Today I am extra thankful for my partner of 18 years.

Your network is your net worth. Because humans offer each other greater value than anything else in the universe. You can think of your network as a series of concentric circles. The people in the outer rings are the people with whom you have the lightest connection. They are the friends of your friends. The people in your innermost circle are your greatest human connections. This space is reserved for your family and your closest friends.

But if you are lucky, you get one person to stand next to you at the very center of your network. They are your co-pilot. Your partner. Your best friend. They are the Adrian to your Rocky. Or the Rocky to your Adrian. And they got gaps. And you got gaps. But between the two of you, you ain’t got no gaps.

Since this date in 2002, my wife Dawn has stood beside me at the very center of my network. Today, we celebrate 18 years of marriage. And we have been able to accomplish, create and enjoy more together than we ever could have done alone.

The past year 6 months have been unusual, to say the least. And I hear people complain about 2020 being the worst year ever. They say 2020 is the toothpaste-and- orange juice of years. But in many ways, this has been a wonderful year for me. Because if you are locked down with the person you would most like to spend your time with, quarantining can feel like the best of times.

Over the past 6 months, Dawn and I have had unprecedented time together. I have had only one business trip. But Dawn and I have been able to load up the family truckster, and our 3 little Griswolds, and see the country together. We have traveled as far south as Savannah, Georgia, as far north as Fargo, North Dakota, And as far west as Idaho and Montana.

Johann, Dawn, Magnus, Ava and me hiking in The Badlands in July. But it wasn’t bad at all.

As my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, transitioned to remote work in March, Dawn led our family’s migration to homeschooling. She turned our house into a well-oiled education center that would have had a line around the block waiting to get in had it been open to open enrollment. And that’s the non-social-distancing distance.

Dawn secured the vital supplies necessary for our family in the new-normal, including masks, sanitizers, toilet paper and backups to everything in case things got worse. She attended to our family’s physical, psychological and emotional needs. It felt like war time, and I got to partner up with General Patton, only he was beautiful, a great cook, and knew we needed a deep freezer in the garage.

In 2020 the Covid-19 pandemic, the economic fallout, the isolation, the renewed focus on racial inequities, and toxic political climate have made the stability, comfort and enjoyment of our own homes more important than ever. And I couldn’t ask for a better home environment, roommate or teammate than the one I have enjoyed for the past 18 years.

Key Takeaway

If you want to enjoy a good life surround yourself with good people. But if you want an amazing life, partner with someone who amazes you every day. Someone who makes your world better in good times and bad. In 2019 and 2020. At the end of our days the only thing that will matter is the impact we had on others. And Dawn’s impact on me could never be overstated. Thank you for this wonderful adventure Dawn Albrecht. You are my certainty in uncertain times.

This was my all-time favorite moment as an American.

I am proud to be an American. I always have been. Always will be. I love that our nation is constructed with checks and balances to be able to correct itself at any time. We have the freedom of speech that protects our right to speak out when we see wrongs. And we have the freedom of the press to report the wrongs, and draw attention to them. Of course, we also enjoy the Freedom of George Michael. And the Freedom Overspill of Steve Winwood. But those are less popular freedoms. Maybe because those guys are non-Americans.

Holidays

There are holidays that make me proud to be an American. President’s Day, MLK Jr. Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving.  These are all great days, to reflect on our country and our Americanism.

But my favorite American moment didn’t fall on any of those red, white and blue holidays. It didn’t happen while slurping cranberry sauce, or during a President’s Day car sale. So, as Betsy Ross used to ask, when the flag was it?

Some Of My Favorite American Moments

I have had thousands of proud moments as an American. While I don’t have them all ranked, here are some worthy of mention.

  • Watching veterans march down Main Street during a 4th of July Parade
  • Watching the Miracle On Ice on TV at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid.
  • Watching everything at the 1984 Olympics (Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Mary Lou Retton, Joan Benoit)
  • Standing at the base of the Statue of Liberty
  • Listening to America, Ef-Yeah, during the movie Team America. World Police.
  • Standing at the rim of the Grand Canyon
  • My first voting experience when I turned 18
  • Watching Lee Greenwood’s God Bless The USA music video

September 11, 2001

September 11th, 2001 was a dark day for America. It knocked us down as a nation is a way that I had never thought America could be knocked down. It was like when Mike Tyson got knocked out by Buster Douglas, and Iron Mike was so out of it he couldn’t even operate his own mouthguard.

In the days following the attack, everything in America stopped. It was a very strange time. Like 2020. Then, like now, sporting events were canceled or postponed. The world seemed to be off its axis.

Back to Live Sports

On Saturday, September 29, 2001, I attended a University of Wisconsin football game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. It was the first home game for the Badgers since the attacks of September 11. And it was the first time Badger fans had gathered en masse post 9/11.

My All-Time Favorite Moment As An American

Before the game started the crowd stood for the national anthem. I have been to hundreds of sporting events. And I have heard the national anthem sung thousands of times. But this time was different.

The moment the national anthem began there was an explosion in the stadium. It wasn’t a bomb or a fireworks display. It was the crowd itself. Singing the national anthem. Everyone in the stadium was belting out the song as if it was our school fight song. It was loud and proud and like nothing I had ever heard before.

We were all all-in that day. It was the kind of experience that gives you chills and makes you want to cry in the best way possible. I think of that experience every time the national anthem is sung at a public event.

2020

The past 6 months have been difficult for Americans. The Covid-19 health crisis, the ensuing economic crisis and isolation have been unimaginable. Then, on May 25th, my birthday, George Floyd was killed publicly, and senselessly. Which has inspired demands for change, justice and equality. It has sparked protests, demonstrations, riots and long-overdue conversation. Cities like Chicago, Kenosha, Minneapolis and Portland have been deeply scarred and charred as a result.

Moving Forward

Today, on the 19-year anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, my hope is that when we gather again for sporting events, graduation ceremonies, and American celebrations that we once again sing the National Anthem, the way it should be sung. Loud. Proud. Together.

The National Anthem is a symbol of our unity, our hope, and our belief that no matter what we face, we will make it through, together. The banner will still wave. It is an inspiring sight to see. It stands as the greatest symbol of this nation of ours that is still a work in progress. But capable of getting better all the time.

Cue Lee Greenwood.

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

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

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

This hammock should be your spirit animal this weekend.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Takeaway

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

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

This is making us all more interesting.

2020 has been a year like no other.

  • A global pandemic
  • National lockdowns
  • Virtual schooling
  • Unbelievable injustices caught on video
  • Protests
  • Riots
  • Historic levels of unemployment
  • Sports seasons canceled
  • Sports played in bubbles
  • Businesses evaporating
  • Businesses booming
  • Entire airlines and cruise lines halted
  • Elections altered
  • Movie theaters empty
  • Churches closed
  • Masks everywhere
  • Toilet paper nowhere
  • Hand sanitizer flowing like wine
  • Tom Brady and Gronk reunited in Tampa Bay

This is a crazy time. It’s like the new era of Prohibition. Except what has been prohibited is humans gathering with other humans. Like segregation for everyone. Which makes many people want to party like it’s 1999.

But 2020 is the most interesting and unique year we have ever experienced. And it is making us all more interesting and unique as a result.

We are now more experienced, more capable and more prepared for future challenges than those who have come before us. Future generations will look back at this time and want to know how we got through it, and what we learned. They will want to hear our stories, read our books, watch our movies and study our experiences. They will note how we used to laugh at the crazy Preppers, before we realized the crazy Preppers were right.

We are becoming a case study in how to evolve. Adversity is making us stronger and more capable. We are witnessing and experiencing unimaginable alterations to our daily lives. To our weekly routines. To our annual traditions. And we are simply marching forward. Because humans are amazing. And there is no other choice.

We are becoming the most adaptable people in history. We have developed modes, tools and techniques that others simply haven’t had. We have developed infrastructure, processes and technology that enables us to operate in new remote modes. Like Earthstronauts.

Key Takeaway

The current conditions can feel stressful and frustrating. But they are temporary. And they are pushing us to become more highly evolved humans. We are more interesting people. With better stories to tell. With lessons to teach. With pep talks to give. Yes, the process is challenging. But the end product will be the more valuable and more fascinating than you can imagine. Hang in there. And think about which child actor you want to play you in the movie version of 2020.

What we can learn about all this craziness from Charles Darwin.

2020 started like any other year. New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day came and went without incident. But by St. Patrick’s Day we had hit the shamrocks. Churches were closed on Easter. Brunches were unavailable on Mother’s Day. And on Memorial Day (my birthday), George Floyd was murdered by the artists formerly known as Minneapolis police officers.

Halftime

As we hit the mid-point it is clear that 2020 is going to be a different kind of year. The 4th of July fireworks will be largely DIY. Basketball will be in a bubble. Popular institutions that have reopened may reclose becuase they are a little too popular to curb the spread of COVID-19. Statues, monuments and names are being changed in an effort to stamp out racism (or what we may call eracism). And entire industries will have to find a new path forward following the disruptions and disallowances of the past few months.

Another Chapter

However, this is not the end of the world. Far from it. This is simply another chapter of change in the book of human history. As we face new and novel challenges it is valuable to get a little big-picture perspective. And who better than Charles Darwin to shed a little light on our current situation? (Ok, God would have been even better, but Chucky D is still solid.)

Darwin

Charles Darwin, best knows for inventing the Darwin Awards, properly spelling Galapagos, and for his role in the hit movie The Pirates! Band of Misfits, also created a few popular theories. Including the following:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.  -Charles Darwin

Change

Change is inevitable. There will be changes to our economy, to our environment and to our political leadership. There will be changes to industries, to culture and law. There will changes to facemask wearing policies. There will be changes to bar and beach access. And changes to the rules governing how we ride elevators. Strange, I know.

There will also be changes as a result of the Me Too movement and the Black Lives Matter movement that will change outcomes for rapey and racists humans. #SorryNotSorryHarvey. And there will be more movements. Ones that we can’t imagine yet. And they will serve the greater good as they bring on more change.

Survival

The individuals, businesses, industries, cities, states and countries that respond well to these inevitable changes will survive. It doesn’t matter if you are smart, or were in a position of strength before. The only thing that matters now is how well you respond and adapt to change. That is the rule that governs the game, and always has.

Key Takeaway

Change is inevitable and never-ending. You must respond. Understand what works now. Embrace change and the opportunities it affords you to reinvent yourself, your career, your business and your community. Keep improving. Keep adapting. There is so much good ahead. Make sure you are prepared to enjoy it all.

*If you know somoene who could benefit from a friendly reminder from Charles Darwin, please share this with them.

This year treat your spare time like valuable gemstones.

Happy 2020! I absolutely love the Mulligan that every new year brings. If you are like most people you’ve resolved to make this your best year yet. According to a quick and dirty research project I conducted there are four basic ways to improve your life with a New Year’s resolution.

  1. You can start something good.
  2. You can quit something bad.
  3. You can make a habit of something positive.
  4. Or you can generally just stop being lame.

Best! Year! Ever!

I have one goal that will help make 2020 the best year in my career and personal life. Simply stated, I want to make the most of my remnant time.

What That Means

We all have a slew of things we have to do. Those include our standard work and home obligations. Make sure you take care of those must-do’s or your fresh new year will spoil before February. But like that poor forgotten ‘r’ in February, we all have time in every day that we are overlooking.

Today I’m envisioning all that I can do with my remnant time over the next 12 months. In fact, I am considering adding this quote to the back of the next round of business cards I print this year:

“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Apparently Ralph Waldo was into the bling.

Go Rumpelstiltskin in 2020

Today consider what you can do with the time hidden between your must-dos. Instead of killing that time with digital thumb twiddling or catching Zs, spin that time-straw into gold.

The Perfect You Project

I challenge you to use your remnant time to do the things the perfect version of you would do. Read something, write something, create something, solve something, learn something, experience something, accomplish something, improve something. Or maybe buy a thesaurus and find other words to use instead of something.

Compounding Interest

Like compound interest, even little moments add up over the course of a year. Two months ago I began picking up my daughter’s guitar each night and practicing for just a few minutes. And while I’m no Eddie Van Halen, a little invested time each night enables me to play most Christmas songs well enough to not get booed off stage at a nursing home.

Entrepreneurship

I started my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry in my spare time. I looked for little moments at night, on the weekends or over my lunch hour to research, plan and create the business. And like Andy Dufresne, by using my remnant time wisely, I was able to create a path to the place I always wanted to be. Except, unlike Andy, I didn’t have to crawl through an active sewer pipe. And chances are, neither will you.

Key Takeaway

Make the most of 2020 by making the most of your spare time. Use it to make magic in your career. Strengthen your connections to family and friends. Start that business you always wanted to start. Read more. Finally do those things you have always wanted to do. Use you spare moments to have more fun, learn something new, and accomplish more than ever. Start today. You have 1440 minutes every day to work with.