The cure for disappointment is getting back to work.

Sometimes things go wrong. Actually, things go wrong all the time. It’s as predictable as a celebrity divorce. You will miss out on opportunities. You will lose games, money, clients, and jobs. You will get knocked down and spun around. Because life offers up a never ending conveyor belt of challenges. And not all of them go your way.

Bouncing Back

The best way to deal with loss and disappointment is to get right back to work. It’s as simple as that. Because there is something magical about the feeling of making progress that heals the bites, burns and bruises of life.

She is highly bummed. And highly bunned.

As you work towards your next success you are putting the past failure in the rear view mirror. You are investing in the next win, instead of dwelling on the last loss. You positively reorient your attention and focus as you begin traveling towards your next accomplishment. And the psychological effect is huger than Hugh Jackman.

Building, improving and gaining momentum lead to happiness. They are clear indicators that you are heading in the right direction. The more work you put in the more gravitational pull your next great goal creates. Which is far better than the gravitational pull donuts create.

Getting back to work is beneficial in every area of your life, including your career, relationships, fitness, athletics, academics and spirituality. I have used work as my bounce-back strategy as a student, as an athlete and as an entrepreneur. And it has never failed me. Yes, the past spring and summer have thrown us all adversity. But don’t let that define your fall. Get yourself back on the right track, by getting right back to work.

Key Takeaway

Don’t let disappointment stop you. Let it start you. Get back to work. Rebuild momentum. It is hard to feel sorry for yourself when you are making progress. And don’t wait for someone else to give you an opportunity. Make one yourself.

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

It’s time to think beyond the bear in the trail.

I am a long term thinker. I view lives and careers as long journeys with lots of transformation along the way. I expect to drive my own change and growth. Which comes through a combination of planning and action. Or what might be called plaction.

The Bear In The Trail

However, the COVID-19 crisis has caused me to take my eye off of the long view. Over the past several months I have focused almost exclusively on short-term thinking. It’s as if I was hiking the Appalachian Trail, and suddenly encountered an ornry bear blocking my path. Instead of focusing on reaching Mount Katahdin, I needed to focus on the bear-virus, and live to hike another day. As result, true long-term improvement initiatives have been on hold for months. Darn you bear-virus.

Back In The Saddle.

But today my team at The Weaponry will gather again to think about our long term vision for the first time in months. We will open our planning and improvement session by describing what the fully formed version of our advertising and idea agency looks like. Then we will focus on what we need to do to close the gap between the ideal version of The Weaponry and the organization that exists today. However, we will have nothing to do with The Gap closing at your local mall.

We then assign each person a set of tasks, or rocks, to complete over the next 90 days to help us improve our organization. This approach, which is part of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) outlined in the book Traction by Gino Wickman, has proven to be a highly effective way of helping us grow and progress. Because it ties our vision to meaningful and fruitful actions. Which helps us gain traction towards our goals.

Traction
This is a great resource to help you drive continuous business improvement.

Thinking Long Term

To achieve your long term goals you can’t remain in survival mode for long periods of time. You have to work with purpose towards your vision. You have to recirculate the ideal vision with your team and consider the next actions necessary to reach your vision.

This approach is valuable for organizations. And it is valuable for each of us as individuals. We need to know where our own north star is, and navigate towards it. Even in challenging times. Evn in bad weather. And even after wrestling angry bears.

Starting The Second Half

As we start the second half of the year, remember what you planned to do 6 months ago, before COVID-19 blew you off course and threw you into survival mode. If your original 2020 plans no longer apply to the new world reality, make new plans now.  What can and should you do now to progress over the next 6 months? I know this may be challenging. But in the inspirational words of Arthur Ashe:

‘Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.’  -Arthur Ashe

Key Takeaway

Move forward. We have been doggy paddling long enough. it is time to reimplement some time-tested swim strokes. Remember where you are headed. Or, if you haven’t determined where you are going, now is the time to decide. Determine the short term actions that will lead to your long term goals. Be purposeful. Be consistent. And you are sure to be closer to your ideal 6 months from now.

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

Between the sunrise and sunset lies the real magic.

This week I am on vacation at the beach. I’ve noticed that people at the beach love sunrises and sunsets. Shocker, I know.

Every morning vacationers and locals alike walk the beach at sunrise and take pictures of the sun coming up. The same think happens each night as the sun sets. It’s almost like a song from Fiddler On The Roof

But I notice that no one is taking pictures of the sun in the middle of the day when Earth’s favorite fire ball is in mid arc. But that is where the magic happens.

It is not the beginning or the end that makes the difference. It is the missable middle. When the work is performed. When actions are taken. When time and effort and attention are invested. That’s where the wow of the day lives. It is where the stories of our lives, careers and relationships are formed. Unless you are a lady of the night, or a cat burglar. In which case, I am impressed that you also read blogs. Who knew.

Highlighting the sunrise and sunset is like focusing on the bookends on a bookshelf.  They may be pretty. But they are not the value. The value is on all the pages in the books in between. Be sure not to miss them. They are full of gold.

Key Takeaway

Don’t forget the middle. It is where all the difference is made.

You can change your life in one day.

Earlier this week I filmed a video with a group of very talented health and wellness coaches. The work was for my client, StayWell, which pioneered corporate wellness programs more than 40 years ago. Today StayWell works with many of best companies in America, where they help improve lives every day. (Unlike Chick-Fil-a, who will not improve my life with a delicious Spicy Chicken Deluxe sandwich on Sundays.)

During the video shoot I heard inspiring story after story of how the coaches had a transformational impact on the lives of those they coached. But there was one particular story that really hit me in my profunditude receptors.

The Story

The last coach of the day told us a story about a man who she coached who had a variety of health and lifestyle issues to address. One of which was that he was an enthusiastic smoker. Which I translate to mean that he really liked standing outside, alone, by a backdoor that no one else uses.

The man knew he should quit. The warning labels on the cigarettes packs that told him that he was going to die if he actually smoked the cigarettes made that clear. But he had not yet summoned the resolve and a master plan to make it happen.

The coach suggested that he try  just one day without cigarettes. It was a pretty small challenge. Much easier than really quitting. The man tried it. And succeeded.

At the end of the day he realized that it had been several decades since he had gone a full day without a cigarette. He was very excited about his big day. And he wondered if he could do it again the next day.

That was 2 years ago. And he hasn’t smoked a cigarette since.

Easy Does It

Too often we think we have to do something monumental to get results. But that is poppycock. All you have to do is start. Do something. Anything. The littlest step in the right direction is progress. It helps you build momentum. Because success builds like a snowball. It always starts small. But as it rolls it can become massive.

It Worked For Me.

I always wanted to start my own advertising agency. But entrepreneurship seemed daunting. Until I broke it down into small, simple steps. Then I simply started taking one small step after another. Today I’m the Founder and CEO of The Weaponry. Which sounds like a pretty cool title. Because when you start your own business you get to give yourself any title you want. The Weaponry now has 2 offices, 17 clients from coast to coast, and more on the way.

Key Takeaway

Big accomplishments start with small steps. So take the smallest, easiest step forward you can. You’ll find that it is so easy that you can’t help but take another step forward. When you do, the next step will reveal itself. When it does, you take that step too. You don’t have to be prepared for the whole journey. You just have to be prepared for the next small step. Knowing and believing this secret is the first and most important step of all.

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

If you want results do what my son does.

When I first became a parent I was prepared to drop knowledge on my kids. I had prepared a syllabus of over 30 years worth of life lessons. They were sorted into 3 files. The first was labeled Smart Things I Did. The second was labeled Dumb Things I Did That You Should Avoid. And the third file was simply labeled Bill Cosby.

Magnus

What I wasn’t prepared for were are all of the lessons that my children would teach me. My latest lessons have come from my 9-year old son Magnus. Magnus, has taught me a lot about socializing. He has a remarkable ability to make instantaneous friendships anywhere. His social intelligence is as good as the best adults I know. He’s like a little Dale Carnegie on the playground, just winning little friends and influencing little people.

Losing Teeth

But as impressive as Magnus is at socializing, he is world class at losing teeth. It’s an odd thing to be great at, I know. But lately Magnus has lost teeth at a meth addict rate. I think he has lost 8 teeth in the last 2 months. In fact, I don’t know how he actually chews anything anymore. #popsiclesfordinner

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Me and Magnus and all of our hair at the top of the Astoria Column in Astoria, Oregon. 

Talk Is Cheap

However, it is not his quantity of tooth loss that impresses me. It is the style. You know how I know when Magnus has a loose tooth? He puts the tooth in my hand. Before that he doesn’t talk about it, complain about it or brag about it. He says nothing until the tooth is out. Even then he doesn’t really talk about it. He just shows me the results, and smiles an ever toothlessier smile. And every time he surprises me (and the Tooth Fairy) with absolutely no advanced warning, I am more impressed by his ability to quietly take care of business.

The Reminder

I meet people all the time who go on and on, (like Steven Bishop, down in Jamaica, with lots of pretty women), about their big dreams, lofty goals and ambitious plans. But talk doesn’t bring a dream to life. Discussions don’t achieve goals. And ambition doesn’t execute a plan. Talk is the cheapest of all commodities. Action is the the most valuable. And it’s the only currency you can use to buy your goals and dreams.

Key Takeaway

Success requires action. To be successful do more. Talk less. Complain less. Analyze less. And focus on results. Don’t tell the world what you are going to do. Show them what you’ve done. Then, after the work is all done, you can sit back and enjoy the rewards. Just like my son Magnus does.

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

 

 

How to get inspired when you are running behind.

Do you ever feel like you are running behind? I do. All the time. I have high expectations. Which means that I also have goals, lists and timelines. But I find myself running behind my established deadlines all the time. Which means I would probably fit right in at United Airlines.

I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!

I am frequently behind on both my long-term and short-term goals. I am often behind on my daily to-do list as well. I can’t tell you how many times I have approached the last hour or two of my day at work or home, looked at the list of things I wanted to accomplish that day, and been shocked at how little I had crossed off.

Don’t Give Up

I don’t let myself get discouraged in those moments. In fact, I am thankful to recognize how little I have achieved while there is still time to do something about it. Because in those moments I am always reminded of my 9 years as a track and field athlete.

Life is like a track race.

Over the course of my track career at Hanover High School and the University of Wisconsin I saw amazing things happen at the end of races. I saw runners who looked as if they were destined for last place do amazing things. They didn’t give up. Instead, they kicked.

The Kick

In track and field The Kick is the late race attempt to shift to a higher speed than you were running the rest of the race. The Kick is used to finish strong. It is used to overcome the slower pace you had run to that point that put you behind. In full disclosure, I never had a track kick. I had more of a wave goodbye as other runners left me behind to contemplate my dietary choices.

Inspiration

I saw hundreds of inspiring Kicks in person during my track career. I saw hundreds more as a lifelong fan of the sport. I am always amazed to see how a strong, short, focused effort can completely change the outcome of a race.

Kicking At Work

Today, when I find myself behind late in the day, or late in a timeline, I don’t throw in the towel. I kick. I look at what I can still accomplish. I push distractions aside. I focus. And I sprint.

I have found that these late in the race sprints have the same ability to change outcomes in business and life as they do on the track. A concentrated effort over a short time often produces an entire day’s worth of productivity and progress in just an hour or two. Even better, I have had days where I crossed more off my daily to-do list in the last 20 minutes than I did in the previous 8 hours.

Key Takeaway

It is never too late to Kick. Whether you are talking about daily goals or lifetime goals, career or personal aspirations, your Kick can change everything. When you find yourself behind, use the time you have, to give everything you’ve got, to accomplish as much as you can. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes in the final outcome. And at the end of the day, the end is all that matters.

Here is a great collection of finishing kicks to inspire you today.

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

** The cover image for this post is of Sarah Disanza, who has joined me and my team at The Weaponry. She knows a thing or two about kicking too.

How to use fake deadlines to make your dreams come true.

You have dreams. I know you do. You have visions of a future that is better than today. In your dream state you have a better job, a more exciting career or your own thriving business. You have lost weight, gained fame, made a fortune and crossed off everything on your bucket list. You, my friend, are Forrest Gumping.

Want To Do’s vs Have To Do’s

The hard part about making your dreams come true is that dreams are electives. They are not required. Which means that unlike taxes, you can put dreams off forever without getting into any trouble. The downside is that when you die your dreams die too. And as you are carried off to your final resting place your unrealized dreams will be left behind, still in their wrappers. Like sad little veal dreams.

Making Your Dreams Come True

The key to bringing your dreams to life is simple. You have to create fake deadlines. How do you do this? You just make them up. It’s the same way we created Leprechauns, Unicorns and the Backstreet Boys. You simply create your own fake timeline to make your dreams a reality.  Then deadline your way forward.

pen calendar to do checklist
Give yourself deadlines to keep your dreams alive.

My Entrepreneurship Deadline

On the eve of my 40th birthday I set a series of goals and fake deadlines for myself. One of my goals was to start my own advertising agency. Less than 3 years later I formed The Weaponry. A fake deadline gave my entrepreneurial dream urgency. Which made it a priority. Which gave it attention. Which created the action it required to meet the fake deadline. #3Whiches

Traction Deadlines

Today The Weaponry sets quarterly rocks, or goals, that we must accomplish within 90 days. The 90-day deadline is completely made up. But it creates urgency and forces us into action. It gamifies our efforts and keeps us moving forward and improving as an organization.

My Blogging Deadlines

I publish 3 new posts to The Perfect Agency Project blog every week. I do this to share my experiences, insights and wisdom gained from building my own advertising agency. No one is making me write. No one else is telling me that a new post needs to go live every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. But that’s what my fake deadlines demand. So I deliver. As a result my readership steadily increases by 50% each year.

Key Takeaway

Fake deadlines make things happen. They are the true keys to progress. To accomplish something that is important to you start by setting a fake deadline to get started. Then set a fake deadline for completion. And set lots of fake deadlines to meet important and aggressive milestones along the way. Without fake deadlines dreams die. That’s just reality. But don’t let it happen to you. Instead, set your fake deadline today, by 10pm local time. Tick Tock. Tick Tock. Tick Tock.

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

Why baby steps are the key to big progress.

I bet you have good ideas all the time. Ideas about inventions you should create, businesses you should start, books you should write, and funny comebacks you should have said (#TheJerkStoreCalled).

We all dream of writing a best seller and starting the next cover-of-Forbes business. Unfortunately, for most people, these are never more than dreams. Because most people have no idea how easy it is to make their dreams a reality.

Baby Steps

There is one simple element that changes dreamers into doers. It’s action. To make a dream come true you simply need to step towards it. You don’t need a giant Giannis Antetokounmpo or Stretch Armstrong-size step. Any baby step will do.

Launching My Business

When I really wanted to start my own advertising agency I started taking little actions that moved the idea forward. First, I bought and read books about starting and running a business. I followed the advice in the books, and actually wrote down my plans. Then I started following the plans. I met with entrepreneurs and harvested their insights and advice.

None of it was hard. Within months I had started a business in my spare time that would support my family. All because I kept taking baby steps.

pexels-photo-2261282.jpeg
Not only is this a baby about to take her next step, it may be the cutest picture that has ever appeared in my blog. Credits go to Angeliz Olivares on Pexels.com

More Baby Steps

Over the past 2 weeks I have taken small but meaningful steps forward on several new projects:

  1. I have created a growing monthly meet up with my college track and field teammates that I think could have a major impact on many lives.
  2. I started writing a script for a live show that I think could become a template for live entertainment shows in every city in the world.
  3. I have taken steps forward to create a new food brand, because I recognized a wide open opportunity that no one else was grabbing.
  4. I contacted a publication and told them I was interested in writing a regular segment for them. I now have a meeting with the publishers in 4 days.
  5. I have started writing 2 different books.
  6. I have been actively studying real estate investing. Not just thinking about it.
  7. I have been sketching out new t-shirts I want to create.

What Happens Next

I am thrilled to have started all of these projects. But they are not reality, yet. They all require more action. In fact, none of the 8 things I started can or will move forward without me. So the baby steps have to continue. But if I keep moving I will have a new line of t-shirts to wear and sell, a food brand you could find at grocery stores, a real estate business, 2 new books, a regular meet up group format that could be repeated around the world, a regular column in a publication and a crazy live show you would pay money to see (even though everyone wears clothes).

Key Takeaway

Action is everything. It is the different between dreams that come true and those that vanish into the ether. Talk is cheap. Action is magic. If you just keep taking baby steps, before you know it, you will have completed a marathon of progress. So, when you get an inkling that you should create or do something, take a baby steps towards it. It’s how I created my advertising and idea agency. And it is how I’ll be able to bring all the other ideas to life too.

If you found value in this post you would also enjoy, The most important ingredient to entrepreneurial success.

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

Why your next hire should be an Imperfectionist.

To build a great business you need to collect great people.  But what makes people great, and thus collectable, is certainly a topic of debate. I am sure you have your own trait that you think makes you a valuable addition to an employer. You’re organized. Or energetic. Or creative. Or not easily bored.

I spend a lot of time interviewing candidates for our ad agency. And there’s one label I have heard more than all others. In fact I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard people proudly state, ‘I am a perfectionist.’ This proclamation makes me want to throw up. Because I believe that in an idea business like advertising perfection works against you.

That’s why I proudly consider myself an Imperfectionist. So what does that mean? It means I value progress in any form. I am quite comfortable dreaming up and then sharing half-baked ideas. Or writing a first draft and passing it around for a reaction. Why? Because unbaked and half-baked ideas are available faster than fully-baked. And often times a team simply needs a ‘for-instance’ to get moving in the right direction.

I enjoy sharing ideas that are still in a moldable state. They enable others to help form, modify and improve the ideas before they’re finished. As an Imperfectionist I embrace the process of creating, testing, learning and improving. I love working in an environment that recognizes the great value in being aggressive.

Today, speed is king. In the agency business we need to act quickly to help our clients take advantage of short-lived opportunities and to thwart threats.  This puts a premium on quick thinking and swift action. We no longer live in an era that rewards you for sitting alone in your office making sure your ideas or your presentations are bulletproof.

Now don’t get me wrong.  Once our team has determined a direction and we move into the execution phase, every detail matters. I will question the kerning, analyze the delivery of a line, and poke at a transition until I’m absolutely convinced we have it right. There is a time and place for this type of scrutiny.  And I believe it’s at the end of the process.

So find yourself more Imperfectionists. Explore more. Fail fast. And improve faster. It is the difference between doing and dreaming. Action and inaction. Talking and walking. It may not be the perfect approach for everyone. But it works perfectly for me.