How to fill your life with Category 3 people.

There are over 8 billion people on Earth. That’s hard to wrap your head around. In fact, wrapping your head around anything is hard to do. And it’s not good for your head. But despite the astronomical number of Earthlings, all people fall into 3 categories.

The 3 Categories of People

  1. People you don’t know.
  2. People you kinda know.
  3. People you know.

An Important Distinction

So, what is the difference between Category 2 and Category 3? To be categorized as someone you know, you must know their name. This is the gateway to a real relationship.

Key Idea

To fill your life with Category 3 people you should introduce yourself to everyone you spend time with.

Category 3 is The Magic Category.

Category 3 is full of your friends and family. This is your network. It’s your safety net. The more people you have in bucket 3 the more support you have. The more love you feel. Category 3 is where your opportunities come from. These are the people that can help advance your career, can help you make a sale, or offer you a kidney. These are the only people who will show up at your funeral (other than random people who love little ham sandwiches and sorrow).

Turn 2s into 3s

Category 2 contains people that you see or interact with. However, you remain anonymous to each other. Literally. The definition of anonymous is a person not identified by name; or of unknown name.

What you do with your category 2 people has a major impact on your life. The greater the percentage of people that you move from category 2 to category 3 the richer your life will become.

Conversely, the more people you allow to accumulate in category 2 the more loneliness and isolation you feel. A negative emotion builds in us when we are surrounded by people that we don’t know on a first-name basis (And I don’t mean like Cher, Madonna and Pele.)

The Power of 2s

This means Category 2 people are the swing people in your life. Leave them in Category 2 and they will always be familiar but nameless strangers. A natural tension accumulates between such people. You will wonder why you don’t actually introduce yourselves to each other. You create theories about dislike, or snobbishness, or standoffishness, or Eliot Ness. These theories are almost always unfounded. And almost always negative. Just ask Al Capone.

Most people simply avoid making the first move to introduce themselves to their 2s. It may be the discomfort of making the first move, a fear of rejection from a disinterested party. Or it may be that a body at rest simply tends to stay at rest.

It’s Smart To Hide Your Smartphone.

When we have a free moment among category 2 people we often invest our time and attention in our smartphone and its endless rabbit holes. It would be a much more valuable investment of your time and attention to introduce yourself to those around you. Exchange names and pleasantries. Find commonalities. Express your desire to turn your 2s into 3s. (You may have to reference this post for it all to make sense.)

Key Takeaway

Introduce yourself to everyone you spend time with. Clear out your category 2 bucket Move as many people to category 3 as you can. You will find your life fuller, friendlier and more enjoyable. More people will know your name. Which makes your world feel smaller, more personal, and more rewarding. By filling your world with category 3 people you win at life. It is how you develop a successful career. And it is how you create positive energy everywhere you go.

*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.

How to use video conferences to improve your appearance.

According to the Chinese calendar, 2020 was the year of the rat. No one is likely to argue that designation. But for most of us, 2020 was also the year of the video call. In 2020 I used Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, Go To Meeting, Ring Central, Skype, and PantsOptional. (Ok, I may have made the last one up.)

Zoom and its various alternatives have provided a way for life to continue with some sense of normalcy since covid-19 burst on the scene and began stealing our toilet paper. Thanks to these platforms we can still have meetings and meetups. We can still conduct business. We can still educate our youth. And we can still answer No when asked if we drink alone on those pesky diagnostic questionnaires.

The Zoom Advantage

While it is easy to think of a Zoom meeting as inferior to in-person meetings, there is at least one major advantage Zoom offers over in-person get-togethers. And it’s not related to deodorant.

Watch Yourself!

Zoom offers you the unique opportunity to see yourself the way others see you in meetings. It is arguably the greatest gift of 2020. And it’s a gift you should take advantage of.

When you are on a video conference, and you select to view the meeting in gallery mode, meaning that you can see all participants, you also get to view yourself, in real-time.

This self-view is extremely valuable whether you are talking and presenting or simply listening to others.

7 things to look for when you see yourself on Zoom.

  1. How do you look? Check your attire and your grooming. Do you look professional and respectable? Are you well dressed? Are you properly groomed? Or do you look like you just stumbled in from a pajama party? Your clothing and your hair still matter on Zoom. Look the part.
  2. Are you smiling? Do you look friendly? Are you scowling? Do you have RBF? It makes a big difference. Especially when you are not in the room together. A pleasant smile is a good default.
  3. How is your posture? Are you upright and attentive? Or are you lounging like you are watching a late-night informercial? I am surprised at how many loungers I see on Zoom. Especially among the student population. Don’t be that kid.
  4. Do you appear engaged and interested in the conversation? Or do you look like you would rather be anywhere else? People take as much interest in you as you take in them. So engage.
  5. Do you come across as energetic or lethargic? When you bring energy to the screen others do too. When you lack energy you put people to sleep, like narcolepsy.
  6. Are you providing affirmations? On video conferences, simple head nods go a long way to convey that you agree and support the points being made. However, one long head nod means you have fallen asleep.
  7. How are people responding? You can easily tie your delivery to the response you see on screen form others. Are you connecting? Are you knocking it out of the park? Or have you lost the audience? Make adjustments to make sure you are getting the response you are looking for.

Additional Considerations

To make sure you are presenting yourself well check the following:

  1. How is the lighting? Are you bright enough? Are you too bright? Do you look like you are beaming in from Heaven? Adjust your lighting using lamps or windows until you look great.
  2. Does your background help your brand image or hurt it? Be aware of what is behind you. It has the ability to make you seem more interesting, or reveal that you are really a slob.
  3. Check the camera angle. Think about TV news anchors. The camera should be at eye level. It should not be looking up your nose. Use books or boxes to raise your computer camera if necessary.
  4. Are you looking at the camera? If you have a second monitor it can appear as if you are never looking at the camera. This happens to me sometimes. It is weird. Fix it if you can. It makes you appear distracted or disinterested.

Take The Fast Feedback

Zoom and other video conference platforms provide you with a mirror during meetings and meetup. They allow you to monitor, evaluate and adjust how you are presenting yourself to the world. This is a rare opportunity to see what you are offering the world in real-time. It is like watching game film. It enables you to see how you are being received. And it allows you to change up your style and delivery, on the fly, and see how your audience responds.

Key Takeaway

Take advantage of the opportunity video conferencing offers and tune in to see how others see you. Notice how others respond to you. And experiment with adjustments. Zoom will teach you how to become a better presenter and a better audience. All you have to do is pay attention.

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

My 2 goals for 2021 are More and Better.

Here we are again at the beginning of a new year. The shelves have been restocked with hope. We have resolutions to keep and gym memberships to use. Okay, so you aren’t going to the gym because of covid, and because you have some kind of exercisey-thingie at home. (I have been going to the gym, because there is no one else there.)

The Resolutionary War

I don’t make resolutions. I set goals. And I have 2 very simple goals for 2021. They cover everything I want to do this year.

My 2021 goal: To do more and better.

I want to do more on the X-axis. I want to get better on the Y-axis. And I want all of the arrows in my life pointing up and to the right.

I want to do more of everything.

  • More fun
  • More joy
  • More work
  • More growth
  • More rewards
  • More winning
  • More exercise
  • More reading
  • More adventure
  • More volunteering
  • More helping others
  • More quality time with my family
  • More time spent with friends
  • More Dinty Moore

But it’s not enough to simply do more. I want quantity and quality. Like chocolate and peanut butter. Like tastes great and less filling.

I want to do everything better.

  • Better work
  • Better play
  • Better husbanding
  • Better parenting
  • Better friending
  • Better thinking
  • Better ideas
  • Better writing
  • Better contributions
  • Better skills
  • Better quality time
  • Better health
  • Better commitments
  • Better investments
  • Better conversations
  • Better advice
  • Better leadership
  • Better Homes & Gardens
  • Better Baby Buggy Bumpers

Key Takeaway

It’s impossible to know exactly what lies ahead over the next 12 months. But you can commit to growth and self-improvement. Your capacity is a matter of self-perception. Self-improvement is a mindset too. Getting your mind right is how you get your life right. So here’s to a More and Better Approach to everything in 2021.

30 Important questions to ask yourself at the end of the year.

We have finally come to the end of 2020. This year is certain to be a first-ballot inductee to the Year Hall of Fame. The unprecedented health, economic, political, racial, and social issues of 2020 have made this a year like no other.

Yet the adaptability, innovation, resilience and humanness revealed in 2020 have shown just how amazing humans really are. While cockroaches are known as the species that will survive anything, 2020 has proven that human survival skills are very well intact. Right Mr. Darwin?

Preparing For 2021

Now it’s time to prepare for a great 2021. Why prepare? Because great years, like great lives, don’t just happen. We make them happen.

A key element of living a great life is self-reflection. Asking yourself good questions is like conducting your own performance review. It’s a simple way to discover where you need to course correct, where your course is already correct, and where your corset could correct.

If you don’t know what questions to ask yourself, you’ve come to the right blog post. Here are 30 questions to ask yourself now to prepare to make 2021 your best year yet. For best results, write your answers down. In fact, I created a Google Doc that you can print or make a copy of right here.

30 Questions In A Particular Order.

1. Am I educating myself? Getting better starts with getting smarter. Continue to self-educate and your knowledge, abilities, and competitive advantages will grow like compound interest. 

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2. Am I exercising enough? Your body is your life vehicle. Regular exercise keeps it in top shape. Which will allow you to travel further, faster and over rougher terrain.

3. Am I giving enough to others? Shel Silverstein famously wrote about The Giving Tree. But there is also a magical Giving Boomerang (perhaps made of wood from the giving tree). Because when you give your time, talent and treasure to others, good things come back to you in even bigger and better ways.  

4. Am I disciplined enough? Discipline is what gets the job done. If you are not doing the things you’ve committed to, or if you are not avoiding the things you should avoid, check your discipline. Remember, you only need enough to create a habit. Then the habit takes over and discipline can be deployed towards something else.

5. Am I thinking big enough? The answer for 99% of us is no. Think Bigger. Think as big as you can. Think Elon Musk-y. Because bigger thoughts lead to bigger results. It costs the same amount to think big as it does to think small. But the return on your thinking investment is much different. You can always go bigger. #TWSS

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

6. Am I taking the actions that matter most? Not all actions are created equal. Remember the 80/20 rule. Find the small actions with the biggest rewards. There are a lot of actions that generate very little results. Simply taking the right kinds of action (interacting with the right people for example) can change your life. For proof see Sliding Doors or Run Lola Run.

7. Am I empathetic enough? Are you putting yourself in other people’s shoes? (Like Dr. Scholl’s) Are you really thinking about issues from someone else’s perspective? Want to make and keep more friends? Or develop more sales? Develop your empathy.

8. Am I providing more value than I am costing? This is the key to becoming a highly valuable and sought after human. Always give more than you take and you will remain in control of your destiny. As soon as that ratio flips you are no longer in the drivers seat. Sorry Charlie.

9. Am I getting better or getting worse? Check your trajectory. You are either headed up or down on every possible measure. The good news is that with all but some physical aging issues you can always improve your own angle through focused effort, commitment and mindset. 

10. Am I strengthening my network? Most people think far too little about the strength of their network. But take it from the mobile carriers, it is all about the strength of your network. Continue to develop and maintain meaningful relationships. Make as many genuine friendships as you can. When you do, your social, professional and political capital will continue to grow. Which opens you to more opportunities. Remember, opportunities are human things. 

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11. Am I valuable to know? Do you add value to others? Are you kind, helpful, or inspiring? Do you offer access and connections? Are you are great listener? Really think about the value you offer others. The more value you offer, the more people will seek you out. And you want to be sought after. 

12. Am I stretching myself? Growth occurs by stretching beyond your previous abilities. By stretching you expand and strengthen. If you are not stretching you are prone to atrophy and shrinkage. Nobody wants shrinkage. Just ask George Costanza.

13. Am I surprising people? Are you simply doing the things others come to expect of you? Or are you surprising them with new abilities and ambitions? Have you become predictable? Or are you endlessly interesting? Keep the surprises coming. 

14. Am I keeping my word? Trustworthiness is the bedrock of relationships, and the gateway to opportunity. Check your trustworthiness more often than once a year. Keeping your word is required on a daily basis. Like flossing and changing your undies.

15. Am I living into my vision for myself? You have aspirations. But simply having aspirations is not enough. You have to get yourself to the destination. You have to become the person you imagined, dragon. Do the doing, not just the dreaming. 

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Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

16. Am I noticing those who need me? We all have people who need us. Family, friends, clients, employees, community members. Do you see them? Do you notice what they need from you?  Do you notice what you have to give?

17. Am I being present? Be now. This is all you ever have.

18. Am I taking care of my health? Have you seen your doctor and dentist lately? Do you have a doctor and dentist? How about a mental health specialist? A chiropractor? Take care of yourself. Because everybody needs a body.

19. Am I eating well? You are what you eat. Literally. Be mindful of your personal building materials. It makes a difference. Because you don’t want to look like a Cheeto in your Speedo. 

20. Do I have a healthy way to destress? The world is an all-you-can-eat stress buffet. You need to have ways to rid yourself of the stress. Sleep, exercise and church are my go-to’s. Find your ways to destress best.

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21. Do I have enough human interaction? It is easy to become isolated from others, especially during a global pandemic. Humans are social creatures. We need a minimum of human interaction. Positive human interaction is often exactly what we need for comfort, belonging and perspective. During times of isolation, use technology to get your daily allowance of humans. Don’t use Chat Roulette.

22. Am I spending enough time in nature? Spending time in nature is great for re-grounding yourself. A little quiet time with Mama Nature provides peace and perspective you can’t get anywhere else.

23. Am I getting enough sleep? Sleep is the great reset button. It enables you to regenerate your best self. Take advantage of it. Get as much as you need. 

24. Am I finding joy in my work? Work fills half of your waking hours. Finding joy in work is finding joy in life. If you are not finding joy it is time for a change. A new approach, a new job, or a new career should be on the table.   

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25. Does my boss value me? An unfair amount of your happiness is tied to your relationship with your boss. If you have a boss that values you and treats you well you have won half the battle. If not, make a change. Life is too short for bad bosses. 

26. Am I living a story worth reading? You only get one shot at life. Make it great. make it a story worth telling, worth hearing and worth reading.  

27. Am I positively impacting others? At the end of our days the only thing that really matters is the impact we have on others. Focus on making a positive impact and you will live a great life.

28. Am I laughing enough? This is the easiest way to measure happiness. Laughter is more valuable than money. Spend more time with the people who make you laugh. They will make you feel most alive. 

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All Rights Are Reserved. All Lefts Are Outgoing. 

29. Am I making others laugh? We are drawn to people who make us laugh. Are you able to see the humor in life and share it with others? A humorous perspective is always a valuable resource. Especially during difficult times.

30. Am I investing enough in my most important relationship? Think of the one relationship that means more to you than any other. A spouse or significant other. A parent, child or sibling. A friend, partner or neighbor. Are you investing in that person as much as you should? Always give the most important people the most. 

31. Am I giving more than people expect? When you offer up 30 questions do you actually give 31? It’s not that hard to do. Overdeliver. People remember.

Key Takeaway

Self improvement starts with asking yourself good questions. You are a work in progress. Knowing what you should work on is how you make the progress.

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

Here is the link to the Google Doc with the 31 questions.

Happy New Year! 2021 Is going to be great! No Question.

Why it is so valuable to wonder as you wander.

In 2005 I spent a week working in Iceland and never saw the sun go down. While in the land of the ice and snow (with the midnight sun where the hot springs flow), I enjoyed a few closeup experiences with icebergs. In fact, one day we filmed my friend Thor Kjartanson waterskiing among freshly-calved icebergs. Which made Thor the most badass Viking since Fran Tarkenton.

Icebergs are magical creations. They are beautiful. Like floating sculptures. Icebergs are always moving and always transforming. However, as magnificent as one of these floating masses of Titanic-sinking ice art is to look at, roughly 90 percent of an iceberg is below the surface, and thus goes unseen.

Below The Surface

I feel like an iceberg. On a typical day, 90% of my activity is below the surface and goes unseen. Because my mind is always going somewhere. I am always thinking, wondering, and building in my brain.

Mental Jogging

One of my favorite hobbies is mental jogging. I simply start to think about anything I am interested in. Then I quickly jump from topic to topic and idea to idea, noting the connective tissue between each. It’s an enjoyable and useful form of mental parkour. (If you don’t know what parkour is check out this video explanation and the hilarious twist on the sport from The Office.)

Valuable Thinking

I spend a large percentage of my time thinking. But I am not just thinking about things I need to do or remember. I am exploring, creating, ideating and wondering as I wander. Like Fred Savage.

But despite the millions of miles of mental jogging that I have logged, only recently have I ever thought that not everyone does this. Which I think is a form of thinking bias I didn’t think I had.

I can jump into full ideation and creation mode, anywhere, anytime. I have made a career out of it. Heck, I have created two businesses out of it, including my t-shirt business, Adam & Sleeve, and my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry.

This person has magical feet that leave the footprints of many people.

Get Quiet And Get Thinking

I can think of new ideas, adventures, inventions and connections all day long. You can too. But do you? It simply requires a little quiet spot in your day. You can find time while you drive, or shower or lie in bed. Don’t fill your quiet moments with digital distractions. Allow yourself a little boredom, and let your thinking fill the void.

Thinking is the most valuable activity you can do.

Here are 14 Reasons Why:

  1. Thinking is what creates new ideas.
  2. Thinking is where winning strategies are born.
  3. Thinking leads to paradigm-shifting innovations.
  4. Thinking is where entertainment comes from.
  5. Thinking solves problems.
  6. Thinking creates opportunities.
  7. Thinking creates advantages and helps reveal them.
  8. Thinking changes perceptions and outlooks.
  9. Thinking inoculates you from a sense of helplessness
  10. Thinking provides freedom.
  11. Thinking creates adventure.
  12. Thinking turns the tables
  13. Thinking develops habits
  14. Thinking can give your courage, and heart, and a brain, and helps you find a lift back home.

Key Takeaway:

Thinking is the seed from which all great realities are born. To improve both your situation and your outlook, improve your thinking. Make a habit of thinking, and your thinking habit will make you.

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

How to take your good ideas from a lean to a run.

We all have aspirations of creating cool new things. Maybe there’s a company that you always wanted to start. There’s a t-shirt or hat you wish you had. Or a new product or service you know the world needs. Perhaps there is a meetup you wish existed. Maybe there is a regular get-together among friends. Or a new blog post that didn’t exist at 6:00 this morning. #ItsTimeToMakeTheDonuts

You wish that you actually started, did, or made those things that you think so much about. Right?

Well, you should.

What most people do when they have a great idea is fantasize about it for too long. Sometimes for years, or even decades. Unfortunately, the idea often dies when the person dies. Then the human and their unrealized dreams have a double funeral. It’s all so sad. (Tito, get me some tissue.)

At some point in the process, you lean forward on the idea. You start writing the idea down in your notebook or on your digital device. You sketch out details. You do some online searching on the topic. You talk to other people about it. Your Aunt Jan thinks it sounds fabulous.

Once you have leaned forward on your idea one of two things happens:

  1. You lean back to your normal resting position. At that point, the idea stops progressing into reality. Instead, it goes from a growing grape to wrinkly raisin.
  2. You transition from a lean to a run. You start taking bigger and faster steps. You quickly cover more ground. You start passing other people. Your hair blows back in the wind. You start hearing the theme song from Chariots of Fire.

Which of these do you think leads to real results, real businesses, and real products, services, and events that exist here in the real world, Alan Jackson?

Come on Eileen! It’s time to run.

Obviously, it is #2.

Transitioning from a lean to a run is the magic point when ideas get made. People who really create things don’t stop at the lean. They don’t simply fantasize. They don’t perform the minimum. They take additional steps. And those steps happen faster and faster.

What you’ll quickly find is that it only takes a few important steps in the right direction to build momentum. Once you have created momentum, the development process begins pulling you along, like a riptide. For those who create a lot, the process becomes like a black hole sucking you in until the idea is fully made. This is what you want. And it’s easier than you think.

Key Takeaway

Don’t just lean in on good ideas. Start to run. Rapid steps of progress get the job done. #RhymingReminder

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Why I have joined MasterClass and you may want to too.

I am always looking for ways to get smarter. I could use all the help I can get. So I read as much as I can. In fact, I consider myself a book collector. Mostly because I like to collect knowledge. I listen to audiobooks when I drive. I listen to podcasts when I mow the lawn. And I occasionally read directions.

Online Education

I have long been fascinated with online learning. The idea of taking classes online lowers the bar to continuing education in a significant way, eliminating the geographical barriers to access. Which is exciting for anyone who lives in BFE, or what more civilized people call the middle of nowhere.

MasterClass

I love to read books by or about people who are at the highest level of performance and achievement. So when I heard about MasterClass I was intrigued. In a nutshell, MasterClass offers a wide variety of classes taught by people who are masters of their craft. Each class consists of a series of short, easy-to-watch videos. The instructors teach lessons on a variety of nuanced topics within their specialty. But their lessons can be applied to a wide range of disciplines.

There are also instruction books that come as downloadable pdfs, which allow you to follow the lessons in written form. There are no tests. So it won’t induce that recurring dream about the college exam you forgot to study for, and then showed up to naked. (Did I just overshare?) MasterClass simply provides lessons and ideas to absorb and incorporate into your own life.

Some of the faculty at MasterClass in their yearbook photo.

So Far So Good.

Like The Carpenters, I have only just begun my MasterClass experience. But I am intrigued and impressed with the nuggets and reminders I am picking up. I think of the MasterClass videos like college lectures.

However, to make the most of MasterClass I would like to create a discussion group. I think of this like the discussion portion of a college class. Or a book club, only without the books, drinking and gossip. The point is to absorb the materials, think about what you are learning, and then consider the applications and implications with a group of other intelligent people to enhance the impact power of the lessons.

My MasterClass Club

My expectation for my MasterClass club is that we will decide on a class or two to take each month. Then we will meet for an hour or two to discuss what we have learned. We will explore key takeaways, and how we plan to apply what we have learned to our lives and careers.

My group will be run via Zoom, both because of covid (had you forgotten about that?) and because I don’t want to limit those who can participate due to geographical access. Which is what is great about online education.

Cost

When I signed up the cost was $15 per month, or $180 a year. Which is a small price to pay for insights, education and inspiration. However, when I signed up they also offered a buy-one-get-one-free membership. I just checked, and they are running that promotion now. So you should get BoGoing before the offer is BoGone.

A Scholarship Opportunity

I have a membership to give away too, like a scholarship. I have been thinking of people who I know that would really appreciate this. It turns out one of the people I was thinking of gifting my bonus membership to, my rockstar friend Nicole Hallada, already has a membership. Which doesn’t surprise me at all. If you sign up now, consider gifting your bonus membership to begin or grow your own club.

Your 2021 Improvement Plan

If continuing your education and self-improvement are a priority to you, consider joining MasterClass as part of your 2021 plan. If you do, or you are already a member, and you are a fun and interesting thinker who likes to discuss ideas with others, consider creating or joining a MasterClass Club.

Key Takeaway

There are valuable lessons to be learned from those who are at the top of their craft. Seek them out. Study their ways. Discover their keys to success. Incorporate their approach into your own. And surround yourself with others who are doing the same thing so you can learn from each other.

If you are interested in learning more about the MasterClass discussion group I am creating please let me know. Respond to this post, or send a note to adam@theweaponry.com.

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Hey adults! It’s time to make your wish list too.

One of the highlights of childhood is making your Christmas list. Which involves writing down all the things you want in life, with no regard for your parent’s tax bracket. Then you share your list with Santa so that he can overcome your parent’s financial limitations, and bring you exactly what you are looking for. It’s a nearly perfect idea. Nearly.

However, as an adult, it is just as important for you to write down your wish list. Taking time to think about what you want, what you really, really want in life is key to long term happiness and achievement. Just ask the Spice Girls.

If you don’t think about what you want you won’t recognize it when you see it. You need to know specifically what you are after. It is the only way you’ll know how to prioritize your time. Your list will determine how you budget your efforts. And like a good cult, your list will show you what you need to sacrifice to get what you want.

Don’t simply think about what you want. Like that note to Santa, it is time to write down that list of things you want most in life. Seeing those things on paper makes a difference. Revisiting the list often makes it important. Taking the actions required to attain the things on your list makes them real.

Key Takeaway

Creating a wish list of all the things you want in life is not just for kids. For adults, it works like a shopping list that tells you where and how to spend your time and energy. I hope you get everything you want in life. But first, you need to know what that is.

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