Before I launched the advertising and ideas agency, The Weaponry, I read an article about Pharrell Williams in Fast Company. In the article, the famously happy singer, songwriter, and producer talked about his success and inspirations that have helped him along the way. He didn’t mention the Arby’s hat.
Williams raved about the book The AlchemistbyPaulo Coelho. In fact, he claimed that this book was like his Bible. And since The Bible is my Bible, I figured The Alchemist was probably also worth reading. So I bought a used copy. And I devoured it. (In a literary way, not a digestive track-way.)
The book helped me think about the story of my life and my personal legend. It made me start paying attention to all the signs the universe was sending me, encouraging me to follow my own path. This was highly valuable because at the time the universe started putting up neon signs everywhere. Like Reno.
Those signs were telling me that I should launch a new ad agency. So I did, in part because The Alchemist helped me recognize the signs, and taught me that when you want something enough the whole universe conspires to help you get it. (Except maybe for short sellers. Those people love a good dumpster fire.)
Shortly after reading The Alchemist, I started my entrepreneurial adventure. That was 7 years ago. Entrepreneurship led me to blog. Which led me to write my first book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? Which has led me to amazing speaking opportunities. Which has made me think a lot about what’s next for me and my personal story.
So I recently picked up The Alchemist again. I eagerly read through it in 3 days. But I also recently read a quote (or maybe it was a fortune cookie) that said You never read the same book twice. That was definitely true of my reread of The Alchemist.
This time around I didn’t feel like I was just starting my journey. I felt like I was in the thick of writing my story every day, with the universe as my co-author. And the story keeps getting better. Today I feel a little like Clark Kent or Bruce Banner must have felt once they began understanding their superpowers. Except my superpowers are more like smiling, offering encouragement, and dropping random pop culture references. But I’ll take what I can get, yes I’ll take what I can get. (And then she looked at me with big brown eyes and said…)
Read The Alchemist. Or re-read it if you have read it before. You will find something new and inspiring. I am sure there are signs the universe is giving you right now that you don’t recognize. This book will help you see.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
A year ago this week, I published my first book, titled What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? The response to the book has been extremely rewarding. People have appreciated the book enough to write great reviews and gift the book to others. And so far, no school districts, governments, or Tipper Gores have banned or burned the book.
But over the past year, there is one question I have been asked over and over, again. (Like Tim McGraw and Nelly.)
“When is the audiobook version of your book coming out?”
I would love to have an audio version of the book. I listen to audiobooks all the time. They are great to listen to when I am driving. Because I have found that when I read regular books while driving bad things tend to happen.
However, I wrote this book in my writing style, which also mirrors my speaking style. My ‘voice’ contains regular, random asides and uncited pop culture references. Because I wanna know who really gets my jokes. (And I wanna know, have you ever seen the rain?)
Because I wrote the book in my voice, readers have insisted that I also record the audiobook. Which means that I have to find the time to read and record the audio version.
Recording the audiobook entails reading for about an hour each morning, day after day, until I finish the 290-page book. I would read first thing in the morning to ensure a consistent sound to my voice. And I expect I can only read for about an hour before fatigue would make me sound less enthusiastic than listeners deserve.
I am considering making the recording an End-of-2022 Project. But before I wake up and read my book to myself and my recording device for a couple weeks I have 2 questions for you.
1. Do you listen to audiobooks?
2. If so, where and when do you listen to them?
Please leave your response below, text me at 614-256-2850 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you provide your feedback, and I do record the audio version, I’ll include you in my acknowledgments section of the book. Heck, you can even game the system and share this with all your friends and family. Whoever responds will get included. (If no one responds and I record the book anyway, I will dedicate the book to crickets. And the sound of silence.)
It’s easy to make the mistake of creating products, services, or entire businesses with no natural audience. Before you jump into creating something new, do a little market research to see if there is an audience interested in what you are about to create. That way you ensure you invest your time, energy, and money into projects expected to offer good returns.
*If you know someone who would like to be mentioned in an audiobook, please share this with them.
Let me be totally clear with you. As the author of What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? I am totally biased towards this book. After all, I shared some of the best advice and nuggets of inspiration I have ever received in this book. Which is why I think What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media is the perfect Spring Break book.
So, what exactly makes this book so perfectly Spring Breaky? I’m glad you asked via that last sentence I wrote.
It contains 80 valuable life lessons the universe is trying to share with you. So if you are tired of books that only contain between 1 and 79 life lessons, this book will finally live up to your demanding expectations.
2. It was written to help readers learn a little, laugh a little, and lift a little. And who couldn’t use more L’s in their life?
3. The book fits easily into carry-on, checked, and road trip luggage. Best of all, this book is book-sized. So it is designed to fit easily anywhere books typically fit easily.
4. It’s packed with inspirational quotes from such notable thinkers as JFK, Peter Druker, Lincoln, Annonymous and My Kids. (Who occasionally say really smart and profound things by accident.)
5. You can learn inspirational personal growth techniques in as little as 1 minute of reading. Because this book is like the Minute Rice of Inspirational Books. In fact, you can sneak in full chapters of WDYFCS between naps, kid interruptions, or the cabana boy coming to ask if you would like another pina colada. (Fun fact: Pina Colada literally translated means ‘Ef-yeah I want another pina colada!’)
6. You can simply read the Last Bite summaries at the end of each chapter and get the gist of the book in about 25 minutes. However, the Last Bites are not funny. Because in the bare-bones summations of the Last Bites there was no room for the funny bone.
7. Each chapter provides an easy and actionable life lesson you can implement while still on vacation. Or as soon as you return to your regularly scheduled programming at home.
8. The book is funny. I sprinkled funnies throughout to keep people reading in the same way a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. The humor and pop culture references will have you smiling and laughing. And they will have everyone else asking you ‘What’s so funny?’ If you don’t believe me read this.
9. The book features 82 easy-to-read chapters. So you can read a lot of pages quickly. Which will make you feel like you got something out of that Evelyn Wood speed-reading class.
10. The book itself has a very high SPF rating. Holding it between the sun and your skin will augment your sun protection program. All without lotions, sprays or a zincy schnoz.
Leaving for Spring break without a book is like taking a bath without a rubber ducky. Sure, you could do it. It just wouldn’t be as fun. And there would be no reason to sing that Rubber Ducky song from Burt and Ernie on Sesame Street. So pick up your copy of What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? today. Or find out more about the book and the author at FortuneCookieBook.com.
*If you know someone who could use a good Spring Break book, please share this with them.
+If it is too late to order from Amazon before your spring break, and you are in the Milwaukee area, stop by Winkie’s in Whitefish Bay, or shoot me a message and I’ll get you a book for your trip. I’ll happily sign it for you too.
Life is an all-you-can-eat buffet. And I want to devour it all. My mouth is watering every morning when I wake up. My alarm clock is like Pavlov’s dog’s dinner bell. It has me rising each morning like Drooly Andrews to the sound of that music.
There are 3 areas of life’s buffet that interest me most. And none of them are Charlie Sheen-ian.
My 3 Driving Desires
I want to know everyone.
I want to read everything.
I want to visit everywhere.
I know this trifecta is impossible to accomplish. Probably. I can’t actually go everywhere, read everything and meet everyone. After all, I am not the Pope. (The hat doesn’t work with my hairdo.) But even unfulfilled, these 3 desires are important drivers. Like Donald and Minnie.
These 3 food groups are essential to your growth, wisdom and creativity. These are the 3 great sources of knowledge. The person who devours the most will know the most. Because the more you know about people, places and things the more you know about life. And the more you know about life the more you know yourself.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
In 2005 I went to Iceland during the summer solstice to film a TV show. It was an incredible experience. On the flight from Minneapolis to Reykjavik, I watched what should have been the sunset through my airplane window. But instead of setting, the sun bounced off the horizon and went back up. And I knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.
The sun never set the entire week I was in Iceland. It never got dark. And we never got tired. It was fun and energizing, like being in Vegas. Except the buffets were mostly fish, lamb, and rhubarb.
The atmosphere created a natural high. It was as if we were binging life through the nonstop outdoor activity. However, I couldn’t help but wonder what the counterbalance to this experience was.
I asked our producer Sven (of course his name was Sven) what people did during the winter in Iceland when it was cold and dark for long stretches. He told me that winter was wonderful because people spent a lot of time on their projects. On creativity, reading, art, and making things. And keeping each other warm (wink wink).
The End Of Daylight Savings
Today marks the end of daylight saving time in the United States. Which means it will now be dark by the end of the typical workday. Plus temperatures are dropping and in many parts of the country, snow could arrive any day now. That is unless global warming gives Mother Nature Alzheimers and she forgets.
The Indoor Season
Today we all transition to our indoor season. Which should be just as exciting and interesting as the warm and sunshiney months. Because now is the perfect time to start new projects, or resume those important projects you couldn’t carry while wearing flips flops and bikinis or board shorts.
Now is the time to focus on creating businesses, writing books, reimagining your home, painting, and drawing. Now is the time for making music and playing instruments, even if you’ve never done it before. Because you can learn anything online.
The indoor season is the perfect time to plan your next vacation, your next adventures, or the next chapter of your life. Enjoy the time to think, and to do all the things that thinking inspires you to do.
Reframe the way you see the darker and colder part of the year as the exciting indoor season. Embrace and enjoy all of the additive elements it offers. Tap into your creativity and make new things. Think, read, write, and learn. Challenge yourself to make progress towards larger life goals that demand the type of focus the indoor season affords. And let the sunshine of spring find an even better, happier more fulfilled version of you.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
You are the greatest project you will ever have. As a human being, you are the most complicated machine on Earth. Which means there is no limit to the amount of self-improvement you are capable of.
Your improvements can be highly specific. They can be physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, psychological, philosophical, or professional. But even these broad categories that all end in -al barely scratch the surface.
You can get better at signing your name, walking, selling, replacing an organ, or serving a tennis ball. You can get better at eating hot dogs. Just ask Joey Chestnut. You can get better at streaking. Just ask the dude who invited himself onto the field at Super Bowl LV. Heck, you can get better at eating hot dogs while streaking. And if you do you can probably get a sponsorship deal.
The 2 Ingredients
Regardless of what you want to do better, there are 2 key drivers of self-improvement: the things you learn and the things you do. Because you improve through a combination of knowing better and doing better.
1. The things you learn.
This is all about gaining new information. This can come in many ways.
Reading books, magazines, articles, and reports.
Watching instructional videos
Taking classes and courses.
Learning from others through discussions, conversations, observation, and spying.
Working with a coach or mentor
2. The things you do.
All the knowledge in the world does no good without action. Your actions drive results. Those actions include:
Learn all you can. Then put that new knowledge to work through your deliberate actions. By doing so you will end each day better than you began. You are the greatest project you will ever have. And you are nowhere near finished.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this idea, please share it with them.
I love books. They are like fertilizer for your brain. I like to read them and listen to them. I like to collect books and display them throughout my house. I like books that educate, inspire and entertain. And I just finished a great book that did all 3 of those things in one handy-dandy, hard-covered, Amazon-Prime-delivered package.
The 5-Day Turnaround
My great friend, former co-worker and serial (not cereal) entrepreneur, Jeff Hilimire, somehow stole enough time from his crowded calendar to author a book called The 5-Day Turnaround.
I’ll admit that when I first heard the title of the book I was quite skeptical. I mean, who needs 5 days to turn all the way around? I think the Earth itself only needs like 2 or 3 days to turn around, right?
When I dug into the book I realized it wasn’t about slow-turning humans after all. It was about how to inspire established companies to think more like startups. And how to get corporate leaders to think and behave more like entrepreneurs.
I found this book fascinating. And highly relatable. Because 4 years ago I went from a very large, publicly held organization to a startup. My own startup. And as I launched my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, I noticed how different the 2 organizations were in their approach to, well, approaching things.
Comparing and Contrasting
The 5-Day Turnaround captures the mindset, speed and aggressiveness embodied in a startup, and contrasts it with the cautious, conservative nature of a well established company. The book is written as a fictional novel. Which means that the reader follows the story, and through ahh-smosis, picks up on all the important lessons learned by the story’s floundering corporate character, Matt.
The Pitch. And The Proposal.
The book really kicks into action after an ad agency pitch, when the potential client (Matt), tells the agency that they didn’t win the pitch because their ideas were so good and innovative that the conservative corporation didn’t have the chutzpah to implement them. Which meant the company was likely to choose a lamer agency instead.
However, the agency’s leader, Will, comes up with a daring plan to help Matt transform from a beaten down corporate dog into a daring, entrepreneurial leader within his large organization.
The story is a bit like the Fairy Godmother turning Cinderella into the belle of the ball. Only Cinderella was a cautious middle manager, who became an aggressive, entrepreneurial executive. And in this story Cinderella kept both of his Allen Edmonds wingtips on as he headed for home, at midnight, in his Tesla.
The book is packed with relatable organization challenges. And Will teaches Matt how to overcome them all in just 5 days. Will does this using foundational fundamentals that help organizations and departments grow at startup speed. Which is only slightly slower than ludicrous speed. #wevegoneplaid
The book challenges the assumption that bad things will happen if you take a risk within a large organization. It walks through a worst case scenario to dispel the myth that bad things happen to people who stick their necks out. It encourages readers to become fearless in their thinking and actions. Which is a lesson that benefits everyone.
You Down With PVTV? (yeah you know me!)
The book walks through the importance of establishing your Purpose, Vision, Tenets and Values (PVTV). Which sounds like the local station in the Portland-Vancouver, WA metro area. It even guides you through a process to determine the PVTV for your organization or department. This alone is worth the read.
The book covers such important topics as:
The Do Or Die Mindset
Identifying the right and and wrong people for your organization, based on the PVTV. (I want my PVTV!)
Who Is It For?
This book is great for any leader interested in thinking and acting more like an entrepreneur, even if you never plan to start your own business. The entrepreneurial mindset is confident, inspired and fast-acting (like Tinactin). Which leads to more success, because it creates more opportunities for success.
The 5-Day Turnaround is not just a book you read once. It becomes an easy-to-use reference book that you can pick up anytime for a quick hit of inspiration. It provides a series of valuable guideposts to keep you on course. Plus, it is a quick, easy and engaging read that flies by, allowing you to digest a lot of new information in a short time.
I found a couple of other fun things in this book. A crazy, risk-taking example Jeff mentions in the book was inspired by a meeting Jeff and I had at Proctor & Gamble, that involved a surprise performance from an opera singer. It was weird, and fun, and memorable. #TakingRisks
One of the really fun surprises at the end of this great read was that I found my name in the acknowledgements section. It was the first time I remember receiving a literary shout out. I think the major contribution I provided was simply encouraging Jeff to write the book in English, and number the pages, in order, starting with the smallest numbers.
Thank for writing The 5-Day Turnaround Jeff. Thanks for sharing your insights, experiences and talent with the world. You have been a positive and motivational, and inspiration force for me and so many others. Now, you have inspired me to want to write my own book. I’m thinking of calling it The 4-Day Turnaround. Or maybe 6-Minute Abs.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this book, please share this post with them.
When I was a kid I knew about college. My parents both went to the University of Minnesota (and I still turned out okay). Dartmouth College was across the street from my high school in Hanover, New Hampshire. Everyone from Hanover High School seemed to go to college. There was never a question of whether or not I would go to college. It was just a matter of where. And whether or not I would get kicked out.
After high school I went to the University of Wisconsin. I earned bachelor’s degrees in journalism and psychology. Following college I had many friends who did even more schooling. They got master’s degrees, went to law school or medical school.
I did none of those things. Instead I began to self-educate. I began reading books, not just for entertainment, but for knowledge. I subscribed to various magazines and devoured them monthly. Eventually I learned that devouring reading materials does not mean that you actually eat them. Once I discovered that I began enjoying reading materials significantly more.
There’s Something Happening Here
I started noticing an interesting phenomenon. When I read a book, article or blog that I found valuable there would be a reference to another book, article, blog, vlog or podcast. I would add that new reference to my list of materials to explore. Then, not only would I find great value in that material, I would find another reference to other worthwhile material to explore.
One Thing Leads To Another.
I began compiling a rich list of books, authors, blogs and podcasts that continuously linked me to even more valuable new material. Like the required set of coursework you must take to earn a college degree, my self-directed readings began creating a unique and valuable path forward. Like my own yellow brick road.
Chains and Change
As I followed this chain of knowledge it changed my life in profound ways. I didn’t know it at the time, but my chain of knowledge created my coursework for entrepreneurship. Some of it was inspirational. Some of it was instructional. But each link added profound value.
Boarding The Entrepreneurship
In 2015 I began planning the launch of my own advertising agency. My readings and self education prepared me well for the process. I didn’t need an MBA. Or a business coach. I just needed my own self-directed chain of knowledge. And action.
In the spring of 2016 I launched my own business called The Weaponry. At the same time, I launched this blog to help others build their chain of knowledge.
I have discovered that to accomplish great and difficult feats you don’t have to go back to school, like Rodney Dangerfield or Billy Madison. You simply have to keep adding links to your own chain.
Here are some sources that have provided strong links in my chain of knowledge.
Rich Dad. Poor Dad.
Think And Grow Rich.
TheCash Flow Quadrant
7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Everything by John C. Maxwell
Everything by Jim Collins
Everything by Daniel Pink
The Hard Thing About Hard Things
Talent Is Overrated
Call Me Ted
Pour Your Heart Into it
The One Thing
How I Built This
Side Hustle School
Open For Business
To become the best You that you can be build your own chain of knowledge. Direct your own education. Add to it every day. It will empower you to do great things. Things that you alone are uniquely qualified to do. And please share what you discover with others. Because like Billy Madison, I still have a lot left to learn.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this story, please share it with them.
My childhood friend, Marcus Chioffi, once made an interesting statement about me. He said,
‘Adam would be the best person I know at solitary confinement. He would just entertain himself.’ -Marcus Chioffi
I was reminded of Marcus’s statement on my recent work trip to Bangalore, India. I had two 24-hour travel days: one going to India and one coming back (you probably could have guessed that, but I didn’t want any confusion). I had back to back 10-hour flights each way. And what I did on those 10-hour flights is not as interesting as what I didn’t do.
6 Things I Didn’t Do On My Travels To India.
I didn’t watch any movies.
I didn’t watch any TV.
I didn’t listen to any music.
I didn’t play any games.
I didn’t do any puzzles.
I didn’t mind the travel at all.
Solitary And Confined.
The long flights gave me a lot of time to think, which is one of my favorite hobbies. I watched the flight tracker on the screen in front of me, and I looked out the window. Combined, those two activities provided me with plenty to think about.
I connected dots about global geography. I flew over beautiful places like The Netherlands. I flew over inhospitable places in the Middle East that have been boiling with cranky people. And I realized that I may be cranky too in such a desolate environment.
I finished reading the book Thinking Fast and Slow, about behavioral economics. I read Yes, And…, which is about Second City, and what we can all learn about life and business from improv. My friend, and regular Weapon, Tony Sharpe gave me the book. Thanks Tony.
I also read the body laungauge of a couple of seatmates that said, ‘Don’t talk to me you smiley American! It’s the middle of the night!’ So I didn’t talk to them. Their loss.
The Weaponry has several exciting projects going on right now. So I had a lot of enjoyable work to do. I even texted a project estimate to a new client just after takeoff, because sometimes client service and FAA rules are in opposition.
I also wrote. (In fact, as I write these words I am flying over Thunder Bay, Ontario). I wrote a lot of notes about my trip and my experience. I found almost no time to write when I was in India because my sleep-eat-work* schedule was so dense there was no time for anything else. (*not to be confused with my Eat. Pray. Love. schedule.)
I enjoyed my flights to the other side of the world and back a great deal. They never felt painful, prisony, torturey or claustrophobic. I never felt like I needed to be entertained. I loved having so much time to think, read, write and observe. Most importantly, I never felt like I was killing time. I felt as if I was using the time I had. Which is what I hope to do if I ever do end up in solitary confinement.
Do you have any idea how many books there are in the world? I do. Because I got curious and looked it up. According to The Google, there are 130,000,000 published books. There are also 7300 magazines, and another 1300 daily newspapers in the United States alone. Which means there is no shortage of material for even the world’s hungriest bookworm to digest.
That’s why I am so thankful for everyone who takes a moment of their valuable time to read my blog posts. This includes you. Because it would be impossible for you to read this blog post without reading this blog post. But more importantly, I know there are a lot of other interesting things you could be reading right now.
Why This Matters Today.
Today is my birthday. I have several birthday traditions. One is eating a full can of black olives in one sitting. Seriously. Another is taking time to reflect on my life. Or as the kids would say, ‘Evaluating my current sitch.’ As I reflect on all that I am thankful for today, beyond surviving another year, I am extremely grateful that you have taken the time to read my silly little blog.
I started The Perfect Agency Project in 2015, as I began planning to launch my own advertising agency. I began sharing my ideas, experiences, and random thoughts on advertising, entrepreneurship and self-improvement. And people around the world keep reading up what I am writing down.
So thank you. The time you take out of your own schedule to read my writings is a tremendous gift to me. Not only because you have so many other reading options. But because, whether or not you realize it, your time is your most valuable commodity.
Thank you to everyone who reads, shares, likes and comments on my posts. Thank you to everyone who has subscribed to the Perfect Agency Project. Thank you for investing your time and attention. It is a wonderful gift to me. And I get to enjoy it year round here at The Perfect Agency Project.
My Birthday Request
If you have read this far, please consider leaving a mark (like/hate/thumb-any-direction/comment) in the comment section, so I know who to thank today. I hope you all have a very happy My Birthday, and a fun Memorial Day weekend.