A good sign that you are doing things the right way.


One of my great goals in life is to provide great value to others. To become a trusted and valued resource for others. Like a human Google, Wikipedia, or Oprah.

A simple indicator I use to measure my value to others is the number of Non-Disclosure agreements I am asked to sign. The NDA is a legal document that says I will keep all the secrets I am told a secret. It’s the legally binding equivalent of the pinky promise. It contains adult language that essentially says that I will zip it, lock it and put it in my pocket. Or that I cross my heart, hope to die, and stick a needle in my eye.

I sign a lot of these NDAs. Because people and companies regularly approach me and my team at The Weaponry about secret new projects, products and plans. They are looking for insights, guidance and collaboration to help a big new idea become a big success.

I love being invited into the inner circle early. And you should too. It’s a great honor and indicator of trust.

Important Questions To Consider

Are people sharing inside information with you?

Do they bring you in early?

Do they want your input?

Do you get brought in to help plan, pressure test, and introduce?

Are you asked to problem-solve?

Do you find out about opportunities first?

Do you have a secret bat phone?

Key Takeaway

The inner circle is where you want to be. It is true in your career and in your social circles. It is a sign of trustworthiness. It means others value your opinions, ideas, and experience. It means you have problem-solving skills. Or turbo-charging skills. And it’s a sign that others enjoy spending time with you. When you get invited into the inner circle it means you are providing great value to others. Which is the greatest measure of all.

+If you found value in this post you will probably also find value in my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Here’s what new graduates should do now to improve their careers.

Most high school seniors will graduate within the next week or two. High school commencement is one of the most exciting events in a human’s life. And with good reason. The best, most interesting chapters of your story start after high school. Unless, of course, you were in an epic high school-based movie. In which case, it’s all downhill from here.  (You can check the 50 Greatest High School Movies of All Time here to make sure you weren’t in one).

As you begin down the yellow brick road of life you will constantly encounter new challenges and opportunities. You will find people who are trying to help you, people who need your help, and people who just want to steal your slippers.

You’ll benefit from as much good advice from those who have traveled the road before you as you can get. So please allow me to contribute a little worthwhile advice from someone who has been there, done that, and discovered some secrets to a successful journey.


An Open Letter to High School Seniors.

Dear Seniors,

Four to ten years from now, when you graduate from college, finish your military obligations, or give up on your Hollywood/Nashville/YouTube/Lottery dream, you will start focusing on your real career. When you do, everyone will tell you that you need to start building your network.

But they are wrong. You need to start building your network now. So before you throw your binders in the trash, your graduation cap in the air, and carve your initials into the wood paneling of the senior lounge, you should begin building your professional network.

WTH Is A Professional Network?

Your professional network is a collection of the people you know that may be able to positively impact your professional career. The people in your network, or community, will be able to help with career advice, finding a job, and connecting you to other people and businesses that are important to your career advancement. You will also be able to provide the same sort of help to others in your network. Because it takes a village to keep a child from moving back into their parents’ basement.

Who Are My Connections?

Your connections are your friends, your family, and your teachers. Your connections are your friends’ parents. They are the adults you know from church, and the extracurricular activities you’ve participated in. They are your coaches. They are the kids you competed both with, and against, in sports. They are the kids you know from camp (like that one girl who played the flute).

Starting A Connection Collection.

The best career move you high school seniors should make right now is to create a profile on LinkedIn and start collecting your connections. LinkedIn is an online social networking site for the business community. And right now is the best time to start collecting your network. By starting now, you will collect the most connections. And the more connections you properly maintain, the stronger your network will be. It’s kinda like being popular in high school. Only this type of popularity can dramatically impact your salary (your salary is the adult version of an allowance).

Grow As You Go

You will want to continue collecting your friends and acquaintances throughout college, trade school, military service, your walkabout, or your creative exploratory period. Every time you meet someone new, don’t just think about adding them to Snap or Insta.  Sure, do that too. But definitely add them to LinkedIn. Granted, the filters on LinkedIn aren’t as good as Snapchat. But having a good job makes you look better than any photographic editing or augmented reality can.

It’s All About The Network, (and the Benjamins)

Eventually, everyone is going to tell you to network and build your network, and that it is all about your network. That’s just an adult way of saying:

Stay in touch with the people you know, because it will connect you to opportunities, advice and endorsements that will prove highly beneficial down the road.

Why Start As A High School Senior?

You know a lot of people now that you are going to forget. Those kids you go to school with are going to do amazing things with remarkable organizations. And they are going to have opportunities for you, but only if you stay in touch. You are also going to have opportunities for them. Even better, in the real world, there are things called referral bonuses. Which means you can make extra money for helping your organization find good talent. #cha-ching

Monitoring Your Classmates

Adding your friends to LinkedIn is like putting a tracking device on them. It will allow you to collect intel on each person, like where they went to school, what they majored in, and where they worked after college.

It also puts a tracking device on you, so that others will remember your educational track, your career path and your special interests and activities. That way your connections will know when their opportunities intersect with your skills, interests and abilities.

The Adult Rock Stars Around You

Your neighbors, teachers and friends’ parents are more successful and connected than you know. Four or five years from now you could end up in a job interview with them. Or with their friends or relatives. When that happens, you will want every advantage you can get. Like a good endorsement from someone who knew you were always such a good kid. (You were always a good kid, right?)

Trust Me. I Know.

I started my career in advertising as a copywriter. But I always envisioned becoming an entrepreneur and someday starting my own ad agency. 19 years later, that’s exactly what I did. In 2016 I launched my own advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry.

Do you know who my very first client was? My friend Dan Richards, whom I have known since 7th grade. Dan is the Founder and  CEO of a badass company called Global Rescue.  Which means that Dan and I went from high school classmates, and football and track teammates, to summer job coworkers, to trusted business partners. We have helped each other launch highly successful companies.

Today, one of my important clients is Sarah Wilde at Sonic Foundry, an innovative technology company based in Madison, Wisconsin. But Sarah and I have also known each other since 7th Grade, and we grew up together in Norwich, Vermont.

Sarah helped plan a couple of our Hanover High School class reunions. And I planned the most recent one. At that reunion back home in New England, we talked about potentially doing work together. Since then we have launched 2 completely new brands together from dust. As we would say in Vermont, that’s wicked awesome.

Note To Self

They say the best day to plant a tree is 20 years ago. And the second-best day is today. The same holds true for building your network. Start now by collecting your connections before you leave high school. But if you are already in college, serving your country, or in the middle of your career, and you haven’t been building your network, start now. (By now I mean after you read the next paragraph.)

Key Takeaway

There are amazingly talented people all around you. So start collecting them today. It’s the very best way to assure an abundance of everything you will need later in your career. By doing so you may help one of your high school classmates find their dream job. Or launch their own business. Or they may help you launch your dream business. I know. Because it happened to me.

-Adam Albrecht

Founder & CEO of The Weaponry

+If you realize that this is worthwhile advice, you might also like my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? It is full of more lessons like this. It features 80 of the best life lessons I have learned since graduation. Good luck graduates! It just gets better from here.

* If you know a recent graduate that you think could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

This week I was blowing out candles and a new list of goals.

It was my birthday on Wednesday. I had a lot of friends and family members reach out to me to wish me a happy birthday. But my birthday fell on a cool and rainy Wednesday. Which meant that I wasn’t able to enjoy the outdoor activities I usually enjoy on my birthday, like biking, hiking, fishing, kayaking, and nude sunbathing.

While my birth day itself was not remarkable, I spent time planning for a memorable year. This is one of my favorite annual traditions. It helps me focus on the things that are most important to me. I want to experience happiness, fulfillment and success in all areas of my life. So I set a number of goals. Here are the areas I focused on for my next 365 days.

  1. Marriage: I set goals to strengthen my relationship with my wife Dawn. This makes everything else work.
  2. Health: I have to take care of my machine. But I haven’t seen a doctor in 7 years. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did see a doctor walking down the street. But this year I plan to see one at a checkup.
  3. Parenting: This is my most important job. So I am focusing on how to further build my children’s confidence. And keep them out of government-issued jumpsuits.
  4. Travel: I have major life travel goals. And I want to cross 2 of my major destinations off my list this year. (I also want to go visit them.)
  5. Business: These are my goals related to the growth and success of The Weaponry, the advertising and idea agency I launched 6 years ago. It’s my 4th baby. But probably the best behaved.
  6. Career: I focus on where I am going next. (I have a long way to go and a short time to get there.)
  7. Job: I focus on becoming better in my current role. Sidenote: Entrepreneurs can’t say take this job and shove it. Because you are both the shover and the shovee.
  8. Self Education: I set goals for becoming smarter and more capable. (There are a lot of books involved.)
  9. Fitness: The best way to feel young is to feel fit. So I have a couple of important goals here. Including building out the workout room in my new home so that I can maximize my personal fitness.
  10. Faith God knows this is important. (I can’t tell if I just used God’s name in vain, or out of vain.)
  11. Financial: This is what funds everything else. I keep it simple and focus on my net worth. Like Shakira’s hips, the numbers don’t lie.
  12. Home: I have goals that focus on our family nest. And how to make it our favorite place in the world.
  13. Key Relationships: At the end of our days the only thing that will matter is the impact we had on each other. Here I focus on my relationship with my parents and my sisters. I focus on my relationship with my high school friends, college teammates, college roommates, and local friends. And if I am a good friend, I will have more people to focus on next year.

Key Takeaway

A great year doesn’t just happen. You make it happen. And it all starts by knowing what will contribute to your happiness and success. Refocus and rededicate yourself every year to your personal improvement and relationship development. It’s the best way to live the life you imagined.

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

+For more ways to get the most out of life, check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

To enjoy a happier life invest more time in your personal projects.

If you want a better, more interesting and more fulfilling life take on more personal projects. If you don’t, a disproportionate amount of your life will be taken up with your must-dos, and not your want-to-dos.

Personal projects allow you to take on exciting new roles in miniature. Because they let you dip your toe into a new world on a small scale. (Unless you have really big toes.)

Your personal projects are experiments. They let you test and learn. They let you take action and observe reactions. They enable you to adjust the variables to get new and better outcomes. No Bunsen burner required.

Your personal projects are small investments you place on yourself. With a small investment of time, money or energy you can generate significant personal returns, Jedi.

Matt Mullenweg says that WordPress, the platform this blog post is created and published on, was started as a project. It was simply interesting and enjoyable for him to develop. He never thought of it as a business. But that small project is now the hostess with the mostesss, as it now hosts more websites than any other platform in the world. Which allows millions of people to create their own personal projects.

My Projects.

I love starting personal projects. Here are a few of mine:

  1. I love to regularly print original t-shirt designs that interest me. That has evolved into a business called Adam & Sleeve, and a whole bunch of fun shirts I love to wear.
  2. I started an illustrated cartoon series called Kirky. Because I always thought that would be fun. And it has been. Thanks to Dan Koel for teaming up with me on this.
  3. I began writing a blog in 2015. This is my 726th post. But who’s counting? (The WordPress platform counts them automatically. Thanks, Matt Mullenweg!)
  4. I began taking on freelance advertising projects early in my carer. That eventually lead to me starting my own Advertising and Idea Agency called The Weaponry.
  5. A few years ago I volunteered to coach a middle school track program a couple of days a week. That evolved into becoming a high school assistant track coach at Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisconsin. Which led to me coaching a handful of other Milwaukee-area discus throwers and shot putters on the side. Which means that my side projects have spawned side projects.
  6. During the Covid lockdown of 2020 I started a manuscript writing project. That evolved into publishing the book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? with Ripples Media in December of 2021.
  7. Since the beginning of my career, I have regularly volunteered to give talks to college and high school students and professional groups. I have gotten pretty good at sharing a good and compelling story. Now businesses, schools, clubs, conferences, tradeshows and other organizations across the United States have invited me to come share what I know. (And I am always up for more.)
  8. I volunteered to organize my high school reunion last year. A few months later I was hanging out in Hanover, New Hampshire with fellow Marauders who I hadn’t seen in decades. Thanks to Covid, we all walked away with a new appreciation for our time together, and some fun new stories to share from our shared experience.

Key Takeaway

Take on more personal projects. They are highly rewarding investments of your time and energy. They are great experiments that let you test, learn and improve. They can add great joy. They can unlock new doors and offer you more control over your life and time. When you take on a personal project it has the potential to both add to your story and change the course of your life. All you have to do is get started.

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

+For more life lessons I have harvested, check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say?

The Weaponry Turns 6 today! Here are 6 things I’ve learned along the way.

On the eve of my 40th birthday, I sat down and wrote about the things I was most proud of from my first 4 decades on The Big Blue Marble. It was a fun process. I thought about my family and friends. I thought about my wins. My adventures. My career successes. I thought about that time I petted a hummingbird in the wild. (I have now done that twice!) And I thought about how I was creating a better person every day. (Not in a Mary Shelley kind of way)

Then I shifted my focus to my unfinished business. I asked myself this very simple question.

If you died tomorrow what would you most regret not doing?

-39.99 year-old Adam Albrecht

The first and most obvious answer was that I had not tried to start my own advertising agency. So I put that at the top of my list. And I got to work on a plan to avoid that regret. The more I thought about it the more real the plan became. I was like Joaquin Phoenix in the movie Her. Or maybe like the dudes in Weird Science bringing their project to life.

To start your own business you need the support of your family. A couple of mums and pumpkins don’t hurt.

Go Time!

When I was 42 years old, I did it. I launched the advertising and ideas agency The Weaponry.

That was 6 years ago today!

Simply trying to start my own agency would have eliminated the regret. Because I put a premium on simply trying. It was the not-trying that I knew would have bothered me most when things started heating up at the crematorium. It’s a major bonus that things have worked out and that The Weaponry is thriving 6 years later. Plus, most businesses don’t last past 5 years. And I never wanted to be like most people. Except maybe Johnny Most. (Bird Steals The Ball!)

Just keep swimming!

Earning and Learning

I have learned a lot from starting my own business. And fortunately, when I started planning the business I also created this blog to share what I was learning along the way. (Cue Dana Carvey’s Church Lady saying ‘Well isn’t that special!’)

6 Things I Have Learned About Business.

`1. Every year in business is a success in itself. Leadership’s primary responsibility is to keep the business in business forever. Each anniversary is proof that we are doing our jobs. Just like we should be thankful for each day on top of the topsoil, having your doors open is a success. Although today businesses don’t even need doors. Kinda like a Jeep Wranger in summer.

2. You have to keep looking for ways to improve. I am always thinking about the gap between the ideal version of The Weaponry and who we are today. So the mission becomes to continuously work on closing that gap. We meet every Friday to talk about ways to improve our processes and strengthen our weaknesses. You have to call that stuff out into the light in order to be able to address it, work on it and improve it. Fall in love with that process and you’ll fall in love with business. Kinda like Lee Majors in that TV show where he was the stuntman.

3. You need great people. Our team is amazing. We are loaded with nice people who like to collaborate to get great team results. We take a lot of pride in doing what we said we would do. Our team members love to solve problems for our clients. The team is quick and productive. They are great at accumulating knowledge and applying that knowledge to create more and more value for our clients. They are smart people who are really enjoyable to be around. Recruiting and working with a great team has been one of the greatest rewards of the past 6 years.

4. You have to keep adding new clients. Like Lucille in that Kenny Rogers song, a client could leave you at any time. The decision-makers could quit, get pushed out, die or simply change their minds at any moment. So you have to always be growing your business with new clients because you can’t protect yourself from all client attrition through hard work, great ideas and excellent customer service alone. Plus, you need to create a diverse portfolio of clients to protect against shifts in markets, dry spells, spending cuts, or making a client so wildly successful that they no longer need to do anything to help their business thrive.

5. You have to have fun. Fun comes in a lot of different forms. And I love to have fun in everything I do. Including business. Here are just some of the things I find fun at The Weaponry.

  • Learning new things.
  • Game Planning
  • Problem Solving
  • Meeting New People
  • Sending out job offers with a lot of funny non-traditional language.
  • Saying silly things in meetings.
  • Making clients smile and laugh
  • Storytelling
  • Travel
  • Typing funny comments into the chat during Zoom meetings
  • Creating new stuff
  • Getting new swag
  • Eating lunch together
  • Winning new business
  • Helping our clients grow
  • Wowing our clients
  • Putting on a show
  • Receiving compliments for a job well done.
  • Being told we are fun
  • Baking humor into our setup slides.
  • The humorous final slides of our presentation.
We love to laugh. Like that song in Mary Poppins.

6. You have to be paranoid that the business will collapse. I am never comfortable with our success. I am afraid that if we are not careful everything we have been doing and building will go away. You can’t ignore the opportunities to get better. You can’t let things slide. Just like you should try to win over your spouse again every day, you have to be concerned that things could go bad with your clients if you take your eye off the ballpoint. And if you worry enough, and do something about it, the bad things will never happen.

Key Takeaway

A great business is simply a collection of great people running great processes, contributing great value to customers, having fun, and worrying that it will all end if they are not careful. I am extremely thankful for all of our Weapons, our great clients, and our partners who work as a trusted extension of our team. Here’s to 6 fun years. Let’s keep this thing going forever.

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

+ To see more of the lessons I’ve learned throughout my career check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

There are no A-holes allowed at our agency. In fact, we baked the rule into our logo.

I’m not a huge fan of rules.  Creative people as a species are naturally averse to them. But if you want to develop a business with a strong culture you need some rules to guide you.

When I joined my first advertising agency executive team our first order of business was to create some simple rules to govern the organization. Because we believed that a great organization is made of great people who enjoy working together the first rule we unanimously agreed on was the ‘No Assholes’ rule. For those not familiar with the rule, or the obviousness of the phrase, it means that your organization will not tolerate people who act like A-holes.

Prevention

Preventing the A-holes from joining your team isn’t easy. Because they are on their best behavior in interviews. Sometimes we sniff them out (yeah, I said it). But often they sneak past our filters.  So as much as we try to prevent an A-hole from getting into our organizations in the first place, they get in. So now what?

The Problem

You just get rid of them, right?  After all, no one likes an A-hole. Unfortunately, it’s typically not that simple. Because let’s face it, there are a lot of talented A-holes. The drive, intelligence, confidence and will of a typical A-hole make things happen. It’s common for them to make a quick impact and create immediate wins.

But that upside comes with an equally significant downside. Because A-holes are uncomfortable to be around, they drain morale and sap energy. The unfortunate reality is that when you retain an A-hole, it sends a terrible message about your values to your most valued employees. You’ll watch them drop like flies.  Among the employees that you retain you’ll lose untold dollars in productivity as co-workers gather to talk about what an A-hole the A-hole is.

Of course, the worst problem of all occurs when the A-hole develops a close relationship with the client.  Because then the agency has to decide whether they want to lose the valuable contributions of the A-hole and irritate or lose a client.

Removal

I recommend a proven 2-step process to handle such problematic employees.  

  1. Ask a handful of cross-functional team members if they think the co-worker in question is an A-hole.  
  2. If the consensus is yes, put on your scrubs and perform an Assholectomy.

No Compromise

There simply is no room for the distraction, the division and the drama caused by A-holes. Accepting them tells the rest of the organization that it’s okay to be an A.  That can’t happen. Because eventually enough people will leave, or threaten to leave that you have no choice but to get rid of the jerk anyway.

After implementing the A-hole rule in the past, I’m proud to say we purged several very talented but very difficult people. And the culture, vibe, productivity and love for the organization improved as a result.

That’s why when I started The Weaponry I wanted it to be rule number one. I felt so strongly about it that we designed the rule right into our logo. We purposely removed the A-hole from the letter A in the word Weaponry. It is a constant reminder of our persona non grata.

Notice the A? Notice there is no A-hole?

Key Takeaway

Don’t be an A-hole. And don’t let A-holes on your team. They kill the culture and they ruin the fun. If an A-hole does sneak onto your team get rid of them quickly. It will send a message to the rest of your team that you care about them. And it shows that you care about creating an enjoyable work environment for your team. Which is worth more than all the A-holes combined.

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

+For more of my foundational life and business philosophies check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

10 things I have learned from writing 700 blog posts.

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

Well, it stuck.

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

My Learnings From Writing 700 Blog Posts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A circle of my people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Takeaway

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

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

What I have learned about blogging after 200 posts.

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

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

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

Surround yourself with rockstars who have already done what you want to do.

In 2016, after having been an employee of three successful companies for 19 years, I became an entrepreneur. I left behind the predictable employment, the benefits, the 401(k) and the Free Lunch Fridays.

I pushed all my chips to the center of the table and bet on myself when I launched the advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry. (The chip reference was supposed to be a poker thing. Not a potato chip thing. #JustClarifying)

Me and a wall at The Weaponry.

But when I left my job as the Executive Vice President and Executive Creative Director of the largest advertising agency in Atlanta to start my own business it never seemed crazy to me. Because I knew a lot of other people who had started successful businesses. They seemed a lot like me. And they all looked like they were fed, sheltered and clothed. (Wait, yep, they were definitely clothed.)

My man Troy Allen started a design agency before starting the wildly successful Rise Brands.

I knew a bloggle of bloggers before I launched this blog.

I knew a stockyard of people who invested in stocks before I bought stocks.

I knew a neighborhood worth of people who owned rental property before I properly rented my property.

I knew dozens of authors before I wrote my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say?

Writing my own book didn’t seem hard. Not even the hardcover.

Always Remember:

You Are Becoming More Like The People You Spend Your Time With.

Your peer group is your mirror group. To upgrade your likelihood of success upgrade your friends. Surround yourself with doers and diders. It creates positive peer pressure that pushes you to do better, more impressive things. The Joneses I know are badasses. And I want to keep up with all they are accomplishing. (Shout out to Bryan, Jill, Adam, Patti, Garrett, Kristen, Sharon, Courtney, Arnita and Rachel! Sorry you guys didn’t make it into that new truck commercial.)

My college teammate Bryan Jones is hard to keep up with, but I am trying.

Key Takeaway

Your friends are your on-ramp to success. Surround yourself with others who have already done the next big thing you want to do. It decreases the perceived degree of difficulty. It increases the odds of you successfully completing the same challenge. And the more successful your peers are the more insight they offer to all you can accomplish in your lifetime.

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

+ If this type of thinking resonates with you, you will also like my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Do you have a role model? Mine may surprise you.

We could all use a good role model. Someone to model our behavior after. Someone who has work and life figured out. Someone who inspires us to think better about the big picture. For some that person may be Jeff Bezos, Sara Blakely, Jesus, Kim Kardashian, or Willie Nelson. To be clear, not all role models are created equal. No judgment. (Ok, a little judgement.)

If you are looking for a role model to pattern your thinking after I have a suggestion. Look to Hedge Fund Managers. (You thought I was going to say Bezos, didn’t you?) Like Jeff Bezos, the people who run hedge funds are among the wealthiest in the world. They bring in clinically insane amounts of money for their funds and their investors.

But the money itself is a lag indicator. It is a result. Which means you have to jump in the DeLorean and go back to the original lead indicator to see what makes the hedge fund manager so successful.

At the foundation of the hedge fund is a very simple philosophy. It’s a mindset that any of us can follow. The hedge fund is built on this basic belief:

No matter what happens, I will win.

-Hedge Fund Managers

The fund managers place Big Ben-sized bets on what they expect to happen. They place educated bets that derive from studying the past. They place data-driven bets on the future. And they place smart bets that I assume come from eating a lot of Smarties.

Yet all investment funds do this.

What sets hedge funds apart is the hedge. (Not the popular landscaping boundary made of bushy greenery.) The hedge in hedge funds means that you also place bets that things will go the opposite way that you expected or intended. Which means that you put contingencies in place to capitalize on shifts in markets, conditions, and trends. Or to protect yourself in case a dictator with small tators decides to invade a peaceful neighbor and jack up the world economy.

The hedge fund manager expects the unexpected and expects to win anyway.

I am an entrepreneur. But if you cut me open (please don’t) you’d probably find a hedge fund manager. Because I believe that I will win no matter what happens.

2020

2020 was considered by most to be a doo-doo dumpster fire year. But there were many people who ended up benefitting from the pandemic in significant ways. I was one of them. Because the pandemic created new opportunities. My business, The Weaponry, did well because of how we responded. My personal life benefited from more time with my wife and children. I had more time to exercise than I usually do. I used the gift of time during the lockdown to write my first book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? Because I simply decided that no matter what happened, it was going to benefit me.

Key Takeaway

In every situation, there is a way to win. Find it. Think like a hedge fund manager. Find your way to profit no matter which way the wind blows. See the opportunities disguised as bad news. Swim when the sun shines. Read when it rains. There is always an upside. Find it. And make it work for you.

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

+If you’re on a personal growth journey check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? on Amazon. It features 80 life lessons the universe is trying to share with you.

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.