Are you getting to the root of your problems?

On Friday night a storm came through Southeastern Wisconsin and knocked out our power like Mike Tyson, pre-face tattoo. The combination of wind, lightning, and rain was more than our grid could handle. As a result, we had a very Amish Friday night.

Five hours later, when the power was finally restored at about 11pm, our internet, cable, and phone didn’t come back on. My wife tried unplugging the modem. She tried disconnecting and reconnecting the coaxial cables. But nothing helped. So we blew out the candles and oil lamps in our little house on the prairie. We tucked Laura, Mary, and Carrie in. And Ma and I went to bed.

Saturday morning we tried rebooting the stuff again. But still nothing. I asked my neighbor Paul if his bundle was functional. (No innuendo intended.) And it was. Which meant the problem was likely at our house.

We called Spectrum, our bundle supplier, and they told us we were the only ones with the outage. They sent a re-booty signal to try to get things going. But it didn’t work.

So they lined up a tech to come find the problem. But he wouldn’t arrive until Monday at 5pm. I assumed the delay was because he was coming from another state, by horse.

Then my wife had an a-ha. She said the last time she called about a problem the Spectrum service rep told her our modem was very old and likely the issue. So Dawn called Spectrum again, and they agreed that we should swap our modem for a new one.

So I drove to downtown Milwaukee on Saturday morning to initiate a modem transplant. I came home, plugged in the fresh new Modem and router, and still nothing. I felt like Yukon Cornelius licking his pick ax while looking for gold and tasting only gravel.

So we waited out the rest of Saturday, Sunday, and Monday without our bundle of digital joy.

Monday at 5 pm we were excited to finally get our bundle back. But the tech didn’t show up. At 6 pm he still wasn’t there. In fact, he didn’t arrive until 9:30 pm.

When he entered our home he asked to see where the cable came into the house. I took him to the basement and showed him the cabley-wirey area by the fuse box that seemed to be the nerve center of our home.

The tech immediately announced, ‘Your amplifier isn’t working. It probably got zapped in the storm. I’ll go grab a new one from my truck.’

He went out to the truck, got a new amplifier, installed it, and everything came back on.

Key Takeaway

Get to the root of the problem. Know where it starts. When you discover and address the core issue, everything changes. Actions become easier and more productive. And your situation improves right away.

In business and in life we don’t always dig deep enough to get to the root issue. We find other issues to address. We address symptoms. We find secondary, easier issues to deal with. But not the root causes.

Surround yourself with people who are great problem solvers. Find people who think scientifically, and can go beyond the obvious issues to find the underlying causes. Learn how they analyze and diagnose root problems. Adopt their methods. And your problem-solving value will increase dramatically.

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

Where were you Saturday night?

Where were you last night? Were you at home with family or friends?  Were you decorating for Christmas? Watching a holiday movie? Watching football? Or maybe watching a holiday movie about decorating Christmas footballs?

Chances are that whatever you were doing it wasn’t very stressful. Because as Saturdays go, the Saturday night of Thanksgiving weekend is about as relaxing and as far from work as most people get.

Working For the Weekend

Last night I was at work.

Not working from home. Not catching up on emails or sending witty-but-heartfelt holiday notes to clients. I was in the office, downtown Milwaukee, taking care of real business issues.

Why WiFi? Why?

Last Tuesday afternoon the wi-fi at the Milwaukee office of The Weaponry, the advertising and idea agency I launched in 2016, was not properly wi-ing or fi-ing. It made for a frustrating afternoon. Wednesday morning was no better. So I called our internet provider and spent an hour and a half trying to get things fixed. But no dice. And no wi-fi.

The Repair

They internet company (what our forefathers and foremothers used to call the cable company, or the phone company) couldn’t get anyone over to fix our issue last Wednesday. But they could get someone over on Thursday afternoon, right during my Thanksgiving meal. I had to turn that time slot down or I may have been the turkey on the table at the Thanksgiving feast at my house.

I asked what the earliest available appointment was on Monday. They told me they didn’t have a business appointment opening until Thursday, December 5th!

The Internet Era

That just wouldn’t work. We are an incredibly busy business and need to be fully operational Monday morning. In the 2000s, internet access is as core to an advertising agency’s operations as Martinis were in the 1960s, marijuana in the 1970s, cocaine in the 1980s, Prozac and flannel in the 1990s, and coffee in the 2000s.

I asked the internet company’s scheduler, ‘Do you have any openings over the weekend?’ He replied that they had options on Saturday. Because nobody is actually working on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. I was scheduled to be out of town on Saturday, so I asked for the latest possible appointment. Which was actually later than I expected.

Driving back through the woods and over the river.

I rearranged my plans to drive home 3 hours from visiting family in Central Wisconsin. It snowed, sleeted or rained the whole way. I got home and dropped off my family. The Wisconsin vs Minnesota football game was on TV, but I had to DVR it, and avoid social media and texts to avoid spoiling the result. I then drove 30 minutes to the office, by myself, through cold, blowing sheets of rain, on a Saturday night, during a holiday weekend.

And I couldn’t have been happier.

Living The Entrepreneurial Dream

When I became an entrepreneur I signed up to do the hard things. I declared that I would take on anything and everything that needed to be done to make my business work. I had always dreamed of creating my own ad agency. I would work nights, weekends, holidays, or on my birthday to make the business successful.

I Gotta Go

I had to go in on Saturday night. We have 18 clients counting on us to deliver. We have loads of work to create. We have major projects due in December. We have new businesses requesting proposals. The demand for our thinking is high. Like a lumberjack must have a hearty breakfast, we must have robust internet access!


I met Rick, the Internet Magic Man, in the dark, rainy parking lot in front of my building. We went up to the office together. We were the only humans in the whole building. He got to work on our internet issue. I sat down at my desk and got busy with work due this week.

Me and Rick, making things right on Saturday night!

Rick Rolling

Within an hour Rick had the problem diagnosed, installed a replacement doohickey (we needed a new modem), and the wi-fi came flooding through my computer. You could practically hear the business roar back to life. All was right with the world. This business that I am responsible for once again had all it needed to make magic happen. And I had another example of the things you have to be prepared to do when you are an entrepreneur.

Key Takeaway

There is nothing better than living into your own dreams. The demands, the time commitment, the menial jobs, and the hoops you jump through are all worth it when you know you are doing what you always wanted to do. When you are living into your vision for your own life a holiday weekend trip into the office is a small price to pay. Because there are things worse than sacrifice. Like not having anything worth sacrificing for.

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