I had a totally messed-up travel day. And it was amazing!

On Monday I flew from Milwaukee to Cleveland for work. I was excited about the trip. And not just because I have seen all 3 of the Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Videos. (If you haven’t seen them before take a moment now. You’ll thank me later.)

The trip had been planned for 5 months. And you know what they say about the best-laid plans…

Here is a list of things that went wrong with my travel:

  • My Sunday morning flight from Milwaukee to Cleveland was canceled.
  • I was rebooked on connecting flights 24 hours later.
  • My return flight from Cleveland to Chicago Monday evening was delayed by 4 hours.
  • I missed my connecting flight from Chicago to Milwaukee.
  • I arrived in Chicago at 11pm Monday night.
  • All rental cars were sold out.
  • There were no buses to Milwaukee
  • I had to spend the night in Chicago.
  • On the way to my Chicago hotel the cab driver kept taking wrong turns and turned a 15-mile cab ride into a 25-mile ride.
  • I had to sternly talk to him about his mistakes and let him know I wouldn’t pay for them.
  • I checked into my hotel at 1am
  • Tuesday morning I had to take a bus from O’Hare Airport to Milwaukee’s General Mitchell Field.
Getting my work on, on a bus!

That Was Interesting

It’s easy to say I had a terrible trip. But it was amazing! I would do it all over again in a second. Here’s why.

1. The Talk

The travel to Cleveland was for a speaking engagement. I got to talk to teachers, and teachers of teachers, at the NAEYC 2022 Professional learning Institute. (To know what NAEYC is just click the link.)

Here’s me and one of my slides. Which is not as fun as a slide on a playground.

I shared lessons from my book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? The audience was amazing. They listened intently, asked great questions, laughed at the funny parts, and they made the whole trip worthwhile, even with all the surprises. Thanks to my friend Jenn Koel for inviting me to speak.

Look, no one is asleep!
Talking to attendees and signing books.
Me and Jenn Koel of ACCESS. Jenn was one of the first people to request a speaking engagement after my book was published.

2. The Once In A Lifetime Experience

After my talk, I thought I would have an uneventful flight home. But my flight from Cleveland to Chicago was fouled up by the epic thunderstorms that rolled through Chicago like a Garth Brooks song on Monday evening.

If you know your Great Lakes geography (I know most of you don’t), you know that Cleveland lives a few hundred miles east of Chicago. And if you know your garden variety weather patterns, you know that weather typically flows from west to east.

This means that a flight from Cleveland to Chicago would pass a storm system traveling from Chicago to Cleveland like 2 youth sports teams high-fiving each other after a game. #GoodGameGoodGameGoodGameGoodGame

And that’s exactly what happened with my plane and that thunderstorm.

Once our 6:45pm flight finally left Cleveland around 10:30pm we started seeing flashes through the windows on the right side of the plane. However, I was in a window seat on the left side of the plane. Boo.

As a storm lover, I was eager to see what was happening on the other side of the aisle. (Kinda like a political pundit.)

When we first pushed back from the gate in Cleveland 4 hours earlier the plane was completely full. But because of the delays we returned to the gate and deplaned like Tattoo from Fantasy Island. Many of my flightmates were rebooked because of missed connections. So when we finally reboarded for The Windy City about 1/3 of the seats were empty.

I looked around and noticed the exit row on the right side of the plane was now empty. So I snuck down the aisle and slipped over to the window seat. I eagerly peered out the airplane window. And I was awestruck by what I witnessed.

I have been in a hurricane. I have seen the northern lights in Alaska. I have seen thundersnow. And I have seen lightning strike the same place twice within minutes, just yards from where I was standing. But none of the epic Mother Nature shows I have seen were as intense as what I saw out that little plane over Northern Ohio and Indiana.

The strobe lightning was non-stop until we reached Chicago. I filmed and photographed the storm so I could share what I saw.

On Tuesday, while riding the bus from Chicago to Milwaukee, I shared a video on Twitter. Fox News retweeted it. Then I was contacted by numerous media outlets asking if they could reshare the video. I have also been asked for interviews about the experience. Crazy right?

Here’s the video I shared. Note: that is NOT a time-lapse video. This all happened in real-time.

I assume someone below yelled ‘Rat Farts!’ on a golf course.

Here’s another video I took that you are seeing here first.

This pairs nicely with the song Thunderstruck by AC/DC.

The Twitter Activity

In 24 hours this has been seen over 14,000 times on Fox’s Twitter account alone.

Key Takeaway

Look for the good things in life and you will find them. Because of this trip, I made new friends, I enjoyed new experiences and I was able to share some of the best lessons I know with people who were eager to hear them.

Because of my flight delay going home, a window of opportunity opened that allowed me to witness the most incredible light show I have ever seen. (Sorry Trans Siberian Orchestra Pyrotechnics Director.)

After hours of delays, the view out of my window was so incredible and lasted so long, that I would have paid money and waited again just to see the show.

I will forget about the time I spend waiting for the plane. I won’t worry about the night I had to spend in Chicago or the bus ride back to MKE.

But I can never unsee what I saw out that plane window. So I’m not mad. Not even a little. I’m thankful for the opportunity, and the experience.

Remember to look for the great gifts that are wrapped in bad paper. And you will accumulate more rewards than you can imagine.

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

+If you enjoy a good life lesson, you’ll find many more in my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Special shout out to my new friends Vijay Shah and Apshara Ravichandran whom I met on my flight from Chicago to Cleveland Monday morning. #Row27Crew

Why I do so much public speaking and why you should too.

Over the past 5 months, since first publishing my book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? I regularly get asked if I do any public speaking. The simple answer is an emphatic Yes! (And an emphatic Yes! is also the basic message of most of my public speaking.)

The truth is I never turn down an opportunity to speak if there is a chance I can work it into my schedule. Not just because I enjoy it. But also because it is my way of passing along all of the lessons, insights and encouragement that the world has shared with me. Plus, you usually get a free bottle of water.

UW Credit Union hooked me up with 2 bottles of water!

I enjoy offering motivation and encouragement. I like to teach and share lessons from my own experience. Which is why I think about the following philosophy when I am asked to speak at an event:

“The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The work of life is to develop it. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.”

-David Viscott

I also love to entertain. If I would have been born with more funny bones I would love to have been a standup comedian. (But alas, I only have the two not-so-funny bones in my elbows.) So when I get asked to speak I always try to find opportunities to make the audience laugh. And occasionally they will.

My recent speaking events include a book talk to a marketing association, company meetings, guest lectures, and 3 TV appearances.

Talk show talking with Molly Fay.

Over the next weeks and months my speaking engagements include:

A Career Day event for 8th graders. (A notoriously tough and attention-challenged crowd. I’ll probably resort to some potty humor to keep them engaged.)

Moderating a panel discussion Tomorrow morning I’m hosting a panel at American Family Field with some interesting and well-known panelists. (Which is sure to induce some panel envy.)

A talk in Cleveland for a large conference. (I hope they don’t throw any of those Cleveland rocks!)

Speaking to the leadership team of a very large household brand in Columbus. (Ok, so it’s really more of a Garagehold brand.)

Speaking to a conference in Chicago about branding. (I had to assure attendees that they would not be getting their hide seared.)

Several association meetings. (I’d like to create a talk titled, ‘Is there an ass in your ociaton?’)

• Guest interviews on podcasts

Plus, I have at least 5 other events in the planning stages.

Talking to the Milwaukee Athletic Club about how to carry 2 watermelons at once.

These speaking events are great opportunities for me to share what I know with the world. I get to pass along energy, enthusiasm and positivity. And I get to remind people that they are responsible for writing a great story of their own life and career every day.

I love the challenge of taking what could easily be a boring and forgettable event and turning it into something fun, entertaining and inspiring. Which is why I get so many speaking requests. And why I am often asked to fill the last slot of the day. (I’m the Keep-Them-Awake Specialist.)

Key Takeaway

If you have great experience and a positive perspective you should share it with the world. Look for opportunities to speak, educate and inspire. Not only will others learn from you, but you will learn from the experience too. The process of sharing with others forces you to organize and crystalize your own thinking. Which means everyone comes out ahead.

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

> If you are looking for someone to speak at your next event you can reach me at adam@theweaponry.com.

+To learn some of the life lessons I like to talk about, check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

10 things I have learned from writing 700 blog posts.

Back in the fall of 2015, I knew I was going to launch my own business. It was such an exciting adventure that I decided to document it by starting a blog. But like so many big ideas (and Band-Aids on freshly washed hands), I didn’t know if this blogging thing would stick.

Well, it stuck.

Today I am proud to say I have published 700 blog posts. I don’t know many people in the 700 Club, besides Pat Robertson and Jim Bakker. The whole point of the blog was to share what I have learned. But through the process of writing this blog, I have learned a lot too.

My Learnings From Writing 700 Blog Posts.

I do this a lot.
  1. To do something big simply start with something small. The 700th post is not really that important. The most important one was the first post. Just like an estate begins with a single dollar put away, you need that first post, or first step, most of all. If you have a goal (of course you have a frick’n goal!) take the first step!

2. I found my writing voice. I started my career in advertising as a copywriter. So I wrote a lot. But I wrote in the voice of the brands I worked on. Writing this blog has allowed me to dial into my own writing voice. Most people who know me would say my writing voice is exactly like my speaking voice. (I am one of those people.) I simply write this blog the way I think and the way I talk. That’s my style. Once you find your style, writing becomes easier. It just flows out of you. Like pee.

2.5 You can write anything you want in your own blog. (See the last 2 words of the last paragraph.)

I started the blog when I started my business. Both have grown into healthy adults.

3. Develop your good habits. I never think about whether I am going to write in the morning. It’s totally automatic. Like that Pointer Sisters song. Writing is a strong habit for me. Sunday through Thursday morning I am in my office writing by 6:10 am. I write until 7 or 8 am. On Friday and Saturday mornings, I write, read or exercise. Studies show that it takes an average of 66 times to create a habit. Then you don’t think about it anymore. You just do. Today I just do. Like Whitney Houston in So Emotional.

4. A blog lets you take control. The world is full of gatekeepers who are trying to keep you out. They are trying to not let you in up in da club you’d like to be in. I prefer to make my own club. I love musicians who put their music on YouTube. Artists who put their work on Etsy. And Dancers who show off on TikTok. Blogs let writers show off what they can do without anyone else getting a veto vote. The most beautiful thing about technology today is that it empowers you to create and share. So, create and share any way you can.

5. You can be read around the world. I publish my blog on WordPress. This platform is read all over the planet. Today, my writings have been read in over 120 different countries. That’s pretty crazy. This past Valentine’s Day I wasn’t scheduled to publish anything. I was just going to enjoy being in love. But I had an idea on my drive to work. So as soon as I got to work I sat down and hammered out that additional idea and posted it right away. Within 2 hours that idea I had on my commute had been read in 30 countries. That’s wild. That’s WordPress. (That should be their new tagline.) (No it shouldn’t.)

A circle of my people.

6. It’s not about who you know. Before starting my blog and launching The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, I read The Little Black Book of Connections by Jeffery Gitomer. In his book, he writes, ‘It’s not who you know. It’s who knows you.’ I took that to heart. By writing this blog I have been able to reach and connect with far more people than I could have met on my own. This has brought opportunities my way that I never would have had without the blog. That compounds over time. Like Compound W.

7. I think differently now. I have always been a creative thinker. I have always had a lot of ideas. But by writing a blog and needing to have new ideas to share 3 days a week you begin finding ideas everywhere. When I was a kid Tootsie Roll had a commercial with a jingle that said, “Everything I think I see become a Tootsie Roll to me.’ And the kid in the commercial saw Tootsie Roll-shaped things everywhere. Now, I am like that kid. Except, instead of seeing Tootsie Rolls I see business lessons, creative lessons, marketing lessons, and the ever-popular life lessons, everywhere. My finder is finely tuned to detecting lessons because of the blog. That has been one of the greatest gifts of writing this thang.

8. The Blog Was a Gateway Drug. I didn’t know it in the beginning, but the blog was just the start of something bigger. Eventually, all that writing built into more. I have now published a book, and have more books in the works. I don’t know how far this will go. I guess we’ll find out together.

The first time I held my own book. I didn’t know yet not to cover up my name.

9. Getting Paid To Write. All the blogging I do is free to read. I have never made any money directly from any of my blog posts. But people who read the blog encouraged me to write a book. So I did. And while writing a 50,000-word book is more challenging than writing a 500-word blog post, it is a natural extension of what I have been doing for 6 years. Three months ago I published my first book titled What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? with Ripples Media. Now I get paid a royalty every time someone buys a book. Which is exciting. Because it demonstrates that I am providing others with value through my writing. Which is rewarding in multiple ways.

Me at a recent book talk at the Milwaukee Athletic Club.

10. Getting Paid to Speak Throughout my career I have spoken to many different groups. But since writing my book the opportunities have mushroomed. Despite having written 700 blog posts, it was the next step of writing a book that has made people seek me out for speaking engagements. Today I have paid speaking engagements lined up into August and September. By paid engagements, I mean that I am either being paid directly to speak, or the organization I am speaking to is buying books for attendees, or some combination of the two. The key learning here is that I wouldn’t have these opportunities through blogging alone. But I wouldn’t have written the book if it weren’t for the blog. Which means that first, you have to get started. Then you have to keep pushing yourself to the next level for greater rewards.

Key Takeaway

A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. And to get to 700 blog posts you have to first write one. But if you create a good habit it will compound over time, leading to bigger and better results and open doors to new opportunities. I don’t know where all of this will lead. But I am certainly glad I started 6 years ago. I encourage you to start that thing you have always wanted to do by taking that critical first step. If you have already created a good habit and developed some positive, value-creating work, ask yourself what’s next? Keep challenging yourself to take that next step. And make it worth writing about.

> For more of my lessons on blogging check out these past posts:

What I have learned about blogging after 200 posts.

12 things I’ve learned from writing 300 blog posts.

+To see where all this writing has led check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say?

Start with 1 blog post and you just may end up with your own book in 3 formats.

Start with a script to make sure you stay on the rails.

A surprising number of humans have a major fear of public speaking. Or maybe it’s just surprising if you are not one of them. I have no issue giving a speech, presentation or eulogy. Although I do limit eulogies to one per person.

I once had a supervisor ask me if I ever got nervous about public speaking. I replied, ‘I get nervous that they’ll cut me off.’ But a major reason I feel comfortable speaking in front of others is that I prepare.

When I address an audience I often begin in a way that feels very informal. Usually there is some kind of ice breaker or introductory humor. But what appears to be a casual start to my talks is designed.

I learned many years ago that my energy and my eagerness to talk about anything can work against me if I am not careful. I can start a presentation or speech hard and fast with loads of enthusiasm. But that can approach can feel like bull riding, with lots of surprising jumps and turns, but not much forwards progress.

To control the story flow, and make sure I hit the key points I need to hit upfront, I use a special technique: I always script my opening.

Even if I am only given a brief moment to prepare to speak I use all the time I have to craft my opening. I know the first word, sentence, and paragraph, cold. (Which means I have it memorized, not the my knowledge is temperature-dependent.)

I have found that if the first 60 seconds of my talks are predetermined, everything goes well. I spend time learning and perfecting that opening. And by delivering that well, I know I am staying on track. Then, like a freight train, I find my rhythm and follow the track all the way to the destination.

Key Takeaway

Whenever you speak in public script your opening. By organizing your introductory words and ideas you will point your speech, presentation, or toast in the intended direction. When the beginning goes well, it is easy to relax, enjoy and pick up momentum as you roll. Preparation is the best way to minimize your fear or anxiety. And it’s the best way to do your best every time you talk.

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

Why I take my mom to work with me every day.

When I was a kid my Mom was my public speaking coach. Not that I wanted one. But my Mom insisted that public speaking was an important life skill. And if she did one thing right in her parenting role, she was going to have kids who knew how to speak well in front of others. And if she did one thing wrong, it would be that those kids wouldn’t know how to stop talking.

Jill Albrecht knows a thing or two about public speaking. She is a funny, energetic and dynamic woman who comes alive on stage. When I was a young boy she was involved in the Jaycettes, which was the women’s version of the Jaycees, a leadership and development organization. And every year the Jaycettes held a public speaking competition.

I remember my mom entering the local competition, and to my surprise and delight, she won. She moved on to the Wisconsin state competition, and won that too. That win qualified her for the national competition in Cincinnati. I was excited to go, and hoped to see WKRP, and meet Loni Anderson (who went to high school with my Aunt Carol).

The national competition, which was held in a large auditorium in downtown Cincinnati, was the first time I had ever seen my Mom deliver her speech in public. And I couldn’t believe how good she was. She commanded the stage. Her pace, her pauses and her power were mesmerizing. The way she emphasized key words and phrases made you underline those important words in your head too. Her masterful use of hand gestures made her fun to watch. And her effective use of eye contact made it feel as if her message was intended specifically for me. Like when she shot me daggers in church.

Then, after all the speakers were finished, and the judges had a moment to confer, the top finishers were announced. And the last person announced, with the top score, and winner of the national speaking competition, was Jill Albrecht. My Mom! And in the back of the auditorium, I practically exploded with pride as my Mom took center stage to rousing applause to accept her award. My Mom was a baller!

My Career

Throughout my career in advertising, I have given thousands of presentations. In fact, I have already guest-lectured to two college classes this week, and it is only Wednesday morning. In other words, I use my Mom’s public speaking lessons practically every day.

But I also pass those speaking and performing lessons that my Mom taught me on to others. Over the course of my career, I have directed performances by well-known TV personalities like Rachael Ray. I have directed NASCAR drivers including Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kevin Harvick, and Danica Patrick. And I have even directed movie star Julia Roberts. And every time I provide guidance on how to deliver a line, I am channeling my Mom.

San Francisco

Two weeks ago I flew to San Francisco to film the CEO of one of The Weaponry’s great clients. This CEO is a rockstar. The company she co-founded is now a $10 billion company, and taking off like a rocket. As we worked together she soaked up direction like a moisture-wicking workout shirt. And on multiple occasions she stopped and asked me how I would say a line or a phrase, noting that she liked the way that I delivered the lines.

As I sat in the CEO’s downtown corner office, where pictures of her with President Obama hung on the wall (she has met him 3 times) I couldn’t help but recognize that it wasn’t my direction she liked. It was my Mom’s. It was the lessons on style, pace, and emphasis that she taught me as a young boy that I was simply passing along. Like a family recipe.

Happy Birthday

Today is my Mom’s 71st birthday. Today also marks the 24th anniversary of my career. I know this because I started my first job on my Mom’s birthday. And today I recognize how valuable her lessons on public speaking have been to my career. They helped me as I interviewed for jobs. They helped me as I presented ideas to clients. They helped me in new business pitches. They helped me as I gave speeches and lectures. And they helped me direct major celebrities and rockstar CEOs.

Key Takeaway

The lessons we teach others can benefit them for a lifetime. Keep teaching and sharing what you know. Empower others with your skills, knowledge and life lessons. You never know how many people you may positively impact in the process.

Thank you Mom. You have directed me well. Happy Birthday. Love, Adam

The kind of payment you should expect to receive as a speaker.

Throughout my career I have done a lot of public speaking. I frequently get requests to do presentations to businesses and professional organizations. I guest lecture a few times each year to college classes. I really enjoy being able to offer value by sharing what I know. In fact, I have a blog dedicated to sharing my learnings. And you are reading it right now. #meta.
I never want people to walk away from one of my talks thinking it was just ok. That’s why I think about offering value in my talks through the 3 Es.

My 3 Es of Public Speaking

  1. Education I try to teach people something they didn’t know. It could be information they didn’t have. Or a new perspective or philosophy that makes them think in a new way.
  2. Energy I always try to offer energy. It’s much easier for an audience to pay attention and learn something when they are awake. So I make it awfully hard to sleep during one of my talks.
  3. Entertainment I try to make my talk interesting. I use humor and storytelling. And I use liberal amounts of Surprisium. Which is the element of surprise. (I discovered that in my high school chemistry class.)

Chickety Check Yourself

When preparing to give a talk I always check to make sure I have all 3 Es in my presentation. It’s how I ensure that I am offering value. Because when I offer real value to others I know I will receive real value in return.

The Payment For A 3-E Talk

If you are wondering what kind of payment you should expect to receive for your public speaking, here is the payment I recently received for a guest lecture I gave to 35 students in Erin Napier’s integrated marketing communications class at Marquette University.

‘I had to email you to send a massive “thank you” for the presentation you gave to my advertising class, it was absolutely killer and it will leave a lasting impact on how I go about my future. Between you and me that was the most engaged I was in this class all year! (You are the type of guy Id love to sit down and have a conversation about life with)
From the moment you entered the room I noticed I had a lot of the same personality traits you shared with us and I am now, so excited to see what I can do with them. You showed me how to use the talents I was born with and use it to my advantage.
The way you asked us a little about ourselves was amazing because it shows that you are interested in what we have to say. Who doesn’t love talking about themselves?!
I learned so much in the short time you spent with us and from the bottom of my heart I really appreciate it and I wish you the best of luck with everything in your life and hopefully someday we cross paths again.’
‘Just wanted to say the presentation was great and one of the most interesting I’ve seen in my time at Marquette. On another note, i have a start up I’ve been working on with a buddy of mine and was curious if you’d be willing to connect one day and give some thoughts/ feedback. Either way, you crushed it tonight and hope we can connect in the future.’

‘Thanks for speaking tonight. Your talk made me want to quit my day job.’

‘Hey Adam, I am NAME CHANGED TO PROTECT THE LACK OF PROOFREADING, I am in Erin Napier’s advertising class that you spoke to last night.m (if you need a reminder of how I am, I was the NICKNAME I GAVE THE STUDENT IN CLASS). I really enjoyed your talk and I related to your engery and passion for the topic so I wanted to reach out and connect. Thanks’

‘Hi Adam. I enjoyed your presentation during my advertising class last Tuesday. You had mentioned to connect on LinkedIn if I was possibly interested in future opportunities. Thanks for volunteering your time and sharing your insight.’

‘This was the first time all semester I paid attention to a guest speaker. That was awesome.’

‘Hey Adam! I am the perfectionist from Pewaukee! (From Erin’s Advertising class.)
I wanted to thank you again for an awesome presentation last night. You have an amazing zeal for life which is not only refreshing to see, but inspirational as well.’

Adam: Again, thank you for your wonderful presentation last night. As usual, my students were mesmerized. You represent real world perspective which is difficult at times to bring into the classroom. I also appreciate that you provided some perspective on the DNC project.

It was also delightful to have Sara attend. She is a great example for my athletes in the room in how balancing their time between academics and preparing for post college starts now. Please feel free to bring members of your team again.
Erin

Key Takeaway

When you speak, expect to give. Provide value by educating and entertaining. Do it with energy. And when you do your job well you should expect to get paid with wonderful feedback from your audience. That positive feedback alone makes it all worthwhile.

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