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.

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.

woman wearing black dress sitting on the floor
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.

alone buildings city cityscape
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?

monochrome photography of person on dark room
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.

You have perfected the old way. Now what?

I have spent the last few days speaking to smart people at a giant trade show in Las Vegas. Just as the World Health Organization recommended that we should all hole up in our closets for 2 weeks, I decided to hangout with 100,000 trade show attendees in Sin City. #RollingTheDice

CONEXPO

CONEXPO, the mammoth construction industry show, is the largest trade show in the history of my personal trade show experience. It is like the construction industry’s Super Bowl. Only without the extravagant halftime show. Or football.

Why Are You Here?

My advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry works with CONEXPO in a super secret capacity that I can not disclose. Yet. But as part of our work, yesterday I talked to people about why they come to the show. One particular attendee I talked to had a very simple way of summarizing why he comes. He said:

‘We have the old way of doing things down. We need to find the new way.’ -CONEXPO Attendee

I love this idea.

Out with the old.

It is really easy to master a way of doing things, and think that you can simply repeat that process, technique or approach for the rest of your days. But if you do, you will stop growing. You will stop improving. You will stop learning. And you will forfeit your competitive advantage to those who continue looking for the new way. The better way. The faster, easier and more profitable way.

Grow, Grow, Grow Your Boat.

Always be growing. Technology and innovation are continuously improving. The fact that we can instantly exchange information and cat videos across the globe means that we have unprecedented access to new information and ideas to help you improve virtually everything you can think of. Including your thinking.

New And Improved!

I worked in the advertising industry for 19 years before I started my own agency. But from day one, the technology and applications we implemented at The Weaponry were completely different than those I had previously used. Because we did our homework, and found new, smarter ways to perform our work. And to collaborate with our teammates and partners.

Today, as we close in our 4th birthday, we are challenging assumptions. We are open minded, and ready to advance as soon as the advancements are ready to be taken advantage of. And you should be too.

Key Takeaway

Once you have mastered the old way, start looking for the new way. Always be learning, growing and improving. Embrace change. Put innovation and advancements to work for you. They provide a competitive advantage. And if you don’t utilize them, your competition will.

Oh, and if you see me at CONEXPO, or out enjoying Las Vegas tonight, please stop by and say hi. Or bump my elbow with yours. Or point and smile. Just don’t shake hands. That’s the old way. Before the coronavirus inspired, new, smarter, safer techniques.

*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.

Happy Leap Day! Now make your extra day count.

Happy Leap Day! February 29th is your lucky day. In fact, it’s luckier than a 5-leaf clover. And it’s rarer than a mooing steak. In fact, it is so rare that it only happens every 4 years. Like the Olympics, a Presidential election, or Halley’s Comet.

Opportunity Day!

However it is not the rarity of Leap Day that matters. It’s the opportunity. Today is a totally free, bonus day! Which means that today is the perfect day to do something extra. Like Michael Jackson said, today, ‘You got to be startin’ somethin’. Or finishing somethin’. Or working hard on somethin’. #MaMaSeMaMaSaMaMaCooSa

saturday-night-fever-1977

Saturday Day Fever

Even better, this year Leap Day is the perfect bonus day. Because it falls on a Saturday. Which means you probably don’t have to work or go to school today. So take a few minutes to think about those things you have always wanted to do. Those things you can never seem to find the time to start, plan or complete. And get rolling.

Possible Leap Day Activities:

  • Exercise
  • Take a hike
  • Play a Game
  • Start a blog, vlog, slog, or drink Glogg
  • Start a business
  • Pick up a new hobby, or re-engage in an old hobby, like Holly
  • Create a podcast
  • Play an instrument
  • Create a product
  • Start a book (reading or writing)
  • Paint
  • Marie Kondo your house
  • Volunteer, or sign up to volunteer
  • Go to church (or find a place of worship to go to this week)
  • Start a meetup
  • Join a club or worthy organization
  • Ask someone to be your mentor.
  • Call someone you haven’t talked to for too long
  • Find a dentist
  • Find a doctor
  • Find a nurse
  • Find a lady with an alligator purse
  • Start your taxes
  • Plan a vacation
  • Organize a girls night, or a guys night, or a Michael Knight.
  • Make a career or life plan
  • Do something that’s more you, because no one knows you better than you.

Start Now

I started planning my own business, The Weaponry, during a little bonus time like you have today. Now we have 2 offices and clients from California to Quebec. I also started this blog during a little bit of free time. And this is post number 411. #Information Now it’s your turn to go do something meaningful today.

Key Takeaway

Time is your more precious resource. Use it wisely. Alchemize it into magic. And when you get a bonus day, or a bonus hour, take advantage of it. Otherwise, when you come to  the end of your time, you will wish you had.

Which begs the question: What will you do with your Leap Day?

Note: Happy Leap Day Birthday to my great friend Jeff Hilimire, who turns 11 today. I wrote a review of his book this week, not even remembering that it was his birthday this week too.

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Jeff  ‘The Leap Day Birthday Boy’ Hilimire, showing how big he was when he was born. He looks kinda manly for being 11, right?

Why compliments are one of the most valuable gifts you can give.

Money does not grow on trees. Unless you work in lumber industry, you’ve likely heard this saying a hundred times. The takeaway is that money is not free. You don’t have an endless supply of it. So be careful how you spend it. However, there is another extremely valuable asset that you have at your disposal, right now, that I encourage you to give to others as often as you can.

Compliments

If you have ever received a great compliment you know that they are worth more than gold. They are the currency that pre-pay many of the greatest accomplishments in our lives. They are the prizes that reward our greatest efforts. They positively reinforce our positive actions. They pick us up when we are feeling down. They keep us going when the going gets tough. And they help counterbalance the times we are told we have lipstick on our teeth, bats in the cave, or have left our barn door open.

Confidencements

Receiving compliments builds confidence. Compliments are proof that the world noticed you getting things right. They shine a spotlight on the skills and abilities that others value in you. Which reminds you to value them in yourself.

Get Comfortable With It.

However, paying people compliments can feel uncomfortable. We worry that our praise will sound weird. Or creepy. Or Weinsteiny.  Or that a compliment won’t mean much coming from little ole me.

To avoid personal discomfort we often add a qualifier or a disclaimer to our compliments. We say things like, ‘Don’t take this the wrong way…’ or, ‘I don’t want to give you a big head but…’ (which is materially different than giving someone a big headbutt.)

Straight Up, like Paula Abdul

Don’t add disclaimers to your compliments. Serve them straight up. Share your positive feedback and observations without any negativity. That’s how it has the most positive impact, and greatest value. Compliments are a tremendous gift. And they should be offered the way you offer cash in a birthday card. Crisp. Clean. Un-crumpled, un-ripped, un-torn. And in reasonably large quantities.

Making It Rain Up In Here

I make a point of offering compliments any time I can. Which means that I notice all the good things I want to see in the world. And I encourage others to create even more of it.  I find myself complimenting others for the following:

  • skill
  • effort
  • humor
  • kindness
  • adventuresnous
  • intelligence
  • braveness
  • creativity
  • problem solving
  • style
  • taste
  • commitment
  • improvement
  • inspiration
  • positivity
  • giving
  • smiling
  • good cooking
  • unselfishness
  • creating nice lists of bullet points

Creating Change

Mahatma Gandhi said that we must be the change we wish to see in the world. (He also said, ‘I feel like sheet today!’) But we must also call out and compliment the good that we want to see in the world. That positive reinforcement is the best way to ensure that you will see even more of it around you in the future.

Key Takeaway

Compliments are one of the most valuable gifts we can give another human. They are often the greatest payments a person will receive for their efforts. Compliments encourage. They reinforce. They have the power to change lives. So give them freely. Give them often. Give them without qualifier or disclaimer. And know that your small investment of time and effort may last a lifetime.

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

How close to the surface are your failures?

Tuesday night I guest lectured to an advertising campaigns class at Marquette University taught by Erin Napier. I talked about creative thinking and the creative process. I talked about my advertising career path, from college student to Copywriter to Creative Director to Chief Creative Officer. I talked about Entrepreneurship. I shared my experience as Founder & CEO of  The Weaponry. And I told them about the time me and Danica Patrick filled a Motorhome with 1.2 million ping pong balls.

Q & A

I showed samples of the creative work I have created, and then I asked if anyone had questions. This is one of the first questions I was asked:

‘What was you greatest career failure, and what did you learn from it?’

Now I am all about learning from your failures. And I am all about turning lemons into  lemonade, like Ralph Lemonader. But I didn’t have an answer for this question.

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This is the class I spoke to at Marquette University. And everyone is still awake. I consider that a win.

It’s not that I haven’t made mistakes in my career. I certainly have. But what I recognized when trying to access my colossal mistakes file, was that I don’t hold my failures close. They are not raw and ready to be examined. I am not dwelling on them, stewing over them of kicking myself because of them. I’m not like that super pale dude from The Da Vinci Code, who was torturing himself with his power slinky. I quickly learn my lesson and move on, better than before.

Maximizer

When I read Tom Rath’s Strength Finders, and took the test in the book (which I recommend you do), it told me that I am a raging Maximizer. Which means I have no interest in analyzing things that went wrong in the past. I simply focus on what we can do from here.

My Biggest Failure Answer

The best answer I could give that Marquette student was that I was pretty sure I don’t know what my biggest mistake was. It was likely something I didn’t do, rather than something I did do. It was probably some path I didn’t take, or some Monty Hall door I didn’t open. I’ll never know where that would have taken me. And I’m not losing any sleep over it. #Zzzzzzz

Learn & Move On

Our failures should be like touching a hot stove. We should do it once, recognize the mistake quickly, file the lesson away, and move on. No dwelling or hand wringing. We just learn our lessons, and get back to life. #BackToReality.

Key Takeaway

Learn from your failures and keep going. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t rank your greatest failures of all time. Instead, focus on your successes. Know what works for you. Remember what you did right. Repeat the positive actions. And pass that knowledge along for others to learn from too.

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