Help me pick a cover for my book from these 5 options.

This whole book-writing thing is getting realer every day. I am close to publishing my first book called What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? with Ripples Media. And I am learning a lot in the process. It turns out that you can’t just throw 200 pieces of paper on a shelf and call it a book. To be ‘official’ you have to put a cover on it and bind the pages together. Rules…

So rather than try to disrupt the entire book publishing industry with an innovative loose-leaf style book, I have decided to cave in and create a cover for my book. Boring, I know. But you have to pick your battles.

Here are 5 book covers I am considering. Now, I’d love to have your help. Take a look and respond in the comments section with the book cover you prefer. You could either describe your favorite option in great detail, or simply use the letter that goes with the cover design. Your choice.

The Options:

A

A

B

B

C

C

D

D

E

E

Here they are at a glance.

What do you like?

Please share your favorite in the comments section. If your favorite cover gets chosen there is a big high five coming your way the next time I see you.

What would the author’s bio in your book say?

I am in the final strokes of writing a book called What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? Today I have to write my author’s biography. It’s what people who only have time for 2 syllables call a bio. It’s a 150-200 word summation of why you should give a hoot about what this owl has to say.

It’s harder than it sounds.

This task didn’t sound that challenging to me until I sat down to write it. Sure I know who I am. I have been there for all of my major life events. I tell the short story of me frequently when I meet new people. And sometimes when I meet used people.

However, I am not often trying to convince strangers that I am an expert on self-improvement. What would I say? That I used to be a lot worse? That they should have seen how bad I started out? That in the very beginning I couldn’t even walk, talk, feed myself, or hold my bladder?

My Wife’s Formula

What credentializes me to share my self-improvement and personal growth tips? When I asked my wife Dawn this question she replied quickly with the following succinct summary:

Your Positive Attitude. + Perpetual Self-Education + Life Experience + Professional Success + Athletic Success + Degree in Psychology + Story Telling Skills = Credibility

I thought that was a pretty good summation. I also thought maybe she is the one that should be writing the book. Or at least my bio.

Positive Attitude

It is challenging to summarize my positive attitude, despite the fact that my personal buoyancy is likely one of my greatest and most distinguishing assets.

Perpetual Self-Education

This is also hard to summarize. There are no degrees, certifications, or student loan debt for self-education. Yet my self-education far exceeds my formal education in breadth, depth, and applicability.

Life Experience

This is super important. Yet impossible to summarize within a 200-word bio.

Professional Success

This is easier. I started my advertising career as a junior copywriter. I worked my way up the creative ranks until I became the Chief Creative Officer of a 275-person ad agency. I helped lead the sale of that agency to the giant advertising agency holding company, Publicis. Then I became the lead creative of the largest ad agency in Atlanta.

I have worked on iconic brands including Reddi-Wip, GNC, Nike, Coca Cola, Dasani, Nationwide Insurance, Wells Fargo, UPS, Hertz, Safelite, Mizuno, Bob Evans, Chick-fil-a, Universal Studios, AMC Theaters, Volvo, SeaDoo and Ski-Doo.

I became an entrepreneur in 2016 when I took a big bet on myself (and my amazing future teammates) by launching the advertising and idea agency The Weaponry. Today we have more than 25 clients across the United States, as well as in Canada and India.

Athletic Success

I was a 2-time New England high school track and field champion in the discus. The second time I won was just 8 months after having anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery. I also broke the New Hampshire State record in that meet. I went on to throw the discus and the hammer at The University of Wisconsin, where I started as a walk-on and finished as a captain of a Big Ten Conference Champion team. I ended my career at UW as the #4 discus thrower in school history and #1 in the hammer. In fact, everything I know about self-improvement, goal achievement, and overcoming setbacks can be summarized in this section. 

Degree in Psychology

I have a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin. I learned a lot about the power of attitude, resilience, growth and happiness. In fact, Abraham Maslow, whose hierarchy of needs is foundational to modern psychology was also a product of the UW Madison Psychology program.

Storytelling Skills

I like to share stories. But I don’t know how to tell a story about telling stories. I am hoping the book will do this for me.

Key Takeaway

It’s valuable to think about what makes you worthy to write a book. Why should others turn to you as an authority? What makes you a trusted source? Perhaps we should all spend more time considering our credentials before we offer our advice and opinions. And maybe it’s not quite so simple. Because the world is full of wise souls who lack the proper credentials but are rich with the proper perspective. And maybe you are one of those people. So write and share anyway.

*If you have any good ideas on things I should include in my bio, please let me know. If your thoughts are simply intended to make me laugh, all the better.

Have you ever thought about writing a book?

I have a small list of WOWs. They are the big things I want to accomplish in my lifetime. The list includes:

  • Setting a state record
  • Competing in college athletics
  • Starting a business
  • Writing a book
  • Hiking the entire Appalachian Trail
  • Skydiving
  • Donating a million dollars
  • Becoming the World’s Oldest Person

Other than skydiving, which simply requires a plane, a parachute, gravity, and the ability to disconnect your survival instincts, these accomplishments take a tremendous amount of accumulated effort. Which is why I am always so impressed when I hear that someone else has achieved one of my WOWs.

As a state record holder (NH: discus), entrepreneur (The Weaponry), and former college athlete (University of Wisconsin Track & Field), I am serious about accomplishing these WOWs. They push me, pull me, and give me direction.

Today, I am excited to share that I am nearing the completion of my first book. And, no, it doesn’t involve crayons.

I find the best way for me to accomplish my WOWs is through less talk and more action. So I haven’t talked to many people about my book, until now.

The Details.

The title of the book is What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say?

It includes 80 important life lessons that the world is trying to share with you. If you have read my blog, it is written in the same style, with a focus on personal growth and self-improvement. The book is written to help people learn, laugh, and lift. But if all you do is laugh, even if it is at me, I will consider it a win.

The Timeline

I finished my first draft on May 25, 2020. Which w on my birthday, during the Covid lockdown. I finished the second draft before midnight last New Year’s Eve. Now the goal is to have the book published by Thanksgiving. (Notice how I tie major milestones to major days? It’s one of my thangs.)

Over the next couple of months, I will share more about the process of writing and launching the book so that you can learn from both my experience and my mistakes. Thank you for joining me on my latest life adventure!

Key Takeaway

You get one lifetime to accomplish all of your WOWs. Know what yours are. Let them guide you. Then enjoy the work, the progress and the sense of accomplishment as you check them off your list.

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

To make progress on your life goals, focus on them one at a time.

When you were little you started dreaming of all of the great things you would do in your lifetime. You thought of the great jobs you would have. You imagined the feats that would make you famous. You pictured the amazing things you would someday own. Like the pony, the monster truck, and the free candy vending machine in your bedroom closet that was also encrusted in candy. Because you were extra.

The Reality

As an adult, you have these ideas too. But you also have the ability to make these ideas a reality. You can start that business, take that epic trip, buy that vacation home, or create your own Hamilton. (By this I mean your own Lin-Manuel Miranda-type masterpiece. Not your own ill-fated duel to the death on the Jersey shore, Snooki.)

Dreaming Vs. Doing

My list of imagined successes is long like Duk Dong, and growing every day. The dreaming is easy. The doing is the hard part. But it’s not as hard as you might think.

To make progress towards your life goals approach them the way I approach writing this blog.

Blog Jam

Throughout each day I accumulate ideas to write about and I add them to my list of posts to create. Today, there are several hundred topics on the list.

Pick One

However, when I sit down each morning to write I have to pick one idea to focus on. That idea is in the spotlight. It gets all of my time and attention.

I do all of the work I need to do in order to transform that idea into a real post. I invest my time and my energy. I mind all the details.

I create a headline, write the body copy, and add a key takeaway. I tag the post, list a category, then add a cover photo. I proofread it. Then I hit the publish button. (Fun Fact: When proofreading this post I found that the word ‘proofread’ was misspelled.)

Another One (#DJKhaled)

Through this process, I convert ideas into real posts, one at a time. In fact, this will be my 657th post. Tomorrow morning at 6:10 am I will be writing number 658.

Key Takeaway

You can make each of your hopes, dreams, and wishes a reality by concentrating on them one at a time. Give one idea your total focus and energy. Sweat the details. Take it all the way to completion. Then take on the next idea. Don’t take on more than one thing at a time. But make sure you always have one of your goals in the spotlight. That way you are always making progress. And you are transforming the things you want to do into the things you did.

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

Why it is so smart to get a little dumber every day.

‘You have probably heard the saying, ‘You learn something new every day.’ a bazillion times. It’s a great reminder that there is always new knowledge to be gained. In theory, this also means we get a little smarter every day. But if that were true you would also know how many zeros are in a bazillion by now.

Smarter is a relevant term. We become smarter based on the ratio of things we know compared to the things we don’t know.

A funny thing happens when you learn something new. You also realize how much more there is that you don’t know that you hadn’t realized before. This means the more you know, the more there is that you don’t know. Which is what Yoda and the dude in The Matrix were trying to teach us.

Whether you are accumulating knowledge related to your career, parenting, a hobby, sport, or specialized skill, consider your knowledge ratio. It is akin to comparing yourself to those further developed than you, rather than those you have already surpassed. (Which is a Judy Bloom mindset.)

You will quickly realize that the more you know, the more there is to know. That acknowledgment of the mounting body of unknown is one of the most powerful drivers of growth and self-improvement.

Key Takeaway

As you grow and learn, enjoy your newfound knowledge. But more importantly, profit from understanding how much more there is that you don’t know. It will help you maintain a growth mindset. You will learn more from the perspective and experience of others. You will operate more creatively. More empathetically. And ultimately, through acknowledging your own relative ignorance, you become more intelligent. At least I think so.

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

Do you make money from your writing?

My son Johann saw me writing in my office early this morning, as I do at least 5 days per week. Today Johann stopped and asked me, ‘Dad, do you make money from your writing?’ I paused for a moment. Then, instead of answering his question, I said, ‘Come back and ask me your question again when I am done writing. And bring me the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of The West. NOW GET OUT…’ (Ok, so half of that is true.)

The answer is not cut and dry.

The simplest answer is no, I don’t get paid to write this blog. I am not making it rain up in this URL. I don’t have advertisers, sponsors, or paid subscribers. In that respect, my blog writing is not a job. It is a volunteer activity. An elective.

Your Electives

However, I have found that what separates us from each other are our electives. The things that we undertake that we don’t have to do. The things that not everyone does. Those are often the things that make you different, interesting, and valuable to others. But not so different and interesting that the circus wants to add you to their Tent of Freaks.

Adding Value

What I am trying to do when I write my blog is provide value to others. I am trying to share insights, experiences, ideas, techniques, inspiration, motivation, positivity, or humor. By sharing these things I am creating a value-adding resource.

Universal Math

I believe in a very simple math equation. The value of your income is equal to the value of your contribution.

Income = Contribution

So if I add more value to the world, eventually, somehow, the world will add more value to me.

But there is more to my writing than that.

  1. It keeps me top of mind.
  2. It demonstrates relevant capabilities.
  3. It means more people know me.
  4. It helps expand and strengthen my network.
  5. It keeps me engaged with my clients, customers, friends, and family.
  6. It allows me to share my expertise.
  7. It makes me a thought leader.
  8. It makes great people think about joining my team.
  9. It helps my team think they are on a pretty good team with a leader who thinks about and cares about their wellbeing and happiness.
  10. My writing, if funny enough, may someday cause someone to blow milk out of their nose. This is the superpower I have always wanted. As in, ‘You saved us, Snarf Man! We never would have escaped if you hadn’t made that bad man laugh and blow his beverage out of his nose!’ My catchphrase would be, ‘Can I buy you a drink…?’

The Greatest Reward

Perhaps most importantly, as I write, I am learning. I am sharpening my thoughts, perspectives, and techniques. All of which makes me better and more capable in other areas of my work and personal life. This enables me to do better work for others. Which ultimately helps me make money. Sorry for the long answer, Johann.

Key Takeaway

The more you write and share your thoughts the more you will profit from it. The value may not come in direct cash payments. In fact, it probably won’t. It will come through the inevitable compensation you will receive for the value you created and shared with the world. It will come through your connections with others. Through your own learning and development. Through the awareness and positivity you generate. So keep writing. Or start writing. Be patient. But persistent. And good things will come your way.

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

To increase your value surround yourself with better people.

In real estate, it is valuable to be the smallest home in the nicest neighborhood. It is not just for the smaller utility bills, and because there are fewer places to lose your keys. It is because the rest of the bigger, nicer homes will drive your value up by association. #HomeOwnersAssociation

Humans

The same holds true for humans. There is tremendous value in associating with humans that are better than you. Think of better as further developed than you in areas that you want to improve. (Because rockstar, there ain’t nobody better than you are going to be!)

But what does it mean to be a better human? It could mean the people you are spending your time with are:

  • Smarter
  • Braver
  • Kinder
  • Funnier
  • More adventurous
  • More driven
  • More generous
  • Healthier
  • Fitter
  • Wiser
  • Sexier (not a chance)
  • Wealthier
  • More patient
  • More thoughtful
  • More educated
  • More confident
  • More openminded
  • More Benjamin Moore

The Positive Pull

When you associate with people who are better at the things you want to be great at they will pull you along with them. They serve as a constant source of inspiration. They provide a better model for you to use as a measuring stick. And they can show you the path to get where you want to go. Like Glinda showed Dorothy.

Key Takeaway

To increase your personal value spend more time with people who are better than you. They will motivate you to grow, learn and act. They provide a gravitational pull towards better. And they will enhance your personal brand through association. Because good people who spend time with great people are destined for greatness themselves.

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

Imagine you are Oprah. Now find your Dr. Phil.

Over the weekend I listened to a podcast with Dr. Phil. It was full of great advice, insights and guidance. Which was not surprising. Since Dr. Phil McGraw has made a career of offering great advice, insights, and guidance. That, and world-class mustaching.

The part of the podcast I found most interesting was when he talked about Oprah Winfrey. Dr. Phil and Oprah first met when his consulting business helped Oprah with a Mad Cow disease court case she was involved with, involving some mad humans in Texas.

Oprah later invited Dr. Phil to be a guest on her talk show. He was a great guest, and soon he was invited back once a week to do his own segment. A segment on the most popular tv show in daytime history.

What can you do?

This story inspired me to think about how we can all use our platforms, access, careers, businesses, and relationships to be a transformative influence on another person’s life.

Things To Consider

Think about who you can help through your social, business, networking, or technological assets.

  • Who’s life can you potentially transform?
  • Who can you fast track?
  • Who can you set up for life long success?
  • Who can you hand a microphone?
  • Who can you give airtime?
  • Who can you set the stage for?
  • Who can you polish and guide?
  • Who do you love like George Thorogood?

The Great Multiplier

When you set someone else up for success, it will inevitably be paid forward. Over time your efforts will likely multiply many times over. Potentially for generations. It can have a transformative effect on a life, a family, a community or even the world. Yet it’s easy to do. You simply have to share what you already have.

Key Takeaway

Recognize when good people could benefit from your resources. Then set them up for success. Offer your assets to help others build their own momentum. Jumpstart or fast-track their success. It’s easy to do, yet extremely rewarding. And there is no limit to how far your help will ultimately go.

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

Why you should bring an entrepreneurial spirit to your social life.

At some point we all experience dissatisfaction. You may find yourself disappointed by your career path, your opportunities, your social interactions, or this game Prince called, Life. But don’t go crazy. Because if the elevator tries to bring you down there is always something you can do.

Entrepreneurship

Remember that you have the power to start your own business, be your own Bruce Springsteen, and control your own career. It changes everything. Entrepreneurship is the big excuse eraser. Because you no longer are at the mercy of the decisions of other people.

Beyond Business

But regardless of whether you decide to start your own business, you can take an entrepreneurial approach to everything else in your life. Instead of starting your own business, you can start your own social group. Made up of people you want to spend time with. That’s what Mark Zuckerberg did. (And besides the congressional hearings and the Winklevoss twins, it’s going pretty well for him.)

A group of some of my oldest friends at a gathering I organized this summer.

Social Creation

By starting your own group you are creating new connections and ultimately, a new community. That community may have a greater impact on your life than simply starting your own business. In fact, the community may create new opportunities for you to grow and expand your career in ways you had never considered before.

Create your own social circle. Then put a camera on the floor and take a selfie.

Key Takeaway

If you love the idea of being an entrepreneur, but don’t have the risk tolerance to give up your job and strike out on your own, start a social group. Find great people. Organize them. Activate them. Foster and strengthen the connections between them. You will have created your own organization that could offer far greater profits than a business alone would provide.

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

Fun Fact: This pic is me and my cousins after our Grandma Albrecht’s funeral.

The great value in taking a moment to reflect on your day.

This fall I have helped coach my 11-year old son Magnus’ football team. The experience has been extremely rewarding. It’s fun to get back involved in tackle football and all that it teaches players about teamwork, strategy, execution, brotherhood, and eye makeup.

It is fascinating to see how much our team is improving every week. Several parents came up to me after our game on Saturday to tell me that they are impressed by how much the team has grown over our first 5 games.

A significant part of our improvement plan is watching game film. We film each game and then use a platform called Hudl to share it with the players. We break each play down Clint Eastwood-style, noting the good, the bad, and the ugly. #DoodaloodalooWaaWaaWaaaa

We call out the good plays, the great tackles, the key blocks, the great hustle that made a difference. But perhaps more importantly, we call out where players did the wrong things, and what they should do differently next time. Sharing the example and the recipe for correction is a huge part of the learning experience.

When I see how much learning and improvement comes from studying our team game film I find myself wanting to rewatch my days and see my opportunities to get better.

  • I would look for wasted time and missed opportunities.
  • I want to look for better alternatives to the decisions I made.
  • I would want to review the times I could have accomplished more and been more productive. That is a frequent concern of mine at the end of each day.
  • I would like to study the cause and effect of my actions.
  • I would like to find opportunities to grow and learn.
  • I would like to find more ways to connect with my kids, my wife, my coworkers, and friends.
  • I would like to see the hilarious things that happened around me that I missed.

The Problem

Unless you Truman Show yourself, you are never likely to have a full game film of your day. Plus, it would take a full day to watch. Which is as practical as getting a life-size tattoo of yourself on yourself.

Journaling

However, at the end of each day, you can reflect on your day. You can watch the game film of your day in your head. You can keep a journal to help you grow. You can write down what went well, what you learned, and what you would do differently next time. The writing itself will help reinforce the lessons. But revisiting the journal later will be like a self improvement book you wrote for yourself.

Key Takeaway

Take 5 minutes at the end of your day to review the game film of the day in your head. Quickly step through your events, interactions, accomplishments, and misses. Capture the key wins, learnings and observations in a journal or an app. Consider what you should do differently and your corrected or improved behavior. And make yourself a little better every day.

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