Do you know what your most important values are?

Businesses often spend a great deal of time identifying and declaring their core values. However, very few repeat them often enough, or bake them into their day-to day operations to make them meaningful. Just ask the Weinstein brothers.

Declaring your values is really declaring your priorities. Your values provide a framework for your decision making. Your values tell you where to focus your time and attention. Because when you have a clear set of values you know which things are important, which things are peripheral and which things are witch things.

At my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry we value 3 things above all else.

  1. Great Creative Ideas
  2. Excellent Customer Service
  3. A Fun Experience For Everyone Involved

We talk about these 3 things in all of our company meetings. We share these with our clients. And we measure ourselves against them. They are at the heart of our operation. Like Junior Mints.

Declaring Value At Home

We have a clear set of values at our home. However, we don’t call them our values. Partly because my wife Dawn and I started teaching them to our children when they were too young to understand what values were. So instead, we call them our most important things. And here they are.

The Albrecht Family 5 Most Important Things In Life

1. Being Smart We have to focus on our education, learning, thinking, reading and developing our minds. If we are not smart, we won’t know what’s important and what’s not (and what’s snot).

2. Being Brave We have to try difficult things. We have to face our fears. We have to push beyond our comfort zone, and stand up for what we know is right. We have to jump off that cliff into the water below. When we do, we will feel the fear transform into excitement, and then into accomplishment and then into confidence.

3. Being Nice We have to treat others the way we want to be treated. Be kind to others. Even when we don’t feel like it. Because kindness has to start somewhere. And the world is a nicer place when people are nicer to each other. Especially in Nice, France.

4. Being Funny Humor is the best way to get through difficult challenges. It makes us feel better. It brings people together. It decreases pressure. Making someone smile or laugh is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. If laughter is the best medicine, being funny makes you a doctor, or a pharmacist, or a drug dealer.

5. Being Adventurous You only have one life. So go, do, see, feel, taste and live. Soak up as much of life as you can. Try things to know and learn what you like and what you don’t. Except for drugs. Drugs will ruin your life. Unless the drug is laughter (see point 4).

Putting It Into Action

We talk about the 5 Most Important Things weekly at our house. In fact, they provide a great framework for teaching, encouragement and behavior modification. Plus, I can usually defend my actions by citing Important Thing #4. Although you can never place #4 above #3.

If you see my kids, ask them what the 5 Most Important Things In Life Are. You’ll see that they are baked into Ava, Johann and Magnus like The Pledge of Allegiance and the Lord’s Prayer. I take comfort in knowing that they will carry those values with them as a guiding framework for life, even when Dawn and I are not there to help them make decisions. Which is the ultimate goal of parenting.

Dreaming…

I find our 5 Most Important Things so valuable that I have been thinking of creating a family workshop to help other families develop their 5 Most Important Things. (Although it could be 3, 5 or 7 things in your family. Or 10 if you are a Letterman.) I’d like to do the workshop on January 1st every year. Because families are usually together that day. And I can’t think of a better way for a family to start a new year. Except for maybe skiing. Or Snowmobiling. (If this is something that interests you shoot me a note at adam@theweaponry.com and we can talk more about it.)

Key Takeaway

Know your values. Declare them. Share them with your organization, team or family. They will provide a strong framework for both thoughts, decisions and actions. Then live your values every day. Even when no one is watching.

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

The most important business decision I have made this month.

Some businesses are slowing down for the holidays. But at The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, we are in overdrive. December has been our busiest month of our busiest year yet. And we see no slowdown in sight. Today is my 12th day working without a day off. I have the only house on my block without Christmas lights. And I couldn’t be happier.

Decision Making

This level of demand forces you to make a variety of logistical decisions in order to meet all of the needs. In this period of record demand we have had to make a lot of really important decisions.

Last Thursday we began an exciting project that had us shooting a series of videos across the state of Texas for 10-days. There were massive amounts of logistics to coordinate to pull it off. We would be working with 5 different powersports dealerships, 5 different charities, and we had nearly 100 different locations to scout and film. There would be daily travel as each of the locations were 1 to 4 hours away from each other. Because apparently everything is bigger in Texas (I am surprised they don’t talk about that more…).

The First Puzzle Piece

Planning this shoot was a puzzle. And just like solving a jigsaw puzzle, we had to start by finding our first corner piece. We had to find that important, non-barbecue-related factor that we must plan all of the other details around.

In this case the entire plan started with a 3-year old boy’s Christmas play. When we looked at the 10-day shoot, our creative director, Adam ‘Henry’ Emery and I had to determine how we would split our time on the shoot so neither of us had to be out of the office for 10 days. Henry said, ‘My son has a Christmas program on Tuesday evening, December 10th and I would hate to miss it.’ So we built the 10-day travel schedule, and all of our logistics around that.

Prioritize

In our busiest month in agency history, the decision to build our travel around a child’s Christmas program was the single most important decision we made. With all of the challenges we faced, we started with the most important. We value our people above all else. We want them to prioritize the people and events they value most. And while we will have many more work obligations, there is only one Christmas play when you are 3-years old. And Mom’s and Dad’s should be there.

Key Takeaway

Put first things first. Prioritize family and friends whenever you can. Help your co-workers and clients do the same. When you develop organizations that support families, you also develop families that support your organization. And like Van Halen said, that is the best of both worlds.

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

 

 

The most important and overlooked role of mothers.

To celebrate Mother’s Day my family and I went out to brunch.  Actually, it was late enough that it could have been brupper. Or maybe brinner. As we sat down at our table the waitress brought each of my three kids a card to fill out that had 10 open-ended questions about My Mom.  My Mom is ______ years old.  What I like best about My Mom is __________. My Mom shows me she loves me by _______________. The best thing My Mom cooks is _____________.

The cards gave us something fun and engaging to do while waiting for our food. They stimulated conversation and made us all laugh. These cute questionnaires highlighted the typical way we think about our Moms: As maternal figures who support us, love us, cook for us and clean up after us.  My Mom certainly was that figure throughout my childhood. Today, my wife is that figure for our children. But there is another, far more important role that Moms play that goes mostly unnoticed by children.

As a creative professional, I recognize that our Moms don’t just raise us, care for us and love us.  They Design us. From the Moment we are born, until we leave home, our Moms are designing us as the humans they want us to be.  They implement rules and instill values which shape us. They expose us to people and places that stretch and expand us.

From the day you went home from the hospital your Mom chose your clothing to create an image. Your hairstyle was chosen by your Mom to reflect the person she wanted the world to see.  The birthday parties she threw, the gifts she gave, and the punishments she leveled were all part of the design.  The people she steered you towards and the ones she steered you away from were intential, always with the end result in mind.

Ever thought about why you lived where you lived as a child? Or why you went to the schools you went to?  That was your Mom, and Dad, designing you. Those classes your Mom signed you up for each had a purpose.  The musical instrument, community activities, volunteering, clubs and sports were all part of the design too.

The complicated choices she made to have pets, or not reflected her preferences for your life that may take a long time to understand.  How she taught you to address adults was part of the design.  Her lessons about driving, chores and how to answer the phone were part of the master plan. So were the talks about recycling and turning off the water while you brush your teeth. When she gave you money to put in the offering plate at church, that was shaping you. The decision she may have made not to attend church would have been a design decision too.

More thought went into the choices your Mom made in order to form who your are today than you will ever know.  Thank you Mom for all the decisions you made to help create me according to your vision. To my wife, Dawn, thank you for sweating all of the details that help shape Ava, Johann and Magnus. They are the greatest design concepts, responsibilities and successes we will ever know.

For the shortest day of the year: a very short post on values.

Yikes! The sun is already sinking. So let’s get right to it.

Know your values. Everything starts with knowing what you care about most.  Both in business and in life. Especially if you are an appraiser. Or an auctioneer (I’ve got one, I’ve got one, I’ve got one value. Who will give me two, two, two?)

At The Weaponry we have 5 core values.  One for each finger.  (My close friend Steve Withycombe has only had room for 3.5 values since his hand had a 30,000 RPM encounter with a shaper in his woodworking shop several years back.)

The 5 Things The Weaponry Values Above All Else:

  1. Creative Ideas
  2. Problem Solving 
  3. Customer Service
  4. Growth (Both business and individual. But not the kind on your neck. Have that removed)
  5. Fun For Everyone Involved

These 5 values help guide everything we do.  I’ll share more detail on each value in a later post. On a longer day. Happy Winter Solstice!  Good night.