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

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

How snowballs can help make your dreams come true.

Do you have big dreams? Do you have lofty goals and imagine yourself as a big success? Of course you do! You are full of ideas about the things you want to make and do. Which is a great start. But it is the same great start that everyone has.

There are amazing things happening in your head. But no one else can see them. Except maybe your radiologist, and that woman from Long Island Medium. To transform your dreams and ideas into reality you have to take action. You have to make, and do. You have to press your ideas into the world. Here’s how it works.

A Lesson In The Snow

A thought is like a field of freshly fallen snow. They are both full of potential. But to transform the field of snow into something of your own creation, you have to reach down and grab a handful of it. You have to pack it into a ball. By doing so you have begun to convert an idea into something tangible and real. Suddenly you have something of your own creation. You have built the initial unit. (snickering) This is the first visible product of your thoughts.

Step 2

From there, you decide the next step. You can grab another handful and pack a bigger ball. You can place the ball on the ground and create another one just like it. And another and another. You can create a small line of snowballs. Then start a second level. You can create a circle of snowballs like the foundation of your snow fort.

Or you can put that snowball on the ground and begin to roll it. You can watch it grow quickly with thick layers of compounding snow.

Keep Going. Keep Rolling. Keep Growing.

That snowball, gathered and rolled, will grow as long as you keep rolling it. Stop rolling and the progress stops too. #PleaseDontStopTheMusic

But if you keep pushing you will get to a point where you need more people to push it with you. (Like Salt N Peppa did.) Find yourself a hill and let the universe work its magic. Suddenly, growing bigger is easier. Before you know it you will have a giant snowball thanks to simple, steady effort multiplied over time.

Where It Started

Remember, it all began when you squeezed together that first small handful of snow. That was the step that mattered most. Without that, nothing else was possible. There was nothing to multiply. Nothing to add to.

My Snowballs

I dreamt of starting my own advertising agency. So I took on a project from a friend. Now The Weaponry is a multi-million dollar business with offices in 2 states.

I wish I had a blog. So I wrote one post in the fall of 2015. Now I have written over 530 posts. Today my blog has been read in 130 countries.

I always wanted a family. So I asked my co-worker to go see a movie. Now Dawn and I have been married for 18 years and have 3 crazy kids. (My youngest, Magnus, just popped his head into my office, and in his best narwhal voice said, ‘Bye Buddy. I hope you find your Dad.’

Key Takeaway

Make snowballs. They are the easiest thing to create. But they make all the difference.

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

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.

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

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.

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

How to benefit from the positive power of a bad boss.

I love the idea of having a mentor. In fact, I’d love to have a mentor as much as I’d love to have a beachfront mansion between Ricardo Montalbán and Magnum P.I. But I don’t own any oceanfront property, yet. And unfortunately, I don’t have an official mentor either.

To be fair, I do have a couple of sliver mentors. These are not people who teach me how to remove splinters. They are experts who I look to for insights and information about specific topics. But again, the relationships aren’t formal or consistent. So even my sliver mentors are unofficial and thinly used.

Anti-Mentors

However, I have had anti-mentors. These are bosses, leaders and managers who have shown me what not to do. They are people who set examples that I intuitively knew not to follow. (Mr. Lemming, maybe we shouldn’t jump off that cliff…) They are the types of leaders that are easy to complain about. But simply complaining about them means you are missing the value they provide.

Put Them To Work For You.

Instead of complaining about your supervisor, boss or otherwise-positioned anti-mentor, go to school on them. Study what they are doing wrong. Heck, write a book about them. Or write a song about them like Johnny Paycheck did. #TakeThisJobAndShoveIt

With everything you find wrong about your anti-mentor and his or her style, write down what you should do instead. You instinctually know where they went wrong, and you know where the gap is between what they did and what you know to be right.

This is extremely valuable. It is like learning to walk by falling down or learning to ride a bike by crashing. Watching an anti-mentor at work is like watching game film of your poor performances to see your mistakes from an external perspective. Once you have witnessed the failure you better understand the right things to do.

Pro Tip: If you have had nothing but great bosses, binge-watch The Office and let Michael Scott be your anti-guide.

Key Takeaway

Don’t overlook the power of those who show you what not to do. Anti-mentors can help you grow and learn as quickly as positive mentors, because we are wired to learn from pain and discomfort. Anti-mentors are easy to find. They are everywhere. Now, it’s time to put them to good use for you.

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

**If you were one of my great bosses, supervisors or managers and don’t think this is about you, you’re right, it’s the other ones.

How to get the most out of each workday.

Yesterday when I arrived at work I sat down at my desk to plan my day at The Weaponry. I firmly believe that you must get on top of each day before the day gets on top of you. #ItsBetterOnTop

Like Lynyrd Skynyrd, I plan my days in 3 steps, mister.

  1. I open up my daily calendar to see my obligations for the day.
  2. I open Stickies on my laptop to see My Priorities List. I created a list that includes my clients, business development efforts, and major life goals.
  3. I open up my notebook and create my Daily Success List.

The Success List

At the top left corner of the page, I write Success List, because names matter. Then I add the date, for historic purposes.

Next, I fill the rest of the header section of the page with my 3 major career goals. I do this to keep them in mind, and to make sure the rest of the day aligns with my major goals. Because each day is like a tool we can use to achieve our dreams. Which means each day is kinda like a dreamcatcher, only without the feathers, string and rearview mirror.

After the page header has been properly transformed into a navigational tool, I begin my list.

Yesterday, I had no external obligations on my calendar. So I was free to make it the perfectly productive day. Which is probably why this topic is top of mind today.

With no meetings of any kind required of me, which is a real rarity, I filled my success list with my priorities.

The list included:

  • Creating a new planning process for one of our service offerings
  • Contacting several clients
  • Prepping for the implementation of our new 401(k) plan
  • Contacting potential future Weapons
  • Reaching out to friends in my network for no good reason
  • Strategic work for a client
  • Creative work for a client
  • Naming work for a client
  • Scheduling a client presentation
  • Reviewing an updated video script
  • Checking in on a logo design project
  • Contacting my tax accountant
  • Contacting my realtor
  • Contacting my favorite banking professional
  • Checking on our plans for an upcoming film and photoshoot

Making It Happen

When I was done creating the list there were 24 action items on it. The 24th action item was the most important. It simply said, Schedule Day Full. Which meant that now that I had my list of things to do for the day, I had to put them on the calendar in order to create a concrete plan to make the day productive. I then filled the rest of my calendar from 9:30 am to 5 pm with actions to take.

This meant that by 9:30 am I had transformed my day of no obligations into a day packed with actions and priorities. As a result, I knocked off 22 of the 24 items on my success list.

I even scheduled an hour for lunch at noon. Because eating food keeps me alive. And like the BeeGees, I find that staying alive is important to my long-term success. Over my lunch hour, I watched several videos on MasterClass, which I have added to my self-improvement program. More on that in another post.

Key Takeaway

Create a Success List every day. Start by listing your long term goals, and let them guide your actions and priorities on a daily basis. Schedule your workday full each day. And make sure to eat lunch and learn something new. Do this day after day, and not only will you cross your daily actions off your list, you will start crossing your long term goals off the top of the page.

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

How to stand out in a crowd using your unique identifiers.

There are a lot of people to compete with on this planet. If you are looking for a job, a significant other, or a great opportunity, it helps to stand out from the herd. Or so I’ve heard.

Only You.

In advertising, we are always looking for that thing that only our brand can say. We were the first brand to do ________. We are the only brand to offer ________. We are the only brand that does __________ in Dallas, besides Debbie.

What we are doing is creating a clear and distinguishing image of our brand without an equal competitor. To do this, we create evaluation criteria that we naturally win.

Your Personal Brand

You can do the same thing for your personal brand. To do this, simply find something that makes you stand out. Use the following question as your guide.

What is something you have done that you are fairly confident you are the ONLY person in the considered set to have done?

The considered set means you are the only person in the room, at the party, in the new business pitch, or being interviewed who could say this. When someone asks you to share a fun fact about yourself, this is what they mean. I always think this would be a really fun game to play in prison.

Your Unique Identifiers

This question offers you an opportunity to become unforgettable. It allows you to reach into your bag of uniqueness and pull out that crazy fact, that interesting experience, that crazy condition, that remarkable accomplishment, and hold it up for everyone to see. Like when Anthony Michael Hall holds up Molly Ringwald’s underwear in Sixteen Candles. When you do, you have created your own Unique Identifier.

Your Unique Identifier serves as a valuable story that dramatically increases your memorability. And if you want opportunities to come your way, it helps to stand out from the crowd.

Some Unique Identifiers I use:

  • I once pet a hummingbird in the wild.
  • I once got stuck in a Murphy bed in Germany.
  • My Mom is one of 9 kids and my Dad is one of 12.
  • I lived in 5 states by the time I was in 7th Grade.
  • Me and Danica Patrick once filled a Prevost motorhome with ping pong balls.
  • My older sister Heather and I have the same birthday 2 years apart. And my 2 younger sisters, Alison and Donielle, have the same birthday 2 years apart.
  • In high school, I broke the state record in the discus 8 months after having my ACL reconstructed.
  • I launched The Weaponry because I had two different clients call me the same day and encourage me to start my own advertising agency.

Key Takeaway

We all have Unique Identifiers. Think about yours. Write them down and keep them handy. Use them at parties, on dates, and in interviews. They give others something interesting and differentiating to remember you by. Just ask Mikhail Gorbachev.

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

It’s time to enjoy a taste of the holidays, with Sprecher.

Sprecher Root Beer is the best root beer in America. That’s not just my opinion. The New York Times said that. (And so did my kids, over and over.) Because Sprecher root beer is just that good. But like wassailing and dressing like an elf, Sprecher root beer is even more popular at Christmas time.

That’s why Sprecher Craft Soda approached The Weaponry about creating a new ad campaign to run throughout the 2020 holiday season. Now it’s the holiday season! So hoop-de-do and hickory dock. And don’t forget to hang up your sock so Santa can stuff it with Sprecher.

The Insight

Sprecher sodas taste great every day of the year. But research reveals that Sprecher lovers strongly link the great taste of Sprecher to the holidays. For anyone who grew up drinking Sprecher, there is a great sense of tradition, nostalgia and comfort in these brown bottles of deliciousness. When creating the new work, we tapped into that feeling like a keg of root beer.

One of the new ads, featuring the Family Truckster and a big ole bottle of Sprecher Root Beer.

Delish You A Merry Christmas!

If you have never had a Sprecher, Sprecher is to root beer what Krispy Kreme is to donuts and HoneyBaked is to ham. Once you’ve had one, it will spoil you for all other root beers. Which is why I believe Jesus wants me and my family to have Krispy Kreme, HoneyBaked and Sprecher on our table on Christmas Day. #WWJD

The More The Merrier!

Families have celebrated the holidays with Sprecher sodas for decades. But it’s not just the root beer. The Cream Soda is smooth, like a Barry White Christmas. The Orange Dream is, well, dreamy. And both the Ginger Ale and Ginger Beer leave your mouth ting-ting-ting-a-ling too. (Sorry, there is no Mary Ann Ale, Gilligan.)

The Secret Sauce

Why is Sprecher Craft Soda so darn good? First, it is made with honey. How cool is that!?! Then, they brew the soda, like beer. It’s the fire-brewed caramelization process that really adds the flavor like Flavor Flav! #YeahBoy!

I have to leave 2. Or 3.

The Backstory

We have Randy Sprecher to thank for these great flavors. Back in the late 1900s, Randy traveled to Germany and fell in love with the taste and craft of German beer brewing. Apparently the Germans have the beer thing figured out. Hence the giant steins and gemütlichkeit .

Randy came to Milwaukee and began brewing world-class beer under the Sprecher Brewing Company banner. But at home Randy applied the same brewing techniques to the special homemade root beer recipe he created for his young daughter Kecia. Once Sprecher began serving Randy’s root beer in the taproom, sales took off. Today the root beer sales even outpace the award-winning beer.

Yule love it. And so will Yul Brynner.

The Next Chapter

At the beginning of 2020 a team of investors, led by CEO Sharad Chadha, recognized the enormous untapped potential of Sprecher sodas, and decided to invest aggressively in growing Sprecher sodas on a national level. Their renewed focus on promoting the brand through strategic marketing and sales efforts is already on display this holiday season.

The Campaign

The holiday campaign features a combination of billboards and mobile display ads that are served up near retail locations through the end of the year. The ads tap into the strong connection the brand already has to holiday celebrations.

The campaign provides a simple reminder that while there are many traditions that simply aren’t available this year, we can still enjoy a Sprecher with our families. And it’s those little things that make the holidays feel, and taste, like the holidays.

These are Sprecher’s Gold, Frankincense and Root Beer.

If you can’t find Sprecher at a retailer near you, you can always order online at sprecherbrewery.com. And if you can’t find it there, it’s because I bought everything they brewed. Sorry.

Roll The Credits:

There is a great crew at Sprecher who have been supporting this effort including Sharad Chadha, Kecia Sprecher, Craig Burge, Jenny Nyquist, Tom Aslin, Doug Cullaz, Katya Alexeeva, Lauren Price and guest star Carl Cahill.

The Weaponry team behind the new work includes Kristyn ‘L-Lil’ Lilley, Joe Kayse, Simon Harper, Adam Albrecht and Cat Boland.

In The Wild

Santa knows, Sprecher Craft Sodas always make a great stocking stuffer.

Suddenly it is now or never for your 2020 goals.

You started 2020 with exciting goals to achieve. But the aspirations of New Year’s Day probably feel like a lifetime ago. Whether you set goals specifically for 2020, or goals to achieve in your lifetime, you began the year with something important you wanted to accomplish. If the wild ride that is 2020 has caused goal amnesia, take a moment now to remember your goals for the year. (cue the Jeopardy music…)

It’s go time.

Today is December 1st, and you are down to your last month of 2020. The next 31 days are what you have left to work with to make personal and professional progress this year. Don’t let the remaining time slip away. These are the days to remember. Cause they will not last forever.

Remember, self-imposed deadlines are the key drivers of accomplishment and self-improvement. And as Buddy knows, elf-imposed deadlines are the key drivers of elf-improvement.

Don’t worry if you can’t complete everything in 31 days. A good start is plenty valuable. In fact, the more you can accomplish in the next month, the better you will be positioned for a great 2021.

Things You Can Still Do In December

  • Lose weight
  • Start exercising
  • Read a book
  • Start writing a book
  • Begin a business
  • Create a meetup group
  • Expand your network
  • Look for a new job
  • Volunteer
  • Give Blood (A life goal I accomplished in November.)
  • Learn a new skill ( I just subscribed to Master Class)
  • Develop a new product or service
  • Take a class
  • Learn to ski, skate, scat or ska
  • Improve your business development efforts.
  • Begin to learn a new language
  • Create a plan for your financial security
  • Spend quality time with your family. (Over Thanksgiving my family focused on family game nights again.)
  • Reconnect with an old friend or family member
  • Quit smoking, drinking or drugging (It only takes one day as I wrote about here.)

Pro-gress Tip

Break the goal or project you want to make the most progress on into 31 smaller pieces. Do a little each day. Or break the goal into fewer chunks, depending on what day you first read this post. However, if you are reading this on December 31st I suggest you skip the last 2 paragraphs and get straight to work.

Remember, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. (I recommend starting with elephant ears covered in powdered sugar and cinnamon.) And the best way to complete your 2020 goals in December is 1/31st at a time.

Key Takeaway

Get going. The rest of the world may use the excuse that the end is near and give up, but the positive procrastinators say It’s Go Time! Don’t let these 31 days slip away. They are your opportunity for progress, change, new beginnings, or completion. It’s not too late to salvage 2020. Let the progress you make over the next 31 days be your holiday gift to yourself.

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

The most valuable construction material in the world arrives at midnight.

Do you know what the most valuable construction material is? In case you are no Bob The Builder and haven’t partied at The Home Depot since before the pandemic, here’s a quick refresher on some of the more popular materials:

  • Lumber
  • Brick
  • Concrete
  • Steel
  • Glass (If your house is made of this don’t throw Mick Jagger)
  • Bamboo
  • Corn (Mitchell, South Dakota only)
  • Plastic
  • Aluminum
  • Adobe

But the most valuable construction material of all, is time. You can use time, like blocks, bricks and legos to create anything you can think of. We all get a delivery of 1,440 shiny new minutes every day. They arrive at your doorstep at midnight.

Each minute is perfectly sized for human use. They enable you to create great things. To build your dreams. To construct the life you want to live. To make memories and relationships.

Your daily delivery of minutes can be used to build businesses. They can be used to write a book, a movie or a blog post. They can create quality time with others. They can be used for self-improvement, to build intelligence and construct confidence. They can be used to build homes. And they can even be volunteered to good causes.

The most interesting thing about your daily delivery of minutes is that if you use them you get to keep them forever. But if you don’t use them, they disappear at midnight.

Key Takeaway

Use your minutes today.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message please share it with them. It will only take a minute.