Why compliments are one of the most valuable gifts you can give.

Money does not grow on trees. Unless you work in lumber industry, you’ve likely heard this saying a hundred times. The takeaway is that money is not free. You don’t have an endless supply of it. So be careful how you spend it. However, there is another extremely valuable asset that you have at your disposal, right now, that I encourage you to give to others as often as you can.

Compliments

If you have ever received a great compliment you know that they are worth more than gold. They are the currency that pre-pay many of the greatest accomplishments in our lives. They are the prizes that reward our greatest efforts. They positively reinforce our positive actions. They pick us up when we are feeling down. They keep us going when the going gets tough. And they help counterbalance the times we are told we have lipstick on our teeth, bats in the cave, or have left our barn door open.

Confidencements

Receiving compliments builds confidence. Compliments are proof that the world noticed you getting things right. They shine a spotlight on the skills and abilities that others value in you. Which reminds you to value them in yourself.

Get Comfortable With It.

However, paying people compliments can feel uncomfortable. We worry that our praise will sound weird. Or creepy. Or Weinsteiny.  Or that a compliment won’t mean much coming from little ole me.

To avoid personal discomfort we often add a qualifier or a disclaimer to our compliments. We say things like, ‘Don’t take this the wrong way…’ or, ‘I don’t want to give you a big head but…’ (which is materially different than giving someone a big headbutt.)

Straight Up, like Paula Abdul

Don’t add disclaimers to your compliments. Serve them straight up. Share your positive feedback and observations without any negativity. That’s how it has the most positive impact, and greatest value. Compliments are a tremendous gift. And they should be offered the way you offer cash in a birthday card. Crisp. Clean. Un-crumpled, un-ripped, un-torn. And in reasonably large quantities.

Making It Rain Up In Here

I make a point of offering compliments any time I can. Which means that I notice all the good things I want to see in the world. And I encourage others to create even more of it.  I find myself complimenting others for the following:

  • skill
  • effort
  • humor
  • kindness
  • adventuresnous
  • intelligence
  • braveness
  • creativity
  • problem solving
  • style
  • taste
  • commitment
  • improvement
  • inspiration
  • positivity
  • giving
  • smiling
  • good cooking
  • unselfishness
  • creating nice lists of bullet points

Creating Change

Mahatma Gandhi said that we must be the change we wish to see in the world. (He also said, ‘I feel like sheet today!’) But we must also call out and compliment the good that we want to see in the world. That positive reinforcement is the best way to ensure that you will see even more of it around you in the future.

Key Takeaway

Compliments are one of the most valuable gifts we can give another human. They are often the greatest payments a person will receive for their efforts. Compliments encourage. They reinforce. They have the power to change lives. So give them freely. Give them often. Give them without qualifier or disclaimer. And know that your small investment of time and effort may last a lifetime.

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

Are you spending your time with the right people? 

Who are you spending your time with?

This is one of the most important questions you you can ask yourself. It is right up there with, Am I eating well? Am I exercising enough? And, Am I getting enough sleep? The question is important because whether you like it or not, you are becoming more like the people you spend your time with.

Take a moment to think about those people you spend your time with, either by choice, by default.

Pausing For thought…Playing that song from Jeopardy in my head…Which I always thought sounded like ‘I’m a little teacup.’…

The Human Conveyor Belts 

The people you spend your time with are like conveyor belts, taking you where they are going. That’s why it is critical that you carefully choose who you are spending your time with. Don’t settle for people who are simply nearby. Or convenient. Or who want to spend time with you. Make sure that they are people who will help carry you where you want to go.

My Journey (will always feature Steve Perry)

When I started my entrepreneurial journey I began spending a lot of time with other entrepreneurs. These were people who truly believed that they could make something out of nothing. Which made me believe I could alchemize my own success.

Their tolerance for risk made me more risk tolerant. Their boldness made me bolder. I quickly found myself thinking and acting like an entrepreneur. And before I knew it, I had established The Weaponry LLC. I had clients and revenue and employees and t-shirts. I also had other people wanting to know how I did it. And I have been sharing what I know ever since.

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Dan Nowak, Darren Fisher and Jordan Meyer are all great entrepreneurs who I spend a lot of time with. They try to teach me things,  like how real entrepreneurs pose for photos.

Heat Seeker

Seek out the people you want to be more like. The people who are headed where you want to go. People who are thinking and acting the way you want to think and act. Avoid the blamers and excuse makers. Ditch the complainers and the complacents. Attitudes are highly contagious. Make sure you are catching yours from the right people.

Key Takeaway

Become a better you by spending time with better people. Surround yourself with positive, can-do, will-do types. They will pull you forward. They will force you to grow to keep up. Then, as you grow, find more people who are even further ahead. Positive influence is a super fuel. Take all you can get. And share it with everyone you can.

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

How close to the surface are your failures?

Tuesday night I guest lectured to an advertising campaigns class at Marquette University taught by Erin Napier. I talked about creative thinking and the creative process. I talked about my advertising career path, from college student to Copywriter to Creative Director to Chief Creative Officer. I talked about Entrepreneurship. I shared my experience as Founder & CEO of  The Weaponry. And I told them about the time me and Danica Patrick filled a Motorhome with 1.2 million ping pong balls.

Q & A

I showed samples of the creative work I have created, and then I asked if anyone had questions. This is one of the first questions I was asked:

‘What was you greatest career failure, and what did you learn from it?’

Now I am all about learning from your failures. And I am all about turning lemons into  lemonade, like Ralph Lemonader. But I didn’t have an answer for this question.

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This is the class I spoke to at Marquette University. And everyone is still awake. I consider that a win.

It’s not that I haven’t made mistakes in my career. I certainly have. But what I recognized when trying to access my colossal mistakes file, was that I don’t hold my failures close. They are not raw and ready to be examined. I am not dwelling on them, stewing over them of kicking myself because of them. I’m not like that super pale dude from The Da Vinci Code, who was torturing himself with his power slinky. I quickly learn my lesson and move on, better than before.

Maximizer

When I read Tom Rath’s Strength Finders, and took the test in the book (which I recommend you do), it told me that I am a raging Maximizer. Which means I have no interest in analyzing things that went wrong in the past. I simply focus on what we can do from here.

My Biggest Failure Answer

The best answer I could give that Marquette student was that I was pretty sure I don’t know what my biggest mistake was. It was likely something I didn’t do, rather than something I did do. It was probably some path I didn’t take, or some Monty Hall door I didn’t open. I’ll never know where that would have taken me. And I’m not losing any sleep over it. #Zzzzzzz

Learn & Move On

Our failures should be like touching a hot stove. We should do it once, recognize the mistake quickly, file the lesson away, and move on. No dwelling or hand wringing. We just learn our lessons, and get back to life. #BackToReality.

Key Takeaway

Learn from your failures and keep going. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t rank your greatest failures of all time. Instead, focus on your successes. Know what works for you. Remember what you did right. Repeat the positive actions. And pass that knowledge along for others to learn from too.

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

The unbelievable ending to this basketball team manager’s senior year is straight out of Hollywood.

You can never have too many friends, or hear too many inspirational stories. This weekend one of my close friends sent me an unbelievable story about a special high school basketball team manager in Atlanta. The story made my jaw drop, my heart warm and my gooses bump. Here it is.

Pace Academy

This year, the Pace Academy basketball coach, Sharman White, wanted to send his high school seniors off with a memorable ending. All of his seniors.

Before the last home game of their regular season the coach circled up his team, and thanked senior team manger Daniel Lucke for his faithful loyalty to the team. He then surprised Lucke by announcing that he would be suiting up for Senior Night.

The team went crazy for Daniel. They cheered, hugged and encircled him. Clearly this was a guy the rest of the team really loved. And now, in the last game of his senior, the manager was going to get to wear a team uniform, just like the rest of the players on the team.

And this is what happened…

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Daniel put on his uniform, and his family insisted on taking pics. Daniel gave the camera his best, aw-come-on-mom look.

Then…

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His sister Katie, Dad (Jim), and Mom (Stephanie), proudly escorted Danny when his name was announced.
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Jim and Coach bro-hugged, while Katie thought, ‘Aww… they are bro-hugging.’
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Danny got to participate in team warmups. And a little boy who walked in the gym wearing a blue jacket thought Danny looked legit.
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Danny joined his teammates on the sideline and totally looks like he fits in. He is number 14 (just like he was in the other 4 photos above).

The Game

The Pace Academy Knights proceeded to dominate their opponents from The Lovett School. Which also happens to be the alma mater of my friend Adam Nelson, who won the Olympic Gold Medal in the shot put in Athens in 2000. (Apparently having a Gold Medalist shot putting alum doesn’t help your team dominate in basketball a couple decades later. #gofigure)

The Moment

With 1:30 left in the game, and the win assured, Coach White did something he will never forget. He called Daniel Lucke’s name. And the told the faithful team manager that it was his turn to play.

All of Danny’s service, sacrifice, support and unselfishness over the past 2 years got him 90 seconds of playing time in the last game home game of his senior year. It was a dream come true. But the dream wasn’t over.

Rising To The Occasion

With just seconds left in the game, Danny was passed the ball under the opponents basket, and quickly dribbled up court. After crossing the half-court line, Danny executed an NBA-caliber crossover dribble, behind his back! The move left the poor defender guarding him flat on his bumski. And the crowd went wild.

Then, Danny dribbled to the top of the key, and launched a 3-point shot just before the final buzzer. The whole crowd held their breath, and watched as the final shot of the game arced through the air. And into the basket.

The Reaction

The crowd went cray-cray. The student section poured onto the court, surrounding Danny, and completing a dream-like finale to the team manager’s high school basketball experience.

The Proof

Here is a video of both the announcement that Danny would suit up, and the final play of the game.

Going Viral

Videos of D-Lucke’s buzzer beating shot immediately went viral. The story made news outlets across the country. Within hours, the video had been seen by millions of people. And the world had one more great inspirational story to share.

Danny The Kid

Danny is a great kid. I’m not just saying that because his coach said that. Or because his teammates and classmates obviously loved him. I know Danny.

The person who sent me Danny’s story was his Mom, my close friend Stephanie Herbst-Lucke. She is a fellow University of Wisconsin track athlete. And she is one of the most giving people I know.

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Daniel’s Mom, Stephanie Herbst-Lucke (second from left) was an outstanding track and cross country runner at Wisconsin. But D-Lucke’s crossover dribble skillz must have come from Jim.

Stephanie currently serves as the President of Wisconsin’s W Letterwinner’s Club for Wisconsin Alumni athletes, where she stands out as a special person among special people.

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Until Senior Night, my favorite shot of D-Lucke’s was this pic he took of me and some fellow UW track and field alum at a gathering at the Lucke’s home in Atlanta.

I feel lucky to know the Luckes. Jim and Stephanie are great people. They have clearly taught Daniel and his older sister’s Katie and Maddie well. They selflessly serve others. And when you do that, great things happen. Thank you Coach White for making this happen. And for setting the stage for such a wonderful life lesson.

Key Takeaway

Be like Daniel Lucke. Give unselfishly. Help any way you can. Lean in. Participate. Invest in your relationships. And prepare yourself for the opportunities that come your way.

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

Now you have 6 days to make magic.

We are almost at the end of 2019. But more importantly, we are almost at the start of 2020. A new year. A new decade. And a chance to make the movie you are starring in turn out just the way you want it to. #happyending

6 Days To Finish Strong

But right now you have 6 days. 6 Days to finish 2019 strong. To tie up lose ends. You have  6 days to put more marks in the win column. To complete things you started. To connect with people. To get your steps in. To start, make or do that thing you said you would start, make or do this year, but still haven’t.

6 Days To Start Strong

You also have 6 days to give yourself a running start at 2020. To hit the new year and new decade with momentum. You have 6 days to start building a new habit. To put plans in place. To make this year THE year for realzies. You have 6 days to write down your goals and a plan to achieve them. You have 6 days to plan a year of adventures and vacations and bucket list-worthy activities.

The Swing Days

These are the 6 swing days. The 6 days between Christmas and New Years can make your year. If you waste them all no one will notice. Much of the western world is in neutral right now. Or in a return line at Target. But if you take advantage of the fact that not much is expected of you right now, you can make a sprint to the finish line, or a sprint to the starting line that could change everything. (Note: swing days are not affiliated with swingers or swinging. However, you are so money. And you don’t even know it.)

Me Time

I did much of the hard work to launch The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, during this period 4 years ago. This year I will be in the office working during at least 3 of the next 6 days. I will work to give my business an unfair advantage by running while others are resting. And I’ll spend some of my time resting faster than other people rest.

Planning Time

I will plan my vacations and vacation days for 2020 over the next 6 days. By planning them out I pace myself, and make sure I don’t get to these same 6 days next year burnt and crispy. I don’t want to end my year as a couch zombie, because I don’t have the energy to do anything else.

It’s Go Time

Don’t be that person who says they don’t have time for the things they really want to do. Take time now. Plan time in the upcoming year. And make time work for you.

Key Takeaway

Time is your most valuable asset. You have 6 days left to spend wisely. Invest your 6 days where you will get the best return on your investment. Think long term. But act right now.

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

The most important business decision I have made this month.

Some businesses are slowing down for the holidays. But at The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, we are in overdrive. December has been our busiest month of our busiest year yet. And we see no slowdown in sight. Today is my 12th day working without a day off. I have the only house on my block without Christmas lights. And I couldn’t be happier.

Decision Making

This level of demand forces you to make a variety of logistical decisions in order to meet all of the needs. In this period of record demand we have had to make a lot of really important decisions.

Last Thursday we began an exciting project that had us shooting a series of videos across the state of Texas for 10-days. There were massive amounts of logistics to coordinate to pull it off. We would be working with 5 different powersports dealerships, 5 different charities, and we had nearly 100 different locations to scout and film. There would be daily travel as each of the locations were 1 to 4 hours away from each other. Because apparently everything is bigger in Texas (I am surprised they don’t talk about that more…).

The First Puzzle Piece

Planning this shoot was a puzzle. And just like solving a jigsaw puzzle, we had to start by finding our first corner piece. We had to find that important, non-barbecue-related factor that we must plan all of the other details around.

In this case the entire plan started with a 3-year old boy’s Christmas play. When we looked at the 10-day shoot, our creative director, Adam ‘Henry’ Emery and I had to determine how we would split our time on the shoot so neither of us had to be out of the office for 10 days. Henry said, ‘My son has a Christmas program on Tuesday evening, December 10th and I would hate to miss it.’ So we built the 10-day travel schedule, and all of our logistics around that.

Prioritize

In our busiest month in agency history, the decision to build our travel around a child’s Christmas program was the single most important decision we made. With all of the challenges we faced, we started with the most important. We value our people above all else. We want them to prioritize the people and events they value most. And while we will have many more work obligations, there is only one Christmas play when you are 3-years old. And Mom’s and Dad’s should be there.

Key Takeaway

Put first things first. Prioritize family and friends whenever you can. Help your co-workers and clients do the same. When you develop organizations that support families, you also develop families that support your organization. And like Van Halen said, that is the best of both worlds.

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

 

 

Do you know your Social Value?

The true measure of your financial success is your net worth. I calculate my net worth regularly. I track it month over month. I set goals for growing it over the near, mid and long term. It’s a fun game to play. One that pays long term dividends. Literally.

However, your net worth, or financial assets, don’t represent your true value. Lately I have been thinking about another way to measure my worth that is even more meaningful. A way to not simply tally the money I have accumulated. But to measure the value I bring to other people. 

Social Value

Your Social Value is important for several reasons. At the end of your days the only thing that really matters is the impact you have had on other people. But offering a great deal of social value is also a leading indicator of your financial well-being. Because when you help others you are always helping yourself.  And if you are finding yourself poor and alone, chances are you are not offering much social value. And your situation is a result. 

To determine your social value ask yourself this simple question:

How valuable am I to the people I know?

Know Your Social Value

I have been asking myself this question a lot lately. Because I am evaluating how much I contribute to those around me. It is easy to focus on what you are receiving, or what you are accumulating. But I have a sneaking suspicion that when I get to the Peary Gates the entrance criteria might not be financial. Unless Heaven is more like Disney World than we realized.

Evaluate Yourself

There are many ways to add value to others. Here are some of them. Evaluate yourself on the following 20 areas.

  • Give yourself 3 points for each element that you give generously.
  • Give yourself a 1 if you give it occasionally.
  • Give yourself a zero if it is simply not something you offer others.

Here we go.

1. Smiles Do you give away a lot of smiles every day? Could you give more?  This small investment pays big dividends for others who need a smile the most.

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2. Help  Do you offer others help? When people need it do they turn to you? Or do they write you off as a dead end when they are in need?

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3. Entertainment:  Are you entertaining to be around? Do you do and say things that other find interesting, amusing or amazing? Will people put down their mobile device around you because you are likely to serve up something more compelling than a cat in  sweater or a football-to-the-groin video?

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4. Education: Do you teach people what you know? Do you have knowledge to share? 

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5. Wisdom: Do you have valuable experience to share? Have you made mistakes, overcome obstacles and come out smarter, and with better perspective that you are willing to talk about?

6. Encouragement When people are down do you help pick them back up?  When others face great challenges do you become a cheerleader?

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7. Positive Peer Pressure We talk a lot about peer pressure as being negative. But peer pressure comes in 2 flavors. Do you exert positive peer pressure to keep people between the ditches? To help force people to make positive choices or overcome bad habits?

8. Role Model  We all could use a positive role model to serve as an example of what is possible. Are you doing that for others? Or are you more Charles Barkley-ish

9. Humor Laughter is the best medicine. Are you serving up large doses of it, like doctors serve up opioids?

Zyck at Rett's

10. Listening  At the end of the day, most people just want to be heard. Are you known as a listener? As someone others can talk to, even without offering brilliant advice? Often others are not looking for you to solve their problems. They just need to talk to someone who will listen as they try to work out their own challenges. #justnod

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11. Connections Do you have strong connections? Do you know other people with high Social Value scores? The more you know and can tap into, the more value you offer.

12. Action: Are you a person of action? Do you do? Do you throw water on a fire or do you tell someone else there is a fire? Do you help when you see it is needed? Or do you leave it to others?

13. Remembering Names: Do you make a point of remembering names? We’re not real friends until we remember each others’ names. Because you can’t properly greet, contact or introduce another person unless you know their name. And nothing in life is sweeter than the sound of your own name being positively called. Except maybe sweet tea. That stuff is super sweet.

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14. Showing Up: Do you show up when people are in need? When there is an event, activity or funeral do you make a point of being there whenever you can? 

15. Promises: Do you keep yours? Is your word good? Are you trustworthy? Can people count on you to come through when they need you?

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16. Influence: Do you have influence on people, situations and decisions? People who have influence over decisions, other people, and outcomes are valuable to know. Just ask any politician, lobbyist or mobster.

17. Positivity: Do you bring a positive outlook with you? Do you help encourage positivity in others? Seeing things in a positive light and expecting positive results helps you shape the world positively. I am positive about this.

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18. Inclusive: Do you include others? Do you look for ways to bring more people into the fold? Do you make people feel like part of a group, activity or movement? #notbowelmovement 

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19. Introductory: Do you introduce people to each other? Do you help increase connections, create larger, more powerful social groups? Do you see that as part of your responsibility, or do you let others fend for themselves?

20. Initiating: Do you initiate social interactions? Do you call, email or text first? Do you organize events, coffees, beers, lunches, or hangouts? In all social interactions someone needs to make the first move. If you aren’t doing your fair share the relationship will start to feel one sided. Which is simply a less valuable relationship.

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Tally Your Score

  • If you got a 60 you are amazingly valuable to know.
  • If you got a 0 you are worthless to others, like a social Ebenezer Scrooge.
  • If you are closer to 60 than 0 you are doing pretty good.
  • If you are closer to 0 than 60 you have a lot of room for improvement. But you can do it. I know you can.

Key Takeaway

If you are interested in self improvement start with increasing your Social Value. It will have the greatest positive impact on others. And when you positively impact others it will lead to more positive outcomes for you. Offering strong Social Value means that people will be drawn to you, seek you out, and think of you when they are in need. Which means that your Social Value makes you more popular and move valuable than your net worth ever could.

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