Choose your ultimate destination and all your decisions become clear.

When you travel you start with a destination in mind. Once you know where you want to go the planning begins. You make decisions about how you will get to the destination. Maybe you will take a plane, a train, or an automobile. Maybe you will ride in the back of a truck with the Kenosha Kickers.

When you start with a clear destination you develop clear ideas for getting there with your available resources. Like Claritin Clear.

But most people never declare their destination. It is the critical first step that informs every step that follows. Without the decision, you will run in circles. Or stand still. Like a U2 song.

Declare your destination now.

Where are you ultimately trying to go?

Once you’ve chosen your destination you can plan your path. You can determine the time, actions and resources needed for your adventure. Every one of your decisions will be clearer. You will know when to jump on opportunities and when to let them pass you by. You can evaluate every decision you make by whether it will get you closer to your end goal.

Key Takeaway

Think hard about your destinations. Where do you want your life to go? Where is your career taking you? What is your family goal? What about your finances, health, relationships and religion? Determine where you want to end. Make all of your decisions to get you to the destination. With a clear endpoint in mind, you will enjoy the entire journey.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

My best advice on how to enjoy a concert more.

This has been an amazing summer of music concerts for me. After covid cleared stages around the world in 2020 and left groupies fawning over grocery store stockboys with access to the new shipments of toilet paper, live music is thankfully back.

Here is the list of artists I have seen since Memorial Day weekend:

  • Eric Church (Milwaukee)
  • Brothers Osborne (Milwaukee)
  • Parker McCollum (Milwaukee)
  • Zac Brown Band (Atlanta)
  • Night Ranger (Mequon)
  • 38 Special (Mequon)
  • Poison (Boston)
  • Motley Crue (Boston, where I saw ladies do things they only do at rock shows and biker rallies)
  • Def Leoppard (Boston)

Tonight my family and I are closing out our Summer Concert Series by seeing Keith Urban and Ingred Andress at the Summerfest grounds in Milwaukee.

Seeing ZBB in ATL with my FMLY

Getting The Most From The Music

I am always looking for better strategies for success and happiness. And that applies to my concerting too.

Here are 3 of my favorite concert-going tips:

1. Bring Ear Plugs. Ear plugs are cheap and slip into your pocket. Use them as needed. But you hate to want them and not have them. The closer you are to the front, and the more tattoos the artists have on their face, the more likely you are to need them.

2. Live Nation’s Concert Week

Around Memorial Day Live Nation has a concert week promotion. During the promotion they sell tickets to shows for $25 all-in. That means that the tickets, including all the sneaky concerting fees, is just $25. I snagged 5 tix for the Eric Church, Zac Brown and Keith Urban shows. Which meant my family of 5 saw 3 major concerts for just $125 per show. When we saw Zac Brown Band as a family last year each ticket was nearly that price.

2. Set List Prep

A couple of weeks before I see a concert I look up the artist’s setlist online. The setlist is the list of songs the artist performs at a concert, in the order they perform them. I usually look up the setlist from their last few concerts to see if they are consistent or if they mix it up a bit. I like Setlist.fm, but there are others.

Then I take the setlist from the most recent concert, and the additional songs that pop up from the other shows I research, and I create a playlist of those songs, in order, on Spotify.

If there is an opening act, or multiple headliners I will also add their setlists to the playlist. Then I share that playlist with my family or friends with whom I will be Rock’n into the night, like 38 Special.

Then I listen to that playlist when I am driving, working or chillaxin over the next couple of weeks.

This approach has 3 major benefits:

  1. It gets me excited for the concert. (I am a naturally excitable boy, so it doesn’t take much.)
  2. It helps me freshen up on the lyrics of the songs I know, or know-ish, but haven’t heard or sung in a while.
  3. I learn the songs off the new album. Traditionally, the new songs played at a concert are a downer because even if they are good songs you don’t know the words. So when they are played, it’s like a participatory timeout for anyone who doesn’t know the lyrics.
  4. I know which cover songs to expect. Cover songs are songs by other popular artists. Zac Brown Band is the best at working in amazing cover songs into their setlist. By adding these songs to your prep playlist you will be able to sing along and sound like you know every song by every artist ever. Like ever, ever.

Key Takeaway

The best way to maximize success and happiness is through strategic preparation. Do your homework. Find great deals. And find great ideas that help you maximize results and enjoyment. Remember that when people show up and know every word to every song, there was probably a great deal of prep involved that you just didn’t see. It’s true at concerts. It’s true in sports. And it’s true at work. Spandau Ballet taught me that.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

The amazing moment that made writing my book worth the effort.

In December of 2021, I published my first book titled What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? It takes a lot of effort to birth a book. The process is like running 3 marathons back to back to back. There is a writing marathon, a publishing marathon, and a promoting marathon. And the promoting marathon only ends when you quit. And I’m no quitter.

Is all that work worth it?

I wrote my book to help share the best life lessons I have learned with anyone interested in growth and self-improvement. I didn’t write the book for money. I didn’t write it to become famous. I simply felt that I had accumulated a valuable library of life lessons. And I felt that by sharing those lessons I could make my own valuable contribution to the world. Because teaching the world to sing and buying the world a Coke were already taken.

The feedback I have received has been extremely rewarding. Readers as young as 15 and into their 80s have told me how much they have enjoyed the book. I assume the 90+ crowd is too busy to provide feedback.

Leigh Peine

Shortly after my book was first published by Ripples Media, my client-friend Leigh Peine, Senior Director of Marketing and Client Solutions at Education Credential Evaluators (ECE), contacted me to say that she wanted to order copies of the book for her team to read like a book club. She then requested that after they all read the book we gather for a book talk.

Fast Forward

We gathered for our book talk 2 weeks ago. The ECE marketing team brought their copies of the book with them for me to sign. It was amazing to see a team show up at a talk with copies of the book that they had already read.

The questions asked by the group were different and deeper than they are at talks where people are first introduced to the book through the talk.

But the moment that stood out to me was when I saw Marybeth Gruenewald’s book.

Marybeth and her Technicolor Dream Book.

Marybeth, the Director of Global Initiatives at ECE not only read the book, she made the book her own. She flagged new and interesting ideas that stood out to her. She made notes. She highlighted lines. She turned the book into a beautiful piece of art. And her liberal use of Post-it Notes will likely impact 3M’s Q3 revenue numbers.

I was absolutely stunned when I saw Marybeth’s book. Not just because it was so interesting to look at, which it was. But this copy of the book visually demonstrated where a reader found value. Where they encountered ideas worth remembering. Where a new thought had reached them. Or where a new phrasing of an idea connected.

This book visually represents what I hoped would happen to people as they read. Their minds would light up and expand. Their brains would grow and add dimension, depth and texture. Their thoughts would brighten, and lighten and lift. (Oh my!)

Marybeth’s copy of the book is beautiful. I wish I owned it. (Perhaps I will make a replica of it in art class.)

Thank you Marybeth for bringing your copy of the book to the talk. Seeing it was one of the great pleasures of my author’s adventure.

Thank you Leigh for sharing the book with your team and organizing a talk. It was more rewarding for me than I can express. (Although I suppose this blog post probably expresses it fairly well. I’m just a big fan of hyperbole.)

Thank you Greg Haag, Leigh Peine, Melissa Ganiere, Marybeth, Zak Holochwost, Whitney Mosby and (joining via Zoom) Kimberly Hejec for your time and your interest in the book!

Key Takeaway

Share what you know. Pass along your lessons and learning and ideas. If it works for you, chances are it will help others too. We can all benefit from hearing new and differing perspectives. If you lead a team, find ways to introduce new ideas to keep your team learning and growing. Like Leigh Peine did for her team at ECE.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

What great lessons would you learn if you met the ideal you?

Life is a choose-your-own-adventure game. Every moment of every day, you get to decide what you do next. You choose action vs non-action. You choose the type of action. You choose where you are. And who you are with. You even choose which way to put the toilet paper roll on the holder. Which determines whether or not you are a heathen.

Imagine that with every choice, you are splitting into multiple versions of yourself. There is a version of you that said yes and no, who did and did not with every choice you ever had the opportunity to make.

Every one of the possible choices led to a different possible you.

Now imagine that once you reach the afterlife, you are all there. All of the iterations of you spawned by different decisions converge at You-a-palooza. Even Death Row you would be there, fresh from the electric chair. You would recognize them by their hair. And the spark in their eyes.

Super You

You would meet the version of you that accomplished the most and made the most good decisions. You would meet the you who took the most actions, who put themself in the right place at the right time, and spent time with the best people.

Think about how that person compares to the you that you are today.

Would you be very alike, or very different?

What could you learn from them?

This is a semi-creepy photo that semi-represents the Multi-You Concept.

Now, consider what you can do to get closer to that version of yourself, starting today.

Would you:

  • Take new actions?
  • Make different decisions?
  • Update your goals and decision-making criteria?
  • Move?
  • Change jobs or careers?
  • Start that personal project?
  • Volunteer and give?
  • Create a business?
  • Take a leap?
  • Not be afraid?
  • Exercise?
  • Hang out with different people?
  • Stop a bad habit?
  • Pick up new hobbies?
  • Study?
  • Read?
  • Ask questions?
  • Put the donut down?

Key Takeaway

There is a best version of you. You have the opportunity to get closer to that person every day. Consider what they are like, who they are and what they do that makes them so great. Compare yourself to Super You. Let them guide you. And close the gap between the two of you every day.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

What’s worth more than money?

If you are given the choice between money and confidence, choose confidence.

It is more powerful than money.

It is the spark that inspires the attempt.

It is the key that unlocks doors.

It is the fuel that powers success.

It is the wind that fills your sails.

It makes you raise your hand, and feel dry and secure,

Confidence works like faith.

It tells you that if you jump, your parachute will open. (But if you are literally jumping make sure to double-check that you actually have a parachute and not a backpack.)

Confidence minimizes the downside.

Confidence is like fertilizer that will help you grow a bigger life.

And ultimately, confidence helps you make more money.

Where To Find Confidence

Confidence comes from your belief in your own ability, skills and experience.

To increase your confidence, continuously improve your skills and ability. Make more attempts. Experience will follow. And confidence naturally grows.

The important life lesson we can all learn from rivers.

Last week I crossed over 2 rivers I have crossed a thousand times before.

But this time the rivers were different.

Completely different. (Like Stand By Me River and Sidewalk in Front of The Viper Room River.)

I was farther north than I had ever seen the rivers before.

If it weren’t for the signs on the bridges that told me what rivers I was crossing I would have never recognized them.

They were much smaller bodies of water than they are farther downstream.

They were more like creeks.

And if you only knew the creekish version of the rivers you would be shocked to learn what they transformed into 50, 100, or 200 miles south.

I took the fact that this happened with two different rivers as a universal reminder that this is what happens with all rivers. (Even Joan and Philip.)

It was also a reminder that those rivers are like you and me.

We all start small.

But we are designed to grow, strengthen, accumulate and expand as we go.

We get smarter and more capable. We grow in our knowledge and experience. We expand our skills and capabilities.

As a result, our influence, access, and impact grows.

Our potential, momentum, and power increase.

It’s a wonder to witness in someone else.

It’s an amazing feeling inside yourself.

But you have to reflect to recognize it.

Just like visiting the river upstream.

Key Takeaway

Keep going. Keep flowing. Keep growing. Just like the river does. You’ll become more impressive, more impactful and more useful to others as you travel your journey.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

How to make great choices when you have many options.

My wife Dawn and I have started scheduling our dental cleanings at the same time. It’s a cute couple quirk I have enjoyed. Yesterday was our big day for getting scraped, polished and flossed as a couple.

When we pulled into the dentist’s office there was one open parking spot. So I took it. It was the easiest decision I made all week. Because it was the only option available. It seems we have a very popular dentist. Or they have a very small parking lot.

But this morning I drove to the airport to catch a very early flight, and the parking structure was practically empty. Which reminded me of something Dawn said to me early in our relationship.

The hardest place to park is in an empty parking lot. 

-Dawn Albrecht

The statement sounds moronic. But it’s highly insightful. 

If every parking spot is open you have to think more than you do when there is only one spot. And you probably have not predetermined your empty parking lot decision-making process. Which means that when you arrive at an empty lot you have to make a decision on the spot.

That decision could involve simply taking the closest space to the entrance. But there are often 2 or more highly coveted close spaces. Plus, many times when you park you are not going to one specific entrance. Like when you park at a park. Which is totally meta.

There are a host of other factors to consider.

  • Is there shade I should consider on a hot and sunny day?
  • Will I be going in one door and out another?
  • Do I have multiple places to visit while in this parking lot?
  • Should I consider staying away from shopping carts?
  • What space makes it easiest to drive away? 
  • Where do I want to be when the parking lot fills up?
  • Does it look like Joni Mitchell or Counting Crows were here before they paved paradise?

These are the branches on the decision tree that suddenly sprout when you arrive at the naked parking lot.

But who cares?  It’s just a parking lot. There is no real way to get this decision wrong, Long Duk Dong.

However…

The parking lot is an analogy for your life.

When you only have one option in life you take what you are given. The decision is simple. Because it is a nondecision.

But when all of the options are available, how do you choose?

  • How do you decide where you will live when you could live anywhere?
  • How do you decide which career path to take when you could do anything?
  • How do you decide where to go to school when you could study anywhere?
  • How do you decide where to invest your money?
  • How do you decide what to eat?
  • How do you decide what clothes to wear?
  • How do you decide if you should add a silly final bullet to a list of serious bullets?

How Do You Decide?

You need to develop your own decision-making criteria. Your criteria should be based on your values, philosophies and beliefs. Developing your personal criteria for decisions large and small helps you make better decisions faster in every area of your life.

It is highly valuable to consider what influences your decisions. What are your core beliefs? What are your priorities? And which factors are simply non-factors to you?

Consider the following exercise related to the empty parking lot.

Rank the following factors when deciding where to park:

  1. Speed to my destination
  2. Exercise opportunity
  3. Ease of exit
  4. Isolation from dings
  5. Access to my car
  6. Most privacy for making out

Once you know which of these are most important you can make better choices faster, pussycat.

Your decision-making criteria apply to the parking lot and your bigger life decisions. Establishing and prioritizing your values before you encounter challenging choices related to drugs, sex and stealing help you make better decisions. Knowing your priorities related to your career, investing, family, relationships, health and religion will enable you to make big decisions faster too.

  1. What is the most important factor that will drive your decisions?
  2. What is the second most important?
  3. What is third?

When you take the time to consider these questions and answer them before you pull into the empty parking lot, or make a more important life decision, the answers become easy and obvious.

Key Takeaway

Know what is most important to you. Consider your decision-making hierarchy before you need it. It enables you to make great choices when you have all of the options. And remember, you always have options.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

The source of inspiration I didn’t expect to find at a rock concert.

On Saturday night I went to a massive concert in Boston. I saw the legendary rock groups including Joan Jett, Poison, Motley Crue and Def Leppard in what was called The 2022 Stadium Tour. Or what I would have called The Soundtrack Of My High School Weightroom Tour.

Despite the fact that all of the members of all of the bands I saw were in their late 50s or 60s (and Mick Mars of the Crue was in his 70s), they all rocked. But there was one senior rocker who impressed more than all the others.

Rick Allen

Rick Allen, the drummer for Def Leppard not only rocked, rocked never stopped, he looked like he was having the time of his life. In fact, Rick and Poison’s lead singer, Brett Michaels, both looked as if they were having more fun than the fans at Fenway Park. Which is wicked hahd to do.

But what makes Rick Allen almost unbelievable is that he is a rock n’ roll drummer with only one arm. To be clear, he started off with a full set of arms. In fact, he and his 2 arms celebrated their 16th birthday by playing drums for Def Leppard while opening for AC/DC. I think I celebrated my 16th birthday by eating dinner with my family at Friendly’s in West Lebanon, New Hampshire.

On New Year’s Eve 1984, Allen crashed his Corvette, severing his left arm. Doctors reattached the arm but then later detached it because of infection.

But the show must go on. And Rick was determined to go on with it. So he designed an electronic drum kit that he could play with his feet to create the sounds he would have made with his right arm. Less than 2 years later Allen was back drumming for Def Leppard at the Monsters of Rock music festival.

When I saw Rick Allen on Saturday night with my high school friends Dan Richards and James Colligan we couldn’t believe how hard he rocked. He plays what looks like a normal acoustic drum set, augmented by the electronic foot pedals.

Rock n’ Roll is alive and well in Boston.

The 2 things that stand out about watching Rick play are that he has no left arm and that he plays the drums barefoot. The bluegrass look appears out of place amongst the glam boots and platform shoes of a big hair rock concert. But I dug it.

Besides tickling my eardrums with his foot drums for 90 minutes at Fenway Park, Rick Allen also provided a massive dose of inspiration. Because when you see a one-armed drummer rocking a packed stadium with a smile on his face you realize that with the right mindset there is practically no setback you can’t overcome.

What I have experienced through losing my arm, I wouldn’t change. The human spirit is so strong.

-Rick Allen

Key Takeaway

You can handle whatever you are facing. When a wave of adversity rolls into your life you can either let it take you under or you can surf it. You can use that adversity to drive you forward and take you further and faster than you could have gone without it. Setbacks set you up for greater success, but with a better story and a stronger sense of all that you are really capable of. Adversity is a gift. Use it to your advantage. And just keep rocking.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

To create more opportunities first become great at what you do best.

Friday night my family and I had dinner in Las Vegas. It was the last night of our southwestern adventure, and we didn’t really plan our last meal. At least not the way Jesus did.

Through a strange confluence of forces, including a rare desert thunderstorm that created flash floods in Vegas, we ended up eating at Buddy V’s Ristorante. I realized once we reached the restaurant that it was named after Buddy Valastro.

Shortly after we sat down to eat I spotted Buddy V himself walking into the restaurant. A few minutes later Buddy stopped by our table to say hi, check on our experience, and thank us for coming to the restaurant that night. (I refrained from saying that I loved him in Elf.)

Buddy then greeted the table next to us. The family at that table asked if they could take a picture with Buddy. Which tipped off our kids that this guy was a celebrity. So they asked us why he was famous.

Dawn and I explained that Buddy V owned Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken, New Jersey. (Fun Fact: Dawn lived in Hoboken right after graduating from college as she worked at Lifetime, Television For Women, in New York City.)

We told our kids that Buddy was so good at making cakes that he got his own show on TLC called Cake Boss. He has now starred on 5 other TV shows. He owns 18 bakeries. And he is currently launching other restaurants.

After explaining this to our kids, I said that the real lesson from Buddy V was that if you want to create a lot of opportunities for yourself you should first become really great at something. And that something could be anything.

Buddy V was so good at making cakes that the world took notice and wanted to see and know more about him and his work. His personality made him interesting to a broad crowd and the opportunities just keep coming.

But it all started because he became great at his craft.

And maybe because he has a sweet accent.

Key Takeaway

Become really great at what you do. Expertise opens doors to new opportunities. It offers you career capital. Which leads to social capital. And financial capital. Keep practicing and improving your skills and you will become sought after. And when you are sought after everything changes.

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

+For more of the best lessons I have learned from the universe, check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

How deeply do you think?

Great ideas come from time spent thinking.

One of the best ways to think is to write.

Writing is like mining for ideas.

But with less black lung disease.

And more Carpal tunnel syndrome.

Every line you write digs deeper into a vein of thought.

The more you write, the digger you deep.

The digger you deep, the more you discover.

If you force yourself to sit down and write for an hour or 2 or 3 you will discover new thoughts and ideas that you had never considered before.

The pencil is your pick.

The pen is your shovel.

The keyboard is your drill.

Write to find new ideas.

Mine deep.

The more you write the more you will reach.

There are deeply buried gems waiting for you to discover.

But the only way to unearth them is with your writing utensils.

Scratch with each stroke.

Tap and type and claw toward those ideas.

Don’t stop short.

Get to the gold.

Discover the diamonds.

Mine for the motherlode.

The clues on the surface give you a starting point.

But the treasure is always deep below the surface.

Well below the obvious.

So write and find it.

Write fast and furiously. (Like Vin Diesel)

Write slow and smart.

Get to the spot where each word feels hard.

And important

And real.

And new

Go as deep

and

far

as

you

can

think

to

go.