Make the most of your magic ingredient.

Yeast is like magic. It is the secret, almost invisible ingredient that makes bread rise. It creates action and life. It creates transformation. And alcohol. And stank.

But yeast only works if the conditions are favorable. If the environment is too cold it won’t activate. If the temperature is too hot it kills the yeast that makes the magic. #TooHotInTheHotTub

The human spirit is like yeast. It is your magic ingredient. It is the will to win. The drive to succeed. The hunger for more.

The human spirit fuels your resilience and determination. It is the force that will transform you into something even more remarkable tomorrow. Something far more remarkable than bread. Or beer.

But just as yeast needs the proper conditions to activate, so does the human spirit.

Remember

If you are a business owner, leader, parent, teacher, coach, or the person who runs Fight Club, you are responsible for creating the environment.

Your most important job is to make sure the environment doesn’t kill the magic ingredient.

Great people won’t stay in a toxic work environment.

Great athletes won’t stay to play on a negative team.

A lion tamer won’t stick his head in the mouth of a stressed-out lion. (At least not more than once.)

And most importantly, a poor home environment will prevent children from growing into the amazing adults they were born to be. We can’t let this happen.

Key Takeaway

Create an environment that lets the human spirit work its magic. Or seek out a supportive environment for yourself. And magic will surely follow.

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

For more, check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

How strong is your personal gravity?

Have you ever noticed that when apples break their stematic bonds with trees that they fall to the ground? Sir Isaac Newton noticed. And with this simple observation, he discovered gravity. Which we have come to know as the planetary pull. Gravity is the force that pulls us towards Earth. It also keeps the moon and all of the satellites in orbit. Including the Georgia Satellites. (So don’t give me no lines and keep your hands to yourself.)

But planets aren’t the only ones that create gravity. All heavenly bodies do. And you do too. Even if your body is no longer heavenly.

However, not all gravity is created equal. Which is why you feel like you weigh less on the moon than you do on the Earth. It’s why you feel heavier on Saturn or Jupiter. And it’s why you feel lazy when you are on your Uranus.

Your Gravitational Pull

Your personal gravitational pull is a result of the value you create for others and the energy you radiate. The more value you offer and the more energy you emit the more personal attraction you create.

There is an easy way to evaluate your own gravitational pull. Just look at the people you are attracting and ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What kind of people are you attracting? This indicates the quality of your gravity.
  2. Are you attracting many or are there few? This indicates the quantity of your gravity.
  3. Is their orbit growing closer to you or drifting farther away? This indicates your relative growth.

Key Takeaway

The great sign of growth and improvement as a human is to look at who is in your orbit. As you grow wiser and kinder you will attract more and better people. Positive energy attracts. Negative energy repels. Dedicate yourself to improving your personal gravity. It will not only improve your own life, but it will improve the lives of those around you. It will attract more great people to your orbit. And that, my friends, is heavenly.

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

+If you’re interested in more ideas on personal growth and self-improvement, check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

My talk show segment on the power of positive thinking.

I had a fun start to my day yesterday! I was a guest on The Morning Blend, a great morning talk show in Milwaukee hosted by Molly Fay and Tiffany Ogle. Although I admit, I thought the show would be about all kinds of blends, you know, like blended foods, blending into a crowd, and blended families. But it turns out the name is some kind of play on coffee. Who knew.

On the show we talked about the power of positive thinking and my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say?

My book comes in 3 flavors: paperback, hardcover and digital.

We discussed why positive thinking is so important, and how it contrasts with negative thinking. We talked about the first thing I put on in the morning. We cracked open some fortune cookies on air. And we discussed the mindset needed for entrepreneurship.

We also talked about the challenge of finding a venue big enough for my book signing. Which was meant to be a joke. Because when I had to fill out the guest information form for the show it asked if I had a book signing event that I wanted to promote. But thanks to the Covid spike, bookstores and libraries are holding off on hosting live book talks and signing events right now. So instead of simply saying ‘no’, I wrote, ‘We’re still trying to find an event large enough and the proper crowd control for a book signing.’ But I love that Molly and the producer, Katie ‘Guestinfo’ Pinkowski shared my silliness on air.

As a follow-up to this story, when my friend and next-door neighbor Michael Evans, President of Marcus Hotels and Resorts, saw the segment, he reassured me that Marcus has some really big ballrooms that could certainly accommodate my book signing.

But enough talk about the segment! You can watch the whole thing right here.

You can also learn more about the book at Fortunecookiebook.com. Or you can pick up a copy on Amazon, or locally in Milwaukee at Winkie’s Hallmark and Gifts in Whitefish Bay.

*Below I tried to embed the code to share the show here in my post. If it doesn’t work you will just see a bunch of naked code. But I assure you, I was not naked on the show.

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https://www.tmj4.com/shows/the-morning-blend/the-power-of-positive-thinking

How you see yourself determines how high you can climb.

If you want to do great things you have to see yourself as capable of great things. Because in your life you are The Great Empower. You are your own Wizard of Oz. You get to bestow courage, heart and wisdom to yourself. You get to turn the knobs, flip the switches and pull the ropes on your own machinery. And you get to give yourself sweet pyrotechnics, and a really big head.

However, you are also The Great Limiter. Because you will never be more than your perception of yourself.

If you see yourself as a middle manager, then you will never be the CEO. If you see yourself as OK you will never be great. If you see yourself as a thousandaire, you will never become a millionaire. And if you see yourself as a background actor you will never be the star of the show.

But if you see yourself as amazing and full of potential, you have what it takes to realize that potential. You can learn and grow. You can strengthen, deepen, and wisen. You can turn yourself into anything. Like that cyborg from Terminator 2. Or Eddie Murphy’s make-up artist.

Spend time with others who believe in themselves and who encourage you to believe in yourself too. You’ll quickly realize that if you believe in yourself and are willing to learn and improve, you have everything you need to do anything you want.

Key Takeaway

Think big thoughts. Believe in yourself. Picture yourself on top of the mountain. Then just keep climbing. It’s the only way to get there.

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

If you like positive messages you’ll probably dig my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cooke Say? from Ripples Media. (If you hate this post you will totally hate my book too. So definitely don’t visit fortunecookiebook.com.)

Warning: Someone will take your positive message negatively.

I am a naturally positive person. I like to share my positivity with the world. If you opened up my battery compartment you would probably find a Double-A battery that has a + sign on both ends. (And we’ll ignore for the moment that the laws of chemistry and electricity would dictate that such a battery would produce no juice.)

I believe we are all capable of more. So I share ideas about self-improvement regularly. I share what is working for me in my career and my personal life. I pass along positive quotes I find motivating and inspiring. I encourage people to adopt a growth mindset and discover new ways to learn and expand their abilities.

I see the silver lining, the half-full glass, the bright side, and the upside in every situation. So I try to share that perspective with the world the way people shared Coke’s on hilltops in the 1970s.

However, a funny thing often happens when I share positive messages about growth and improvement. Someone doesn’t like it. Someone finds a reason that what you say is wrong, shallow, superficial or self-absorbed.

But don’t stop sharing positive encouragement because people didn’t like it. Some people are wired to dislike, disprove, or disrespect. They have minus signs at both ends of their batteries. That is not about you. It’s about them. Don’t let them change your tune or stop singing just because they live in garbage cans on Sesame Street.

Key Takeaway

No matter how positive your message is, there will always be people who react negatively. Let them. Ignore them. The overwhelming majority of humans appreciate positive messages. Share for them. Calibrate for them. The small majority are venting. Because they were about to blow before you came along. Be good. Share good. Do good. You’ll help make the world a gooder place.

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

Do you really want serenity? Or do you want to solve problems?

My time is my most precious asset. Not because my time is any more important than anyone else’s. It is certainly not. Just as Steve Miller’s time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping, into the future, I know that my finite time on Earth is steadily slipping away too. Like sand through an hourglass. Literally. Yet, it is this scarcity of time that is the major motivating force in my life.

My Increasing Impatience

More and more, I find myself interrupting others as they recount their disappointments in the past. I often crash pity parties to point out that time spent dwelling on the things that went wrong will not make them go right.

Spending Your Time Wisely

I am a problem solver, both by nature and by profession. As an entrepreneur and as a professional creative thinker, I view the limitations of any given situation simply as the rules that govern the solution. I have no time to relive something that went wrong in the past. All I care about is what I can do moving forward.

The Serenity Prayer

I find great value in the Serenity Prayer. If you don’t know it, or don’t know it by name, here it is:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.  –Reinhold Niebuhr

Serenity Now!

Many see this statement as a path to Serenity. But I would have named this The Problem Solver’s Prayer. Because what Reinhold is praying for is the essence of problem solving.

Problem solving is like conducting a science experiment. To find a great solution to the challenges you face, you must accept the constants, and vary the variables until you get the results you are looking for.

Focus On The Possible

I don’t spend any time lamenting the constants. I accept the things I cannot change. I pour all of my time, energy and thought into the things I can change. You could say I focus on the positive. But I say I focus on the possible. Mine is not a rose-colored glasses outlook. I focus on reality. Because reality is full of positive possibilities.

Key Takeaway

Memorize the Serenity Prayer. Accept the cold hard realities of life. And spend all of your valuable, and constantly diminishing time focusing on the amazing opportunities and possibilities that exist anyway.

This is the best fuel for the best attitude.

I  am in the middle of a major research project on life. While the research is ongoing, I have discovered, after collecting more than four decades worth of evidence, that life is hard. My study reveals that life is hard at work, at home, in your relationships, and even on vacation. No one is immune. And there is no cure (except that 80’s band with Robert Smith).

Facing Reality

Things go wrong all the time. Disappointment shows up repeatedly without an appointment. Things break. Bills pile up. Bills lose Super Bowls. And just when you think you are in the clear, something happens to remind you that you are clearly not in the clear.

Entrepreneurship

I started my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, two years ago. And I have faced a constant stream of challenges, requirements, setbacks and surprises. As an entrepreneur, you have to be ready for whatever craziness comes your way. Because it will come, and it will be crazy. Like marrying-a-Kardashian-crazy .

A Common Trait

Since starting my entrepreneurial journey I have surrounded myself with other entrepreneurs. I have noticed that the rock stars have a special trait that enables them to be successful in the face of the constant barrage of adversity and the WTF-ity they will inevitably face. And it just may be the most valuable asset in their organizations.

A  Helium Attitude.

Helium is perhaps the most magical element on Earth. Because it floats! In fact, you can fill a balloon with helium and the balloon floats too! Had Sir Issac Newton seen a helium balloon float skyward as he saw that apple fall earth-ward, he would have had a much tougher time discovering the laws of gravity. Because helium always rises above the gravity of a situation. Your attitude can too. If you let your attitude get sunk by setbacks, then your attitude is not an asset.

I don’t think about having a good attitude. Because I don’t know what that means. I think about having a helium attitude. Which is a mindset, an approach and an interpretation of the facts that rises above the circumstances. A helium attitude remains up, even when your plans fall down. Thus it always provides the perspective that things will get better. This is an entrepreneurial imperative.

Lifting Others

The helium attitude helps lift others too. Someone needs to rise above the disappointment and frustration that we all inevitably face. The helium attitude bounces back quickly, and offers other people a high point to focus on as they navigate forward. Which is why it is important for parents, leaders, teachers and preachers to fill their attitudes with as much helium as they can get (#highandfunnyvoices).

Key Takeaway

Life is unpredictable. One moment you feel like you are on top of the world. The next moment, you feel like the world is on top of you. But a helium attitude rises anyway. Don’t let setbacks, curveballs, and negative people drag you down. Do what helium does, and just keep rising. Your attitude is everything in life. Make sure you fill it with the right fuel.

Why you should put a smile on every time you get your dial on.

Have you ever thought about how you look when you make a phone call? It is easy to think that your appearance doesn’t matter. After all, the person on the other end of the call doesn’t see you. Unless you are a Close Caller. Which is like a Close Talker, only you use your phone, because you can. Which is weird.

But your appearance on a phone call does matter. Because how you look influences how you feel. Even if you are thousands of miles away, the person on the other end of the conversation will pick up on how you feel. And it will influence what they send back to you.

You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile.

When I make or take a phone call, I always put a smile on my face before I start talking. It magically brightens my mood. Because smiling is the ultimate human happiness hack. You don’t have to be happy to smile. You can smile to be happy.

In fact, many a scientific study have proven that your responses to questions are significantly more positive when you hold a pencil between your teeth the broad way. Holding a pencil this way forces you to smile. And the forced smile has the same effect as the real thing. And while Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell would have you believe there ain’t nothing like the real thing (baby), Guy Smiley and Happy Gilmore would disagree.

When you put a smile on your face before a phone call it makes good things happen. It influences what you say, how you say it, and how you respond to your telephonic partner. It makes the call more enjoyable for the other person. It helps you overcome anxiousness when making an important call. And if the call goes poorly, well, it’s easy to laugh it off if you are already in a smiling position.

Key Takeaway

Next time you pick up the phone, first pick up the corners of your mouth. Wearing a smile will positively impact everything about the call. It will make you sound warmer and more likable. It will influence the words you choose. It will leave a lasting impression on the person on the other end. It can even make them look forward to talking to you again.

If you want to try it now, put on a smile and call my number at 614-256-2850. If I don’t answer, leave a message and let me know you’re practicing your Smile Call. When I call you back you can bet I’ll be smiling too.

*If you’d rather not call me, but would still like to hear what I’m thinking, consider subscribing to this blog. If you want to read about another fun smiling technique I use, read Kickstart your day with this powerful and simple habit.

Our time here is short. Make the most of it, like Steven did.

The best part of business is the people. I didn’t know that when I started my career. But over the past two decades I have discovered that businesses aren’t just powerful economic engines. They are the primary source of social interactions among adults.  The workplace is dramatically undervalued as a matchmaker of friends, mentors, collaborators and life partners. In fact, I met my wife, Dawn, at work.

Steven Schreibman

On Mother’s Day I got a shocking text from my close friend, Jennifer Hanley, whom I first met when she became a client of mine in 2008. She had bad news. My friend and former client, Steven Schreibman, had passed away the day before. This was totally unexpected. He recently began experiencing severe headaches. Then, on May 7th, he suffered a fall that resulted in a brain injury. He never regained consciousness.

I am truly blessed to have known Steven. But we would have never met had it not been for business. Steven was a fancy pants marketing lead at Nationwide Insurance. I was the creative lead at one of Nationwide’s advertising agencies. And we became fast friends.

The Legend

Steven’s reputation preceded him. My coworkers would come back from meetings with Nationwide telling stories of this wild, rogue client. I couldn’t wait to meet this mythical marketing creature.

He didn’t disappoint. In fact, Steven Schreibman was such a fantastic character, that even though I am only halfway through my advertising career expectancy, I am declaring that I will never encounter another client or coworker that is more spectacularly unique than Steven.

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During an all night shoot in LA, we snuck into a diner for the best peanut butter chocolate shake I’ve ever had. I think Steven (back-row middle) had a Burberry Shake.

Today I am reflecting on Steven’s impact on my life. My last 10 years have been much more flavorful thanks to Steven. Here are four of the many things I will never forget about him.

The Steven Schreibman Top 4 List.

1. His Laugh

I love to laugh. But Steven’s laugh made me look like the farmer in American Gothic.  His laugh felt like the essence of life itself. His laugh was big and loud, like an alarm. And it never contained an ounce of restraint. Nor did it adhere to any social norms. I would have loved to have gone to church or synagogue or a library with Steven just to see if he could actually put a lid on his impulse to laugh without a hint of inhibition at the hilarity of the world. We should all live and laugh like that.

2. He cared.

Steven engaged with people as if he were a talk show host. Which is probably the job he should have had. In fact, I hope he gets that gig in Heaven. Because me and St. Peter would watch the Steven Schreibman Show every night.

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Welcome back to the Tonight Show. I’m Steven Schreibman. And you are not. BWAHAHAHA!

Steven always showed a genuine interest in my life. He was full of questions and remembered everything I ever told him. When we first began working together, my family was small and growing. I have three blonde haired, blue-eyed kids named Ava, Johann and Magnus. Steven would always ask me, ‘How is your little Aryan race coming along?’ I laugh out loud when I think about how completely inappropriate he was, even as he demonstrated how much he cared about me and my family.

3. He Was Eternally Optimistic

Steven was a great client to present creative ideas to, because he recognized the potential in every idea. This is an extremely rare and valuable skill. Everything was Fabulous and Brilliant and Amazing. He loved pushing each idea to see how far it could go. He loved making things bigger, wilder and more attention-getting. He loved making ideas more memorable, and less like everything else. He could have taught a class on getting the most value out of a creative idea. He also could have been the class clown in that very same course.

tonight-show
This is a very bad picture from a very interesting night. While out in LA on a shoot, Matt Haritan (far right) and I had the idea to go to a taping of the Tonight Show. Not only did we go to a taping, afterwards we got invited back stage, on stage and even staged a coup d’etat on Jay Leno’s couch. Steven (third from the left) loved this kinda stuff.

4. He Was Entertaining

Steven was outlandish, and over-the-top, all of the time. His personality was completely incongruent with that of a large, conservative insurance company. But Steven reveled in being the pot stirrer. He understood his role as the person who could balance out a conservative corporate culture with his total irreverence for all things conservative.

The Master of Shock Value

We should all have a friend who is as endlessly entertaining as Steven was. He was so funny, and so outlandishly unpredictable, that you just wanted to be around him to see and hear what he would do next. There were no ordinary conversations with Steven. I think it would have been a violation of his personal brand to give you a straight answer. Every conversation with Steven was like a box of Cracker Jacks. And I looked forward to the joke, the surprise, or the shocking commentary that was tucked into every exchange.

My First Impression

I first met Steven on a Nationwide commercial shoot, on a 100 degree day in North Carolina. His face was lathered in sunscreen that was barely rubbed in. Which meant that he looked ridiculous. And he loved it. He kept asking if there was something on his face, and he acted oblivious to the white creamy mess he wore like Halloween makeup, just to get a reaction.

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This is from Steven’s going away party when he left Nationwide. Clearly it was significantly retouched. Because he did not have red hands.

The Shirt Incident

One of my favorite Steven memories was from his birthday in 2009. We had a meeting together, and I wore a wild paisley shirt. When the SS waltzed into the meeting he was wearing the exact same shirt! When he spotted me wearing his birthday shirt, his jaw dropped, and he exclaimed, ‘Oh. My. Gawd!  We HAVE to sit next to each other!!!!’ So we did. The rest of the meeting felt like a Saturday Night Live skit. It was all just too ridiculous to take anything seriously. As I think about Steven now, I immediate go back to that meeting. We looked like twin clowns. And we loved every minute of it.

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Steven reacting to a production assistant on a shoot who warned him to be careful on the stairs.

This Blog

Steven was the most engaged reader of this blog. Literally. The insights page on The Perfect Agency Project show that he has provided the most comments on this blog, by far. In fact, Steven has 33% more comments than the next most prolific commenter. This blog will miss him.

Conclusion

I love characters. And Steven was one of the greatest characters I’ve ever known. My conversations with Steven were more provocative and entertaining than the Howard Stern show. Always hilarious. Always inappropriate. And never a bit predictable.

Steven was indeed larger than life. And to those of us whose lives he touched, he is larger than death. Nothing can undo the impact you’ve had on all of us Steven. We will miss you greatly. I can’t wait to hear your laugh again on the other side.

*If you know a friend or family member of Steven’s, please consider sharing this post with them.

Kickstart your day with this powerful and simple habit.

Your first act of the day sets the tone for how your entire day will go. Some people cuddle with a cup of coffee. Some read. Others exercise. While still others begin their morning by repeatedly jabbing at the snooze button on their alarm clock as if they were picking a fight with the Pillsbury Doughboy.

My First Habit 

My first act of the day is simple, and more impactful than any of the above. The very first thing I do each morning when I wake up, is smile. I smile and instantly the day is good. It makes me feel as if the day is a game that I am ready to play. I feel funny and playful. Because smiling to yourself in the dark for no reason is a funny thing to do. But it puts me in the right frame of mind for the 18-hour adventure ahead.

Life Comes At You Fast.

Like everyone else, I face challenges every day. I have 3 semi-domesticated children (12G, 10B and 7B). I have a home that regularly throws me surprises. I have a commute that I don’t control. I own an advertising and idea agency called The Weaponry, which comes with employees, contractors, clients, finances, insurance and a landlord. And they all have the potential to hip-check my plans each day.

But that first smile in the morning makes me feel as if I won the day before the sun even gets out of the starting blocks. It sets the tone for everything else. It reminds me that funny things are going to happen that day, and it is up to me to see those events as humourous, and not tragic, vengeful or a clear sign of how much the universe hates me.

Put a smile to work for you.

Try it yourself. It is the easiest positive thing you’ll do all day. Yet it has the power to propel and protect you until you crawl back into bed at night. And if you have not yet smiled today, do it now.

guy-smiley
This is Guy Smiley from Sesame Street. Fun fact: while he was a guy, he was not actually smiley, because he was stitched without smiling functionality. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?

If you find that a morning smile helps set a positive tone for your day let me know. If you have a great way to start your day that might help me, please share. I’ll take all the help I can get.

*To learn more about how I approach life and business you could shadow me 24-7. Or you could subscribe to this blog. It’s really up to you.