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

Never stop competing.

When you were young you competed all the time. You competed in the classroom and on the playground. You competed in the sports you played, or for the part in the play.

You competed for the best position in the band, orchestra or choir. Or you competed in chess, robotics, or forensics. Perhaps you competed for student council votes, in milk-tasting, in dance-offs, and with your Uncle Rico.

Then you competed for the attention of the boys or girls you were attracted to. You dressed nicely, took care of yourself physically, hygienically and follicly. You were thoughtful, kind, and you smelled good.

You competed to get into the good school or program. Then for the great job, the promotion, the raise. You competed to attract the great customer, client, project, or assignment. And you cared about the obscure awards that only your industry cares about. Like Outstanding Use of Whiteout in The Annual Low-Tech Secretary Awards.

Today, ask yourself Am I still competing?

Am I competing with my personal best? Am I still trying to learn, grow and improve? Or am I slowly coasting to a stop like a car that has run out of gas? Or like a skateboard that has run out of skateboarder?

Am I competing at work? Am I pushing to win for my customers and my teammates? Am I still trying to add more value? Are my biggest contributions still ahead of me. Or am I still milking my success from the 1900s?

Am I competing for my spouse or significant other? Am I taking care of myself? Am I treating my snuggle bunny in a way that makes me hard to beat? Am I still being thoughtful? And romantic? Do I buy flowers on non-holidays and when I don’t have to apologize for something I did, said, forgot, or broke?

Am I competing against time? Am I trying to do as much as I can within the limited time I have on this planet? Or at least during my pre-embalming fluid-filled time on the planet? (I have no idea how to properly hyphenate that last statement. If you are still competing in hyphenation let me know).

Key Takeaway

Never stop competing. Keep growing and improving. Keep pushing yourself and finding new ways to contribute. Keep competing for your spouse or significant other as if they have lots of other great options. Because they always do. Re-earn your role and your respect from others every day. Compete to make the most of every day. It is the best way to live your best life.

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

How my parents’ 50 years of marriage has positively impacted my life and career.

By all outward appearances Friday was a normal day. I woke up, went to work, came home, had dinner and watched a movie with my family. But Friday was one of the most important days of my life. What happened on Friday explains a lot about me. It doesn’t explain the glitch in my brain that alerts me of of every possible double entendre and innuendo. But it does explain a bunch of other more important stuff.

The Anniversary

On Friday, December 27th, 2019, my parents, Robert and Jill Albrecht, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. These 2 kids from Minnesota, who got married in their barely 20’s, have now spent 50 of their 70-ish years of life married. To each other. Which has been incredibly valuable to me. My parents have played a critical role in my existence. In fact, I don’t think I would be writing this blog post, or much of anything else, if it weren’t for them.

No Surprise!

What is craziest about my parents’ big anniversary is how totally normal it seems to me. I never doubted they would make it to 50 years of marriage. It was just a matter of time. Heck, I even predicted the day it would happen.

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My parents and I moments after I broke the New Hampshire high school state record in the discus, and won my second New England championship, 8 months after ACL reconstruction surgery.

The Power Of Normal

President Warren Harding ran for president in 1921 on a simple campaign promise to return normalcy to the United States following World War I. Because normalcy what the nation needed most.

I greatly appreciate Harding’s campaign platform. Because I am a product of normalcy. Despite that fact that I had an adventurous childhood, and lived in 5 states by the time I started 7th grade, I was raised on a solid foundation of normalcy. My parents 50th anniversary helps quantify just how much normalcy I have enjoyed.

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My parents and my family enjoying some Mac & Cheese after my daughter Ava’s basketball tournament.

What does that mean?

I think of the normalcy my parents marriage has provided through the filter of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Simply put, all of my basic needs have always been met. I have always had food, chocolate milk and shelter. I have always felt safe and secure. Except for that time when I was 3 years old, and I threw nails at my dad after he told me not to throw any more nails or I would get a spanking, and he chased me as I ran all the way from our barn to our house, thinking this is how it ends.

On The Wings of Love

Thanks to my parents, my psychological needs for belongingness and love have always been met. Which has enabled me to focus on the higher order needs of esteem, prestige and accomplishment. And the highest needs of self-fulfillment, self-actualization and achieving my full potential. This has been key to my personal and career success. I know this is going deep, like the necklace the old woman dropped off the side of the boat in Titanic. But it is all true.

 

Maslow's_Hierarchy_of_Needs
Thanks to my parents, I have never had to worry about the bottom 3 levels of this pyramid. Which means that I have spent my life and career focused on the top two levels. If your parents have done the same for you, consider sending them a thank you text with a funny GIF.

 

One way. Not the only way.

To be clear, there are lots of ways to provide your children with a solid, normal foundation. It can just as easily come from single parents, divorced parents, same sex parents, and perhaps even sexless parents (which is more pleasant to think about than sex-having parents). I am simply sharing that my situation has worked for me.

Entrepreneurship

The rock solid upbringing I experienced, thanks to my parents, has been a key factor in my entrepreneurial journey. Throughout my childhood I saw that things just seemed to work out. Which has influenced my perspective on life. I figured that if I tried to start my own business, and walk away from a nicely salaried and benefited situation, it would all work out. I was never really scared or worried.

The Weaponry

I launched my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, in 2016. And over the past 3.5 years, I have had more control over my life and my time. As a result, I have experienced more moments of self-actualization, flow, or rapture than some people experience in their entire lives.

But I know that it all began with a sold foundation provided by two young farm kids from southern Minnesota, who turned out to be great parents.

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The first time my parents visited The Weaponry, their grandbusiness.

Totes Normal

The truth is I am far more normal on the inside than I probably appear on the outside. As are my sisters Heather, Alison and Donielle. We all enjoy spending time together. Yet when we don’t spend holidays or birthdays together, no one gets mad. It’s all kinda normal. Which is one of the best gifts you can give your family.

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The Albrecht 6: Donielle, Adam, Robert, Jill, Heather and Alison. Not pictured: our ankles and feet.

 

Celebrating 50 Years

You know what we did to celebrate my parents’ 50th anniversary? We did nothing. I mean, I called them. And we laughed a lot. And we did some rudimentary mathematics on the whole thing. But we didn’t get together. My parents went out for breakfast together. And then they watched football. Normal stuff. I am sure we will celebrate together sometime in the 50th year.

The Rest Of The Story

However, a simple breakfast and a little football is not how Bob and Jill are really celebrating their 50th anniversary. My parents have put a lot of good into the world. And when you do that you get a lot of good back. On New Year’s Day my parents are flying to Hawaii for the first time. There they are going on a cruise, visiting the Hawaiian islands for a week with a group of 20 friends and family. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate 50 years of marriage. Clearly they are doing something right. And perhaps they are doing everything right.

Key Takeaway

My parents have made me the person I am today. They provided the genetics and the lessons that have shaped me. But they also provided a sense of stability for me to balance everything else upon. And like the road less traveled, that has made all the difference. Thank you Mom and Dad for all that you have done. Even when you didn’t realize you were doing anything at all.

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

3 rules of marriage I should have told Brad and Angelina.

If you want to do something great, like create the perfect agency, it’s helpful to have a great partner on your side. Like my wife, Dawn. It doesn’t even matter which side of you they are on (just choose one and go with it). But finding a compatible partner for your life-business is really hard.

I reflected on this as I heard about the shocking break up of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Ok, so I wasn’t really shocked. While I am certainly not a pessimist, I am pretty good at spotting trends. And I know that if you are a famous person and you marry another famous person, you’re not likely to end up in the Marriage Hall of Fame.

Despite the fact that we once shopped at Famous Footwear, my wife and I are not famous. And while studying for our marriage (yes, we really studied) we learned some important facts. One was that 50% of marriages die before the people in them do.

Like most couples, Dawn and I celebrate the victories in our marriage. Like anniversaries. Next week we will have been married 14 years. And we celebrate the anniversary of our first kiss. Mostly because it was the day I stopped hopping like a frog.

But there is another thing we do in our marriage that most couples don’t do. We view other couples’ divorces as our wins. I realize this sounds bad. But if 50% of marriages fail, this is a game of survival. And while we are always saddened to hear of a friend, coworker or family member that got voted off Marriage Island, we’re thankful to still be playing the game.  When we hear of a couple splitting up, Dawn and I always high-five (seriously).  It’s as if we just scored a point in the Marriage Sand Volleyball league.  We knew someone was going to lose that point. And it wasn’t us.

There are lots of ways to help ensure your marriage is successful.  But if I was in charge of the Department of Homeland Matrimony, I would create 3 laws to improve the marriage success rate.

  1. No famous people marrying other famous people.
  2. No getting married before you are 30. We change too much during our 20’s and make too many dumb choices.
  3. Everyone must listen to the audio book, Marathon Marriage by David Moore. Dawn and I got this 4 CD series as an engagement gift from my Auntie, Jan Faust. It made us think about and discuss important issue before we signed the contract. It tried to scare us out of running the marathon. And it forced us to think about building a strong marriage that will last. And not just throwing a great party.

Brad and Angelina, if you are reading this, I’m sorry things didn’t work out. I’m sorry you and the six kids have to go through this tough time. I’m sorry it is being talked about in all of the media. But I’m thankful it is you, and not me.