To have a great year start with Planuary!

For many people, 2021 was a year they would rather forget. But not me. 2021 was a year that I would take extra Ginkgo Biloba to remember. I had a remarkable year. Here’s a quick summary:

Noteworthy Happenings From My 2021:

  • I sold 2 homes during the hottest real estate market in history.
  • I bought the home I spent more than 2 years looking for. (Which means the soundtrack in my head finally switched from U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, to Kenny Loggin’s This Is It!
  • I coached high school track and field for the first time. (My daughter Ava made it to state in the discus as a freshman. Which made me look good as a freshman coach.)
  • I helped coach my son Magnus’s 5th-grade tackle football team. (I specialized in coaching the boys on their volume and hypeitude.)
  • I planned my high school class reunion in Hanover, New Hampshire. (And there was almost no drama. But enough to keep it interesting.)
  • I traveled to Vermont, New Hampshire Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, Ohio, Alabama, California, Texas, Minnesota, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Pennsylvania New York, Rhode Island, Tennesee, Massachusettes, Kentucky, Connecticut, Arkansas and Missouri.
  • The Weaponry, the advertising and ideas agency I launched in 2016 celebrated its 5th birthday. (I invited Marilyn Monroe to jump out of the cake but she didn’t return my calls.)
  • I bought 2 new cars. Because the old ones (10+ years old) asked for a rest.
  • I published my first book titled What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say?
  • My Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA Championship
  • The Atlanta Braves and my guy Austin Riley won the World Series.
  • And my man Tom Brady won yet another Super Bowl.
  • (The last 3 are just fun for me. I had nothing to do with any of them.)

How To Make Your 2022 Great.

Great years don’t just happen. They are made to happen. And it all starts with planning. That’s why I call January Planuary. Because now is the time to plan your great year ahead.

What makes a year great is up to you. But if you don’t know what makes a year great feel free to use my plan, and adjust it to suit your own goals.

The 10 Things I plan in January. (Or Planuary)

  1. Travel: Especially the Places I gotta See Before I Die type of travel.
  2. Things I want to learn: This includes stuff like music, language, how to perform standup comedy, how to perform crouch down comedy, taking a hunter’s safety course, CPR certification, or getting my motorcycle license.
  3. Books to read: I pick some important books to read each year. Or set a goal like reading a book per month. Or 3 books per month. Audiobooks count. And they are one of my great life hacks.
  4. Career goals: I pick new challenges, set new targets to hit, make a change, or start a new business.
  5. Life goals: Like writing a book, hiking the Appalachian Trail, coaching or volunteering
  6. Connections to make: I ask, Who do I want to meet next? If you haven’t planned this before try it. It could change your whole life.
  7. Reconnections to make: Like planning a class reunion, team reunion or a friend meetup.
  8. Making time for big progress: I block time for progress against my goals. Like writing every morning between 6 am and 7 am. Or time for exercise. Or beard grooming.
  9. Timelines: I determine when I will do the big stuff. And I create timelines and deadlines to bring the more complicated goals to life.
  10. Other: This could be anything. Except for the 9 things above. Because if it is one of the 9 things above you don’t need a 10th category.

Key Takeaway

Great years don’t just happen. You have to make the year great through your plans and actions. Now is the time to create the plans. Put dates on the calendar. Make your year look amazing in January. Then make your plan your reality by living into it all year long. Then look back on New Year’s Eve at all you experienced and accomplished. Do this year after year, and you will have created a great life.

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

If you like this idea and wonder if I have any more good ideas, check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

What people have been saying about my book.

When I sat down to write my first book, I believed it would be pretty good. After all, I planned to fill it with some of the most valuable life lessons I have learned so far. I planned to make it positive. And I planned to sprinkle humor throughout the pages as a reward for readers who invested their time in my book. Because Bezos knows that readers have a lot of other options.

But now that the book is published, it doesn’t really matter what I think anymore. What matters now is whether or not the people who read the book like it. I first announced that my book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? was available on Amazon on December 20th, 2021, just days before Christmas.

The first time I ever held my book in my hand. (I still haven’t held it in my foot.)

Friends and family immediately began telling me they ordered the book. They sent me pics of their order confirmations from Amazon. Then, as the books were delivered, I started receiving pics from all over North America of people with their books in hand, ready to read.

The Anticipation

As people began reading the book I felt as if I was in that scene from the movie Ratatouille when the kitchen staff presses against the window to the dining room to watch the diners try the soup that the rat made. The staff all desperately wanted to know how the diners would react. Only in my case, the soup is a book. And I’m the rat.

Then the feedback started coming in. I received texts and emails, phone calls and DMs. Today, it has all become really real as reviews have begun popping up on Amazon and GoodReads. For authors, this is the moment of truth. (Or perhaps I should say the moment of non-fiction.)

The Response

I couldn’t be more pleased to know that people have been enjoying the book as much as I hoped they would. Which is really important. Because as the author you can’t possibly reach all the potential readers yourself. So you need readers to become advocates for your book. The reader-reviewers become the champions offering social proof to the rest of the world that they tried it and liked it. Like Mikey and his Life Cereal. Reader-endorsements give people confidence that others like them enjoyed reading your book. So it is highly likely that they will enjoy it too.

After reading the book this woman said, ‘I love it! Now take out the garbage. And put some salt in the water softener.’

Seeing these initial reviews gives me confidence that there are good things ahead for this book. But enough of me talking about people talking about the book! Here’s what real readers who have read What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? are saying about the book.

Real Reviews on Amazon From Real Live Humans!

MichaelM

5.0 out of 5 stars 

Loved it!!

Read this book, then keep it handy because you’ll want to thumb through it again and again. Adam’s positivity jumps off the pages. It’s full of quick hits of goodness.


CMO

5.0 out of 5 stars 

Fortunate to have read this book!

Inspirational, easy read with practical motivating advice to change your perspective during these stressful times.


PT

5.0 out of 5 stars 

Keep this book close to you

An excellent job Adam. There are so many important nuggets (cookies) that show us how to focus our efforts and make use of our most valuable resource (time). This book will never be far from my desk and will be dog-eared in short order.



Jennifer J. Gabrio 5.0 out of 5 stars 

This book is great!

I highly recommend “What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say?”! I originally bought it for my Kindle, but am also going to buy the paper copy to fill with post-it notes and underlining. The life lessons Adam Albrecht passes on in this book are simple, doable, and applicable to people of all ages. As a 51-year-old mother in the twilight of my mothering career, I am eager to bring this information into the next chapter of my life – “Why Not Me? (Chapter 37)”. I am taking Adam’s advice and am going to “let my brain run and play” (Chapter 53), find the secret language that I was born with (Chapter 75), forget my limits like Phil Knight of Nike (Chapter 29), take action and apply The Paper Principle (Chapter 53). Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Adam! The ROI on this book is definitely worth it! (Chapter 70)


Allie Milbrath.

5.0 out of 5 stars 

Incredible book you will want to read over and over

Whether you are looking to reignite your fire, find motivation/hold on to motivation, find ways to improve (personally and professionally) or jumpstart your goals, this book will get you there.
It’s an easy/fun read where every chapter leaves you with actionable items that you can implement in your daily life.
The book is so well written and people of all ages will find value (currently reading out loud with my 10-year old!).
I’d give it 10 stars if Amazon would let me! Read it, then read it again!


Karen M Fitzgerald

5.0 out of 5 stars 

Little pearls of wisdom to take away

Saw this book posted on LinkedIn by a colleague. Ordered it on Amazon and read the entire book on January 2. A very motivational way to start off the new year. I would highly recommend picking up your copy today. No matter where you are in your career or life, there are tidbits, fresh insight, new perspectives and pearls of wisdom that either open your eyes, provide you with your own “aha” moment, or simply reaffirm your thoughts that need confirmation. #BadgerAlum


Steven S. Swanson

5.0 out of 5 stars 

Fast, fun and insightful. Great for anyone who wants (and who doesn’t?) to improve themselves.

Amazing insights told with great fun. Bite-sized chapters made the book digestible and fast.


Wiscobriski

5.0 out of 5 stars 

Loved it! Nuggets in here for anyone.

Quick read. Entertaining collection of life hacks that I need to incorporate into my life. Helpful tips for anyone. Well done!


Addison Scufsa

5.0 out of 5 stars 

Concise and surprisingly profound

Adam has written an amazing collection of stories and pieces of advice that can help anyone focus in on what they can improve about their careers, hobbies, and lives. From talking to strangers more to orienting your schedule to be more productive, you can find some aspect of your professional or personal life to change. Perfect for early-to-career people.

Showing my first book to my sons Magnus and Johann, who are founding members of the Long Hair Boys Club.

Key Takeaway

There is no better marketing for a product or service than the endorsement of a happy customer. I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to tell others about the book. It is a great reminder to share good news about good products, services and experiences. It helps put more good into the world. Which makes the world a better place.

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

If you would like to know more about my book check out fortunecookiebook.com.


Writing a book is like running 3 different marathons.

This is a really exciting week for me. And not just because of Christmas and that Michael Buble Christmas Special/Bubly Sparkling water commerical on NBC last night.

This week I published my first book called What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? It’s a project I have been working on for nearly 2 years. You may think that publishing a book is like running a marathon. It is not. It’s like running 3 different marathons. So you will want to carb up before hand.

The 1st Marathon

The first marathon starts with the idea for the book. It includes all of the researching, writing, and re-writing. It ends when you think you have something worth sharing. Sharing your manuscript is kinda like getting into good enough shape that you wouldn’t mind if someone saw you naked. It’s kinda awkward. You’re kinda proud and excited. But you don’t know how you stack up against the other people your publishing partner has seen naked. It’s fun and interesting. As long as they don’t pull out a laser pointer to point out your remaing flaws.

The first step to writing a book is to sit down and write. Or stand up and write if you have one of those stand-up desks. But that doesn’t sound as good. So sit down to start, just so that you can say you did.

The 2nd Marathon

The second marathon is getting the book published. Which includes researching your publishing options, deciding whether to self-publish, other-publish, or a hybrid option. (I published with the amazing team at Ripples Media.) Then you work to eliminate all of the flaws in your book and add anything that may be missing. And things will definitely be missing. This part is like preparing to go to the ball. You get a literary spray tan, botox, and mani-pedi. You get your eyebrows on fleek. You get your hair did. Then you are ready to jump in your carriage, which was recently a pumpkin, and head to the Amazon Ball.

There is my new baby book on Amazon! (I now keep this picture in my wallet.)

The 3rd Marathon

Today, I am at the very beginning of the third marathon. My book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? is published and available on Amazon in both physical and digital form. It’s easy to assume that this is the finish line. It is not. It is critical to remember that getting your book published is simply the end of the second marathon. Now it is time to let the world know your book exists.

A beautiful finished book is a powerful thing. Perhaps the most powerful thing on Earth after the human mind. Because a great book can teach, inspire, entertain, and make you snort cofee out of your nose.

But people have to know about your book in order for it to do the job it was born to do. Others have to be aware that the book exists. They need to understand that there is real value in the book for the reader. They need to know that other people read the book and felt like it was worth their time and their money. Which is why you need to promote the book.

People will also want to know about you, the author. Who are you? Why did you write the book? What is your story? What is the story behind the story? Who have you seen naked? Did you use the laser pointer on them?

Me talking to a class at Marquette Univeristy. Letting people know what I know.

The author’s story is often the bridge to the book itself. This is why the big publishing companies would rather work with famous people. The public has already bought into them. So they will naturally buy their books too. I know it’s lazy, but it’s true.

Key Takeaway

When you commit to writing a book, commit to running all 3 marathons. Write a great manuscript that offers real value to others. Publish your book. Then promote it so that it can have the greatest positive impact on the world. And we all have a world-improving book in us. I hope you write yours.

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

My first book is published!

I have always wanted to write a book. In fact, I have envisioned myself writing a whole shelf of books. But I could never seem to find the time to make it a priority. My other responsibilities as a business owner and parent seemed to keep getting in the way. (But based on the headline you read that drew you into this story something must have changed, right? Indeed it did.)

On March 16, 2020, the world went into lockdown mode. There was almost nothing to do outside the home but shop for groceries, hunt for toilet paper, and resanitize your hands, again. During that strange time, I started pulling together ideas for 3 different book concepts I considered writing.

Then, in April of 2020, the Governor announced that the state of Wisconsin would be locked at home until May 26th. My first reaction was that this was a real load of lemons. Then, like Hulk Hogan refusing to remain on the mat, I recognized that it was Country Time! Time to make some good old fashion lemonade!*

Within minutes of learning of the extended lockdown, I recognized the gift I had been given. It was the perfect time to focus on writing the first draft of my first book. Then I gave myself a false deadline. Because that is how I get myself to do big things I am not required to do.

My self-imposed deadline: Deliver a full first draft of my first book by May 25th, 2020. (Which is also my birthday.)

On my birthday I gave myself an epic gift. I had a 50,000-word rough draft finished. By December 30, 2020, I had a second draft written. I spent 2021 learning the publishing process.

Today, I am thrilled to say that my first book is fully baked, birthed, bound, and buyable. Even better, I really love the book.

I was tracking the delivery driver on Sunday and greeted him in my driveway like a long last relative. #BrothersGottaHug
The first time I held my paper baby in my hand.

My goal in writing this book was to make sure that everyone who reads What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say learns a little, laughs a little, and lifts a little. It’s a very positive and optimistic book that offers 80 life lessons that have the power to contribute significantly to your happiness and success. These are all things that have really worked for me. And I wanted to share them because I believe they will work for anyone who applies them.

But I also wanted to write a book that was fun and easy to read. The chapters are quick and enjoyable, punctuated with humor. The book contains several made-up words that spellcheck and my proofreader didn’t know how to process. Which was fun for me.

It is smooth like a baby book’s butt.

My friend Jeff Hilimire told me that when he read the book he laughed out loud every other chapter. I found that to be far more rewarding feedback than winning a Pulitzer or a Newberry. In fact, I think we should have a Giggler Book Award for good books that make us laugh. We could put a gold foil laughing-till-you-cry emoji on our book covers. I would buy all of those Giggler books.

Showing my boys my book. Seeing this picture I am reminded of the great influence we have on our children. And that I really need to get us all haircuts.

The Details

Title: What does your fortune cookie say?

Subhead: 80 Life lessons the universe is trying to share with you.

Publisher: Ripples Media

Length: 290 pages

Where: You can find it on Amazon by clicking this link.

Format: Kindle, paperback, and hardcover.

Also: I have bulk-ordered both paperback and hardcover copies for promotional activities, for those who want signed copies, for book talks, speaking engagements, and for bribing librarians to drop my late fees.

My wife Dawn, reading my thank you to her in the back of the book. Although she is a fast reader, she may have skipped a few pages to get to the end.

What’s Next:

Now I’ve finished running the writing marathon. Which means I start running the book promotion marathon. I expect to learn a ton along the way. I plan to share my learnings so that everyone can benefit from my experience. Because I want you to be smarter and better prepared when you’re ready to write and publish your book. Everyone has a book in them. Including you.

The front cover. Thanks to my teammate at The Weaponry, Joe Kayse for the design. And thanks to everyone who voted on the cover design. This was the runaway winner. Like Julie Roberts in that movie where she wouldn’t get married.
Some nice things people are saying about the book. You can scan that QR code and it will take you to a website about the book. Or visit fortunecookiebook.com.

Key Takeaway

Set big goals for yourself. Then create false deadlines to help you achieve those goals. Keep taking small actions. Those actions keep adding up. And before you know it your words turn into sentences. Sentences turn into paragraphs. Paragraphs turn into chapters. And chapters turn into a book worth reading. The story of your life works the same way. So write a little more of it every day.

To learn more about the book, or order your own copy, visit my page on Amazon by clicking here.

*For younger readers, this is a pop culture reference to an ad campaign for Country Time Lemonade from my childhood. Country Time was what we drank when we weren’t drinking Kool-Aid. We didn’t have your fancy Capri Suns and juice boxes.

Chase all your crazy dreams until you catch them.

I first met my wife Dawn in the summer of 2000. From the first moment I saw her on the elevator at my office I was cray cray for her. 6 weeks later we had our first date. 5 days later we talked about marriage. #WhenYouKnowYouKnow

We were young and just starting to build momentum in our careers. After college at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Dawn had lived and worked in New York City and Chicago. To this country boy she seemed like Christie Brinkley in the Uptown Girl video.

Dawn and Adam in 2001 in Vermont.

At the time, I had already lived in Ohio, New Jersey, Missouri, Vermont, and Madison. Then, like Joanie and Chachi, we met in Milwaukee in 2000. I was still living in my first apartment after college, but I had big ambitions. The kind that don’t keep you tied to a specific geography.

Like Bill and Ted, Dawn and I talked about our excellent adventures ahead. We wondered where they might take us. Our jobs, apartments and city all felt temporary. We knew we had much more to explore.

During that exciting first year, Tim McGraw released a new album called Set This Circus Down. The first time I heard the title track I thought the song was written for us.

Here is the chorus:

“Set This Circus Down”

And we go rolling down this highway
Chasing all our crazy dreams
I’ve gone your way and you’ve gone my way
And everywhere in between
One of these days we’ll find a piece of ground
Just outside of some sleepy little town
And set this circus down

I loved the theme of this song. An adventurous couple was traveling the highway of life together, pursuing their crazy dreams. But they knew that someday when they had everything they were chasing, they would stop running and plant themselves somewhere wonderful.

Us on Hilton Head Island, like the chair says.

We adopted this song as the unofficial theme of our relationship in that first year. Since then we have had quite an adventure. We have lived in 4 apartments and owned 4 homes in several different states.

My career has been as successful and rewarding as I could have ever wanted. We’ve added 3 great kids along the way. Our circus got a little crazier and more fun with each new performer we added. Dawn has been the amazing wife and mother I knew she would be when I asked her to marry me under the St. Louis Arch in a thunderstorm in 2002.

This land is your land. This land is my land. This land is Badland.

Five years ago we bet on ourselves and I started my own business called The Weaponry, an advertising and idea agency. We were living in Atlanta at the time. But due to a serious health scare in our family, we decided we needed to be closer to our parents. So we moved to Milwaukee. Which is where we bought home number 4.

At the time we said that if things went well with the new business we would look for one more home in 2 or 3 years.

Just after moving into The Weaponry’s first office in Milwaukee.

The Weaponry has been very successful. (Thanks to our fun and talented people, and really great clients.) So Dawn and I began looking for our forever home (#5) two years ago.

We have an excellent Realtor named Jamie Lubner who we love. But with all of the homes we have seen over the past 2 years, we didn’t make a single offer. We have been picky because we had waited a long time for this and wanted it to be special.

The process was growing long. And time was ticking because our daughter Ava was in high school. She only had 3 years at home before she left for college, or a van down by the river.

We found this cute little waterfall, delicious grapes and tons of honeymooners in upstate New York.

Then, on the morning of June 17th, 2021, Dawn and I saw a beautiful home listed for sale in our very favorite neighborhood in town. A great subdivision set in the middle of the Wisconsin countryside. We walked in and were amazed. It was just what we were looking for. A beautiful home on 1.5 acres.

We wrote a full-price offer immediately and had it accepted the next day.

We moved in 2 weeks ago.

Our new home is just a mile from this farm.

Today, September 28th, Dawn and I celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. While 20 years of marriage may look more significant on paper, this is the year we have been thinking about since we first heard Tim McGraw’s song back in 2001.

We have finally found our piece of ground
Just outside of some sleepy little town
And set this circus down.

Today it feels like we are winning at life.

Key Takeaway

Envision what you want your life to look like. Start with the end in mind. Then create a plan to get there. Chase all of your crazy dreams until you catch them. And enjoy the circus, wherever your tent is set.


Here is a link to the full song

And here are the full lyrics.

“Set This Circus Down”

Sometimes this road, it just keeps winding
Round and round and back again
But you’ve always kept me smiling
Over every hill, round every bend
Baby you’re the one smiling with me when the sun comes up
I got the wheel, you got the map and that’s enough

And we go rolling down this highway
Chasing all our crazy dreams
I’ve gone your way and you’ve gone my way
And everywhere in between
One of these days we’ll find a piece of ground
Just outside of some sleepy little town
And set this circus down

Sometimes I lie awake just thinking
Of all the horizons we have seen
And as another day is sinking
I thank God you’re here with me
‘Cause baby you’re the one laughing with me when the sun goes down
Living on faith and holding on tight to the love we found

And we go rolling down this highway
Chasing all our crazy dreams
I’ve gone your way and you’ve gone my way
And everywhere in between
One of these days we’ll find a piece of ground
Just outside of some sleepy little town
And set this circus down

And set this circus down

Maybe one of these days, gonna set this circus down
Set this circus down

Writer(s): William Luther, Josh Kear

A great way to prepare for your next networking opportunity.

I made plans last week to meet an interesting new person. My friend and client Bethany Grabher recently introduced me via email to DJ Shawna. Not only is DJ Shawna the official DJ for the NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks, she was also selected to DJ at the NBA bubble in Orlando during the 2020 playoffs. But before all that, she played basketball for the University of Wisconsin Badgers. And the Badgers are my favorite (along with smiling).

To prepare for our in-person meeting DJ Shawna and I connected on both LinkedIn and on Instagram. Those platforms are great resources to get to know someone before you meet them in person. (Unless the person is deep into IG filters.) But DJ Shawna also taught me that you can use these vehicles to set the tone for your in-person meeting.

A couple of days before we were scheduled to meet up I posted my Key Takeaway from a recent blog post on my Instagram Story. (You can regularly catch the key takeaway from my blog posts at @adamalbrecht on IG. Also, check out the Silly Highlight.) Not long after I shared the Key Takeaway DJ Shawna responded to it with the following comment:

I can already tell we are going to be friends.

-DJ Shawna

I found myself thinking about that response a lot. It may have seemed like a simple pleasantry to others. And maybe it is the kind of statement that women share easily. But to me, it felt profound. Because it communicated the following:

  1. I’m researching you too.
  2. I like what you wrote.
  3. We value the same things.
  4. I like positive thinking.
  5. I like positive people.
  6. You have already passed my test.
  7. I’m interested in becoming your friend.
  8. I can read. (This was actually my first takeaway.)

That simple statement changed the nature of our meetup. Instead of going to meet a stranger for a networking coffee, I felt like I was going to meet a friend for the first time. Which is the friend version of meeting a relative for the first time. The relationship is already established. It is simply a matter of bringing reality to life.

As DJ Shawna and I were enjoying some Rocket Fuel downtown Milwaukee we ran into friend and fellow Badger Ben Brust, who captained Wisconsin’s 2014 Final Four basketball team and now hosts the Scalzo and Brust Show on ESPN radio. Go Badgers!

Side Note.

I noticed that being a DJ is like being a doctor. It’s fun to add DJ before the name of a DJ to distinguish them from other regular people without the need for a last name. However, Shawna does have a last name. Her birth certificate calls her Shawna Nicols. (I actually haven’t seen her birth certificate so I’m just guessing at that using the information I have.)

Key Takeaway

If in the process of researching someone before you meet them in person, don’t be afraid to let them know that you think you are going to be friends. Or that you have a lot in common. Or that you find them interesting, fascinating or impressive. It sets the tone for a positive in-person introduction. Because when relationships start well, they tend to go well, last longer, and run deeper. And if you like that, I think we are going to be friends.

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

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.