The best way to grow your own business, or a giant pumpkin.

The world is full of possibilities. There is no shortage of problems to solve and great new things to introduce. If you have an entrepreneurial mind you will find a never-ending parade of opportunities to convert into businesses.

This is a problem.

The infinite opportunities you see distract you from the one business you should start. Or should continue building.

Ideally, you should look for opportunities until you find one great one that fits you. Then you should wear blinders and block out all other possibilities. The same way you should scout for a mate until you find one. Then you should NOT scout for a mate anymore.

If you want to grow a gigantic pumpkin you start with a gigantic seed. Then, when the plant starts to grow, you snip off all the blossoms but one. That way all of the energy, nutrients and focus of the plant go into growing one huge fruit. Although if you can find seeds to grow just the pumpkin spice, do that. Pumpkin spice is where the real money is.

When I started The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, I became obsessed with it. I put all my energy into it. Which forced the business to grow. I have had a million other business ideas since then. I detail the ideas in my notebooks. But my focus remains on the one business I am committed to growing.

You need to do the same thing.

Find your giant seed. Plant it in good soil. Fertilize it with your energy. Water it with enough cash to keep it hydrated. Shine your light on it. And make sure to snip off all but one blossom to maximize your focus and growth.

Key Takeaway

To maximize your chances of creating a wildly successful business, find one opportunity and go all in on it. Don’t dabble. Don’t sample. Don’t put 1% into 100 things. Put 100% into one thing. Until it soars. Then you can sell it, or have someone else run it for you. At that point, go find another opportunity to make fly.

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

A little creative inspiration for us all from the US Postal Service.

Last week I needed to mail a check. Yes, this sometimes still happens. I went to the drawer where our mailing paraphernalia lives and pulled out a sheet of stamps. And I paused. I was struck by just how artful, detailed and interesting the stamps were. Then my wife Dawn said, ‘Don’t use those. I bought those for Johann.’ (My son Johann is really into trains, as you can read about in Never Be Afraid To Ask For What You Want.)

The stamps that got me thinking.

As I examined the stamps in our Stampatorium, spending far more time engaging with them than I ever imagined I would, I realized the US Postal Service could teach a master class on creativity. Because they infused massive creativity into a space that required none.

These are current US Postal stamps, as of this posting. How cool are these? I mean, it’s the sun, and the sun is super hot. But the design and idea are way cool.

The Stamp

The postal stamp has no reason to be cool or interesting. After all, its only job is to tell the Postal Service that the delivery fee has been paid. It could simply say PAID, and it would have met the minimum requirement. Heck, it doesn’t even need to do that. It could be a black square that you put on your white envelope and that would serve as a signal that the fee had been paid.

America’s first stamp from 1847. I think that is the guy from the Ben Franklin Stores. Although it looks like one of the guys from the 80s Hair Band Reunion Tour, who is now in his 80s.

Pushing The Envelope

Instead, the US Postal Service has created an endless parade of tiny works of art to adorn our envelopes. They are ever-changing, covering every season, every category of honor and commemoration you can think of. And plenty that you would never have thought of. But don’t worry, the Director of Stampology at the USPS has spent a lot of time thinking about it for you.

Some Super Stamps

As a result, stamps not only are interesting to look at, they often tell an interesting story, or teach a valuable lesson, within the bounds of a one-inch square. In fact, they do such a great job, that people collect them, trade them and sell them. In fact, my head high school track coach, Tom Jennings, had an entire business selling stamps, that all started with a stamp collection he had when he was a kid. And the only reason a kid starts collecting stamps is that stamps are cool and collectible.

Why Hello Stamp!

The Big Question

The postal service saw an opportunity to turn a tiny, forgettable touchpoint into their hallmark. Which should inspire all of us to ask:

Which touchpoints could I turn into differentiators or signatures for my business or personal brand?

As the postal service has shown us, anything can become a signature element of our brand. Just look around. Find the most boring element within your brand, or within your personal ecosystem, and do something interesting and differentiating.

Beautify America though stamps and plants.

My Calling Card

Can’t think of anything? Call me at 614-256-2850. If I don’t pick up you’ll get my voicemail greeting which always has a non traditional message. In fact, people often text me and tell me they are about to call just to hear my voicemail greeting. Which means people call me who don’t even want to talk to me because I have made something boring interesting. You can do that too.

Key Takeaway

Find your special thing. The thing that didn’t have to be special. That usually isn’t. But that you made special. That thing will not only add joy, intrigue, or interest to others, it will make you more memorable.Which means that when opportunities come along, you will be thought of first.

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

The secret to success summarized in just 11 words.

If you want to be successful in life there are no shortcuts. But there is a short formula for success that is easy to remember. Because it rhymes, like LeAnn and Buster.

Here it is:

Early to bed. Early to rise. Work like hell. And advertise.

-No One Really Knows Who Said It First

It’s a simple statement. Just 11 words. And 4 periods. Like a hockey game that goes into overtime. But it is dense in value.

Early to bed. It’s a reminder to get plenty of sleep. If you want to accomplish great things you’re going to need all the energy you can get. Your bed is your recharging station. So treat yourself the way you treat your smartphone, and make sure you get recharged to full power every night.

Early to rise. Getting up early is the best way to make the most of your day. Waking up early gives you bonus time to get more elective work in before the mandatories of the day. Remember, it is your elective activities (exercising, reading, studying, writing, practicing, preparing, volunteering, etc.) that separate you from the masses. By that, I mean the general population, not the church services.

Work like hell. Work creates value. The more you work the more value you create. The more value you create the more you are compensated. Note: the compensation goes far beyond money. Note Note: the compensation also includes money. #AwYeah!

And Advertise. To maximize your positive impact on the world people need to know you exist. You need to be top of mind. When you are top of mind more great things come your way. You need to share the word about your capabilities and willingness to help. Adverting helps people connect their dots to you. It helps others solve their problems with your help. Which makes you more valuable to the world.

Key Takeaway

Start each day early to accomplish as much as you can. Put in as much work as you can. Because we exchange work for gold (gold metals and medals, gold moments, gold relationships, etc.) Let people know who you are and how you can help them. Because the world is full of challenges that you can help overcome. Then get to bed early to rest up and get the most out of tomorrow too.

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

Prepare to turn your opportunities into inflection points.

All of the good things that have happened in my life have a common theme. They happened because I prepared to take advantage of an opportunity point. Which means I put in work or research before an important moment. Like a Boy Scout would do. Although I was never a Boy Scout. I heard the Be Prepared motto and felt I got the gist of it.

When my big moments came, I drew on the work or the research I had performed to maximize the opportunities. I performed impressively. I made a strong impression. I drove a result. I became memorable for being prepared, capable, smart, insightful, knowledgable, interesting, thoughtful, or resourceful. Then, I was able to cash in my preparation for rewards. Just like you cash in your tickets for prizes at Chuck E Cheese.

Opportunity Points

Make sure you know what your opportunity points are. Here are a few examples:

  • Competitions
  • Meetings
  • Job interviews
  • Sales calls
  • Tests
  • Dates
  • Sorority rush
  • Meetups
  • Performances
  • Parties
  • Introductions
  • Tradeshows
  • Seminars
  • Auditions
  • Conferences
  • Social media encounters
  • America’s Got Idols

Preparation allows you to convert an opportunity point into an inflection point. A point where things change for you. A new door opens. An angle of growth steepens. The trajectory of your life alters in a positive way. Suddenly, people want more of your time. Which means the value of your time goes up too.

How to capitalize on your opportunities.

To turn your opportunities into inflection points try the following approach:

  1. Look at your calendar. (You do have a calendar, right?)
  2. Identify the opportunity points. (They are everywhere.)
  3. Determine what you could do today, and each day before the event to be best prepared to make that event a moment of inflection. (Start with researching all you can about the people and the topic you will encounter. Don’t be afraid to stalk. That’s how I found my wife. Training and practice are also important.)
  4. Do the prep work you determined would be beneficial. (It is not enough to know what you should do. You gotsta do it for realzies.)
  5. Convert preparation into performance. (Boom!)
  6. Make the most of your moment. (Like in that Eminem song about spaghetti.)
  7. Come out the other side on a new trajectory.

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

-Maybe Seneca (But maybe someone else. They can’t find any credible witnesses.)

Key Takeaway

Every week we encounter dozens of opportunity points. Once you recognize them you can prepare for them. That preparation allows you to capitalize on the opportunity. Sometimes the rewards are small and grow over time. Sometimes the rewards hit in major ways that alter your life path immediately. But if you don’t prepare it is as if the opportunity wasn’t even there. Don’t let that happen.

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

What story are you telling yourself?

On Sunday morning I was at our local high school for a track meet. While I spent a lot of time at the Homestead High School track in Mequon, Wisconsin this year as the throwing coach for the Highlander girl’s track team, Sunday morning was different.

I was a volunteer official for the Wisconsin Senior Olympics track meet. Which means that I marked the discus for senior competitors who ranged in age from 50 up to 93. It was inspirational to see all of the athletes in the second half of their athletic careers.

It was clear they were having a lot of fun, and the community was very supportive. It was also clear that the brighter the spandex the better for the senior crowd. And there was a lot more talk about the medical procedures scheduled or recently performed than at your average high school meet.

However, after the men and women threw I noticed that many of them came out to pick up their discuses and made a point of telling me how poorly they were throwing. They were self-deprecating, and good-natured about it. But I noted how prevalent the today’s-not-my-day response was. I also figured that one of the challenges of being a senior competitor is comparing your 70-year old skills to when you were a 60-year old whippersnapper.

I responded with encouragement. I told them all to make the next one count. And that it only takes one good throw to have a good meet.

Today is my day!

However, there was one woman who stood out. She was the last and oldest woman discus thrower of the day. She was 77 year-old Susan Morris from Sheboygan. During her warmups she told me she was training to break the state age-group record. Which is impressive at an age when many of her contemporaries are just trying not to break a hip.

When Susan threw I was surprised how far the discus flew. Unlike many of the other competitors, she never served up any modesty, and never said the day wasn’t her day. I knew she had the right mindset when she came out to the field to retrieve her discus after her 3rd of 4 throws. I told her she was doing a great job. She took me by surprise when she announced, ‘I’m gonna throw the shit out of my last throw!

Susan and I are now Facebook friends, which is where I stole the shit out of this picture.

The 77-year old returned to the ring for her last throw and unleashed her best throw of the day. A personal record. Her best throw ever. Just 4 feet from the state record she’s hunting.

When I talked to Susan after the meet she said that she trains without a coach, and learns how to throw, the way most of the seniors do –by watching discus videos on YouTube.

She asked me if I thought I could help her add 5 more feet to her throw. And I said I expected I could help her add another 10 feet. She jumped up and down, pumped her fists, and eagerly asked how much I charge. I said it depends on how far you throw.

Attitude Is Everything

I know I could help Susan because anyone who says I am going to throw the shit out of my last throw has the right attitude to be successful at whatever she takes on.

We all write our own stories in our heads first. Then we bring that story to life. And if the story you tell is that today is not your day, I am 100% sure today is not your day. But if the story is about how much effort you will put in, and about the great outcome you will make happen, sooner or later, your story will end just the way you scripted it.

I also met Pat Hauser from Lake Mills, Wisconsin, who dominated the men’s competition as a 70-year old with a great attitude! We connected some dots and discovered that he was the high school track and basketball coach of my close friend and college teammate, James Dunkleberger. James was the 1997 NCAA Division I decathlon national champion. This morning I discovered that Pat and I also share a birthday!

Key Takeaway

Tell a great story about yourself. Then make it come true. Believe in your ability to work hard and perform at your highest level. And when you throw yourself into your work, throw the shit out of it. Just like Susan Morris of Sheboygan, the future Wisconsin state record holder in the discus.

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

You have the ability to create your own comeback stories.

I am a Milwaukee Bucks fan. This week the Bucks won the NBA championship for the first time since 1971. I wasn’t even alive the last time the Bucks won the NBA title. In fact, during the Bucks’ championship drought bellbottoms went in and out of style 3 times.

The 2021 title did not come easy. There were several times when a championship this season seemed out of the question. Like in the second round of the playoffs when the Bucks were down 2 games to 0 versus the Brooklyn Nets. (Not to be confused with the Moscow Nyets.) In the second game of that series, Milwaukee lost 125-86. In case you don’t know sports, that’s really bad.

Then, in game 7 of that series, it looked like the Bucks had been eliminated when the Nets’ Kevin Durant hit a last-second 3-pointer to seal the win. But it turned out the toe of his size 18 shoe was on the 3-point line, making the shot a 2-pointer, and sending the game to overtime, and a Bucks win.

In game 5 Against the Atlanta Hawks, the Bucks’ superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo went down with a nasty knee injury that looked as if it was sure to end his season, his ability to walk right, and the team’s championship hopes.

Then the Bucks opened the NBA Finals in Phoenix against the Suns. Despite the fact the Giannis miraculously was back and played great, the Bucks got rolled in back-to-back games. Things didn’t look good when the team was down 2 games to none.

But the Bucks never gave up. They never waved the white flag. They stole Phoenix’s schtick and kept rising to the occasion.

They won game 7 in overtime against the Nets.

They rallied after it looked like they lost their best player against the Hawks and won the final 2 games without him.

Then, when they came back to Milwaukee down 2-0 against the Suns in the finals, the crowd cheered the now famous ‘Bucks In Six! Bucks In Six! Bucks In Six!’ Which meant the team would win the next 4 games in a row. And that is exactly what happened.

Key Takeaway

  • Just because you are losing doesn’t mean you have lost.
  • It isn’t over until it is over.
  • Bad breaks don’t mean a bad outcome.
  • What has happened doesn’t indicate what will happen.
  • Humans can cause their own momentum shifts.

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

How I create each day for maximum success.

We all have daily drivers. They are the influencing forces that determine how we spend our time each day. They can be internal or external. Productive or not. (And if we are getting technical, the drivers could also be Donald, Minnie or a 1-wood.)

Your drivers, whatever they are, become your operating system, your scheduler and the determining factor of how you budget your most valuable resource — your time.

What drives your day?

  • A to-do list.
  • Your email inbox.
  • People who call and stop by to talk.
  • Phone notifications.
  • Your success list.
  • Addiction to cat videos and bargain yarn sites 
  • Requests of family and coworkers.
  • There is no driver. Days are just giant improvisations.

To create each day for maximum success, my morning routine involves getting on top of my day before my day gets on top of me. To do this I start with a daily success list.

My Daily Success List

  1. At the top of the page I write the major areas of my life (like my business The Weaponry, my health, my family, my writing etc.) and the related initiatives I am prioritizing. 
  2. Then I write a few motivating cues and phrases about making things happen at the top of the page. Like:
    1. ‘Move all trains forward’
    2. ‘Focus!’
    3. ‘Things do not happen. They are made to happen.’
    4. ‘Get sh!t done!’
    5. ‘More & Better!’
    6. Or dollar values related to goals. (Like Dr. Evil’s $100 BILLION Dollars….)
  3. I list my prioritized actions for the day.
  4. I find time for each of the actions on my calendar.
  5. Then I start attacking the list.   

(Note: WordPress served up a number-on-number outline above, versus numbers-to-letters-to-Roman numerals, which would be clearer. I would try harder to fix it, but I have other things to do today if I want today to be a success.) 

Key Takeaway

Know your goals and long-term priorities and let them drive your days. Start your morning thinking about them. Script action items that help you make progress towards them each day. Find time in your schedule for those actions to make sure you have time to get them done. And protect that time. It is the only way to assure you will make progress each day.

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

To achieve great things don’t let preparing turn into procrastinating.

We all have big things we want to do. Goals, dreams, and aspirations are easy to find. Just ask any waiter in Hollywood. What is harder to find is goals met, dreams realized and aspirations achieved.

You can spend a lot of time thinking about the great things you want to do. You can talk about your plans. You can write them down and sketch them out. You can listen to podcasts and read newsletters and books. You can go to seminars, workshops, and meet-ups. And all of those things will feel like progress

But Oklahoma sooner than later, planning and preparing simply turn into procrastination. Because there are only ever 3 things that matter in the achievement process.

The 3-Step Achievement Process

  1. Where you are now.
  2. Where you want to finish.
  3. What you need to do next.

You already know where you are. (You do know where you are, right?) So once you know where you want to finish you have to quickly move your focus to what you need to next. That is the entire planning process.

The rest is doing.

  • If you want to start your own business, you should be working on your product or service, or finding customers.
  • If you want to write a book, movie, or play, sit down and start writing. (Unless you have a standing desk.)
  • If you want to become an investor in real estate or business, freaking buy something.
  • If you want to be an entertainer, start entertaining people.
  • If you want to travel the world, go somewhere you haven’t been.
  • If you want to be a nude model, lose the turtleneck sweater.

Key Takeaway

The difference between dreamers and doers is action. Once you know what you want to accomplish find the next step forward and take it. Once you start moving the next step always reveals itself. Gobble up those next actions like Pac-Man eats dots. Then keep going until you have cleared the board and you are ready for the next level. That’s what achievers do. And you will achieve by taking action.

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

Why you should embrace your tipped canoes.

In early June of 2020, following a week of heavy rains, my family of 5 went on a paddling adventure on a swollen creek in Wisconsin. Notice I said creek, not river. A creek is a narrower body of water. Rain and high water create dramatic changes on a creek. If this were a podcast the ominous music would begin right about now…

This particular creek was littered with fallen trees. The tangled trees were like traps set to snare kayaks and canoes. Paired with swift water, the trees created very dangerous conditions for paddlers. (Cue the dueling banjoes…)

After several close calls, my family flotilla of 4 boats (3 kayaks and a canoe) came upon the most dangerous section of the river. The bend in the creek and the trees it collected forced us to navigate a narrow Z-shaped course in the river. (Which is Z most difficult to navigate.)

The last of the boats in our convoy got swept into the trees at the top of the Z. I quickly tried to turn my canoe around and paddle back upstream against the current to help.

In our attempt to help free the trapped boat, my 10-year-old son Magnus and I got swept into another tree. The rushing water soon broke over the top of the upstream edge of the sideways canoe. The force of the water tipped the canoe. (And Tyler too.) The boat instantly filled with water and sank below the surface of the rushing water.

Magnus and I were tossed into the current. Thankfully, we both held onto the canoe and quickly freed ourselves from the trees by swimming under the branches which dangled to the surface of the water.

We swiftly corralled all of our belongings and swam downstream with our submerged canoe until we found a creek bank where we could unload the soaked contents of our canoe, and flip the 17-foot vessel again to purge the water.

After a few minutes of rest, we reloaded the canoe and climbed back into our seats in the bow and stern of the canoe. We pushed off from the creek bank, caught the current, and resumed our travels downstream in the canoe.

The experience provided a few important lessons:

  1. It was a reminder that things can go wrong at any time.
  2. It is how you respond when things go sideways that matters most.
  3. Teamwork matters most when the stakes are highest.
  4. If you keep your head things will be okay.
  5. A little planning ahead, like packing your smartphone in your dry bag, makes you feel smart and well prepared when you open the dry bag to find your dry phone.

Now Magnus and I have a fun story to share and a stronger bond thanks to going through the experience together. We have seen how the other person stepped up in a crisis. Knowing that we can trust each other in difficult situations has brought us closer together. Which is the long-lasting reward for going through challenges with others.

Key Takeaway

Don’t be afraid to take risks. We learn more about ourselves and others in hard times than in good. Adversity is when character is revealed. And when relationships become strongest. The best memories and greatest stories are created when things don’t go according to plan. Embrace the challenges and mishaps that come your way. They will teach you how much you are capable of.

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

To live your best life declare your own independence today.

On July 4th, 1776, the original Founders of the startup called The United States of America declared the organization’s independence. They opened for business and tourism and began working and fighting to maintain that independence.

In the movie in my head, by the 5th of July Americans began living into the dream. Bakeries were cranking out red, white, and blue cupcakes with sprinkles (both vegan and regulargan). Beaches were full of red white and blue board shorts and bikinis. And a small group of our forefathers, that included Lee Greenwood, Don McLean, and Joey Chestnut invented baseball.

Stuff the Founding Fathers put on their Rider when they went on tour.

Declare Your Independence

Today, 245 years later, make sure to declare your own independence.

  • Make sure to think for yourself.
  • Act for yourself.
  • Vote for yourself.
  • Work for yourself.
  • Advocate for yourself.
  • Educate yourself.
  • Speak for yourself.
  • Own your own happiness.
  • Fulfill your own dreams.
  • Take care of your own finances
  • Drive your own career.
  • Find your own tribe.
  • Embrace your own interests.
  • Take care of your own health.
  • Write your own story.
  • Scratch your own itch.
  • Cut your own hair.
  • Save for your own retirement.
  • Change things you know are wrong.
  • Make your own moonshine sunshine.
  • Take full responsibility for your own actions.

Key Takeaway

Independence means that you depend on yourself. It means that you take responsibility for your own happiness and success. Write the script for your own story. Then play director, producer and leading actor every day. Take control of your own life and the final results. It is the most American thing you can do. And it’s the best way to live your best life. Happy Independence Day. God bless America.

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