Why you should approach life like an otter.

In July my family and I visited Glacier National Park in Montana. ‘Visited’ is probably an understatement. We fully immersed ourselves in the experiences available within the park for 2 full days. For anyone who hasn’t been there, Glacier is one of the greatest places on Earth. Full of spectacular scenery, animals and, as the name would indicate, glaciers.

One of our many hikes in the park was along a glacial-fed stream. As a reward after the hike, my 3 children and I swam in the swiftly flowing, ice-cold stream. We slid down the long, flat rocks just under the crystal clear water. The rocks were like giant non-yellow Slip N’ Slides that dropped us into deep, swirling pools. It was the kind of waterpark that would have offered Pebbles and Bam Bam a yabba-dabba-doo time.

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Despite the very cold water, our hardy viking children frolicked and played as if the water was the perfect temperature. Which it may have been, given the July heat that was eating the glaciers like Joey Chestnut.

While my kids and I swam and played in the frigid trailside stream, a regular trickle of hikers trekked past us. After a few minutes I spotted an interesting trend. The hikers all stopped to watch us. As they did, they looked on with a sense of envy. It was as if we were more interesting than the epic natural beauty that surrounded us. And despite the fact that everyone there was on vacation, my kids appeared to be having a better time than anyone else.

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Why? Because we weren’t just following the trails. We were diving into the water. We were playing. My kids and I were drinking it all up and fully experiencing all the wonder the national park had to offer.

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When I stopped swimming to watch my kids awhile, I saw what the spectators saw. My kids were like otters in the water. They were having more fun than anyone else in the vast national park. They were finding the full joy in a glacier-fed stream. They were as alive as humans get. It was clear that we were watching a lifetime memory in the making.

Key Takeaway

Be the otter. Dive into all that life has to offer. Take on adventures. Play and enjoy the simplest things. Create fun. Do what others wish they were doing. Be a model for others to follow. Life is a one way trip. Make sure to experience each day fully, both in your work and in your play. Don’t settle for memories of watching others having fun. Experience it for yourself. Or someday you will wish you had.

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

The top 4 things I have enjoyed about entrepreneurship.

For many years I dreamed of owning my own business. Like Bruce Springsteen, I loved the idea of being my own boss. I liked the idea of making my own money. I thought that starting your own business sounded badass. Because that entrepreneurial leap seemed like Evel Knievel jumping a whole fleet of school buses on his motorcycle. And I wanted to try it myself to see how it felt.

My Leap Year Leap

4 years ago this week I did it. I launched the advertising and idea agency The Weaponry.  And the leap certainly has offered an Evel Knievel-type thrill. Yet with very little risk of broken bones. Which is nice.

However, the things I have enjoyed most are not being the boss, making my own money, or feeling like a badass. In fact, I could not have predicted the things I have enjoyed most ahead of time. They are benefits that you have to take the leap to discover. Unless of course someone takes the leap, writes those things down, and shares them with the world in a blog post. Like I am doing right now. 

The Top 4 Things I Have Enjoyed Most About My 4 Years of Entrepreneurship  

1. Getting To Say Yes To Anything.

People long to get to a position in life where they can say no to things they don’t want to do. But that is small thinking. When you own your own business you get to say yes to anything. Kinda like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally.  If an opportunity comes along that seems too small, too crazy, or needs too be completed too fast I can say yes to it anyway. In fact, I can decide to work on anything that interests me. The budget can be small, or nonexistent. And I can still say, ‘Yes, we will help.’ In business, that is a super power. 

2. Paying People.

I always imagined that making your own money as an entrepreneur would be amazing.  What I couldn’t imagine was the feeling of sharing thousands of dollars with others for their hard work. And then tens of thousands of dollars. And then hundreds of thousands of dollars. The first day that I noticed The Weaponry had paid people over a million dollars I just stared at my Quickbooks screen and smiled, like a perv watching online porn. Ironically, the payouts have been the great reward in the adventure. Because I know we are positively impacting many lives. Not just mine.   

3. Creating A Valuable Tool.

Early in my career I was in a focus group full of power tool enthusiast. And when asked what his favorite tool was, one Tim Taylor-type said, ‘My favorite tool is the right tool I need right now.’ Then he grunted.

I’ll never forget that.  Over the past 4 years we have developed The Weaponry into a valuable problem-solving tool. Our clients turn to us because The Weaponry is the right tool they need right now.

This business is a valuable tool because it helps convert opportunity into reality.  It helps make the invisible visible. It opens new paths. And it magnetizes brands and helps draw people to them. When clients call us they are saying, you have the tool our business needs right now to be successful. Which makes building and owning that tool extremely rewarding.  

4. Having Wet Clay.

Before I started The Weaponry I thought of a business like an office with people and desks and a logo. But once you create your own company you realize that a business is really wet clay. And as an Entrepreneur you have the ability to shape and reshape the business any way you want. In fact, it is your responsibility to continuously reshape the clay to improve and optimize it. As businesses respond to the COVID-19 crisis, we are all reshaping the clay to make sure we are prepared for what the world needs today, and tomorrow. Because the world needs small businesses. 

Key Takeaway 

Entrepreneurship offers one of the greatest adventures on the planet. It is empowering,  rewarding and infinitely creative. It offers the opportunity to positively impact others in ways that are hard to imagine before the journey starts. Thank you for sharing in my journey. I can’t wait to see where we go next!

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

Is there enough adventure in your career?

In 2006 I had a 365 day calendar. You know, the type of calendar that has 365 sheets that are stacked like a thick pad of post it notes. I don’t remember the theme of the calendar. In fact, I have forgotten 364 of the pages. But there is one page that I will never forget. At least until the Alzheimer’s kicks in.

My life in 2006

The date was Friday, July 21, 2006. I had been at my first job out of college for nearly 10 years. I had been married to my wife, Dawn, for nearly 4 years. We had owned our first home for 2 years. And our first child, our daughter Ava, was about to celebrate her first birthday by smashing a cupcake into her face.

That July morning I tore off the July 20th page on my calendar like it was yesterday’s news (because it was), and revealed the following message:

“I have always wanted an adventurous life. It took a long time to realize that I was the only one who could make an adventurous life happen to me.” -Richard Bach

The Quote

This quickly became one of my favorite quotes. It serves as a constant reminder to adventure. To try new things. To move beyond our comfort zones. To make our insurance premiums worth paying.

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I keep this little square as a constant reminder to adventure.

We should adventure on our weekends, on our vacations and holidays. But we should also adventure at home on Wednesday nights. We should adventure in our reading and eating and driving. We should try new things, and semi-dangerous or even full-strength dangerous things on a regular basis. We should do the things Rupert Holmes sings about in The Pina Colada song (I know it’s called Escape, but who really calls it that? His lawyer?).

My Career

Shortly after reading this quote I turned my career into a legitimate adventure. After 10 years at my first job I moved on to my second job. I also moved to a new state, and took on 3 successively larger positions over the next 4 years. 7 years later, Engauge, the ad agency I worked for, was bought by Publicis Groupe, and I moved to Atlanta in a new role in a new company. Then, in 2015 I began planning to start my own business. Because that seemed like the natural next step.

Entrepreneurship

There is no career adventure like owning your own business. In April of 2016 I launched the advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry. And it has been the most exciting chapter of my career. As an entrepreneur, you learn like a college student on a daily basis. Which means that you are constantly growing and pushing yourself into unfamiliar situations.

It is in the pushing and growing and unfamiliar that the adventure happens. Threats and opportunities and excitement now surround me every day. And I love it. It is better than a television show, movie, or book. Because it is happening to me. I am not feeling someone else’s drama. It is very much my own.

Key Takeaway

Before you know it we will all be dead. So while we are here, create your own adventure.    Take that new job. Make that move. Go on that trip. Change careers completely, or get more schooling if you need to do what you really want to do. Start your own business or consult of side hustle or whatever it takes to add more venturing to your life. Give the person who delivers your eulogy something to write about. Give the rest of us great stories to read about.

Remember, no one makes it out of here alive. So there is no use in playing it safe. But as Richard Bach told me in 2006, no one else can give you an adventurous life. You have to make it yourself.

Are you living the life of a yes-man or a no-man?

There are two kinds of people… We’ve heard this intro line many times before. We love to simplify the world’s inhabitants this way. Because it offers an easy construct to think about complicated topics. I recently read one of these ‘two-types-of-people’ observations that wowed me with its simplicity and profunditude.

Here it is:

There are people who prefer to say ‘yes’ and there are people who prefer to say ‘no’. Those who say ‘yes’ are rewarded by the adventures they have. Those who say ‘no’ are rewarded by the safety they attain.

-Keith Johnstone  Author of Impro

Wow! With this simple statement Johnstone summarizes the difference between accepting and denying offers that come your way. Did you notice that both outcomes are positive? You either walk away with adventure or safety. Nobody goes home empty-handed.

Which one are you?

The key is to know which outcome you really want. I am an emphatic Yes-Man. I like road trips without reservations. I am all in on the adventure or life. I am an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is all about saying yes. So is creativity. I see all of life’s challenges through the ‘Yes,and’ lens of improvisation. It truly makes every day adventurous, exciting and full of new possibilities. I’m not saying it is better than safety. It’s just better for me.

Key Takeaway

Make sure you know what makes you happy. Know what makes you sleep well at night. And reward yourself with more of that. If you prefer the safety, predictability and peace of mind of home then embrace it unapologetically. If you prefer adventure, embrace the bruises, wardrobe malfunctions and flat tires as souvenirs from the trip.

 

*Yes-Man and No-man are not intended to be gender specific. Regardless of your gender please consider subscribing to this blog. It’s written for people who prefer a safe reading adventure.