How to keep A-holes out of your organization.

I’m not a huge fan of rules. Creative people as a species are naturally averse to them. But if you want to develop a business with a strong culture and a rock solid, repeatable process you need some rules to guide you.

Some Background

Prior to starting my own ad agency I had been part a fun, feisty and progressive agency called Engauge. We had offices in Atlanta, Austin, Columbus, Pittsburgh and Orlando. And we worked with some of America’s best brands, including Coca Cola, Wells Fargo, UPS, Nike, Chick-Fil-A, Nationwide, Walgreens, and Cisco. We had a lot of very talented people. And we had a great company culture. #weness  But it didn’t happen by accident.

Rules That Free Us

When I joined Engauge’s restructured executive leadership team in 2011 our first order of business was to create some simple rules to govern the organization. Because we believed that a great organization is made of great people who enjoy working together, the first rule we unanimously agreed on was the ‘No A-holes’ rule. For those unfamiliar with the rule, or the obviousness of the phrase, it means that your organization will not tolerate people who act like A-holes.

80s-boss-yelling-at-employee_pan_13261-1
This dude is acting like a textbook A-hole. Well, maybe not a medical textbook A-hole, but you know what I mean. 

Prevention

Preventing the A-holes from joining your team isn’t easy. Because they are on their absolute best behavior in interviews. Sometimes we sniff them out (yeah, I said it). But often they sneak past our filters. So as much as we try to prevent an A-hole from getting into our organizations in the first place, they get in. So now what?

The Conundrum

You just get rid of them, right? After all, no one likes an A-hole. Unfortunately, it’s typically not that simple. Because let’s face it, there are a lot of talented A-holes. The drive, intelligence, confidence and will of a typical A-hole help makes things happen. It’s common for them to make a quick impact and create immediate wins.

The Problem

But that upside comes with an equally significant downside. Because A-holes are uncomfortable to be around, they drain morale and sap energy. The unfortunate reality is that when you retain an A-hole, (which means you are A-hole retentive) it sends a terrible message about your values to your most valued employees. You’ll watch them drop like flies. Among the employees you will retain you’ll lose untold dollars in productivity as co-workers gather to talk about what an A-hole the A-hole is.

Even Worse

Of course the worst problem of all occurs when an A-hole develops a close relationship with a client. Because then the business has to decide whether they want to lose the valuable contributions of the A-hole and irritate or lose a client.

GettyImages_200495936-001

The Solution

There is a proven 2-step process to handling such problem employees. First, ask a handful of cross functional team members if they think the co-worker in question is an A-hole. Second, if the consensus is yes, you put on your scrubs and perform an Assholectomy.

There simply is no room for the distraction, the division and the drama caused by A-holes. Accepting them tells the rest of the organization that It’s okay to be an A.  That can’t happen. Because eventually enough people will leave, or threaten to leave that you have no choice but to get rid of the A-hole A-nyway.

 The Result

After implementing the A-hole rule in the past, I’m proud to say we purged several very talented but very difficult people. By dropping those stinky sphincters, the culture, vibe, productivity and overall love for the organization improved.

The Weaponry

When I launched my own advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, in 2016, the first rule we implemented was the No A-Holes Rule. But we didn’t just make it a rule. We baked this non-negotiable into the center of our brand identity. You’re probably wondering how we did this.

the-weaponry_logo_red_cmyk

See the A in the middle of the word Weaponry? Notice that it has no A-hole? That’s because there are no A-holes at The Weaponry. #TrueStory #BakedInFromTheStart

By establishing this rule from the beginning we have had no A-hole problems at The Weaponry over the past 3 years. None. Not even a whiff of a personality problem. #snickering  All of our full-time and part-time team members have been exceptional people who work great with others.

Key Takeaway

If you want to create a great work environment, team and culture you have to invite the right people in and keep the wrong people out. There simply is no room for A-holes. Even really talented A-holes. Because you will be cleaning up their crap until the day they leave. So create a policy and a process to prevent them from getting into your organization, and for removing them if they sneak in. By eliminating A-holes you will have avoided the negative distractions that kill both productivity and culture. Which means you and your team can focus on building a great business. And building great, long lasting relationship with each other.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message (like someone dealing with an A-hole) please share it with them.

Advertisements

17 inspirational quotes on the power of your imagination.

In a normal year my family and I would be heading to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina this week. Unfortunately, our family’s August vacation tradition looks like it has come to an end. Because our kids’ sports obligations have locked us at home for the month of August for the next 9 years. Boo.

Exploring Our Backyard

But when life gives you lemons you have to squeeze them for all they’re worth. That’s why we have been using our weekends to explore interesting attractions closer to home. In the past couple of weeks we have been to the Milwaukee Air and Water Show, The Milwaukee Zoo, The Wisconsin State Fair, The Chazen Art Museum and more state parks than you can shake a state park pass at.

D49D59AE-95F3-4750-9019-BE40263261B4
Devil’s Lake
C5405B20-9B90-4758-B46B-CA21D7E0E49F
Doing what they are posed to do.
IMG_8179.JPG
Somewhere between the cream puffs and the fried olives at the Wisconsin State Fair.

The House On The Rock

This weekend we hit one of the most mysterious of midwestern attractions. The House On The Rock. I had heard about this place since I was a small child but really didn’t know what it was, other than the obvious information I gleaned from the name itself. Because I am smart like that.

Imagination At Work

The House On The Rock turned out to be extremely interesting, fun and weird. As the name implies, there is a house built on a rock. But there is a whole lot of interesting stuff housed adjacent to the rock that is hard to wrap your head around, or put into words. So I won’t attempt it here. Suffice it to say The House On The Rock is the product of an active imagination.

Meeting My Quota of Quotes

One of my favorite spaces at THOTR was a room full of inspirational quotes focused mostly on the power of imagination. As an advertising creative I have spent my entire career mining my own imagination. As an entrepreneur I have seen how an entire business can spring from the blueprints of our imagination. So I am sharing some of the quotes I found here. I hope there is something that resonates with you.

IMG_8366
I love the way a good quote can sum up important, yet complex thoughts in a simple, memorable way.
IMG_8367
This is me in a nutshell. Only without the nutshell.
img_8369.jpg
Less about imagination. More about acting. Or is it smallness? Or getting wasted?
img_8370.jpg
Call the patent office, because I just invented the future!
IMG_8371
I see what you did there Grant!
IMG_8372
How the ninja turtle saved an angel from a rock.
IMG_8373
This is why so many Moms choose to be Jif.
IMG_8374
More windshield. Less rear view mirror.
IMG_8375
This quote came from someone in a long line of anonymous people.
IMG_8376 2
He said but.
IMG_8377
This is why Fletch put the bill on the Underhill’s account. #FletchLines
IMG_8378
I think this means Shakespeare wishes that you buy your dish soap at Costco.
IMG_8379
Imagine all the people.
IMG_8380
Satchel thought like Hugh Hefner.
IMG_8381
Apparently I made up my mind to crop this photo too tight.
IMG_8383
Isn’t it ironic how much of Unknown’s work is totally known?
IMG_8384
This was said right before Lewis & Clark stuffed Marcel in a locker.

Key Takeaway

Your imagination is your most valuable asset. It can help you create wealth, happiness and comfort. It can get you into the places you want to be in. And out of the places you want out of. Use it. Protect it. Value it. Build your life on it. Like a house on a rock.

*If you know someone who could use some inspirational quotes (#everyone) please share it with them.

You never forget your first income as an entrepreneur.

I am into simple pleasures. As an entrepreneur, one of those simple pleasures is taking checks to the bank and depositing them in person, old school style. I have been doing this since I first launched my business in 2016. It is one of my favorite parts of business ownerships. I find it extremely rewarding. Like a fisherman bringing home his daily catch. Like a farmer hauling the harvest to town. Or a gold prospector showing off his nuggets. #snickering

My Last Bank Run

Friday afternoon I made a run to the bank to deposit some checks I received last week. But what started as a routine trip to the bank became a trip down memory lane. Because as I entered the bank I was hit by the memory of depositing the very first check my business ever received.

You Never Forget Your First

I dreamed of starting my own advertising agency since I first started my career as a young copywriter. Finally, in 2015 I decided to take the proverbial plunge. (Which makes me a proverbial plunger.) From the time I committed to launching my own agency until I legally established The Weaponry LLC and left my job was 7 months. Just 1 month after I launched The Weaponry I received a check for $46,444 made out to The Weaponry LLC. I was amazed. I kept thinking that 1 month earlier The Weaponry didn’t even exist. Now it was about to have $46,000 in the bank.

Show And Tell

I remember going to my bank in Atlanta to deposit the check like it was yesterday. The woman who helped me set up The Weaponry’s business banking accounts just weeks earlier happened to be working that day. I hurried over to her like a proud kid coming home with a great report card and said, ‘Look what I have!’

I showed her the check for $46,000 and her eyes got really big. She said, ‘Wow! That was fast! How do I get in on this business?’

3 Years Later

Fast forward 3 years to last Friday. I walked into another branch of that same bank in Milwaukee. I was thinking about that momentous first check as I approached the counter where I sign my checks before I deposit them. As I pulled out the checks to give them my John ‘Don’t-Call-Me-Herbie’ Hancock, I saw something remarkable on the checks. And it wasn’t the dollar value.

Another Wow

What I noticed was that 2 of the 3 checks I was depositing had logos printed on them that The Weaponry designed. Now we were not just getting paid with checks. Our work was literally on the checks, and on the envelopes in which the checks were mailed.

When I first envisioned The Weaponry I imagined the agency impacting every touchpoint of the brands we worked with. But I hadn’t imagined getting paid for our efforts with checks that had logos on them the we had designed.

These brands were not tiny startups either. One of the checks came from a client of ours who is celebrating their 125th year in business. The other was from a brand owned by one of the best known companies in the world.

I took my time signing the checks as I soaked in the moment. Then I walked up to the teller with a smile even wider than usual. Knowing that The Weaponry is not just making money. We are making an impact on our clients’ businesses.

Key Takeaway

Entrepreneurship, like life, is an exciting journey. It is easy to lose sight of just how much progress you have made along the way. That’s why it is important to recognize those telltale signs that you are growing, building and improving. Keep your eyes open for your own important, yet often subtle signs of progress. They indicate that You have outgrown the You of yesterday. In the end that is all we can really hope for.

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

How to make the most of a 7-hour commute.

Last Friday evening the commute from my office to my home was 7 hours-long. Not 7 minutes. 7 hours. While that may not be surprising in cities like Atlanta and Los Angeles, it is outside the normal range most other places.

I left the office at 5pm and didn’t pull into my driveway until just after 11pm. You math wizards are probable thinking, ‘Bro, that is 6 hours!’ (Actually, I hope all of you are thinking that.) But it was 7 hours. Because I crossed a time zone in the middle of the drive.

The Reason

This reason the commute took 7 hours was not because of construction, an accident, weather or car problems. It was because I drove home from my office in Columbus, Ohio to my home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The Home Office Strategy

When I launched my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, I adopted a home office strategy. Which meant that I wanted to have an office every place I’ve had a home. The strategy allows me to regularly travel to the places I feel most at home. It means I can continue to spend time with the close friends I’ve accumulated across the country. It also means that I can hire former teammates again. And become a great local resources for my former clients. (That is if I am not adding them to my team too…) #foreshadowing

IMG_6261
Spending time with my friend Troy Allen, Founder of Rise Brands, is a great benefit of having a Columbus office. And look at that nuclear-strength light bulb over my head! #bigideas

The Weaponry C-Bus

The Weaponry has had an office in Columbus since March of 2019. We have a full-time creative team in that office. We are planning on adding more team members in Columbus by the end of the year as we continue to expand our presence in the Buckeye State.

IMG_6230
Ohio Weapons in The Weaponry Ohio

Making Magic

Last week in Columbus I met with people I am recruiting. I met with potential collaborators and potential clients. I introduced a couple of exciting brand-building side projects to my team, in which The Weaponry itself could be developing its own brands. We also edited 7 new videos and commercials for one of our best clients.

IMG_8004 2
Last Friday the Weapons ate at Johnnies Tavern, home of the Super Burgers. But I had my first fried baloney sandwich. Which tastes a lot like a hot dog sandwich.

Unusual Things

As I wrapped up my work day on Friday and prepared to head home to Milwaukee I did 2 things I don’t usually do. First, at 4:30pm ET I called the local Donatos Pizza in Grandview, and ordered 2 large pepperoni pizzas. If you haven’t had a Donatos thin crust pepperoni pizza, with at least 100 slices of pepperoni on each large pizza, you are missing out. It is in an elite class with In-N-Out Burgers and Chick Fil-A nuggets as an elevated version of a classic American staple.

However, the pizzas were not for me. They were for my wife and kids in Milwaukee who needed a Donatos fix. (They also asked for bread from the Beehive Bakery in Powell, and the store-made tortilla chips from the Whole Foods in Dublin, which we have not found at a Whole Foods anywhere else in the country.)

Calling All Callers

The second unusual thing I did was share a message on Instagram requesting people to call me. The message looked somewhat exactly like this:

1BA75670-F01A-4FBE-B973-31E65978076B
@adamalbrecht

Commute-I-Cating

When I drive alone I love to catch up with people on the phone. This trip turned into a catch-up fest. On my drive I caught up with friends and family in:

  • New York City
  • Vermont
  • New Hampshire
  • Chicago
  • Atlanta
  • Houston
  • Minneapolis
  • Indiana
  • Pittsburgh
  • Milwaukee
  • Stevens Point
  • Madison
  • Appleton
  • St. Paul
  • North Carolina
  • Columbus
  • Milwaukee

Strengthen Your Bonds Like Barry

Keeping in contact with your people is really important. It’s how you invest in your relationships and continue to grow them. Unfortunately, most people spend very little time calling, texting or meeting up with people they haven’t seen in a long time. Those are exactly the people I love to reach out to most. Because the more recent your social interactions, the stronger your social bonds. (Bonds. Social Bonds.)

top view photography of roads
Those connected road ways are great places to connect with your connections.

The Last Leg of The Journey

As I neared the end of my commute I drove through Milwaukee. It was 11pm CT on a  beautiful summer night as I rolled through Brew City. If you’ve never been to Milwaukee, it is as a nice of a place to be during the summer as anywhere in America. I had my window down, my sunroof open (despite the lack of sun) and my music up as I hit my last 15 miles.

It was then that I was greeted by 2 fun surprises in downtown Milwaukee. I saw 2 billboards The Weaponry created for the UW Credit Union. They stood tall and clear and bright against the Milwaukee night. They were created to promote the expansion of the UW Credit Union footprint in Milwaukee.

Billboard Thing #1

MKE-009429-B_Campaign_UWCreditUnionFinancial_2019-07-02_113909114

Billboard Thing #2

IMG_8203

Having these new billboards greet me after 6.5 hours of driving was a treat. Seeing your work in place, grabbing attention and offering a smile is always fun. But at that hour of night, at that point in my drive, they felt like a couple of juicy red cherries on top of a juicy red day.

Key Takeaway

We only get one shot at life. So be greedy. Design a life that lets you combine all of your favorite things. Find work you enjoy. Spend time with the people you enjoy. Live in and frequently visit the places you enjoy most. Keep your relationships active. And live like you are on one epic roadtrip. Because you are.

How Joe Chapman went from professional basketball player to successful entrepreneur.

If you want to be successful in life it is important to surround yourself with other successful people. People who work hard, hold themselves to high standards and are continuously learning and growing. People like my friend Joe Chapman.

Joe is the Founder of Chapman Basketball Academy. CBA is a training academy in Milwaukee and Chicago for athletes of all ages and abilities who are dedicated to improving their basketball skills. Which makes Joe Chapman the poster boy for turning your passion into your profession.

The $2 Million Shot

I knew from the first time I saw Joe in action that he really knew how to coach basketball. Tonight, people across America will see. Because as a side project Joe decided to coach his fellow Marquette University alum in The Basketball Tournament.  TBT is a prestigious, 64-team basketball tournament with an eye-popping $2-million, winner-take-all prize. It works just like March Madness, only the players are no longer in college. And there is no March.

d036df96-952d-4472-abad-0936d53d20d9.jpg
Joe Chapman coaching his Golden Eagle team on their way to the TBT Championship.

Tonight Joe will be coaching his team in the championship game in Chicago for a chance at the $2 million prize. You can catch the game on ESPN at 9pm ET. You can catch my Joe Chapman story below.

Starting My Own Business

I started my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry in 2016 in Atlanta. A couple of former clients approached me about starting my own business. I jumped at the chance like Carl Lewis. About that same time in Milwaukee, Joe Chapman was also becoming an accidental entrepreneur.

The Cliff Notes On Joe Chapman

Joe grew up on the south side of Chicago and took to basketball at an early age. While he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he had something even more valuable. He had natural talent and a strong drive to continuously improve himself. Joe soaked up the lessons from his youth and high school coaches. He learned that basketball is a team game, and experienced great team success, winning an Illinois State Championship at Bloom High School.

Marquette University

Joe also experienced great individual success, and was named a McDonald’s All-American his senior year. He went on to play college basketball for Marquette University where he was part of the storied Tom Crean-coached team that reached the Final Four in 2003. That team included a bumper crop of basketball standouts including Dwayne Wade, Steve Novak and Travis Diener.

f696a0e2-d368-4899-90e0-06a054790eaf.jpg
Joe drawing up a big play at a big moment.

Professional Career

After graduating from Marquette with a degree in Communications & Media, Chapman played professional basketball overseas for 11 years. As a result, he accumulated basketball coaching techniques from all over the world. Which turned Joe into a walking encyclopedia of basketball knowledge. (For the younger readers, an encyclopedia is like Wikipedia in book form). Perhaps even more valuable, the language barrier he faced with many of his overseas teammates forced Joe to become fluent in universal, non-verbal forms of communication, feedback and motivation.

The Spark

In 2016 while back in Milwaukee during his summer offseason, Joe was approached by fellow Marquette alum, Kim Marotta and fellow Marquette basketball alum, Corey Wolf, about putting his library of basketball coaching knowledge to use coaching some very talented high schoolers in Mequon, Wisconsin. What started as private lessons soon expanded to group lessons packed with aspiring young basketball players.

img_8216-e1565093726355.png
Two of Joes first players. Amanda Hooks (l) is now playing at Carroll University and Chloe Marotta (r) became the #1 ranked player in Wisconsin and now plays at Marquette.

The Decision

The demand for Joe’s time and expertise was so great that he was forced to make a difficult decision: go back to Europe in the fall for the next basketball season as planned, or fully commit to coaching and training the next generation of basketball stars. After much deliberation with his wife Carolyn, Joe decided to transition from playing basketball professionally to coaching, teaching and inspiring others through the game of basketball.

DC51095E-F867-4DB6-A0BE-8669758BBCAA

CBA Is Born

Joe soon had a name for his new adventure. Chapman Basketball Academy. And it was successful from the very start. CBA attracted high profile high school basketball players in Wisconsin who wanted to take their game to the next level.

IMG_9238
Joe working with dedicated athletes on a Saturday night.

Joe’s ability to develop basketball players began attracting a younger and broader audience. CBA began rapidly expanding through word of mouth, and the sound of dribbling throughout gyms on Milwaukee’s North Shore.

IMG_9255
Joe encouraging his athletes to push themselves to reach the next level.

CBA meets The Weaponry

Joe and I crossed paths when he was approached about coaching the Homestead Basketball Club’s 6th grade girls basketball team. My family and I had recently moved to Mequon Wisconsin, and my daughter Ava was on that team.

I quickly saw just how talented Joe was. But as I got more exposure to CBA I couldn’t help but notice areas where my team at The Weaponry could help Joe polish and promote his business.

IMG_9469
Joe coaching his HBC team to a championship. They got trophies, not $2 million.

Coaching The Coach

Following HBC and AAU team practices, after CBA training sessions and while traveling for tournaments, Joe and I spent a lot of time talking about how we could better market Chapman Basketball Academy.  I found that Joe was as coachable and open to learning as any client I have ever worked with. Which I expect is the reason he soaked up so much basketball knowledge in Europe, South America and Asia.

 

IMG_8213
Joe and I before the CBA Brand Makeover.

Working with Joe and his wife Carolyn, The Weaponry did a complete rebranding of the Chapman Basketball Academy.  We created foundational elements like new logos, and tight brand standards. Knowing that business cards should be a critical part of CBA marketing, we created a series of 10 different business card designs, each intended to start a different conversation with coaches, athletes and parents.

IMG_8215
One of the new logos The Weaponry created for CBA.

We created portable standup banners that Joe could set up at any gym CBA coached at to instantly brand the space as Chapman Basketball Academy. We created logo and gear designs for the stable of AAU teams under the CBA banner. We explored advertising and sponsorship opportunities. As well as unique collaborations and co-branded experiences with other high profile coaches and athletes.

img_8214.png
Joe and athlete Kamorea Arnold who already has 10 Division I scholarship offers before entering high school.

Joining The Board

A year ago Joe invited me to join the CBA board of directors, and I gladly accepted. I am proud to help him achieve his lofty vision through both marketing efforts, and as a close and trusted advisor.

Watching The Coach In Action

I typically get to watch Joe coaching a couple of times each week. It is fun to watch him work with the youth of Milwaukee, including my daughter Ava and son Magnus. But tonight it will be exciting to watch Joe coaching on national TV, with my kids on the couch next to me.

img_8212-e1565093561857.png
Joe at a CBA clinic in Chicago, with another of the new CBA logos.

Key Takeaway

I hope we get to see Joe and his Golden Eagles team grab the $2-million prize tonight. But Joe has already won. By making it to the TBT championship game he has taught all the boys and girls Joe coaches across Wisconsin and Chicago that the techniques, teamwork and attitude that he emphasizes every day works at every level. And not just in basketball. But in everything you do in life.

Good Luck Joe! We’ll be cheering for you from Milwaukee!

Are you in the career you are supposed to be in?

Monday night I had dinner with my friend Greg Rozycki at his home in Emeryville, California. Zyck and I grew up together in Norwich, Vermont. We went to high school together at Hanover High School in Hanover, New Hampshire. Which is just across the Connecticut River from Norwich.

Fun Fact: Our school district was the first interstate school district in the United States. It took a bill signed by JFK to be approved. And it was the last thing JFK signed before he was assassinated (so maybe he shouldn’t have signed it… hmm…).

Hak Lim
Zyck and I holding a board during our high school talent show. (that was our talent).

Zyck and I have known each other since we were 12-years old. We played football together. Zyck was a star athlete. Not only did he make the All-State football team, he was an All-American lacrosse player in high school. He went on to have an outstanding college lacrosse career at Brown University. Then he went to medical school at Dartmouth. Today he is Dr. Rozycki, a Pediatrician in the San Francisco Bay Area. He’s a pretty amazing dude.

Zyck at Rett's
Zyck and I and our Buddy Rett Emerson.

The Introduction

Before Monday night Zyck and I hadn’t seen each other in person in 8 years. When I arrived at his home he re-introduced me to his two children, Sanam (13) and Sachin (11). Then he said something really interesting to his kids:

‘Of all of my friends Adam is the one who has the most perfect career for him.’ – Dr. Greg Rozycki

IMG_7689
Me, Zyck and Sanam on Monday night in California.

Advertising!

Since I first started my career as an advertising creative I have heard this same sentiment many, many times. My great childhood friend Marcus Chioffi says this every time I see him. My Uncle Rod says he is glad that I am finally able to put my unique thinking to good use.

Rett's with kids.
Spending time back home in Vermont. That’s little Sanam in the green shirt.

Finding Your Perfect Fit

I always laugh at these comments. But they are true. I have found a career that is perfectly suited to my strongest and most natural skills and abilities. I love the work I do and I think it shows. When I launched my own advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, I found the hard work of starting a new business as enjoyable as anything I have ever done. Because I love what I do.

The Big Questions

Would your closest friends and family say you are doing exactly what you should be doing with your career?

  • If not, what should you be doing?
  • What are you really great at?
  • What do you love to do that you are not doing right now?
  • How can you make money doing that?
  • Why aren’t you doing it?

Key Takeaway

Finding work that you love to do is one of greatest discoveries in life. It makes it exciting to get out of bed on a Monday morning. It makes it easy to put in the extra effort that will make you extra successful. It gives you special energy that makes long hours not seem so long. Best of all, you don’t spend any time thinking about the career you wish you had. Thanks for the reminder Zyck.

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

 

What special skill can you spin into gold?

Last night I flew back to Milwaukee from San Francisco. I rarely watch movies on flights. But last night there was a movie that was calling my name. It was a documentary called The Biggest Little Farm, about a young couple in Los Angeles who decide to become farmers. #nonotcannabis

The couple, John and Molly Chester, know nothing about farming. But they find an investor willing to help them buy a 200-acre farm an hour north of L.A. However, the farm they buy is terrible. Like Charle Barkley would say. The soil is lifeless, nutrient-less, moisture-less and generally worthless. But they try anyway.  And as so often happens in the movies, they made it work, and end up living into their dreams.

large_farm-poster

The Golden Quote

90 minutes into the 91 minute documentary I found a golden nugget. John Chester, the farmer and movie director, talks about the critical importance of the microorganisms that were reintroduced to bring the soil back to life. He says,

‘On our farm there are 9 billion organisms churning away at decaying life forms —purpose driven organisms, alchemizing death to life.’  -John Chester

Whoah! 

Circle that last part:  Purpose driven organisms, alchemizing death to life?!?

The idea of organisms alchemizing death to life is incredibly inspiring. Those scrappy little microorganisms have found their powerful micro purposes: To help create life out of death. That is, to break down what had been living (plants/insects/manure), and prepare it for use by the next lifeforms to hit that patch of soil.

Alchemy

Alchemizing is perhaps the most powerful concept on the planet. It refers to transforming the nature or properties by a seemingly magical process. Which is certainly what was happening in the soil of the Chester’s farm. 

pile of gold round coins
Stay Gold.

True of False?

However, in chemistry class we were taught that there is no such thing as alchemy.  My high school chemistry teacher made it very clear that you can’t turn ordinary metals into gold. Or go Rumplestiltskin and spin straw into gold. Or turn your lab partner’s Chuck Taylors into gold. 

But I have learned through real life experience that you can indeed alchemize the abundant elements that surround you into gold. Because through passion, skill and hard work you can turn anything into into gold. Anything.  Just ask Brian Scudamore who started 1-800-GOT-JUNK.

Things of yours that can be spun into gold.

  • Creativity
  • Sense of Humor
  • Charisma
  • Personal network
  • Mechanical ability
  • Photogenicity
  • Culinary skills
  • Work Ethic
  • Writing skillz
  • Organization skills
  • Discipline
  • The body of a God or Goddess
  • Public speaking
  • Courage
  • Analytical skills
  • Personal energy
  • A great smile
  • Social skills
  • Problem solving abilities
  • An ability to write lists like this one

I have seen people turn their abilities in all of these areas into a great deal of money. The investment it takes is personal. Not financial. But the payout comes in every form you can imagine.

Key Takeaway

Purpose and passion are powerful forces that enable you to turn your natural assets into gold. Understand your innate skills and abilities. Hone them. Focus them. And use them to turn all that you have into all that you every wanted. It’s easier than you think. While you can certainly do this by starting your own business, you can use the same approach to drive great wealth or freedom as an employee or hired gun. Make your own magic. Spin your own gold. You don’t even need a pile of straw to get started.

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