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.

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

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

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

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

The Options:

A

A

B

B

C

C

D

D

E

E

Here they are at a glance.

What do you like?

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

Have you ever thought about writing a book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Details.

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

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

The Timeline

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

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

Key Takeaway

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

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

How to enjoy the best results from your reading.

 As I began planning to launch my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, in 2015, I could tell something was changing in me. In hindsight I now know that this is when I became an entrepreneur. I still had a full-time job, but I was creating The Weaponry in my spare time. I was transitioning from dreamer to doer.

I wrote the blog post below at that time. But I think about the basic lesson in this post often, and felt it was worth re-sharing. Especially since it was one of my very early blog posts, and very few people read it (Besides Joe, Jessa and Jeff, who all commented on it. Apparently it appeals to the J-crowd). 

Originally posted to The Perfect Agency Project on January 7th, 2016

books

I love to read.  Like most people I was born highly uneducated. Reading has become an instrumental part of my plan to overcome my early shortcomings. I love to learn and to become inspired. And if you are reading this I expect you do too.

I like reading classic literature because it makes me feel worldly. I liked reading the first three Harry Potter books because they made me feel magical. But then I realized my life is too short to read four more books about a fanciful wizard boy. Today I read a lot of books on self-improvement, business, and biographies. I also read healthy portions of magazines like Fast Company  and Inc because I find them both creatively stimulating and educational (and I like the pictures).

Your Reading Changes You

Several years ago I read an interesting quote from Charlie “Tremendous” Jones that said,

“You are the same today as you’ll be in five years except for two things: the books you read and the people you meet.”  -Charlie “Tremendous” Jones

This reading about reading encouraged Adam “Ordinary” Albrecht to read even more.

The Revelation

But today I’m trying to read less. Because I have found that too much reading leads to too little doing. If I fill my time with learning and inspiration I leave no time for action.

When I began The Perfect Agency Project I created a simple rule of thumb that influences my reading today:

Read just enough to learn something new and become inspired. Then act on it.

Since I started following this rule I have accomplished more. I’ve wasted less time. And I’m more excited about my work.

Let’s Go!

I think of reading now like a pregame speech. One that I listen to just long enough to become properly motivated. And as soon as I am lathered up, I jump to work, acting on the inspiration.

That’s when I start writing, planning, structuring, detailing, calling, creating, wizarding or potioning. And what I’ve found is that when I have one hour available, instead of one hour of reading, I can do 10 or 15 minutes of reading. And then I can spend the rest of the hour implementing. And the return on that one hour is significantly higher.

Key Takeaway

I encourage you to try this for a week. Read enough each day to want to do something new and exciting. Then do it. Then repeat the process. And let me know how it works for you. I’ll read at least part of whatever you write me.

What this entrepreneur is suddenly afraid of.

I’m not easy to scare. I’m not an anxious or nervous person. In fact, I am so normal that I am often bored by my lack of lunacy. My kids say that the only thing I am scared of is missing out on a fun time. In the past, they may have been right.

But I have a new fear that seems to have crept up on me when I wasn’t looking. I feel it in libraries and bookstores. It makes me truly uncomfortable in these places that should be quiet and calming.

So What’s Up?

I have tracked and analyzed this feeling and have discovered its source. Libraries and bookstores make me anxious, because I am now comparing all of the books I want to read with how little time I have left to read them. The equation does not work in my favor. And this freaks me out.

img_9812.jpg
I enter each bookstore as if it were my last. And it is wigging me out.

Organ Transplants

I love to read. Reading a book is like being the recipient of an organ transplant. Because as you read, someone else’s knowledge gets transferred to your body of knowledge. Yet, unlike when you receive a new, kidney, heart or appendix, your body rarely rejects new reading material. Even when you disagree with what you’ve read, you incorporate it into your understanding and world view.

Entrepreneurship Makes Symptoms Worse

I have always loved to read. But ever since I founded my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, my reading pace has picked up. So has my phobia. My FOLAB (Fear Of Libraries and Bookstores) is like FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Except the FOLAB stems from the knowledge, perspective, and mental stimulation I know I will never receive.

I have read several sources that say the average CEO reads one book per week. This doesn’t surprise me. Because entrepreneurs are looking for as much knowledge as they can accumulate. I turn to books as my primary source of professional inspiration and education. I pick up something useful in everything I read. I always juggle several books at once (because they are safer than chainsaws). And most of my commute is done listening to audio books. Yet, time is slipping away.

Key Takeaway

I am confronting the finite amount of book-reading life I have left. And I am in desperate  need of some knowledge donors. Please share some of your go-to books that you feel I  should prioritize. The average age of my four grandparents was only 95 years old.* So I may only have 50 years of reading left. Oh, my gosh. Seeing that in print is totally freaking me out. Please help by sending your reading recommendations today.

*My Grandma Albrecht is 98 and still going strong. So the average is still going up. But  still…

How Walt Disney saved his best for last. And you can too.

I have finally finished reading Walt Disney. The Triumph of the American Imagination.  It was not a small book after all. To the contrary, it was large, dense and fascinating. Author, Neal Gabler, is an enviable writer who pulls back the curtain to reveal Disney as a complex, chain-smoking, reluctant American icon.

What I learned.

I picked up this book because I wanted to understand the formula behind Disney’s magic.  I wanted to know how he made all those great movies and cartoons. How he got us to put on those silly mouse-ear hats and think we looked cool. And how he got us to pay $100 a noggin to visit his Land or World.

As Founder of the advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, I am always looking for insights from other great creative businesses. So I’ve been studying organizations like Disney, Pixar, The Wright Brothers Workshop, Andy Warhol’s Factory and North Korea’s Vacation and Tourism Board.

I expected Walt Disney would be a book about creativity. Certainly there is a lot of creativity and imagineering in the book. Walt was a visionary who had a crystal clear picture in his head of everything he set out to create. But the reason everyone should read this book is to see how hard his journey really was.

DisneyDali_Walt

For almost 500 pages of the biography you wonder when Walt Disney will finally catch a break. Seriously. The classic movies we know and love today were largely box office flops, failing to make enough money to pay for production. Disney was a half-step ahead of the Financial Grim Reaper for what seemed like the bulk of his career. In the 1940s he narrowly avoided bankruptcy thanks to government film contracts during WWII. He just kept doing what he had to do to keep his mouse ears above water.

The next time you are working on unsexy projects for tough clients, take comfort in knowing that Walt Disney did the same thing to keep his dreams alive too.

walt-disney-animator-photograph

Saving The Best For Last

But the most fascinating thing about the book was that the greatest achievement of his career didn’t come until the very end. In fact, it wasn’t even mentioned until page 603 of the 633 page book. That’s right, Disney World, the 40 square mile resort the size of San Francisco, was his best and last chapter.

Walt-Disney-Disneyland

When Walt told his wife about his plans for Disney World she was aghast, asking him, ‘What do you want to do that for?’  He replied,

I would get stagnant if I didn’t do new things.

Today Disney World employs 62,000 people, making it the largest single-site employer in the country.

disney-on-dreaming-walt-disney1

What it means to you and me.

It is never too late in your career to have your biggest and best chapter. If you are willing to keep growing and pushing and driving yourself, the best is still in front of you. Employ all of your accumulated experiences, insights and know-how to create bigger and better chapters of your own story.  Keep doing new things until you are done. Like done, done.

Thanks for reading.

See you real soon.

The End.

How to get greater results from your reading.

I love to read.  Like most people I was born highly uneducated. Reading has become an instrumental part of my plan to overcome my early shortcomings. I love to learn and to become inspired. And if you are reading this I expect you do too.

I like reading classic literature because it makes me feel worldly. I liked reading the first three Harry Potter books because they made me feel magical. But then I realized my life is too short to read four more books about a fanciful wizard boy. Today I read a lot of books on self improvement, business, and biographies. I also read healthy portions of magazines like Fast Company  and Inc because I find them both creatively stimulating and educational (and I like the pictures).

Several years ago I read an interesting quote from Charlie “Tremendous” Jones that said, “You are the same today as you’ll be in five years except for two things: the books you read and the people you meet.” And this reading about reading encouraged Adam “Ordinary” Albrecht to read even more.

But today I’m trying to read less. Because I have found that too much reading leads to too little doing. If I fill my time with learning and inspiration I leave no time for action.

When I began The Perfect Agency Project I created a simple rule of thumb that influences my reading today:

Read just enough to learn something new and become inspired. Then act on it.

Since I started following this rule I have accomplished more. I’ve wasted less time. And I’m more excited about my work.

I think of reading now like a pregame speech. One that I listen to just long enough to become properly motivated. And as soon as I am lathered up I jump to work, acting on the inspiration.

That’s when I start writing, planning, structuring, detailing, calling, creating, wizarding or potioning.  And what I’ve found is that when I have one hour available, instead of one hour of reading, I can do 10 or 15 minutes of reading. And then I can spend the rest of the hour implementing. And the return on that one hour is significantly higher.

I encourage you to try this for a week. Read enough each day to want to do something new and exciting. Then do it. Then repeat the process. And let me know how it works for you. I’ll read at least part of whatever you write me.