When I tell people that I was a discus and hammer thrower at a Big 10 university it often surprises them. I simply don’t look the part. I am often asked if I was bigger back then. I wasn’t. But I sure tried.
When I was in college I would always eat 3-to 5 plates of food at dinner. In fact, I remember my Grampy Sprau, who was a life-long farmer saying, ‘I have never in my life seen anyone who can eat more food than you can.’ I probably should have been concerned given the fact that this observation came from a man who fattened Angus beef cattle for a living.
Grampy was right. I was really good at eating large quantities. My friends frequently encouraged me to enter eating challenges where if you eat the entire Belly Blaster or Gastronormous Burger you get the whole meal, and diabetes, for free.
A couple of decades of hindsight have revealed that there was a major, long-term advantage to such eating. But it certainly wasn’t caloric.
Because I ate so much in college, the people who I sat down with at the start of my meals were usually long gone after I finished plate #2. Which meant that new people would come to sit and eat with me. Or I would grab another plate and sit down with another table of people.
As a result, I would eat dinner every night with twice as many people as everyone else. This just seemed like fun at the time. We were simply hanging out, talking, eating, and stacking empty plates.
However, as I now look back at that time, after years of grabbing coffee, professional networking lunches, and business dinners, I recognize the real value. I was developing relationships and maintaining friendships with twice as many people as everyone else. I was doing what they would later call networking without even trying. It was a product of my need for food. And my naturally social nature.
As a result, I developed a lot of strong friendships in college. The value of those relationships has multiplied over time, just like any good investment.
Today, I realize that my strong and supportive network has been key to my entrepreneurial success. But more importantly, it has contributed significantly to my happiness and sense of belonging. Because at the end of the day, those are the things that matter most.
Enjoy the social benefits of eating with others this Thanksgiving. Take advantage of every opportunity you have to meet more people and strengthen your relationships. Engage in discussions during your meals. Ask questions. Share conversation starters. Be a facilitator. As a result, you can help create shared experiences around your table that will turn into memories that will be enjoyed for a lifetime.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
Life is like a whole roasted turkey. You know, like the one you ate yesterday for Thanksgiving. It’s up to you to decide how much meat you are willing to go after. And how much you are willing to leave. But make no mistake, there is far more available than most people are willing to extract.
We all start with the easy and obvious. The big hunks of opportunity and enjoyment that everyone focuses on. Those pieces are so easy to find that they can fool you into thinking that the big stuff is the only stuff. Like Oreo Double Stuf.
But then there is all the other less obvious meat that life offers us that is often even better than what typically steals the spotlight. It requires more work and exploration to find. It rewards the curious and open-minded. It rewards those willing to get messy. And it is well worth the effort. Just ask Andy Dufresne.
The act of exploring for more is rewarding in itself. Finding the hidden value is extremely satisfying. Adding it to your life creates endless advantages.
To get the most out of life dig deeper. Look closer. Find all that was served up for you to find. The return on the time you invest is well worth the energy. The greatest treasures are not sitting on the surface. They were saved to be enjoyed by the few willing to put in the work to seek them out.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
Thankfully, we have made it to Thanksgiving 2020. But this year the holiday will feel much different. Unless, of course, you are a turkey. But then again, almost everything about this year has been different. By March it was clear that this year was going to be like a box of choc-o-lates. Because in 2020, you never know what you’re gonna get, Jen-ny.
While it is easy to write the year off as a total loss, we shouldn’t overlook the many positives we all have in our lives. That’s why I took the 2020 20/20 Challenge, and spent 20 minutes listing 20 things I am thankful for in 2020. I hope you do too. Because like milk, reflecting on the things you are thankful for does a body good.
20 things I am thankful for in 2020
My Family When you are locked up at home for months on end, the quality of your experience is directly related to the quality of your cell mates. And I have thoroughly enjoyed the additional time with my family this year. My wife Dawn and children Ava, Johann and Magnus have made Albrecht Island a fun and funny place to be in 2020.
2. My Health Thankfully, I have been healthy this year. Healthier than most years in fact. Because I haven’t been close enough to anyone to catch their cooties. I have been masking up like the Lone Ranger. I have been hand sanitizing and 6-feet-apartizing. I have eaten a lot of doctor repellant, also known as apples. And I am thankful that it all seems to be helping.
3. My Bicycle My Cannondale was like my trusty steed this year. While my gym access was gone with the Schwinn, my bike provided both exercise and an escape into the beautiful and quiet Wisconsin countryside. I rode so much this summer I felt like Lance Armstrong. Only without the lying, cheating and testicular cancer.
4. Hilton Head Island After cancelling Spring Break and being locked at home for 3 months, in June my family and I road-tripped from Milwaukee to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. We stayed right on the beach, at our usual spot, as if 2020 was a usual year. The ocean, sun, and vibe of the island were a welcomed relief from our time at home. And somehow the jellyfish stings seemed to sting a little less this year. Even without urine. Thanks Covid-19!
5. Our Western Road Trip While our beach vacation was nice, our 2020 western road trip was epic. We put 4100 miles on our Family Truckster. We hit The Badlands, The Black Hills, Yellowstone, Idaho, Bozeman, Glacier National Park, Teddy Roosevelt National Park, and the bright lights of Fargo, North Dakota. That trip was so full of wow and wonder, like Billy Joel, it made us forget about life for a while.
6. School Mostly In-Person While our kids were schooling at home like everyone else from March-June, this fall has been an in-school success. My kids have all been learning in-person this fall for all but a 2 week stretch, when their schools transitioned to at-home learning to cool the covid flare ups like Preparation H.
7. My Children’s Development I noticed something interesting in my children this year. And it wasn’t a long cotton swab up their nostrils. Something about the isolation of 2020 seemed to allow them to focus on themselves, their interests, their identities and their individual growth. Each of them grew more confident and self-assured through this forced experiment. #ParentalPandemicPositives
8. Entrepreneurship I began my entrepreneurial adventure in 2016. And while I have loved everything about it from the start, 2020 made the benefits abundantly clear. Not only have I felt in control of my own job, career and income, I have have been able to help provide a steady place to work for the rest of my team at The Weaponry. I once heard that Bill Gates insisted on keeping a year of salary on hand for every Microsoft employee to help weather storms. So I followed Bill’s lead, and it has provided a major sense of stability in an unstable time.
9. My Work Teammates Speaking of work, my teammates have been ah-may-zing. I couldn’t be more thankful for The Weapons at The Weaponry, and all they have done to deliver for our clients this year. We are having our best year ever because of their hard and smart work.
10. Foosball Over the first couple months of the lockdown my kids and I played foosball (or what my French Canadian friends call baby-foot) every single night. It was a fun cherry on top of our days. Not only did we have a lot of fun, we all got a lot better. #PutThatOnYourCollegeApplicationKids
11. Spring Hikes In the spring, when everything but the grocery store seemed to be closed, and toilet paper was more valuable than a vaccine, my family and I started hiking on the weekends. The 1200-mile Ice Age Trail winds across Wisconsin, and we would knock off several miles of the trail every weekend. It was a fun adventure at a time when there wasn’t much adventuring to be done.
12. My Clients In a year that went sideways for so many, my clients have been solid as a rock, like Ashford & Simpson. The trust they have put in us has been humbling. We have gained 8 new clients since March. And only one of those new clients joined us because their former agency went out of business during the pandemic.
13. This Blog Writing this blog has been a great way to share my thoughts on so much of what has happened this year, including covid, the economy, George Floyd, and the election. Starting my morning by writing has kept me thinking about the big picture, and not overwhelmed by the small things. Plus it allowed me to share things I thought were funny when I wasn’t seeing any humans outside my family. Thank you for reading my blog. I hope it has provided a laugh and a positive perspective in 2020.
14. Investment Opportunities The tanking of the stock market has provided great opportunities for long term investors. Oil stocks have been in the toilet, and I have been diving in after them, figuratively speaking of course. I have taught my children about the opportunities to invest this year. And my 2 junior investors have almost doubled their money, buying airlines, restaurants, banks and oil. #MoreRichDadThanPoorDad
15. Beautiful Summer Weather This summer in Wisconsin we enjoyed perhaps the most perfect summer weather of my life. It made everything else about 2020 better. Thanks Mother Nature and Mark Baden.
16. Zoom We have used Zoom at work to connect with teammates and collaborate with clients. But the best part of Zoom is connecting with friends and family. Last night I Zoomed with a group of my closest friends from high school for over 2 hours. I regularly Zoom with my college track teammates and with family members. It is the next best thing to being together. Because when you can’t be in the room, Zoom. (That one is free Zoom Marketing Department.)
17. Backyard Bass The pond in my backyard has some great largemouth bass. I spent many an evening this summer fishing for largemouth from my backyard. Which felt like winning at life.
18. Canoes and Kayaks My family has 3 kayaks and a 17-foot canoe. We spent a lot of time paddling this year. Especially in the spring and early summer when we had a lot of rain and the rivers were ripping. My son Magnus and I got tangled in some windfall trees on a trip in June and Tipppedacanoe like Tyler too. It was one of the great thrills and stories of the year.
19. Tackle Football My sons Johann and Magnus played tackle football this fall. They both had full seasons, were healthy and had no covid issues. It marked our true return to normalcy. Except for the fact that even the face masks on their helmets had face masks this year.
20. Innovation There was more innovation created and implemented this year than any other year of my life. The way the people of Earth have stepped up and quickly found solutions to covid-related problems has been amazing. While we have advanced in major ways this year, the full impact of all we have learned will likely not be recognized for years to come. And we are going to be great at the next pandemic.
21. My Zyliss Sandwich Tool: I have a knifey-spready tool that is amazing for a regular sandwich maker like me. It is great for spreading mayonnaise, peanut butter, jelly and rumors. It is excellent for cutting the sandwich after you create it too. This thing is dreamy. In fact, I make sandwiches just to be able to use it. It will make a great Christmas gift for the sandwich maker on your list. (This has been an unpaid endorsement. But boy, do I endorse it.)
The way you experience life starts with your mindset. Even in 2020 there is much to be thankful for. Take a few minutes to reflect on the good in your life. And you will find even more good ahead. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving. And thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate your time.
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2019 has been great to me. My health is great. My relationships are great. My family is great. My prospects are great. And my go to word is apparently great. As I reflect on all that I am thankful for this is what I found.
15 Things I am Thankful For This Thanksgiving
1. The first laugh of the day. My friend Diana Keough, whom I share Milwaukee, Ohio, Atlanta and Columbia, Missouri connections with, introduced me to the concept of the first belly laugh of the day. I have since noted the first laugh of the day. It is something I am grateful for every day. And I try not to think too much about my belly.
2. Laughing until I cry. This is one of my favorite experiences in life. I have done it twice in the past 2 weeks. One of the times was when I found out that the number one song in America when my co-worker Sarah was conceived was Boys 2 Men’s smash hit, I’ll make love to you. (Thanks Paul and Debbie) You can find your own conception song here.
3. Travel. Travel is my favorite. It opens the mind, enhances creativity and empathy. And it creates life long memories. Or at least until the dementia sets in. My family and I did some really fun travel this year. Including a road trip that took us from Wisconsin to San Antonio, where I wanted to start a pie shop called Pie Alamo. We went to the Pacific Northwest. We visited British Columbia. Which I would have named Canadian Columbia, but nobody asked me.
4. Randomly seeing people I know far from home. I love running into people I know randomly. It makes the world feel smaller and full of surprises. This year I ran into friends totally randomly and unplanned in Seattle (Andy Bosley), Fort Worth (The Smith Family of Mequon), at basketball tournaments (college teammates Bobby Smith and Bobby Myers), at a hotel in Chicago (PJ Cannon) and at Ikea (Terry Schmitt).
5. Great new books. I love to read and learn. I am thankful to authors who write great books. And I am thankful to discover those books. This year I have added some really great reads to my library.
6. Seeing my two oldest friends in the world. My first memories in life were when I lived on a farm near the shore in Lincroft, New Jersey. My bestest friend was Steve Withycombe. I saw Steve in Seattle this summer for the first time since 2002.
My actual oldest, oldest friend in the world, is Andy Shirk who lives in Dallas. I thought we met on our own in Columbus, Ohio in 2010. However, soon after we met our parents dropped the bomb on us that we actually have known each other since I was born. Our parents lived in the same apartment complex at the time in Mansfield, Ohio, back in the 1970s. And they had pictures to prove it. I saw Andy and his hilarious wife, Megan in Dallas this spring. I am super thankful to have friendships that have lasted over 40 years.
7. The Weaponry The advertising and idea agency that I started in 2016 continues to be one of the greatest chapters in my life. I love our team of Adam (Henry), Kristyn (K-Lil), Kevin (Lower Kayse), Sarah (Ice), Simon (The Harper), Jeanne (Genie), Calla (Super) and Sally (Eggs). Plus our like-family-members Diana, Sue, Gary, Julie, Monica, Tony, John and Todd.
8. Clients It’s awfully hard to play advertising agency if you don’t have clients. I am a volcano of thankful lava for everyone who has trusted us enough to work with us in 2019.
9. My Family I am endlessly thankful for my wife Dawn and kids Ava, Johann and Magnus. I am at truly at home any place where the 5 of us are all together.
But wait, there’s more!
My parents, Robert and Jill, and my sisters Heather, Alison, Donielle and their families are amazing, and I got to see everyone this year.
But it doesn’t stop there!
My Mom is one of 9 kids (The Spraus) and my dad is one of 12 (The Albrechts). And I am extremely thankful to have so much family to call my own. Heck, I am even thankful that my Grandma Albrecht passed aways this year at 99 years old, because it gave my family a great reason to get together, and let’s face it, she was really old.
10. My friends I am lucky to have wonderful friends from many different chapters of my life. I am thankful for how they have all added to my story. Here are just some of my special friend groups.
High School friends (Hanover High School, Hanover, New Hampshire)
Vermont and New Hampshire Friends
New Jersey friends
College friends and roommates from the University of Wisconsin
College track teammates
People I met on airplanes
Dionne and Friends
11. Enthusiasm I am extremely thankful that I have as much enthusiasm for life and its mysteries, adventures and challenges as I ever have. Sometimes I think I have too much. And so does Dawn.
12. Faith This has been a wonderful year of faith for me and my family. My daughter Ava and son Johann took their first communion this year. Ava is in Confirmation class. Dawn and I have taught Sunday School and generally feel both the joy of giving and receiving in our church community.
13. Entrepreneurs I am extremely grateful for all the entrepreneurs who have supported and advised me. Entrepreneurship can be isolating or it can be uniting. I am thankful to be united with so many talented, experienced and sharing entrepreneurs. I belong to a great CEO roundtable group through the Metro Milwaukee Area Chamber (MMAC). And I have a strong tribe of entrepreneurs who I lean on regularly (Richards, Hilimire, Bandy, Florsheim, Salamone, Wong). And I am always open to adding more.
14. A Comfortable Home As the weather has turned colder, and the winter wind and snow have arrived in Wisconsin, I am extremely thankful for a warm and comfortable home. As Maslow’s knows, a comfortable home enables you to enjoy more joy in life.
15. Blog Readers Thank you to all of you who take time out of your busy day to read my blog. I appreciate your time, likes, comments and shares more than you will ever know.
There is a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. The people in your life, laughter, knowledge and magical accidents are amazing gifts. If you have those things you can count yourself among the richest people on Earth. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Today is the day that we eat Turkey and give thanks. Those two things seem like strange pairings don’t they? I am going to be thankful for all I have, AND, eat a bird. It’s like celebrating Dads and Grads. They have nothing to do with each other, except they both happen in June, and they rhyme. But hey, sometimes that is all it takes.
As I prepare to ingest birds, cranberries and Grammy Beans, I am taking stock of all that I am thankful for this year. It’s quite a list. So in a particular order, here it goes.
Some Things I Am Thankful For in 2018
My Wife: I have always been thankful for my wife, Dawn. But when she fully supported my plan to leave a salaried job to bet on my ability to create a business that will support our family of 5, that made me crazy thankful. This lady is the best!
My kids: One of the greatest experiences for a busy business person is to go home and spend time with people who don’t care at all about what you do at work.
My Health: I feel great. And according to the medical screening I just had, all of my numbers are right at the norm. Either that or I accidentally got some guy named Norm’s test results.
My Fellow Weapons We have hired more great people at The Weaponry this year. We now have employees in Milwaukee, Columbus and Atlanta. And we all work together, cross office, like one team based in Milumbta.
My Office The Weaponry has now been in our office space for a year. And we have made it feel like home. Next week we expect to sign a new lease. But we have to build in some flexibility clauses into our lease because we fully expect to outgrow our current space in the next few months. Which is a great problem to have.
Business Travel. 22 years ago I returned from my very first business trip the night before Thanksgiving. I had flown to El Centro, California with Dan Koel to photograph new tractors for Case IH in the irrigated California farmland just north of the Mexican border. I couldn’t believe how exciting it all was. Today I am thankful that I am just as excited about my career and the travel it offers. My trip to India in September was the pinnacle of work travel for the year.
Retainer Clients At the beginning of 2018 we didn’t have any retainer-based clients. So while we were growing at a healthy pace, we didn’t have much visibility into what was coming next. So our number one goal for this year was to establish retainer-based clients that would help build predictability into our machine.
Today we have 6 clients who pay us a monthly retainer. That has made it easier for us to commit to hiring more great people, and invest in other resources that allow us to deliver even better work for our clients. (Did you think retainer clients were the clients you get after your braces clients are removed?)
Heat The first time it got cold outside after we moved into our offices it was freezing in our space. Our building people sent specialist to seal our windows. Which helped some. But the biggest help was when we talked to our neighbors next door at DanceWorks, and simply asked them to turn up the thermostat. That worked like a charm. Go figure.
Hermann Miller No one has supported me over the course of the last year like Herman Miller. That’s because we have his really great Aeron desk chairs in our office. It makes a difference. Thanks Herman for building these. And thanks to Office Furniture Resources for helping us find these chairs lightly used, and at a good discount.
Technology Thanks to technology, it has never been easier to launch a business. I am extremely thankful to a handful of resources that together create the central nervous system of our business. They are:
Insurance I am thankful that The Weaponry is able to offer our full-time employees both health and dental insurance. In 2018, our first year of offering such benefits, we were able to pay the full premiums on behalf of our individual employees. And it looks like we will be able to do the same in 2019. #Boom
My Commute My drive to work is 17 miles. And it generally takes under 30 minutes. That is half the time I spent driving too and from work in Atlanta. I’m thankful for that every day. The only downside is that it now takes me twice as many days to finish an audiobook. That’s a sacrifice I am willing to make.
My Car My Acura MDX turned 10 years old this year. And I still love driving it. As my Grampy once told me, ‘A man with miles on his car has money in the bank.’ I am thankful to not have a monthly car payment. It is one less thing to worry about on my entrepreneurial adventure.
Ideas My business and my career are based on new ideas. I guess this blog is too. I am extremely thankful that the ideas keep coming. Because truth be told, I have no idea where they come from. And like a drunk at bar time, I am afraid of being cut off, because God knows I have been over-served.
New Friends I love meeting new people. I am a collector. I think you can never have too many friends. Unless you are trying to hide in the witness protection program. Then too many friends could totally blow your cover and get you killed. But because I am not in that program, yet, I like having as many people on my team as I can. In the past 10 days I have met, and had significant conversations with the following new people:
My Blog Readers I am extremely thankful for all of you who read, like, comment or subscribe to this blog. I know you have a millions other things you could read, and an endless number of other ways to invest your time. I am appreciative and humbled every time someone tells me they read something I wrote. So thank you for reading all the way to the end of this post. You are so much better people than those who bailed after that Dad’s & Grads observation in the first paragraph.
There is so much to be thankful for that I can’t capture it all here. As you count your blessing, I hope you count really high. I hope you get tired, and lose your voice from all your counting. There are so many things for us all to be thankful for that there really ought to be a day for us to just stop and be thankful. And eat a bird. Yep, that still sounds weird to me.
When I started my career in advertising my very first account was Case IH farm equipment. Case IH makes the red tractors, combines and implements that dot the American countryside. I was hired to work on the account because I have a farming background. In my job interview I shocked the ad agency leaders with my knowledge of PTOs, disk harrows and 12-row heads. I know these things because I come from a long line of farmers. My mom is one of nine farm kids. My dad is one of twelve.
As part of that first job I did a lot of research, talking to farmers about their wants and needs. In one of those conversations a farmer shared a quote with me that I will never forget. He said,
You will never find a farmer in Vegas. Because we are gambling out here every day.
A Farmer’s Reality
Farmers are gamblers who bet on themselves. They are the ultimate entrepreneurs. They eat and breathe their work. Literally. They work from sun-up until sun-down. They reap what they sow. But to farmers, these are not clichés. These are the facts of life.
But here is the scariest reality of farming: A farmer can work tirelessly every day, follow the best formula for success, never make the same mistake twice, and still go bust.
This is because a farmer does not control his or her own fate. They are at the complete mercy of Mother Nature. And Mother Nature doesn’t play fair. She doesn’t care how hard you work. Or that you’ve invested every dime you have into this year’s crop. And no one is immune to the whims of Mother Nature (except maybe the people who live in San Diego).
So the farmer can do everything in his or her power to grow a bumper crop, and then there is no rain. Or too much rain. Or a killing frost. Or flattening wind. Or hail. Or an eff-ing grasshopper plague.
So this time of year, when the frost is on the pumpkin and the hay is in the barn, farmers are more thankful than you could ever imagine. While all Americans are thankful today, they are not as thankful as farmers.
The moment I started planning to launch my advertising agency, I felt like I was getting back to my farming roots. Because I was betting everything on my ability to grow my own crops. But instead of producing corn, soybeans and milk, I would be growing creative ideas. And the hard thing about growing creative ideas is that you can’t buy the seeds from Monsanto.
Today, I am experiencing farmer-strength thankfulness. The Weaponry, the advertising and idea agency that I started in 2016, has transformed from a dream with a plan to a physical business with walls, doors and desks. We have world-class employees. We have great clients. And we are cranking out ideas like Iowa cranks out corn.
6 things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Today I’m thankful for my wife Dawn, who has demonstrated unwavering faith in my ability to feed, clothe and shelter our family.
I’m thankful for my kids who share my love for ideas, adventure and creation.
I’m thankful for my team of smart, self-driven creatives who produce valuable ideas every day.
I’m thankful to my clients who have trusted The Weaponry to help them create the strategies and ideas they need to grow and thrive.
I’m thankful for all of my friends. For handshakes and hugs. I’m thankful for those who will take my phone calls and reply to my texts. For the friends who have joined me this year for chocolate milk or a meal. And to those friends who like, comment or share something I post on social media.
And on this day that we give thanks for the harvest I am especially thankful for my large farm family of Albrechts and Spraus. Our rich farming lineage has provided us all with a tremendous work ethic, a strong self-reliance, and a great appreciation for all that we have. Today we are working hard to pass the character traits that grow strong on farms on to our children. So that even though our offspring may never live on a farm, they will benefit from our family roots that reach deep into the rich black soil of Minnesota.
As you enjoy your Thanksgiving feast with friends and family take time to count your own blessings. As you pass the plates around the table remember where the food came from. And please say a little thank you for the farmer. Because surely they are saying thank you for you.
*If you decide to subscibe to this blog I woud be extremely thankful too.
If you are like most people, you are on a long intellectual decline. Sure, you absorbed a lot of knowledge in school. But once you left high school or college or became a beauty school dropout, you stopped learning. Ok, ok, so you still ‘learn something new everyday.’ Maybe you pick up a little trivia under a Snapple cap. You learn that the very first touch tone phones didn’t have pound or star symbols. Or you learn that Americans invented Mexican, Italian and Chinese food. But that’s not exactly growth learning.
True growth learning is extremely important to me. Because I learned at an early age that the stock version of Adam Albrecht was pretty ordinary. I have a vision of myself as a much better, smarter, stronger, funnier, nicer, braver, more capable human than I am today. Therefore I’m always trying to close the gap between the me in my head and the me on my couch.
One of the best habits I have developed to create a better me is listening to audio books while I drive. I stumbled onto my audiobook interest accidentally. In 2009-ish I attended the Hachette Book Group’s annual book sale, just north of Indianapolis. For one weekend in June everything is on sale for a dollar. So I bet a dollar on Ted Turner’s ‘Call me Ted’ audiobook. I loved the book. But more importantly, I learned from it.
I learned how a kid who didn’t apply himself well in school could become among the wealthiest people on the planet by applying himself at life.
I learned that to make wild leaps in your accomplishments you sometimes need to take wild risks.
I learned that meeting room antics can make you highly memorable.
I learned that pursuing your passionate interests can change the world.
I learned that through mergers and acquisitions you can get tossed out of your own company.
I learned the immense impact of philanthropy.
I learned the value of keeping your eye on the future.
I learned that the first Ted’s Montana Grill was in my former hometown of Columbus, Ohio. (ok, so this is a little more Snapple cap-esque)
I learned how the right people and processes can turn losers like the Atlanta Braves into World Series Champions.
I learned that Jane Fonda is a pretty great lady to have on your arm when you walk into a party.
So I sought out more audiobooks. I listened to biographies and self-help books. I listened to history books and books about the future. Now I pick up nuggets of knowledge and pearls of wisdom every day when I drive. I will often stop the audiobook and ask Siri to take a note for me, repeating a quote I heard, or paraphrasing a lesson so that I can review later. It’s my way of highlighting the key passages as I listen. Just as I did in college.
Soon, the audiobooks made me feel like I was winning at life. Because I realized that by listening and learning on my commute I would arrive at work smarter than when I left home. Later that day I would arrive home smarter than I was when I left work.
Since I left the University of Wisconsin, no other activity has so clearly added layers of depth to my thinking, new lenses through which to view the world, or examples of how to choose my own adventures like my audiobook lessons. Today, The Perfect Agency Project owns a library of audiobook titles that our team can checkout anytime they want. Which is the easiest way I know to grow a stronger and smarter team without adding new people.
Many of you will be flying or road tripping over the next few days for the Thanksgiving holiday. I encourage you to stop by your local library to check out the audiobook section before you hit the highways or flyways. I bet you’ll be surprised by the range of titles and topics. And it’s all free (unless you count the taxes you already paid that bought the books). Of course, there are also plenty of digital resources, like Audible and Amazon. When you find something you like, shoot me a message. I am always looking for great new reads, or listens, or learns, or whatever we should call them. If you’re interested, I’m happy post a list of my recommendations too.
Happy Thanksgiving. Safe travels. And I hope your thinking expands as much as your waistline.
Like my fellow Americans, today I’m reflecting on my blessings. I enjoy a very full and well rounded life (although I expect to be even fuller and rounder in a few hours). I have so much to be thankful for I can’t possibly mention it all. So here is a quick overview of 5 things I’m thankful for this year at work.
1. I don’t have to wear a collared shirt with my company’s logo on it.
The relaxed advertising agency dress code is one of the top reasons I chose this profession. I was reminded of this yesterday as I had lunch next to four guys who work at the local John Deere dealership. I know this because they each wore a shirt with the name of the dealership embroidered on it. I expect the shirts make them feel as if they are part of a team. But I’m thankful to be on a team that promotes individual self expression. (Plus, I know that logo shirts are ad units which warrant compensation in exchange for prime placement.)
2. Our Coke Freestyle Machine.
When I was a kid I remember going to my Dad’s office and thinking it was so cool that they had a vending machine that sold Cokes in glass bottles. My office now has a Coke Freestyle machine that lets you create over 125 different drinks whenever you want. The drinks are all free with employment at Moxie. Which makes my kids think I have the coolest job ever. Even thought we have grown used to it I certainly don’t take this boyhood-dream-come-true for granted.
3. Video Chats
For the past 8 years I have managed a team spread across multiple offices. Many managers and teams struggle with the distance. One of the most valuable tools I use to bridge the space between our offices is video chat. I use it almost everyday, often multiple times a day. It offers valuable, face to face communication that allows me to recognize nuances in communication that you just can’t detect through email, IM, text, phone calls or smoke signals. Note: I also get a lot of strange looks from coworkers when they pop into my office and find me telling stories to my laptop.
4. Frequent Flyer Miles.
I have a lot of frequent flyer miles from work travel. This fall my Mother In Law was diagnosed with cancer. Those miles made it easy for my wife to fly home to Wisconsin to see her mom and be there as she went through surgery and treatments. The miles are a nice bit of compensation for all the time I’m away from home. And they made it easy to support our family members when they needed it most.
5. Moleskine Notebooks
2015 was an unprecedented year in my accumulation of these amazing notebooks. I had numerous meetings and conferences this year where these books were part of the swag. I have a hard time turning off my thinker. These notebooks are the perfect receptical for me to store the thoughts and ideas that pop in my head before they disappear into the ether. Sure, I use Notes on my phone and Evernote and other digital tools. But nothing gives me the satisfaction of holding a hard covered book full of my own words, sketches and ideas. I have a vision of my offspring making a fortune off of the ideas they find in my notebooks after I die. Or at a minimum they could set up a cart selling corny t-shirts and bumper stickers to pay for their therapy.
I hope you all enjoy your time off and recognize all you have to be thankful for at work. Even if somedays it feels like you’re surrounded by turkeys like me.