To have a great year start with Planuary!

For many people, 2021 was a year they would rather forget. But not me. 2021 was a year that I would take extra Ginkgo Biloba to remember. I had a remarkable year. Here’s a quick summary:

Noteworthy Happenings From My 2021:

  • I sold 2 homes during the hottest real estate market in history.
  • I bought the home I spent more than 2 years looking for. (Which means the soundtrack in my head finally switched from U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, to Kenny Loggin’s This Is It!
  • I coached high school track and field for the first time. (My daughter Ava made it to state in the discus as a freshman. Which made me look good as a freshman coach.)
  • I helped coach my son Magnus’s 5th-grade tackle football team. (I specialized in coaching the boys on their volume and hypeitude.)
  • I planned my high school class reunion in Hanover, New Hampshire. (And there was almost no drama. But enough to keep it interesting.)
  • I traveled to Vermont, New Hampshire Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, Ohio, Alabama, California, Texas, Minnesota, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Pennsylvania New York, Rhode Island, Tennesee, Massachusettes, Kentucky, Connecticut, Arkansas and Missouri.
  • The Weaponry, the advertising and ideas agency I launched in 2016 celebrated its 5th birthday. (I invited Marilyn Monroe to jump out of the cake but she didn’t return my calls.)
  • I bought 2 new cars. Because the old ones (10+ years old) asked for a rest.
  • I published my first book titled What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say?
  • My Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA Championship
  • The Atlanta Braves and my guy Austin Riley won the World Series.
  • And my man Tom Brady won yet another Super Bowl.
  • (The last 3 are just fun for me. I had nothing to do with any of them.)

How To Make Your 2022 Great.

Great years don’t just happen. They are made to happen. And it all starts with planning. That’s why I call January Planuary. Because now is the time to plan your great year ahead.

What makes a year great is up to you. But if you don’t know what makes a year great feel free to use my plan, and adjust it to suit your own goals.

The 10 Things I plan in January. (Or Planuary)

  1. Travel: Especially the Places I gotta See Before I Die type of travel.
  2. Things I want to learn: This includes stuff like music, language, how to perform standup comedy, how to perform crouch down comedy, taking a hunter’s safety course, CPR certification, or getting my motorcycle license.
  3. Books to read: I pick some important books to read each year. Or set a goal like reading a book per month. Or 3 books per month. Audiobooks count. And they are one of my great life hacks.
  4. Career goals: I pick new challenges, set new targets to hit, make a change, or start a new business.
  5. Life goals: Like writing a book, hiking the Appalachian Trail, coaching or volunteering
  6. Connections to make: I ask, Who do I want to meet next? If you haven’t planned this before try it. It could change your whole life.
  7. Reconnections to make: Like planning a class reunion, team reunion or a friend meetup.
  8. Making time for big progress: I block time for progress against my goals. Like writing every morning between 6 am and 7 am. Or time for exercise. Or beard grooming.
  9. Timelines: I determine when I will do the big stuff. And I create timelines and deadlines to bring the more complicated goals to life.
  10. Other: This could be anything. Except for the 9 things above. Because if it is one of the 9 things above you don’t need a 10th category.

Key Takeaway

Great years don’t just happen. You have to make the year great through your plans and actions. Now is the time to create the plans. Put dates on the calendar. Make your year look amazing in January. Then make your plan your reality by living into it all year long. Then look back on New Year’s Eve at all you experienced and accomplished. Do this year after year, and you will have created a great life.

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

If you like this idea and wonder if I have any more good ideas, check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Don’t just think big. Schedule big.

Great achievement begins with great thinking. The great news is that great thinking costs the same as terrible thinking. Because they are both free. But the return on great thinking is infinitely better.

As Napoleon Hill wrote in Think and Grow Rich:

Whatever Your Mind Can Conceive and Believe, It Can Achieve.”

Napoleon Hill

But it’s not enough to think big thoughts, dream big dreams, or goal big goals. You have to schedule them into existence. You have to set specific times on your calendar to do the important work of bringing those goals to life. You must schedule time for research, action and creation. Even God scheduled his creation days. You have to block specific times for connecting, scripting, ordering, booking or whatever other ings your plans require.

Calendering is Key

Dedicate time on your calendar to make progress. THIS IS THE KEY to alchemizing goals, hopes and dreams into reality. So when you think big make sure to calendar big too. Like Marie Callendar.

Shopping For Goals vs Buying Them.

Thinking big is like window shopping. Which means that you walk by stores looking at things and consider buying them. But by simply thinking-shopping you don’t get to leave the store with the stuff you want. Because to actually own those things you have to buy them. And you buy your goals with time on your calendar.

The Weaponry

Before launching The Weaponry, the advertising and ideas agency I lead today, I thought about every aspect of the business. I had a clear image of what we would create, how it would run, who would work there, and what the culture would be like. I imagined there would be no A-holes at The Weaponry. I even baked that into the logo.

Notice the A in our logo? There’s no A-hole. Because there are no A-holes allowed at The Weaponry. And since there are 5 letters to either side of the A, this rule is as central to our beliefs as possible.

This Blog

I then thought about writing a blog to share my experiences and learnings as an entrepreneur. I could see the whole thing in my head.

My Book

A few years later I had a goal of writing a book. I envisioned what it would be about and who it would be for. I could see the book being read by people around the world.

Bringing It All To Life

All the envisioning simply let me know what I wanted. It didn’t make any of it real. (Read that sentence again.) But I then put time on my calendar to do the real work of bringing the business to life. I scheduled time every morning to write my blog. This blog. And I gave myself a deadline and dedicated time to writing the book. Today all 3 of those dreams are realer than Real Deal Holyfield. All because I dedicated time on my calendar to bring them to life.

My new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? is now published because I made time to write, edit and push the book forward on my calendar.

Key Takeaway.

Don’t just think big. Schedule big. Give the big things you want to achieve big spaces on your calendar. It’s the only way to achieve your big goals. So block time in your day today. You’ll find that working towards your biggest goals is the most rewarding way to spend your time.

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

If you like messages like this you’ll also enjoy my newly published book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

21 things that I am thankful for from 2021.

The beginning of each year is full of hope. Hope that the next 365 days will be full of success, progress, fun, friendship and fulfillment. But as my friend Steve Swanson is fond of saying, hope is not a strategy. I learned long ago that if you want to have a great year you have to make your year great. You do this through both your actions and your mindset.

Now that all 365 slices of 2021 are toasted, buttered and eaten, I am taking a moment to reflect on the things that made my 2021 great. If you haven’t done this yet, today is the day to do it. Recognizing the good things in our lives humbles and happies us. So let’s get to it!

21 Things I am thankful for from 2021.

  1. This Blog: I love having a blog to share my thoughts and experiences. I love that I can write anything I want here. I can even make up words, and no one can tell me they are not real words. They are real as soon as you use them. Innovation comes from writing. Remember, all of our words were once made up. You don’t have to be Latin or Greek. You can just be dumb. Or be Will Ferrell playing George W. Bush.
Write on.

2. The Hot Housing Market: This year the housing market has been as hot as it has ever been. Like Nashville Chicken hot. Or Death Valley hot. Or Pam and Tommy home video hot. Which is great if you have a house to sell. I started 2021 with 2 homes and sold them both. Which allowed me and my family to start a new chapter this year.

3. Our New House: My family found our long-term Wisconsin home this year. We had been looking for our next house for over 2 years. On June 17th we walked into our new house the day it went on the market. We made an offer that day because of the Pam & Tommy market conditions. The offer was accepted within 15 hours. We moved into our new home in September. It is our family’s nest. It is the main stage for our lives. And it is a source of pride. Now, we are trying to fill the home with great memories. And trying to figure out what all the light switches are for.` (If you are in Milwaukee and want a great, and patient Real Estate Pro, contact Jaime Lubner.)

4. Family. I couldn’t be more thankful for my family. My wife Dawn and kids Ava, Johann and Magnus are incredible, talented and funny people to do life with. I was able to see my parents, sisters, nieces, and nephews this year. Plus, my extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins extends farther than most. My mom is one of 9 kids and my Dad is one of 12. I role deep with family on both the Albrecht and Sprau branches of my family tree. Which gives me lots of options when I need to post bail.

Our first Christmas in our new house.

5. The Weaponry Launching The Weaponry, the advertising and ideas agency that I started 5 years ago was one of the best moves of my life. (At least it was one of the best moves not made on a dancefloor. #amiright) It has taught me the importance of taking responsibility for everything in my life. It has filled my life with great people. And it has provided a project to continuously improve. A business is a great tool to do good in the world. And I feel like we are just getting started with all that we can do with this tool.

6. My Work Teammates. An organization is simply a collection of humans working towards a common goal. My fellow Weapons are amazingly talented and good people. We have been able to grow our team this year. And each new teammate helps expand and improve who we are as a collective. It’s amazing to experience the expansion of good in a way that doesn’t land you a starring role on My 600-Pound Life.

7. Old Friends I had a major high school reunion in 2021. And I was concerned that the reunion wouldn’t happen. Both because of Covid, and because nobody really wants to plan a high school reunion. But if you really want to have a reunion you have to be willing to make it happen. So I planned my Hanover High School class reunion in Hanover, New Hampshire from 1000 miles away in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And like they said in Field of Dreams, if you build it they will come. Classmates gathered from all over the country. Some whom I hadn’t seen since graduation. And while it takes someone to plan such a thing, it takes people showing up to make it real. I appreciate all of my classmates and their families for showing up and making our together time real.

Some reunion pics.
Some other reunion pics.

8. Vaccines: Covid-19 really has thrown us a curveball over the past 2 years. I really appreciate the 3 companies that have developed the Covid vaccines. They enable us to experience life much closer to normal. My whole family has been vaccinated with Pfizer’s magic defender. My 11-year old son Magnus just got full-vax status before Thanksgiving. I got my booster yesterday. Get your vaccine if you are able. It’s not a conspiracy. I’ve seen a lot of wealthy, educated Waspy men doing it. And they are the ones to be suspicious of.

9. My Book: In 2020, during the Covid Lockdown, I started writing my first book called What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? I finished the first draft by Memorial Day 2020. I finished the second draft by the end of 2020. I have spent 2021 working on the publishing process. The book was picked up by independent publisher Ripples Media. I received the first copy I ordered from Amazon on December 19th, 2021. The reviews have been amazing. I am so thankful for everyone who has taken a flyer on buying this new book from a first-time author. I was committed to writing something that would help readers learn a little, laugh a little and lift a little. I can’t wait to see where we go from here. In case it goes really well I am studying how to be an intriguing recluse. #JDSalinger

The first time I held my own book.

10. Coaching Track & Field: My daughter Ava was a freshman track athlete at Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisconsin this past spring. To ensure that she had a coach that could help her with the shot put and discus I offered to coach her and her throwing teammates. Although I never imagined myself as a high school coach, it was an extremely rewarding experience. Ava had a strong freshman season. She became the second-best freshman discus thrower in school history. She made it to the Division 1 state meet, where she was the top freshman finisher. I really enjoyed coaching all of the girls on the team, not just Ava. It was incredibly rewarding to see the progress the ladies made throughout the season. And I was especially thankful to be able to work with my 2 seniors, Sammi and Bella during the spring of their senior year. It was rewarding to add a fun final chapter to their Covid-Era high school experience. In the process, l learned as much as they did.

My varsity throwers.

11. Coaching Youth Football: In the fall of 2022, I helped coach my son Magnus’ 5th-grade tackle football team. It was an amazing experience that brought back memories from my own football experience. While I helped coach positions, plays, techniques and drills, I considered myself the Hype Coach. And these kids got hyped! It was fun to be a part of. And I look forward to more. If you have a chance to coach youth sports you should absolutely do it. Unless you are terrible with kids.

Not a bad way to spend fall of 2021.
Magnus and Me.

12. A Home Full of Music: My 3 kids all play instruments. Ava plays violin and guitar. Johann plays piano, saxophone and violin. Not to mention harmonica and melodica. (Although I did just mention them.) Magnus plays cello and piano. My house is often full of wonderful live music. It gets better every year. And I already know I will miss it when it’s gone.

13. Podcasts: I have accelerated my consumption of podcasts this year, Kobayashi-style. Specifically when driving or mowing the lawn. I have learned a great deal from these audio interviews and lessons. The podcasts I listen to are like mini-courses. So I get a little smarter every time I drive to or from work or cruise around my lawn on my John Deere.

14. Seaside, Florida: Our family spent spring break in Seaside a year after we originally intended to because Covid tries to ruin everything. Our experience was excellent. We ran into 3 different friends and their families while we were there. It was definitely a highlight of our year. And our kids loved it because it was like a family-friendly Panama City for teenagers with bicycles.

My daughter Ava skimboarding in Seaside.

15. Friends All Over I continue to be thankful for my friends and family all over the world. As I traveled in 2021 I saw my people in real life in California, Texas, Minnesota, Atlanta, Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Boston, Vermont, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. It makes me feel at home everywhere. I want more of that in 2022.

A great day of water stuff on Mascoma Lake in New Hampshire with the Richards Family.

16. The Gym I was thankful to get back to the gym regularly in 2021. After a funky Covid situation in 2020 and early 2021 that forced me to exercise at home, I got back to working out at the sports club where we are members. The gym offers good mental and physical therapy for me. I would feel a lot more like an angry David Banner without regular trips to the gym. (Although as of this week I am pausing that again because of Covid. Fortunately, we have weights at home. You wouldn’t like to see me without weights at home. #namethatshow)

17. Cheese Curds I increased my cheese curd consumption in 2021. And I am happier because of it.

18. Great Clients I am extremely lucky to have really wonderful clients at The Weaponry. I appreciate all of the work they have entrusted us with this past year. But it’s the personal relationships that I enjoy the most. We work with great people. That makes all the difference. (That, and taking the road less traveled by.)

19. Great Collaborators We also work with some really great collaborators at The Weaponry. There are production companies, editors, photographers, freelancers, developers, influencers, agents, accountants and more. They make the work we do better and more fun. Here’s to much more in 2022.

Some Weapons and some Outsiders in California last month.

20. Being Able to Buy New Cars My wife and I both came into 2021 with cars that were 10 or more years old. We have been able to buy new cars. Not have new cars. Dawn’s car had to be ordered and won’t be here until February or March. (Notice that the global supply chain is not on my list of favorite things of 2021.)

21. A New Driver In The Family: My daughter Ava turned 16 in September. I am thankful and excited for her new adventures, and thankful that I am not the only option to run to the store when we need a loaf of bread, a carton of milk, and a stick of butter.

My new driver.

Bonus Round

22. Live Concerts: My family and I all went to see The Zac Brown Band in concert at Summerfest in Milwaukee this year. It was great to get back to live music again. Although ZBB had to cancel concert dates the week after we saw them because of Covid. So we’re not totally out of The Woods. Which is also a ZBB song.

Key Takeaway

Happiness is the great win in life. Recognize what makes you happy. Study it. Do more of it. And thank you for reading my writings and for contributing to my happiness. Let’s all have a great, safe and healthy 2022. #BeMoreYouIn2022

*If you’ve read this far and would like to read more good stuff to kick off 2022, consider my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media. There’s a fortune cookie in it for you.

It’s not too late to be who you wanted to be.

At the end of a gym workout recently my son Magnus asked if we could go sit in the hot tub. I said yes, and we made our way to the pool area. When we got to the hot tub there was one other guy already in it. After we settled into the water I greeted the guy, who was staring out the window, and we began to speak. (Which is also how the song The Gambler starts.)

As the conversation proceeded I asked him where he was from and what he does for work. He shared that he grew up near Mequon, Wisconsin, the town north of Milwaukee where we both live. And when he is not hot tubbing, he works at a nice job for a good company.

Then he asked me where I was from (Vermont), where I went to school (The University of Wisconsin), and what I do for work. I told him I owned my own business. I started my own advertising and ideas agency called The Weaponry.

My pruney new hot tub friend told me The Weaponry was a cool name for an ad agency. Then he revealed to me with great resignation, ‘I always wanted to start my own business. But now I am too old.’

I asked, ‘How old are you?’

He answered, ‘I am 37.’

I shot back, ‘F**k you. I was 42 when I started The Weaponry. This is a great time to start a business. And a great time to stop making excuses.’

(I should also mention that my son Magnus was cooling off in the swimming pool at that time. So he didn’t get hit with f-shrapnel when I dropped my f-bomb.)

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

― George Eliot

Key Takeaway

If there is something you’ve always wanted to do, then do it. Do the things the kid version or young adult version of you wanted to do. You are not too old. It’s not too late. It’s time to get going. Now you have 2 weeks to plan the great thing you are going to start doing with your life in 2022.

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

You need one of these 3 things to maximize your carreer.

I have thought a lot about my professional career lately. Writing a book about the most important lessons you’ve learned in life will do that to you. And it’s far more enjoyable to reflect on your career because you are writing a book than because you are on your death bed, thinking about what you would have done differently. Although the death bed reflection involves far less proofreading.

Career Path

While writing, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say, I have examined my career path and the forces that have influenced it. The short story is that I started my career at the bottom of the advertising ladder, as a junior copywriter. (Although truth be told, I have never actually seen the professional ladder. Or the Emporer’s new clothes. Or a snipe.)

My professional titles progressed as follows:

  • Junior Copywriter
  • Copywriter/Producer
  • Senior Copywriter
  • Associate Creative Director
  • Creative Director
  • Executive Creative Director
  • Chief Creative Officer

Entrepreneurship

After I became a Chief Creative Officer I decided it was time to start my own advertising and ideas agency called The Weaponry. That was 5 years ago. Today, my title is Founder and CEO. Which is a lesson in itself. Because if you have the fortitude to start your own business you can give yourself any title you want. I just thought that Galactic Czar was a little too much.

But Wait. There’s More.

I have made the full professional progression from entry-level to C-suite to entrepreneur. But I’m not done yet. I am just days away from publishing my first book with independent publisher Ripples Media. And I have several other exciting and challenging chapters of my professional career ahead of me. Some of these chapters are already planned. And I am sure there are some surprises in store. There always are.

Your Career Guide

To make the type of forward progress I have made you need at least one of the following people in your life:

  • A Mentor
  • A Career Coach
  • A Spouse or Life Partner

These 3 roles all have the ability or responsibility to look after you throughout your career. They can all help you map out your entire journey, and offer feedback, guidance, encouragement, and direction based on your goals. But only the third one should ever see you naked.

The important commonality is that mentors, career coaches, and spouses are not concerned about your current employer’s needs. They are not trying to keep you happy today. They are focused on the big picture, which might not include your current employer.

Mentor

I have never had a real long-term mentor. I have had mentor-ish people help me at various times, with specific roles or challenges. But not someone with whom I had an official ongoing mentor-mentee relationship. I would be happy to have one. I simply haven’t. Maybe it’s not ment to be.

Career Coach

I have never worked with a professional career coach either. Again, I see great value in this role, and would certainly be open to adding a coach to my weaponry. Because I am smart enough to know that I still have a lot to learn and that I could use all the help I can get.

Spouse

My wife Dawn has been the primary career minder for me. She knows what my goals are and she knows the timeline I have set for myself. For over 20 years she has regularly helped me evaluate my professional development and career progress with 2 simple questions:

  1. Are you where you want to be?
  2. Where are you going next?

The answers to these 2 questions provide the regular reality check I need to make sure I arrive at each of my preset checkpoints, but that I don’t stay there too long if I want to complete the race I am in.

Key Takeaway

Find someone to help you map out, navigate, and complete your career journey. Someone who can be there for the entire journey. Who is unbiased towards any particular role or employer, but simply wants you to accomplish all that you set out for yourself. Don’t be afraid to request a mentor relationship. Don’t underestimate the value of a professional coach. And if you have a spouse or life partner that’s in it for the long run, let them help ensure you reach the finish line together.

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

Have you ever thought about writing a book?

I have a small list of WOWs. They are the big things I want to accomplish in my lifetime. The list includes:

  • Setting a state record
  • Competing in college athletics
  • Starting a business
  • Writing a book
  • Hiking the entire Appalachian Trail
  • Skydiving
  • Donating a million dollars
  • Becoming the World’s Oldest Person

Other than skydiving, which simply requires a plane, a parachute, gravity, and the ability to disconnect your survival instincts, these accomplishments take a tremendous amount of accumulated effort. Which is why I am always so impressed when I hear that someone else has achieved one of my WOWs.

As a state record holder (NH: discus), entrepreneur (The Weaponry), and former college athlete (University of Wisconsin Track & Field), I am serious about accomplishing these WOWs. They push me, pull me, and give me direction.

Today, I am excited to share that I am nearing the completion of my first book. And, no, it doesn’t involve crayons.

I find the best way for me to accomplish my WOWs is through less talk and more action. So I haven’t talked to many people about my book, until now.

The Details.

The title of the book is What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say?

It includes 80 important life lessons that the world is trying to share with you. If you have read my blog, it is written in the same style, with a focus on personal growth and self-improvement. The book is written to help people learn, laugh, and lift. But if all you do is laugh, even if it is at me, I will consider it a win.

The Timeline

I finished my first draft on May 25, 2020. Which w on my birthday, during the Covid lockdown. I finished the second draft before midnight last New Year’s Eve. Now the goal is to have the book published by Thanksgiving. (Notice how I tie major milestones to major days? It’s one of my thangs.)

Over the next couple of months, I will share more about the process of writing and launching the book so that you can learn from both my experience and my mistakes. Thank you for joining me on my latest life adventure!

Key Takeaway

You get one lifetime to accomplish all of your WOWs. Know what yours are. Let them guide you. Then enjoy the work, the progress and the sense of accomplishment as you check them off your list.

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

Chase all your crazy dreams until you catch them.

I first met my wife Dawn in the summer of 2000. From the first moment I saw her on the elevator at my office I was cray cray for her. 6 weeks later we had our first date. 5 days later we talked about marriage. #WhenYouKnowYouKnow

We were young and just starting to build momentum in our careers. After college at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Dawn had lived and worked in New York City and Chicago. To this country boy she seemed like Christie Brinkley in the Uptown Girl video.

Dawn and Adam in 2001 in Vermont.

At the time, I had already lived in Ohio, New Jersey, Missouri, Vermont, and Madison. Then, like Joanie and Chachi, we met in Milwaukee in 2000. I was still living in my first apartment after college, but I had big ambitions. The kind that don’t keep you tied to a specific geography.

Like Bill and Ted, Dawn and I talked about our excellent adventures ahead. We wondered where they might take us. Our jobs, apartments and city all felt temporary. We knew we had much more to explore.

During that exciting first year, Tim McGraw released a new album called Set This Circus Down. The first time I heard the title track I thought the song was written for us.

Here is the chorus:

“Set This Circus Down”

And we go rolling down this highway
Chasing all our crazy dreams
I’ve gone your way and you’ve gone my way
And everywhere in between
One of these days we’ll find a piece of ground
Just outside of some sleepy little town
And set this circus down

I loved the theme of this song. An adventurous couple was traveling the highway of life together, pursuing their crazy dreams. But they knew that someday when they had everything they were chasing, they would stop running and plant themselves somewhere wonderful.

Us on Hilton Head Island, like the chair says.

We adopted this song as the unofficial theme of our relationship in that first year. Since then we have had quite an adventure. We have lived in 4 apartments and owned 4 homes in several different states.

My career has been as successful and rewarding as I could have ever wanted. We’ve added 3 great kids along the way. Our circus got a little crazier and more fun with each new performer we added. Dawn has been the amazing wife and mother I knew she would be when I asked her to marry me under the St. Louis Arch in a thunderstorm in 2002.

This land is your land. This land is my land. This land is Badland.

Five years ago we bet on ourselves and I started my own business called The Weaponry, an advertising and idea agency. We were living in Atlanta at the time. But due to a serious health scare in our family, we decided we needed to be closer to our parents. So we moved to Milwaukee. Which is where we bought home number 4.

At the time we said that if things went well with the new business we would look for one more home in 2 or 3 years.

Just after moving into The Weaponry’s first office in Milwaukee.

The Weaponry has been very successful. (Thanks to our fun and talented people, and really great clients.) So Dawn and I began looking for our forever home (#5) two years ago.

We have an excellent Realtor named Jamie Lubner who we love. But with all of the homes we have seen over the past 2 years, we didn’t make a single offer. We have been picky because we had waited a long time for this and wanted it to be special.

The process was growing long. And time was ticking because our daughter Ava was in high school. She only had 3 years at home before she left for college, or a van down by the river.

We found this cute little waterfall, delicious grapes and tons of honeymooners in upstate New York.

Then, on the morning of June 17th, 2021, Dawn and I saw a beautiful home listed for sale in our very favorite neighborhood in town. A great subdivision set in the middle of the Wisconsin countryside. We walked in and were amazed. It was just what we were looking for. A beautiful home on 1.5 acres.

We wrote a full-price offer immediately and had it accepted the next day.

We moved in 2 weeks ago.

Our new home is just a mile from this farm.

Today, September 28th, Dawn and I celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. While 20 years of marriage may look more significant on paper, this is the year we have been thinking about since we first heard Tim McGraw’s song back in 2001.

We have finally found our piece of ground
Just outside of some sleepy little town
And set this circus down.

Today it feels like we are winning at life.

Key Takeaway

Envision what you want your life to look like. Start with the end in mind. Then create a plan to get there. Chase all of your crazy dreams until you catch them. And enjoy the circus, wherever your tent is set.


Here is a link to the full song

And here are the full lyrics.

“Set This Circus Down”

Sometimes this road, it just keeps winding
Round and round and back again
But you’ve always kept me smiling
Over every hill, round every bend
Baby you’re the one smiling with me when the sun comes up
I got the wheel, you got the map and that’s enough

And we go rolling down this highway
Chasing all our crazy dreams
I’ve gone your way and you’ve gone my way
And everywhere in between
One of these days we’ll find a piece of ground
Just outside of some sleepy little town
And set this circus down

Sometimes I lie awake just thinking
Of all the horizons we have seen
And as another day is sinking
I thank God you’re here with me
‘Cause baby you’re the one laughing with me when the sun goes down
Living on faith and holding on tight to the love we found

And we go rolling down this highway
Chasing all our crazy dreams
I’ve gone your way and you’ve gone my way
And everywhere in between
One of these days we’ll find a piece of ground
Just outside of some sleepy little town
And set this circus down

And set this circus down

Maybe one of these days, gonna set this circus down
Set this circus down

Writer(s): William Luther, Josh Kear

Are you offering others promises of what you can do, or proof?

Winning new business is exciting. It means you convinced a customer or client to take a chance on you. (Like ABBA said.) But at this point, you are selling the promise of what you can do for them. Because in the beginning, the promise is all you’ve got.

The best moment in business is when a customer or client comes back for the second helping. Because this time it is not because of a promise you made them. It is because of the proof you gave them. (It’s in the pudding.)

The first transaction is based on your promise. The second is based on your proof.

The first engagement is based on hope. The second engagement is based on expectations met. Businesses live and die based on met expectations. Which is why repeat business is so important. It is the lag indicator that you are offering value and a positive experience.

If you track just one measurement on your way to success it should be repeat purchases. It is the pass-fail measure of long-term success. Because without repeat purchasers, you will run out of new prospects. And your business will be all grind, and no bump.

Recent History

Last week I had two great repeat experiences.

First, The Weaponry, the advertising and idea agency I lead, got a call from one of our first-time clients. We were almost done building a website for this client, and they called to tell us they want us to take on another website build for another division of their business.

Second, we had our first creative presentation to another new client. At the end of the presentation, The Boss Man told us he wanted us to work with their procurement team to get set up as an official, long-term supplier. Boom!

These second projects came because we lived up to expectations. We passed an important test. We weren’t one and done, like a University of Kentucky freshman basketball player. Which means we are running a sustainable business.

A Personal Note

The same principle holds true in your personal life. You get a first shot at relationships, opportunities, and trust based on the promise of delivering the goods. The second shot comes because you proved you were worthy the first time. Keep delivering and good things just keep coming your way.

Key Takeaway

Winning new business is simply an opportunity to prove what you can do. It is where the hard work begins. Make sure to deliver on the promises you made to that first-time customer. Because when you do, they’ll come back for more. And businesses only thrive if happy customers keep coming back for more.

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

**If this post lived up to your expectations, please consider subscribing to get the next one emailed to your inbox. The subscribe button is at the top left of this page.

To grow your business you have to find great customers yourself.

I get a boatload of emails, calls, and LinkedIn requests from strangers who are trying to sell to me. Most of them want to help me generate more business leads for The Weaponry, an advertising and idea agency that I lead.

It is crazy how many people want to help me with this. It is as if they all looked at my demographic information alone and want to sell me a hair growth tonic. But if you knew me, or ever looked at my LinkedIn profile pic, you would know I may have problems, but growing hair is not one of them.

The sales promises are often quantified. They say they will deliver hundreds or thousands of qualified leads per month. To the uninitiated, unsuccessful, lazy or naive this must sound amazing.

But business growth and development doesn’t work that way. Qualified leads and prospects are not a commodity. You can’t outsource them to a stranger. The type of clients or customers you want to work with are not like crops in a field. You can’t simply run a harvester through them, load them into a wagon and sell them on the open market.

Prospective customers and clients are not all created equal. The valuable ones come from relationships, connections, and conversations. From shared philosophies and values. You and your team should find the right ones for you. Then earn their trust. Develop a mutual attraction. And decide you are right for each other.

For a stranger to spam* me and tell me that they can find me a steady supply of qualified leads is like telling me that they can find me more friends. ‘We’ll dump a list of friends on you. You’ll really like them and they will like you too.’ But it doesn’t work that way. That’s a job we have to do ourselves.

*No offense to Spam, the innovative meat. If a stranger offered me some fried Spam for breakfast we would be friends for life.

Key Takeaway

Earn your own customers and clients. Create systems and processes to find them. Develop relationships. Keep your promises. Deliver results. Create a core of happy customers that spread the word about you. That never fails.

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

Every day you can find an excuse not to do the work.

Entrepreneurship is no joke. I started my own advertising and idea agency called The Weaponry in 2016. The business requires a great deal of effort to maintain and grow. It’s not for the weak of heart, weak of mind or weak of alarm clock.

At the same time I started my business I also started writing this blog. I wanted to share my experience and learnings with others. Now I publish a new post 3 days per week. Every day except Saturday I get up at 6 am to write. On Saturdays I sleep in until 6:30 am. I’m like the ‘Time-To-Make-The-Donuts’ man. Except consuming a lot of what I’m making won’t give you diabetes.

However, almost every day I can find an excuse not to do the things I need to do to grow my business or write my blog. I can always, always find excuses not to get up and put in the work to improve our product, processes and people. I can find excuses not to write, polish, and publish the next post. But Like Forrest Gump kept on run-ning, I keep wor-king, and wri-ting.

Excuses are everywhere. And they can get you out of anything hard. In fact, excuses can make your life easier. Much easier.

Excuses are like A-holes, Taylor. Everybody’s got one.

-Sgt. O’Neill from Platoon

But every time you grab one of those excuses you are robbing yourself. You are robbing from all that you are capable of doing and becoming. You are robbing from your life’s work. You are robbing from your own personal legend. You are robbing money from your own pocket. You are robbing from your belief in yourself that you are accountable, reliable and resilient. That you are determined, focused and driven.

An excuse is like Superman’s Kryptonite. The excuse itself weakens you. It zaps you of your superpower. It makes you a very ordinary human. Which means you are Clark-Kenty. Not the super version of you that you really want to be.

Don’t touch the excuses. They only appear to be permission slips that let you sleep in, knock off early, put in half-effort, or not work at all. But they kill your momentum. They kill progress. And they sabotage your success. (Listen all y’all it’s a sabotage!)

At the end of your days, when your obituary is written and your eulogy is read, they won’t mention all the excuses you had for not doing more. They will only talk about what you did, who you were, what you accomplished and the impact you had on other people. Remember that the next time you consider grabbing an excuse.

Key Takeaway

Don’t accept the excuses life offers. Do what you are supposed to do to live into your vision for yourself. Let others take the excuses. And separate yourself from them. That alone is the difference maker. Both successful people and unsuccessful people know what they should do. The successful people actually do what they are supposed to do to make their dreams come true. Everyone else makes excuses.

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