Why you should approach life like an otter.

In July my family and I visited Glacier National Park in Montana. ‘Visited’ is probably an understatement. We fully immersed ourselves in the experiences available within the park for 2 full days. For anyone who hasn’t been there, Glacier is one of the greatest places on Earth. Full of spectacular scenery, animals and, as the name would indicate, glaciers.

One of our many hikes in the park was along a glacial-fed stream. As a reward after the hike, my 3 children and I swam in the swiftly flowing, ice-cold stream. We slid down the long, flat rocks just under the crystal clear water. The rocks were like giant non-yellow Slip N’ Slides that dropped us into deep, swirling pools. It was the kind of waterpark that would have offered Pebbles and Bam Bam a yabba-dabba-doo time.

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Despite the very cold water, our hardy viking children frolicked and played as if the water was the perfect temperature. Which it may have been, given the July heat that was eating the glaciers like Joey Chestnut.

While my kids and I swam and played in the frigid trailside stream, a regular trickle of hikers trekked past us. After a few minutes I spotted an interesting trend. The hikers all stopped to watch us. As they did, they looked on with a sense of envy. It was as if we were more interesting than the epic natural beauty that surrounded us. And despite the fact that everyone there was on vacation, my kids appeared to be having a better time than anyone else.

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Why? Because we weren’t just following the trails. We were diving into the water. We were playing. My kids and I were drinking it all up and fully experiencing all the wonder the national park had to offer.

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When I stopped swimming to watch my kids awhile, I saw what the spectators saw. My kids were like otters in the water. They were having more fun than anyone else in the vast national park. They were finding the full joy in a glacier-fed stream. They were as alive as humans get. It was clear that we were watching a lifetime memory in the making.

Key Takeaway

Be the otter. Dive into all that life has to offer. Take on adventures. Play and enjoy the simplest things. Create fun. Do what others wish they were doing. Be a model for others to follow. Life is a one way trip. Make sure to experience each day fully, both in your work and in your play. Don’t settle for memories of watching others having fun. Experience it for yourself. Or someday you will wish you had.

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

What happens when you share your energy with the world.

I love the way a good quote can quickly and simply summarize a complicated idea. I recently discovered a quote that tries to summarize the meaning and purpose of life. Which is an ambitious undertaking for a quote. Here it is:

“The purpose of life is to discover your gift; the work of life is to develop it; and the meaning of life is to give your gift away.” — David Viscott.

I first wrote about this quote in the post Are You Sharing Your Gift With The World? If you prefer to digest a series in order, you should click on that post and read it before you proceed here. Because this is a follow-up. Like Terminator 2. Or the calls you keep getting about your car’s extended warranty. If you don’t like being told what to read, or when to read it, I admire your willingness to totally ignore the value in the previous post. Read on, Reader!

Discovering Gifts

I am not sure if I have one great gift. But I have discovered that I have been blessed with several smaller gifts. By blessed I mean that I am not responsible for their existence. However, I have worked on developing them. Sort of. Those gifts include the ability to misinterpret any word that has an alternative meaning. In fact, I have recently suggested that one of my co-workers, Adam Emory, should start a scrap booking business, and call it Add A Memory, because that is what I hear every time I hear his name.

Writing

I have a little gift for writing. I’m no Hemingway, Rowling, or Seuss. But I like to think my writings are easier to read than The Bible. Plus they are funnier than the Bible. And that’s the best selling book of all time. So I write the Adam Albrecht Blog to both develop my little gift and to share it with the world. And at a minimum, I know my Mom will read this if no one else does. Thanks Mama.

Renewable Energy

One of my other gifts is my personal energy. I take no credit for it, but I also can’t deny it. Cause baby, I was born this way. Literally. When I was born the doctor gave me an Apgar Test, which measures your aliveness. And the doctor told my mom, ‘I don’t do this very often, but this baby is a 10 out of 10 if I have ever seen one.’

So like David Viscott said, I have enjoyed sharing my energy with the world. Because I sure can’t keep all of this to myself. Or I am likely to blow an O-ring.

Wait A Minute Mrs. Postwoman.

On the 15th I had to make a run to my local post office to mail out my Q3 estimated taxes. There were 2 women working behind the new plexiglass-enhanced counter. Based on their reaction to my enthusiasm to be mailing 3 envelopes, I surmised that my excitement for the post office experience was outside the normal range.

It was fun to witness their mood shift and lift as we interacted. They smiled, they engaged, they seemed much more interested in me than they had been in the visitors I saw them interact with before my turn at the counter. That’s because I took more interest in them. So they took more interest in me.

As I completed my postal transaction, said my thank yous, goodbyes and bon voyages, I smiled, turned and walked towards the exit. Behind me I heard one of the women laugh and say, ‘He gotta lot of energy!’

Indeed I do. It’s a gift. I take no credit for it. But I have developed it. It’s part of my life’s work. And I take great enjoyment in sharing it with others. But the funny thing is that the more I share the more I get back. Which means I can’t seem to get rid of it.

Key Takeaway

Discover your gifts. Develop your gifts. Share then with others. In my recent situation I wasn’t sharing my energy with my family, or friends. It wasn’t with my coworkers or clients. I was bringing energy to the post office. As I mailed 3 envelopes. You can do the same thing. I think you will like what is returned to sender.

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

Are you sharing your gift with the world?

On Tuesday I was visiting a home and saw an interesting piece of art hanging on the wall. It said, ‘The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.’ The quote was attributed to William Shakespeare. Although that didn’t really seem like the type of thing he doth writeth or sayeth.

I was tempted to take a pic of the artwork because I liked the quote so much. But I refrained. That night when I got home I looked the quote up on the Googler. I found that the quote is often attributed to Shakespeare or Pablo Picasso. Although there is no evidence linking either of them to those words. Other than a couple of enterprising Etsy shops.

David Viscott

There is much concrete evidence that these words came from David Viscott. Viscott was a psychiatrist and professor at UCLA who had his own radio and tv shows in the 1980s and 90s. You know, like Frasier. Perhaps Picasso liked to tune in.

Here is the full quote:

“The purpose of life is to discover your gift; the work of life is to develop it; and the meaning of life is to give your gift away.” — David Viscott.

That’s a pretty great idea, David. No wonder Shakespeare and Picasso wanted to take credit for it.

Key Takeaway

Discover your gift. Develop your gift. Share it with others. And if you discover you have more than one gift, develop and share them all. The world becomes a better place with more of your magic. And remember, gifts come in all shapes and sizes. You don’t need to be a singer to be a rockstar. You simply need to find what you are really good at, make yourself great at it, and gift it to the world.

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

This was my all-time favorite moment as an American.

I am proud to be an American. I always have been. Always will be. I love that our nation is constructed with checks and balances to be able to correct itself at any time. We have the freedom of speech that protects our right to speak out when we see wrongs. And we have the freedom of the press to report the wrongs, and draw attention to them. Of course, we also enjoy the Freedom of George Michael. And the Freedom Overspill of Steve Winwood. But those are less popular freedoms. Maybe because those guys are non-Americans.

Holidays

There are holidays that make me proud to be an American. President’s Day, MLK Jr. Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving.  These are all great days, to reflect on our country and our Americanism.

But my favorite American moment didn’t fall on any of those red, white and blue holidays. It didn’t happen while slurping cranberry sauce, or during a President’s Day car sale. So, as Betsy Ross used to ask, when the flag was it?

Some Of My Favorite American Moments

I have had thousands of proud moments as an American. While I don’t have them all ranked, here are some worthy of mention.

  • Watching veterans march down Main Street during a 4th of July Parade
  • Watching the Miracle On Ice on TV at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid.
  • Watching everything at the 1984 Olympics (Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Mary Lou Retton, Joan Benoit)
  • Standing at the base of the Statue of Liberty
  • Listening to America, Ef-Yeah, during the movie Team America. World Police.
  • Standing at the rim of the Grand Canyon
  • My first voting experience when I turned 18
  • Watching Lee Greenwood’s God Bless The USA music video

September 11, 2001

September 11th, 2001 was a dark day for America. It knocked us down as a nation is a way that I had never thought America could be knocked down. It was like when Mike Tyson got knocked out by Buster Douglas, and Iron Mike was so out of it he couldn’t even operate his own mouthguard.

In the days following the attack, everything in America stopped. It was a very strange time. Like 2020. Then, like now, sporting events were canceled or postponed. The world seemed to be off its axis.

Back to Live Sports

On Saturday, September 29, 2001, I attended a University of Wisconsin football game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. It was the first home game for the Badgers since the attacks of September 11. And it was the first time Badger fans had gathered en masse post 9/11.

My All-Time Favorite Moment As An American

Before the game started the crowd stood for the national anthem. I have been to hundreds of sporting events. And I have heard the national anthem sung thousands of times. But this time was different.

The moment the national anthem began there was an explosion in the stadium. It wasn’t a bomb or a fireworks display. It was the crowd itself. Singing the national anthem. Everyone in the stadium was belting out the song as if it was our school fight song. It was loud and proud and like nothing I had ever heard before.

We were all all-in that day. It was the kind of experience that gives you chills and makes you want to cry in the best way possible. I think of that experience every time the national anthem is sung at a public event.

2020

The past 6 months have been difficult for Americans. The Covid-19 health crisis, the ensuing economic crisis and isolation have been unimaginable. Then, on May 25th, my birthday, George Floyd was killed publicly, and senselessly. Which has inspired demands for change, justice and equality. It has sparked protests, demonstrations, riots and long-overdue conversation. Cities like Chicago, Kenosha, Minneapolis and Portland have been deeply scarred and charred as a result.

Moving Forward

Today, on the 19-year anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, my hope is that when we gather again for sporting events, graduation ceremonies, and American celebrations that we once again sing the National Anthem, the way it should be sung. Loud. Proud. Together.

The National Anthem is a symbol of our unity, our hope, and our belief that no matter what we face, we will make it through, together. The banner will still wave. It is an inspiring sight to see. It stands as the greatest symbol of this nation of ours that is still a work in progress. But capable of getting better all the time.

Cue Lee Greenwood.

Why you should have an excite hustle.

College is an exciting time. You get to pick a major that inspires you. Suddenly, it becomes fun to study and learn. You develop a vision of what your career will be like. And that vision provides motivation throughout your college experience.

More than 2 decades after graduation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison I can say that I have used the knowledge I gained while studying for my degrees in psychology and journalism every day of my advertising career.

The Great Compromise

But I noticed when I graduated that many of my classmates didn’t hold out for the jobs they really wanted. College debt, life expenses, nagging parents and a desire to simply get busy cause many, if not most college grads to take the first decent job to come along. Regardless of whether the job fit their original vision, major, or life plan.

This means that many of us end up in jobs or careers that don’t align with our greatest interests and deepest passions. That is okay. There are many good reasons we do this. But if you are not inspired or fulfilled by your day job, you should take on another project in your free time that fires you up like AC/DC in a high school weight room.

Excite Hustles

People often refer to these kind of side activities as side hustles. But I think of them as excite hustles. Because the best reason to take them on is that they give you something exciting to work on. They enable you to tap into your greatest interests, passions, and your desire for adventure, or self reliance.

Excite hustles can feel thrilling and dangerous because you feel like you are cheating on your day job. Because you are having a career affair with work that excites you more than your steady job. That is a great thing.

An excite hustle will wake you up early and keep you up late. It will call your name over the lunch hour, and during your commute. (I’m just kidding. No one commutes any more.)

An excite hustle provides even more reasons to look forward to the weekends. (Not The Weeknd. #ICantFeelMyFace) It will prevent you from filling your free time digitally grazing on your mobile device. It will prevent you from resenting your career, and going postal. (Can you still go postal if we don’t have post offices?)

An excite hustle is full of potential. It provides an outlet for your energy. It fans your flames. When you find your calling it creates a gravitational force that keeps drawing you forward to do more, create more and explore more. Like Roger Moore, Michael Moore, or Benjamin Moore.

My Excite Hustle

When I decided to launch my own advertising agency I created my ultimate excite hustle. I already loved my career, I just wanted an even greater challenge. And I found one. Today, as the Founder of The Weaponry, I couldn’t feel more excited about the work I do. I can’t wait to get to it each day. I approach each work challenge with enthusiasm. And at the end of each day I don’t feel spent. I feel invested and fulfilled.

Key Takeaway

If your day job doesn’t tap into your passions it’s time to find your excite hustle. Fill your free time with work that motivates you. That keeps you looking forward to more. And that makes you feel as if you are living into your vision for your life.

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

This is making us all more interesting.

2020 has been a year like no other.

  • A global pandemic
  • National lockdowns
  • Virtual schooling
  • Unbelievable injustices caught on video
  • Protests
  • Riots
  • Historic levels of unemployment
  • Sports seasons canceled
  • Sports played in bubbles
  • Businesses evaporating
  • Businesses booming
  • Entire airlines and cruise lines halted
  • Elections altered
  • Movie theaters empty
  • Churches closed
  • Masks everywhere
  • Toilet paper nowhere
  • Hand sanitizer flowing like wine
  • Tom Brady and Gronk reunited in Tampa Bay

This is a crazy time. It’s like the new era of Prohibition. Except what has been prohibited is humans gathering with other humans. Like segregation for everyone. Which makes many people want to party like it’s 1999.

But 2020 is the most interesting and unique year we have ever experienced. And it is making us all more interesting and unique as a result.

We are now more experienced, more capable and more prepared for future challenges than those who have come before us. Future generations will look back at this time and want to know how we got through it, and what we learned. They will want to hear our stories, read our books, watch our movies and study our experiences. They will note how we used to laugh at the crazy Preppers, before we realized the crazy Preppers were right.

We are becoming a case study in how to evolve. Adversity is making us stronger and more capable. We are witnessing and experiencing unimaginable alterations to our daily lives. To our weekly routines. To our annual traditions. And we are simply marching forward. Because humans are amazing. And there is no other choice.

We are becoming the most adaptable people in history. We have developed modes, tools and techniques that others simply haven’t had. We have developed infrastructure, processes and technology that enables us to operate in new remote modes. Like Earthstronauts.

Key Takeaway

The current conditions can feel stressful and frustrating. But they are temporary. And they are pushing us to become more highly evolved humans. We are more interesting people. With better stories to tell. With lessons to teach. With pep talks to give. Yes, the process is challenging. But the end product will be the more valuable and more fascinating than you can imagine. Hang in there. And think about which child actor you want to play you in the movie version of 2020.

If you need encouragement here it is.

If you want to do great things find your Encouragers. They are the people who will listen to your crazy dreams and tell you that you should. Not that you shouldn’t.

Spend time with those who believe in you. It will make you believe in yourself. Find people who have bet on themselves and won. That mindset is contagious. Like the coronavirus. Only it’s good for you.

Too often when we have dreams, especially big crazy dreams, others see the problems and not the possibilities. They know it will be hard. They focus on the downside, the drawbacks and the pitfalls. But focusing on the downside doesn’t make dreams come true. Just ask Hall & Oates.

Don’t spend time or give credit to those who discourage you. They are quite literally trying to rob you of your courage.

Courage and effort are all you need in order to do hard things. Courage helps you get going. Courage helps you keep going. Courage is the bridge between believing and knowing. And it is the only way to get where you want to go.

Courage is a super fuel. It’s more valuable than gold, diamonds or oil. Because it propels humans. Courage is one of the most valuable resources you have because it helps you power past bumps, barriers and boundaries. You know, The Killer Bs.

Courage is the fuel to try. To dare. To do. Courage creates movement. Courage is what makes people take the leap, take on an enemy, speak up, speak out. And it’s what makes you throw a bucket of water on a wicked witch.

Increasing another human’s courage is one of the most valuable things we can do on this planet. When I told people that I wanted to start my own advertising agency no one told me not to. In fact, the response was quite the opposite. Everyone I talked to about my plan encouraged me to make it happen. So I did.

Now it’s your turn. Now is your time. And I’m happy to be your courage donor. I signed my card and everything.

Key Takeaway

If you have a dream you should follow it. If there is something you have always wanted to do, go do it. If you want to turn your passion into your profession don’t let anyone stop you. If you want to travel, volunteer or build something special you should make it happen. You can do it. And I encourage you to.

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

Passionate people don’t focus on passive income.

People love the idea of passive income. Or earning money while doing nothing. I blame Dire Straits. But if you focus your attention on making money while doing nothing there is a high likelihood that you will earn nothing too.

The focus should be on passionate income. The money you make from aggressive moves, serious work, and taking risks. The money you make from following your passion. And harvesting that passion fruit. (Which sounds abstractly naughty.)

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve read Rich Dad. Poor Dad. Everyone should. And I understand the value of accumulating assets, investing and letting your money work for you.

But I don’t believe that should free you from work. It should free you from the work you don’t want to do. And let you work hard at your favorite challenges and opportunities. That’s the sweet spot. Aim there.

What happened after I had my This-Can’t-Be-My-Life moment.

The summer after I graduated from the University of Wisconsin I didn’t have a job. No full-time job. No part-time job. I was living in Madison, lightly looking for an entry-level position in advertising. But not looking in a way that gets the job done. In fact, I still hadn’t set foot in an ad agency.

The Ricki Lake Show

On a hot afternoon that July, when real grown-ups were at work, I found myself lying on my couch in the middle of the day watching The Ricki Lake Show. And suddenly the reality of my situation hit me like a Miley Cyrus wrecking ball. 

I was a good student. I went to a great school. I now had degrees in both Journalism and Psychology. I had ambition. And goals. And pride. And bills to pay. And here I was in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, plopped on my couch, watching a crappy talk show, because I had nothing more important to do with my time. I thought, WTF? (even though WTF hadn’t been invented yet), This can’t be my life.

In that moment, my life changed. I rose from the couch, an unemployed man on a mission. I bounded up the staircase to my bedroom. I grabbed a scrap of paper on my desk that my Profesor Roger Rathke had handed me weeks earlier. On the paper was written Paul Counsell and a phone number.

Paul Counsell was a college buddy of Profesor Rathke’s, and the CEO of Cramer Krasselt, one of America’s great advertising agencies. He was someone I was told I should call. But I hadn’t.

I plucked my corded 1990’s phone from the wall, punched in the phone number, and was introducing myself to Mr. Counsell less than a minute after dumping Ms. Lake. And things started changing.

From that phone call I got an informational interview. Then a job offer as a copywriter. Then I started my real job, with a salary and benefits, and opportunities for growth and travel. All doing what I always wanted to do. I met my wife Dawn at that job. And I met a client there who years later would call me out of the blue, just like I called Paul Counsell, and encourage me to start my own advertising agency. Which I did.

Today I am the Founder and CEO of the advertising and idea agency The Weaponry. Over the past two decades I have worked with some of the best brands in the world. And the best people. My career has taken me to Argentina, Iceland and India. My wife Dawn and I will celebrate the 20th anniversary of our first date tomorrow with our 3 kids. This is my life. Because I got off the couch and made it happen.

Is this your life?

Are you living the life you imagined?  The life you thought you would have when you graduated from high school or college? Or did you fall behind, veer off course, or never get started? Have the recent health and economic crises spun you around and left you wondering what’s next for you?

If you are not living the life you imagined, I hope you have your own This can’t be my life moment. Because that moment can change everything. It can motivate you to take the actions needed to get you where you always wanted to go. There are on-ramps everywhere. So take one. Make that call. Or make a thousand. Change jobs. Change careers. Start your own business. Get back to work. Get away from toxic people. Get near sunshine people. And can-do people. And finally, do what you always knew you could.

Key Takeaway

This-Can’t-Be-My-Life moments are a gift. They are the push you need to get to the place you are supposed to be. The first half of 2020 was full of challenges and setbacks. But it also created opportunities. Take advantage of them. Get off the couch. And make your life happen.

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

Want to do great things? Follow someone who already has.

If you want to do something great, find someone who has already done it. Or is doing it now. And doing it well, like L.L. Tuck in behind them and learn as much as you can from them. Ask questions. Observe. And follow.

There is no reason to waste time reinventing the wheelie. Get the blueprints. And the Cliff Notes. Learn as much as you can from those who have already traveled the path. And you’ll experience the least resistance.

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This dude is tucked in and ready to draft.

You still have to put in the work. Like RuPaul. Your endpoint will be your own. But playing follow the leader will allow you to expend less energy in the early stages. Which will allow you to travel faster and farther and spend more time on course than off.

You will condense the journey to your initial success by squeezing out the mistakes and missteps. The types of mistakes and setbacks that are inevitable if you go alone. Going down the only road you’ve ever known.

Your success will also be the success of the person you are tucking behind. Because you are Them 2.0. You are them but smarter, sharper, and more efficient. You are them with experience, time traveling back to the beginning. Like Uncle Rico playing high school football again.

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I played follow the leader when I was a kid, and never stopped. 

You can follow a person you know. Or a person you want to know. But you can also follow someone who has done it, and written a book about it. Or created a podcast, newsletter blog or poem about it. You can even follow Robert Frost by not following Robert Frost. Think about that for a moment in the yellow woods.

I have been following too many people to count. They have all made my journey to this point easier. Becuase there is so much already figured out that I didn’t have to figure it out myself. And that has made all the difference

Key Takeaway

Dream a big dream. Then get going. But don’t go it alone. Find someone to break the wind for you. #snickering  Follow a proven recipe for success. Then add your own nuts and marshmallows. The world is full of great stories. Find one you like. Or mix several together to create your own formula. But find a guide. You’ll get there faster. Then just keep going.

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