was more valuable than a vaccine, my family and I started hiking on the weekends. The 1200-mile Ice Age Trail winds across Wisconsin, and we would knock off several miles of the trail every weekend. It was a fun adventure at a time when there wasn’t much adventuring to be done.

We’re on the highway to trail.

12. My Clients In a year that went sideways for so many, my clients have been solid as a rock, like Ashford & Simpson. The trust they have put in us has been humbling. We have gained 8 new clients since March. And only one of those new clients joined us because their former agency went out of business during the pandemic.

13. This Blog Writing this blog has been a great way to share my thoughts on so much of what has happened this year, including covid, the economy, George Floyd, and the election. Starting my morning by writing has kept me thinking about the big picture, and not overwhelmed by the small things. Plus it allowed me to share things I thought were funny when I wasn’t seeing any humans outside my family. Thank you for reading my blog. I hope it has provided a laugh and a positive perspective in 2020.

14. Investment Opportunities The tanking of the stock market has provided great opportunities for long term investors. Oil stocks have been in the toilet, and I have been diving in after them, figuratively speaking of course. I have taught my children about the opportunities to invest this year. And my 2 junior investors have almost doubled their money, buying airlines, restaurants, banks and oil. #MoreRichDadThanPoorDad

15. Beautiful Summer Weather This summer in Wisconsin we enjoyed perhaps the most perfect summer weather of my life. It made everything else about 2020 better. Thanks Mother Nature and Mark Baden.

Biking around Lake Monona in Madison.

16. Zoom We have used Zoom at work to connect with teammates and collaborate with clients. But the best part of Zoom is connecting with friends and family. Last night I Zoomed with a group of my closest friends from high school for over 2 hours. I regularly Zoom with my college track teammates and with family members. It is the next best thing to being together. Because when you can’t be in the room, Zoom. (That one is free Zoom Marketing Department.)

Thanks for the call, Princer, Conan, Mr Robinson, Mucus, Acks, Slowsley, Birthday Boy, Coop, Zyck and Deacon.

17. Backyard Bass The pond in my backyard has some great largemouth bass. I spent many an evening this summer fishing for largemouth from my backyard. Which felt like winning at life.

Backyard Bass and Bibs

18. Canoes and Kayaks My family has 3 kayaks and a 17-foot canoe. We spent a lot of time paddling this year. Especially in the spring and early summer when we had a lot of rain and the rivers were ripping. My son Magnus and I got tangled in some windfall trees on a trip in June and Tipppedacanoe like Tyler too. It was one of the great thrills and stories of the year.

Canoeing and kayaking floats our boats.

19. Tackle Football My sons Johann and Magnus played tackle football this fall. They both had full seasons, were healthy and had no covid issues. It marked our true return to normalcy. Except for the fact that even the face masks on their helmets had face masks this year.

Me and Johann thankful for a full season.

20. Innovation There was more innovation created and implemented this year than any other year of my life. The way the people of Earth have stepped up and quickly found solutions to covid-related problems has been amazing. While we have advanced in major ways this year, the full impact of all we have learned will likely not be recognized for years to come. And we are going to be great at the next pandemic.

Bonus:

21. My Zyliss Sandwich Tool: I have a knifey-spready tool that is amazing for a regular sandwich maker like me. It is great for spreading mayonnaise, peanut butter, jelly and rumors. It is excellent for cutting the sandwich after you create it too. This thing is dreamy. In fact, I make sandwiches just to be able to use it. It will make a great Christmas gift for the sandwich maker on your list. (This has been an unpaid endorsement. But boy, do I endorse it.)

Spread the word about this sandwich knife-spready thing.

Key Takeaway

The way you experience life starts with your mindset. Even in 2020 there is much to be thankful for. Take a few minutes to reflect on the good in your life. And you will find even more good ahead. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving. And thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate your time.

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