How to get the most out of any experience.

Every experience in your life has the potential to be valuable. Every day, every meeting, every interaction. From major holidays to kickoff meetings to casual conversation, there is gold to be found everywhere. But too often the experience comes and goes without living up to the potential it promised. This is the deeper message behind the play Our Town and the movies The Sixth Sense and Weekend at Bernie’s.

The best way to get the most out of any experience is to imagine it is already over before it has begun.

Before the meeting starts imagine you are walking out of it. Before you get in the car with another person imagine the drive is over. Before your guests arrive imagine they are leaving. Before you try that pick-up line imagine what the other person looks like when you are sober.

Then ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What went right?
  2. What went wrong?
  3. What would I do better next time?

With this quick and easy pre-mortem evaluation you can ensure that you will:

  1. Make the right things happen.
  2. Fix what went wrong before it occurred.
  3. Do things better THIS time.

I use the simple evaluation technique all the time. And I use it on massively different types of experiences.

Before Christmas or a birthday, I imagine the perfect day, map it out and schedule the day to live up to my expectations. More detail is better. So is more eggnog and more smiling. Smiling’s my favorite.

But I also use this technique when I drive my kids to or from school. I think about the conversation I wish I had. I think about the opportunity to connect, encourage, or entertain as if it already slipped away. Then I make sure to connect, encourage or entertain while I still have a few minutes. And when the ride ends with my kids opening the door laughing I feel like we are winning at life. Especially if they remembered their backpacks.

Key Takeaway

Understand your opportunities before they are gone. Imagine the final outcomes before they are baked. Then adjust anything you can to align your actual experience with your ideal. Great events don’t just happen. You make them happen. And a little forethought provides the road map you need to a better ending.

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

+For more ways to create better outcomes, check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

To have a great year start with Planuary!

For many people, 2021 was a year they would rather forget. But not me. 2021 was a year that I would take extra Ginkgo Biloba to remember. I had a remarkable year. Here’s a quick summary:

Noteworthy Happenings From My 2021:

  • I sold 2 homes during the hottest real estate market in history.
  • I bought the home I spent more than 2 years looking for. (Which means the soundtrack in my head finally switched from U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, to Kenny Loggin’s This Is It!
  • I coached high school track and field for the first time. (My daughter Ava made it to state in the discus as a freshman. Which made me look good as a freshman coach.)
  • I helped coach my son Magnus’s 5th-grade tackle football team. (I specialized in coaching the boys on their volume and hypeitude.)
  • I planned my high school class reunion in Hanover, New Hampshire. (And there was almost no drama. But enough to keep it interesting.)
  • I traveled to Vermont, New Hampshire Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, Ohio, Alabama, California, Texas, Minnesota, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Pennsylvania New York, Rhode Island, Tennesee, Massachusettes, Kentucky, Connecticut, Arkansas and Missouri.
  • The Weaponry, the advertising and ideas agency I launched in 2016 celebrated its 5th birthday. (I invited Marilyn Monroe to jump out of the cake but she didn’t return my calls.)
  • I bought 2 new cars. Because the old ones (10+ years old) asked for a rest.
  • I published my first book titled What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say?
  • My Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA Championship
  • The Atlanta Braves and my guy Austin Riley won the World Series.
  • And my man Tom Brady won yet another Super Bowl.
  • (The last 3 are just fun for me. I had nothing to do with any of them.)

How To Make Your 2022 Great.

Great years don’t just happen. They are made to happen. And it all starts with planning. That’s why I call January Planuary. Because now is the time to plan your great year ahead.

What makes a year great is up to you. But if you don’t know what makes a year great feel free to use my plan, and adjust it to suit your own goals.

The 10 Things I plan in January. (Or Planuary)

  1. Travel: Especially the Places I gotta See Before I Die type of travel.
  2. Things I want to learn: This includes stuff like music, language, how to perform standup comedy, how to perform crouch down comedy, taking a hunter’s safety course, CPR certification, or getting my motorcycle license.
  3. Books to read: I pick some important books to read each year. Or set a goal like reading a book per month. Or 3 books per month. Audiobooks count. And they are one of my great life hacks.
  4. Career goals: I pick new challenges, set new targets to hit, make a change, or start a new business.
  5. Life goals: Like writing a book, hiking the Appalachian Trail, coaching or volunteering
  6. Connections to make: I ask, Who do I want to meet next? If you haven’t planned this before try it. It could change your whole life.
  7. Reconnections to make: Like planning a class reunion, team reunion or a friend meetup.
  8. Making time for big progress: I block time for progress against my goals. Like writing every morning between 6 am and 7 am. Or time for exercise. Or beard grooming.
  9. Timelines: I determine when I will do the big stuff. And I create timelines and deadlines to bring the more complicated goals to life.
  10. Other: This could be anything. Except for the 9 things above. Because if it is one of the 9 things above you don’t need a 10th category.

Key Takeaway

Great years don’t just happen. You have to make the year great through your plans and actions. Now is the time to create the plans. Put dates on the calendar. Make your year look amazing in January. Then make your plan your reality by living into it all year long. Then look back on New Year’s Eve at all you experienced and accomplished. Do this year after year, and you will have created a great life.

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

If you like this idea and wonder if I have any more good ideas, check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

If you want something good to happen put a date on it.

There was a consistent theme in my week. I had several great interactions with friends, neighbors and business associates. Then, at the end of our call or in-person conversation, the other person said, ‘We really should…’

What followed the really should were things like:

  • Grab coffee.
  • Grab lunch.
  • Talk further.
  • Do this again.
  • Do this more often.
  • Have you over.
  • Plan a retreat.
  • Get together with our whole crew.
  • Not tell the police.

All of those comments were true. We should all do more things together. We should deepen our relationships with others. We should share more and learn and be inspired by each other more.

But in order to do that you can’t let the plans float. #NoFloaters You can’t simply lob a ‘We Should’ out there and think that anything will happen. As JFK said, things don’t just happen. They are made to happen.

Calendar It.

The next time someone floats a good plan your way, stick it on your calendar. Find a date as soon as you can and make it real. Find a time that works for you both that day. Or the next day at the latest.

Then the floating plan becomes a calendared plan. And calendared plans become real plans. It is the best way to make your shoulds, wishes and wants a reality.

Better yet, make your plans repeating events. This could mean you get together automatically every week, month, quarter, or year. Then enjoy the compounding effect of your interactions by making just one easy plan.

Me and my friend Troy Allen made a plan last week to get together in Columbus. And because it was on the calendar, we made it happen. (I know you were checking out Troy’s butt in the mirror.)

Key Takeaway

When a good plan is floated your way make it real by giving it a date. Put it on your calendar. Make it a scheduled event, not just a hypothetical occurrence. By turning your ‘we shoulds‘ into ‘we dids‘ you will live a fundamentally different and more rewarding life.

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

** If you think we should make a plan together let’s get it on a calendar.

How to get the most out of each workday.

Yesterday when I arrived at work I sat down at my desk to plan my day at The Weaponry. I firmly believe that you must get on top of each day before the day gets on top of you. #ItsBetterOnTop

Like Lynyrd Skynyrd, I plan my days in 3 steps, mister.

  1. I open up my daily calendar to see my obligations for the day.
  2. I open Stickies on my laptop to see My Priorities List. I created a list that includes my clients, business development efforts, and major life goals.
  3. I open up my notebook and create my Daily Success List.

The Success List

At the top left corner of the page, I write Success List, because names matter. Then I add the date, for historic purposes.

Next, I fill the rest of the header section of the page with my 3 major career goals. I do this to keep them in mind, and to make sure the rest of the day aligns with my major goals. Because each day is like a tool we can use to achieve our dreams. Which means each day is kinda like a dreamcatcher, only without the feathers, string and rearview mirror.

After the page header has been properly transformed into a navigational tool, I begin my list.

Yesterday, I had no external obligations on my calendar. So I was free to make it the perfectly productive day. Which is probably why this topic is top of mind today.

With no meetings of any kind required of me, which is a real rarity, I filled my success list with my priorities.

The list included:

  • Creating a new planning process for one of our service offerings
  • Contacting several clients
  • Prepping for the implementation of our new 401(k) plan
  • Contacting potential future Weapons
  • Reaching out to friends in my network for no good reason
  • Strategic work for a client
  • Creative work for a client
  • Naming work for a client
  • Scheduling a client presentation
  • Reviewing an updated video script
  • Checking in on a logo design project
  • Contacting my tax accountant
  • Contacting my realtor
  • Contacting my favorite banking professional
  • Checking on our plans for an upcoming film and photoshoot

Making It Happen

When I was done creating the list there were 24 action items on it. The 24th action item was the most important. It simply said, Schedule Day Full. Which meant that now that I had my list of things to do for the day, I had to put them on the calendar in order to create a concrete plan to make the day productive. I then filled the rest of my calendar from 9:30 am to 5 pm with actions to take.

This meant that by 9:30 am I had transformed my day of no obligations into a day packed with actions and priorities. As a result, I knocked off 22 of the 24 items on my success list.

I even scheduled an hour for lunch at noon. Because eating food keeps me alive. And like the BeeGees, I find that staying alive is important to my long-term success. Over my lunch hour, I watched several videos on MasterClass, which I have added to my self-improvement program. More on that in another post.

Key Takeaway

Create a Success List every day. Start by listing your long term goals, and let them guide your actions and priorities on a daily basis. Schedule your workday full each day. And make sure to eat lunch and learn something new. Do this day after day, and not only will you cross your daily actions off your list, you will start crossing your long term goals off the top of the page.

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

Now you have 6 days to make magic.

We are almost at the end of 2019. But more importantly, we are almost at the start of 2020. A new year. A new decade. And a chance to make the movie you are starring in turn out just the way you want it to. #happyending

6 Days To Finish Strong

But right now you have 6 days. 6 Days to finish 2019 strong. To tie up lose ends. You have  6 days to put more marks in the win column. To complete things you started. To connect with people. To get your steps in. To start, make or do that thing you said you would start, make or do this year, but still haven’t.

6 Days To Start Strong

You also have 6 days to give yourself a running start at 2020. To hit the new year and new decade with momentum. You have 6 days to start building a new habit. To put plans in place. To make this year THE year for realzies. You have 6 days to write down your goals and a plan to achieve them. You have 6 days to plan a year of adventures and vacations and bucket list-worthy activities.

The Swing Days

These are the 6 swing days. The 6 days between Christmas and New Years can make your year. If you waste them all no one will notice. Much of the western world is in neutral right now. Or in a return line at Target. But if you take advantage of the fact that not much is expected of you right now, you can make a sprint to the finish line, or a sprint to the starting line that could change everything. (Note: swing days are not affiliated with swingers or swinging. However, you are so money. And you don’t even know it.)

Me Time

I did much of the hard work to launch The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, during this period 4 years ago. This year I will be in the office working during at least 3 of the next 6 days. I will work to give my business an unfair advantage by running while others are resting. And I’ll spend some of my time resting faster than other people rest.

Planning Time

I will plan my vacations and vacation days for 2020 over the next 6 days. By planning them out I pace myself, and make sure I don’t get to these same 6 days next year burnt and crispy. I don’t want to end my year as a couch zombie, because I don’t have the energy to do anything else.

It’s Go Time

Don’t be that person who says they don’t have time for the things they really want to do. Take time now. Plan time in the upcoming year. And make time work for you.

Key Takeaway

Time is your most valuable asset. You have 6 days left to spend wisely. Invest your 6 days where you will get the best return on your investment. Think long term. But act right now.

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