Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

I am in New Orleans right now. I love this city. There is nothing else like it. Not even Old Orleans. The combination of architecture, music, history, food, geography, climate, and culture makes New Orleans both a truly unique city and a distinct brand.

Every time I am in NOLA I see the saying Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler. I’m not sure if it is the official or unofficial motto of the city. But it means Lazy The Bones Temporarily 12-inch Wooden Stick. No. Wait. That is what I told my kids it means.

The real translation of this French phrase (for those who have never dated anyone from New Orleans, France, Quebec, or Haiti) is Let The Good Times Roll.

I love this phrase. It is a great motto for a night out, a vacation, a celebration, or a life well-lived. It represents such a fun-loving, positive attitude that the saying and the mindset it creates helps manifest more good times. Like Jimmie Walker, which is dyn-o-mite!

Me and my muffuletta at Napoleon House, right before the guy in the tank top asked me to dance.

We as a planet now have a variety pack of COVID-19 vaccines to get the corona-cooties under control. So let’s all do our part. And put this pandemic behind us. Let’s get back to full business and full employment. Let’s all enjoy the prosperity available in the 21st century. Let’s enjoy our time together, our sense of freedom, and all the social pleasures we now realize we too often taken for granted. Let’s put down our little digital devices and enjoy being with other humans. Let’s eat, drink, play, create, explore and experience the best life has to offer. And like they say in New Orleans, Louisiana, let’s let the good times roll!

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If I could do it all again I would make more friends.

I always laugh when someone says ‘If I could go back in time I wouldn’t do anything different.’ I appreciate the conviction of such a statement. But it shows that they have not learned and grown much during this dress rehearsal. So they obviously wouldn’t profit much from a life mulligan anyway.

My Re-do

I can find a seemingly endless supply of things I would do differently on my life do-over. I would have slowed down that night when I lost control of my car and flew it into a pasture full of cows Duke’s of Hazard-style. I would have skipped that Wednesday football practice when I tore my ACL my senior year. I would NOT have bought that cheap home printer that constantly jammed and guzzled ink like a drunken donkey. And I would NOT have taken work from that client who was like a real-life Mikey, and really did hate everything. Even Life cereal.

I have been thinking a lot lately about things I would change If I could do it all again. And there is one clear answer that rings out every time I ponder this question. It’s not a regret that haunts me. It’s not a mistake I would fix. And it’s not a detour I would take to avoid pain or punishment. It is something I wish I had more of.

More, More, More

If I could go back and do it all over I would make more friends. There is no greater asset on Earth. There are nearly 8 billion people on the planet. But when I think about the tiny percentage of those people I actually know it gives me a major case of FOMO.

When I was younger I remember people saying that the person who dies with the most toys wins. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It is the person who collects the most friends, who develops and maintains the most and best human relationships that really wins this game. And if those friends have lots of toys, even better.

Friends With Benefits

Friends deliver on our most basic needs. They offer a sense of home and belonging. They offer support, encouragement and inspiration. They make us smile and laugh and sometimes blow things out of our noses involuntarily. And as I have gotten older I have found you can never have too many people in your friend column.

Collecting Friends

I still maintain friendships from pre-school, elementary school, middle school, high school and college. I am still in touch with friends from all 9 cities I have lived in. I have friends I have met on airplanes, while on vacation, and while playing at the park with my kids. But I can’t help but think of all of the amazing friends I haven’t met. Especially the ones who have kidneys just like mine.

Work Friends

Friends have been the most important ingredient of my career success. My coworker-friends, client-friends and partner-friends have not only contributed immensely to my workplace wins, they have made me feel as if I am hanging out with friends all day long. In fact, I met my all-time best friend Dawn at work. And we have now been married for 18 years. #CompanyPicnicsAreTheBest

Entrepreneurship

When I launched The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, it was my friends who became my first clients, coworkers and champions. Today, the business and all of the peripheral activities that come with it are a great source of new and growing friendships. In fact, I think of the ability to develop and maintain strong relationships as the greatest input to entrepreneurial success and the greatest fringe benefit of entrepreneurship.

The Greatest ROI

I have friends in every state in America and in dozens of countries around the world. They offer the greatest return of any investment I have ever made. But like the dollars I have squirreled away in my 401(k) plan, I wish had invested even more. Alas, if wishes were fishes we would all have a fry. So the best we can do is make more in the days and years ahead.

Key Takeaway

Keep growing your tribe. Make as many friends as you can in as many places as you can. Connect your friends to each other. Invest in your relationships. Make them deep and wide. At the end of our days, the only thing that matters is the impact we have made on each other. So create more impactful relationships, and enjoy the positive impact they have on you.

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Hey adults! It’s time to make your wish list too.

One of the highlights of childhood is making your Christmas list. Which involves writing down all the things you want in life, with no regard for your parent’s tax bracket. Then you share your list with Santa so that he can overcome your parent’s financial limitations, and bring you exactly what you are looking for. It’s a nearly perfect idea. Nearly.

However, as an adult, it is just as important for you to write down your wish list. Taking time to think about what you want, what you really, really want in life is key to long term happiness and achievement. Just ask the Spice Girls.

If you don’t think about what you want you won’t recognize it when you see it. You need to know specifically what you are after. It is the only way you’ll know how to prioritize your time. Your list will determine how you budget your efforts. And like a good cult, your list will show you what you need to sacrifice to get what you want.

Don’t simply think about what you want. Like that note to Santa, it is time to write down that list of things you want most in life. Seeing those things on paper makes a difference. Revisiting the list often makes it important. Taking the actions required to attain the things on your list makes them real.

Key Takeaway

Creating a wish list of all the things you want in life is not just for kids. For adults, it works like a shopping list that tells you where and how to spend your time and energy. I hope you get everything you want in life. But first, you need to know what that is.

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The great value of sunshine people.

Last Wednesday afternoon the doorbell rang at my house. I didn’t panic. Instead, I calmly got up from my desk and walked through my house to the front door. Just like I was trained to do. Based on the time of day, past experience, and that fact that only authorized professionals should be ringing your doorbell right now, I expected it was our mailman, Mike. It was either him or some rascally kid was leaving me a flaming bag of dog poo.

Mike

Luckily, when I opened the door Mike was standing on my front porch. He had a very special delivery for me. And it wasn’t a flaming bag of poo. Truth be told, I have no idea what was in the boxes and envelopes that Mike delivered that day. The most valuable thing Mike brought to my house wasn’t in a package. It was his I-am-so-happy-to-see-you smile.

Every time I see Mike he is like a ray of sunshine. He emits such positive energy that he makes me want to send boxes to myself, just to see him show up at my front door. Because you can’t help but feel good when you are around him. Its his super power.

Right now, as we are sheltering at home, a smile from the outside world is a rare and welcomed treat. A treat that many people are having a hard time serving up during the COVID-19 Circus World Tour. Today, there seems to be an optimism shortage. Which makes sunshine donors like Mike even more valuable. Because good vibes are even more important and more impactful now than ever.

Key Takeaway

If you are a naturally positive person make sure to share your sunshine with others. If you need a sunshine donor, reach out to someone you know who has an abundant supply. A friendly smile and a warm hello go a long way to offset the news media’s focus on the bleak. An optimistic perspective is like a breath of fresh air to others in your orbit. So if your light is glowing bright, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. It will illuminate a brighter path for others to follow. I know. Because right now I wanna be like Mike.

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Is your work preventing you from feeling joy?

There is a unique word that popped up in my news feed twice this week: The word was Joy. It appeared as a key reason that 2 high profile Americans quit their jobs. What was even more unique is that both of these Americans played a game for a living. And if anyone should be experiencing on-the-job-joy it should be people playing a game for money.

Work Takes A Toll

But Andrew Luck, the recently retired 29-year-old quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League, and 30-year-old tight end Rob ‘Gronk’ Gronkowski, who recently retired from the New England Patriots, the best football team in the history of history, both stated this week that their jobs had actually taken their joy from them.

Whoa…

If you had heard that Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble quit their jobs because it was stealing their joy you would understand. After all, those dudes worked in a rock mine, operating dinosaurs. So if they told you they didn’t want to yabba-dabba-do it any more you would get it.

Money Isn’t Everything

But we are talking about 2 guys whose jobs have brought them fortune and fame. Luck earned over $100 million dollars. Gronkowski made $53 million by the time he turned 30, while winning 3 Super Bowls.

AP COLTS LUCK FOOTBALL S FBN USA IN
Andrew Luck announced his retirement at 29, saying that football has taken his joy. Then he Eskimo kissed the mic.

Yet the work robbed them of their joy. The pain, the grind, the mental and physical fatigue, the injuries, surgeries and stress that came with it all negated the benefits of the handsome compensation.

The Reminder

This is a reminder to that money and fame are no fair trade for our joy. Because without joy, a delicious cocktail of pleasure and happiness, it’s hard to find value in our work and our careers.

The Question

This raises an important question for us all.

Is your work adding joy to your life or taking it from you? 

For some people that answer is easy. A quick check of the ole joy-meter may show that your joy is at maximum levels. Others will find their work is more or less joy-neutral. Which is fine. But just fine. However, if your work is exporting your joy like Art Vandelay, you need a new job. Or a new career.

Search Yourself

A little self evaluation will tell you whether you need a new environment, new boss, new challenge, or new career. This may be the right time to focus on an old life goal that has gathered dust, moss or rust. Because by making a career change or launching a new business you may experience a flood of joy and excitement that will make you wonder why you didn’t do it earlier. That’s exactly what happened to me when I started my entrepreneurial adventure. And 3 years after starting my own company I am shocked that more people don’t do it.

Key Takeaway

If your work is depleting your personal joy you have to make a change. Life is too short not to enjoy your work and the people you work with. Money is not the most important contributor to a joyful life. So make sure you are not trading money for happiness. Make joy your number one goal. And everything else will fall into place.

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If you dream of early retirement you are in the wrong job.

Everyone has an ideal career path. For some it includes a 9 to 5 job, with no late nights and no weekends. For others it means working from home in your Underoos. And for others the ideal career ends in early retirement. Which makes me want to throw up.

Early Retirement

I hate the idea of early retirement. Yet people talk about it as if it was the Holy Grail. It is not. It is a way to escape an unfulfilling and unrewarding job.

The Better Alternative

You know what is better than early retirement? A really, really late retirement, because you love the work you do so much that you can’t imagine stopping. The Rolling Stones are older than dirt. But they still tour, still put on an amazing show, and still have fun doing it. But you don’t have to be a rockstar to love your job. I know accountants and receptionists, postal workers and even lawyers who deeply enjoy their work.

My Career

I have loved my entire career. In fact, by the end of my first week in advertising I was totally hooked. Every day brings me fun new puzzles to solve. Each job promotion has brought me new challenges, learnings and excitement. It doesn’t hurt that I also met my wife at work. #BenefitsHRdidNotTellMeAbout

When I launched my own advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, the challenge of entrepreneurship and creating the perfect agency became an amazing and rewarding new adventure. Now I am constantly discovering other interesting career opportunities I hope I have a chance to pursuit before my ticker tuckers out.

Johnny Paycheck

Johnny Paycheck once famously sang, ‘Take This Job and Shove It!’ But I say take your early retirement and shove it. Instead, find work you’d rather not retire from. Do that and you are winning at life. And contributing and earning and learning and growing. And racing and pacing and plotting the course. #NameThatTune

The right work makes you feel strong, smart and productive. It makes you feel valuable and wanted. Most importantly, it makes you feel fulfilled.

Instead of escaping your career misery through the trap door of early retirement, make a change. Like Michael Jackson said. Do what you love, delegate or hire for the rest, and make money until you are too old to spend it all.

Key Takeaway

If you really want to retire early you haven’t found the right job. Find rewarding work and you will never want to give it up.

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The best way to find a career you love.

Our planet is full of scary things. The one that scares me the most is lack of planning. What, you’re not frightened? You’re not going to tell scary stories around the campfire about the man without a plan?

Let me explain.

I recently talked to a graduating college senior. I asked him what he planned to do next. He said, ‘Honestly, I have no idea. I’ll see what kind of opportunities come my way.’ To me this sounded like giving up on life. Or letting someone else write your story. Or signing up to become a pawn in someone else’s chess game (a pawn is a chess piece, and not another name for a shrimp, right?).

Reality Check

Without your own plan you will end up in a job that doesn’t fulfill you, in an industry you don’t care about. You will get tossed around like a plastic garbage bag in the wind, with no direction, like the opening scene from American Beauty (or was that the closing scene?). You have to push to find work you are passionate about dong. Even if the money isn’t great. Because not all rewards come in cash.

The Unhappy Drug Salesman

Had I not planned my career I would have ended up in pharmaceutical sales. I studied psychology and journalism at the University of Wisconsin. But before graduation I was approached by some pharma sales people who were recruiting college athletes, because apparently we are competitive people.

The money they offered me was twice what I would earn in an entry-level job in advertising. But I held out for a creative role. Because I had a plan. While pharmaceutical sales is a really great career choice for some people, it did not fit into my plan. Not even a little. Not on a train. Not in the rain. Not with a fox.

I stayed focused, and landed a good, but low paying job as a copywriter with a well-known advertising agency. Over the next 15 years I progressed from a writer to Creative Director to Chief Creative Officer. Then, twenty years after I started my career I launched my own advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry. It was all part of the plan. And I love it when a plan comes together. #A-Team

Start Today

If you don’t have a career plan, or a life plan, start working on it today. Write down what you love to do. Write down what you are good at doing. Then find a way to get paid to do one of those things. Maybe you are already on that track. But maybe you are far away and heading in the wrong direction. You can turn around. But no one else can turn the wheel for you. That’s your job.

If you are a recent college grad, or just got out of the military, or are a career-minded alien who just landed on the planet, start your job search by thinking about your retirement. Plan your entire career with the end in mind. It’s the best way to ensure you’ll make the right decisions, introduce yourself to the right people, continue to properly educate yourself, and finish your career exactly where you wanted to be.

Key Takeaway.

You have to plan your own career. You have to find something that makes you happy. Your career will occupy 50% of your waking life. If you want to be happy in life, you have to be happy in your career. Make a plan and follow it. Don’t follow the money. Because if you love what you do, everything else, including the money, will take care of itself.