Yesterday I had lunch with people I hadn’t seen in over 20 years.

Social distancing is really odd. Suddenly we don’t see the people we are used to seeing every day. This includes co-workers, that dude or dudette at the coffee shop with the tattoos and the people at the gym, with the tattoos. (Okay, maybe I just miss tattoos right now, because my kids don’t have any. Yet.)

Right now we don’t see the people we regularly run into at school or practice or the movie theater. And we’re quietly hoping those people haven’t been voted off the island by the coronavirus.

Please enjoy this flashback while you miss the people in your neighborhood

My Lunch Bunch

Yesterday I found a replacement for the people that I regularly see in my neighborhood. In fact, yesterday I had lunch with 16 of my college track teammates from the University of Wisconsin. While it would have been great to gather at Mickies Dairy Bar, The Memorial Union Terrace, or State Street Brats, none of those places would have let us in yesterday because of the corona-cooties

Instead, we gathered over the lunch hour, via Zoom, from our home offices, kitchens and couches. We gathered from a hospital and from an Olympic Training Center.

And it was amazing.

We gathered from Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Madison, Chicago, Atlanta, Ft. Lauderdale, Green Bay, Omaha, Denver, San Diego, Houston and Phoenix. Some of these people I hadn’t seen or spoken to in over 20 years.

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This answers Aretha Franklin’s question, ‘Who’s Zooming Who?’

Badger Brothers

This group of guys has a very special relationship. We trained, suffered, traveled, competed, studied and partied together throughout our college experience in Madison. We learned how to succeed as a team. We won multiple Big Ten Championships as a team. And our head coach, Ed ‘Nutty’ Nuttycombe won more Big 10 championships than any coach in any sport in Big 10 history. Which makes us feel as if we are part of a legacy. Better yet, we all have funny Nutty stories to share. #tripletnieces

Nutty Said

Coach Nutty used to say, ‘It feels good to feel good.’ And yesterday if felt good to tap into the strong bond we still share during this challenging and isolating time. Our hour together reminded us that we are not alone. That we have brothers across the country to lean on, laugh with and learn from as we all go through this strange time together.

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Thank You

Thanks to Matt Downin, Louis Hinshaw, Tom Burger, Tony Simmons, Brian Veit, Jabari Pride, Bryan Jones, Matt Vander Zanden, David Sengstock, Jason Vanderhoof, Jeremy Fischer, Scott Brinen, Kevin Huntley, Scott Sullivan, and John Christensen for making the time to get together. I look forward to more. Because we are better together. Just like Coach Nutty, Coach Napes, and Coach Smith taught us. And we have the rings to prove it.

Key Takeaway

I encourage you to take advantage of this unique time to find and reconnect with your people. It only takes one person to get a video meetup started. So be that person. Channel your inner James Taylor, and let your people know that even in this time of social distancing and self-isolation, they’ve got a friend.

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My Badger Brothers.  Back before color photography.

Suddenly you appreciate the most basic things.

The best food I ever tasted in my life was a Wendy’s triple cheeseburger at an Oasis overpass in Chicago. I had gone 24 hours without eating anything due to travel craziness. And in my time of need, nothing Wolfgang Puck, David Chang or Jesus’s personal chef could have whipped up would have tasted better to me than Dave Thomas’s triple wonder did that day.

You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone.

Deprivation changes everything. It changes priorities at work and at home. It makes the least valued most valued. But the truth is, the value is always there. We simply miss it. We factor in the basics as constants in our science, math and social equations.

Instead of the basics, we get to focus on the less important things. Sports, movies, concerts, Happy Hour, Kardashians. These are all luxuries. Abraham Maslow knew it. When he created his Hierarchy Of Needs he put all of our most basic needs at the bottom. Not because they are least important. But because they are most important. Without those basic needs met, nothing else matters. No prestige or feelings of belonging or accomplishment matter at all if you are hungry, tired, worried about lung inflammation, or wondering what you will wipe your bum with next. 

Maslow's_Hierarchy_of_Needs

The 2 Week Lesson

Over the past 2 weeks everything has changed. We have flipped the Maslow’s hierarchy triangle upside down. Just like Suge Knight did to Vanilla Ice. What was last on our list is now first. We are now thankful for the safety of a simple shelter. We appreciate the security of isolation. We feel the value of the money we saved for a rainy day. Now we just hope we don’t get orders to round up 2 of every animal. Especially after seeing Tiger King on Netflix. #amIright

The Rise Of The Toilet Paper

Finally, we see the real value in toilet paper. Today, a carton of milk, a loaf of bread and a stick of butter are not food. They are peace of mind. Fresh fruits and vegetable are valued treats again. Like they were during most of human history.

For the first time in my lifetime, or at least since the movie Convoy, we as a nation are recognizing the critical importance of the truckers, transporters and delivery drivers.

The grocery store stockers and cashiers are our modern day militia. Without them we would all be scurvy pirates by now.

We suddenly see the value in the women and men who make our toothpaste, hand soap, disinfectant and medical masks. In fact, I am thanking them through my mask right now.

Timeout For A Reality Check

Today, we are reminded that we can carry on just fine without the athletic superstar we cared so much about 2 weeks ago. But without the farmer, nothing else matters. The janitors and cleaners who enter the building as you are leaving are no longer an afterthought. They are critical to the safety of us all.

When Forrest Gump, Mr. Rogers and Woody test positive for COVID-19 it is unfortunate. But the nurse who tests positive and cannot work is a threat to the safety net we are all counting on to catch us if we fall.

The Reset

This is an opportunity to reset. To realize how fortunate we are to spend so much time thinking well beyond our most important needs. It’s a time to recognize that unless you are Mr. Wipple, a roll of toilet paper is more important than most of the things you focused on 2 weeks ago.

Key Takeaway

If you let it, the scarcity and the scariness of these times can have a profoundly positive impact on the way you see and value the people and things around you. So let it. And emerge from this with a greater ability to appreciate what you have, what you need, and what you don’t. It will help you enjoy all areas of your life more. Just like Maslow said. 

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

Now, it’s just a matter of time.

Over the past weeks there has been a lot of talk about time. Government, school and business leaders have thrown out dates and durations to add definitiveness to the end of the coronavirus pandemic. But you don’t have to be a geologist to know that those dates are written in sand, not stone.

Why All The Time Passages?

People want answers, and certainty. Businesses want to count up all their cash, and divide it by the number of days of downtime to determine if they can make it to re-opening day. Parents want to know if this is a spring break thing, a summer break thing, or both. And God help us all if this is both. #ScreenTimeLobotomy Speaking of God, my church has cancelled all congregating until after Easter. Which is like 40 days and 40 nights.

The Truth

Right now, there is a very simple truth worth embracing: The timeline is unknowable. 

No one can predict how this will play out with certainty. Not Dr. Fauci, Dr. Oz, Dr. Seuss or Dr. Pepper. President Trump, Joe Biden and Weekend-At-My-Place Sanders don’t know. And as much as you, me and Bobby McGee want to know, we can’t.

I’m Good With That

I take great comfort in the fact that nobody knows the real timeline, for 2 reasons.

1. It is a reminder that much of this is up to us.

We, the people, are the great variable in the timeline. Our actions make all the difference right now. Our hand washing and our social distancing may seem trivial. But they are the grenades and the sniper rifles in the battle against COVID-19.

2. This could be much shorter than we are hearing. 

The timeline has become sensationalized. 9-months! 18-months! 2-years! Forever 21! (Wait, that last one is just a sign I saw at the mall.) Sure, these could be true. But remember, those who profit from fear and attention during a crisis are incentivized to make the situation even crisis-ier. #followthemoney

Have Faith

Have faith right now that this will get better sooner than later. Have faith in our medical professionals who are working hard to protect us all. Have faith in our scientists who are quickly learning, applying their knowledge, and blinding me with science.

Have faith in our political leaders who are learning from the good, the bad and the ugly around the world in order to create the recipe for success in your community. And have faith that God helps those who help themselves. Especially those who help themselves to generous amounts of hand soap and the sweet spot on the living room couch.

Key Takeaway

The duration of the Global Timeout is unknowable. Do your part, and this will be better faster. We’re all in this together. And we can get out of this sooner, together. A little patience and perspective go a long way right now. Take a deep breath. Take advantage of your time to think, and enjoy the quality time at home. Support those supporting the rest of us. And like Mickey said, we’ll see each other real soon.

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

Now is the perfect time to reconnect with your tribe.

I love the word tribe.  There is no other word quite like it. It’s stronger than the words family or friends. Which are vanilla descriptions. The word tribe has energy, magnetism and exclusivity. And if you want to accomplish great things, you better first find your tribe. Because it is a tough go on your own. Just ask David Coverdale.

What Is A Tribe?

A tribe refers to a distinctive, close-knit group. The distinctiveness is often clearly established and easy to articulate. You grew up together. You are sorority sisters. You are family members. You were teammates, bandmates, playmates or primates.

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The Hanover High School Hit Squad. So tough. So young. So tan.

However, the close-knit-ness of a tribe is complicated. It isn’t automatic. Just because you were classmates or roommates doesn’t mean you were close. Which begs the question, How do members of a tribe become close-knit?

There are a few important factors:

  1. You have meaningful shared experiences.
  2. You have spent significant time together.
  3. You find value in your distinct relationship.
  4. Your common thread is highly important to you.
  5. Members want to remain close to each other.

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College roommates who made it out alive.

Time To Gather

Now, during this period of historic social distancing, is the time to gather your tribe. In the midst of our isolation we could all use more positive and supportive social interactions. Luckily, thanks to modern technology, it is easier than ever to gather your tribe without catching corona-cooties. or violating government ordinances.

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Atlanta neighbors. It’s not a party without a bottle of Pellegrino. 

Here are 2 things you can do right now to bring your tribe together.

1. Create A Tribe Text

It is extremely easy to create a group chat. I have a wide range of chat groups with college track teammates, high school football teammates, my sisters and parents, college roommates, former coworkers (which I always read as cow orkers) and more.

This is a quick and easy way to huddle up your tribe and remind them that they are part of a special group. It sends a message that you value them and want to hear from them. In challenging times it creates an open forum for sharing your feelings.

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Badger track teammates from UW Madison, and alcohol.

These group chats can provide a rapid-fire feed of good news and comedic commentary in good times. And they create a quickly deployable safety net when someone (or everyone) in the tribe is going through tough times and needs support.

2. Create A Video Conference Meetup

There are a multitude of platforms you can use to create a video meetup for your tribe.  I use Zoom, or Google Hangouts. You can also use Webex, Skype and others. Simply invite the members of your tribe to call in at a scheduled time, and show up. Depending on your tribe, you can gather early in the morning, at coffee time, lunch hour, happy hour, or in the evening, Led Zeppelin-style.  Keep an open mind and find what works for you.

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Badge-wearing members of my CEO roundtable.

Structure

I like to structure my meetups, whether in person or online, to get the most out of our time together. This involves an introductory routine for everyone to offer their latest updates, usually limited to 1 to 3 minutes per person. Then we move through a discussion of various topics, either predetermined, or group-sourced during the meeting. Each topic discussed has a time limit. Which allows you to spend time discussing several different topics of interest and value to the group.

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My original tribe.

Key Takeaway

Now more than ever, we can all benefit from our tribes. Connecting via group text is easy to do. Yet the results can be profound. Now is a great time to start a video meetup for more meaningful discussions, with real faces. Then continue the meetups online or in person once our social distancing prescription expires. At the end of our days, the only thing that matters is the impact you have on others. And that impact is much needed right now.

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Some of the Albrecht Tribe. #werolldeep

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

How to make the most of the global timeout.

Over the past month the world has been introduced to an interesting new term. Social distancing is what the doctors have ordered to help minimize the spread of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Social distancing means we all go to our own homes and stay there until we are told we have been there long enough.

The Timeout

For some people this is a strange concept. But parents will recognize this as a timeout. It’s a time when you tell your children that they have to stop what they’re doing (cuz they’re about to ruin, the image and the style that you’re used to). For decades we have been sending our kids to their bedroom, the stairs or a faraway corner to give them time to calm the eff down, and think about their actions.

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This woman looks like she is calming the eff down. She also looks like she could use more furniture.

The social distancing ordered by governments, the Center For Disease Control and the World Health Organizations (led by Roger Daltrey, Pete Townsend and Keith Moon) is really a global timeout for citizens of the world. And it may just be the best thing to ever happen to us.

Time To Think

Just like timeouts for kids, this Global Timeout gives adults time to think about their choices, actions and repercussions. It reminds us that we shouldn’t take our liberties or our opportunities for granted. It reminds us that life is short. And that time is our most precious commodity.

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Taking the WHO’s advice seriously, Tommy is taking a break from playing pinball to think.

The Global Timeout, also known as Wuhan Soloing, is a perfect opportunity to reevaluate and adjust your goals and the action required to attain them. Now is the ideal time to think about your personal life, health, faith, family and friendship.

Career Evaluation

The Global Timeout offers the ideal time to think about your career. Are you on the path you want to be on? Are you making progress towards your goals? Are you as fulfilled as you want to be? And if you are a member of 2 Live Crew, are you as nasty as you wanna be?

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Think about it. There must be higher love.

Getting Down To Business

The Global Timeout is the perfect time for businesses to think about the future. To determine where you want to go, and what you want to become 3 to 5 years down the road. If your business has quieted substantially during this time, see this as an opportunity. The slowdown provides you with time to think. And big results are a result of big thinking. The type of thinking that is hard to do when you are busy with your day to day operations and responsibilities. Or on a ventilator. So remember to keep washing your hands.

Key Takeaway

Social Distancing is a gift. This forced timeout offers an opportunity to think and evaluate your life, your career and your business in a way that you may never have again. Don’t waste it. Make sure that when we reach the end of this period, in a matter of weeks or months, that you emerge from this better, smarter, more focused on your next chapter. Those who take advantage of this opportunity will win. Both at work and at life. Make sure you are one of those people.

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

What role will you play in the coronavirus story?

I love a good story. And right now I am in the early chapters of a really interesting new story. Only it is not a book, movie, or TV show. It’s real life. And you are in the story too.

The Coronavirus

The new reality caused by COVID-19 is turning into one of the most fascinating experiences of my life. And we are just getting warmed up. What began as a health problem in Wuhan, China is now impacting all manner of life on my side of the planet in ways that would have been unimaginable a week ago. Unless, of course, I was watching what was happening in Italy a week ago. But I wasn’t. Because sports were still on TV.

War of The World

Remember hearing the story of Orson Wells’ War of The World radio broadcast when we were younger? This feels a lot like that. Only the Aliens are viruses. And what was a fake newscast is really happening.

Shut’n Er Down

Sports of all sorts are cancelled. Schools are closed. Amusement parks, museums and zoos are shut down. Travel is greatly restricted, and will likely restrict even further. And I am not just talking about the economy class seating.

The Upside

Yet within these unprecedented times are amazing opportunities. Opportunities to connect with those closest to you. To slow down. To go for walks, hikes and bike rides. To play games at home. To cook more. To read more. To create more. And in 9 months, I expect to see a global wave of tiny little coronavirus-inspired Earthlings.

Do Good

Today, there are new opportunities to volunteer and contribute. Support the organizations that support those who are most impacted by this pandemic and the economic repercussions.

Build

There are new business opportunities all around us. The new reality means new unmet needs. And unmet needs are the seeds from which businesses grow.

Lead

There will be opportunities to lead. To take actions that help your community. Both in the prevention of the spread of the virus in your community, and in the recovery and return to normalcy after the threat passes.

Key Takeaway

A significant chapter of global, national and personal history is being written right now. Be thoughtful about the role you will play in the story. Keep washing your hands. And be patient. This too shall pass. And we will all have an interesting story to share.

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

You are luckier than you realize.

I recently discussed my upcoming travel plans with my teenage daughter, Ava. I told her that the next morning I had a flight that left at 5:40am. Her jaw dropped. She looked at me in disbelief. Finally, she said, ‘You are sooo lucky!!!’

I was not sure she understood what I had said. I clarified that my flight left at 5:40, AM. Which is the morning one. She said, ‘I know.’

I asked, ‘What time do you think I need to get up to make a 5:40am flight?’ She ran some quick calculations in her head and confidently replied, ‘4:00am.’ Which both Steve Harvey and Richard Dawson’s surveys said was the number one answer on the board.

I asked, ‘Then why do you think I am so lucky? To which she responded:

‘You are lucky because you get to go on a trip! For work! Dad, you are getting paid to travel! Which means you are killing it! Plus, you love your job. And you won’t be working the entire time. So you’ll get to enjoy some good meals and free time in a fun city. And I have to go to school.’

-Ava Albrecht (14 y/o)
Me and my daughter, Ava, and some Chihuly glass.

From The Mouths of Babes

What a great perspective. When I was planning the launch of my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry I dreamed of the day that a client would pay me to travel for business. Today, we have 3 Weapons traveling to Las Vegas for a week to do important work for one of our great clients. And I am feeling extremely lucky. Like a rabbit with its lucky rabbit’s feet all still attached.

One Last Reminder

As I boarded my flight at 5am, I spotted my friend Mark in line behind me. We greeted each other enthusiastically. He told me that he and his family were headed to Costa Rica for spring break. He continued, ‘I assume you are traveling for business.’ I confirmed that I was. To which he responded, ‘Yeah, but you love your work.’

Indeed I do. Which makes me really lucky.

Key Takeaway.

If you enjoy your work you are lucky. If you get paid to travel you are lucky. If you start a business and attract customers or clients who dig what you do, you are lucky. It is easy to lose sight of your good fortune. Or to take it for granted. So this is a simple reminder that having family and friends to remind your of the good things in your life is lucky too. Have a great day! I hope you kill it!

*If you know someone who could use this reminder, please share it with them.