Everyone has an ideal career path. For some it includes a 9 to 5 job, with no late nights and no weekends. For others it means working from home in your Underoos. And for others the ideal career ends in early retirement. Which makes me want to throw up.
I hate the idea of early retirement. Yet people talk about it as if it was the Holy Grail. It is not. It is a way to escape an unfulfilling and unrewarding job.
The Better Alternative
You know what is better than early retirement? A really, really late retirement, because you love the work you do so much that you can’t imagine stopping. The Rolling Stones are older than dirt. But they still tour, still put on an amazing show, and still have fun doing it. But you don’t have to be a rockstar to love your job. I know accountants and receptionists, postal workers and even lawyers who deeply enjoy their work.
I have loved my entire career. In fact, by the end of my first week in advertising I was totally hooked. Every day brings me fun new puzzles to solve. Each job promotion has brought me new challenges, learnings and excitement. It doesn’t hurt that I also met my wife at work. #BenefitsHRdidNotTellMeAbout
When I launched my own advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, the challenge of entrepreneurship and creating the perfect agency became an amazing and rewarding new adventure. Now I am constantly discovering other interesting career opportunities I hope I have a chance to pursuit before my ticker tuckers out.
Johnny Paycheck once famously sang, ‘Take This Job and Shove It!’ But I say take your early retirement and shove it. Instead, find work you’d rather not retire from. Do that and you are winning at life. And contributing and earning and learning and growing. And racing and pacing and plotting the course. #NameThatTune
The right work makes you feel strong, smart and productive. It makes you feel valuable and wanted. Most importantly, it makes you feel fulfilled.
Instead of escaping your career misery through the trap door of early retirement, make a change. Like Michael Jackson said. Do what you love, delegate or hire for the rest, and make money until you are too old to spend it all.
If you really want to retire early you haven’t found the right job. Find rewarding work and you will never want to give it up.
*If you know someone who needs to hear this message, please share it with them.
I bet you have good ideas all the time. Ideas about inventions you should create, businesses you should start, books you should write, and funny comebacks you should have said (#TheJerkStoreCalled).
We all dream of writing a best seller and starting the next cover-of-Forbes business. Unfortunately, for most people, these are never more than dreams. Because most people have no idea how easy it is to make their dreams a reality.
There is one simple element that changes dreamers into doers. It’s action. To make a dream come true you simply need to step towards it. You don’t need a giant Giannis Antetokounmpo or Stretch Armstrong-size step. Any baby step will do.
Launching My Business
When I really wanted to start my own advertising agency I started taking little actions that moved the idea forward. First, I bought and read books about starting and running a business. I followed the advice in the books, and actually wrote down my plans. Then I started following the plans. I met with entrepreneurs and harvested their insights and advice.
None of it was hard. Within months I had started a business in my spare time that would support my family. All because I kept taking baby steps.
More Baby Steps
Over the past 2 weeks I have taken small but meaningful steps forward on several new projects:
I have created a growing monthly meet up with my college track and field teammates that I think could have a major impact on many lives.
I started writing a script for a live show that I think could become a template for live entertainment shows in every city in the world.
I have taken steps forward to create a new food brand, because I recognized a wide open opportunity that no one else was grabbing.
I contacted a publication and told them I was interested in writing a regular segment for them. I now have a meeting with the publishers in 4 days.
I have started writing 2 different books.
I have been actively studying real estate investing. Not just thinking about it.
I have been sketching out new t-shirts I want to create.
What Happens Next
I am thrilled to have started all of these projects. But they are not reality, yet. They all require more action. In fact, none of the 8 things I started can or will move forward without me. So the baby steps have to continue. But if I keep moving I will have a new line of t-shirts to wear and sell, a food brand you could find at grocery stores, a real estate business, 2 new books, a regular meet up group format that could be repeated around the world, a regular column in a publication and a crazy live show you would pay money to see (even though everyone wears clothes).
Action is everything. It is the different between dreams that come true and those that vanish into the ether. Talk is cheap. Action is magic. If you just keep taking baby steps, before you know it, you will have completed a marathon of progress. So, when you get an inkling that you should create or do something, take a baby steps towards it. It’s how I created my advertising and idea agency. And it is how I’ll be able to bring all the other ideas to life too.
One of the unfortunate realities of life is that we don’t get to see the full impact of our actions during our lifetime. A life well lived not only creates a positive influence on friends, families and communities, but that influence can be felt for years if not generations after we are gone.
One year ago today on May 17, 2018, I published a blog post about the unexpected passing of my great friend and former client, Steven Schreibman. I had no idea when I wrote the post that it would become the most popular post I ever published (and far more popular than the posts I haven’t published).
If Steven were here today he would have said, ‘Oh Adam, the reason it was the most popular is because today you went from one reader to two!’ And we would have had a big, loud laugh about it. But Steven’s good natured math joke would not have been true. Last year my blog was read in 105 different countries by tens of thousands of people. Yet the post about Steven was still the most popular. In fact, the first 3 days after I published the SS post represent 3 of the 5 highest traffic days my blog has seen in the 3.5 years I’ve been writing. Which means Steven was responsible for generating Los Angeles, Atlanta and Boston levels of traffic.
The quantity and quality of the comments, texts, calls and emails I got about that post also surpassed all others. Because Steven had touched so many lives. What I shared in my post turned out to be not just my experience, but the universal experience of everyone who had the good fortune of crossing paths with Steven.
There is nothing more important than the positive impact we have on other people. This is true at work, at play, at home and around the world. Steven had a profound impact on everyone he encountered. He showed us that we all can in our own unique way. Thanks again Steven for all the laughs, the kindness and intelligence you shared with us. Thanks for your over-the-top delivery. And most of all, thank you for being you.
If you’d like to read or re-read the original Steven Schreibman post, here it is:
I have had many great opportunities throughout my career. The kind of opportunities most people who work in advertising never get. I’ve never taken any of it for granted. But when I started my own advertising agency, I wondered if I would be able to create the same kind of opportunities for my own agency. Or if we would spend most of our time creating coupons for gerbil food and pro bono flyers for Book-A-Roo at my kid’s school.
Today I am thrilled to say The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, has worked with an American president (Jimmy Carter), an innovative sport aircraft brand (Icon Aircraft) and the people who rescue climbers on Mt. Everest (Global Rescue). We’ve worked with fun brands from Quebec (SeaDoo, BRP, Prevost & Volvo Bus) to California (Sunrun). And since 2016 we have worked with the international sporting goods powerhouse, Mizuno.
Mizuno is a Japanese sports equipment and sportswear company. It was founded in Osaka in 1906 by Rihachi Mizuno (who is on my all-name team, along with my college buddy, Azree Commander). Today, Mizuno is a major player in baseball, softball and volleyball around the world.
If you are a serious golfer you know that Mizuno makes the best irons in the business. Mizuno makes the best racing suit for competitive swimmers. They also make amazing running shoes. Including my favorites, the Wave Riders. I currently have them in Badger Red and Anatomy Gray. (Ok, maybe I just made up those color names.)
In the fall of 2018 The Weaponry began work on a really fun new project for Mizuno North America. Mizuno had already introduced their new Reach Beyond tagline internationally. But they wanted our help to determine how the theme should be adapted for the US Market.
Exploring Like Dora
We explored a broad range of options for Mizuno. We shared 7 different campaign angles. Each direction brought the brand message to life in its own unique way. In the creative process we always explore a wide variety of looks, language and tones. It’s a hallmark of The Weaponry Way. Which is why clients turn to us when they want a fresh new perspective and a variety of creative options.
There was one brand direction that Mizuno especially liked. It was not about winning and losing. Or being the best in the world. It was about the training you do to compete with yourself. We call it Beyond Training.
This commercial features Olympic swimmer Blake Pieroni. And a lot of bubbles.
Beyond Training is about putting in the work to set new personal records. It is about you reaching beyond your own previous bests. I think this is the greatest mission in life. And one of the greatest elements, if not the greatest element of sports.
We believe that Reaching Beyond is about continuously pushing yourself to see just how much you are capable of. I love that this idea accommodates for athletes at all stages of life. It allows us all to frame our best in whatever way is most relevant and most motivating today. As an athlete in my 40s I am encouraged to reach beyond the best I have done this year, or this decade. That idea is exciting to me, and keeps me pushing myself.
We found that athletes are good at creating a relevant frame of reference for self improvement. This is true whether you are a world class swimmer at the top of your game, a 70-year old golfer who wants to be the very best they can be this year, or a 7th grade track athlete just getting started. The key is to continuously work to better yourself. And that is the spirit the Mizuno Reach Beyond brand campaign captures.
We have created a series of brand commercials that will run both online and on TV. We have also created a billboard campaign that we will roll out throughout this year.
We worked with Olympic gold medal swimmer Blake Pieroni in Atlanta. We filmed professional baseball player Austin Riley at the Atlanta Braves spring training facility in Orlando. We filmed runners Ali Ritter and Alexa Crow, on urban trails in Atlanta before dawn. And we shot golfers Jackson Kemper and Todd Ormsby at a driving range at night, in the rain. (Sorry guys.)
One of several commercials that are part of the Mizuno brand campaign. This one features pro baseball player Austin Riley.
To create this work we hired a phenomenal Milwaukee-based photographer, Lucian McAfee. He’s a great shooter. But more importantly, he is a really fun and nice guy. Fun fact, Lucian’s brother Jesse was a track teammate of mine at the University of Wisconsin. Go Badgers!
The Production Company
We worked with Proper Medium out of Atlanta for all of the video. We have worked with this team on great projects for UPS, Fifth Third Bank, and Global Rescue, and they always hit it out of the park. Unless we are shooting swimmers. In which case they hit it out of the pool. Proper Medium and Lucian are both really great at what they do. Plus they worked really well together. Like peas and carrots.
This spot tells you why should not reach your potential.
The Great Clients!
Big thanks to our clients Harper Cornell and Tomohiro Ota at Mizuno for leading this work and letting us collaborate with them. Thanks to Shelby Novak and to Clint Sammons at Mizuno for all your help pulling off the swimming and baseball shoots.
I am extremely thankful to The Weapons that worked on this project, including Adam Emery, Kevin Kayse, Jeanne Mayer, and Tony Sharpe. You guys crush things.
Self improvement is about reaching beyond your previous best. It’s what we should strive for ever day. Whether we are Olympians, office workers or stay at home Moms, we can all get better at what we do. Reaching beyond your previous best in any endeavor is more meaningful and more rewarding than winning. Because it is all about your journey and your personal performance. Reaching Beyond is what I am trying to do in my career and my athletics. I hope you are too. Because as Eminem said, ‘You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.’
There are conversations that stay with you forever. Today I am reflecting on a conversation that I had two decades ago. I was at the house of my high school track coach, Jude Dutille, in New Hampshire. Jude’s wife, Val made a comment that I will never forget. It was about my Mom.
Val observed that there was something unique about the kids in my family. It wasn’t that she thought me and my sisters Heather, Alison and Donielle were smart, funny, or kind. It wasn’t that we were hard working, well mannered or good looking. It wasn’t even the crazy thing I wrote about it the post, What makes these siblings freakishly unique. (Which is worth the read.) There was one noteworthy trait that Val recognized in me and my sisters. And she gave my Mom all the credit for it. It was our confidence.
Val wondered what my Mom, Jill Albrecht had done to create such confidence in her children. I am not sure I had the answer in that moment 20 years ago. But today I do.
We felt confident because we knew were loved unconditionally. We felt confident because we trusted our Mom and our Dad. We always felt supported. Our Mom always made sure we were prepared. Because preparation is a major ingredient in the confidence recipe.
My Mom designed her home to feel safe. I had lived in 5 states by the time I started 7th grade. And despite the changes, or perhaps because of them, I always felt the stability of home, no matter what state, city or time zone we were in.
My Personal Success
Today I recognize the confidence my Mom developed in me as a key factor in my personal success. I have always believed in myself. Even when the odds were long and the path was uncertain. My confidence has played a major role in my career success. And it was my confidence that things would turn out well that allowed me to launch my own business 3 years ago, when there was really no proof that I could pull it off.
Today, my wife Dawn provides our 3 children with the same type of support, security and preparation that I enjoyed as a child. While you can’t give someone else confidence, you can create the perfect environment for confidence to flourish. That’s exactly what Dawn is doing.
Dawn continues to bolster my confidence too. When I told her I wanted to leave my job and start my own advertising agency, she was 100% behind it. Her unwavering belief in me made me believe in myself. Launching a startup can be extremely scary. But the truth is I wasn’t scared at all. A major reason was that Dawn, who had the most to lose, never doubted that the business would be successful. And she was right.
The Power Of Self Worth
Lately, I have been studying the lessons of vulnerability expert Brene Brown. Brown, a famed vulnerability and shame researcher at the University of Houston, says there is one key indicator that helps people stick their neck out and feel comfortable with vulnerability. That key factor is worthiness. That’s exactly what my Mom always made me feel. I felt worthy of good things. I felt worthy of love, friendship, of career success, and high achievement. And that self worth has fueled my confidence, motivation and posture my entire adult life.
The greatest gift we can give each other are the building blocks of confidence and the self worth that comes as a result. My mother made confidence development a priority. My wife is building it into our children. Confidence is the fuel and the foundation for success. There is no greater source of confidence than our mothers.
Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom, Dawn, my mother in law, Cynthia Zabel, and to Val Dutille. Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s who have worked hard to build confidence and self worth in their children. Your job is the most important of all jobs on the planet. The results of your work will not only last a lifetime, it will be passed along for generations to come.
*If you know a mother who deserves to hear this message, please share it with her.
My family and I went for our first bike ride of the year yesterday. It was amazing. I was once again reminded that bicycles are magical. They are The Two-Wheeled Fountain of Youth. Because the instant you start riding a bike you feel like a kid again. They make exercise fun. They allow you you to travel much faster and farther than any other human powered form of locomotion. And unlike swinging a golf club, once you learn how to ride a bike you never forget.
As I rode yesterday I thought about how friends are like bicycles. How? I’m glad I asked for you. And for simplicity’s sake, I am rolling the terms coworker, business associate, and family into the word friend. It will save us a lot of verbosity between here and the end of the post. Let’s ride…
5 Ways Friends Are Like Bicycles
1. Sometimes you need to prop them up. Recognize when a friend needs a kickstand to lean on. And be that kickstand.
2. Sometimes you need to help them balance. Life constantly throws challenges at us. Knowing how to handle it all can be overwhelming. Notice when a friend is struggling to find their own balance. And help them stabilize. Lend a helping hand or prioritizing advice. Sometimes you just need someone else to show you how to shift your load so you’re not constantly fighting with it.
3. Sometimes you need to help them steer. We don’t always know which way to go. This is a simple fact of life. We need help when we come to crossroads. We need help navigating around obstacles. So help your friends make those challenging decisions they will inevitably encounter along their journey.
4. Sometimes you need to help them pedal faster. It is easy to fall off your personal pace. Apply constant, gentle pressure on your friends when you know they should be moving faster than they are.
5. Sometimes you need to help them stop. We can often see that our friends are heading towards a cliff, a tree or a car before they notice. In those moments, help your friends pump the brakes. Or slam on the brakes. Or remind them that they have brakes. Helping your friends recognize and stop bad behavior is one of the most valuable things you can do for them.
Your friends, family, and coworkers need you just as much as your bicycle does. Learn to recognize what inputs would be most beneficial. It could be encouragement, stability, direction or warnings. Remember, life is challenging. And we all benefit from having someone else along for the ride.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
Planning the launch of your own business is one of life’s most enjoyable experiences. From the day you first start thinking about your new company until you actually open for business you are living on Fantasy Island with Tattoo and Mr. Roarke. On the island you create an ideal vision of your fully formed business. You should dream big. Because ginormous dreams cost exactly the same as itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot dreams. And that dream you create during the planning phase is the blueprint for the reality.
But the moment you open for realsies, your business will face an unavoidable limitation. And that limitation is You. When you are an entrepreneur your business is only as good as you are.
I have been thinking about that since 2016 when I first launched The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency. Knowing that you are the great limiter is a scary motivator. It means your business will either be forever limited by who you were and what you knew when you first launched. Or it means you have to continuously push yourself to get better so that your business can too. I have chosen the second option.
Let It Grow. Let it Grow.
I have chosen to grow. As a result, I am on a high knowledge diet. I am constantly seeking books, magazines and blogs that grow my knowledge and perspective. I am listening to podcasts. I am meeting with other entrepreneurs, both informally and in formal meet ups (although never in formal wear).
I am learning. And getting better. Although I feel as if I have no choice. Because only the growing entrepreneur can grow a business. And as Andy Grove, the famed CEO of Intel once said, ‘Only the paranoid survive.’ (But remember, you need 2 noids to be considered paranoidal).
I am also learning from my mistakes. I am identifying flaws in my thinking, and gaps in my knowledge, and addressing them like Gettysburg. It forces me to be both honest and self aware (but not a werewolf #MichaelJFox). You have to know your strengths and use them. You have to know your weaknesses, and hire great people with strengths you don’t have.
You are your own greatest limitation. This is true for entrepreneurship, relationships and most other kinds of ships. But you have an endless opportunity for improvement. It simply takes a growth mindset. Read, ask questions, study and learn. End each day a little smarter than you started. Seek feedback. And use that to help create a better plan, a better business and a better you. Because once you leave the fantasy world your success depends on it.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this story, please share it with them.