How does your job look on you?

How does your job look on you?

How often do you take a good long look at your job? Once a year? Once an hour? Once a never? It is really easy to stop evaluating your job and simply accept it as your reality.  Then years go by, and your job search muscles atrophy to the point where you can barely lift your interviewing suit off the hanger.

Many of us accept our jobs as necessary, but not special. Your job provides the money you need for critical things like food, clothing, shelter and a mobile phone. However, the ‘necessary evil’ mindset leads many of us to jobs that are just… fine.

But life it too short, and the workday is too long for fine.

I have reevaluated my job-love frequently throughout my career. But instead of job-hopping I have used my evaluations to tailor my jobs in ways that kept them feeling enjoyable, dynamic and growth-oriented.

A New Lens

A couple of years ago, while mentally jogging, I began thinking of my job as clothing. It made me consider my personal style, the image I want to show the world and my personal comfort. In that context it was clear to me that my current job didn’t fit me. The size, style and cut of the clothing was nice. But it just wasn’t for me. Clothes are highly personal that way.

So I decided to do something about it. I got all idyllic. I thought a lot about the perfect job. I thought about the perfect place to work, the perfect kind of work and the perfect culture. I even started a blog about it. Maybe you’ve read it.

I concluded that the specific place I was looking for didn’t exist, yet. So I started the advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry.  Today, I couldn’t be happier. Everything about it seems to fit me. It seems the people working at The Weaponry are enjoying their experience too.  Perhaps because we set out to make this a really enjoyable place to work. Perhaps this is because, like fashion designers preparing for a runway show, we have been able to pick people for our team that we knew would look good in our jobs.

Now, back to you.

Today  I want you to think of your job as a piece of clothing.  It could be a dress, a suit, a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, a blouse or jacket. I want you to think about the fit and feel of your current job. Think about the style and the silhouette.

Now, let’s evaluate.

14 Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Job, If It Were A Piece Of Clothing.

  1. Do I like wearing it?
  2. Does it fit me well?
  3. Do I choose to wear it as often as I can?
  4. Would I only wear it if everything else was in the laundry?
  5. How would I feel if an old boyfriend or girlfriend saw me wearing this?
  6. Is it out of style?
  7. It is well-tailored to me?
  8. Does it make my butt look big?
  9. Am I excited that I own it?
  10. Do I get compliments when I wear it?
  11. Does wearing it make me feel stronger, more attractive or more fun?
  12. Could I really benefit from removing it from my closet?
  13. Is it the right style, but too big or too small?
  14. Do I cringe when I see the types of other people who wear what I’m wearing?

Here’s the reality: Your job really is like a piece of clothing. You wear it more than anything else you own.  Yet many people would be better off donating their jobs to Goodwill. You may think your current position is better than nothing. But I know many people who would look better wearing no job than the one they currently have.

You have more career options than you realize. You have the ability to create your own job, perfectly tailored to you.  Don’t ever forget that.  The more you enjoy your job, the more you enjoy your life. As far as I know, we only get one shot to get this right. So find something you love to do and a place you love to do it. If you find it doesn’t exist, make it yourself.

The 12 most popular birthday wishes on Facebook.

The 12 most popular birthday wishes on Facebook.

Today is my birthday! I have always loved my big day. But technology has made birthdays even more fun. Remember the pre-Friendsterspacebookgram era? You might have gotten a couple of calls from your closest, most thoughtful friends, on your land line, or flip phone. You may have received a few cards via snail mail. Which was kinda like the Pony Express. Only it useds snails. In total, 5-7 people remembered your day. Most of them were blood relatives.

Today, birthdays are way better. Facebook makes you feel like the most popular kid in cyberspace on your birthday. Friends come out of the digital woodwork to send you a birthday wish. Even friends you forgot were on Facebook surface like narwhals to deliver birthday wishes. Perhaps this is because Facebook makes you feel guilty for knowing about a birthday and not acting on it. After all, if we don’t have anything to say to a friend on their birthday, we have no reason to ever interact.

Which raises the question, how do you wish a friend or family member a happy birthday on social media? I’ve been studying birthday trends over the past 10 years. Here is a list of the most common birthday wishes on Facebook.

Top 12 Facebook birthday wishes.

1. The Be-Earlied Birthday wish.  This is the first wish you receive. It comes from a friend who is eager to be your first and most thoughtful FB friend. This can arrive anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days early. Sometimes the be-earlied birthday comes from a friend who is confused, or forgot your actual birthday, or is incarcertated and only has internet access for one day per week. Or, perhaps this friend is in a different part of the world where it is already May 25th, even though it is still May 24th where you live (substitute your birthday and birthday eve for May 25th and May 24th).

2. The Happy Birthday wish. As the name implies, this wish simply says Happy Birthday. It is the most common. It is the vanilla. The Chevrolet. But this hardworking message gets the job done without controversy.

3. The Happy Birthday! wish. This message ads an exclamation point to Happy Birthday. It has more energy. More pixel pop on your screen. It is like adding a cherry to your vanilla. Or honking the horn on your Chevy.

4. The Happy Birthday Name wish: Here the Wisher adds your name. This message is nice because it feels custom-made for you. It’s not like your friend cut and pasted the same Happy Birthday message they post on everyone else’s birthday wall.  They took the time to type your name. I like this touch. It’s like a captcha check that ensures your friend is not a robot.

5. The Exclaimed wish For some people, one exclamation point is just not enough. They need more. But 2 and even 3 exclamation points can still fall within the normal range. The Exclaimer has a more-is-better mentality. Like a cat lady. You need 4 or more !s to qualify. I like my crazy cat lady friends. And I love the enthusiasm of my Exclaimer friends!!!!!!!! Seriouosly!!!!!!!

6. The Heart wish.  Some people send you a heart on your birthday. Special friends do this. So do creepy friends.

7. The Birthday Emoji wish. This is a throwback to cave dwelling. This message may include an image of a birthday cake, balloon, streamers, champagne or party hat. Sometimes all of these, and more. Make a note of your friends who are good at emoji stories. You will want them on your team the next time you play Pictionary, or rendezvous with Martians.

8. The Birthday GIF wish.  This quick, humorous wish often adds both energy and humor to your birthday wall. Like a snake jumping out of a can. Or silly string to the face. Keep these coming. They make it feel like a party, 

9. The Birthday Meme wish: These are fun. Or thoughtful. Or both. They often say a lot about the friend who posted them. They are the modern equivalent to the Hallmark card. When I get one of these I imagine my friend spending an hour or so in the meme aisle at digital Walgreen’s, carefully picking out just the right birthday meme for me. Then walking out without paying.

10. The Personalized Message wish. This wish is really nice. Some friends post this wish to your wall. Others send it via messenger. It is a thoughtful birthday wish, tailored just for you. It could be funny or sincere. The key is that it makes your feel like the Wisher couldn’t send this wish to anyone but you. I try to send this kind of wish. But I often send number 11.

11. The Last Train wish.  According to Emily Facebook-Post, it is proper etiquette for you to post a Thank You message for all the birthday wishes you’ve received on the night of your birthday. 10pm or later, local time, is a good time to post your thank you. You will always have friends who failed to post anything before this, who will jump on the chance to attach their message to your thank you. They are kinda like a hobo jumping on the last train outta Cleveland.

12. The Belated Birthday wish.  This is the last hurrah. It’s the birthday wish that comes after your birthday is over. It’s a Lucky Strike extra. Like the firework that goes off after the grand finale ends, while you are walking to your car.

I am excited about my birthday. I plan to spend some time with my family, go fishing, workout, and go for a bike ride. I will also do a little wish-watching on Facebook to see how many different species of birthday wishes I spot.

Birthday Request

If you would like to give me a birthday gift that doesn’t cost you anything, and only takes a few seconds to give, I would love to have you subscribe to this blog. I write about my experiences as Founder of the advertsing agency, The Weaponry. I often write about life lessons and self improvement. But sometimes I write super useless helpful stuff like this.

What makes these siblings freakishly unique.

What makes these siblings freakishly unique.

Do you know what makes you unique? As an advertising professional I am always looking for the things that make brands and people stand out. In marketing, we call this a Unique Selling Proposition. A USP helps a brand, product or service stand apart from the competition in a meaningfully way. At The Weaponry, we help our clients discover and amplify their USP. Sometimes it is obvious. Other times we have to dig. Sometimes we dig to China.

I love discovering the USP in humans too. Everyone is special in his or her own way.  I remember being told this many times in my preschool and elementary school days. I believed it. While other kids may have had to do some soul-searching or head scratching to discover what made them special, I knew.

I am one of four children of Robert and Jill (Sprau) Albrecht. My parents got married 4 days before the 1960’s expired. They had my older sister, Heather, 17 months after that. Two years later they had their next child. Their first and only son. Me. Now, when I say I was born two years later, I mean it. My older sister and I have the same birthday.

My parents then slowed their roll, and waited almost 3 years to have my younger sister, Alison. Two years after that, our family caboose arrived. We named my baby sister, Donielle. (note to SpellCheck, AutoCorrect and Starbucks baristas: it is Donielle, with an ‘o’)

To recap: my older sister, Heather, and I have the same birthday, 2 years apart.  My two younger sisters, Alison and Donielle, have the same birthday, 2 years apart. Heather and I were born May 25th. Alison and Donielle were born May 22nd.  Which means my parents had 4 kids, on two days, just 3 days apart.

That’s pretty unique.

When telling new friends about our birthdays my parents would always conclude the story with:

…So we always say, “No more vacations in August!”

This always generated a huge laugh from the adults in the room. I’m a quick study. So when I would meet a new friend and tell them my origin story, I would always end it just like my parents did. I remember being at a sleepover and telling my friend’s parents this story, with the standard Albrecht-Family punchline. But as a 7-year old, I didn’t get big laughter. I made parents’ jaws drop. I got a look that even a 7-year-old could read as, ‘That is NOT an appropriate things to say. You won’t be playing with our Johnny again.’

But I had no idea what I was saying.  In fact, it wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I ever bothered to count back the 9 months from May to get some insight on the baby-making. And there it was. August. My parents made me and my 3 sisters in August. Apparently, while on vacation. Which is gross. And TMI. That’s why it wasn’t a cool thing for a 7-year old to say. Suddenly, all those horrified reactions made sense.  They thought I knew something that clearly I did not.

My family’s unique birthday story has always made me feel special. I now recognize that there are a handful of other things that make me special too. I can make a loud popping sound with my jaw. I may have the flattest feet on earth. I can make a pun out of any word you throw my way. But my birthday story always makes me feel like I was special from day 1. If you are giving birth to a business, brand, product or service, be sure to create it to be special from the start.  Then you’ll have as much fun telling your story as I have telling mine.

Today kicks off the Albrecht Family Birthweek. The biggest week of the year in the Albrecht family. Happy birthday today to my sisters Alison and Donielle, who are both in Houston. Happy be-earlied birthday to my sister Heather in Saint Paul.  I love all 3 of you more than footy pajamas, ice cream in a can and roller coasters. You make me proud to be your only bro. And you make me thankful for vacations in August.

The most important and overlooked role of mothers.

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.

A creative ice breaker to get people talking.

A creative ice breaker to get people talking.

It’s always interesting to observe the social dynamics at play when a group of strangers gather. When I am in business meetings, at parties, on planes and at the gym, I like to convert strangers into friends. Simple conversation is the key to this social alchemy. As the founder of the advertsing agency The Weaponry, I know how conversation and rappoire enhance creative ideation, customer service and networking. But getting strangers to talk (without waterboarding) isn’t always easy. But there’s a simple technique that works like magic. And I have been using it since college.

Gotta Go Back In Time.

When I was in school at the University of Wisconsin I lived with a really fun group of Badgers. Slosh, Boo, Hammer and Jacquer. We had a lot of great parties at 1117 Mound Street.  In fact, at our very first party we had the police come to our house at 4 o’clock in the norning (somewhere between night and morning). At another party we had to turn the music off for fear that the massive dance party in our living room was about to crash through the under-equipped floor, and become a deposit-erasing dance party in our basement. We knew how to have a great time.

One of our favorite party games involved name tags. We would hand out tags to all party-goers as they arrived, with just one simple rule:

Write anything you want on your name tag, except your name.

There is simply nothing better at getting people to talk to each other than an interesting, non-named name tag. It’s a fascinating study in psychology, sociology and creativity. The more fun you have with it the better it works. Be sure to tailor your non-name to the type of event you are attending. An interesting nickname, pick-up line, icon in pop culture, or the start of a joke can all work. Names like Knock Knock, Mime, My Little Friend (people always Say Hello to you) are proven, G-Rated winners. My great friend Betty Garrot, often reminds me that when we first met my name tag said, Person of Interest. 

I forgot to mention, I play this game at gatherings now, even when I am the only one playing. Because it works that well. In fact, if I was to open a new bar, I  would call the place, “Hello, My name is…” and implement this time-tested, conversation-sparking technique.

So buy a stack of name tags, have more fun and get more people talking at your next work party, social gathering, mixer, professional event, or wedding (I’m not encouraging you to have more than one wedding).  If you have a great ice breaker that I should know about, please share it in the comment section below. Or is it comments section? Or does it depend on how many comments there are? I don’t really know.

A strange encounter at the Piggly Wiggly.

A strange encounter at the Piggly Wiggly.

One of the great things about owning your own advertising agency is that you get to decide the rules of operation. I believe businesses should allow team members to construct their work and life schedules into one harmonious whole. I like to get started early each day, and work late. So sometimes I take a little time in the middle of the day for myself. Leading up to the OSCARS my wife and I went to several morning movies at the local Marcus Theater which has $5 movies on Tuesday.  This isn’t work-life balance. It’s work-life integration.

On a recent Friday I fit in a workout over my lunch hour.  Then I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a couple of things my wife requested. No big deal. After a quick lap around the store I had the 5 things I came for, and I got in line to check out.

This is where it gets interesting.

That’s when Matilda sidled up next to me. She was somewhere north of 75 years old. She rolled up slowly, leaning hard on her cart, as if it was the only thing that prevented her from lying face down on the floor. She rolled really close to me and spoke:

“Can I tell you something? I have 9 kids. 27 grandkids. And 10 great grandkids. There are 11 lawyers in the family. My husband does a lot of research. A lot… And he’ll tell you that the brand of ice cream you have in your cart is the most likely to give you Salmonella!’

I smiled at her and replied enthusiastically, “I know! That’s why I chose this brand!’

Matilda, surprised and somewhat confused by my response continued.

‘The next-worst brand for Salmonella is (BRAND CONCEALED TO PROTECT ITS WELL-EARNED BRAND REPUTATION FROM MATILDA).

Again, I eagerly replied, “I know! That’s the one I am going to try next! I haven’t had Salmonella yet! You only live once, and I want to experience all I can!’

Matilda: (Now snapping at me)  ‘You are just like my son who has been in the hospital for 11 months battling his heroin addiction!’

Hmmm. This was an interesting response. Contemplating that this all started with my brand of vanilla frozen yogurt, I thought that the heroin parallel was a bit of a stretch.

But Matilda wasn’t done.

‘Listen pal! I’ve done more crazy stuff in my life than you ever will! (Um, like confronting me in the grocery store over my choice of frozen yogurt?) I’ve taught over 500 people to water ski!’

At this point I was taking the cashier’s Paper or Plastic quiz.  But Matilda was rolling.  As I quickly finished my transaction and walked towards the exit with my plastic bag of frozen salmonella treats, Matilda shouted at me,

“How many emergency landings have YOU made in an airplane!?!”

I turned around, still smiling, and asked, “As a pilot or passenger?’

Then she scowled at me, lifted her arthritic hand, and raised 2 fingers. I’m assuming this meant. “Peace out Salmonella-Heroin Boy!’ Or maybe it meant ‘I’ve had 2 emergency plane landings! One every 37 years or so.’ Suddenly the sliding glass doors closed between us like the curtain at the end of a play. The matinee was over.

The reason I share this story is because I had to tell someone. It was just too surprisingly random to keep to myself. If you have a flexible workday schedule, you may encounter some interesting people who are running their errands while you are normally at work.  So if you want a little bit more entertainment, go to the grocery store in the middle of the day, throw some vanilla frozen yogurt in your cart and see who wants to chat.

Great news! Robots are coming to take your job!

Great news! Robots are coming to take your job!

The robots are coming!  The robots are coming!  

If you’ve read anything about technology trends lately, you know that R2D2, C-3PO and their posse are rolling into the workforce like the next generation of whippersnappers, ruining things for the old guard. This is really freaking people out. Most workers respond to all this robot-revolution talk with one of two standard reactions:

  1. Robots can’t do MY job!
  2. This is terrible!

These reactions are both wrong. Eventually almost every job will be improved, if not replaced, by robots. Seriously. Lawyers, real estate agents, actors, doctors, truck drivers and singers. Don’t believe me? Let’s try a little imagination.

Robot Lawyer

A computer-brained robot can tap into a database, find and learn all of the relevant legal cases necessary to defend or prosecute a case. They can learn which arguments work most effectively, most often, by studying data. The robot’s facial recognition software will allow it to respond to witnesses and jurors. Thus, it can, and will adjust its delivery to the most impactful style, based on data. Best of all, the robot will actually listen to the human feedback, because it has been programmed to do so.

Robot Doctor

Your surgeon, who must perform incredibly precise maneuvers will be out-precisely maneuvered by Sparky the Surgical Robot, who isn’t impacted by an itchy nose, an aging body, and a crummy night of sleep. Oh, and this is alreay happening.

 

Robot Redford

There will no longer be an interpretation gap between directors and actors. Or casting sessions. The precisly-programmed robot actors will generate the perfect emotion on take one. Cut. That’s a wrap.

So yes, all of our current jobs will be impacted. If you can’t imagine how your job or your industry could be handled by a robot, I encourage you to use my imagination. I will walk you through the possibilities.

But this is good news.

In the beginning of humanness there were only 2 jobs:

  1. Hunter & Gatherer
  2. Home Maker

We had to find a way to free some people up to do more important work.  The key was agriculture. As soon as cave-men started cultivating crops, domesticating animals and wearing FFA-jackets, many more people were free to do non-essential work.

200 years ago, 90% of Americans lived on farms and grew their own food. In the year 1900, 40% of Americans worked in agriculture. Today, due to advances in technology, only 2% do.

Yet over the past 117 years we didn’t experiencing a rural apocalypse. Previously farm-bound Americans were freed to pursuit other interests. So they did. They went to college and created plastics and silicon and vacuum tubes. Then they created computers, rocket ships, microchips, smartphones and robots. Someone also created the Pet Rock. So it hasn’t all been useful.

At The Weaponry, we believe that the human mind is the most powerful weapon on Earth. Our minds will always reign supreme on this planet. We will continue to mechanize and automate the jobs that can be performed as well, or better, by machines. So that we can rise to an even higher standard of living, quality of life and take on even greater human challenges. We will never run out of things for humans to do. So don’t be scared. Be excited. The best is yet to come.  Isn’t that right R2?