The 4 simple steps to stronger human connections I learned as a coach.

Yesterday I coached my last youth football game of the season. It was a 3-month commitment of 4 to 6 days each week of practices, scrimmages, and games, beginning August 1st. Plus, as the defensive coordinator, I had to watch our game film at night and scout our opponent’s game film each week. It was a significant commitment of time, energy, and focus. And I loved it.

But there was one thing I didn’t love. The least enjoyable part of coaching in the Wisconsin All-American Youth Football League, WAAYFL, is all of the mandatory online training courses you have to complete to be eligible to coach.

Parents should take great comfort in knowing that their coaches have all been trained in nearly everything related to the health and safety of the players. In fact, I think that the next time I am on an airplane and they ask if there is a doctor onboard I will ring my call button and tell them that while I didn’t technically go to medical school, I did take the marathon health and safety coursework online required to coach in the Mequon-Thiensville Cardinal football program. So I should be good with whatever emergency they were dealing with up in the fuselage.

Yes, we learned how to coach the safest ways to hit and tackle. But we also learned about everything from concussions and heat-related health issues, to heart and neck concerns. And we learned to identify signs of physical and sexual abuse. It’s a lot of heavy stuff to wade through to coach a children’s game.

My Favorite Lesson

But there was one brief unit in our training that stood out the most. It may have felt insignificant to the other coaches compared to the heft of the lessons above. But for me, it offered the best new tool in my coaching toolbox. Granted, my coaching toolbox was pretty empty to begin with. (I only had an old roll of athletic tape and that quote about the size of the fight in the dog.)

The unit I loved was The 4 Points of Coaching Contact. It taught us the importance of developing a connection with our athletes. It provided a simple, memorable framework to follow to connect with each athlete at every practice. My language below may be slightly different than the WAAYFL shares. But the idea is the same.

The 4 Points of Coaching Contact.

1. Eye Contact: You should greet each athlete each day with your eyes. This means, making deliberate eye contact with them daily. (But don’t actually touch their eyes.)

2. Physical Contact: Greet each player with a handshake, fist bump, high five, or pat on the shoulder or back. No bum touching. (That was really part of the broader training.)

3. Ear Contact: This is not about ear flicking or Wet Willys. This is about connecting with a verbal greeting every practice. Say hello in whatever way you say hello. Make it heartfelt. Use their name. There is far great power in this simple act than most coaches realize.

4. Heart Contact: Talk to your athletes about something other than the sport. Ask them how their day is going. Ask about school, their family, or their other activities. Get to know them and develop a relationship with them as a non-athlete. Again, no physical contact with the actual heart is required. Or allowed.

Putting It Into Practice

I thought about The 4 Points of Contact every practice. It used the technique liberally. Although I didn’t hit all 4-points with every athlete every day, I purposefully connected with every athlete as much as was naturally possible. And it made a real difference.

But the impact of this simple relationship-building technique impacted me as much as it impacted the athletes.

Because every time I made eye contact with one of my players, they made eye contact with me.

When we would high-five, fist bump, or shake hands I felt the connective power the way they did.

When I greeted our players by name, they would greet me by name too.

But most importantly, you can’t touch someone else’s heart without them touching yours. It’s the universal law of heartiology. Or cardiology. Or whatever you call it. Remember, I’m not a real doctor.

Key Takeaway

You have an opportunity to connect with other people every day. Connect with your eyes, your hands, your words, and your heart. This approach works wonders in youth sports. But it works just as well in business, in school, within families, and amongst friends. In fact, these 4 points of contact are how we turn strangers into friends. And if you use this approach every day, you’ll find those friends start to feel like family. That’s what happened to our 6th Grade Cardinal Football Team in Mequon, Wisconsin.

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

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Why I am so excited about my upcoming book talk.

A couple of weeks ago I got a call from my good friend Matt Richmond. He was reaching out on behalf of the Mequon-Thiensville Chamber of Commerce, which is the chamber in the community that I have lived in for the past 6 years since moving to Wisconsin from Atlanta.

Matt and the MTCOC (which sounds like a band name), were calling to invite me to speak at the Chamber’s September Luncheon on September 14th. Specifically, they wanted me to share lessons from my book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say?

I figuratively jumped at the chance.

A Bit of Background

Nine months ago I published What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? with Ripples Media. The book is a collection of 80 of the best life lessons I have learned over my human adventure.

The book contains:

  • Lessons that have helped me as a record-setting college track athlete.
  • Lessons I have used as an entrepreneur to launch and grow my advertising and ideas agency The Weaponry.
  • Lessons I lean on as a high school track & field and youth football coach.
  • Lessons I use to develop and maintain strong relationships.
  • Lessons I use to get the most out of every day.

I am eager to share these ideas because they have been so valuable to me.

Over the past 9 months, I have given book talks all over the country. I have shared my learnings and lessons with students, clubs, and businesses. I have shared my ideas at conferences and with teams. I have been on TV shows and podcasts. I have signed hundreds of books for readers. And I have only spelled one name wrong. #oops

Molly told me to throw my hands in the air, and wave em like I just don’t care.

I wrote this book to help readers learn a little, laugh a little and lift a little. The consistent feedback I’m getting indicates that the book hits the target. I have heard countless stories from readers who have been inspired to do more, think differently and reevaluate their outlook.

Like this:

I’m 65 and not looking to start a business or even want to be motivated to do anything! I’m surprised that I not only enjoyed Adam’s humor, but I did become motivated to get going in a new chapter of life! 

-Jenee Sprau

And this:

It’s like a behind the scenes tour of how an ambitious, driven and successful person approaches life. Keep a notebook handy, this is full of gems!!

-Anne Norman

And this:

A terrific book for anyone who needs some a healthy dose of inspiration and a (good) kick in the pants! The bite size chapters are fun reads with loads of humor and actionable insights. Fortune Cookie is relevant for all ages and any part of life – careers, family, passions and hobbies. Pick up a copy and then pass it on to another person who you care deeply about.

-Ashley Gill

I’ve heard from people who have shared the lessons from my books with friends, family, and coworkers. (Which always looks like cow orkers to me.) There are numerous readers who have read the book, then bought 20 more copies to give away to others.

Me and some Mules at a recent talk in Missouri.

Please Join Me

I enjoy sharing my learnings on happiness and success with the world. But I really love the opportunity to share these lessons with my community. With business owners, leaders, and educators who also have the ability to positively impact my friends, family, and neighbors.

Speaking to the marketing group at the Milwaukee Athletic Club. Apparently, my hands are always in the air.

If you live or work near Mequon or Thiensville I would love to have you join the luncheon. I will share some of the best lessons I have learned about happiness and success. I’m hoping to inspire you to help make our community a better place to live and work. I will also try to make you laugh. Ideally, while you are eating or drinking something. Which is my favorite thing about talking at a luncheon.

You can register for the luncheon here.

Fun Fact: Thiensville is a village completely surrounded by the city of Mequon. It’s like our West Berlin. Or Vatican City.

+ If you are looking for a speaker to share positive ideas and inspiration with your organization, or to say something funny while people are eating, send me a note. You can reach me at adam@theweaponry.com.

Why you should enjoy your local community events.

I live in a northern suburb of Milwaukee called Mequon. There are a few special things about Mequon:

  1. It’s conveniently located just north of Milwaukee
  2. It’s on the shores of Lake Michigan
  3. The village of Thiensville lies in the middle of Mequon (Like a little Wisconsiny Vatican City. But less Popey.)
  4. People are always mispronouncing it. (There is no I in Team. And there is no Me in Mequon. Think mek + the name Juan )

One of the special things that happens in Mequon is Gathering On The Green. It’s an annual summer music event that offers 3 nights of musical entertainment featuring national acts. It’s extra special if you dig country music or were rocking big bangs or a mullet in the 80s.

This year they have added a Sunday afternoon concert featuring Milwaukee’s own Danny Gokey of American Idol fame. (I just hope he doesn’t try to hit that high note in Dream On by Aerosmith again…)

Gathering On The Green is a really special event driven by a board of talented community leaders and supported by great community businesses.

I have lived in The Quon since moving North from Atlanta 6 years ago. But I had never attended GOTG until last night.

My wife Dawn and I decided we should make an effort to go, support, enjoy and understand what the gathering was all about.

And…

It was amazing. The music was good. But the vibe was great. I’ve never been to anything that felt quite like it.

But this is not an advertisement for Gathering On The Green. It’s simply a reminder that there are special events in your community that you have never attended, but should. I highly encourage you to:

  • Go to the concert series.
  • Attend that fundraiser.
  • Go see the games.
  • Go to the play.
  • Attend the festival.
  • Watch the parade.
  • Shop the farmers market. (Buy yourself a nice farmer.)
  • Do the holiday event.
  • Or the school event.

Key Takeaway

Communities become great through support and participation. Lean into your community events. Join, attend and contribute. Spend time with friends and neighbors. Make new friends and new memories. Start great new traditions. It will help you feel more connected to the people and places around you. Which is one of the great joys of life.

Thank you to all of you who contribute your time, talent and treasures to make your community events special.

+ Special thanks to my friend Matt Richmond for inviting us to enjoy the event from the Richmond Investment Services tent. A good time was had by Albrechts.

The new place you can now find my new book.

During the Covid Lockdown of 2020, I had a lot of extra time on my hands. (And on the rest of my body too.) To take advantage of all that extra time I decided to write a book. I published my paper baby just days before Christmas of 2021. Which means that the past 4 months have been full of exciting new experiences.

My book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media was uploaded to Amazon, on December 16th. It went live on December 18th. I ordered a copy and had the first physical copy of my book on December 19th. That Amazon is pretty amazing.

The moment this unassuming driver showed up with my first copy of my first book. (And I’m just assuming he was unassuming.)

As soon as I shared the news that my book was available I had friends and family members across the United States share that they had purchased the book. First, they sent me pictures of their orders or notes that they had bought the book. Then they started sending me pictures of their new books in hand. Which is mindblowing.

I have now seen pictures of my book in Canada, all across the US and in Mexico. (Keep the pictures coming!)

What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? has now been featured on Television and podcasts. I have been in local newspapers too.

Molly, Me and Tiffany on The Morning Blend. They wore red to coordinate with the book. I didn’t get the memo.

Covid Strikes Again

Because of a massive spike of Covid cases due to the Omicron variant, my in-person speaking opportunities and book talks have been largely delayed. My talks begin in earnest in April. Which is exciting for me. (But less exciting for Earnest and April.) I already have speaking events scheduled through the fall. (And I would be thrilled to add more.)

Now At The Library

Last week I had another new first. I donated a copy of my book to my local public library. As a new author, I was very curious about how the process of donating a book to the library worked.

Here’s how it happened.

  1. I sent an email to my local library introducing myself as a resident of the community who had recently published a new book. I shared that the book contained 80 of the most valuable life lessons I have learned throughout my life. I also shared links to TV appearances, newspaper articles and Amazon reviews to prove that this book was legitimate and worthy of a little shelf space at the local library. As a bonus, I added that I hadn’t been shushed at a library for many months.

2. I got no response.

3. I stopped by the library unannounced with a copy of my book and told the person at the check-out desk that I was a local resident that would like to donate a new book I wrote. The young man told me that I should talk to the woman at the information desk.

4. I walked 50 feet to the information desk and told the woman at the desk the same thing I told the young man at the front desk. She told me that she could take the book. So I handed it to her. And that was pretty much it. She told me it would take about a week for it to be added to the system. But they would try to work on it between all the shushing they had to do.

There was no ceremony. No confetti. No certificate of literary citizenry. And I didn’t get to meet Dewey Decimal.

Donating my book to the library day!

A few days later my daughter Ava announced that she was looking on the library website and found What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? available for checkout. I immediately logged in to see it too. Then I requested my own book from the library. Which was pretty cool. Yet also pretty dumb, since I have about 200 copies of the book at my house already. But I wanted the experience.

Stopping by to check out my book from the library. (Frank is never there.)

Yesterday I stopped by the library to pick up my own book. I entered the library and went into my semi-quiet mode (because I don’t have a Full Library internal setting. I walked to the area of the Frank C. Weyenberg library where they hold reserved books for pickup. And I found my book waiting for me.

Myself on a shelf!

It was interesting to see the book in library form. It looked like my book, but more official. It had a formal clear plastic protective jacket. I felt like my book had won the library equivalent of a Green Jacket for winning The Masters. Or a yellow jacket for induction into the NFL Hall Of Fame.

The book also had new markings. Including a couple of 14 Day Loan stickers, an official system sticker with the number 158.1 and the name Albrecht. Which seemed to be the equivalent to the Dewey Decimal system number, but perhaps newer and Deweyer.

My book, fresh from the library’s tattoo parlor sporting new ink.

The book also had an official barcode for checkout. This was my favorite part. It made it official. Seeing that barcode on my book let me know that my book, with my carefully collected and curated body of knowledge, was not just available on Amazon and at Winkie’s in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin. But it was also now a part of the publicly available body of knowledge in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin. Anyone in Ozaukee County can now access the most important lesson I know for free by clicking this link.

That barcode makes it official. Even if it’s not at a bar.

While the donation process of the book was anticlimactic and unofficially, the book itself looks like it is part of a special club. Which offered a special and unexpected reward.

Me checking out my own book. I practiced catch and release and immediately returned the book for the next reader to enjoy.

Key Takeaway

Share what you know. Create value. Offer it to the world. It may be more valuable than you think. The process itself will help you learn and grow and have more to share with the world.

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

+If you’d like to learn more about the book you can visit fortunecookiebook.com. You can buy it on Amazon. And if you live in Ozaukee County Wisconsin you can check it out here.

It’s not too late to be who you wanted to be.

At the end of a gym workout recently my son Magnus asked if we could go sit in the hot tub. I said yes, and we made our way to the pool area. When we got to the hot tub there was one other guy already in it. After we settled into the water I greeted the guy, who was staring out the window, and we began to speak. (Which is also how the song The Gambler starts.)

As the conversation proceeded I asked him where he was from and what he does for work. He shared that he grew up near Mequon, Wisconsin, the town north of Milwaukee where we both live. And when he is not hot tubbing, he works at a nice job for a good company.

Then he asked me where I was from (Vermont), where I went to school (The University of Wisconsin), and what I do for work. I told him I owned my own business. I started my own advertising and ideas agency called The Weaponry.

My pruney new hot tub friend told me The Weaponry was a cool name for an ad agency. Then he revealed to me with great resignation, ‘I always wanted to start my own business. But now I am too old.’

I asked, ‘How old are you?’

He answered, ‘I am 37.’

I shot back, ‘F**k you. I was 42 when I started The Weaponry. This is a great time to start a business. And a great time to stop making excuses.’

(I should also mention that my son Magnus was cooling off in the swimming pool at that time. So he didn’t get hit with f-shrapnel when I dropped my f-bomb.)

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

― George Eliot

Key Takeaway

If there is something you’ve always wanted to do, then do it. Do the things the kid version or young adult version of you wanted to do. You are not too old. It’s not too late. It’s time to get going. Now you have 2 weeks to plan the great thing you are going to start doing with your life in 2022.

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

It’s time for a more innovative way to celebrate the 4th of July.

Last Saturday night my family and I went to a fireworks display in Mequon, Wisconsin.  Like a good marketer should, Mequon wanted to differentiate their 4th of July celebration. They noticed that everyone else was celebrating the 4th of July at the same time. Which was ON the 4th of July. But nobody was celebrating in June. So Family Fun Before The Fourth was born. #Boom

Family Fun Before The Fourth

With a your-marketing-strategy-is-showing name like Family Fun Before The Fourth, if you can’t figure out who the celebration is for, what the main benefit is, and generally when it occurs, you are also likely to hold onto fireworks too long after you light them.

Family Fun Before The Fourth is like Friendsgiving. During a Friendsgiving celebration, friends gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, with a Thanksgiving meal, before they head off to celebrate again, by having the same meal with their family. The downside is that the appetizer event usurps the specialness of the main meal. #UsurpAsYouSlurp

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Family Fun

True to its name, Family Fun Before The Fourth, or FFBT4, offers a lot of family fun. There is a parade. Then there is a gathering at a nice park on the Milwaukee River, with food vendors, a water ski show, dancers, tumblers and live music. The cherry on top of the event is the evening fireworks show.

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Fireworks

On Saturday night as the fireworks show was about to start I was excited. Fireworks have always been the highlight of my 4th of July celebrations. Like always, the fireworks show started with a bang, and some bright lights. Followed by more bright lights and more bangs. And more bangs and more bright lights.

Then I experienced something I had never experienced at a 4th of July fireworks display: boredom.

It’s Not You. It’s Me.

It wasn’t that the display wasn’t up to par. It was. It was a very nice and lengthy show, highly appropriate for a town Mequon’s size. But I had the feeling that I had seen it all before.

purple red white and orange fireworks display

Been There, Seen That Explode.

We have all seen fireworks shows many, if not many many, if not many many many times before. I guess I am a Triple Many, because suddenly the novelty and excitement of loud, colorful explosions in midair seemed to have worn off for me. Which felt very strange. Because I consider myself excitable, enthusiastic and easily entertained.

What’s Wrong?

But in that moment I felt like a thrill seeker who wasn’t getting enough thrill. Or an addict whose current dosage wasn’t creating the high. Or someone suffering from depression who could stare at a joyful thing and not feel joy. But as I laughed at myself for not feeling the thrill of the fireworks, my own laughter confirmed that I was not depressed.

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Overexposure Without Innovation

Overexposure to fireworks was to blame. With over 40 years of fireworks display watching under my belt (actually none of the fireworks happened under my belt) my oohs and ahhs had become mehs and hmms.

The world has also changed. Fireworks were once innovative technology that was perfect for entertaining a crowd. The lights and noises and the rocketry that enabled the shells to soar into the sky was once totally foreign, novel, magical and entertaining. But not anymore.

What’s The Story Morning Glory?

The greatest downside to fireworks is that there is no story to follow. Sure, you can argue that there is a beginning, middle and grand finale. You can argue that the story is the re-creation of the rockets red glaring and bombs bursting in air-ing of the Revolutionary War. The war that got this party started in the first place. But it doesn’t feel like a story to me.

Today we have so many options at our disposal to help entertain and engage an audience that fireworks, or fireworks alone, feel underwhelming. A standard fireworks show, even with a backdrop of music now feels as if the host didn’t put much thought into the celebration. They just defaulted to fireworks. Which is like giving a neck tie on Father’s Day.

Many cities try to make up for the lack of an innovative idea by adding to the sheer quantity of fireworks detonated. But I argue that a 45 minute, $350,000 display, like the city of Milwaukee put on last night, is too long and too much. There is a law of diminishing returns at work here. At some point it feels overdone. Like operation Shock And Awe. And you just want to fast forward to the end.

Exploring Other Modern Options

It’s time to put more innovation and creativity into our Independence Day celebrations. Let’s consider all the entertainment options we can now use to create memorable, interesting and exciting 4th of July shows. Let’s share stories. Because we have really great stories to share.

4 New Ways Communities Could Celebrate the 4th of July

 

1. Video

Communities could show an amazing video each year on the 4th of July that represents what Independence and America is all about. It could be set to music and updated for our communities every year. This could be like your town’s version of One Shining Moment that is played at the end of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. This emotional, storytelling highlight reel is a perfect ending to March Madness, and could serve as a template for how we celebrate and recognize our Americanism once a year.

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2. Projection Mapping

Let’s get creative and project interesting images, video, graphics, and animation onto our city landmarks or rural barns. Projection mapping enables us to create a new Wow that fascinates the brain as it entertains. It does what fireworks were intended to do in a thoroughly modern way. My high school classmate David Title at Bravo Media in New York City can hook you up with some jaw dropping badassery if you and your community are ready to take this step.

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Holograms

A hologram is a three-dimensional image formed by the interference of light beams from a laser or other coherent light source. #onlinedictionary  We can now create amazingly real and wowing hologram images that make you feel as if you are looking at something very real, that isn’t really there.

Whitney Houston_Hologram.jpg

The possibilities with this technology are thrilling. With a hologram we could have one of the founders of our great nation deliver the keynote address of our Independence Day celebration. Imagine one of our founding fathers, like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or Yankee Doodle, or one of our founding mothers, like Abigail Adams, Betsy Ross or the Statue of Liberty showing up in your town on the 4th to address your community. It would be like having Santa preach the sermon on Christmas Eve.

Broadway Style Musical 

The musical Hamilton is one of the greatest creative innovations of all time. With his broadway show, Lin-Manuel Miranda combined history with music and entertainment in a thoroughly modern, energizing, surprising and captivating way. A show using this formula could create the centerpiece of our Independence Day Celebrations. Add me to the wait list for this show right now.

Hamilton Scene.jpg

Key Takeaway

Nothing is more American than innovation. In fact, America itself is an innovation. So let’s get more innovative with the way we celebrate America’s birthday. Let’s get more creative. Let’s utilize our modern technology. And infuse the whole celebration with powerful storytelling. America’s Independence is one of the greatest stories every told. Yet we don’t often actually tell the tale when we celebrate it. Let’s change that. And start telling this amazing American story the way a modern day Lee Greenwood would do. #GodBlessTheUSA