That was quite a year we just had, huh? Which is why 2020 had more nicknames than Sean ‘P-Puffy-Diddy-Daddy’ Combs. 2020 was called Train Wreck, Dumpster Fire, Sh!t Show, The Worst Year Ever. And then, of course, there were the really bad names.
But none of those labels are helpful. So as we start 2021, consider reframing how you think of 2020, and the year ahead.
The Story Of Your Life.
Think of each year as a chapter of your life. Chapter 1 was your birth. Your Genisis (only without Phil Collins). The next few chapters covered your childhood. Several chapters later, you left home on your life’s journey. The following chapters were full of exciting rising action, as you found your path, gained momentum, and enjoyed success, happiness and stability.
Then Came 2020.
In the story of your life, 2020 was the plot twist. It was where your plans were disrupted. The path was blocked. The rules were changed. The villain showed up and started messing with your toilet paper. Maybe you lost all you had. Or lost someone close to you. Or lost an election.
But remember, the best part of the story always happens after the plot twist. The story gets really good after things go sideways, or downhill, or into the dumpster and set on fire.
As humans, we can’t wait to see what happens next. We are dying to know how the hero of the story responds. Do they splat or do they bounce? Do they give The Wicked Witch the ruby slippers, or do they moisturize her and steal her cleaning equipment? Enquiring minds want to know.
Welcome to 2021 everyone.
This year, and this chapter, represent the critical choice of your story. This is where you, the main character, responds to the plot twist. This is where you make the critical decisions that ultimately lead to the climax of your story.
So, we all want to know, what are you going to do now that it is 2021? How are you going to respond? What are you going to make happen next? How are you going to get your happy ending? (Robert Kraft wants to know.)
It’s up to you. You are both the author and the main character of your story. You are in control. You choose the adventure. You choose the tone and the pace. You choose your supporting characters. And your choices make all the difference.
2021 is a pivotal year in your story. Remember, you get to write what happens next. So write a really great chapter. You have 365 days to work with. Use them all.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
I get asked questions about blogging all the time. The questions often come from people who are thinking about writing their own blog. Usually they consider starting a blog because they are told they should for professional reasons. Or they believe there is some other great reward involved. Like money and fame. Like so many of us bloggers, they are often deciding between becoming a famous blogger, singer or professional athlete. And the other 2 require actual talent. But blogging isn’t something you should force yourself to do for personal or professional gain. You should blog if you love writing.
In his book On Writing, Stephen King says he writes because he loves to. The money follows the love.
I can relate to King’s statement. Well, at least the first half. I love to write this blog. I love to share what I know. I love to help more people benefit from what I am benefitting from.
The simple process of writing helps me think through my own ideas, insights and philosophies. Which means that I learn by forcing myself to write. Which forces me to think. Which therefore forces me to am. Which is an obscure Descartes reference. And obscure references are actually my favoritest part of writing my blog. Along with making up words like favoritest.
It’s Not About The Benjamins
I don’t get paid to blog. And I never expect to. But I know that I am adding value to whomever decides to read what I am writing. Because I am offering ideas, lessons and stories wrapped in a touch of humor. Which is the literary equivalent of water chestnuts wrapped in bacon. And who doesn’t love bacon? (Pigs don’t love bacon.)
It’s A Small World After Albrecht
I am not worried about expanding my blog readership. In fact, I dig the fact that a small sliver of the world reads what I am writing. That’s fun for me.
I am posting this on the Sunday of a holiday weekend, at the tail of the year, when reading a blog post isn’t a top priority for most people. I probably could have skipped writing today and no one would have noticed. And there is a good chance that only a small number of people will read this post. But I love to write anyway. Which is the key to writing a successful blog, column, book or newsletter. Do what you love, and there will be people who love what you do too. Which leads to more good things, like the Fine Young Cannibals sang.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. And thank you for reading this post specifically. Today is a free day that you could use to do anything, or nothing at all. And you decided to spend a few minutes reading what I wrote. That means a lot to me. Have a great rest of your day. I hope you do something you love.
If you want to develop as a creative thinker you have to color outside the lines. I don’t mean the way a young kid does when they have no sense of how to stop themselves when they get to a delineating line on a piece of paper.
What I mean is that creative thinking can not and should not be contained. To improve your creative thinking don’t simply create when and where you are told to create. Don’t create only when a teacher gives you a creative project. Don’t create only when a boss says they want you to help develop a new idea for the summer picnic (which was a fun event we used to have pre-covid, or what I am now calling PC).
As a creative thinker, you should create all the time, because you can’t help thinking, creating and making stuff. And we should all see ourselves as creative thinkers.
Since the initial covid lockdown back in March, I have written over 80 blog posts. I started an illustrated cartoon series called Kirky. I have written the manuscript for a book, which I am deep into the second draft of right now. I am working on bringing a new brand to life in my spare time with my son Magnus and friend Dan Koel. And I have been using Moleskin notebooks the way most people use mousetraps to catch my ideas and make sure they don’t get away.
I always ask people interviewing for creative jobs what they do creatively in their spare time. This isn’t just a curiosity. It helps me tell if you are a true creative thinker who can’t help but develop ideas and bring them to life. Or if you are someone who wants a fun job. But if they tell me they like to make furniture and lampshades out of human remains I know not to hire them. #SorryNotSorryEdGein
One of the women who freelances for The Weaponry (whom I hope to hire full time) is regularly sharing her extracurricular creative projects on social media. I love that. It shows me that she is really a creative thinker at her core. Those kinds of thinkers don’t have to be spurred into action. They can’t stop the thinking and the valuable actions that follow even if they wanted to. Those are the most valuable thinkers to have on your team. And they can’t be replaced by an app or a monkey, or automated by a machine. #JobSecurity
My great friend Betty Garrot, who lived across the street from me in Atlanta, is a Pediatrician by day. But Mrs. Dr. Garrot as we call her at our house, because her husband Crain is an Oncologist, paints a lot. Her home is full of beautiful paintings she has created of scenes she has witnessed around the world. But she paints so much that I expect she has a secret self-storage space stuffed full of paintings that she doesn’t have wall space for in her home. Betty is an amazing painter. But she rarely paints for money. Because it removes the joy of creating. Which is why she does it.
However, I have recognized that some people simply don’t know that they can think and act creatively when they aren’t asked to. They don’t realize that they can create their own assignments and deliver their own ideas.
So here is your reminder to create. Write, paint, photograph, draw, bake, cook, brew, garden, dance, make music, design, develop a business idea, host, decorate, or whatever you like to do to tap into and express your own ideas. Do it even if no one asks you to. Even if no one is watching. Even if you are not getting paid. Even if you are not great at it at first. Because it is great for your brain and your mental health.
When I visited Iceland several years ago I met a man named Sven (of course), who told me that Icelanders embrace the short and dark days of winter to engage in their creative activities. Now that we are to our short days and long nights in the Northern Hemisphere, I encourage you to do as the Icelanders do. And make the darkest days of the year the brightest days for thinking and creating.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
In 2015, with the enthusiastic support of several former clients, I decided to create my own advertising agency. During the planning process I started this blog to help share my entrepreneurial adventure. I called the blog The Perfect Agency Project. I wanted to write about what I was doing, learning and thinking as I was launching, improving and growing what would become The Weaponry. That way, if I made huge mistakes, and wondered, What was I thinking!?!, I could simply go back and read what I wrote.
I Didn’t See THAT Coming.
However, in an unforeseen turn of events, creating this blog has become as significant to me as creating the business. The simple act of writing about my experiences has taught me even more than I have been able to share with my readers. And the feedback I have received from readers has made it one of the most rewarding elective projects of my life (even better than the 3 inch goatee I grew in college).
When I turned 40 years old I made a commitment to start my own advertising agency. I did it by the time I was 42. And as I continue to build and grow The Weaponry, I have added new goals.
I have another startup business that I would like to launch soon. I want to write a book. Ultimately, I hope to write more than one book. But before you can write many books you have to write one. Kind of like, before you become a porn star you have to first have sex, on camera. #pleasedontdothis
Broadening My Horizons
To share my various business experiences, my book writing adventure, and all of the other life lessons, insights and humorous experiences along the way, it is time to expand the scope of this blog. For those of you who read this blog regularly, you know that I have regularly wandered far from topics related to The Weaponry. In fact, one of the great things about having a personal blog is writing about whatever you want. Like A strange encounter at the Piggly Wiggly. And I find myself wanting to share my broader experiences, learnings and observations.
As part of the broadening of the blog I am changing the name of the blog too. It will no longer be called The Perfect Agency Project. (#audiblegasps #CallCNN #WeInterruptThisBlogCast) I also want to make my writings easier to find, by humans and search engines alike.
So I am changing my blog title to… wait for it… The Adam Albrecht Blog. I know, this sounds crazy, like rich Asians. And you will never believe the new URL I will be using. So I will tell you. It is… AdamAlbrecht.blog. (However, theperfectagencyproject.com will still direct you to the blog. Because a rose by any other name may not immediately smell as sweet to Google and Bing.)
The rest of the blog will be totally the same. I will still share what I am learning. I am committed to humorous asides and totally random pop culture references that separate insiders from outsiders. (Use Google as your secret decoder ring for random references.) I will keep hashtag-style commentary. And captions will be written to make you giggle.
Thank you to all of you who regularly read my blog. Thank you for the comments, likes, emails, texts, phone calls, proofreading help, and in-person feedback on my writings. I know your time is limited. And I appreciate that you take the time to read my posts. But if you like what I have written in the first 412 posts, you will like what I write over the next 4000. And if you like this blog, I expect you will like the book. Which I look forward to spending more time writing in the year ahead. Thank you for reading all the way to the end of this post. Which is actually not here. Or here. It’s right here.
I first heard about web logs in the early 2000s. I fell in love with the idea right away. Suddenly, everyone could write and share their own ideas with the world, for free! I immediately wanted to write my own. Over the next decade I dabbled with at least 8 different blogs. But like cheap tape, nothing stuck
The Perfect Agency Project
I started this blog in the fall of 2015 as I began planning to launch my own advertising agency, The Weaponry. I wanted to write about the startup process, the entrepreneurial experience, and all that I knew and learned about advertising and marketing. I hoped that people would read this and think that if this clown can start his own business, I certainly can too. (Which is true.)
The Surprise Education
I expected to share what I learned about business. But along the way I also learned a lot about blogging. When I hit 200 published posts last year I wrote a piece entitled, What I have learned about blogging after 200 posts. I shared all my best tips and tricks about blogging. Today, when people ask me for advice on blogging I simply point them to that post, like Babe Ruth calling his shot. Except there is no baseball, no bat, no outfield wall, and no candy bar at the bottom of the country club pool.
Today I am publishing my 300th post. Over the past 100 posts I have learned even more about blogging. So I am adding 12 more tips to my blogging body of knowledge. Here they are in a particular order.
12 More Tips On Blogging Learned From Writing 300 Posts.
1. Just keep writing.
The most important factor in writing 300 posts is to simply keep writing. It is easy to write one post. And it’s really easy to quit after writing that one post. To get to 300 hundred, 3000 or 30,000 posts you have to just keep writing. It’s like Dory’s swimming philosophy. There is no magic to it. Just stick-to-it-ness.
Get your blog posts up and running and fix them along the way.
2. There is always something to fix.
When I look back at my published posts I feel like Michael Jackson looking at his face. Because there is always something I want to change. Always. I would add another example, smooth a transition, insert another joke. But the blog posts must get published. Published is better than perfect. It’s a blog. Not a book. You get a round of writing. A round of improving. And then you have to push that post out of the nest to fly or flop.
3. Errors are part of the game.
In the process of pushing posts live on a regular basis you are going to make mistakes. A typo may sneak through. You may miss a word, or double double a word, or misuse or misspell a word. You have to work to minimize errors. But accept that they will happen. My readers help me find the errors. Kind of like friends who tell you when you have something stuck in your teeth, or toilet paper stuck to your shoe, or a bat in the cave (a booger in your nose). These are good friends and good readers. Because they want to help you succeed.
4. There is no telling what will be popular.
I am often surprised at what posts become really popular. It’s hard to predict what gets passed along. It’s difficult to know what will generate a lot of comments. I haven’t found a lot of consistency in my most popular posts. It’s kind of like dance crazes. So just keep dancing and enjoying it.
Missing, one great blog post. Last seen by nobody.
5. Sometimes a great post goes completely unnoticed.
This is a the hardest fact about blogging. Sometimes you write a post that is really great, that you know is important, and smart and real and maybe even funny. And then it goes virtually unnoticed. This will happen a lot when you first start, because you don’t have much of an audience. And you wonder why you are bothering to write at all. But do bother. Because you learn from writing.
Blogging has a cumulative effect. The more you write, the more your work is discovered, read and shared. You can always repost or update a great post that phantomed through the opera. Know that what you are writing is good and that others are missing out on some great ideas.
6. The off-channel feedback is the best.
In social media and blogging everyone talks about engagement. Which is the aggregate of your likes and comments on your posts. But what I have found most meaningful is the feedback I get away from the blogging and social media platforms.
I regularly get emails, texts and in-person comments about how much people appreciate a post, or my blog in general. These are genuine, thoughtful, appreciative comments that are not intended to show engagement, increase influence scores or sweet talk an algorithm.
When I get these messages they typically come in the following format:
‘All joking aside, I really appreciate that you are writing this blog (or this specific post). I am really getting something out of this. I wanted you to know. Please keep them coming.’ – Feedback Franny or Freddy
This type of feedback is really what motivates me to keep writing. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to share such notes.
7. Don’t trust the data.
WordPress offers analytics on my blog about:
But the data doesn’t always jive with reality. I am not sure how the data on page views accommodates for people who subscribe and read the blog via email. Or how pass along of the email is captured. I often see a strong uptick in likes or comments on other platforms where I share a post, like LinkedIn and Facebook. But there is no movement in the data on WordPress. So don’t be a slave to the numbers, or take the WordPress data as gospel. Just keep writing good posts.
8. 3 times per week is my sweet spot.
Over the course of the past year I went from publishing 2 posts per week to 3. As a general rule I publish on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Occasionally I may slide those a day earlier or a day later based on my travel, work or world events. But I fully expect this to be my final answer on blogging frequency. It offers me 2 days to write each post. It offers 2 days for each post to be read before a new one takes its place at the top of the pile. The algorithms seem to want you to post about every other day so that you don’t flood the feeds.
Adding the Sunday post means that I no longer go Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday without publishing. As a result I have seen my overall monthly readership increase by 50%. If you can trust the data.
9. The real impact is not measured in views, follows, likes or comments.
Let me address measurement one more time. I am certain after 300 posts that you can not measure the impact of a blog in views, follows, likes or comments. The true impact of a blog is in how it impacts a life. It is in how the insights, education, information, motivation or inspiration you share improves the lives of your readers.
Blog posts are meant to help in some way. That help is not measured in likes and comments. It is measured in confidence, and in successful actions taken and in opportunities seized. Never lose sight of this. The real impact of your blog may not be recognized for years, or even decades. Be patient. And just keep writing.
10. The Blogger learns as much through writing as the reader does through reading.
When I first began writing my blog I expected to teach others a bit about the things I write about. Including advertising, marketing, creativity, entrepreneurship, business, and networking. But I am learning more than anyone else.
Regular writing forces a lot of self reflection, and analysis. You start viewing everything in life as lessons and insights worth sharing. The writing and editing process teaches you to clarify and refine your thinking. You draw scores of new connections and aha’s along the way. #takeonme So regardless of whether or not anyone ever reads your writings, you will profit from the writing itself.
11. Sneak in anything you want.
It’s your blog and you can write whatever the ef you want to. Sure, it’s best to have a general theme, direction, perspective or angle in your blog. People want to know generally what they can expect from reading it. But take advantage of the fact that it is your platform to share your stories and your perspective.
Blogging pays off. But it pays off slowly. You have to be patient. And persistent. But the cumulative effect of writing and sharing good content regularly increases your value to others. Which in turn becomes valuable to you in ways that are both monetary and life-i-tary.
Blogging keeps your voice and your viewpoint top of mind for others. Which means that you are both recently and relevantly recalled when opportunities surface. It works for me. It can work for you too. And despite all the tips it really comes down to this:
Think, Write, Review, Publish, Repeat.
If you know someone who writes a blog, or would like to, please consider sharing this post with them.
Today, May 25th, is my birthday. I consider my birthday the most important day of my life. Seriously. If it wasn’t for my birthday I doubt I’d have a wedding anniversary. Or kids. Or my birthday suit. Or a blog.
The Real New Year’s Day
I think of my birthday, not New Year’s Day, as the starting point of my year. And this year I am focused on some very important goals. Or as a Mexican soccer announcer would say, I have some ‘Muy Importante Gooooooooooals!’
My 5 Goals For The Next Year
1. Get More Aggressive. Recently I’ve done more leaping and less looking. I’ve taken several premature steps forward on initiatives rather than taking the time to properly prepare, and consider all of the possible outcomes. The results have been impressive. By simply moving forward when I get an inkling I am creating more progress than I do when I carefully consider my options. So in the year ahead, less thinking. More doing. Or as Toby Keith said, a little less talk and a lot more action.
2. Write more. I already write like I am Orville and Wilbur’s third brother. But in the year ahead I have goals to crank my typewriter up to 11. In addition to this blog that I post to 3 times per week, I now have 3 book ideas started. I also met with a couple of magazine publishers yesterday about writing a regular piece for their pub. (That’s slang for publication. I am not writing for an Irish bar.) How did this opportunity come about? I got aggressive and contacted them on an impulse, before I really thought it through. (See Goal #1)
3. Create Another Business. There is something about entrepreneurship that is like Pringles. Because once you pop, you can’t stop. I have 3 leading business ideas I am currently working through. One involves cheese. (#WhenInWisconsin…) One is a franchise opportunity (not to be confused with a french fry opportunity). And the other involves fo real estate. (#forealdo). Of course I have other ideas that get added to the list daily. So I want to bring at least one of the ideas to life in the next year. But no matter which one wins, I want to eat more cheese.
4. Become A Greater Connector. I am a dot connector. It is how I process the world. I love creating, maintaining and facilitating connections. This is my most meaningful contribution to the people in my circles. Because at the end of our days the only thing that really matters is the impact we have on each other’s lives. Wait, did that just get real serious, real fast? #crickets
5. More Quality Time With Family. I put my family at the top of the list of people I want to connect with. Like the meatball on top of spaghetti. My family includes my wife, Dawn and children Ava, Johann and Magnus. But it also includes my parents, sisters and their families. As well as my very large extended family. Especially now that I am about to make my first lap around the sun without any grandparents. Which means my generation needs to prioritize and facilitate our gatherings now that my 4 grandparents are sitting together at the great card table in the sky.
Birthdays are important. They serve as an annual reminder of the scarcity of time. To make the most of each year, reevaluate what is most important to you on your birthday. Set new and higher goals and expectations. Then charge forward to meet them. It’s how we create a life worth writing about. Which, if I’m lucky, would be book number 4.
My Birthday Wish
If you want to do me a special free favor on my birthday, please subscribe to get this blog gift wrapped and delivered to your inbox. It would really mean a lot to me. The subscribe button is on the home page.
*Also, Happy Birthday to my sister Heather. Yes we share a birthday. No we’re not twins. #howweirdisthat
I talk to people all the time who want to know how write a blog, podcast or book. A major writing project can seem attractive but intimidating. Because it isn’t easy to find time to write. You probably don’t have large empty spaces of time just waiting to be filled. Unless, of course, you live in a penitentiary or a nursing home.
I have found that writing requires a regular routine. You have to find a time and an approach that work on a daily basis. My regular writing time is in the mornings between 6 and 7am.
Fast Draft Friday
Whether you are a regular writer already, or you are looking to get into a good habit, try adding a Fast Draft Friday to your routine. Fast Draft Friday or FDF helps you pump out several quick drafts to build on later.
How It Works
I give myself a 10 minute max to write on a given topic. Then I save what I have written after 10 minutes, and start a draft of another topic. By the end of an hour I have a minimum of 6 new posts to come back to later.
This is important because publishing blog posts, podcasts, articles or editorials regularly can be hard. (It can also be hard to publish if you are irregular.) It is much easier to polish something you have already started than it is to create a great post from pixel dust. And for clarity, I mean polish, as in polish the silver, or polish off the donuts. Not Polish Sausage, Polish Festival or Lech Welesa.
Also, my writings get better with multiple drafts. The more times I go over them the cleaner and clearer they get. I am more likely to add a relevant quote, an interest-enhancing image and humor. All of which make the final product more enjoyable for the reader. So having a quick first draft of 6 or more posts created on one day has a positive impact on my blog brand for months.
The key to great writing is getting started. I currently have 252 drafts of new posts. But I started with zero. I got into a good routine, and now publish 3 posts per week. I get a little bit smarter about it all the time. You can do the same. Make today a Fast Draft Friday. You’ll be surprised by how much progress you can make in 1 hour.
*If you know someone who wants to write more, consider sharing this story with them.