It’s my birthday! Time for my annual performance evaluation!

Today, May 25th, is my birthday. I have a handful of birthday traditions that I look forward to every year. None of them cost more than a dollar or two. And I can enjoy them even during a global pandemic. (And if you can’t pandemic globally why bother pandemic-ing at all?)

My Traditions

First, I always eat a whole can of black olives. I started doing this when I was a senior in high school. It seemed super-indulgent back then. It still does today. Only now I have to get a larger can because my kids get in on the act too. Which is something they don’t talk about at Planned Parenthood.

A second birthday tradition that I love is calling my older sister Heather. Heather and I share a birthday, although we are not twins. Which is super weird right? And awesome! (Side note: my 2 younger sisters Alison and Donielle also share a birthday (May 22nd) but aren’t twins either.) When I was young I thought that my birthday situation made me special and unique. I still do. Happy Birthday, Heather! (And good job enjoying your August vacations Mom and Dad!)

Third, I always try to fish, bike, canoe, hike, and go to the gym. These are some of my favorite activities. And birthdays should be full of your favorite things. Not just brown paper packages tied up with string.

A 4th birthday tradition is that I always give myself a performance evaluation. It’s kinda like my annual checkup, but there are no doctors involved, and I don’t have to show anyone my birthday suit.

During my annual evaluation, I review what I am doing well, what I want to do better, what I have accomplished so far, and what I still have left to do.

Here’s a peek at my 2021 self-evaluation.

Doing Well

  • I’m happy.
  • I smile a lot
  • I laugh a lot
  • I am a good friend (typically)
  • I help gather people
  • I keep in touch with people
  • I am a supportive and involved father
  • I am a devoted husband who is crazy about his wife
  • I didn’t get or give anyone COVID
  • I make time for adventures.
  • I write a blog regularly
  • I exercise regularly
  • I keep meeting more people
  • I am volunteering my time to benefit others
  • I guest speak to classes, teams and professional groups regularly
  • I read a lot
  • I see my dentist regularly
  • I’m not living in a van down by the river
  • I seek out a lot of knowledge and self-improvement
  • I still don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs. (But I’m starting to understand why people do. #parenthood)
  • I believe in myself
  • I am hungry for more (and for pancakes)

Want To Do Better

  • Take on more family responsibility
  • Follow through on all the things I say I will do
  • Put more focus on my most important initiatives to move them forward faster
  • Get better at giving gifts
  • I want to drop below my snoring weight. (I’m about 5 pounds over my snore-free weight now.)
  • Get in better shape (But I still want to be human-shaped.)
  • I want to be slower to anger
  • Think bigger
  • Do bigger things
  • Get good sleep every night
  • Donate more money to great causes
  • Spend less time on or distracted by electronic devices
  • Be a better Christian
  • Get a physical every year

Things I have done.

  • Found a great wife (Yes, it is you, Dawn!)
  • Created and partially raised 3 pretty great kids
  • Had a respectable career
  • Started my own business (The Weaponry)
  • Created a blog that occasionally makes people giggle
  • I’ve visited 49 states (No Hawaii)
  • I have visited 12 Countries
  • I got stuck in a Murphy bed in Germany
  • I have pet a hummingbird in the wild twice
  • I have ridden a snowmobile 113 mph
  • I have worked really hard to achieve a lofty goal
  • I have bounced back from failure
  • I am still within 5 pounds of my high school graduation weight
  • I have volunteered for hard jobs when I knew I was the best person for the job
  • Donated blood (I did this for the first time 7 months ago)

Things I haven’t done yet that I really want to do.

  • Published a book
  • Owned enough rental properties to retire on
  • Hiked to Havasu Falls
  • Seen Tokyo, Hong Kong, Norway and Italy
  • Created a self-sustaining business that doesn’t need me anymore
  • Successfully launched a child into the real world
  • Gone hunting
  • Created my own highly successful brand (any category)
  • Become an official mentor for someone
  • Become embarrassingly rich
  • Gone skydiving (I’m waiting for that sweet spot when my dependents don’t depend on me anymore, but I’m still not wearing Depends.)

Key Takeaway

It’s important to check in with yourself regularly. You need to know what you are doing well, and celebrate that. You also need to know what is still undone, or not being done well. Knowing when to be proud of yourself and when to be disappointed in yourself is a valuable life skill. Those two forces fuel both my happiness and my hunger.

In the best-case scenario, I am nearly half way through my earthly adventure. In the worst-case scenario, I am almost done. That’s why I am living my life knowing that much sooner than I want this game will be over. So I can’t put the important stuff off. It is go-time! And there is a lot to do this year.

Special Birthday Request

If you would like to help make my birthday 38-Specialer, I would love to have you subscribe to this blog. I’ll work the next 364 days to make the blog worth reading. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support and your time!

Have a wonderful my-birthday! Thanks for joining me on my adventure.

Getting the vaccine = Getting back together = Getting back to normal

Wednesday was a big day for me. I didn’t win the lottery. I wasn’t named a Most Beautiful Person. And I wasn’t asked to replace Alex Trebek on Jeopardy. Heck, I wasn’t even asked to replace Alex Trebek in the Colonial Penn commercials. It was a big day simply because it was one of the normalest days I have had outside my home in 15 months.

Vaccination Nation

I got my second vaccine shot 2 weeks ago (I’m Team Pfizer, not Hufflepuff or Slytherin). I now feel that I am as protected from the COVID-19 virus as I am going to be. Better yet, I feel as protected as I need to be. So I have started doing regular life stuff again. And I am reminded how much I love regular life stuff.

Wednesday, Normal Wednesday

Wednesday I traveled from Milwaukee to Madison (which is about a 90-minute drive for those of you who are Wisconsin-illiterate). I went to college at The University of Wisconsin in Madison, and I feel as at home in Madtown as I do anywhere on Earth. I was there to see people that I hadn’t seen since before the planet went cuckoo for Covid Puffs.

The Breakfast Club

I started my day at a breakfast meetup with a group of former University of Wisconsin Badger athletes. The last time I saw any of these W Club members in person was March 4th of 2020. The Crew included:

  • Charlie Wills: The Owner of the Charlie Wills Team -Real Estate Partners (basketball)
  • Scott Silvestri: VP and General Manager of Learfield’s Badger Sports Properties (swimming)
  • Derek Steinbach: Director of Development for Wisconsin Athletics (track & field)
  • Nicholas ‘Papa’ Pasquarello: Executive Director of the W Club and Strategic Partnerships – Wisconsin Athletics (soccer)
  • Andy Crooks: Managing Broker at T.R. McKenzie (football)
  • Adam Albrecht: Founder and CEO of The Weaponry and Dude Who Writes This Blog (track & field)
  • Kalvin Barrett: Dane County Sheriff (football (but he will tell you he was a swimmer))
Nick, Me, Derek, Sheriff Barrett, Charlie and Scott at the Original Pancake House in Madison. I’m always amazed at how many of those restaurants there are. Which makes me think most of them are lying.

It felt like a reunion. We were hugging and shaking hands and seeing each other’s naked faces. We were sharing stories, smiling, and laughing. And not once did anyone say, ‘You’re on mute.’

This was a group of ballers, that included All-Americans, Final Four participants, school record holders, Big 10 Champions, and Team Captains. But the rockstar of the group was Sheriff Barrett. Other people in the restaurant were asking to take pictures with him and to asked him to stop to talk. It was fun to see.

I asked Kalvin if he no longer likes the Bob Marley song, “I shot the sheriff.” He said that he loves that song and plays it in the office. Which reminded me of Shaq in the Grown Ups 2 clip below.

Brunch

After breakfast, I visited Dave Astrauskas, the rockstar throwing coach of the University of Wisconsin track and field team. Dave has coached 4 NCAA Champions, 1 NCAA Collegiate Record Holder, 41 NCAA Division I All-Americans, 4 Big Ten Records Holder, 11 Big Ten Champions and Olympic discus thrower Kelsey Card.

Coach Dave Astrauskas He can teach you how to throw anything but a hissy fit.

Dave has forgotten more about throwing than I will ever know. And of all the people I know Dave is the most likely to set off a spellcheck alarm. #astrauskas

I spent time with Dave for 3 reasons:

  1. Because he is a good human.
  2. To learn from someone who is at the top of their field.
  3. To foster a strong bond between the UW Track & Field program and alumni.

Spending time with Dave was enlightening. He offered me a number of new ways to think about throwing, human performance, coaching, problem solving, the Big Ten Conference, athletic facilities and competition. My time with Dave was a great reminder of how much we can all learn if we ask good questions of experts, listen, and maintain a beginner’s mind.

Lunch

My lunch meeting was pure joy. I met with my friend-client-superstar, Anne Norman, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer of UW Credit Union. Anne has been a favorite human of mine since we first met for lunch at Hi-Way Harry’s in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin in 2018. We have been working together weekly ever since. But we have only seen each other in-person once since February of 2020, at our TV commercial shoot with Jonathan Taylor, running back for the Indianapolis Colts.

The 3 greatest exports of Kenosha, Wisconsin are Orson Welles, my high school teacher Mr. Bill, and Anne Norman.

Anne is a burst of sunshine on any day. Even on the phone or on Zoom. Especially if she is wearing her banana costume. But to be with her in person provides a full week’s worth of Vitamin C in one sitting.

We talked business and branding and teams. We talked about upcoming marketing initiatives. But we could have talked about hang nails, paper cuts and the DMV and I would have enjoyed it. Because spending time with Anne is even more valuable to me now than it was in 2019.

Key Takeaway

Get vaccinated if you can. See your people in real life. Spending time with great humans is joy fuel. And it is even better now that we have had that ability taken away from us. Today, life isn’t just returning to normal. Life is about to be better than ever. Because we have a newfound appreciation for all of the little things. Like simply being together with other good people. Let us never take that for granted again.

Thank you Charlie, Derek, Scott, Nick, Andy, Dave and Anne for sharing some of your valuable time with me.

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

Everything there is to know about me in 52 minutes.

Everyone has a story. I recently sat down with Dave Molenda on the Positive Polarity Podcast to tell my story. Ok, so it was more like a series of stories. Kind of like Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Which makes my episode the Podcast of a Wimpy Adult.

If you want to skip the backstory and go straight to the podcast click here.

That’s a lot of hair in one square.

Dave Molenda

Dave is a successful entrepreneur who grew a baby startup business into a $10 million beast. Then Dave wrote a book that became a #1 Amazon Best Seller called Growing On Purpose: The Formula to Strengthen Your Team AND Improve Your Customer Experience.

Dave is a really positive guy who is looking to find more positive people with positive ideas to share with the world. (I’m positive about that.) Which is why my friend and public relations expert Monica Baer connected us. Dave is also a great podcast host and found valuable topics to discuss.

Dave is also a member of the Long Hair Boys Club. Which is a club I made up. (But there are real shirts and real stickers coming soon.) In fact, Dave’s flow is so good it makes me look like Telly Savalas.

Why Listen

If you are looking for insights on how to start or grow a business, I share my approach here. If you want to know how to write a blog, it’s in there. If you ever wanted to pick my brain (hopefully not with an ice pick), the insights you are looking for are probably in here. And if you would like to get away from the election and Covid-19 for a while, there is no mention of either of those 2 topics in the podcast.

Topics Dave and I talked about:

  • The process I used to discover my career passion
  • How I got my first job in advertising
  • How I started my own business
  • Where the name The Weaponry came from.
  • How I develop new business opportunities
  • Why I give away the goods for free (like a crack dealer)
  • How I built my blog (which now has 515 posts)
  • How I find time to write
  • Where my ideas come from
  • My favorite blogging topic
  • My goals
  • Positivity
  • My tip of the week.
  • The Weaponry’s fake website we had for 3 years.
  • Why Laverne & Shirley are part of The Weaponry
  • How I applied my athletic background to business.
  • The strength of a good name
  • Being a dude with long hair.

If you want to hear the podcast click on the link below. And don’t miss my Tip Of The Week at 46:40.

The link to hear Adam Albrecht sharing everything he knows with Dave Molenda

Thanks for having me Dave! (And thanks for the introduction Monica.)

Answers to 9 questions about me that I wasn’t asked on a recent podcast.

Last week I was a guest on 2 podcasts. Both hosts were great and I expect the shows will be worthwhile listens when they come out in the next month. One of the hosts sent me a list of pre-questions to consider. Because I like to be prepared, I wrote out brief answers to the questions. But once the interview began we quickly found different topics to pursuit. Since I already had the answers ready I am sharing them here for a little more insight about me, my career and the 7 books I dig.

  1. How did you get started with your product/service/area of expertise? 

I studied journalism and psychology at the University of Wisconsin and wanted to become an advertising copywriter. A college professor of mine, Roger Rathke, introduced me to his college buddy Paul Counsel, who was the CEO of the advertising agency, Cramer Krasselt. I asked for an informational interview. I borrowed a suit from my college track teammate, now the Honorable Judge Greg Gill. The interview lasted 5 hours. Including an adventure to Paul’s house to meet his mudjacker. (Who goes to the CEO’s house on their interview? This kid!) A month later I finally sent a thank you note. And in response, they offered me a job. It was like the end of Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory when Charlie hands back the little covid-looking candy and wins the chocolate factory. Make sure to always send a thank you note.

2. Why were you drawn to this area of expertise? 

I am just wired for it. In college, after a couple of rough semesters, I mapped out my natural talents and how I could get paid to put them to work. The work of an advertising creative seemed to fall right at the intersection of my talent and sought-after skills.

3. Which hurdles did you personally face, and how did you overcome them?  

Generally speaking, none. I really haven’t had any major hurdles in my career other than the garden variety, like figuring out when and where my next chances for growth and promotion were. Maybe I was too unfiltered at the beginning of my career. I also developed a sweet tea addiction, which almost made me too wonderful for a while. Today I try to keep that between the ditches.

4. What do you think your unique skillset or superpower is that has helped you become successful? 

There are probably 4 things that have helped create my career success:

  1. My abundant enthusiasm. I can get excited about anything. Clients appreciate that.
  2. My ability to make and keep friends.
  3. My ability to think strategically
  4. The creative way my brain works. I make connections that others don’t. It glitches in a good way.

5. Are there any tools or books that have really helped you on your journey? 

Yes! I read a lot. Here are a few books that profoundly influenced me.

  1. The E-Myth
  2. Call Me Ted
  3. Rich Dad Poor Dad,
  4. Think And Grow Rich.
  5. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  6. The Alchemist.
  7. The Little Engine That Could

6. What advice would you give someone wanting to pursue a career similar to yours? 

  1. Build and maintain your friendships, relationships, and network.
  2. Continue to self educate.
  3. Live an interesting life. It fuels your creativity.

7. What’s one thing you wish you had known when you began your career? 

How valuable my skills really were.

8. Who are the three people who have been the most influential to you? 

  1. My parents Bob and Jill Albrecht molded the clay. They worked as one unit. So I count them together.
  2. Roger Rathke: My College Professor. He taught me all the basics of advertising strategy and creativity. I was well prepared for the real world of advertising when I graduated.
  3. Paul Counsell: Former CEO of Cramer Krasselt, who gave me my start in advertising. He is a great people person. I liked him the instant I met him. And I loved being part of his team.
  4. Dan Richards: One of my closest friends since middle school. And the first of my friends to become an entrepreneur. I was very close to Dan as he began his entrepreneurial journey. And Dan was also my first client when I launched The Weaponry.
  5. My high school track coach Jude Dutille, and my college track coach Mark Napier.  They helped me focus and develop my limited natural talent into meaningful results. What they taught me about competition and continuous self-improvement I have applied to the rest of my life and my career.

9. What is your best tip for someone struggling to take their idea forward?

Sharpen the idea until it is very clear and easy to understand. Then talk to the people you are making the idea for. See if your idea meets an unmet need. If not adjust it.

Key Takeaway

Always show up prepared. And if you don’t use everything you prepared for a podcast, you can turn it into a blog post.

This is how many people I hope to reach with each blog post.

When I first started writing this blog 5 years ago I thought a lot about the growth of the blog. I focused on how many subscribers I was getting. I thought about how many people liked, commented on, and shared my posts. But over time, as I should care more and more about such things, I find myself caring less and less.

It’s not because I don’t think growth and significance are important. It’s because I have thought more about the power we all have to add real value to just one person.

A Critical Post

Back in 2015, as I was preparing to launch my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, I read a blog post that unlocked a critical door for me. It was written by my friend Christien Louviere. Christien is an entrepreneur in Atlanta. And he wrote a blog post about the top 10 things you don’t need to do to start your own business.

In the post he conveys that it is a lot easier to start a business than you thought. He encourages readers not to worry about the many things they likely thought were speed bumps, or impediments to entrepreneurship.

It was a very useful post. And it contradicted Johnny Paycheck’s take-this-job-and- shove-it philosophy. In fact, one of the 10 points was that you don’t need to quit your job to start your own business. In fact, he encouraged readers NOT to quit their day jobs until they absolutely have to. Instead, start your new business on the side (either side will do), and let your day job fund the night job, or side hustle, as long as you can.

The Entrepreneurial Track Change

When I read that post I already had potential clients encouraging me to start my own business. Which I was excited to do. The problem I couldn’t figure out was how and when to switch from salaried employee to on-my-own entrepreneur, like Patti Labelle. At that point, I was 42, making the highest salary I had ever made. I had a significant mortgage. I had 3 kids, and a wife I really wanted to keep.

Good Advice

The advice to get going while still holding onto my job was exactly what I needed to hear, when I needed to hear it. It unlocked a critical door for me to pass through. (And I have found that passing through is far better than passing out or passing on.)

But the funny thing is that I bet not that many people read Christien’s blog post. Christien wasn’t the French Seth Godin. He didn’t have millions of followers. For all I know I was the only person who read that post.

But Christien had knowledge and insights that I needed. And he shared it, like Sonny Bono. With that one post, I found exactly what I was looking for, unlike U2. I don’t know how things would have unfolded for me given other timing and circumstances. Because so much of life’s success is about getting the timing right. #TWSS

A Better Measure

I no longer concern myself with how many people read my blog. I am not trying to impact or influence the masses like a televangelist. I don’t expect to ever get paid for my blogging. Or be considered an important influencer.

Instead, what I think about is sharing what I know, what I have learned and what I have experienced. I think about sharing my accumulated knowledge on entrepreneurship, creativity, advertising, marketing, networking, positivity, wellbeing, and adventuring.

I expect that what I share will be valuable to one person who reads it. And that’s all that matters to me. I don’t even worry about whether or not they tell me that something I wrote was impactful to them. I trust that there is a person meant to read each post I share. And that it will help them in an important way. Even if it is just getting through a challenging day.

Proper Perspective

At the end of our days, the only thing that really matters is the impact we had on each other. If I can share something I have learned, and have a positive impact on another human, then my effort is well rewarded.

Key Takeaway

If you have a blog, vlog, podcast, newsletter, twitter feed, Pinterest board or Instagram account where you are sharing what you know, what you think, or what you enjoy, don’t be discouraged by a small following. Focus on adding value. If one person benefits from what you are creating you are positively impacting a life. That is our highest calling. Thank you for answering. And keep sharing. Someone is listening. And that someone is everything.

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

Want more tips on blogging? I think you’ll like these:

What I have learned about blogging after 200 posts.

12 things I’ve learned from writing 300 blog posts.

One day I started a blog. Now I have published 500 posts.

What happens when you share your energy with the world.

I love the way a good quote can quickly and simply summarize a complicated idea. I recently discovered a quote that tries to summarize the meaning and purpose of life. Which is an ambitious undertaking for a quote. Here it is:

“The purpose of life is to discover your gift; the work of life is to develop it; and the meaning of life is to give your gift away.” — David Viscott.

I first wrote about this quote in the post Are You Sharing Your Gift With The World? If you prefer to digest a series in order, you should click on that post and read it before you proceed here. Because this is a follow-up. Like Terminator 2. Or the calls you keep getting about your car’s extended warranty. If you don’t like being told what to read, or when to read it, I admire your willingness to totally ignore the value in the previous post. Read on, Reader!

Discovering Gifts

I am not sure if I have one great gift. But I have discovered that I have been blessed with several smaller gifts. By blessed I mean that I am not responsible for their existence. However, I have worked on developing them. Sort of. Those gifts include the ability to misinterpret any word that has an alternative meaning. In fact, I have recently suggested that one of my co-workers, Adam Emory, should start a scrap booking business, and call it Add A Memory, because that is what I hear every time I hear his name.

Writing

I have a little gift for writing. I’m no Hemingway, Rowling, or Seuss. But I like to think my writings are easier to read than The Bible. Plus they are funnier than the Bible. And that’s the best selling book of all time. So I write the Adam Albrecht Blog to both develop my little gift and to share it with the world. And at a minimum, I know my Mom will read this if no one else does. Thanks Mama.

Renewable Energy

One of my other gifts is my personal energy. I take no credit for it, but I also can’t deny it. Cause baby, I was born this way. Literally. When I was born the doctor gave me an Apgar Test, which measures your aliveness. And the doctor told my mom, ‘I don’t do this very often, but this baby is a 10 out of 10 if I have ever seen one.’

So like David Viscott said, I have enjoyed sharing my energy with the world. Because I sure can’t keep all of this to myself. Or I am likely to blow an O-ring.

Wait A Minute Mrs. Postwoman.

On the 15th I had to make a run to my local post office to mail out my Q3 estimated taxes. There were 2 women working behind the new plexiglass-enhanced counter. Based on their reaction to my enthusiasm to be mailing 3 envelopes, I surmised that my excitement for the post office experience was outside the normal range.

It was fun to witness their mood shift and lift as we interacted. They smiled, they engaged, they seemed much more interested in me than they had been in the visitors I saw them interact with before my turn at the counter. That’s because I took more interest in them. So they took more interest in me.

As I completed my postal transaction, said my thank yous, goodbyes and bon voyages, I smiled, turned and walked towards the exit. Behind me I heard one of the women laugh and say, ‘He gotta lot of energy!’

Indeed I do. It’s a gift. I take no credit for it. But I have developed it. It’s part of my life’s work. And I take great enjoyment in sharing it with others. But the funny thing is that the more I share the more I get back. Which means I can’t seem to get rid of it.

Key Takeaway

Discover your gifts. Develop your gifts. Share then with others. In my recent situation I wasn’t sharing my energy with my family, or friends. It wasn’t with my coworkers or clients. I was bringing energy to the post office. As I mailed 3 envelopes. You can do the same thing. I think you will like what is returned to sender.

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

I always wanted to create an editorial cartoon. So I did.

When I was young I always loved editorial cartoons. They were like my favorite people,  both funny and smart. I loved the very simple package they came in, which was usually just a frame or 2. But they packed a sharp commentary into a simple piece of intellectually humorous art. I felt like my brain was wired to enjoy those cartoons. The same way it is wired to enjoy chocolate milk, Zucker Brothers movies and videos of people falling down.

Finding Time

For many years I have thought about creating my own cartoon. I have had no shortage of ideas. It is time that I have been lacking. Then COVID-19 showed up on my doorstep, like Ed McMahon with a van, a bouquet of balloons and a mandate for us all to stay home. The lockdown caused by the corona cooties has enabled me to finally spend time exploring this passion project. #silverlining

Dan Koel

On Friday I reached out to my great friend Dan Koel about the cartoon project. He was excited to explore it together. DK was my original art director partner at the ad agency Cramer Krasselt, where I first started my advertising career. Dan and I worked together for 10 years. And we have partnered on many side projects ever since, including the Adam & Sleeve t-shirt brand. Dan will drive the look for the project.

IMG_7766
That’s me on the left, and Dan Koel on the right. Or maybe it’s the other way around. I have a hard time telling us apart.

Kirky Cartoons

Dan and I have committed to making 66 Kirky Cartoons. Why 66? because behavioral research shows that by the time you have done something 66 times it becomes a habit. You are highly likely to perform a task automatically after that. So this will be an interesting creative experiment. As well as an experiment in human behavior.

Why Kirky?

When I wrote down the name The Weaponry as I was looking for a name for my advertising and idea agency, I instantly knew I had the name I was looking for. The same thing happened when I wrote down Kirky for this project. The name sound like a mix of kookie and quirky. Which are two of my favorite things.

But there is another reason for the name. Dan and I had a great friend named Kirk ‘Kirky’ McDonald. Spending time with Kirk was always a bright spot in the day. Kirk passed away in 2017 at the age of 43, after battling brain cancer for 2 decades. Now, Dan and I hope we can make Kirky a bright spot in the day for everyone who reads it.

Kirk and Ladies
Kirk McDonald (He’s the one in the middle).

Exploring like Dora

Below is an exploration Dan and I did for a March Madness idea. It seemed like we should get this one out while it is still March. We looked at this a few different ways.

AA_Edit_March_Mad_3_29_20_a
A. Very Simple

AA_Edit_March_Mad_3_29_20_b
B. More elaborate, with callouts around the globe.

AA_Edit_March_Mad_3_29_20_c
C. Many more callouts of the madness.

Please help us with our research by letting us know which one you prefer: A, B, or C. This project will evolve and improve with your feedback. It take a village to raise an editorial cartoon. And we’ll take all the help we can get.

Key Takeaway

If you have a passion project you have always wanted to do, do it now. We all have a little additional time in our schedules. Take advantage of it. As Kirky taught me and Dan, life is short. Take advantage of the time you have. And make someone smile if you can.

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

Want to be great at marketing and sales? Think like a college coach.

I was recently invited to speak at a Metro Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce event about storytelling. As the 3rd of 3 speakers on the same topic of storytelling, I knew I better take a unique angle on the topic in order to cover some new ground. I reframed storytelling in a different, perhaps more approachable or understandable context for business owners, small marketing teams and generalists. Here is the story I presented.


The Story on Storytelling

I have spent over 2 decades in marketing and advertising. About 10 years ago people started talking about ‘Storytelling’ like it was the hot new thing in marketing communications. But as the author of 23 years of ad campaigns and marketing programs, I’ll tell you that I don’t think about marketing in terms of storytelling. 

The term ‘storytelling’ is weird for adults. If conjures images of fairytales, campfires, ghost stories, and once-upon-a-time-ness. It can be hard to connect the dots back to business and marketing. Unless, of course, you are Mother Goose, work at Disney, or are one of the Brothers Grimm.

selective focus photography of woman wearing crown
This is the kind of image the word ‘storytelling’ often conjures. And it is not very businessy. Unless you are in a really weird business.

Reframing Storytelling

If you are struggling with the idea of incorporating storytelling into your work, I want you to think about storytelling another way. I want you to think of business-related storytelling as Recruiting. Because marketing, advertising and sales is really just recruiting:

  • Recruiting customers to your store, show or restaurant.
  • Recruiting shoppers to your shelf.
  • Recruiting clients to your firm or agency.
  • Recruiting voters to the polls to vote for you or your agenda.
  • Recruiting attendees to an event.
  • Recruiting employees to work for you.

Where I learned this

Let’s go back in time to where I learned about marketing as recruiting. It wasn’t at my first advertising job. Or in my college classes. I learned about selling, marketing and advertising from an unexpected teacher: my college track coach.

Mark Napier

Mark Napier, my coach at the University of Wisconsin, was a great track coach. But Mark Napier, was a world class recruiter. To be successful in college athletics you need to be able to recruit great athletic talent. And Coach Napes was masterful at it.

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My college track and field coach, Mark Napier. 

I have bachelor’s degrees in both journalism and psychology. But I earned a master’s degree in selling by studying how Professor Napier recruited. (He wasn’t really a professor. He didn’t even own any elbow patches). 

The Essential Recruiting Technique

You know how Napes recruited top track and field athletes from across the country, the Caribbean, and Europe to come to Wisconsin? Where it snows from October through May?

He told stories. Stories that sold people. The most important lesson I learned from Napes was, know your audience. What do they want? What do they need? Because if you know what they want and what they need you know what to tell them to sell them.

It’s not you. It’s them.

But remember, don’t tell the story you want to tell. It is all about the story they want to hear. When it came to recruiting high school track and field athletes there were many different wants and needs. You had to do your homework to understand their hot buttons. You have to do your own research. You have to observe the athlete. Ask questions. And listen to what they say.

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I helped Coach Napes recruit my teammate Jeremy ‘Shakes’ Fischer, from Los Angeles. Shakes was a 7’4″ high jumper in high school. He is now one of the world’s best jump coaches.

The Prospective College Athlete Hot Buttons May Include:

  • Academic quality and reputation
  • Facilities
  • Proximity to home
  • The athletic program
  • Proximity to Aunt Deanie (my Aunt Deanie lived in Madison and was a draw for me. But many other kids have their own version of Aunt Deanie).
  • The town itself
  • National reputation
  • School size
  • Proximity to stupid high school girlfriends or boyfriends.
  • A particular major or program
  • Family tradition
  • The conference you compete in.
  • Good looking girls
  • Spring training trips
  • Travel schedule
  • The coaches track record of success
  • Ass-Kicking-Ness  (You can tell this by smelling their shoes) 
  • Someone just like them in the program
  • Acceptance/Belonging

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I recruited Napes to have dinner with me in Punta Gorda, Florida.

Pushing The Hot Button

Coach Napes was masterful at discovering the hot buttons of each athlete we were recruiting, and telling them the story they wanted to hear. Or demonstrating it. Or making them experience it.

The Results

As a result were able to successfully recruit national champions from Southern California and from Florida to join our track team in Madison, Wisconsin.

In fact, my junior and senior years we were Big 10 Champions in both indoor and outdoor track. My senior year our team was 6th in the nation. I had 6 teammates who were Division 1 National Champs in their events.

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A bunch of college basketball coaches, all trying to figure out what they are going to tell some 17- year old kid to make him want to come to their school. #UmmWeHaveGreatPizza

Putting Recruiting To Work At Work

You can use the same approach to recruiting in your business. I want you to think of yourself like a Division 1 coach who is trying to attract 5 Star Recruits. For those of you who are sports illiterates, that means you are coaching at the highest level, and recruiting the very best athletes.

Departments or roles that should be recruiting for you:

  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Human Resources

We All Have Needs

It all starts with understanding your potential customer’s wants and needs. Know this and you will know what story to tell. Because in business the only thing that matters is what your audience wants or needs. And whether they think they can get it from you.

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I recruit to my team at The Weaponry by telling people they will smile a lot at work.

This is where the story starts.

Create a persona of the target audience you want to recruit. Understand them in detail.

  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Education
  • Geography
  • Hot Buttons
  • Pain points
  • Needs
  • Wants

Once you know who you are trying to reach, you talk to them about the things they want to hear.

  • Price
  • Quality
  • Value
  • Style
  • Quantity
  • Fun
  • Innovation
  • Service
  • Community Member
  • Organic
  • Cool Kids
  • Smarter
  • Money Making
  • Satisfaction
  • Track record of Success
  • Happy Customers
  • Ease of Use

Strategy

Find the most compelling story you can tell to make people buy into you and your offering. That is your strategy. Then tell the stories that make you appear more attractive to those you are trying to recruit.

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I still hang with a bunch of impressive Badgers who apply what they learned about college recruiting in their professional careers.

 

Key Takeaways:

Storytelling in business is simply recruiting. It is sharing the great things about you, your organization, your products, and your services, with those you want to attract. Know your audience and what they want. And then show and tell them how you can deliver against their wants and needs. The End.

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

To share your goals or not share your goals? That is the question.

Everyone has a goal. If you are ambitious, young or greedy you probably have many. Your goals serve as the magnets on your internal navigational compass. (As opposed to your Jeep Compass). Goals are what feed your actions every day. Without goals you are in danger of drifting through life. With a goal you can paddle, set your sails, or fire up your 300 horsepower Evinrude outboard motor, and set a course across the stormy seas of life towards a meaningful destination.

Getting Personal

Goals are very personal. They represent our desires, dreams and ambitions. If your goals are large, gaudy or outlandish, like a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG), they can make you seem delusional. But it is impossible to accomplish improbable feats without improbable goals.

2 Schools of Thought

One of the great questions in goalology, the study of goals (okay, maybe I just made that up), is whether it is better to share your goals with other people, or keep them to yourself.  There are two very different ways to think about this. My great friend Jeff Hilimire and I stand on different sides of the aisle. So we thought it would be worthwhile to share our opposing views.

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Adam, Jeff, some steak and a yellow pepper.

Analyzing the Analyzers

Adam Albrecht and Jeff Hilimire have interesting similarities. They were both college athletes. Jeff played tennis at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, and Adam was a discus and hammer thrower on the track and field team at the University of Wisconsin. Both of these cats are also entrepreneurs. Jeff’s businesses include digital agency, Spunlogic, mobile and digital agency, Dragon Army and the great web-building, good-slinging, non-profit 48in48. Adam’s businesses include the advertising and idea agency The Weaponry and t-shirt company Adam & Sleeve. Yet despite these similarities, they have very different takes on goal sharing. 

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Jeff’s Views on Goals:

I’m a big believer in not only creating focused, tight, and specific goals (both short- and long-term), but also that you should consider sharing those goals in order to create accountability – for yourself and through others.

Many people have goals, but very few spend the time to write them down. When you force yourself to write something down, you’re creating a new connection in your brain with that “thing”. There have been studies that show this, but I’m not going to share them here, mostly because you have Google*.

But I have found the real power of accountability comes when you share your goals with others. If you’re the only person holding yourself to your commitments, it becomes easy to slack off or move the goalposts. Even if it’s just with a buddy, asking him or her to check in on you periodically dramatically increases the chances of you holding yourself accountable.

Personally, I like to share my goals on my blog, which is as public as it gets. And it works! One of my goals is to read 53 books this year (one more than last year,) and people I know ask me when we get together, “So, how many books are you at so far this year?” At the very least it’s a reminder that I committed to something and need to stick with it. 

Not everyone needs this kind of accountability, but I’d guess 99% of people do. Let’s be real, while everyone has goals, very few people actually accomplish them. Not because they don’t have the skills, but because they don’t keep at it. They don’t stay focused, they find excuses, and sometimes they even forget. Writing your goals down and sharing them with others is at least one way to give yourself a better chance of success. 

* also because I only kinda think I’ve heard that, so I might have made it up.

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Adam’s Views on Goals

I used to subscribe to the theory that it was good to share your goals with others. But not anymore. There is a very basic problem with goal sharing. If you tell people you are going to start a business, run a marathon or donate 10 gallons of blood, you start feeling like it is true. Afterall, it has been stated aloud, and those words have floated from your mouth, through the ether, into someone else’s ear hole. That makes it true, right?

Wrong. Talk is cheap. You could say talk is worthless. (Unless of course you host a talk show, or are a police negotiator. In which case talk is your most valuable asset.)

The problem is that talking about your goals makes you feel as if you are making progress towards your goals. And the more you talk about them with others, the more you feel like they are real and true. Even though there has been no real progress. It is that false sense of progress that undermines many a good, worthy goal.

Goal sharing can also cause you to lose confidence in your ability to achieve those goals. If you want to lose a lot of weight, earn a lot of money or find a really hot spouse, and you tell someone this, you are likely to get negativity, doubt or laughter in return. You don’t need that. You need to believe you can do what you set out to do. Like Gwen Stefani, you need to have no doubt. And big goals produce doubt in others.

To avoid that false sense of progress, and to avoid the doubters, I like to keep my goals to myself. I have many goals, hopes and dreams that never get shared. Because I tell myself that my talk does not achieve anything. I find great motivation in showing people what I have done, rather than talking about what I will do.

Key Takeaway:

Goals are personal. And we are all motivated in different ways. You need to find out which approach works better for you. So if keeping your goals a secret isn’t working, try sharing. And if talking about your goals isn’t helping, shut up and get moving.

Despite our differences, we both want to hear what you think. Leave a comment and tell us if you think it’s better to shout your goals to the world like a Mexican soccer announcer, or keep them quiet, like Marcel Marceau.