Who helps you see the invisible?

Business is hard. Unlike the natural world of plants, animals, water and minerals, business is not visible. Business is an abstract concept. Sure, a business is officially formed when you file articles of incorporation. But those are just documents. You don’t invite clients to come and look at your filings. You can’t recruit great talent by showing them your government forms. Except maybe the lawyers. God help the lawyers.

Building, focusing and polishing a great business is a conceptual task. It requires things like missions and visions. It requires strategy, positioning and branding. You can’t just throw these items in your cart at Office Depot. You have to create them. You have to pull them out of the ether (or out of your butt), and breathe life into them to make them real.

Whose job is that?

I work with clients on challenges like this every week. I don’t expect our clients to have all the answers. Quite the opposite. I expect them to have a problem that needs to be solved. I expect them to have questions. I expect them to be a little lost and confused. You know, the way you felt on the first day of high school.

Making the invisible visible.

The greatest value my business offers is our ability to see the unseen. We paint pictures and draw maps so that others can see too. We build structure, we articulate thoughts and create unifying stories. The more answers we find the more valuable we become. But the kind of answers we are looking for can’t be googled. We have to create them ourselves.

The Paradox

Many would-be-collaborators want their clients to clearly articulate what they are looking for. The problem is, clients don’t often know what they are looking for. In fact, that’s why they need to hire outside help in the first place.

 IWKIWISI

Professionals often loathe IWKIWISI clients. Those are the people who say I Will Know It When I See It. They can’t tell you exactly what they want. They can’t offer you a great brief. They can’t narrow the options down to 1 or 2.  They need someone else to find the perfect option for them.

I love these types. They need the most help. Like a Sudoku puzzle with very few initial clues, they offer the greatest challenge. But when you solve those most difficult of puzzles, you experience the most satisfying rewards.

Think of young Helen Keller, who couldn’t see or hear. Then along came Anne Sullivan, who developed a system to teach the blind and deaf to learn language and communicate. She unlocked and unleashed the infinite power in Helen Keller’s mind. Who enjoyed the greatest reward as a result, Helen or Anne?

If you have the kind of skills to make the invisible visible or to make the intangible tangible, you can help transform organizations, people and places. If you need those type of people, take comfort in knowing they are out there. And someone knows where you should look to find them.

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How to write my favorite word the way I do it.

Do you have a favorite word to write? I do. I have written a library’s worth of words in my lifetime. But for fun and flair, there is one word that beats them all by a cursive mile.

Attitude

Here’s how to write it the way I do.

  1. Grab your favorite pen.
  2. Prepare to write in your flowiest cursive.
  3. Draw a looping lowercase ‘a’ like you are circling the key point on the page.
  4. Let each of the next letters flow like you are sketching a roller coaster.
  5. After you finish the ‘e’, cross all three of the ‘t’s with one stroke. Do it as if you were crossing the most important task off your to-do list.
  6. Dot the ‘i’ like you are an orchestra conductor hitting the final note in the final song of the final concert of your career.
  7. Look at the word you have just written and realize that it means everything in life.
  8. Write the word again and again and again, until the ink in your pen runs dry.

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The best business call I never expected to get.

I got a unique phone call this week. The caller, a friendly and energetic young man, introduced himself as a banker calling from Name-Of-Bank-Protected. Once upon a time, I had banked with Name-Of-Bank-Protected. But now I was confused. Because I had closed my account with them over ten years ago. What was even stranger, was that the banker added that he was a mortgage specialist.

Hmm?

I asked the nice mortgage specialist from the bank I once banked with, ‘Is there something wrong with the mortgage I clearly do not have with your bank?’

He laughed and said ‘No. I am calling about Name-Of-Employee-Protected.  Does Name-Of- Employee-Protected work at The Weaponry?’

Then I understood.

I have purchased four homes in my home purchasing career. Right before the closing, the bank offering the mortgage calls your employer to confirm that you actually have the job you claim to have. This gives the bank confidence that you will have the funds to pay your mortgage on the new home. This has always been a wise move for banks. But it has become standard practice since the failure to do background checks lead to the world-melting mortgage crisis a decade ago.

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This is where I was sitting when I got the mortgage lender’s call. Except the plant was on the other side of the desk.

However, this was different.

Now a bank was calling me about a mortgage, because I am the employer. This may not seem like a big deal to you. But this was monumental to me.

My advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, started as a vision in my head two and a half years ago. I had a clear vision of what the perfect advertising agency would look like. I believed I could create an agency that generated excellent creative ideas, provided amazing customer service and offered a fun experience for everyone involved. Best of all, I knew it could provide long-term financial stability for employees.

As I started on my journey to bring that vision to life, I started this blog. Then brick by brick, the vision has become realer and realerer and realererer.

Today, The Weaponry has great clients, a nice office, amazing employees and benefits. But now, we also have real American bankers calling The Weaponry to confirm that our Weapons actually work at The Weaponry.

That’s a great feeling.

The Weaponry is not just real in my head. It is real in the eyes of a bank that will offer a major loan to one of our employees today, so that they can close on a new house this afternoon. I’m not sure I can articulate how fulfilling that is. The Weaponry has come a long way. And we are just getting started. I look forward to many more confirmation calls from many more mortgage lenders from across the country in the years ahead.

*If you would like to follow our journey, please consider following The Perfect Agency Project by clicking the subscribe button. It requires minimal effort from one of your fingers. Any finger will do.

Why envy can be your most powerful force for good.

Most people will tell you that envy is bad. They will say you should be happy with what you have. But don’t believe them. Envy is one of the most powerfully positive forces on Earth. Envy reveals what we truly enjoy, what we really want, and who we want to be like. This is nothing to feel bad about. Baby, you were born this way.

Using envy for good starts with recognizing it as a powerful, natural, innate draw within you. Don’t try to quiet that voice. Tune in to it. Understand it. Learn what envy can teach you. Envy is like a gravitational force pulling you towards your own happiness. Or at least towards a great pair of pants.

Definition (from the great online dictionary)

Envy (noun): a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.

Envy (verb): desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to someone else.

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Interview Your Envy

Envy offers insights to feelings that are hard to articulate.

  • Do you envy the person who doesn’t have to travel for work? Or the person who does?
  • Do you envy your friend who has dinner with his or her family every night?
  • Do you envy the entrepreneur? Or the volunteer? Or the activist?
  • Do you envy the rich and famous?
  • Do you envy the simple and anonymous?

Your envy is trying to lead you on your true path. Don’t protest too much.

My Envy

I have found myself attracted to, and envious of all kinds of random things throughout my life. But instead of feeling bad about it, or trying to turn the feelings off, I have tuned in, and recognized the things I truly want to have, do or be. And those things I once envied have contributed greatly to my own happiness.

Here is a quick list or random things I have envied:

  • A pair of well-worn work boots
  • High schoolers who could lift a lot of weights
  • Entrepreneurs
  • People who have canoes.
  • People who vacation on islands
  • Mountain climbers
  • People who don’t follow popular opinion
  • People who have great blogs
  • Volunteers

These things that I once envied have now contributed greatly to my own happiness. My feelings were not negative. They were motivating.

Today, my work boots (and my flip-flops) are my favorite shoes to wear. I began lifting weights my freshman year in high school and have found it to be the absolute best thing for my mental health. I launched my own business, The Weaponry, almost two years ago, and I am eager to get to work each day. I own a beautiful 17-foot canoe, and a couple of kayaks, which bring me and my family great joy. I have had wonderful vacations on islands with my wife and kids, where we felt as if we had escaped the real world together. I’ve climbed many a mountain, and felt the rewards of accomplishment. I am confident in my unpopular ways. I’m working on the blog thing. But I still have a nagging feeling that I don’t volunteer enough, and envy those who do.

Key Takeaway

Don’t feel bad about your lust for those shoes, that job or the epic vacation. Don’t think you don’t measure up because you haven’t started your own business, created a charitable foundation or bought a second home. If you really want those things, add them to your list. Then create a plan to make them yours, and get to work.  That’s what I do. And someday I expect to have them all.

Now that I have shared, is there something you have envied that you have used as motivation?  Please share it in the comments section. I’d like to think I am not the only one.

 

 

I have a little surprise for one of my high school teachers.

My sophomore year in high school I had a teacher named Mr. Bohi. He was a large, bear of a man who spoke with booming confidence and authority. Originally from Iowa, his life path lead him to the Ivy League town of Hanover, New Hampshire. In Hanover he taught high school students lessons about humans, through the lens of history.  He also smiled at you when he was mad at you, which I found quite challenging to process.

Mr. Bohi was a great teacher who taught me a lot. But on the first day of class he said something that I strongly disagreed with. As he launched into his initial lesson, he pulled out a dollar bill, and made a stump speech about the power of money, and its enormous influence over world history.

He orated about the fallacy of money, saying that currency wasn’t real. That money is an illusion in our heads. And that a plain piece of paper was actually more valuable than a dollar bill. One of the things he said that day has bothered me for 30 years. So today I am putting this note in the mailbox and sending it to Mr. Bohi.

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I have thought about this since 1988. I  wrote this out almost a year and a half ago. And I will finally mail it today.
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This is Shakespeare’s Sonnet 104. I thought ‘Milk’ would have been a good nickname for a guy whose last name started with ‘Shake’.

 

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Maybe you can’t write a Shakespearean sonnet on a dollar bill. But I can. 

 

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By George, I wrote it!

I love doing what other people say can’t be done. I love solving problems that others think can’t be solved. As an entrepreneur and Founder of the advertising and idea agency The Weaponry, I appreciate a good challenge. And I realize it is my will to do things that makes them happen. Even if it takes 30 years.

*In case you couldn’t read my handwriting, this is what the note says:

Dear Mr. Bohi,

In 1988, in my first class with you, you said that money wasn’t that valuable.  Specifically, you told us we couldn’t write a Shakespearean sonnet on a dollar bill. I want you to know:

  1. I was listening.
  2. I remembered
  3. You were wrong.

Enjoy your dollar.

Adam R. Albrecht

HHS Class of ’91

 

My personal March Madness.

It is 6:27pm on Saturday, March 17, 2018. America is in the heart of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, better known as March Madness. For most of my life I couldn’t get enough of this tournament. But this year is different.

This Year:

  • I have not seen a moment of live basketball.
  • I have not seen a single bracket, printed, online or on TV.
  • I have no idea which 64 teams are in the tourney. Or are there 66? Or 68?

I had no idea it was even possible to be so oblivious about the tournament a week after Selection Sunday.

But I haven’t had a moment of boredom in the past week. I have been so interested and involved in the other exciting things that basketball wasn’t even a blimp on my radar (I once had a French client misuse this term).

Having enough positive and interesting elements in your life that you have no room for the extraneous is a good sign. And right now, my family, work, friends and curiosities are filling my days in a way that leaves no need for entertainment or distractionRight now, I would rather write this post about my reflections than turn on the TV to catch up on all that I’ve missed. Life is not a spectator sport. Never has this phrase meant more to me than right now.

 

 

 

How to invest in people the way Warren Buffet invests in stocks.

I like investing. I started investing in stocks not long after I landed my first job out of college. Back then I didn’t really know what I was doing. I made mistakes. But I wasn’t afraid. I kept reading, and listening and studying investment strategy. Today I have a solid, repeatable approach. That’s because I stole my strategy from Warren Buffet. Who stole his strategy from Benjamin Graham.

I bought Graham’s book, The Intelligent Investor, because I heard it was the bible on stock investing. I boiled the 600 page book down to this headline:

‘Buy when a stock is undervalued. Sell when it is overvalued.’

This strategy has served me well. I’m always looking to get in on a good company’s bad news. When banks were collapsing because of the mortgage crisis, I bought Huntington, Fifth Third and PNC stock. When there was oil gushing in the Gulf of Mexico I bought BP. When Equifax was hacked, I was into Equifax stock. When there were diseases decimating the US chicken population I shouted, ‘Pass me a drumstick and some shares of Pilgrims Pride and Sanderson Farms!’

Investing in People

I invest in people the same way.  When people are hot, have the world by the bizzles and everyone wants to be close to them, I don’t need to be there too. I like to invest in people who have lost their jobs, hit icebergs, or are leaking oil. Those are the ones that really need to be infused with confidence and friendship. It is easy to divest when people hit all-time lows. But that’s when I like to double down.

People always rebound.

Your personal stock always rises again to reflect your true value. Which means that when you pick someone up who feels like they are sitting on the discard pile, the return on your invested time and attention truly appreciates. While you may have known things would get better for that person, they didn’t. Because when you feel like you are swirling around the toilet, it is hard to see past the very near term.

Take Away

Look for ways to invest in those that need it most. The good people, organizations, and teams that have fallen out of favor. Because the belief, support and confidence you invest  in them comes back to you in amazing ways. Oh, and if you have any undervalued stocks to pass my way, please post them in the comments section.

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