The most valuable thing you can exchange with a stranger this holiday season.

Welcome to the heart of the holiday season. While it is a time full of great gatherings and good cheer, it is also a time full of encounters with perfect strangers. Like Balki Bartokomous and Larry Appleton.

I want you to try an experiment. Over the next 24 hours note how many people you encounter that you don’t know. I warn you, it may freak you out. Most of us live anonymously in a sea of strangers. They are everywhere. Like minivans. Yet we have become immune to these strangers that surround us. It’s as if they disappear when we ignore them. Like reality TV stars.

I was reminded of my own anonymity a few years ago at my gym. After I scanned my membership card, the guy who routinely works at the reception desk said, “Have a good day, man”.

A normal person would have just done what they were told and had a nice day. But instead, I asked the guy working the counter at Elite Sports Club, “What’s your name?’  He replied, ‘Andrew’. I said, ‘My name is Adam’ (that’s my go-to).  We shook hands. From then on, every time I saw Andrew we greeted each other by name. We had real conversations, instead of an awkward, “Hey-Man” relationship.

Insiders vs Outsiders

Everyone we encounter in business, at holiday gatherings and at the grocery store is either an Insider or an Outsider.  The difference is whether or not we know each other by name.  That sense of familiarity and friendship that can only develop once you know a person’s name makes an enormous difference on this planet, where we are so often surrounded by John and Jane Does (that was supposed to be Doe-plural. But it looks like does, doesn’t it?).

I think about names at work. At the advertising agency, The Weaponry, we encounter people when we visit our clients that we don’t have to know by name. The receptionists. The people who sit next to the conference rooms where we make too much noise.  The IT person who inevitably saves every presentation. But I want to meet them too. So I make a habit of introducing myself, by name. Suddenly we are not just people who see each other regularly. We become people who know each other, by name.

Key Takeaway

Convert more of those people you see or say hello to regularly into people you really know by name. It’s easy. Introduce yourself, by name and ask for their name in return. Write the names down. Remember them by starting a list with the names of people you meet and a description of who they are on your phone or in a notebook. Refer back to the list as necessary. The rewards are profound.  Just ask Andrew from Elite. Or Norm from Cheers.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

When your window of opportunity opens will you be ready to go?

This time of year always brings out the Clark Griswold in me. Which means that in late November or early December, I like to decorate my house and yard with Christmas lights. Yet, I try to avoid stapling my sleeve to my house, and kidnapping my boss.

I don’t have a preset date for my lightification. Instead, I watch the weather closely. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that it’s not much fun to hang lights when it is 20 degrees outside. Or rainy. Or huricaney. By contrast, it’s an enjoyable task to do when it is in the 50s or above and sunny. (For international readers, all temps are in Fahrenheit. At 50 degree Celsius I turn into bacon.)

This year we have had a wintry November in Wisconsin. The snow arrived early and stuck around because of the cold temperatures. But as I kept checking the forecast, I noticed that off in the distance, on Saturday, November 26th, the temperature was supposed to warm up into the 50s. However, cold and rain were predicted for the following day. So I knew that yesterday would be my window of opportunity. Cue the Eminem.

I cleared my schedule for light hanging yesterday. And just as predicted, it was sunny, warm and beautiful. It was a perfect day for the task. I hung lights on the front of my house and 8 trees and bushes in my front yard. The universe presented a great window and I made the most of it.

But great windows of opportunity aren’t limited to light hanging. (Thank God.) They occur in all areas of your life. And when you plan ahead you are bound to find them.

My Window Watching

I always wanted to start my own business. That was my long-term career plan. So in 2015 when I had former clients tell me that I should consider creating my own advertising agency and that they had work for me, I knew I had found my window, Pella.

I always wanted to write a book too, but I needed time to do the actual writing. So when the covid lockdown of 2020 began, I knew my writing window of opportunity had also arrived. I got to work. Two months later I finished the first draft of my book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? And now it makes a great Christmas gift.

I look for windows of opportunity for travel, investments, and introductions. I look for windows for fun and for starting new businesses. I look for opportunities to support, teach and encourage too. My radar is always scanning for opportunities. As a result, I find them. And when I find an opportunity I act. And you should too.

Key Takeaway

Windows of opportunity are constantly opening and closing. But you have to be looking for them to notice. That’s why it’s so valuable to create a plan for your life, year, week, and day. Because when you know what you want in life you will recognize the windows of opportunity that open for you. Then it’s Go Time! Because opportunities don’t last forever. That’s what makes them valuable.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

22 Things I am crazy thankful for in 2022.

I love Thanksgiving. If it weren’t for the whole birth-of-Jesus thing, or the freedom thing, I would say Thanksgiving was the best holiday. We get to eat as much as we can stomach. We get to watch football all day if we want. We get to enjoy a parade full of huge balloons and lip-syncers. Then there are the naps and the family time. But most importantly, today we take time to think n thank. And I think I have a lot to be thankful for since Thankfest 2021. So I made a list. Here it is.

22 Things I’m Thankful For.

  1. My Health. I feel great. I recently looked up the age range for middle age and I found myself clearly within it. It turns out I have been in the middle ages for several years and didn’t know it. But I would have never known it by the way I feel. I got a physical this year for the first time in 7 years, and everything looks good. Although I will probably dip into the obese range by 3pm CT today.

2. My Family. My family is my greatest asset, hands down. (And even when the hands are up.) From my amazing wife Dawn, and kids Ava, Johann and Magnus to my parents, sisters and their families, I just love my people. I am also proud to be part of a vast family of Albrechts and Spraus that are special, supportive, and super funny people. Best of all, I didn’t even have to do anything to be in this family club. Plus, my mother-in-law is with us for Thanksgiving this year, which we are especially thankful for.

3. Friends. I have friends all over the globe. They make me feel like the world is my home. I am blessed with the ability to develop strong friendships quickly. And I have added many new friends since this time last year. And I think you and I are going to be friends.

4. My business. I launched the advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry 6 years ago. We will grow by 50% this year. 2023 is stacking up to be the most exciting year yet. We moved into a great new office this year. And I love working with our very talented group of Weapons. (Just not today.)

5. My Book. I published my first book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? 11 months ago and it has changed my life. I appreciate everyone who has supported me, read the book, written a good review, or gifted a copy. (Or 20.) The book has allowed me to share a lot of good with the world. And soon I will have another book to talk about, which I co-wrote with Jeff Hilimire. Which is great news for everyone who has heard enough about my first book.

6. Coaching Football. I just finished coaching my son Magnus’ 6th-grade football team. The boys were really fun, funny and talented. I am thankful for the opportunity to coach and compete with such a great group of young dudes. They make me feel very good about the future of our community. The experience also reminded me how much I want to laugh when other coaches are yelling at kids for goofing off. Because when I played football I was my team’s starting goofer-offer.

7. Coaching Track: I have now enjoyed 2 seasons of coaching the girls track team at Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisconsin. I am thankful for the additional time I have enjoyed with my daughter Ava. I’m thrilled to see so much improvement among the athletes I coach. And I am thankful for the fun I’ve had with the other coaches. (Notice that I did not say I was thankful for how long the meets go early in the season when it still feels like winter in Wisconsin. Brrr.)

8. Surfing. I learned to surf this summer in California. (With a surfboard, not a keyboard.) I have always wanted to try surfing. My kids and I loved it. I look forward to more. But living in Wisconsin makes it hard to surf a lot. So I plan to supplement my actual surfing with a lot of time listening to The Beach Boys.

9. Audio Books: I love to read books with my ears while driving. I recently heard that audiobooks allow you to complete the equivalent of 2 semesters of college education each year. I have listened to 12 audiobooks in 2022 and plan to pack a couple more in before the end of the year. So I am looking forward to getting my next degree from the University of Ford-Expedition.

10. My John Deere Lawn tractor. I like to drive and mow and think. Therefore, I am.

11. Travel: I traveled to Hilton Head Island, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Seattle for fun this year. My family and I also hiked Zion, Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon National Parks. And I have new stories from each place. Which is the greatest souvenir of all. (If you don’t count those little shot glasses.)

12. Speaking Opportunities: I have had a lot of speaking opportunities this year, largely thanks to my book. I spoke to 2 great student groups this week alone. I have 3 more talks lined up over the next 3 weeks. And I am always happy to do more. I love sharing my most valuable lessons on life, creativity, advertising, marketing and entrepreneurship. If you’re looking for an enthusiastic speaker for your event or organization (because you can’t afford the person you really want) I’d love to talk.

13. My First Dog Ever. In January my family and I road-tripped to South Carolina to pick up a 7-week-old Border Collie we named Amicalola (Lola for short.) She’s a beautiful and energetic dog, that treats me like I am the boss. Lola, thanks for teaching me why people love dogs so much. And for not having bigger poop to pick up.

14. My Mentals. My mental health is good. It always has been. I am thankful for that and never take it for granted. (If you think something is off with my mentals, please don’t tell me. I’m enjoying it in here.)

15. Great Clients. I am extremely thankful for all of the clients across the country (and England) that have trusted my team to deliver their very important work this year. I am honored you chose to work with us.

16. Sunrises and Sunsets. God crushed it with these two things! I love how they provide a kind of solar opening and closing bell to the day. The best sunrises and sunsets are created through a balanced combination of sun and clouds. Which is a great analogy for life.

17. The High Price of Gas: Most people have spent a lot of time complaining about the price of gas this year. Not me. I bought a bunch of oil stocks at bottom-of-the-oil barrel prices in 2020. The high price of oil and gasoline have turned these stocks into the best investments I’ve ever made. By far. I like buying good company stock when something bad happens to them that is beyond their control. It’s a reminder to invest in good people when they are down.

18. Google and YouTube: Between those 2 resources, I can learn to do anything or solve almost any problem. Thanks for being my digital cheat sheets.

19. Funny Stories: Funny stories are amongst my very favorite things on the planet. On Tuesday I picked up a new funny story that is probably in my top 10 favorite funny stories to tell of all time. When you see me next ask me to share. (Mention my school talk.)

20. My Home We moved into a new home just over a year ago. And I don’t plan to move again until I leave Wisconsin. I have spent my entire adult life thinking that every home I lived in would be short-term. Until now. Today I am thankful to finally set this circus down, hang some pictures on the wall and buy some fancy return address labels, instead of using the ones we got for free in the mail.

21. Introductions From Strangers: I am usually the first one to introduce myself to a stranger, whether in person or online. So I am always thankful when someone new reaches out to me first. Like my new old friend Matt Perkins, who reached out to me a few weeks ago to introduce himself and share all that we had in common. I love that stuff.

22. Dissatisfaction Despite all of the great things in my life, I am still not satisfied. I am still far short of many of my long-term goals. I have much more to accomplish. I have things to see. I have things to create and grow. I am thankful for my hunger for more. It drives me to set my alarm early every morning. It helps me get a little better and smarter every day. And it keeps me looking forward to all the great things yet to come.

Key Takeaway:

We all have much to be thankful for. Don’t take all the wonderful things in your life for granted. But don’t settle for today. Keep adding people, experiences, and accomplishments that will deepen your gratitude year after year.

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope this is your best year yet.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

How you can get really smart by acting dumb.

In his book, My Father’s Business, Cal Turner Jr., the long-time CEO of Dollar General and the son of the company’s Founder talks about how his grandfather was one of the smartest people he ever knew. What makes this particularly interesting is that his grandfather dropped out of elementary school to help run the family farm after his dad died in a freak wrestling accident. (I’m assuming it wasn’t cauliflower ear.)

Turner goes on to say that his grandfather’s lack of formal education offered a significant advantage.

It says a great deal about Luther Turner that he was able to turn
his third-grade education into a plus. He was convinced that everyone he met was smarter than he, and that he needed to learn some thing from each of them. He became a first-rate observer, a great listener, and a dedicated student of life. What he practiced was more than empathy. It involved valuing the other person and his or her information, insight, and perspective.

– Cal Turner Jr
I was surprised to learn that Dollar General was never actually in the military.

To be clear, I’m not encouraging you to drop out of school after 3rd grade. (Very few of my readers are in the 3rd grade and under demographic.) But it’s important to recognize the danger of assuming you are the smartest person in the room. We all have blind spots which limit us. But if you remain open to the ideas of others you have the potential to become as smart as everyone you have encountered combined.

Key Takeaway

Everyone you interact with has amassed their own unique combination of knowledge and experience. Which means they have insights and perspectives you don’t have. Listen to them. Learn from them. Add their lessons to your own. The only limit to how much you can learn in life is your own curiosity and receptivity.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

How to have the best life possible.

I am always looking for insights and advice on how to live a great life. I look for wisdom and nuggets everywhere. I expect you share the same interest in life advice since you decided to read this article based on the best-life headline.

When I find golden lessons I like to share them with as many people as possible. In fact, I recently published an entire book full of 80 of the best life lessons I have learned titled What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? The book lets you consume a lot of actionable insight without consuming the 20 calories packed into those delightfully bland non-cookie cookies. And since there are 80 lessons, the book saves you 1600 calories. So it’s kind of a weight loss book too. (But not really.)

Another Book Recommendation

But I am not the only one who writes about the valuable life lessons they have discovered. Ray Dalio’s #1 New York Times bestselling book Principles is full of great lessons on both life and work. Plus, it is the only book I own that comes with two of those built-in bookmark ribbon thingies.

While there are many great lessons in Dalio’s book here is his simple summation of the entire work.

In order to have the best life possible, you have to:

1) know what the best decisions are and

2) have the courage to make them.

-Ray Dalio

The key insight here is that you have to constantly improve your decision-making ability and increase your courage. Which means that we are all on the Yellow Brick Road with the Scarecrow and the Lion.

Key Takeaway

Constantly upgrade your decision-making skills. Know your own guiding principles. Study the outcomes of your decisions to learn what works. And study the principles of others so that you can adopt their best thinking as your own. Then live life according to your own proven principles. They will not only lead to better decisions, but they will also lead to positive outcomes that will increase your courage to make the right difficult decisions in the future.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Embrace the difficult things in life. They make you stronger.

I face challenges every day. Big ones. Small ones. New ones. And ones I have seen a thousand times before. As an entrepreneur, I’ve signed up for a life of challenges. As a parent, I’ve committed to helping 3 other humans work through their challenges too. I often feel like a contestant on American Ninja Warrior: Work & Home Edition. But I enjoy hard things. I find great value in the difficulties.

When life throws challenges my way I embrace them because I learn from them. I get better. I discover more about myself and my character. I develop more skills. I realize how capable I really am. #AintNothingGonnaBreakMyStride

The challenges of life are like the challenges of sports. Or video games. They are forms of competition. They are there to test you. To force you to think, learn, strategize and grow. Challenges force you to add tools to your toolbox, plays to your playbook, and tricks to your bag of tricks.

Triumphing over your personal and professional challenges is a rewarding part of the human experience. The more challenges you face the more you feel like you have faced the same type of challenge before. Which means you face each new obstacle with a greater sense of confidence that you can handle it. Because you can, Toucan!

In their training, the military special forces go through some of the most difficult challenges that humans will ever face. But those very challenges also provide the tools and confidence to overcome anything they face later. Both in the military and while shopping at the mall.

The challenges of life are not to be avoided. Or lamented. They are what make life interesting. They are the primary source of self-improvement. They teach you and make you stronger.

To accelerate your growth you can also read about the challenges that others have faced, and how they learned and improved through them. It is why reading is so valuable. It allows you to learn vicariously through the challenges of others without losing a battle, a war, or a limb. Because you can only lose so many limbs of your own.

Key Takeaway

Life challenges help you learn and grow. Each one leaves you better equipped to face the next. Each one adds to your skills, experience and understanding. It is a critical part of the evolutionary process. And it strengthens us both as individuals and as a species. You grow. You adapt. You thrive. And you are better prepared to face whatever comes next.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

You made a great plan. Then life got in the way. What do you do now?

Humans are extremely intelligent animals. We have been able to transform the planet to better suit our needs. We envision a world that doesn’t exist and then we create plans to make it a reality. We are like the Walt Disney of the animal kingdom. (Meaning the real animal kingdom, not the Animal Kingdom that Disney created to illustrate this point.)

Humans are really good at knowing what actions we should take to get the result we want. In a perfect world, we would always get the results we wanted. Because we would always take the right steps. Like John Travolta.

But between deciding on the right actions to take and actually taking them a funny thing often happens. Not funny haha. Funny strange.

Every day, all over this big blue marble, the regular events of life get in the way of our plans.

Things change. New demands pop up. Curveballs get thrown. Wrenches get thrown. And eventually, the towel gets thrown in the ring.

But there is one simple solution that will prevent your plan from failing.

Remember that play that you were going to run to make your plans a reality? Before the noise and static?

Run the play anyway.

Do what you set out to do.

Modify your execution if you have to.

Take shorter actions.

Or change the time frame.

Adjust your process to work with the new conditions.

But don’t make excuses.

Change what needs to be changed.

But not the play.

You know that play will work.

Key Takeaway

Run the play anyway. You know it is right. You just need to run it.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

The very best way to respond to someone who disagrees with you.

I was recently in a meeting where I had a difference of opinion with one of my clients. So after he was done sharing his view, I threw my challenge flag. Then I realized we were not in an NFL game. So I had to actually say the words, ‘I challenge that perspective.’ Afterwhich, I introduced my perspective.

Then, like an episode of Seinfeld, or Murder She Wrote, the plot thickened.

Someone else in the room announced that he challenged my challenge. Which left me in a challenging position.

I had 2 options.

  1. I could explain myself further to ensure that everyone clearly understood my perspective.
  2. I could seek understanding of my challenger’s perspective.

(Ironically, I drove a rented Dodge Challenger to the meeting, which may have kicked off all of the challenges.)

I chose door number 2.

When there is a difference of opinions, the win is not to make sure everyone else knows why you think what you think. The win is to learn, understand and gain greater insight from the perspective of others.

Rather than digging in and repeating your perspective try one of these magical comeback lines:

  1. Why do you think that?
  2. Please explain.
  3. How did you come to that conclusion?
  4. Tell me more.
  5. Who’s zooming who?

Key Takeaway

Seeking understanding doesn’t mean you have to change your mind. It doesn’t mean that one of you is right and the other is wrong. It simply means that you are keeping your mind open to learning about how others think. You get to understand the facts that others have collected and how they have processed those facts into conclusions. This will help you make better decisions in the future. And it will help you gain the respect of others. Because when you show someone else that you respect them and their thinking process they will often do the same for you.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

The 4 simple steps to stronger human connections I learned as a coach.

Yesterday I coached my last youth football game of the season. It was a 3-month commitment of 4 to 6 days each week of practices, scrimmages, and games, beginning August 1st. Plus, as the defensive coordinator, I had to watch our game film at night and scout our opponent’s game film each week. It was a significant commitment of time, energy, and focus. And I loved it.

But there was one thing I didn’t love. The least enjoyable part of coaching in the Wisconsin All-American Youth Football League, WAAYFL, is all of the mandatory online training courses you have to complete to be eligible to coach.

Parents should take great comfort in knowing that their coaches have all been trained in nearly everything related to the health and safety of the players. In fact, I think that the next time I am on an airplane and they ask if there is a doctor onboard I will ring my call button and tell them that while I didn’t technically go to medical school, I did take the marathon health and safety coursework online required to coach in the Mequon-Thiensville Cardinal football program. So I should be good with whatever emergency they were dealing with up in the fuselage.

Yes, we learned how to coach the safest ways to hit and tackle. But we also learned about everything from concussions and heat-related health issues, to heart and neck concerns. And we learned to identify signs of physical and sexual abuse. It’s a lot of heavy stuff to wade through to coach a children’s game.

My Favorite Lesson

But there was one brief unit in our training that stood out the most. It may have felt insignificant to the other coaches compared to the heft of the lessons above. But for me, it offered the best new tool in my coaching toolbox. Granted, my coaching toolbox was pretty empty to begin with. (I only had an old roll of athletic tape and that quote about the size of the fight in the dog.)

The unit I loved was The 4 Points of Coaching Contact. It taught us the importance of developing a connection with our athletes. It provided a simple, memorable framework to follow to connect with each athlete at every practice. My language below may be slightly different than the WAAYFL shares. But the idea is the same.

The 4 Points of Coaching Contact.

1. Eye Contact: You should greet each athlete each day with your eyes. This means, making deliberate eye contact with them daily. (But don’t actually touch their eyes.)

2. Physical Contact: Greet each player with a handshake, fist bump, high five, or pat on the shoulder or back. No bum touching. (That was really part of the broader training.)

3. Ear Contact: This is not about ear flicking or Wet Willys. This is about connecting with a verbal greeting every practice. Say hello in whatever way you say hello. Make it heartfelt. Use their name. There is far great power in this simple act than most coaches realize.

4. Heart Contact: Talk to your athletes about something other than the sport. Ask them how their day is going. Ask about school, their family, or their other activities. Get to know them and develop a relationship with them as a non-athlete. Again, no physical contact with the actual heart is required. Or allowed.

Putting It Into Practice

I thought about The 4 Points of Contact every practice. It used the technique liberally. Although I didn’t hit all 4-points with every athlete every day, I purposefully connected with every athlete as much as was naturally possible. And it made a real difference.

But the impact of this simple relationship-building technique impacted me as much as it impacted the athletes.

Because every time I made eye contact with one of my players, they made eye contact with me.

When we would high-five, fist bump, or shake hands I felt the connective power the way they did.

When I greeted our players by name, they would greet me by name too.

But most importantly, you can’t touch someone else’s heart without them touching yours. It’s the universal law of heartiology. Or cardiology. Or whatever you call it. Remember, I’m not a real doctor.

Key Takeaway

You have an opportunity to connect with other people every day. Connect with your eyes, your hands, your words, and your heart. This approach works wonders in youth sports. But it works just as well in business, in school, within families, and amongst friends. In fact, these 4 points of contact are how we turn strangers into friends. And if you use this approach every day, you’ll find those friends start to feel like family. That’s what happened to our 6th Grade Cardinal Football Team in Mequon, Wisconsin.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

What is the best thing you can offer a homeless person?

America has a problem with homelessness. We have a lot of people who don’t have a home or a proper place to shelter. And when you don’t have that basic human need met it is hard to bring your best self to the rest of life’s challenges.

I have a homelessness problem too. My problem is that I don’t know how to respond to homeless people. In most areas of my life, I have a well-considered way of thinking about situations. But when it comes to responding to homeless people I still have glitches in my processor.

Do I give them money? Food? Water? Boxes and sleeping bags? Or do I just walk past?

Early in my career, I got paid for a freelance writing project with a bunch of gift certificates to a crummy restaurant chain. I carried those certificates with me and handed them to homeless people. But when they saw the name of the restaurant they usually looked as if they wanted to hand them right back.

Last Week

On my morning commute last week I saw a homeless man holding a sign at a stoplight. The light was red, so I stopped. Because I remembered that rule from my driver’s education class.

I had my window down and my music up. I was in a great mood on a beautiful morning.

The man on the corner stepped towards me and began nodding his head to my music.

Then he said to me, ‘Man, you are the happiest person I have seen all day!

I smile at him and replied, ‘That’s my thing!’

I asked him his name.

He said, ‘Rick.’

I responded, ‘My name is Adam.’

He shared, ‘I used to be The Humble Artist.’

I replied, ‘You still are aren’t you?’

He said, ‘No.’

I asked what changed.

He confessed, ‘I don’t do art anymore. And I’m no longer humble.’

I said, ‘Neither am I! Deion Sanders once said “They don’t pay nobody to be humble!'”

We both laughed. It was really nice to hear a homeless person laugh.

The light turned green.

And I said “It was nice to meet you, Rick! Have a great day. And do your art!

As I drove through Milwaukee to my downtown office I reflected on my interaction with Rick.

Was our conversation worth more than money or food?

Was it worth anything?

How about the smile and happiness I shared with him?

Or my interest in learning his name?

Or the encouragement to create art?

Did any of that help?

I don’t know.

Maybe.

Maybe not.

But I wrote down his name, so I won’t forget.

And I hope that he feels like he made a new friend. And that someone else knows him by name. I hope that he felt like another human respected him as an equal. I hope he knows I am pulling for him to find a home so that he can spend more time thinking about art.

Key Takeaway

Keep trying to figure out the things you don’t know. Life is a big experiment full of trial and error. Don’t be afraid to try different approaches and learn what works for you. The aim should be to have a positive impact in your own way. And share what you learn so that others can learn too.

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

+For more life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.