The best way to get better is by dropping your bad habits.

You are a product of your habits. That is both good and bad news. Because some of your habits are constructive and make you better on a daily basis. Others are destructive and continuously hurt you. You’ll find many of those kinds of habits in country songs. And in prison.

Identifying Your Bad Habits

Do you know your most harmful habits? The ones that most negatively impact your life? That’s not a rhetorical question. I want you to take a moment to write down 3 to 5 of your bad habits. Then rank them starting with the most problematic. These are the habits that are most detrimental to your happiness, health, reputation, productivity, or success. I’ll wait while you create your list. (If you don’t create yours now we’ll automatically add procrastination to your list.)

My Habits:

I have a lot of good habits. I get a lot accomplished most days. I work hard. I write almost every day. I brush. I floss. I exercise regularly. I spend quality time with my family. And I put down the toilet seat.

But I wouldn’t have asked you to do anything I haven’t done myself. Here are the top 3 bad habits that I would do better without:

  1. Procrastination. I procrastinate on things longer than I wish I did. I have a backlog of incomplete tasks. And I have lost out on opportunities because I have waited too long to pull the trigger. Now, if I acknowledge that I don’t like my procrastination, but put off doing anything about it, that would be ironic, don’t you think?

2. Overeating:  I love to eat. And I am good at it. But I regularly eat more than I should. And I don’t like the impact it has on my physique. I developed the habit of eating a great deal when I was training heavily for competitive athletics. Back then I needed all the calories I could inhale. That was back before my metabolic slowdown, which happened somewhere in my 30s. Today my body doesn’t need the surplus calories from a Meat Lovers Pizza binger. And if I could change this occasional habit I bet I would feel more comfortable at a nude beach.

3. Screen time. I check my phone and computer far more often than I wish I did. This is complicated. Because like you, and Elon Musk, I have a complicated relationship with social platforms. As a blogger and author, I post and share a lot of ideas. Ideas that are intended to have a positive impact on those who read them. And the algorithms reward content that is interacted with. So interacting online is also important. But I would be happier to cut my online time in half. And I don’t care which half.

The Next Step

Now, I want you to pick one bad habit to attack. Because if you can eliminate one bad habit you will improve your life in a profound way. And if you can, you should.

The first step is to change your self-identity. Tell yourself, and firmly believe, that you are a person who doesn’t struggle with (your bad habit here). In fact, you are great at doing the opposite of (your bad habit here.)

To combat my procrastination, I have already adopted my identity as an action-taker and have rewired my decision-making system over the past several weeks. I recognize when decisions and actions are in danger of being put off. And I dedicate time to doing things now. It is making a huge difference, and I feel more me than ever.

Key Takeaway 

A key component of self-improvement is eliminating bad habits. Call them out. Write them down. And start picking them off one by one. Claim your new identity. Then create good habits to replace the bad. Because without your bad habits holding you back you will be much more 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.

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.

Your future is the greatest mystery of all. But you get to write it.

I stopped into a bookstore at the airport in Minneapolis yesterday. Since publishing my first book 11 months ago I look at bookstores differently. Now I study them in great detail.

I am curious to know more about everything. The categories. The book cover designs. The titles. The displays. The shoppers. The best-seller list. The people who work in the stores who don’t look like they spend a lot of time in the sun. Or play sports.

Yesterday I was drawn to the mystery section. I noticed it was where the rockstar authors were. And the big names each had multiple books on the shelves. It was in the back corner of the store. The mystery books were clearly the smelly chunks of cheese that the owner placed at the far corner of the store to lure travelers through the bookstore maze to find the delicious story they want to read on their next flight to Des Moines or Myrtle Beach.

People love a good mystery. I used to read a lot of mysteries too. But now most of what I read is focused on self improvement. Because I discovered that the most interesting mystery of all is me. And my mysteries are endless.

  • Where am I going?
  • What am I going to do next?
  • What am I learning?
  • What plot twists lie ahead?
  • What is going to happen with all of these other characters in my story?
  • What kind of success will I have.
  • How much money will I make?
  • What don’t I know yet?
  • What am I about to figure out?
  • Where will I go?
  • How long will I live?
  • Who can it be knocking at my door? (Go away. Don’t come round here no more.)

Key Takeaway

Your future is the greatest mystery in life. You are both the reader and the author. Write an exciting next chapter staring today. Make yourself the hero. Add great characters. Surprise everyone, including yourself, with an amazing ending. Make it a story that inspires others to achieve their own greatnesss. But don’t wait. Because time is ticking.

*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.

Today is Election Day. But you make life-changing votes every day.

It is finally Election Day in the United States. Which means that the political landscape may shift dramatically today. But then again, it might not.

Either way, when you wake up tomorrow morning the political ads will be gone. And you’ll be happy to see commercials from your favorite local personal injury lawyers again.

I hope that you vote today. Or that you voted early, like me. Just don’t do both. And if the election doesn’t go your way don’t claim the election was rigged. It wasn’t. You were just part of the less popular crowd. And politics are a lot like high school.

The Everyday Elections

But today is not the only day you vote.

You cast important votes every day.

Not just for politicians or your favorite new Pringles flavor.

You vote with your actions. (And your non-actions.)

You vote with your time. (Investing or Wasting)

You vote with your attitude. (Positive or Negative)

You vote when you eat. (Both Quality and Quantity)

You vote with your habits. (Good or Bad)

You vote with your wallet. (This is more important than you realize.)

You vote people on and off your personal island. (You social savage…)

And you vote yes or no on hundreds of other decisions every day.

Remember, the choices you make each day make you.

Never forget that.

And don’t waste your votes.

Your future depends on 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 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.

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.

Why the computer in your head is your greatest asset.

In 2006 Apple began running a popular ad campaign called Mac Vs PC. In the campaign, the 2 computers were personified and represented by 2 very different spokespeople.

The Mac dude was an easy-going, fairly hip cat who always seemed to know things. The PC guy was nerdy, out of touch, and always seemed less ready for the world. The 2 guys were clearly supposed to represent Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, only without the telltale money coming out of their wazoos.

Watching the commercials felt like you were being forced to choosing which team captain you were going to join for a game of Red Rover, nerd style.

But the idea that there are just 2 different types of computers is a gross oversimplification. The truth is that there are as many different computers as there are humans on the planet.

Your Personal Computer

We all run on the personal computers in our heads. Yours is unlike any other. It has different hardware. It operates different software. It arrives at different calculations and conclusions based on different inputs, filters, and if-then statements.

Your machine also has its own bugs. And its own glitches. Which are affected by how many windows are open, how long it has been since you rebooted, and that soda pop you spilled on the keyboard.

The computer in your head has rare and valuable capabilities. It can produce outputs that no other computer on Earth can. Never forget that. And never underestimate the power that your unique thinking has on the world around you.

Key Takeaway

We all think differently and process the world differently, thanks to the personal computers in our heads. Take good care of yours. Appreciate it. Upgrade it as you are able. Respect the conclusions of others. They are processing the world differently than you are. It’s all part of the master design. And we all benefit from the diversity of thought.

*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.

5 Keys To A Great Life.

This summer my family and I took an amazing vacation to the west coast. We visited Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Bryce Canyon, The Grand Canyon, and Zion National Park. Along the way, we packed in a lot of surfing, hiking, and In-N-Out Burger.

There was also a lot of togetherness. In fact, the togetherness is my favorite part of family vacations. I love having my family of 5 together in the car, at the hotel, at meals, and throughout our activities for a week. It’s one of the perks of taking your kids far from home when they have no money. They are happy to stay close so that they can eat.

The togetherness results in a lot of conversation. This morning I found a list I wrote of 5 Keys to a great life that I shared with my family during a conversation in L.A. The list was written on the notepad from the Loews hotel in Santa Monica. And just being able to bring my family to that beautiful beachfront hotel felt like I was winning at life. (This paragraph has been brought to you by the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica. Where families can enjoy togetherness, beach access and notepads.)

Here is the list.

5 keys To A Great Life.

  1. Dream Big Dreams: The size of your life is determined by the size of your dreams. It’s the same phenomenon that links the size of a goldfish* to the size of its fishbowl. So think big. Dream big. Do big. *This is true of real goldfish. But not the delicious snack crackers, which come in only one size.

2. Take Risks: Don’t be afraid to take risks. Risks are the gateway to rewards. Take chances. Learn to be comfortable with uncertainty. You’ll figure things out along the way. Bet on yourself. Because you have the ability to stack the odds in your favor through determination and hard work.

3. Develop Rare and Valuable Skills: Become really great at something special. The journey is extremely rewarding. The process of self-improvement is empowering. The better you get at a skill the more passionate you become. The world will reward you with opportunities that are not available to those without those skillz. Which will enable you to pay the billz.

4. Develop and Maintain Strong Relationships At the end of our days the only thing that will really matter is the impact we have on each other. Prioritize your human connections. Develop as many relationships as you can. Maintain them over time. Those connections will reward you in more ways than you could possibly count. Unless your rare and valuable skill is counting.

5. Become Self-Reliant: The greatest gift you can give yourself is self-reliance. Become a resourceful problem-solver. Learn to make your own money, cook, and change a tire. Self-reliance builds confidence. Both are attractive to others. The more you can handle on your own the more control you have over your life. This is the basic theme of every song by Destiny’s Child.

Key Takeaway

Dream big. Develop your skills. Invest in your relationships. And learn to count on yourself. Those basic steps make it easy to take risks because you know things will turn out well. After all, you’re going to make it happen.

*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 important life lesson I learned as a young driver in Vermont.

I grew up in Vermont. Which is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The rolling Green Mountains of Vermont are heavenly. It’s where snow, maple syrup, and Ben & Jerry’s were born. I am always homesick for Vermont in the fall when the leaves perform their grand finale and the landscape explodes with color. It’s why leaf peepers flock to Vermont every fall. What? You’ve never heard of leaf peepers? Ask Larry, Darrell, and Darrell.

Vermont Driving

Vermont is still my favorite place to drive. You are greeted by one amazing view after another. You find yourself wowing a lot. At the bigness, the smallness, the coziness, the quaintness. Vermont is a very simple place that remains largely undeveloped and unpolluted by man-made sights and sounds. Which is why it is recognized as the least polluted state in America. (To be fair, there aren’t a lot of people there to do the polluting.)

When I turned 16 and started driving the quiet, winding country roads of Vermont, I was amazed by the beautiful and everchanging views through the windshield. However, I also discovered something surprising that I never noticed as a passenger.

The best views were often seen in the rearview mirror.

After I discovered this visual secret I found myself frequently checking the rearview in my old Ford Escort, my Mom’s VW Jetta, or my Dad’s Saab 900. I found that the rearview magic could be found in every make and model of car I tested.

Over the past few decades, I have learned that life is like Vermont. Both are full of beauty. And if you are doing life right, there is more beauty behind you every day. So don’t forget to reflect. On your life. On your career. On your successes. And on your growth. Because no matter what’s in front of you, you can always find an inspiring view behind you.

Key Takeaway

Check your personal rearview mirror regularly. Your memories, experiences, and successes of the past are beautiful things. They are reminders of life fully realized. Your personal rearview mirror will show you how wonderful life can be. It will remind you how great you can feel. It will teach you how much you can accomplish. It will reveal the positive impact others have had on you. And it will remind you of the positive influence you can have on others.

*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 mind and body wrestle who wins?

The human is the most fascinating of all machines. It is a walking, talking, taco-eating miracle made of 2 distinct parts.

First, there is the physical part. The body. It’s the part of the human that we can see and touch. (With consent.) It is the most obvious part. But it is also the least interesting.

The second part of the human is the mind. This is where the thinking takes place. This is where humans are most interesting and differentiated. If you think people look different on the outside, you would be shocked by how different people’s minds operate. For proof, see the new Netflix series Dahmer. (Or just take my word for it and you will sleep better tonight.)

For better or worse, your mind and body are married for life. Like Thunder and Lightening, Brooks and Dunn, or Mike & Ikes. Your life is a result of how well your mind and body work together.

The key to the mind-body collaboration is who is in control. Because both highly successful people and highly unsuccessful people know what they should do. The difference is that successful people do what they know they should and unsuccessful people don’t.

The Question

Who is in control, your mind or your body?

Who determines if you get out of bed or hit the snooze button?

Who determines if you thumb through your phone or work on that important project?

Who determined whether you exercise?

Or eat the way you know you should?

Or take any action at all?

If your mind is not telling your body what to do, your body is in control.

Mind Your Mind.

Your mind knows your goals and vision. It knows what needs to happen to get there. Your body doesn’t have goals beyond rest, food, pleasure, and safety. So if your mind has goals that expand beyond those 4 areas, it has to be in charge, or you will never achieve your goals. Unless your goal is to be featured on My 600-Pound Life.

When you experience moments of weakness or laziness, recognize that you are experiencing a battle for control between your mind and body. If your body wins, you lose. But if your mind is in control, and can make your body do what it needs to do, there is no limit to what you can achieve.

Key Takeaway

The key to long-term success, accomplishment and happiness is that your mind must be in control. Your thinking, planning and visioning must lead to the right actions. It is not enough to think and know. Accomplishment and progress come through doing. So provide your body with the fuel and sleep it needs. Then let your mind take over to accomplish the rest.

*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.