Yesterday I had lunch with people I hadn’t seen in over 20 years.

Social distancing is really odd. Suddenly we don’t see the people we are used to seeing every day. This includes co-workers, that dude or dudette at the coffee shop with the tattoos and the people at the gym, with the tattoos. (Okay, maybe I just miss tattoos right now, because my kids don’t have any. Yet.)

Right now we don’t see the people we regularly run into at school or practice or the movie theater. And we’re quietly hoping those people haven’t been voted off the island by the coronavirus.

Please enjoy this flashback while you miss the people in your neighborhood

My Lunch Bunch

Yesterday I found a replacement for the people that I regularly see in my neighborhood. In fact, yesterday I had lunch with 16 of my college track teammates from the University of Wisconsin. While it would have been great to gather at Mickies Dairy Bar, The Memorial Union Terrace, or State Street Brats, none of those places would have let us in yesterday because of the corona-cooties

Instead, we gathered over the lunch hour, via Zoom, from our home offices, kitchens and couches. We gathered from a hospital and from an Olympic Training Center.

And it was amazing.

We gathered from Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Madison, Chicago, Atlanta, Ft. Lauderdale, Green Bay, Omaha, Denver, San Diego, Houston and Phoenix. Some of these people I hadn’t seen or spoken to in over 20 years.

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This answers Aretha Franklin’s question, ‘Who’s Zooming Who?’

Badger Brothers

This group of guys has a very special relationship. We trained, suffered, traveled, competed, studied and partied together throughout our college experience in Madison. We learned how to succeed as a team. We won multiple Big Ten Championships as a team. And our head coach, Ed ‘Nutty’ Nuttycombe won more Big 10 championships than any coach in any sport in Big 10 history. Which makes us feel as if we are part of a legacy. Better yet, we all have funny Nutty stories to share. #tripletnieces

Nutty Said

Coach Nutty used to say, ‘It feels good to feel good.’ And yesterday if felt good to tap into the strong bond we still share during this challenging and isolating time. Our hour together reminded us that we are not alone. That we have brothers across the country to lean on, laugh with and learn from as we all go through this strange time together.

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Thank You

Thanks to Matt Downin, Louis Hinshaw, Tom Burger, Tony Simmons, Brian Veit, Jabari Pride, Bryan Jones, Matt Vander Zanden, David Sengstock, Jason Vanderhoof, Jeremy Fischer, Scott Brinen, Kevin Huntley, Scott Sullivan, and John Christensen for making the time to get together. I look forward to more. Because we are better together. Just like Coach Nutty, Coach Napes, and Coach Smith taught us. And we have the rings to prove it.

Key Takeaway

I encourage you to take advantage of this unique time to find and reconnect with your people. It only takes one person to get a video meetup started. So be that person. Channel your inner James Taylor, and let your people know that even in this time of social distancing and self-isolation, they’ve got a friend.

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My Badger Brothers.  Back before color photography.

How we took care of business during the first week of remote work.

Last week marked a major shift for our country. The mood changed. The rules changed. Which meant that many brands had to change their messages and tonality in order to sound in sync with the times. While other brands that had not been part of our collective conversation finally found their pick-up lines working like Joey Tribbiani’s best material.

This meant a McFlurry of activity at The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency. While other business were grinding to a halt, our services were sought after like a jumbo pack of toilet paper at Costco.

Did I mention that my entire team also moved to our spring offices this week?  Which is a fun way to say that we all worked from home. So did all of our clients. You probably did too.

Here are some of the highlights from our week.

Monday

  • We had our first client meeting at 9am on Monday morning.
  • In that meeting we planned significant messaging adjustments to respond to new social and economic conditions.
  • We spent the rest of the day ideating. It felt like we were in a movie about advertising. Complete with Glen Frey’s The Heat Is On playing in the background.
  • At 5pm we presented a new creative campaign for that same client we met with at 9am. Boom!

Tuesday

  • We added 2 news clients to our roster.
    • 1 in Columbus, Ohio.
    • 1 in Los Angeles
  • We had a kickoff meeting to get the L.A.-based client rolling. Because there was no time to waste.

Wednesday

  • I had a 2-hour video call with my CEO roundtable to talk with other business owners about what they are facing, and the challenging decisions that need to be made in response to the current uncertainty. Several of the member’s businesses were essentially stopped in their tracks by the current ban on gatherings. Which made me extremely thankful for the strong demand for our services.
  • I did an interview with Julia Fello from WTMJ-4 (NBC) in Milwaukee about working from home. You can see the interview here. Thanks to Monica Baer for connecting me and Julia.

Thursday

  • We presented a new fully-integrated campaign for a new sponsorship that we created on behalf of one of our clients.  The campaign included TV, outdoor, long form video, print, in-store displays, event activation, barn painting, social media, digital display and vehicle wraps. That was about it. #ThingsBubbaSays
  • We presented 37 new logos designs for a long-existing brand as part of a major rebrand initiative. Our 4 clients were all on video-conference, from home, while under house arrest.
  • Thursday night at 11pm I received an email from one of our clients inquiring about availability to meet the next day. They wanted to discuss ideas for a new promotion to take advantage of the new normal. I responded minutes later with a meeting time on Friday to kickoff the project.

Friday

  • We presented a new content campaign featuring online videos, ranging from 15 seconds to 4 minutes long.
  • Late on Friday afternoon we received client approval on a re-edit and new voiceover language for a television commercial. I contacted the recording studio to book time with them to record and master 2 new spots. They asked if I wanted to book time on Monday. I said no, I wanted time today, or tomorrow, which of course was Saturday. Since it was late in the day on Friday, and most people had gone home for the day, we settled for first thing Saturday morning.

Saturday

  • My team, the audio engineer, voiceover talent, and editor gathered virtually to help speed new commercials to market to help our client respond to our current climate.
  • We sent brand new commercials to TV stations for immediate airing.
  • We took a deep breath, and were thankful for the ability to take deep breaths.

Key Takeaway

These are unique times. The rules, challenges and opportunities are different right now. Help your customers, clients neighbors, family and friends get through this and they will never forget what you did for them. Yes, the stage is different. Most of us are everything-ing from home. But what it takes to shine during these times is the same. So shine on you crazy diamonds.

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.