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…).
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Sense of Humor
The body of a God or Goddess
A great smile
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The movie The Sixth Sense by M. Night Shyamalan has one of the greatest surprise endings of all time. But the only spoiler here is that at the end of the movie you might not be surprised that you are surprised.
There was a famous line from the movie that was delivered by little Haley Joel Osment. You know H-JO. He was Forrest and Jenny’s little boy in Forrest Gump. His classic line from The Sixth Sense is ranked #44 on the American Film Institute‘s list of 100 Movie Quotes.
‘I see dead people.’ – Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment)
Three years ago when I launched The Weaponry, my advertising and ideas agency, I became an entrepreneur. With that role came a mindset change that has enabled me to see things that most people don’t.
I See On-Ramps.
You have probably wished for an opportunity to start your own business, make a lot of money or accelerate your own career. Most people have. But most people can’t find the path forward. My entrepreneurial mindset enables me to see on-ramps to exciting new opportunities everywhere. Seriously.
The on-ramps are in the problems you can solve. They are in the people you meet. In the books you read. And the questions you ask. The on-ramps are in the buildings you pass with the For Sale sign out front. The on-ramps are in your taste that people compliment you on. They are in your ability to write, design or photograph. The on-ramps are in the dots you connect. There are more on-ramps than you can count. And new ones appear every day.
Turn On Your Blinker
This week steer yourself onto one of those on-ramps and make something exciting happen. Start writing, planning, thinking, asking, creating, calling, connecting or buying. It is how you begin to take advantage of all of the opportunities that are around you all the time. Opportunities to do what you have always wanted to do.
Today we start a new week. We also start the second half of the year. Which means that today is a great day to make new progress. So start the things you’ve always wanted to start. Don’t put this off any longer. Take the next onramp you see. You will be amazed at where it takes you.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message please share it with them.
I first heard about web logs in the early 2000s. I fell in love with the idea right away. Suddenly, everyone could write and share their own ideas with the world, for free! I immediately wanted to write my own. Over the next decade I dabbled with at least 8 different blogs. But like cheap tape, nothing stuck
The Perfect Agency Project
I started this blog in the fall of 2015 as I began planning to launch my own advertising agency, The Weaponry. I wanted to write about the startup process, the entrepreneurial experience, and all that I knew and learned about advertising and marketing. I hoped that people would read this and think that if this clown can start his own business, I certainly can too. (Which is true.)
The Surprise Education
I expected to share what I learned about business. But along the way I also learned a lot about blogging. When I hit 200 published posts last year I wrote a piece entitled, What I have learned about blogging after 200 posts. I shared all my best tips and tricks about blogging. Today, when people ask me for advice on blogging I simply point them to that post, like Babe Ruth calling his shot. Except there is no baseball, no bat, no outfield wall, and no candy bar at the bottom of the country club pool.
Today I am publishing my 300th post. Over the past 100 posts I have learned even more about blogging. So I am adding 12 more tips to my blogging body of knowledge. Here they are in a particular order.
12 More Tips On Blogging Learned From Writing 300 Posts.
1. Just keep writing.
The most important factor in writing 300 posts is to simply keep writing. It is easy to write one post. And it’s really easy to quit after writing that one post. To get to 300 hundred, 3000 or 30,000 posts you have to just keep writing. It’s like Dory’s swimming philosophy. There is no magic to it. Just stick-to-it-ness.
Get your blog posts up and running and fix them along the way.
2. There is always something to fix.
When I look back at my published posts I feel like Michael Jackson looking at his face. Because there is always something I want to change. Always. I would add another example, smooth a transition, insert another joke. But the blog posts must get published. Published is better than perfect. It’s a blog. Not a book. You get a round of writing. A round of improving. And then you have to push that post out of the nest to fly or flop.
3. Errors are part of the game.
In the process of pushing posts live on a regular basis you are going to make mistakes. A typo may sneak through. You may miss a word, or double double a word, or misuse or misspell a word. You have to work to minimize errors. But accept that they will happen. My readers help me find the errors. Kind of like friends who tell you when you have something stuck in your teeth, or toilet paper stuck to your shoe, or a bat in the cave (a booger in your nose). These are good friends and good readers. Because they want to help you succeed.
4. There is no telling what will be popular.
I am often surprised at what posts become really popular. It’s hard to predict what gets passed along. It’s difficult to know what will generate a lot of comments. I haven’t found a lot of consistency in my most popular posts. It’s kind of like dance crazes. So just keep dancing and enjoying it.
Missing, one great blog post. Last seen by nobody.
5. Sometimes a great post goes completely unnoticed.
This is a the hardest fact about blogging. Sometimes you write a post that is really great, that you know is important, and smart and real and maybe even funny. And then it goes virtually unnoticed. This will happen a lot when you first start, because you don’t have much of an audience. And you wonder why you are bothering to write at all. But do bother. Because you learn from writing.
Blogging has a cumulative effect. The more you write, the more your work is discovered, read and shared. You can always repost or update a great post that phantomed through the opera. Know that what you are writing is good and that others are missing out on some great ideas.
6. The off-channel feedback is the best.
In social media and blogging everyone talks about engagement. Which is the aggregate of your likes and comments on your posts. But what I have found most meaningful is the feedback I get away from the blogging and social media platforms.
I regularly get emails, texts and in-person comments about how much people appreciate a post, or my blog in general. These are genuine, thoughtful, appreciative comments that are not intended to show engagement, increase influence scores or sweet talk an algorithm.
When I get these messages they typically come in the following format:
‘All joking aside, I really appreciate that you are writing this blog (or this specific post). I am really getting something out of this. I wanted you to know. Please keep them coming.’ – Feedback Franny or Freddy
This type of feedback is really what motivates me to keep writing. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to share such notes.
7. Don’t trust the data.
WordPress offers analytics on my blog about:
But the data doesn’t always jive with reality. I am not sure how the data on page views accommodates for people who subscribe and read the blog via email. Or how pass along of the email is captured. I often see a strong uptick in likes or comments on other platforms where I share a post, like LinkedIn and Facebook. But there is no movement in the data on WordPress. So don’t be a slave to the numbers, or take the WordPress data as gospel. Just keep writing good posts.
8. 3 times per week is my sweet spot.
Over the course of the past year I went from publishing 2 posts per week to 3. As a general rule I publish on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Occasionally I may slide those a day earlier or a day later based on my travel, work or world events. But I fully expect this to be my final answer on blogging frequency. It offers me 2 days to write each post. It offers 2 days for each post to be read before a new one takes its place at the top of the pile. The algorithms seem to want you to post about every other day so that you don’t flood the feeds.
Adding the Sunday post means that I no longer go Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday without publishing. As a result I have seen my overall monthly readership increase by 50%. If you can trust the data.
9. The real impact is not measured in views, follows, likes or comments.
Let me address measurement one more time. I am certain after 300 posts that you can not measure the impact of a blog in views, follows, likes or comments. The true impact of a blog is in how it impacts a life. It is in how the insights, education, information, motivation or inspiration you share improves the lives of your readers.
Blog posts are meant to help in some way. That help is not measured in likes and comments. It is measured in confidence, and in successful actions taken and in opportunities seized. Never lose sight of this. The real impact of your blog may not be recognized for years, or even decades. Be patient. And just keep writing.
10. The Blogger learns as much through writing as the reader does through reading.
When I first began writing my blog I expected to teach others a bit about the things I write about. Including advertising, marketing, creativity, entrepreneurship, business, and networking. But I am learning more than anyone else.
Regular writing forces a lot of self reflection, and analysis. You start viewing everything in life as lessons and insights worth sharing. The writing and editing process teaches you to clarify and refine your thinking. You draw scores of new connections and aha’s along the way. #takeonme So regardless of whether or not anyone ever reads your writings, you will profit from the writing itself.
11. Sneak in anything you want.
It’s your blog and you can write whatever the ef you want to. Sure, it’s best to have a general theme, direction, perspective or angle in your blog. People want to know generally what they can expect from reading it. But take advantage of the fact that it is your platform to share your stories and your perspective.
Blogging pays off. But it pays off slowly. You have to be patient. And persistent. But the cumulative effect of writing and sharing good content regularly increases your value to others. Which in turn becomes valuable to you in ways that are both monetary and life-i-tary.
Blogging keeps your voice and your viewpoint top of mind for others. Which means that you are both recently and relevantly recalled when opportunities surface. It works for me. It can work for you too. And despite all the tips it really comes down to this:
Think, Write, Review, Publish, Repeat.
If you know someone who writes a blog, or would like to, please consider sharing this post with them.
You have dreams. I know you do. You have visions of a future that is better than today. In your dream state you have a better job, a more exciting career or your own thriving business. You have lost weight, gained fame, made a fortune and crossed off everything on your bucket list. You, my friend, are Forrest Gumping.
Want To Do’s vs Have To Do’s
The hard part about making your dreams come true is that dreams are electives. They are not required. Which means that unlike taxes, you can put dreams off forever without getting into any trouble. The downside is that when you die your dreams die too. And as you are carried off to your final resting place your unrealized dreams will be left behind, still in their wrappers. Like sad little veal dreams.
Making Your Dreams Come True
The key to bringing your dreams to life is simple. You have to create fake deadlines. How do you do this? You just make them up. It’s the same way we created Leprechauns, Unicorns and the Backstreet Boys. You simply create your own fake timeline to make your dreams a reality. Then deadline your way forward.
My Entrepreneurship Deadline
On the eve of my 40th birthday I set a series of goals and fake deadlines for myself. One of my goals was to start my own advertising agency. Less than 3 years later I formed The Weaponry. A fake deadline gave my entrepreneurial dream urgency. Which made it a priority. Which gave it attention. Which created the action it required to meet the fake deadline. #3Whiches
Today The Weaponry sets quarterly rocks, or goals, that we must accomplish within 90 days. The 90-day deadline is completely made up. But it creates urgency and forces us into action. It gamifies our efforts and keeps us moving forward and improving as an organization.
My Blogging Deadlines
I publish 3 new posts to The Perfect Agency Project blog every week. I do this to share my experiences, insights and wisdom gained from building my own advertising agency. No one is making me write. No one else is telling me that a new post needs to go live every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. But that’s what my fake deadlines demand. So I deliver. As a result my readership steadily increases by 50% each year.
Fake deadlines make things happen. They are the true keys to progress. To accomplish something that is important to you start by setting a fake deadline to get started. Then set a fake deadline for completion. And set lots of fake deadlines to meet important and aggressive milestones along the way. Without fake deadlines dreams die. That’s just reality. But don’t let it happen to you. Instead, set your fake deadline today, by 10pm local time. Tick Tock. Tick Tock. Tick Tock.
If you know someone who could benefit from this post, please share it with them.
Last Saturday morning I went to Starbucks. A typical Starbucks run is not exactly newsworthy. Or Blogworthy. Or spongeworthy, But this Starbucks trip provided an expresso shot of inspiration for me. Because this wasn’t just any Starbucks. It was the original Starbucks at Seattle’s Pike Place Market.
I should mention that I don’t drink coffee. My standard meet-up/networking drink of choice is chocolate milk. I’ll do a venti hot chocolate when my go-to chocolate milk is not on the menu. You know, when I’m slumming it.
But I wasn’t viewing this Starbucks as a meet-up joint. Or a beverage joint. Or even as a tourist attraction. Although clearly it was. I saw the original Starbucks through the eyes of Adam Albrecht, the Founder of the advertising and idea agency The Weaponry. I evaluated the original Starbucks through the lens of a guy who started a small business and has large ambitions.
The first Starbucks serves as a reminder that we all start small. Because even the biggest brands, companies and cultural pillars begin as a vision. That vision, combined with action, soon becomes a small store, office, shop or stand. And if you just keep taking more steps and more action there is no telling how big your vision can become.
Even the biggest, most influential businesses start small. The key is having a vision and taking action. We can all do this. There is no magic formula. All you need is a venti vision with a double shot of action, topped with some stick-to-it-ness. That’s how Howard Schultz started Starbucks. And it is how you will start your next big thing.