Now is the perfect time to reconnect with your tribe.

I love the word tribe.  There is no other word quite like it. It’s stronger than the words family or friends. Which are vanilla descriptions. The word tribe has energy, magnetism and exclusivity. And if you want to accomplish great things, you better first find your tribe. Because it is a tough go on your own. Just ask David Coverdale.

What Is A Tribe?

A tribe refers to a distinctive, close-knit group. The distinctiveness is often clearly established and easy to articulate. You grew up together. You are sorority sisters. You are family members. You were teammates, bandmates, playmates or primates.

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The Hanover High School Hit Squad. So tough. So young. So tan.

However, the close-knit-ness of a tribe is complicated. It isn’t automatic. Just because you were classmates or roommates doesn’t mean you were close. Which begs the question, How do members of a tribe become close-knit?

There are a few important factors:

  1. You have meaningful shared experiences.
  2. You have spent significant time together.
  3. You find value in your distinct relationship.
  4. Your common thread is highly important to you.
  5. Members want to remain close to each other.
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College roommates who made it out alive.

Time To Gather

Now, during this period of historic social distancing, is the time to gather your tribe. In the midst of our isolation we could all use more positive and supportive social interactions. Luckily, thanks to modern technology, it is easier than ever to gather your tribe without catching corona-cooties. or violating government ordinances.

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Atlanta neighbors. It’s not a party without a bottle of Pellegrino. 

Here are 2 things you can do right now to bring your tribe together.

1. Create A Tribe Text

It is extremely easy to create a group chat. I have a wide range of chat groups with college track teammates, high school football teammates, my sisters and parents, college roommates, former coworkers (which I always read as cow orkers) and more.

This is a quick and easy way to huddle up your tribe and remind them that they are part of a special group. It sends a message that you value them and want to hear from them. In challenging times it creates an open forum for sharing your feelings.

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Badger track teammates from UW Madison, and alcohol.

These group chats can provide a rapid-fire feed of good news and comedic commentary in good times. And they create a quickly deployable safety net when someone (or everyone) in the tribe is going through tough times and needs support.

2. Create A Video Conference Meetup

There are a multitude of platforms you can use to create a video meetup for your tribe.  I use Zoom, or Google Hangouts. You can also use Webex, Skype and others. Simply invite the members of your tribe to call in at a scheduled time, and show up. Depending on your tribe, you can gather early in the morning, at coffee time, lunch hour, happy hour, or in the evening, Led Zeppelin-style.  Keep an open mind and find what works for you.

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Badge-wearing members of my CEO roundtable.

Structure

I like to structure my meetups, whether in person or online, to get the most out of our time together. This involves an introductory routine for everyone to offer their latest updates, usually limited to 1 to 3 minutes per person. Then we move through a discussion of various topics, either predetermined, or group-sourced during the meeting. Each topic discussed has a time limit. Which allows you to spend time discussing several different topics of interest and value to the group.

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My original tribe.

Key Takeaway

Now more than ever, we can all benefit from our tribes. Connecting via group text is easy to do. Yet the results can be profound. Now is a great time to start a video meetup for more meaningful discussions, with real faces. Then continue the meetups online or in person once our social distancing prescription expires. At the end of our days, the only thing that matters is the impact you have on others. And that impact is much needed right now.

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Some of the Albrecht Tribe. #werolldeep

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

5 things I’m thankful for at work.

Like my fellow Americans, today I’m reflecting on my blessings. I enjoy a very full and well rounded life (although I expect to be even fuller and rounder in a few hours).  I have so much to be thankful for I can’t possibly mention it all. So here is a quick overview of 5 things I’m thankful for this year at work.

1. I don’t have to wear a collared shirt with my company’s logo on it. 

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The relaxed advertising agency dress code is one of the top reasons I chose this profession. I was reminded of this yesterday as I had lunch next to four guys who work at the local John Deere dealership. I know this because they each wore a shirt with the name of the dealership embroidered on it. I expect the shirts make them feel as if they are part of a team. But I’m thankful to be on a team that promotes individual self expression. (Plus, I know that logo shirts are ad units which warrant compensation in exchange for prime placement.)

2. Our Coke Freestyle Machine.

When I was a kid I remember going to my Dad’s office and thinking it was so cool that they had a vending machine that sold Cokes in glass bottles. My office now has a Coke Freestyle machine that lets you create over 125 different drinks whenever you want. The drinks are all free with employment at Moxie. Which makes my kids think I have the coolest job ever. Even thought we have grown used to it I certainly don’t take this boyhood-dream-come-true for granted.

3. Video Chats

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For the past 8 years I have managed a team spread across multiple offices. Many managers and teams struggle with the distance. One of the most valuable tools I use to bridge the space between our offices is video chat. I use it almost everyday, often multiple times a day.  It offers valuable, face to face communication that allows me to recognize nuances in communication that you just can’t detect through email, IM, text, phone calls or smoke signals. Note: I also get a lot of strange looks from coworkers when they pop into my office and find me telling stories to my laptop.

4. Frequent Flyer Miles.

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I have a lot of frequent flyer miles from work travel. This fall my Mother In Law was diagnosed with cancer. Those miles made it easy for my wife to fly home to Wisconsin to see her mom and be there as she went through surgery and treatments. The miles are a nice bit of compensation for all the time I’m away from home. And they made it easy to support our family members when they needed it most.

5. Moleskine Notebooks

2015 was an unprecedented year in my accumulation of these amazing notebooks. I had numerous meetings and conferences this year where these books were part of the swag. I have a hard time turning off my thinker. These notebooks are the perfect receptical for me to store the thoughts and ideas that pop in my head before they disappear into the ether. Sure, I use Notes on my phone and Evernote and other digital tools. But nothing gives me the satisfaction of holding a hard covered book full of my own words, sketches and ideas.  I have a vision of my offspring making a fortune off of the ideas they find in my notebooks after I die. Or at a minimum they could set up a cart selling corny t-shirts and bumper stickers to pay for their therapy.

I hope you all enjoy your time off and recognize all you have to be thankful for at work. Even if somedays it feels like you’re surrounded by turkeys like me.