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.

If you want to be happy, plan to be all you can be.

I am a huge fan of the thinking of Abraham Maslow. Not just because he was a University of Wisconsin psychology student like me. But because he did so much to help us all understand our pursuit of happiness. The pursuit of happiness is amongst the 3 greatest pursuits in life. (Along with Trivial Pursuit and Roscoe P. Coltrane’s Hot Pursuit! from The Dukes of Hazzard.)

Here’s a new Maslow quote I heard recently. To be clear, it is new to me. Not something he said recently. He hasn’t produced any new material since June 8th of 1970.

“If you deliberately plan to be less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you’ll be deeply unhappy for the rest of your life.

-Abraham H. Maslow:

Key Takeaway

Plan to become all that you are capable of. The pursuit is more important than the achievement. Think big. Working to become a fully realized, best-possible version of yourself is the most rewarding life-long project. And it is the best way to finish with no regrets at the end of your days.

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

Why it’s good to explore options that sound terrible.

Yesterday I grabbed lunch at a Willy’s Mexicana Grill in Atlanta. After I ordered my go-to lunch, The Frito Burrito, I headed for the beverage area to determine how I was going to liquidate my meal.

The beverage area included a Coca-Cola Freestyle beverage mix-master. There was an iced tea section with several suitably southern options. And there was a lemonade department with both lemon-flavored (go figure) and raspberry-flavored lemonade.

I love such liquidation stations. Not just for the variety. But for the opportunity to play mixologist and create my own signature concoction.

But you know who else loves that kind of liquidation station? Little kids.

As I was prepping to Frankenstein my cup I heard a kid tell his Dad about his fun new drink concoction. His Dad wrinkled his nose and furrowed his brow at the thought of the boy’s non-intuitive flavor collision.

Then the boy said something important.

“It sounds bad. But it tastes great!”

-Experimental Beverage Boy at Willy’s

When I heard the boy’s cheery response I felt immense gratitude for humans like him. I am thankful for curious minds who want to discover new options. People brave enough to try things that sound bad, but that turn out to be amazing. Like Ben & Jerry for putting pretzels in Ice Cream. Like Willy, for putting Fritos in my burritos. And for whoever it was that first decided to try drinking the white liquid that came out of a cow. And the brave soul who thought to eat the egg-shaped thing that popped out of a chicken’s nether regions.

Key Takeaway

It is those willing to experiment that discover the great new ideas. They create new flavors, sounds, styles, designs, and processes. They create new genres and shake up industries. They disrupt categories and reveal new possibilities for growth and expansion. Thank you explorers, creatives, inventors and pioneers. And thank you to the little boy and his beverage experiment that reminded me of all this yesterday at lunch. This week I hope you try something new that sounds bad. May you be well rewarded for your curiosity.

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

Why you should think of time as material to make an amazing life.

Earlier this week I got a text from a friend who read my blog post Getting the vaccine = Getting together =Getting back to normal. The text said, ‘It looks like you had an eventful day.’ Indeed, my Wednesday was eventful. All by design. So I responded, ‘I did! I’m trying to create an eventful life!’

Making It Happen.

It is easy to want an eventful life. Or an adventurous life. Or a life worth turning into a book, movie, urban legend, or highway-side historical marker. But the only way to make that happen is to make it happen. Kinda like the only way to invent Facebook is to invent Facebook. #FrickenWinklevosses 

The Material

While fine artists work with materials like paint, pencil, metal, and clay, there is another more valuable material we can all use to create art every day. And it’s right there on your watch, on your calendar, and in the sands rushing through your hourglass. And if you are Mick Jagger, it is right there on your side. (Yes it is.)

Time

Time is the greatest artistic medium of all. You can use time to create memorable moments, minutes and hours. You can create a beautiful day, a wonderful week, or an amazing year. By using your time well you can create your own beautiful, memorable, adventurous, eventful life.

You can use time to build a career, create a community or have a positive impact on all of the nouns around you. #PeoplePlacesAndThings You can build a business, develop relationships, create memories, or write a book. Heck, you can even write a blog post reminding people that they can do all the things they ever wanted to do if they simply use the time they already have.

Key Takeaway

Time is the material beautiful lives are made of. Every day at midnight you get a fresh delivery of 1,440 minutes to work with. Don’t waste them. Instead, make a plan for them. Create all you can with them. Remember, time is the raw material from which all great things are born. What you do with your time is the greatest decision you will ever make. Choose wisely.

Thank you for spending some of your time with me.

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

Getting the vaccine = Getting back together = Getting back to normal

Wednesday was a big day for me. I didn’t win the lottery. I wasn’t named a Most Beautiful Person. And I wasn’t asked to replace Alex Trebek on Jeopardy. Heck, I wasn’t even asked to replace Alex Trebek in the Colonial Penn commercials. It was a big day simply because it was one of the normalest days I have had outside my home in 15 months.

Vaccination Nation

I got my second vaccine shot 2 weeks ago (I’m Team Pfizer, not Hufflepuff or Slytherin). I now feel that I am as protected from the COVID-19 virus as I am going to be. Better yet, I feel as protected as I need to be. So I have started doing regular life stuff again. And I am reminded how much I love regular life stuff.

Wednesday, Normal Wednesday

Wednesday I traveled from Milwaukee to Madison (which is about a 90-minute drive for those of you who are Wisconsin-illiterate). I went to college at The University of Wisconsin in Madison, and I feel as at home in Madtown as I do anywhere on Earth. I was there to see people that I hadn’t seen since before the planet went cuckoo for Covid Puffs.

The Breakfast Club

I started my day at a breakfast meetup with a group of former University of Wisconsin Badger athletes. The last time I saw any of these W Club members in person was March 4th of 2020. The Crew included:

  • Charlie Wills: The Owner of the Charlie Wills Team -Real Estate Partners (basketball)
  • Scott Silvestri: VP and General Manager of Learfield’s Badger Sports Properties (swimming)
  • Derek Steinbach: Director of Development for Wisconsin Athletics (track & field)
  • Nicholas ‘Papa’ Pasquarello: Executive Director of the W Club and Strategic Partnerships – Wisconsin Athletics (soccer)
  • Andy Crooks: Managing Broker at T.R. McKenzie (football)
  • Adam Albrecht: Founder and CEO of The Weaponry and Dude Who Writes This Blog (track & field)
  • Kalvin Barrett: Dane County Sheriff (football (but he will tell you he was a swimmer))
Nick, Me, Derek, Sheriff Barrett, Charlie and Scott at the Original Pancake House in Madison. I’m always amazed at how many of those restaurants there are. Which makes me think most of them are lying.

It felt like a reunion. We were hugging and shaking hands and seeing each other’s naked faces. We were sharing stories, smiling, and laughing. And not once did anyone say, ‘You’re on mute.’

This was a group of ballers, that included All-Americans, Final Four participants, school record holders, Big 10 Champions, and Team Captains. But the rockstar of the group was Sheriff Barrett. Other people in the restaurant were asking to take pictures with him and to asked him to stop to talk. It was fun to see.

I asked Kalvin if he no longer likes the Bob Marley song, “I shot the sheriff.” He said that he loves that song and plays it in the office. Which reminded me of Shaq in the Grown Ups 2 clip below.

Brunch

After breakfast, I visited Dave Astrauskas, the rockstar throwing coach of the University of Wisconsin track and field team. Dave has coached 4 NCAA Champions, 1 NCAA Collegiate Record Holder, 41 NCAA Division I All-Americans, 4 Big Ten Records Holder, 11 Big Ten Champions and Olympic discus thrower Kelsey Card.

Coach Dave Astrauskas He can teach you how to throw anything but a hissy fit.

Dave has forgotten more about throwing than I will ever know. And of all the people I know Dave is the most likely to set off a spellcheck alarm. #astrauskas

I spent time with Dave for 3 reasons:

  1. Because he is a good human.
  2. To learn from someone who is at the top of their field.
  3. To foster a strong bond between the UW Track & Field program and alumni.

Spending time with Dave was enlightening. He offered me a number of new ways to think about throwing, human performance, coaching, problem solving, the Big Ten Conference, athletic facilities and competition. My time with Dave was a great reminder of how much we can all learn if we ask good questions of experts, listen, and maintain a beginner’s mind.

Lunch

My lunch meeting was pure joy. I met with my friend-client-superstar, Anne Norman, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer of UW Credit Union. Anne has been a favorite human of mine since we first met for lunch at Hi-Way Harry’s in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin in 2018. We have been working together weekly ever since. But we have only seen each other in-person once since February of 2020, at our TV commercial shoot with Jonathan Taylor, running back for the Indianapolis Colts.

The 3 greatest exports of Kenosha, Wisconsin are Orson Welles, my high school teacher Mr. Bill, and Anne Norman.

Anne is a burst of sunshine on any day. Even on the phone or on Zoom. Especially if she is wearing her banana costume. But to be with her in person provides a full week’s worth of Vitamin C in one sitting.

We talked business and branding and teams. We talked about upcoming marketing initiatives. But we could have talked about hang nails, paper cuts and the DMV and I would have enjoyed it. Because spending time with Anne is even more valuable to me now than it was in 2019.

Key Takeaway

Get vaccinated if you can. See your people in real life. Spending time with great humans is joy fuel. And it is even better now that we have had that ability taken away from us. Today, life isn’t just returning to normal. Life is about to be better than ever. Because we have a newfound appreciation for all of the little things. Like simply being together with other good people. Let us never take that for granted again.

Thank you Charlie, Derek, Scott, Nick, Andy, Dave and Anne for sharing some of your valuable time with me.

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

The harder you work the luckier you get.

I’ll take inspiration anywhere I can find it: books, podcasts, even Snapple caps. I have a Hang In There Kitty! poster on the back of my office door. Yesterday I found inspiration on Spotify. A song came on that grabbed my attention with the very first line. Both the music and the lyrics were energizing. It had a good beat, and I could dance to it. I give it a 10 Dick Clark.

Here are the lyrcis. If you click on title you can watch a live performance. And the band name is fun to say.

The Luckier You Get by American Aquarium

The harder you work, the luckier you get
The more you get done, boy, the less you’ll regret
Write it down so you never forget
The harder you work, the luckier you get
The harder you work, the luckier you get


When I turned thirteen, my old man sat me down
He said, “Boy, there’s only two ways out of this town
A Greyhound bus that’s boot camp-bound
Or put your nose is a book and keep your ear to the ground”


So I set off to college, but it weren’t for me
So I bought a guitar and started playin’ for free
Wrote a couple hundred bad ones ’til I had two or three
That I thought were good enough folks might pay me to sing


I’ve heard far less “Yes”s than I have “No”s
Seen far less highs than I have lows
I’d rather get to the top steady and slow
Than end up there too fast with nowhere to go


The harder you work, the luckier you get
The more you get done, boy, the less you’ll regret
Write it down so you never forget
The harder you work, the luckier you get
The harder you work, the luckier you get

Key Takeaway

If you want to improve your luck don’t pluck a 4-leaf clover or amputate a rabbit’s foot. Put in more work. Good things seem to keep happening over and over to those who do the most to help their own cause. Prepare for good things to happen. Hard work is like a net that catches good luck. The harder you work the bigger your net becomes. And bigger nets catch more and bigger luck.

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

Why you should embrace the bumps and the resistance.

Humans are full of potential. We are loaded with more energy and ability than you can possibly imagine. Unless maybe you are John Lennon.

Thomas Edison said, “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” It was that type of enlightened thinking that enabled Edison to invent both the modern light bulb and the ‘How many does it take to screw in a light bulb?’ jokes.

As you work to become all that you can be, like the United States Army, you will encounter bumps and resistance along your journey. It is important to recognize the full value they provide. Because humans are like matchsticks. #RobThomas We are meant to be set on fire. It is the bumps and the friction we encounter that create the sparks and the heat that ignite us. It is the adversity and struggle that strengthen us and bring out our best. Like Budweiser in 1984.

Key Takeaway

Embrace the struggle. Value the resistance. Don’t avoid it. Go through it. It helps reveal all that you are capable of.

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

**If you like short and sweet positive messages up to 3 times per week, considering subscribe to this blog.

***If you think 3 asterisks are too many, you are probably right.

Do you have a pre-game hype ritual?

We’ve all seen pre-game introductions before sporting events to get the teams and the fans excited for competition. They typically involve some combination of lights, video, music, smoke machines, pyrotechnics, pom-poms, well-caffeinated announcers, and a deer. (Actually, the deer may only be a Milwaukee Bucks thing.)

However, hype routines should not be limited to sporting events. Because each day of your life is a game. Every day is a challenge to see how much you can accomplish. The more you can do to hit the day prepared to perform the more you are likely to achieve. #LetsDoThisThang

If there is one thing I am good at it is hyping myself up. In the morning as I drive to work I inspire myself with either an audiobook related to success or self-improvement, a podcast on the same topic, or music that gets me ready to perform. Sometimes it’s a cocktail of 2 or 3 of those elements. I would also be willing to bet there is more singing and clapping in my car than in the average Honda.

Once I get to the office, (or bust into my home office like I own the place) I launch my computer and crank up more hype music as I create my success list for the day. At the header of my list, I include a collection of my personal goals and personal success mantras. By the time my list is complete, I have worked up the needed attitude, energy, and inspiration to make the most of my day. I am like my own Michael Buffer. And I am now ready to rumblllle. #DingDingDing

Key Takeaway

Hype routines are not just for NBA players, boxers, and concertgoers. Pump up your own jam every morning with a routine that gets you excited and inspired to perform at your best. Remember, every day of your life is a game. Prepare your mind to make the most of it.

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

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

I am in New Orleans right now. I love this city. There is nothing else like it. Not even Old Orleans. The combination of architecture, music, history, food, geography, climate, and culture makes New Orleans both a truly unique city and a distinct brand.

Every time I am in NOLA I see the saying Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler. I’m not sure if it is the official or unofficial motto of the city. But it means Lazy The Bones Temporarily 12-inch Wooden Stick. No. Wait. That is what I told my kids it means.

The real translation of this French phrase (for those who have never dated anyone from New Orleans, France, Quebec, or Haiti) is Let The Good Times Roll.

I love this phrase. It is a great motto for a night out, a vacation, a celebration, or a life well-lived. It represents such a fun-loving, positive attitude that the saying and the mindset it creates helps manifest more good times. Like Jimmie Walker, which is dyn-o-mite!

Me and my muffuletta at Napoleon House, right before the guy in the tank top asked me to dance.

We as a planet now have a variety pack of COVID-19 vaccines to get the corona-cooties under control. So let’s all do our part. And put this pandemic behind us. Let’s get back to full business and full employment. Let’s all enjoy the prosperity available in the 21st century. Let’s enjoy our time together, our sense of freedom, and all the social pleasures we now realize we too often taken for granted. Let’s put down our little digital devices and enjoy being with other humans. Let’s eat, drink, play, create, explore and experience the best life has to offer. And like they say in New Orleans, Louisiana, let’s let the good times roll!

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

How habits help you do things you don’t feel like doing.

Excuses are easy to find. They are everywhere. Like Subway sandwich shops. And they can get you out of doing just about anything if you let them. But like James Taylor said, don’t you let them.

For years now I have committed to writing and sharing 3 blog posts per week, every week, for however many weeks there are in a year. (Which is like, 76 right? Or is that how many trombones lead the big parade?)

But today is Easter. And it’s a Sunday. (It seems like Easter falls on a Sunday a lot. Like Chick-fil-A cravings.)

Plus, I am on vacation. And I have a hundred other things I could be doing.

But, here I am, writing anyway. And you’re reading my Easter morning post. (Thank you!) Because I’ve developed a habit.

Habits destroy excuses. Because habits make actions automatic. They help you build momentum. Because once you get the flywheel turning you don’t need willpower, or discipline. You just do it. Like Nike. Or like one of Pavlov’s drooling dogs.

Key Takeaway

Turn your most important actions into habits. Science shows that by the 60th repetition an action becomes a habit. After that it is easy to keep your commitment. So develop your habits. Keep showing up. Keep coming back. Keep working, or writing, or exercising, or chopping wood, or whatever you have committed to do.

And special thanks today to my man Jesus. I appreciate you Bro! I’ve been using the Forgiveness of Sins you gave me everyday too.

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