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

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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.

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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.

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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:

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@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.)

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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

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Billboard Thing #2

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

How badly do you really want what you want?

Seth Rogen is a funny guy. He is so funny that he recently appeared on an episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. You know you are funny when Seinfeld wants to drink and drive with you. And, of course, ask you about comedy.

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Back In The Day, Eh.

On CICGC Rogen told the story of how he started performing standup comedy when he was 15-years old in Vancouver. I’m not sure how old that is in American years, but I think that is still pretty young. He performed stand-up regularly, like several-times-a-week regularly, until he was 18-years old.

One particular joke from one particular comedian from that time period still stands out to Rogen today. He shared the joke with Jerry Seinfeld, and with me as I eavesdropped on their conversation from home. Here it is:

I wanted to be a boxer, until I met someone who reeaally wanted to be a boxer.’ -Mr. Former-Boxer-Turned-Candian-Stand-Up-Comedian

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Ali reeaally wanted to be a boxer. A soldier, not so much.

The Set Up

Rogen shared that line, not just because it was funny and interesting, but to provide insight into his next chapter. After high school he moved to Los Angeles where he planned to further pursue his stand-up comedy career. But upon being introduced to the highly competitive L.A. stand-up scene he concluded:

‘I wanted to be a stand-up comedian until I met people who reeeeeallly wanted to be stand-up comedians.’ -Seth Rogen

Ain’t That The Truth!

I love this story. There are things we think we want, until we see how competitive it really is. Or how hard it really is. Or how good other people already are at it. Or how hard people will punch you in the face if you stand in front of them.

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This dude reaaaally wants it. I am not sure what it is. But he wants it.

To determine if you reeaally want to take on your next challenge ask yourself these 5 questions:

  1. Do you reeaally want to do this thing?
  2. How committed are you, reeaally?
  3. Are you prepared to compete with others who reeaally want what you say you want?
  4. Are you prepared to sacrifice what reeaally needs to be sacrificed?
  5. Are you willing to trade the pain required to achieve your goal for the pain of having not achieved it?

I Reeaally Want To Be An Entrepreneur.

When I first started planning to launch The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, I had to ask myself these 5 questions. And the answer to all of them was a loud and resounding YES! (Is there really such a thing as a quiet and resounding yes? Maybe if Clint Eastwood says it.)

I was committed to succeed. I was committed to the pain. I was committed to the sacrifice. I was committed to fight and compete. In fact, my commitment was well illustrated in a story I shared in A real entrepreneur’s reaction to my desire to start my own business. And I am just as committed today as I was on day one.

KNocked Up

It’s Okay To Not Really Want It.

To be clear, it’s okay if the answer to any of the questions above is no. That means the thing you think you want is not the thing you reeaally want. That’s good. It frees you up to discover the thing you reeaally want. Just like Seth Rogen. Who went on to write the hit movie Superbad, act in Knocked Up and 40-Year Old Virgin, and direct This Is The End. 

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Seth Rogen telling Steve Carell he has to reeaally want to have sex in 40-Year Old Virgin

Key Takeaway

You will always be most successful at the things you want the most. Be honest with yourself. Don’t waste time with things you wish you could do, or that you are sorta into. Find a career, an adventure or a cause that you can go all-in on. That you can double down on. Or go any-other-gambling-term on. Going all-in is the most rewarding way to go. It’s most likely to lead you to your greatest potential for success. So find your thing and fully commit. It’s the best way to reeaallly enjoy what you do every day.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them. And if this post reeaally resonated with you, please consider subscribing to this blog.

What kind of motivation fuels you best?

Do you ever think about your motivational fuel source? It’s valuable to understand what encourages, inspires and pushes you. Because once you know what fuels your personal fire, you can stockpile kegs of it. Then ignite it whenever you need another boost.

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Stockpile your motivational fuel like Wildfire. #GameOfThrones

Background

I have been a heavy consumer of motivation fuel my entire life. When I was young I guzzled it to help me perform my best in school and athletics. After college I started using motivational fuel to enhance my career, personal fitness and financial success.

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I’ve transitioned my competitive drive from athletics to my career.

My Current Focus

In 2016 I made  a strategic decision to push both my career and financial success to the next level. As a result I launched my own advertising and idea agency called The Weaponry.  When I was in the planning stages of my entrepreneurial adventure I started this blog to document what I learned along the way. One of my key learnings is that you need to keep a steady stream of motivational fuel flowing into your system at all times.

Finding Your Fuel

Take some time to analyze what motivation fuel sources power your inner drive. Then acquire as much of it as you can. I find that I am inspired by many things. Which means that I have a lot of options when it comes to motivation propellents.

My 15 Sources Of Motivation Fuel

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My vision is a strong motivator. There is a long road ahead and life is short. So I gotsta go!

1. My Vision.

This is a major source, if not my primary source of motivation. I have a clear vision of the fully-formed Me. Unfortunately, it’s a lot better than the current Me. But I am already better than I used to be. Closing the Me vs Ideal Me gap is an always available fuel source.

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My friend Dan Richards is a badass, and a constant source of motivation for me.

2. Impressive And Successful People. 

I love to see others have great success. When I see my friends crushing it, I want to crush it too. This is true in my career and in my personal life. I fancy myself successful, so I want to keep up with others I think are like me. It’s the most positive way to keep up with the Jones. Keep pace with their successes, not their expenditures.

Examples: My rockstar entrepreneur friends Dan Richards, Troy Allen, David Florsheim and Jeff Hilimire.

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I read this quote every day in my office.

3. Great Quotes  

I am highly susceptible to a great quote. If you have them send them my way. I love the way a great quote summarizes an important lesson or reminder in a simple way. Quotes are like my nitroglycerin.

Examples:

  • ‘You are either getting better or you are getting worse.’
  • ‘There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.’
  • ‘A man with miles on his car has money in the bank.’
  • ‘You can’t take a pair of pants off a bare butt.’
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When all else fails crank up some ACDC.

4. Music 

Great music can help me power through anything. I use it to start my day, to power a workout and to push me through a long day at work.

Examples: Anything by ACDC or My Spotify Motivation Mix

5. Books  

Reading supplies me with steady, slow-burning motivation. I like to read biographies about successful people. I read How-To and Self-Helpy type stuff all the time. Book fuel is really a cocktail of numbers 1, 2, 3, 10, and 12.

Examples: See images above.

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If Tony Robbins can’t inspire you, you may be dead.

6. Motivational Speakers 

If motivational speakers don’t fuel you up nothing will. Seek them out in person, or online. YouTube and Social Media platforms are thick with them.

Examples: Tony Robbins, Gary Vee, Zig Ziglar, my college coach Ed Nuttycombe’s spaghetti speech.

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If I don’t keep moving this will be me.

7. Poverty  

When I see others in poverty it propels me forward like the other side of a magnet.

Examples: Driving through a depressed part of town. India.

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One of my greatest fears.

8. Unhealthy People  

People who are obviously unhealthy are a constant reminder that I need to keep moving and eating right. I am thankful for them. And they are everywhere. Except the gym.

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These people fuel me like caffeine.

9. My family  

Taking care of my wife, daughter and 2 sons is a major motivating factor. They are a constant source of motivation. But so are my parents, my 3 sisters and their families.  Even broader, I am very proud to be a member of the Albrecht Family and The Sprau Family. (My Mom’s maiden name is Sprau. It’s fun to think of your Mom as a maiden.) I am always trying to be an asset to the family and enhance our brand reputation.

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The more you have, the more freedom you have.

10. Financial Freedom  

I am driven to acquire enough money to be able to choose how I spend my time. I want to be in control of my life. This is the way to maintain as much control as possible.

Examples: Hundred dollar bills. Fifty dollar bills. Twenty dollar bills

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I want more time to do my favorite things with my favorite people.

11. Time Freedom 

See number 10.

Examples:  Fishing, Camping, Mountain Biking, Boogie Boarding, Traveling, Hammocking

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I have quantifiable goals that keep me chipping away.

12. My Goals 

My goals provide constant motivation. They have big gaudy numbers on them. And they provide a constant measure of what I have left to accomplish in order to live up to my own standards. I really like raw, quantifiable number goals.

Examples of how I measure progress towards my goals: On my bathroom scale, In Quickbooks, Through my WordPress Blog Stats, the amount of weight I lift.

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I look for pride in every hire. Because it is the greatest intrinsic motivator.

13. Pride 

I think pride is the ultimate motivator. I look for it in employees. Because someone who values pride won’t let you down because they don’t want to let themselves down.

Examples:  People who work at The Weaponry.

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My University of Wisconsin track teammates.

14. Teammates 

I never want to let others down. When I competed in athletics I never wanted to let my teammates down. As a business owner I am motivated to take care of my team and their families.

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My competitors motivate me. Although usually I don’t want to punch then in the face.

15. Competitors 

I like to compete. So when I see others do well, I want to do well. Your competitors are one of the best motivators you have. Use them.

Key Takeaway

Life and work can be hard. Motivation isn’t automatic. You need to seek it out. Stockpile it. Refine it. And consume it when you need a boost. Like the variety of foods in a well balanced diet, it’s best to keep a wide variety of fuel sources handy so you can quickly tap into the kind of motivation you need at any given moment. By understanding your motivational fuel sources you can ensure you will always have an abundant supply. And if you have an endless supply of motivational fuel your possibilities are endless too.

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

The important life lesson I learned from a day on the water.

There is nothing I like more than a good adventure. That’s why my family and I went for an 8.5 mile paddle down the Milwaukee River last weekend. The weather was perfect. The water level was ideal. So we loaded up our 3 kayaks and our 17-foot canoe and set out for an afternoon of paddling, floating and fishing.

Albrecht Island

3 miles into our trip we spotted an inviting island in the stream. We paddled towards it, half expecting to see Dolly Pardon and Kenny Rogers. We pulled our boats onto the island and had a fun break in our trip. My kids swam. I fished. My wife Dawn relaxed and took pictures.

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Swimming near Albrecht Island. This is why we live in Wisconsin.

Uh Oh…

When I got out of my canoe I noticed something alarming 200 yards down the river. From bank to bank, in a straight line across the river, I could see the water was frothing, foaming and white. It looked dangerous, like a low overhead dam. That kind of water obstruction is never something to mess with.

As I mapped our trip I hadn’t noticed any damn dams that we would have to portage around. But that’s exactly what this looked like. I anxiously pulled out my phone to see if I had missed something. But I didn’t find any insights to the boiling water just below me.

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Trying to formulate a plan.

I didn’t notice any good place to portage around the water obstacle either. This wasn’t good. Especially since we had over 5 miles to paddle to get to the takeout point where our other car was parked.

The Plan

I called my family together to discuss the challenge in front of us. I told them that I was going to paddle down and scout the boiling water. I wanted them to paddle to a spot on the right side of the river where they would be close enough for my followup instruction, but out of the current.

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Dawn and Ava Bonding Time.

Preparing For The Worst

I gathered all the valuables (phones, wallets, sunglasses and beef jerky) and sealed them in the waterproof pack in my canoe. I filled the pack with plenty of air so that it would float downstream if the boat flipped. Then I reminded my children that if they got flipped out of the boat that they should float feet-first down the river to avoid hitting their head on a rock. I thought my advice would make me look good when Family Services came to visit me afterwards.

With my family as prepared as they could be, we pushed off Albrecht Island. The Celine Dion song from Titanic was playing in my head as I slowly paddled down river for a closer look at the whitewater. To add to the pressure of the moment, my 9-year old son Magnus was my co-pilot, sitting in the bow of the canoe. If things went bad, he was my first priority.

Upon Closer Inspection

As we approached the whitewater I could see that it was as lively and frothy as it appeared upstream. But as I scanned the water from bank to bank there were no signs of a dam, boulders or a tree in the water. There wasn’t any banjo music either, which was a huge relief. What I saw was textbook whitewater rapids. The kind of rapids that add an exciting roller coaster moment to any paddle.

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The new album cover for Dawn And The Deadwoods.

Let’s Do This!

I smiled broadly knowing we were going to run the rapids, rather than portage around them. I shouted instructions to Magnus that we were going to point the boat straight downstream, then paddle hard, directly into the foaming, rolling rapids. I signaled enthusiastically to Dawn, Ava (13) and Johann (12) to follow us.

Then Magnus and I dug our paddles into the water, and sped into the roiling water. All around us the water was loud, heaving and foaming. The speed was exhilarating. And the rocking of the boat was thrilling. A moment later we had passed through the whitewater and found ourselves floating on the rapidly flowing flat-water below.

Yee Haw!

I was giddy, My heart was pounding. And I shouted to Magnus, ‘What did you think of that?’

He immediately shouted back ‘That was awesome!’

We quickly wheeled the canoe around and paddled back upstream to wait for the others to shoot the rapids. We positioned our boat so that if anyone tipped we could quickly paddle to them. We were prepared to grab their kayak, paddle, flip flops, or any other items lost in the adventure.

One by one Ava, Johann and Dawn approached the rapids and shot through them, fully intact, fully upright and with full sets of pearly white teeth flashing in wide smiles.

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Post rapids. Note: Magnus had his lifejacket on when we went through the rapids. 

Reunited And It Feels So Good

A minute later we were all reunited downstream. Everyone was smiling, laughing, high- fiving, and talking about how much fun that was. The kids said the rapids were the best part of the trip so far. Dawn and I agreed.

We pointed our boats downstream and paddled for 2 more hours, covering 5 more miles. The river was beautiful and we had a great time. But the highlight of the trip was the rapids.

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I love a good adventure.

 

The Reminder

There was a great lesson in this experience. The part of the trip that I was most worried about turned out to be the most fun of all. It was when I felt most alive and most engaged. Life often works that way.

It was a reminder to take on difficult challenges. We must continue to try new things, and hard things and scary things. By pushing ourselves we grow and learn and enjoy life to the fullest. We gain experience, confidence and perspective. And we add interesting chapters to our personal story.

When I launched my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, it was a lot like approaching whitewater in a canoe. The adventure was full of threats and opportunities. But the scariest parts have turned out to be the most exciting and rewarding. The rapids provide the best stories. And the best opportunities to learn and grow. I’ve come out stronger than I went in. I’ve also learned the rapids are more fun when you have others with you. Because life and business are team sports.

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Post paddle we stopped for burgers at Hefner’s in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. 

Key Takeaway

Don’t avoid the scary stuff. Scout it out. Prepare for it. Then paddle towards it, fast and straight. You’ll navigate your way through it, and find that it wasn’t nearly as scary as  you thought it would be. In fact, the scary parts are often the best parts. You just don’t know that until you reach the other side.

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

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We paddled from Saukville, Wisconsin to Grafton’s Veterans Park. We all thought the name of the park where we put in was pretty funny. But the Tendick family probably didn’t think so…

The valuable skill new entrepreneurs should focus on first.

Being an entrepreneur is like being an astronaut. Not just because they are both weird words. But because both jobs require you to know a little bit about everything. However, no one starts out knowing all the things they need to know. Which means that when you begin your entrepreneurial adventure you start in an uncomfortable, if not vulnerable position. Like astronauts.

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Sometimes entrepreneurship feels this way.

When I first launched The Weaponry, my advertising and ideas agency, I was curious to discover which newly-required skill area would test me the most. Accounting? Contract Law? Human Resources? Dry Erase Board Maintenance? But 3 years later there is one skill I find I need to use more than any other. It’s my humanity.

Honing Humanity

Being a great entrepreneur, first and foremost, requires you to be the best human you can be. Because businesses are not businesses. They are collections of people. To help people be their best you have to listen, understand and care about the issues they are dealing with.

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This picture includes clients, partners and employees. Which are all the basic kinds of humans you need to create a successful business.

Human challenges regularly get in the way of business. That’s simply a fact of life. Entrepreneurs have to be good at working with those challenges. They come from everywhere. From your clients, employees, contractors, vendors and suppliers. Over the past few years I have had the honor or working through a wide variety of human challenges with my teammates, clients and partners.

Human Challenges I Have Worked Through As An Entrepreneur

  • Pregnancy
  • Home Buying
  • Home Selling
  • Mental Illness
  • Balance Issues (real, physical balance, not work-life or checkbook related)
  • Cancer
  • Care for Aging Parents
  • A Desire To Go Back To School
  • Weddings
  • Changes To Hopes and Dreams
  • Surgery
  • Home Power Outages
  • Family Vacations
  • Spousal Job Loss
  • Doctor’s Appointments
  • Major Dental Procedures
  • Drug & Alcohol Testing (which we are required to do for a client)
  • Criminal and Financial Background Checks
  • Sick Children
  • Alzheimers Disease
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Hearing Loss
  • School Events
  • Financial hardships
  • Business failures
  • Lawsuits

Preparing Yourself

Working through these issue doesn’t require an MBA, finance degree or a Wall Street internship. It simply requires you to be a good compassionate and understanding human. It requires you to put people issues before business issues. It requires good listening skills and good problem solving skills. It requires you to be prepared for life to get in the way of business. And to be okay with that.

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Weaponry Humans

My Favorite Part

Still, the humanity is my favorite part of business. It provides a constant reminder that we are people first and clients, employees and contractors second. We work to live. We don’t live to work. At the end of your career you will be remembered more for how you impacted lives than how you impacted products and services.

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Business people having a very human experience.

Key Takeaway

Humans are critical to business success. If you want to create a thriving business you should always put the humans in them first. Because you can’t succeed without them. When you show that you care about the human issues that your team, clients and partners are dealing with, those same people will care even more for you and your shared business in return. So remember the Golden Rule. It’s the most golden entrepreneurial lesson I’ve learned so far.

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

To live your best life, capture fewer Selfies, and more Self-A’s.

I recently took a vacation to the Pacific Northwest with my wife and 3 children. We visited amazing places, including Seattle, Mt. Rainer, Mount St. Helens, The Columbia River George, Multnomah Falls, Cannon Beach and Astoria. We visited Forks and Port Angeles, Washington, of Twilight fame. We also visited Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Which taught me that one nation’s Pacific Northwest lies directly below another nation’s Pacific Southwest. #mindblown

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Hiking on Mt. Ranier felt like visiting the Alps. We even think we saw the Von Trapp Family Singers.

Natural Beauty

That corner of the world is incredibly beautiful and picturesque. Which explains why we saw so many people taking pictures. However, I noticed many of the people were actually taking pictures of themselves, even though those people were not nearly as beautiful as the natural surroundings that, well, surrounded them.

The Selfie

The selfie is an interesting cultural phenomenon. We take pictures of ourselves with people and things that we think will make us look cooler, more interesting, richer or more attractive. Sure, selfies can help capture a memory. However, I can’t help but feel like the selfie snappers I encountered on vacation were missing the essence of the experience. Because the goal is not to take a picture that make it look as if you are having a great experience. The key is to actually have an amazing, fulfilling and rewarding experience.

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We spent Father’s Day on an epic hike that made me feel I was living the life I imagined for myself.

Self-A

The key to a great life is not to collect selfies. Instead, we should collect Self-A’s. A Self-A is a slangy and shortened way to reference our feelings of Self Actualization. Self Actualization, for the uninitiated, represents the highest rung on Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It is the ultimate state of human existence. It is the moment when we feel we have achieved our full potential. They are moments of completeness. And moments of bliss. But they only occur for a brief time. So you have to be self aware, or you’ll miss them. 

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The Next Level

You can only experience Self-A, if all your basic needs are met. Which means that you need food, water, shelter, sleep, safety, relationships and confidence first. But once you collect all of those prerequisites you can go for the bonus round of Self-A.

Living the Dream

When you experience Self Actualization, you are literally living your dream. Over the past 3 years, since I began my own entrepreneurial adventure, and took more control over my life, I have been experiencing more and more moments of Self-A. In fact, the increase in Self-A’s is the most quantifiable and meaningful change in my life.

The moments occur at work, when I am ideating, when I am with my team, when I am with friends, and when I am driving my John Deere lawn tractor. However, these magical moments of Self-A seem to happen most frequently when I am totally present on a family adventure.

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My wife, Dawn, on Mt. Ranier in June.

Self Awareness

On my recent visit to the PNW I noted that I was allowing myself to be absorbed into amazing moments. While I noted that others were whipping out their mobile phones or selfie sticks to capture the moment. Stopping to capture a selfie kills your Self-A. Because you start focusing on the photo, not just the feeling.

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This is one of my favorite photos from the day. I had no idea Dawn was taking this picture. I was totally in-the-moment, and relived the experience of awe when Dawn showed me this photo later that night.

 

A Notable Notebook Idea

To fully enjoy these moments we should carry notebooks to document the details of our Self-A, making the following notes:

  • Where were you?
  • Who were you with?
  • What were you doing when you felt a moment that feels as good and real and amazing and as close to your dream as life ever gets?

By collecting notes on your Self-A’s you’ll gain insights into how to experience even more of these priceless moments. Which is how you win at life.

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My son Johann and I soaking it all in.

Key Takeaway.

Don’t settle for selfies. Don’t aim to take pictures of yourself doing cool things in cool places with cool people. Focus on experiencing the moments. Aim for more moments when your reality feels as good as, if not better than the dream. That feeling creates the best memory of all. Aim to feel that way as often as you can. You’ll be rewarded with a life well lived. Rather than simply a life well photographed.

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