If you want results stop chipping and start chopping.

Not all actions are equal. Which means the return on your invested time and energy is not equal. Occasional effort put into an activity, practice, or exercise is not the same as fully-dedicated effort with a plan, a schedule, and a timer. #TimeToMakeTheDonuts

Chipping

Chipping is the occasional effort you put towards a task. Sometimes you go for a run, eat a salad, read, or play an instrument. Chipping is going to church at Christmas and Easter, which makes you a  Chreaster. Chipping is shooting hoops in the driveway, sometimes, in your flip flops.

Chipping means you partake occasionally, when you feel like it. You write, sometimes. You study, now and then. You work late once a month.    

Chipping lets you say you tried. But it doesn’t move the needle. It doesn’t build momentum. And it won’t help your New Year’s resolution survive until February.

Chopping

Chopping is focusing on your goals, making a plan, writing it down, creating a schedule. Chopping means declaring a goal. Or declaring war. Chopping means setting a timer to your activity. Chopping is creating a habit. Chopping is swinging away and working up a sweat like clockwork. Over and over again. Like Nelly and Tim McGraw.

Key Takeaway

Chipping allows you to say you tried. Chopping brings down the tree.

How to be a better leader during a crisis.

It’s 2020, and we are all taking a crash course on crisis management, whether we want to or not. This is a crazy time. But life is full of crazy times. And when the crazy times come they create opportunities for leaders to step up and lead their people through the experience. So as Prince once said, let’s go crazy.

The Crisis Question

The great question that we all have to ask ourselves when we face a crisis is: What role will I play?

There are always many roles available to us. We can be The Complainer, The Blamer, The Eye-Roller. The Conspiracy Theorist, Negative Nancy, Debbie Downer, or RBF. These are easy roles to take on. But they add no value to others.

However, there are also these roles:

  • The Optimist
  • The Cheerleader
  • The Rock (the Dwayne Johnson role)
  • The Person of Few Words.
  • The Sage
  • The Jester
  • The Father Figure (George Michael called dibs on this)
  • The Mother Figure.
  • The Big Brother or Sister (Not the CBS version)
  • The Listener
  • The Stabilizer
  • The Rebel (Billy Idol and James Dean role)

These can all be valuable leadership roles that help your organization, team or family through challenging times.

When to Choose Your Role

The best time is to decide which role you will take on is before a crisis occurs. It’s good to think about which of these roles work with your natural tendencies and personality. It’s also good to understand which roles your team, group or organization already have covered, and what is available to you. Just like in Dungeons & Dragons.

Consistency

Once you pick your role, never waiver. I have spent my career building brands for some of the world’s best companies. And the most important factor in developing a strong brand is consistency.

So as you develop your strong crisis leadership brand always be who your team needs you to be.  Don’t be the optimist some days and the complainer other days. That spoils everything.

De-escalation*

In a crisis, emotions naturally escalate. Which simply exacerbates the problem. That’s why there is tremendous value in those who can help decrease the pressure in a situation. Always focus on making things better. Not worse. Others will recognize that, and seek you out in challenging times.

*This is not the down escalator.

Conflict Resolution.

My wife and I recently celebrated our 18-year wedding anniversary. I attribute much of our successful marriage to the fact that we resolve our conflicts quickly. We recently both agreed that in the 20 years we have been together as a couple, including 2 years pre-ring-wearing) the longest we have been in conflict with each other is 24 hours. We swear by the following conflict resolution formula to help get through our sticking points. (I also swear when I am not by the following conflict resolution formula.)

The Sure-Fire Formula

  1. The first person speaks without interruption.
  2. The second person plays back what they heard.
  3. The second person speaks without interruption
  4. The first person plays back what they heard.

Why this works:

  1. You both get to say everything you want to say.
  2. You both feel heard.

Try this the next time you have a conflict with another person. If it doesn’t work I’ll refund the money you spent on this blog post.

Leadership Is Lonely.

As a leader and an entrepreneur, I can’t show indecision or weakness to my team. They have put their trust in me, and I can’t waiver in front of them. Instead, organizational leaders need to find their own support group. This consists of a person or people outside your organization, team or family who you can share your challenges with.

I am part of a CEO roundtable that meets once a month to discuss the challenges we are facing, support each other and offer advice and guidance. It has proven to be a highly effective way of supporting leaders who don’t have a natural support structure within their own organization. And research on roundtables groups has indicated that any shaped table will do.

I have also created a meetup group of men who live in my community. All of them are either successful entrepreneurs or top leadership within their businesses. They are all husbands and fathers. We talk about issues that dudes don’t typically talk about. In this environment we can discuss the real challenges we face, the uncertainty we feel and share thoughts on how to be better businessmen, family men and members of our community.

Taking Care Of Yourself In Crisis.

There are stresses, frustrations and losses that accumulate every day. We are drained by daily setbacks. And 2020 has taken things to 11. So we have to prevent the stress gunk from building up and fouling our systems. The key is to figure out how to reboot, regenerate, and respond positively. 

The following 3 activities provide a proven formula for positively dealing with stress.

  1. Sleep helps your body and mind refresh and recover.
  2. Exercise helps you burn the stress off.
  3. Worship helps you rebalance and offers big-picture perspective.

You need to get rid of the stress gunk that builds up like WD-40. These back-to-basics keys help you find your balance again when you start to weeble or wobble. Try them for yourself. They will make you feel like a better human.

Key Takeaway

  1. Crisis is unavoidable.
  2. Crisis creates opportunity (Remember, chaos is a ladder).
  3. Find your most valuable role and play it consistently.
  4. Learn to de-escalate.
  5. Use the 4-Step approach to conflict resolution.
  6. Leaders need to find their own support system.
  7. Decrease your stress through, exercise, sleep and your own spirituality.

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

Do you know your good misses?

My daughter Ava is a freshman in high school and has been playing basketball since 4th grade. To improve her skills, she has also been training with Joe Chapman at Chapman Basketball Academy in Milwaukee for the past 3 years.

Joe is a great coach. In fact, he coached the Marquette alumni team, aptly named The Golden Eagles, to the championship of The Basketball Tournament. So what you say? The winning team wins $1 million dollars. Which makes TBT one of the most exciting new sporting events concocted this century.

Joe Chapman with the left-handed ET greeting.

The Good Miss

During CBA training sessions I regularly hear Joe say, ‘Good miss’. For developing basketball players, a good miss is a shot that hits the back of the rim. This is the best way to miss a shot for a several reasons:

  1. You hit the rim. Which means that your aim was in the right direction. If you don’t hit the rim it’s a bad miss. (I have mastered the bad miss if you want to see what that looks like.)
  2. A shot that hits the front of the rim is too short and will naturally bounce out, based on physics, angles, relativity and polarity. (I may have made the last 2 up.)
  3. A shot that hits the back of the rim was aimed correctly, had enough distance to go in, and could still bounce into the hoop. In other words, the shot that hits the back of the rim gives you a chance. #SoYourSayingTheresAChance
Ava and Joe and a banner (but not David Banner).

Pro Tip

Travis Diener, another Chapman Basketball Academy trainer who played in the NBA for the Orlando Magic, Indiana Pacers and Portland Trailblazers, told me that for him there is no longer a good miss, and that he expects to make every shot he takes. But that when starting out it is good to distinguish good misses from bad misses so that you can identify progress as you develop and refine your skills. And since Diener hit the winning million dollar shot in this year’s TBT, he knows what he is talking about, Willis.

Travis Diener, with the leaner.

Your Good Misses

We all have good misses. These are the attempts that didn’t land where or how you intended. And they occur in every area of your life. But you can still take positive feedback from the results. As you are learning new skills and developing new muscles it is important to distinguish good misses from bad.

Until you master an activity you should give yourself partial credit for your good misses. For the actions that were nearly there. When you clearly identify the intended outcome you can measure your improvement through efforts that land just one circle out from a perfect execution.

Hypothetical Examples

  • Maybe you didn’t land the job, but you got the second or third interview.
  • You made a cold call and you got a response, but not a yes.
  • Your backhand cleared the net, but landed outside the lines.
  • While parallel parking you bumped the curb, but not the other cars.
  • You asked that cute guy or girl out, but called them by the wrong name.

Key Takeaway

When you are developing a new skill your performances are not black and white. Don’t simply categorize your attempts as passes or fails. In every activity there are good misses. And there are airballs. Know the difference, and know what you can learn from each of them.

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

Get a little smarter every day.

Since Labor Day my 3 kids have been in school full time. By this I mean they are in a real brick-and-mortar-and-spitball schools, where they see their classmates sitting near-ish them, not in squares on a computer screen.

Every morning as they leave for Homestead High School, Steffen Middle School and Wilson Elementary I send them off with the same instruction: Come Back Smarter.

The very purpose of attending school is to increase your intelligence. (And to get a return on all the tax dollars your parents pay.) Day by day, and week by week, if you take advantage of the opportunity, you get smarter and smarter. The way a snowball becomes larger and larger as you roll it. #WinterIsComing

This means that when you send your child off to school (or into their virtual schooling pod), they come back (or out) as a better, more intelligent, more capable version of themself. How much better, and how much smarter is largely up to them and how much they are willing to soak up. And how much they are willing to reconfigure their thought processes as a result.

But the opportunity for daily self-improvement doesn’t end at graduation. You have abundant opportunities for daily growth your entire life. It should be your daily imperative that you end the day smarter than you began.

You don’t need to be enrolled in school to increase your intelligence daily. Simply do these 7.5 things as a matter of habit:

  • Read
  • Ask
  • Listen
  • Investigate
  • Try
  • Discuss
  • Watch
  • (And maybe Google)

Keep your mind open. You will be amazed by how much enters in. 

Key Takeaway

When you get out of bed each morning commit to hitting the pillow that night with a smarter, not harder head. Keep your mind open and keep improving it. By upgrading your personal operating system daily you will maximize your personal potential, your earning potential, and lifetime impact on the world.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them. And maybe tell them that you didn’t send it to them because you thought they were dumb.

Find the things that make you feel alive.

My son Magnus is 10 years old and loves football. I have been coaching his flag football team for the past 3 years. It is our favorite thing to do together. And our best bonding time.

This fall I was looking forward to another season of coaching with my fellow University of Wisconsin alumni Dr. Michael Brin and Josh Hunt, both of whom played football for the Badgers. Their sons Josh and Hudson are both great kids, great athletes, and we have had a really good team together. But by late summer we heard that the flag football program was cancelled. Boo.

Me, Mike, Josh and our boys, with pre-covid splits. Hudson is doing his funhouse mirror impression.

When we learned the flag had been pulled off the flag football season I contacted our local tackle football program. The league starts in 5th grade. But roster space permitting, they will also accept a few 4th graders if they meet the size requirement. Magnus is a sizable boy (a sizable boy they all say) and has met the 5th grade size requirement since 2nd or 3rd grade.

When the tackle program was green lighted, there was room for Magnus. So this fall, instead of playing flag football, video-game football or paper triangle football, he has been training in full cleats, helmet, mouthguard, shoulder pads and boy part protector.

Yesterday Magnus had his only scrimmage of the season. His 5th grade team played the program’s 6th graders. Which meant that Magnus, my 4th grader had his first full-contact tackle football experience against kids 2 years older than him. Because sometimes life just works out that way.

The highlight of the experience occurred as Magnus was playing defensive end. A 6th grade ball carrier broke past the line of scrimmage and began running down the field. Magnus turned in hot pursuit as if the kid had stolen his lunch money. Magnus caught up to the running back, leapt, landed on the 6th grader and brought him decisively to the ground. My friend Matt Joynt, who was standing a social distance from me said, ‘That looked like a lion jumping off a rock onto a gazelle.’

I instantly cheered my little 4th grader’s first-ever tackle. As did my wife Dawn and daughter Ava. It was an exciting moment for our family. And for a kid who just weeks earlier looked as if he would have a football-free fall.

After the scrimmage, when Magnus rejoined us, I asked him about his tackle. A broad smile lit up his face as he replied, “It was so awesome! I still feel like I have rainbows in my stomach!’

Key Takeaway

Life is short. Pursuit your interests, curiosities and passions like a lion chases a gazelle. Find the experiences that fill your stomach with rainbows. Pack your life with joy and fulfillment. We only get one chance to play this game. Between the opening whistle and the final tick of the clock, I hope you are flooded with positive feelings that are beyond your ability to articulate. That’s how you win this game.

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

What happens when you share your energy with the world.

I love the way a good quote can quickly and simply summarize a complicated idea. I recently discovered a quote that tries to summarize the meaning and purpose of life. Which is an ambitious undertaking for a quote. Here it is:

“The purpose of life is to discover your gift; the work of life is to develop it; and the meaning of life is to give your gift away.” — David Viscott.

I first wrote about this quote in the post Are You Sharing Your Gift With The World? If you prefer to digest a series in order, you should click on that post and read it before you proceed here. Because this is a follow-up. Like Terminator 2. Or the calls you keep getting about your car’s extended warranty. If you don’t like being told what to read, or when to read it, I admire your willingness to totally ignore the value in the previous post. Read on, Reader!

Discovering Gifts

I am not sure if I have one great gift. But I have discovered that I have been blessed with several smaller gifts. By blessed I mean that I am not responsible for their existence. However, I have worked on developing them. Sort of. Those gifts include the ability to misinterpret any word that has an alternative meaning. In fact, I have recently suggested that one of my co-workers, Adam Emory, should start a scrap booking business, and call it Add A Memory, because that is what I hear every time I hear his name.

Writing

I have a little gift for writing. I’m no Hemingway, Rowling, or Seuss. But I like to think my writings are easier to read than The Bible. Plus they are funnier than the Bible. And that’s the best selling book of all time. So I write the Adam Albrecht Blog to both develop my little gift and to share it with the world. And at a minimum, I know my Mom will read this if no one else does. Thanks Mama.

Renewable Energy

One of my other gifts is my personal energy. I take no credit for it, but I also can’t deny it. Cause baby, I was born this way. Literally. When I was born the doctor gave me an Apgar Test, which measures your aliveness. And the doctor told my mom, ‘I don’t do this very often, but this baby is a 10 out of 10 if I have ever seen one.’

So like David Viscott said, I have enjoyed sharing my energy with the world. Because I sure can’t keep all of this to myself. Or I am likely to blow an O-ring.

Wait A Minute Mrs. Postwoman.

On the 15th I had to make a run to my local post office to mail out my Q3 estimated taxes. There were 2 women working behind the new plexiglass-enhanced counter. Based on their reaction to my enthusiasm to be mailing 3 envelopes, I surmised that my excitement for the post office experience was outside the normal range.

It was fun to witness their mood shift and lift as we interacted. They smiled, they engaged, they seemed much more interested in me than they had been in the visitors I saw them interact with before my turn at the counter. That’s because I took more interest in them. So they took more interest in me.

As I completed my postal transaction, said my thank yous, goodbyes and bon voyages, I smiled, turned and walked towards the exit. Behind me I heard one of the women laugh and say, ‘He gotta lot of energy!’

Indeed I do. It’s a gift. I take no credit for it. But I have developed it. It’s part of my life’s work. And I take great enjoyment in sharing it with others. But the funny thing is that the more I share the more I get back. Which means I can’t seem to get rid of it.

Key Takeaway

Discover your gifts. Develop your gifts. Share then with others. In my recent situation I wasn’t sharing my energy with my family, or friends. It wasn’t with my coworkers or clients. I was bringing energy to the post office. As I mailed 3 envelopes. You can do the same thing. I think you will like what is returned to sender.

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

Can you judge someone’s character just by looking at them?

Cornelius Vanderbilt was one of the wealthiest and most powerful men the world has ever known. He dominated the shipping industry when it was America’s primary means of transportation. He dominated the railroad industry when it took center stage as the nation’s preferred means of movement for people and products. In fact, the only place Vanderbilt didn’t dominate was in college football. Where his university’s football team is a consistent bottom-dweller in the SEC.

In the excellent book, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (which won the Pulitzer Prize), author T.J. Stiles includes a quote about Vanderbilt from the Chicago Tribune that says, ‘He is so accurate a a judge of men, so clear-sighted, so fertile of resource, so skilful an organganizer of combinations, and the wielder of such an immense capital, that failure is next to impossible.’ That is a heck of a statement about a human. Which mean Vanderbilt was the original Parker Lewis.

The part of this quote that stands out to me is that Vanderbilt was noted for being a highly accurate judge of men. I translate men to mean people, because I often edit statements of yore to be more gender-intelligent.

If you are an accurate judge of humans you are able to surround yourself with the people of highest character. Which is key to personal happiness, friendship, and professional success. (And by highest character I don’t mean Willie Nelson.)

But how was The Commodore able to so accurately judge people? Vanderbilt himself provides an intriguing answer with the following quote:

‘God Almighty has stamped every man’s character upon his face.’

-Cornelius Vanderbilt

This is an interesting and profound statement. A statement given greater validity as it comes from one of the most successful humans of all time, known for his accurate judgement of people.

I encourage you to put this to your own test. Or said differently, I encourage you to see if you can accurately judge a person’s character simply by looking at them. Movies and TV shows regularly tap into your ability to make your own character judgements as new players are introduced and storylines develop.

Think about Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. Based on the scenario, Ferris should be the bad guy, and the Principal should be the good guy. But we instinctually see it differently. And we felt validated when we learned that the actor who played the principal pleaded no contest to a charge of soliciting a 14 year old boy. #ohhhhnooooo #chickachickaaaa

You have met people you didn’t like and didn’t trust the moment you first saw them. You have likely had the opposite experience too with people you instantly liked. You may have even experienced love at first sight, like I did  20 years ago, the moment I first saw my wife on a crowded elevator. All of these experiences provide evidence that Vanderbilt may be right.

Key Takeaway

The ability to judge character is one of the greatest abilities of all. It enables you to align with the right people, and avoid the wrong. The more attuned you are to the character of others the happier and more successful you are likely to be. Assessing character may be as simple as an eye test. Try it yourself. And let me know what you find.

Are you sharing your gift with the world?

On Tuesday I was visiting a home and saw an interesting piece of art hanging on the wall. It said, ‘The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.’ The quote was attributed to William Shakespeare. Although that didn’t really seem like the type of thing he doth writeth or sayeth.

I was tempted to take a pic of the artwork because I liked the quote so much. But I refrained. That night when I got home I looked the quote up on the Googler. I found that the quote is often attributed to Shakespeare or Pablo Picasso. Although there is no evidence linking either of them to those words. Other than a couple of enterprising Etsy shops.

David Viscott

There is much concrete evidence that these words came from David Viscott. Viscott was a psychiatrist and professor at UCLA who had his own radio and tv shows in the 1980s and 90s. You know, like Frasier. Perhaps Picasso liked to tune in.

Here is the full quote:

“The purpose of life is to discover your gift; the work of life is to develop it; and the meaning of life is to give your gift away.” — David Viscott.

That’s a pretty great idea, David. No wonder Shakespeare and Picasso wanted to take credit for it.

Key Takeaway

Discover your gift. Develop your gift. Share it with others. And if you discover you have more than one gift, develop and share them all. The world becomes a better place with more of your magic. And remember, gifts come in all shapes and sizes. You don’t need to be a singer to be a rockstar. You simply need to find what you are really good at, make yourself great at it, and gift it to the world.

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

Right after Labor Day is the best time for all professionals to do this.

Labor Day 2020 is in the books. We have put away our white pants, our seersucker suits and our inflatable pools. Summer is now history. This is the time that Don Henley sang about in Boys of Summer. But don’t look back, you can never look back. Because it is time to look forward to crushing the rest of the year.

It is September and you are ready to fully engage. You’ve adjusted to the new normal of life in the Covid Cabana. So let’s make the rest of 2020 great, just like Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters did.

Take Your Best Shot

Now that Labor Day is past, the first thing you should do is get new headshots of yourself. Right now you are tanned and healthy-looking from all that summer sun. You are still at your summer weight from all the warm weather activity you’ve been doing.

Let’s immortalize this version of you with a camera. Do it now, before the shorter days mean you get less sunlight on your skin than Boo Radley. Before you start replacing your summer fruits and vegetables with Halloween Skittles and Starbursts. Before Thanksgiving has you butterballing. And before Christmas time has you looking, well, jolly.

Look how good she looks!

Pre-Resolution You

There is a good reason we make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight. Because the next 3 or 4 months of the year have a way of adding to your weight collection. Which means it may take you until next June or July to look and feel the way you do now. So let’s get those new pics scheduled today!

Taking Care Of Business

Last September my whole team at The Weaponry got new headshots. Photographer Lucian McAfee did a great job. In fact, Lucian always does a great job with headshots. Or any other shots you ask him to take. Even Jagermeister.

Headshots should be fun.

Need Help?

If you would like advice on how to get great new headshots taken for you or your team, let me know. (If there is enough interest The Weaponry may put together a shoot day for you to join in Milwaukee)

If you are a photographer who loves to do headshots (or what professionals may call portraits) leave a comment on this post letting people know you can help them capture their best 2020 look. I suggest you write, ‘I can help people in (YOUR CITY HERE) get spectacular new headshots.’

If you know a great photographer, please share this post with them so they can use it to remind people that now is the time to get shot in the head with a camera.

If you know someone whose bio pic and social media photos look like they were taken during the dial-up era, consider sharing this with them too.

Soon, his fleeting handsomeness will begin to fade…

Key Takeaway

So remember, by the 21st night of September, you should get some new headshots taken. Capture how good you looked at the end of summer in 2020, despite all the craziness of the year. A few months from now you’ll be happy you did when you look great on social media, on your website, on your business cards or on your favorite dating app.

*If you know someone who could benefit from some new pics, or who would like to take some new pics, please share this with them.

The best thing you can do for yourself right now is nothing.

Welcome to Labor Day Weekend 2020. You made it! We are now two/thirds of the way through the most unusual year in the history of years. The covid crises, economic crises, and ongoing racial crises mean that 2020 has officially met its quota on crises-es. And I’m guessing you have too.

Labor Day Weekend couldn’t have come at a better time. We have all been pushing through the new challenges, changes, oddities and frustrations for a full 6 months. Which means that the very best thing you can do for the next 2 days, is nothing.

This hammock should be your spirit animal this weekend.

I know you have a long list of to-dos, could-dos and should-dos. There is always work to do be done, both at work and at home. But I suggest you just don’t it. Instead, take the rest of this long weekend to do what Labor Day Weekend was intended for. Resting. Relaxing. And most importantly, recharging.

Becoming a stronger human requires a regular cycle of stress and rest. Because the growth comes on the days you rest and recover. Rest is an essential element of high performance. So to maximize your performance in the third act of 2020, get your rest in now.

You have 2 more days to be lazy. Or playzy. You have 2 more days to kick your feet up and rest. To give your computer a rest. And to not check email, slack, or texts. Seek out some sun, or some shade, depending on which solar party you belong to. Find a comfy couch, a swaying hammock, and think more Corona beer, and less corona virus.

Grab a book, a magazine or a sudoku. Grab some analog playing cards, or dominoes or board games. Unplug. Unwind. And drink some 7-Up, the Uncola. In fact, do all you can to do as little productive work as you can. It will help you relax and recharge your batteries. It will help you do a hard reset on your personal operating system. And it will help you remove your accumulated stress gunk, which I wrote more about here.

Get outside. It will help you inside. Enjoy the sights of summer. The fresh air has a way of freshening up your attitude and your outlook. And I’m not talking about your email.

The best part of all will come on Tuesday morning. Because if you spend the next 2 days chillin like a Godzillin villain swillin penicillin, you will be eager to get back to work. Which is the whole point.

Key Takeaway

Let’s finish this year strong. Let’s make up for the time we have spent dazed and confused. And let’s remember 2020 for all the good we were able to accomplish in the final 4 months of the year. To prepare yourself for a strong final push, get your rest now. Get yourself mentally, and physically ready for all of the good work to come. So kick your feet up this weekend. And you’ll be ready to hit the ground running on Tuesday morning.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them. Or just share a pina colada with them. It will have the same effect.