The great value in taking a moment to reflect on your day.

This fall I have helped coach my 11-year old son Magnus’ football team. The experience has been extremely rewarding. It’s fun to get back involved in tackle football and all that it teaches players about teamwork, strategy, execution, brotherhood, and eye makeup.

It is fascinating to see how much our team is improving every week. Several parents came up to me after our game on Saturday to tell me that they are impressed by how much the team has grown over our first 5 games.

A significant part of our improvement plan is watching game film. We film each game and then use a platform called Hudl to share it with the players. We break each play down Clint Eastwood-style, noting the good, the bad, and the ugly. #DoodaloodalooWaaWaaWaaaa

We call out the good plays, the great tackles, the key blocks, the great hustle that made a difference. But perhaps more importantly, we call out where players did the wrong things, and what they should do differently next time. Sharing the example and the recipe for correction is a huge part of the learning experience.

When I see how much learning and improvement comes from studying our team game film I find myself wanting to rewatch my days and see my opportunities to get better.

  • I would look for wasted time and missed opportunities.
  • I want to look for better alternatives to the decisions I made.
  • I would want to review the times I could have accomplished more and been more productive. That is a frequent concern of mine at the end of each day.
  • I would like to study the cause and effect of my actions.
  • I would like to find opportunities to grow and learn.
  • I would like to find more ways to connect with my kids, my wife, my coworkers, and friends.
  • I would like to see the hilarious things that happened around me that I missed.

The Problem

Unless you Truman Show yourself, you are never likely to have a full game film of your day. Plus, it would take a full day to watch. Which is as practical as getting a life-size tattoo of yourself on yourself.

Journaling

However, at the end of each day, you can reflect on your day. You can watch the game film of your day in your head. You can keep a journal to help you grow. You can write down what went well, what you learned, and what you would do differently next time. The writing itself will help reinforce the lessons. But revisiting the journal later will be like a self improvement book you wrote for yourself.

Key Takeaway

Take 5 minutes at the end of your day to review the game film of the day in your head. Quickly step through your events, interactions, accomplishments, and misses. Capture the key wins, learnings and observations in a journal or an app. Consider what you should do differently and your corrected or improved behavior. And make yourself a little better every day.

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

How to use the power of unhappiness as motivational fuel.

The more of life that I experience the more I realize that my happiness is fueled in large part by my unhappiness. It feels dumb to write such a thing. But it is absolutely true.

Here’s how it works.

  1. I have a vision for who I am, and what my life is like.
  2. Everything that is already aligned with that makes me happy.
  3. All the areas where I fall short of my vision make me unhappy.

The unhappiness is a combination of unsatisfied, disappointed, frustrated, and embarrassed. However, that unhappiness is where my motivation comes from.

Family And Friends

In my head, I see myself as a great parent, husband, friend, and family member. But in reality, I am not always great at those roles. Certainly not as great as I want to be. I’m not as level-headed or as patient with my kids as I would like. I am not always as supportive or responsible as a husband-partner as I should be. I’m not always the kind of friend who walks in when the world walks out, or whatever the cross stitch about friendship in your grandma’s bathroom says. And I am unhappy about all of this.

Business

As an entrepreneur, I experience a lot of unhappiness. Because I have significant goals and expectations of my business. And I have high expectations of myself as the leader of the business. But if it all came to an end tomorrow I would be massively disappointed that me and my businesses didn’t accomplish more. Which is how the first kid tossed out at the National Spelling Bee must feel.

However, that unhappiness I experience, which stems from my personal and professional shortcomings, drives me to work, grow and improve. That drive is a huge source of happiness for me.

  • The work makes me happy.
  • Growth makes me happy.
  • Improvement makes me happy.
  • Hitting new milestones makes me happy.
  • Contributing the way I expect to in my relationships makes me happy.
  • Clapping along, and feeling like a room without a roof makes me happy.

Getting To It

Getting up at 6am to get back to work makes me happy. (It is currently 6:55am and I am about to finish writing my second blog post of the day.) Every step forward makes me happy. Executing the plan makes me happy. Laying the groundwork makes me happy. And watching Adam Sandler golf movies makes me happy. Especially when he fights Bob Barker. #ThePriceIsWrong

I recognize that I don’t have to be at the destination to be happy. Traveling there does the trick. Building, growing, and progressing are highly rewarding. As long as I am on the right path and moving in the right direction I get a little happier every day.

Key Takeaway

Your unhappiness is a great navigational tool to lead you to happiness. Determine the source of your unhappiness and you will know the direction to travel to find what you are after. Lose weight, get in shape, start that thang you always wanted to start. Do more. Strengthen your weaknesses. Become the person you always wanted to be. Those things can lead to a lot of happiness. Unhappiness is simply point A. Let it motivate you to get to point B.

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

Find people who ask you questions you didn’t know to ask.

I have a new startup business idea in the embryonic stage. I know what I want it to look like fully-formed, but I don’t know some of the most basic details that will help me get there. Or at least I didn’t until yesterday (when all my trouble seemed so far away).

Good Call

Yesterday morning I had a call with an expert that I would need to partner with to make this idea a reality. He asked me many important questions about my plan that I simply had no answers to. There were a lot of TBDs. But with each of the TBDs, I became more D to find the answers.

One Giant Leap For Startupkind

That conversation was a huge leap forward for me. Because now I have my homework assignments. I know the answers I need to find. I know the boxes I need to chickity check. I know what I don’t know, you know. And like Robert Frost said, that makes all the difference.

Move Forward.

Entrepreneurship, and growth of all kinds, are adventures into the unknown. The most important thing is to start moving forward. Take a step and the next step will reveal itself. Kinda like a striptease.

Don’t be afraid to be asked questions you don’t know the answers to. Those questions are gifts. They tell you what you are looking for next, where you need to go next, what you need to do next. Because growth is all about what’s next.

Grow vs. Wade

Get in over your head. It is the fastest way to discover the next step. Getting into a conversation that makes you feel dumb is the best way to get smart. Stepping out of your comfort zone is simply the first step to expanding your comfort zone. That is how you grow.

Key Takeaway

When you step into the unknown growth is inevitable. It helps you collect questions. In the beginning, the questions themselves are the answers you are looking for. Learn the questions. Find the answers. Then find yourself where you always envisioned you would be.

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

How to benefit from the positive power of a bad boss.

I love the idea of having a mentor. In fact, I’d love to have a mentor as much as I’d love to have a beachfront mansion between Ricardo Montalbán and Magnum P.I. But I don’t own any oceanfront property, yet. And unfortunately, I don’t have an official mentor either.

To be fair, I do have a couple of sliver mentors. These are not people who teach me how to remove splinters. They are experts who I look to for insights and information about specific topics. But again, the relationships aren’t formal or consistent. So even my sliver mentors are unofficial and thinly used.

Anti-Mentors

However, I have had anti-mentors. These are bosses, leaders and managers who have shown me what not to do. They are people who set examples that I intuitively knew not to follow. (Mr. Lemming, maybe we shouldn’t jump off that cliff…) They are the types of leaders that are easy to complain about. But simply complaining about them means you are missing the value they provide.

Put Them To Work For You.

Instead of complaining about your supervisor, boss or otherwise-positioned anti-mentor, go to school on them. Study what they are doing wrong. Heck, write a book about them. Or write a song about them like Johnny Paycheck did. #TakeThisJobAndShoveIt

With everything you find wrong about your anti-mentor and his or her style, write down what you should do instead. You instinctually know where they went wrong, and you know where the gap is between what they did and what you know to be right.

This is extremely valuable. It is like learning to walk by falling down or learning to ride a bike by crashing. Watching an anti-mentor at work is like watching game film of your poor performances to see your mistakes from an external perspective. Once you have witnessed the failure you better understand the right things to do.

Pro Tip: If you have had nothing but great bosses, binge-watch The Office and let Michael Scott be your anti-guide.

Key Takeaway

Don’t overlook the power of those who show you what not to do. Anti-mentors can help you grow and learn as quickly as positive mentors, because we are wired to learn from pain and discomfort. Anti-mentors are easy to find. They are everywhere. Now, it’s time to put them to good use for you.

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

**If you were one of my great bosses, supervisors or managers and don’t think this is about you, you’re right, it’s the other ones.

You don’t need to have a passion to be happy and successful.

I have a passion. I love advertising. I love everything about the creativity and strategery involved. My friends I grew up with tell me I was born for my career in advertising. They also tell me that I was born with a glitch in my brain. They are probably right on both accounts. Advertising plays to my natural interests and talents. Which makes my work easier and more enjoyable. It also led to me launch my own advertising and idea agency called The Weaponry.

However, discovering your true passion is fairly rare. Like a 4-leaf clover. Or a civil political debate. Over the course of my career, I have had conversations with countless people (meaning none of them were Counts) who have no idea what their passion is. In fact, I have come to think of the search for personal passion like the search for Sasquatch, or The Fountain of Youth. While it is exciting to think that it is out there somewhere there is a great chance you will never find it.

Don’t Worry. Passion Is Overrated

Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t discovered your special purpose. You don’t need to have one specific passion to be wildly successful in life. There are many conduits to wealth and happiness. So instead of focusing on discovering your personal passion, utilize any of the following drivers to experience fulfillment, joy and success.

7 Substitutes For Passion

  1. Problem-Solving. If you like solving problems, you can be wildly successful. Because life, business and careers are full of problems. People who are good at solving problems are extremely valuable. That’s why they land in executive roles. Plus, problem-solving is inherently rewarding. Which is why Vanilla Ice was so into it, while the DJ revolved it.
  2. Competition: If you like playing games and competing you can apply that to your career. This is why former athletes are often great at things like pharmaceutical sales. It isn’t as if they have a natural passion for antidiarrheals and commercial- grade wart removers. They simply approach their work as if it is a competition. Which it is. In fact, business is the ultimate competitive sport. Because you are playing for money, honey.
  3. Goal Achievement: If you are goal-oriented, set lofty goals for your life and career. Because if you have audacious goals, like Goal D. Locks, you can use any business or career opportunities that come your way as tools to help you attain those goals.
  4. Enjoying Team Work: Work is more fun when done as part of a team. If you like working with others and achieving great things together, use that to drive your success. Again, don’t worry about what you are doing if you enjoy doing it with others (snickering).
  5. Enthusiasm: Some people are just naturally enthusiastic. It is a great quality to have. In fact, if you have enthusiasm, you don’t need to have one specific passion. Simply apply your positive energy towards whatever you do and you’ll experience positive results.
  6. Personal Growth: Do you like getting better and better at things? You can put that to use in anything you undertake. And you can experience rewards on a daily basis. Enjoying your daily progress and growth is a perfect recipe for long-term happiness and accomplishment.
  7. Love For Money: There is nothing wrong with loving money. Money is like a key that opens doors. It can help comfort and entertain us. It brings peace of mind. It can be used to experience real joy and adventure. If you enjoy having money and what it enables you to do, let that drive you. As Gordon Gekko said, greed is good. He also said that he was tired of being mistaken for the GEICO spokes animal.

Key Takeaway

Having a personal passion is nice. But is not a requirement for happiness and success. Don’t feel bad if you don’t know what you were born to do. In fact, not having one defining passion means that you can take many different paths to an enjoyable and rewarding career. Use any or all of the 7 drivers above to power you along your path. You may even find that these drivers are your passion. Enjoy the journey. It is the key to enjoying your life.

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

Get a little smarter every day.

Since Labor Day my 3 kids have been in school full time. By this I mean they are in a real brick-and-mortar-and-spitball schools, where they see their classmates sitting near-ish them, not in squares on a computer screen.

Every morning as they leave for Homestead High School, Steffen Middle School and Wilson Elementary I send them off with the same instruction: Come Back Smarter.

The very purpose of attending school is to increase your intelligence. (And to get a return on all the tax dollars your parents pay.) Day by day, and week by week, if you take advantage of the opportunity, you get smarter and smarter. The way a snowball becomes larger and larger as you roll it. #WinterIsComing

This means that when you send your child off to school (or into their virtual schooling pod), they come back (or out) as a better, more intelligent, more capable version of themself. How much better, and how much smarter is largely up to them and how much they are willing to soak up. And how much they are willing to reconfigure their thought processes as a result.

But the opportunity for daily self-improvement doesn’t end at graduation. You have abundant opportunities for daily growth your entire life. It should be your daily imperative that you end the day smarter than you began.

You don’t need to be enrolled in school to increase your intelligence daily. Simply do these 7.5 things as a matter of habit:

  • Read
  • Ask
  • Listen
  • Investigate
  • Try
  • Discuss
  • Watch
  • (And maybe Google)

Keep your mind open. You will be amazed by how much enters in. 

Key Takeaway

When you get out of bed each morning commit to hitting the pillow that night with a smarter, not harder head. Keep your mind open and keep improving it. By upgrading your personal operating system daily you will maximize your personal potential, your earning potential, and lifetime impact on the world.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them. And maybe tell them that you didn’t send it to them because you thought they were dumb.

What to do when you realize your greatest limitation is you.

Planning the launch of your own business is one of life’s most enjoyable experiences. From the day you first start thinking about your new company until you actually open for business you are living on Fantasy Island with Tattoo and Mr. Roarke. On the island you create an ideal vision of your fully formed business. You should dream big. Because ginormous dreams cost exactly the same as itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot dreams. And that dream you create during the planning phase is the blueprint for the reality.

Fantasy-Island-700x525
Everything changes when you leave Fantasy Island on da plane.

Reality

But the moment you open for realsies, your business will face an unavoidable limitation. And that limitation is You. When you are an entrepreneur your business is only as good as you are.

I have been thinking about that since 2016 when I first launched The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency. Knowing that you are the great limiter is a scary motivator.  It means your business will either be forever limited by who you were and what you knew when you first launched. Or it means you have to continuously push yourself to get better so that your business can too. I have chosen the second option.

Let It Grow. Let it Grow.

I have chosen to grow. As a result, I am on a high knowledge diet. I am constantly seeking books, magazines and blogs that grow my knowledge and perspective. I am listening to podcasts. I am meeting with other entrepreneurs, both informally and in formal meet ups (although never in formal wear).

IMG_3169
I’m trying to grow my brain. (Extra points for anyone who knows where this pic was taken).

I am learning. And getting better. Although I feel as if I have no choice. Because only the growing entrepreneur can grow a business. And as Andy Grove, the famed CEO of Intel once said, ‘Only the paranoid survive.’ (But remember, you need 2 noids to be considered paranoidal).

Righting Wrongs

I am also learning from my mistakes. I am identifying flaws in my thinking, and gaps in my knowledge, and addressing them like Gettysburg. It forces me to be both honest and self aware (but not a werewolf #MichaelJFox).  You have to know your strengths and use them. You have to know your weaknesses, and hire great people with strengths you don’t have.

Key Takeaway

You are your own greatest limitation. This is true for entrepreneurship, relationships and most other kinds of ships. But you have an endless opportunity for improvement. It simply takes a growth mindset. Read, ask questions, study and learn. End each day a little smarter than you started. Seek feedback. And use that to help create a better plan, a better business and a better you. Because once you leave the fantasy world your success depends on it.

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

What kind of phone are you?

Have you ever wanted to be someone else? I have that feeling every day. I want to be a better version of myself. I want to be the me that I see in my head. That version of me is pretty amazing. Which means that the today-me is pretty lame by comparison.

But that doesn’t discourage me. I am no Eeyore. You won’t find me feeling bad about myself. Because I don’t see myself as less-than.

I see myself as an iPhone. I am constantly creating a new, more powerful model of myself. I’m adding more features, capabilities, a longer battery and more memory.

I read as if my future success depends on it. I listen to audiobooks while I drive, podcasts about entrepreneurship while I eat lunch, and podcasts about real estate investing while I mow the lawn. Each day I become a little smarter, a little more capable and a little closer to the me in my mind.

My vision of me as a better model of myself is why I workout. It’s why I set goals.  It’s why I try new things that force me to grow. It’s why I travel and see and do as much as I can. It is why I am excited to meet new people. All of these help me grow, expand and improve.

As Founder of the advertising and idea agency The Weaponry, I am growing and learning on the job, every day.  The resistance that entrepreneurship provides works just like the weights at a gym. They are both there to help you develop a better, stronger version of yourself.

If the you in your head is an iPhone X and the real you feels like a flip-phone don’t be discouraged. Keep moving. Keep iterating. Keep learning and growing. There are thousands of versions of you yet to come. Each one gets stronger, smarter and more capable. And each new model of you is even more valuable than the one before.

The Perfect Agency Project

I am an advertising enthusiast.  Well, technically I’m an advertising professional since advertising has been my primary source of income for almost two decades.  But I call myself an enthusiast because I’m enthusiastic about the industry and energized by its ever-increasing potential to help businesses grow.

I’ve had a pretty decent career so far.  I started as a copywriter.  And at 37 years old I became the Chief Creative Officer of a 275 person ad agency with four offices.  Recently I was asked what challenge I want to take on next.  The answer is simple.  I want to spend the rest of my advertising career creating the perfect agency.  No big deal, right?  Just perfection.

To be successful I’ll need two things.  First, a vision of what the perfect agency looks like.  And second, the drive and determination to narrow the gap between the idealized vision and where we stand at the end of each business day. I believe that the ideal can be achieved at any agency, as long as the team is committed to continuously absorbing and implementing the best ideas.  I expect this to be a stimulating journey.  And I’m sure feathers will be ruffled.  On this quest, I also expect to have a lot of fun, to create a lot of interesting work, to develop deep relationships with my clients and coworkers, and to make a lot of money for the agency and our clients.

I’ll share my learnings, experiences, challenges, conversations and successes along the way.  And I want to hear from you.  So I am calling on the experts, the newbies, the peanut gallery, and even the clients’ wives, and husbands. I want to hear as many perspectives as possible.  Because if I’m to help create the perfect agency it’s going to have to work for everyone, employees and clients alike.  Oh, and by the way, in the perfect agency we might not call people employees or clients. Oh snap! That’s called foreshadowing.