Find people who ask you questions you didn’t know to ask.

I have a new startup business idea in the embryonic stage. I know what I want it to look like fully-formed, but I don’t know some of the most basic details that will help me get there. Or at least I didn’t until yesterday (when all my trouble seemed so far away).

Good Call

Yesterday morning I had a call with an expert that I would need to partner with to make this idea a reality. He asked me many important questions about my plan that I simply had no answers to. There were a lot of TBDs. But with each of the TBDs, I became more D to find the answers.

One Giant Leap For Startupkind

That conversation was a huge leap forward for me. Because now I have my homework assignments. I know the answers I need to find. I know the boxes I need to chickity check. I know what I don’t know, you know. And like Robert Frost said, that makes all the difference.

Move Forward.

Entrepreneurship, and growth of all kinds, are adventures into the unknown. The most important thing is to start moving forward. Take a step and the next step will reveal itself. Kinda like a striptease.

Don’t be afraid to be asked questions you don’t know the answers to. Those questions are gifts. They tell you what you are looking for next, where you need to go next, what you need to do next. Because growth is all about what’s next.

Grow vs. Wade

Get in over your head. It is the fastest way to discover the next step. Getting into a conversation that makes you feel dumb is the best way to get smart. Stepping out of your comfort zone is simply the first step to expanding your comfort zone. That is how you grow.

Key Takeaway

When you step into the unknown growth is inevitable. It helps you collect questions. In the beginning, the questions themselves are the answers you are looking for. Learn the questions. Find the answers. Then find yourself where you always envisioned you would be.

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

Why you should reunite your tribe.

I am a dreamer. I love to think about things that would be cool to do, have, make or experience. But I have also learned that if you step towards the things you dream up, you can also make them real. Like Real Deal Holyfield.

One of my favorite things to dream about is people gatherings. Recently, I had a conversation with my high school classmate Kelly (McKeown) Gaudet, who lives in Denver. We talked about how fun it would be to have a Zoom call with our classmates from Hanover High School in Hanover, New Hampshire.

That’s Kelly. (She’s the one on the left.)

What Kelly didn’t know is that I am kinda like an assassin. Because once I start talking about a social gathering like that I won’t stop until the deal is done. Ok, I don’t know if that’s how assassins really work, but that’s what they said in the movie The Bodyguard. Which is where I got most of my assassin knowledge. (Side note: I always think assassin sounds like a verse of the Hokey Pokey: You put your assassin, you put your assassout, you put your assassin and you shake it all about…)

Taking Action

The week after Kelly and I talked about how fun it would be to have a class reZoomion, I announced that we would be having a reunion on our class Facebook page. Because I have learned that if you make thing up, and act like they are real, them somehow magically become real.

Some of my classmates at our last in-person reunion. (Before there were non-in-person reunions.)

Getting The Party Started

A funny thing happened last Thursday night at 8:28pm ET. People who haven’t seen each other in years, or decades, started piling into our class Zooom call. In fact, It was the most attended Zoom call I have been part of in the past year.

It was amazing to see so many friends from our class of 150-ish students together again. We debated exactly how many kids were in our class, with several participant noting that their class ranks were lower than the class population I stated (it’s hard to be 155th out of 143).

Unlike a traditional high school reunion where you tend to gravitate to the people you knew best, we all spent the whole call together. As if we were sitting around a campfire back in the Upper Connecticut River Valley, one by one, we each took a couple of minutes to update our fellow Marauders on our lives since graduation. We each shared:

  • Where we lived now
  • What we have been doing
  • Who we have been doing it with (snickering)
  • Who was the last person/people we saw from our class in real life

You’re Unbelievable, Like EMF

What we heard was amazing. Unlike at our 10-year reunion when we all just getting started, the stories now are remarkable. We were all blown away by the adventures and accomplishments of our classmates.

We had become educators and doctors. NASA scientists and lawyers. Sales experts and IT specialists. Entrepreneurs and professional singers. Marketing executives and CEOs, Nurses and farmers. Financial experts and artists. Hospitality leaders and physical therapists. Engineers and End-of-Life Doulas (bet you didn’t see that coming). Musicians and carpenters. Therapists and consultants. One of our classmates joined from Africa where she is working on human rights initiatives (thanks for joining in the middle of the night Willow!) And best of all, we had stay at home Moms, busy with the most important job we will ever have.

Many of our classmates had written books and traveled the world. We have spread across the continent and well beyond. I couldn’t help but be inspired by all that my classmates have done. And all that We have done as a class.

ProTip: The best time to do a social Zoom call is on Thursday night, starting at 8:30 ET. This avoids weekend conflicts. It also clears work obligations in all 4 U.S. mainland timezones.

Zooming Overtime

We stayed on the call for over 3 hours, with some people staying for 4 hours plus. We laid plans for an in-person class reunion in July, which I am thrilled about. Because you don’t get to make new old friends. And no one knows you like the people you grew up with know you.

Over the past year, we have all learned not to take the ability to simply spend time with friends and family for granted. Make sure to connect with your favorite people and reconnect with your long-lost people. Life is short. And at the end of our days, the only thing that really matters is the impact we have on each other.

Key takeaway.

To reunite your social groups, don’t be afraid to make the first move. You are likely to find others grateful for you taking the initiative. Strengthening our social bonds strengthens our mental and emotional well being too. Gather your tribe. Fuel that sense of belonging. And reinforce your social safety net. You never know when you may need it.

Thanks to my classmates for a fun and surprisingly profound Thursday night. I look forward to more!

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

To experience far greater success adapt an experimentality.

If you are like most people, you have enjoyed some success in life. But if you are like almost everyone, you haven’t enjoyed as much as you would like. To enjoy greater performances, better results, and more success you have to experiment. And this requires an experimentality.

An experimentality is a growth mindset. It is willing to learn and try new approaches in order to get better results. It is believing that good is not good enough. And that there is always a better way, José.

Constants

There are 2 parts to your experimentality. First, there are the constants. These are the aspects of your approach that don’t change. Your constants are the parts of your plan that are proven to work. These become elements of your repeatable process. Not only should you have constants in your approach, you should be constantly increasing the number of constants, like Constance.

Variables

The other part of your experimentality is your variables. These are the things you change to test the possibility of driving even greater results. There is more risk in the variables. But you will never change the magnitude of your success without adjusting the variables.

Like a David Copperfield show, this is where the magic happens. Changing the variables is the only way to experience breakthroughs. You have to be willing to try new ways, or you will always get old results.

10,000 to 1.

Thomas Edison said he never failed in his lightbulb experiments. He simply discovered 10,000 approaches that didn’t work. But through experimentation, and changing the variables, he found 1 approach that not only worked, it changed the world.

Without Edison and his experimentality, the world wouldn’t have known the lightbulb, the phonograph or the electric grid. And without Edison, nothing would appear above your head when you have a good idea. Plus, we wouldn’t have, ‘How many (blanks) does it take to change a lightbulb’ jokes. Scary right?

Whether you are trying to change the world, or simply change your world, keep changing the variables. The new approaches, techniques, and inputs are certain to impact your outputs. Some of them will lead to significant, vast, or even epic improvements. It’s up to you to determine which inputs those are.

Key Takeaway

Adopt an experimentality. The only way to get different results is to try different approaches. Keep track of your experiments. Note the impact of each adjustment. Because each one will get you closer to your goals. And one of them is likely to blow things wide open. Keep pushing until you find it. Don’t stop until the lightbulb burns bright.

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

100 Things I love.

Happy Valentine’s Day! I have been thinking a lot about love this weekend. Love is the most powerful and most positive emotion in our collection. To make the most of your time on Earth you should spend as much time as you can doing things you love, with people love, in places you love.

The first step is to know what you really love. Today, take an hour to write down 100 things you love. Not only will it force you to think about your favorite people, places, and things, it will serve as a guide, and show you how to live a life you love.

Here’s what I came up with. Surely there are many more things that should be on this list that I didn’t come up with in my limited time this morning. (And I’ll stop calling you Shirley.)

100 Things I Love (in no particular order, except the first ones.)

  1. My wife Dawn
  2. My kids Ava, Johann and Magnus
  3. My Mama, Dad and Sisters
  4. The rest of my ginormous family.
  5. My work
  6. Sweet Tea
  7. Hammocks
  8. Cliff jumping
  9. Road tripping
  10. Vermont
  11. Fishing
  12. Glacier National Park
  13. Boogie boarding
  14. Pizza
  15. Great puns
  16. Snowmobiling
  17. Laughing
  18. Making people laugh
  19. Mountain biking
  20. A great church service
  21. Great books
  22. Weddings
  23. Shawshank Redemption
  24. Lobster
  25. Hiking in the mountains
  26. Sunrises
  27. Black olives
  28. Elkton, Minnesota
  29. Thanksgiving
  30. Stompers
  31. Playing the card game Pit
  32. Throwing the discus
  33. Cheese curds (squeaky or fried)
  34. India
  35. Winning new business
  36. Running into people I know in random places
  37. Inside jokes
  38. My best friends from high school
  39. Outside voices
  40. The fresh tortilla chips from the Whole Foods in Dublin, Ohio
  41. Sabra Field art
  42. Wisconsin Badger football games
  43. Simon Pearce Glass
  44. Needing 4 wheel drive
  45. Montreal
  46. The Art Institute of Chicago
  47. Perfectly ripe pears
  48. Snowfall measured in feet
  49. My college track teammates
  50. Hilton Head Island
  51. ACDC
  52. Zucker Brother’s movies
  53. Canoeing
  54. Game night
  55. Roller coasters
  56. New York strip steaks
  57. Iceland
  58. My Madison Hall friends in ATL
  59. My funniest stories
  60. Investments that paid off
  61. Hearing that someone found value in something I wrote or said
  62. Energizing people
  63. Game of Thrones
  64. Real maple syrup
  65. Driving a tractor
  66. The smell of roses
  67. Handing out bonus checks
  68. A great quote
  69. The Patriots winning the Super Bowl (never gets old)
  70. Flip flops
  71. A great baseball cap
  72. Lifting weights
  73. My Dad’s Carmel Rolls
  74. A Red Sox World Series win
  75. Breaking Bad
  76. A military flyover
  77. Cheesecake
  78. The grand finale at a fireworks show
  79. A great performance by my kids
  80. My wife’s smile
  81. A great creative presentation
  82. Water parks
  83. Owning my own business (The Weaponry)
  84. Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream
  85. Discovering common friends (meaning finding out people we both know, not finding commoners and befriending them.)
  86. Raincoats
  87. Boots of all sorts. (Except the monkey from Dora the Explora)
  88. G-Shock watches
  89. Making my own t-shirts
  90. Making my sisters snarf
  91. The show Yellowstone (The park isn’t too shabby either.)
  92. The How I Built This Podcast
  93. Anything with Will Ferrell
  94. American Giant hoodies
  95. My Gerber tool
  96. My Kraken belt buckle
  97. Mount Ranier
  98. Manhattan
  99. Convertibles
  100. Overdelivering
  101. Campfires
  102. People who read my blog posts all the way to the end.

Key Takeaway

Fill your life with the things you love. The people, places, activities, feelings, food, and drink you love will lead you to a life you love. And life is too short to fill with anything else.

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

What to do when you find yourself in a blizzard.

I woke up this morning to one of the heaviest snowfalls I have seen in several years thanks to winter storm Orlena. The lake effect snow machine is in full effect here on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan. On top of that, the winds are whipping like the Dazz Band. And I say let it whip.

I love this kind of weather. Unlike hurricanes, tornados, floods and wildfires that leave massive destruction in their wake, a blizzard leaves the world better and more beautiful. After Orlena transforms the midwest and northeast into a fresh powder playground, images of the snowfall will be trending on social media like Gamestop. Or Grumpy Bernie.

My Daughter Ava sent me this pic from her room this morning.

Life Is Full of Blizzards

It’s useful to think of the challenges in your life like blizzards. They can be frustrating and disorienting. But once they pass, they often leave you better than they found you.

The Startup Blizzard

When I was first launching my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, the swirling uncertainty of startup-ness surrounded us. And that can really mess with you. Here is something I wrote about the experience we were going through 4 years ago.

From June 10th, 2016

Today I had a long talk with a co-worker who was having a hard time at work. Which is understandable. Because startups are kinda hard. Launching a startup is like walking in a blizzard. Wind and snow are all up in your grill. It’s cold. Visibility goes into the toilet. It’s difficult to navigate in these conditions.

In the middle of a blizzard, your survival instincts tell you to seek shelter. It’s natural to want to escape the relentless wind, disorienting snow and mounting drifts. Sitting by a crackling fire, drinking hot chocolate is far more appealing to most people.

But I like walking in blizzards. I like being out when no one else is. I like doing things that build my character, my will and my personal legend. In the same way a callus rises as the result of repeated friction, strength grows from pushing against resistance.

If a blizzard confronts you on your journey you have to keep walking. You must have faith that you know where you are heading. You have to take steps forward, even when it is hard.

Blizzards of the wintry, professional and personal kind are temporary. Eventually, the snow will stop falling. The wind will chill the eff out. And the sun will come out again.

When that happens, where will you be? It’s a matter of what you did during the blizzard. If you keep pushing, you will find yourself far ahead of where you started, far ahead of those who sought shelter, and closer to your ultimate goal. You’ll find the ultimate rewards far outweigh the hot chocolate you sacrificed along the way.

Key Takeaway

Blizzards are a part of life. They will make life hard for a while. But keep going anyway. Everything is more beautiful on the other side.

Follow Up Note

The Weaponry will turn 5 years old in April. Today we have 23 clients. Because we didn’t stop walking when things were hard.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them. If you would like a regular delivery of positive sunshine to your email, consider hitting the follow button on the left column.

Do you know where you are on your journey?

Life is a curvy journey. There is a definite beginning, a muddy middle, and a certain end. The government issues you a certificate to mark the start and endpoints. But the rest is up to you to chart.

Do you know where you are right now? Knowing where you are on your path is key to navigation. So is knowing your ultimate destination. So take a moment to evaluate where you are on your journey, like Steve Perry. You can use this evaluation on your personal life, professional career, or spiritual journey.

Where are you right now?

On the right road. This means you are doing what you expected to be doing right now. You have chosen a career you like or a role in your family or community that you enjoy, and it aligns with your vision. Keep going.

Make sure to bring Twizzlers and Funyuns.

On a detour. A detour means you were on the right road, but something has forced you off. Now you are having to find a new path forward. If you are on a detour keep your eyes open for opportunities to get back on track. It may take a series of approximations and corrections. Just make sure you a still magnetized to the original destination.

This is French for The Tour.

Driving aimlessly Yes, you are driving. But there is no destination. You are traveling just to travel, not with purpose. While this can be an interesting way to see what is around you, it is also a way to lose time, like Morris Day. It helps to set a limit on how long you will allow yourself to move this way. Then it’s time to pull out the map and determine where you need to go next. Which may also require you to redefine your ultimate destination.

Eventually, driving aimlessly will bug you.

Lost You thought you knew where you were headed. But somehow you have gotten turned around, bright eyes. A job, a boss, a workplace, or a significant other has made you question whether you were on the right path for you. Maybe you have never found your purpose and have been driving aimlessly for too long. It’s time to stop and think about your purpose, your goals, and your ultimate destination. Think about what makes you happy. Write your own obituary. The way forward can often be found through this exercise because it forces you to start again with the end in mind.

It’s time to find yourself again.

On a dead-end road. There is no path forward on the road you are on. If you find yourself here, turn around now. Any other road is better than this.

Turn around. There is a reason this is called a dead-end.

In a Cul-De-Sac This is like a dead-end, only it is really comfortable. You may be in a job that is paying you well, but it is not getting you all the way to your original goals. Or you may be settling for good enough. The Cul-De-Sac can be very comfortable today. But may lead to significant regrets in your final evaluation.

The comfortable dead-end.

Headed directly towards a clear destination This is the ultimate goal. If you know where you are headed and you are pointing in the right direction the only question is how fast are you moving? Check your speedometer, Casey Jones. Are you moving fast enough to get to your destination on time? Are you moving too fast, and likely to damage the equipment at your current pace? Or do you need to give it more gas? Chances are you could give it more gas.

Enjoy the ride.

Key Takeaway

To get the most out of life it is important to regularly evaluate where you are on your journey. Noting your where and when coordinates will tell you what you need to do next to get to your destination on time. Know your endpoint. Use all the navigational tools you have available to help you get there. And keep moving forward.

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

Opportunities are like showers. They need time to warm up.

Action and patience are like the chocolate and peanut butter of success. You need both. First, you need to act in order to create conditions for growth and achievement. You need to put the ball in motion. You need to hit start. You need to raise your hand. You need to plant seeds.

But then comes the hard part. You need to be patient. Because the universe doesn’t run on your timeline. The big break you are looking for doesn’t care how much you want it to happen right now, Sammy Hagar.

Opportunities are like showers. They take time to warm up. Which means you need to plan ahead. You need to take action early, so you can create opportunities later. You can’t wait until the moment you need results to get started. Or you are sure to get the cold shoulder, along with a whole bunch of other cold body parts.

Why? It takes time for the warm water of your positive actions to reach you. Remember, each shower works on its own timeframe. It depends on how far the shower is from the hot water heater, the size of the pipe, and how long it has been since you showered last.

Reminder

Once you have met a new contact, prospect, potential customer, hottie or employer, remember that you need to wait on their timing to be right to create a mutually beneficial transaction. If you insist on moving quickly, expect a cold shower.

Key Takeaway

Take initial action. Then be patient. We are all dependent on others. Arriving at synchronization takes time. Let the water warm up before you jump in. The wait is well worth it.

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

Be kind when you rewind your life in your mind.

Imagine your life as one long continuous recording. As Mo Gawdat notes in his book Solving For Happy, at our core, we are the observers of our lives. Your 5 senses record your life, from beginning to end. At any point, pre-Alzheimer’s, you can replay a part of it again. This is what you are doing when you tap into your memory. You are rewinding, and watching the game film of your life.

Watch Your Wins

What you decide to replay for yourself makes all the difference. Replaying past successes is good for you. It reinforces how capable you are. It reminds you how you win at life. It builds confidence, determination and a positive outlook. It reminds you that you are good enough, you are smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.

Watch Your Failures Once

Don’t make a habit of watching your failures over and over. Your failures, shortcomings and mistakes should only be watched once. This allows you to study the game film, see where the mistake was made, learn, and correct the behavior. After you have learned the lesson, let your failures go. They are done.

Create Your Personal Highlight Reel

How you view your life, and thus how you view yourself, is a result of which game film you choose to watch. Rewatch the good parts often. They will become your personal highlight reel. And just like your favorite movie quotes, those memories will be quickly accessible anytime you need them. So you’ve got that going for you. Which is nice. #NameThatFilm

My Highlight Reel

When I watch game film of my life here are some of the go-to moments I go to often:

• Tests that I scored 100% on. It reminds me I am a good learner

• Breaking the state record in the discus in high school, 8 months after having my ACL reconstructed. It reminds me of the power of my determination.

• Winning a new business pitch after a client told me I had no chance. It reminds me I can win, even when the odds are stacked against me.

• Founding The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, with $16,000, and growing it to a multi-million dollar business. It reminds me to take risks.

• Meeting my wife Dawn It reminds me of my good luck.

• Vacation adventures with Dawn and our 3 kids. It reminds me of how fun life can be.

• Seeing a map of the 120+ countries where my blog has been read around the world. It reminds me to keep writing.

• The positive notes from people who heard me speak or give a presentation. It reminds me that my messages have value to others.

The time I made a joke and someone laughed. It reminds me that it could happen again.

Binge Watch Your Best

To live a great life is to watch the good parts over and over. Remind yourself of your strengths, great performances and wins. Remember your positive interactions, collaborations, friendships and love, and you are sure to see more of it in your future.

Key Takeaway

We all have successes and failures. When you rewind your life, watch your failures once, to learn. Replay your successes often. Remind yourself you are a winner. You are smart, kind, and brave. Always focus on your good film. It will increase your happiness, and lead to more good film to watch.

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

20 Things I Am Glad I Did in 2020.

On New Year’s Eve, I sat down and reflected on the year gone by. The last day of the year is always a good time to look back and learn what worked and what didn’t. In 2020 I didn’t eat any bats. I didn’t break any windows that didn’t belong to me. And I didn’t act like a cranky baby during a nationally televised debate. I like to focus on the positive. So here are 20 things I am glad I did do last year.

Things I am glad I did in 2020.

1. I wore a mask a lot. It’s really easy to wear a mask. And it helps you and the people around you not get sick and die. That’s why Batman and The Lone Ranger both wore one. And they both saved a lot of people.

2. I saved for a rainy day. I have been fiscally conservative with my business, The Weaponry. Which means that I left money (my fiscals) in the business to make sure it could weather challenging times. So when the economy went sideways in March I didn’t panic. Not worrying whether we would be open to see 2021 allowed me to focus on opportunities instead. And opportunities kept coming.

3. I played foosball. During the March-May lockdown, my 3 kids and I played foosball together every night. It was something fun to look forward to each day. It was the only competitive sport we saw during that time. All 4 of us got much better at the game as we bonded and created foosy memories.

4. I went to the beach. In June my family and I went to Hilton Head Island for a week. While traveling and hoteling has some inherent risks, we were cautious, wore masks around others and socially distanced. But the change of scenery was valuable to our mental health. And the beach itself made us forget about life for a while (like in that Billy Joel song, with Davy, who is still in the Navy).

5. I bought lobster. While we were in Hilton Head my kids asked what lobster tasted like. As a New Englander, I have had a lot of lobstah. It was surprising to realize that my kids had never had it. So one night at dinner I allowed my kids to order the lobster, the most expensive thing on the menu. They loved it, and greatly appreciated the splurge. Remember, sometimes you’ve gotta splurge for the lobster.

6. I organized Zoom calls with friends. I probably had 1000 Zoom calls in 2020. After spending hours each day Zooming with clients and coworkers, I thought Zoom would be a great way to see my friends and family too. My sisters coordinated our family Zooms. But I organized calls with my college track teammates from The University of Wisconsin. I had calls with my high school football teammates. I had many calls with friends from New England, Georgia, California, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, Florida and on and on. It was a lot like having friends over for beverages. It simply required someone to take the lead.

7. I kept exercising. During the lockdown, I relocated our home exercise equipment to a more prominent place in our basement and started exercising at home with my family. Now, as my daughter Ava and son Magnus play basketball, my son Johann and I go to the gym and lift weights together several times each week. As a result, I am stronger now than I was 30 years ago. And I am way stronger than I was 40 years ago. (This sounds good until you realize how young I was 40 years ago.)

8. I rode my bike a lot. Bike riding during the pandemic was like going to therapy. (It was also like a song by Queen.) Most nights during the summer I would ride for 30-90 minutes. Not only was it good exercise, it was freeing in a time that didn’t feel so free.

9. We took an epic road trip. At the end of July, my family and I went on one of the 3 greatest road trips of my life. We took 11 days and drove from Wisconsin to Idaho. We visited several national parks, including The Badlands, Yellowstone, Glacier, and Theodore Roosevelt. The trip was an educational and inspirational adventure. It was the highlight of 2020.

10. I sent an email saying we were ready to help. On March 16th, I sent all of our clients an email saying we were up and ready to work remotely. We were fully functional from home on day one of The Lockdown. Our clients were ready to roll with us. We just kept on crushing it throughout the lockdown and the rest of the year. Not only did we pick up more work from agencies that didn’t make it, we ended up having our best year ever by 25%.

11. I gave blood. Giving blood has been something I always wanted to do, but just never started. I come from a family of blood donors. My Dad has given so much blood that I expect he looks like dehydrated fruit on the inside. I finally donated blood this fall. And I will definitely do it again. It is not difficult to do. And I am very proud to have finally checked the box on this oddly elusive life goal.

12. I spoke to college students at 4 different schools. In 2020 I spoke to students at The University of Wisconsin, Marquette University, Concordia University of Wisconsin and Carroll University. Yet I never set foot on any of the campuses. I spoke about advertising, marketing, creativity, business, entrepreneurship and leadership. But I was also able to develop stronger relationships with the professors, lecturers and other school staff members. The academic and business world should be more closely linked. Because we need each other (not knead each other, or kneed each other).

13. I gave bonuses. Throughout the year I was very open with my team about our goals for the year, both before and after we knew anything about covid-19. My team worked very hard to not only keep our business going and growing, but to keep our clients thriving during a very unpredictable time. And when a company does well the team should benefit too. So I was extremely proud to hand out bonus checks on December 30th. Because when the whole team shares in the success you experience more success.

14. I wrote 151 blog posts. I maintained my 3-post-a-week habit throughout the year. I tried to share good news and an upbeat, positive perspective throughout 2020. I hope it helped provide a little light and a little levity in brevity during the unique challenges of the year.

15. I became even more adaptable. The great gift of 2020 was adaptability. It was not an option to reject the opportunity to learn to adapt. It was a requirement. As a result, I learned how to function with new rules, under new conditions, in new settings. I learned what I could live and work without. I became more inventive and open-minded. I saw my children take classes, music lessons, and even athletic practice via Zoom. As they say at Progressive Insurance, you have to be able to go with the flow.

16. I helped people who needed help. I tried to help people who needed the kind of help I could offer in 2020. Sometimes it was encouragement. Sometimes it was business, marketing and entrepreneurial advice. Sometimes it was a bit of work for those who were having a hard time finding work and making money. Because we all need a little help from time to time.

17. I wrote a book. In 2020 I wrote a book. My goal in 2021 is to get it published. In 2022 my goal will be to have someone who is not related to me actually buy the book. More on this in a later post.

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18. I read Rich Dad. Poor Dad. to my kids. I have now read the book to all 3 of my kids. The financial literacy the book teaches is simply not taught anywhere else. In fact, the first two kids I read the book to this spring both asked to buy stocks and have done extremely well with their investments. I highly recommend that you read this book if you haven’t. Read it to your kids if you have kids. And if you don’t have kids, don’t have kids! They are expensive. Especially if they like lobster.

19. I switched dentist. My former dentist was fine. The kind of fine that will lull you into accepting a lesser experience for a long time. But our delayed dental care of 2020 encouraged my wife Dawn and me to reconsider the dentist we have seen for the past 3 or 4 years. We love the new dental practice we found. In fact, I had a chipped crown replaced and I literally didn’t have a moment of discomfort. Don’t settle for fine. Seek outstanding. And get your teeth right.

20. I said yes a lot. I had many requests for my time and talent in 2020. I was asked to help, to get involved, to serve and to contribute in many different ways. Yes was my default. I felt like the world needed more yeses in 2020. Perhaps I did too. Yeses help you grow and make the world a better place. Yes, even if you are the owner of a lonely heart.

Key Takeaway

It is important to reflect on your year, your actions and your attitudes. Note what is working for you and what is not. Learn and grow as you go. Be deliberate in your actions. Embrace a life of continuous improvement. It’s the best path to the best you.

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

You imagined a great life. Now make it happen.

When you were young you had an exciting vision for your life. You knew that in the future your life would be amazing. You would have a career you loved, a family who spent a lot of quality time together, and a fun friend group. Perhaps you imagined travel and adventure. Or you contributed significant time, talent and money to important causes. You created art or music. You looked great for your age. And you imagined yourself reading a blog post that reminded you of your life’s vision.

There may be hundreds of details about your life that you pictured differently than they are right now. But remember, you have the power to change those details. You have the ability to continuously improve your life. In fact, your life will become more like the life you envisioned until you stop trying to make it so. Or until you die. Whichever comes first.

Don’t settle for less. Remember that things don’t just happen. They are made to happen. You are the author of your story. You are the architect and builder of your world. You are the head of quality control. You are the bouncer, deciding who gets in and who gets thrown out. You are the boss, determining what work needs to be done next. You are the Dean, setting the coursework you must study. And you are the timekeeper who announces when you have spent too long on something that is not working.

Key Takeaway

You can change your life to be more like the life you imagined at any time. Don’t settle. Don’t give up. Revisit the vision you have for your own life often. And live into it a little more every day.

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