My travel day to the other side of the world.

As children in America, we are taught that if you dig a hole in your yard deep enough, you will pop out in China. I now know that if you ever do dig such a hole, and I encourage you to try, two things will happen:

  1. You will miss out on a lot of frequent flyer miles.
  2. You will find yourself in India.

Brew City to The ATL

This week I decided to opt for the frequent flyer miles, instead of the tunneling workout, and I flew to India. I traveled there because one of our great clients hired The Weaponry to film a video of a business in Bangalore. The travel started with a flight from Milwaukee to Atlanta. Which was like a light jog before a marathon. I spent most of the flight talking to my seatmate John, who is a lawyer in Milwaukee. It was social and pleasant and short. It was a flight I have done 100 times before. So John was the highlight of the trip.

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My view of Wisconsin just after takeoff. Wisconsin is a beautiful place. And we have a lot of cheese.

Arbylanta

I met up with my fellow Weapon, Adam ‘Henry’ Emery in Atlanta. We grabbed some Arby’s, because Mexican food before two long flights had the potential to be a really bad idea. As we ate in the food court at concourse E, we sat next to a group of 60-somethings from Iowa heading to a two-week river cruise in Europe. It made me look forward to party-traveling with our couple friends in another twenty years. When they asked us where we were headed…, actually, they never asked. And when you are headed somewhere really interesting like India, you always notice when people don’t ask.

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Henry and I decided a plane would be the best way to get to India.

Atlanta to Paris

I washed down my roast beef sandwich with a Malaria medicine chaser. Then we boarded the plane for Paris. My next-seat neighbor looked like he may be Indian, so I was excited to chat him up. Turns out he lived in Warner Robbins, Georgia and was heading to Oslo, Norway for some work with the US Air Force. Oh, and he was originally from Pakistan. (Nice job with the racial profiling Adam!) From here on I will refer to my seat mate as Warner, because I never caught his real name.

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Breakfast

The most noteworthy part of the flight was when we were served breakfast. Well it was breakfast if we acted like we were already in Paris. But in Atlanta it would have been a midnight snack. Moments after the flight attendant placed Warner’s breakfast on his tray and handed him a generous cup of water, Warner spilled his entire cup of water on his crotch.

I don’t know about you, but when I see someone de-planing after an overnight flight with a totally soaked crotch, I assume they suffer from nocturnal bladder control. Warner tried to soak up the water on his tray and nether regions with his blanket. But the damage was done. He was soaking wet in all the wrong places.

I tried to console him, saying, ‘Well at least you got a story out of it.’ But what I really meant was, ‘At least I got a story out of it!’

Soon the joke was on me. 

As I opened my utensil pack, my plastic spoon fell to the ground by our feet. With our seat-back trays now loaded with food and drinks there was no way to retrieve the spoon within the allotted 5 seconds.

Suddenly I had to figure out how to eat my yogurt, and minced fruit cup without a spoon.  So I had to go MacGyver Mode. I found a little package of jelly on my tray. I opened the jelly package, dropped the jelly into my plain yogurt (or is that plane yogurt?) to try to add a little flavor. Then I used the tiny empty plastic jelly dish to scoop out the yogurt and tiny bits of fruit in the fruit cup. Hunger avoided. And just 8.5 hours after takeoff, we were touching down in Paris.

Paris

Any time you start your morning in Paris, you know you are going to have an interesting day.  Henry and I got off the plane and had to navigate another security checkpoint. While in line, we spotted the two clients we expected to catch up with in Paris. One was traveling from Boston and the other came from Cincinnati. It’s pretty wild to see people you know on another continent. And after a night with no sleep, it felt surreal. Like Sir Reals-a-lot. 

The four of us made it through a highly inefficient security procedure and suddenly had three hours to kill. Our client-friends, Nina and Jake, had access to the Air France lounge, and could each bring a guest. So we got our lounge on.

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Nina was fake-sleeping for the carmera, because she knows I like pics of sleepers.
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Lounging

Now I have traveled a lot. But I have never been any place nicer in an airport than the Air France lounge in Paris. We enjoyed complimentary breakfast and drinks. We lounged in comfortable chairs. Some of us took showers. Others of us worked on our blog and re-applied deodorant.

We were also learning to cope with our newly developed sleep deprivation. Which I enjoy. My favorite thing about being around people suffering from mild sleep deprivation is humor inflation. Thanks to humor inflation, very small bits of mild to moderate humor elicit much larger laughs than they deserve. In these situations my attempts at comedy typically receive greater rewards than they merit. The rest of the world is funnier to me when I haven’t slept much too. It is as close to drunk as I ever get.  And I was laughing it up Paris.

Paris to Bangalore 

As our departure time neared we grabbed a few extra beverages from the lounge for our flight, and made our way to our gate. It was there that we were told our flight was delayed because of a mechanical issue. I always secretly appreciate these delays. I think they are a sweet gesture from the airline. They say, ‘I know we don’t know each other that well, but we don’t want you to die on our plane.’

The delay was only about 45 minutes long, and we were on our way. The 9.5 hour flight from Paris to Bangalore, India was comfortable and uneventful. I had a window seat and got to see things like Southern Germany, The Austrian Alps, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea and something that looked like Narcolepsy.

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Then we crossed over Syria, Iraq and Iran. I saw much of the tense-est political areas on the globe from 35,000 feet. It all looked like Nevada.

Bangalore

We landed in Bangalore a little after midnight. But the immigration process was very slow and joy-less. This 2-hour slog through immigration in the middle of the night, after 24 hours of travel and spotty sleep would prove to be the low-light of the trip.

At 2:30am local time we made our way to baggage claim, and then outside the airport where drivers in white shirts were gathered like paparazzi trying to get the attention of those of us trying to find our drivers.

Alfton

Somewhere in the drivers lineup we finally found Alfton, our driver for the week. I actually don’t know what his name is. At such a late hour I remember thinking his name sounded like my Grandpa Alton Albrecht’s with an additional F.  So it may have been Falton, Alfton, Altfon, or Altonf.

As we walked with Alfton to his van we could see the fancy Taj Hotel directly across the street from the airport. This is where we would be staying every night of our trip, other than tonight. This night had sold out before we booked it. So now, at 2:30 am, we had to make a 50 minute drive into the city of Bangalore.

Conclusion

The air travel was an adventure. And it was long. But it really wasn’t that hard. I got enough sleep to keep powered up. Now, with that leg of the journey behind me I was curious to see what India had in store for me. And that is what I will be sharing next.

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Today is the day I leave for India!

I start my journey to India today. The team at my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, are working on a project with a really impressive business in Bangalore. But the first big moment of the trip actually came yesterday. 24 hours before takeoff I received a push notification from Delta that it was time to check in for my flight. I have traveled so much that the mere check-in notice doesn’t usually get me excited. But this one did. There is so much unknown ahead of me in the next 30 hours that I got a fun flock of butterflies flittering in my stomach. I love that feeling. It makes me feel both alive and buttery.

The first big question is, How will I tolerate 2-hour, 8.5-hour and 10-hour flights back to back to back?  I have a regular-person seat for both long flights. No first class or business class. No exit row. No incrementally-less-discomfortable seats. The second question obviously is, Do I have enough material to maintain over 20 hours of conversations with my seat mates? I am sure whoever sits next to me on the long flights is going to expect us to have an ultramarathon conversation, like at a no-sleep sleepover. And I don’t want to disappoint.

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I flagged today to fly to India on a day that India is flying a flag. 

Today’s Indiatinerary

I leave Milwaukee just before 1pm today and fly to Atlanta. I have a 2-hour layover in my other-home airport, and meet up with my fellow Weapon, Adam Emery. Adam, or Henry as we call him, is our Associate Creative Director, and has been a full-time employee of The Weaponry for a year. When you celebrate an anniversary as a full-time team member of The Weaponry, we like to offer a special project, like working with a celebrity athlete or something that allows you to fly to the other side of the planet. #benefits

From Atlanta, Henry and I have an 8+ hour flight to Paris. There, we will try to find an all-you-can-eat croissants buffet during our 3-hour layover. We will also meet up with the two clients who are traveling with us. I envision us filling our lengthy layover with sitcom-style airport hijinks, and general foreign country hilarity. After 3 hours of ooh la la-ing, we will jump on the final leg of the journey to India. Our 10 hour flight will take us to Bangalore, also known as Bengaluru, where we plan to watch Hulu with a guru.

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This is exactly what I expect the airport to look like in Bangalore, except none of the signs will mention Helsinki.

If all goes according to plan, we will arrive in India just before midnight on Sunday night. Then Henry and I will catch a ride with a transportation service to our hotel in the city center, which is about 35 kilometers from the airport.

This will definitely be interesting adventure. I have watched a bunch of movies to prepare me for this experience. My Pre-India Film Festival included Gandhi, Eat. Pray. Love., Slumdog Millionaire, Lion and Hoosiers. I later realized that Hoosiers actually took place in Indiana. Oops. (or should I say Hoops?)

Thanks for following the journey. I also plan to post updates, pics, vids and stories on Instagram at @adamalbrecht if connectivity allows.

Let’s do this!

There is an exciting new trip on my entrepreneurial journey.

My career in advertising has been an amazing adventure. The interesting experiences I’ve had at work could fill a book. Or at least a blog. I have never taken any of this for granted. And I always look forward to what each new project will bring.

Travel

One of the great benefits of my career is that I have done a lot of travel. I have spent more time in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago than I can count. I love each of those cities, and feel at home in all three. But these great American cities represent a small sliver of my business adventures.

My work travel has taken me to Alaska where I was awed by the Northern Lights. I have snowmobiled on glaciers and ATV’d on black sand beaches during the summer solstice in Iceland. I have worked with 100 men in pink bodysuits in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  I spent a week in a camper in the Baja peninsula of Mexico while filming trophy trucks bombing across the desert. I have ridden a 1500 foot zipline in Whistler, British Columbia. I have flown to Quebec City on a private jet to ride a secret snowmobile on a 50 mile long private trail. And I was being paid to do it all.

My Entrepreneurial Journeys

When I launched my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, I wondered how long it would be until I added to noteworthy travel. Over the past couple of years I have certainly traveled a good bit. My journal says that work for The Weaponry has taken me to the following places:

  • Boston
  • San Francisco
  • Montreal
  • Cincinnati
  • Columbus
  • Atlanta
  • Miami
  • Las Vegas
  • Fort Myers
  • Minneapolis
  • Madison
  • Salt Lake City
  • Athens, GA
  • Albany, GA
  • Houston

Taking It To The Next Level

Today I am thrilled to share that I have some really exciting new travel coming up. This Saturday I am going to India! The Weaponry is filming a fascinating global business based in Bangalore, which for those of you who don’t know, is the Silicon Valley of India. Bangalore may be the largest city you’ve never heard of. At a population of 12 million people, it is 12 times larger than any city with 1 million people! (I did the math)

I have never been to India. So this is an exciting new experience for me. The travel itself will be an adventure. Total travel time each way will take 25 hours. I will be in India for just 75 hours, because I need to get home for my wedding anniversary. Which means that my ratio of traveling-time to being-there-time is nothing to envy.

Shots! Shots! Shots!

Last week I got shots for Typhoid Fever and Hepatitis A (which I thought is what Canadians call Hepatitis). I received Malaria medicine and anti-diarrheal medicine. This is the first time anti-diarrheal has appeared in this blog. You know you are embarking on an epic journey when you get counseled on Malaria and diarrhea strategies.

I also called Global Rescue to cover me while I am traveling. This membership-based organization is a life saver. Because if you become ill or injured when traveling internationally, they will come and get you, and bring you home to the hospital of your choice. Even better, Global Rescue was The Weaponry’s founding client, and we are thrilled to be members today.

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This is a globe. You can tell it’s not a picure of the Earth from outer space because it has words on it.

Key Takeaway

Once again, my entrepreneurial journey is presenting an opportunity to do, see and learn new things. Thanks to this business I launched, I am going to visit a new continent, a new country and a new culture on the other side of the world. From the beginning, I expected The Weaponry would enable me and my team members to do amazing things together. And it has. But this upcoming trip takes the proverbial cake.

*I will share updates throughout my experience. If you want to follow along, consider subscribing to this blog.

It’s time to be more selfish with your time.

Today, millions of  people will be robbed by their co-workers. This thievery is the most under-reported crime in America. Your co-workers are not stealing your cash, or phones or heirloom quality Tupperware from the break room fridge. What they are stealing is far worse.

Time

Time is your most precious commodity. And people take it from you on a daily basis.  They stop by your desk to chat for too long. They cause meetings and phone calls to go longer than necessary. They are turning their lack of planning into your emergencies. The next thing you know, the whistle blows, Fred Flintstone is sliding down his dinosaur, and it’s time to go home. You spent eight hours of your life at work, but your most important work is still undone.

So McGruff The Time Dog is here to tell you that you have got to protect your time. If you want to make a valuable contribution to your organization, you need to use your precious time to execute. You can’t do that when someone stops by to complain that Lucy and Ethel are terrible at packing up the chocolates.

Time Makes The Difference

As a business owner, I look for spare time like spare change in my couch cushions. Because every time I find a few extra minutes, it enables me to spend time working on my business. I can use that valuable time to create new offerings, improve processes and find ways to deliver better work for our clients. But that all takes time.

It is easy to spend all of your time dealing with the needs of others. It may even feel like you are busy working. But you are not advancing your own projects. At the end of the year it is easy to look back and see that you did little to advance your department or your initiatives.

I Must Protect These Hours!

Protecting your time means finding and protecting hours of uninterrupted progress on your own work. That may mean working from home, or a coffee shop, or Chick-Fil-a (which is my secret work-away spot). It may mean blocking off large blocks of time on your calendar so that no one schedules you up. And it may mean putting a sign up in your office space that says you are working on something really important and can’t be interrupted. If that doesn’t work, tell people you have the Bird Flu. Actually, you may want to start with that.

Lock Down The Digital Entries

You will also want to turn off your email, Slack and phone. Because in the digital age, people try to get sneaky and steal your time digitally too. Once your time is fully protected, use it to crank away on your most important work, uninterrupted. Find time to do this every day and you’ll be amazed how much more you can accomplish each week when your are not be constantly chased by Smokey and The Time Bandits.

Key Takeaway

It’s great to be a team player. But you can’t let others take away your scoring opportunities. That’s exactly what happens when you sit in meetings too long, are regularly interrupted, or get sent on wild goose chases (no one ever chases the domesticated geese). Don’t be afraid to be selfish with your time. It’s the only way to advance the work that you are directly responsible for doing. It also keeps your work at work. And prevents you from having to steal time from your personal life to get your work finished.

3 easy things you can do to prevent stress gunk.

Entrepreneurship is like joining the Stress Of The Day Club. Because entrepreneurship is hard. But motherhood and fatherhood and living in the hood are also hard. That’s because life is hard, and stressful. No one is immune. And not to spoil the ending, but none of us will make it out alive.

Stress Gunk

We accumulate stress during regular operating hours every day. If we are not careful, that stress leads to a the accumulation of a funky gunk. That gunk prevents us from performing at our best. In turns us into cranky pants. It also prevents us from being able to handle more stress.

I have found 3 things that help me eliminate the stress gunk in my trunk. Together these 3 ingredients are my de-stress recipe. Or destressipe.

1. Exercise

When I started lifting weights when I was a freshman in high school it changed my life. I tend to have a lot of energy. But when I lift weights it helps me burn off my excess, pent-up, or silly energy. Stress is a form of energy too. You can use it like a workout supplement to move more weights or endure longer endurancey things. The key is to workout until you’ve burned off the stress energy. It’s a great way to prevent your mind and body from going all Chernobyl.

2. Sleep

Sleep is your giant reset button. It is what helps replenish your store of energy, your tolerance for craziness, your focus, your stamina and your eye boogers. Whenever I get 7 hours of sleep at night I feel like I am unstoppable. I often nap on the weekends too. Because it is an investment in a better me. When I don’t feel quite right, sleep is my go to prescription. Because it is how your body naturally regenerates the best you.

3. Church.

Stress often causes us to lose perspective. Or maybe it is the loss of perspective that causes the stress. Either way, attending church is the best way I know to regain a healthy world view. I believe there is a greater power than me. And I don’t just mean the IRS or Dwayne Johnson. I’m on Team Christian. But I believe all of the major religions provide great perspective and guidance on how to be a better you and live a better life.

I try to attend church regularly. It helps me refocus, refresh, relax, feel supported, and forgiven for my mistakes. Communion also makes me feel a bit like a cannibal when I eat and drink JC. But that’s a different issue.

Key Takeaway

There are stresses, frustrations and losses that accumulate every day. We are drained by daily set backs. So we have to prevent the stress gunk from building up and fouling our systems. The key is to figure out how to reboot, regenerate, and respond positively.  Exercise, Sleep and Church are the back-to-basics keys that can help you find your balance again when you start to weeble or wobble. Try these proven approaches. They just may make you feel like a better human.

How to balance your priorities like a student athlete.

Even 22 years after graduation I have not found a school I would rather have attended than the University of Wisconsin. There is no other town like Madison. And no other culture like the University and its work-hard, play-hard, jump-around-hard students and alumni.

Student

In college I double majored in Psychology and Journalism. I think I also set some sort of school record for most bars and parties attended without drinking alcohol.

Athlete

When I wasn’t studenting I was a proud member of Wisconsin’s Men’s Track & Field team. I threw the discus, the hammer, the 35-pound weight, and the occasional hissy fit. 

The Kickoff Meeting 

Every fall, the track year would kick off with a mandatory team meeting in an auditorium in the athletic center. We had to fill out various forms in order to be cleared to participate. It was more businessy than athleticy. But it signaled the start of the season, and it was the first time the team assembled each school year.

Coach Nuttycombe

My favorite part of the meeting was when our head coach, Ed Nuttycombe, addressed the team. When I joined the program, Nutty had already won several Big Ten championships. By the time he retired in 2013, he had amassed 26 Big Ten titles, more than any other coach, in any sport in Big Ten history. I was proud to be part of that history, as our team swept the Big Ten Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor track titles both my junior and senior years.

Nutty’s Accolades

  • 26 Big Ten Titles
  • 2007 NCAA Indoor National Team Championship
  • 165 Big Ten Individual Champions
  • 11 NCAA Individual Champions
  • 6 Olympians

Priorities

There was one part of this annual meeting I will never forget. Nutty always made a strong point about his expectations of our priorities. He said:

‘Gentlemen, as a member of this team, always remember that academics come first. You are a student at the University of Wisconsin first. Track & Field comes second. Let me be absolutely clear about that. But if you want to be on this team, track better be so close behind your school work that you can barely tell a difference. Academics are priority 1. Track and Field is priority 1A.’     -Ed Nuttycombe

Oh Snap!

I remember being surprised the first time I heard this speech. I thought he was going to say academics are always the priority. Athletics come second. But that’s not the Nutty way. In his world, if you can’t fully dedicate yourself to both high academic and athletic achievement, then you don’t belong on his team. That was a badass statement. And we all felt badass for living up to his standards.

Hall of Fame

Last Friday, Nutty was inducted into the University of Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame. And with great reason. But I would also induct Nutty into the Prioritizing Hall of Fame for the way he pushed us to achieve great things in multiple areas of our lives. My teammates were impressive on the track, in the field and in the classroom. But I am just as proud of all the successes my teammates are having today in their careers, and as husbands and fathers.  

Takeaway

I carry on Nutty’s dual commitment today to my family and my work. I don’t think about balancing the two. I think about prioritizing them both. I must succeed at both. There is no way around it. There are no shortcuts to take. There are no excuses. That’s what Nutty taught me. And just look at his track record. #PunIntended

It’s time to tell the full truth about the business I made up.

Three years ago I started writing the story of a fictional advertising and idea agency. I dreamed up the details of the business and then wrote them down in a notebook. I would fire up my laptop, open a google doc, and fill it with vivid descriptions of this company that only I could see. In the same way that children have imaginary friends, I had an imaginary ad agency. I thought about that agency all the time. I was obsessed.

The more I thought about it, the more I wrote about it. And the more I wrote about it the more vivid this fictional business became to me. So I did something crazy. I started talking to other people about my imaginary agency. I described it as if were absolutely real. I told people what kind of services it offered, what kind of people worked there. I talked about its culture and why it was the perfect agency. I even gave it a name.

Then a funny thing happened. Other people began talking about this completely fictional agency like it was a real business. They started asking questions about it. Smart, talented,  sane people wanted to know if they could work there.

So I began talking to marketing professionals and business owners about my imaginary agency. Then something unbelievable happened. Someone asked if they could hire this imaginary agency to create some real advertising.

Suddenly, this agency that was completely made up had a real client, a real project to work on, and a real deadline. I quickly filled the imaginary roles within the agency with real people, who did the real work and delivered real ads to a real business for real money.

From that moment on, this fictional story of mine became non-fiction. People started referring to my imaginary agency by name. They called it The Weaponry. The United States Government started sending it mail. Businesses started sending it money. People started listing it as their employer, and banks started calling it to make sure it was ok to offer applicants mortgages. How crazy is that?

Key Takeaway 

If you want to create a real business you start by creating a fictional business. Imagine every detail. Write it all down. Paint a picture so vivid it feels absolutely real. Talk about it in such detail that others start to see it too. Give it a name. Others will start calling it by that name too. Talk about your fake business to real customers and clients. It will be weird and surreal. It will warp and bend your sense of reality for a while. But if you believe in it enough, others will too. Then suddenly, and undeniably it will all become completely real. I know it sounds crazy. But it’s true.