How to warm up your entrepreneurial spirit.

Admit it, you would really like to own your own business. Most of us would. But getting started is a gnarly tangle of question marks.

  • Do I have what it takes?
  • What do I do first?
  • Do I have the appetite for risk?
  • Should I find a partner?
  • If my business doesn’t take off quickly do I give up food, shelter or clothing first?

Curious-but-careful types turn to books for answers to these questions. While you can read about entrepreneurship all you want, you can’t actually become an entrepreneur without taking action. Which means the best thing to do to warm up your entrepreneurial spirit is practice taking entrepreneurial action (without spending or losing money in the process).

The Challenge

I offer people enamored with the idea of entrepreneurship a simple one week challenge. If you bail on the challenge in the first day, it is a sign that you should not be a sailor on the entrepreneur ship. But if you complete the challenge, not only have you exercised the right behavior, you’ve primed the pump for the next step too.

So here is my challenge to you:


Adam Albrecht’s Unpatented One Week Entrepreneurial Warm Up Exercise.

  1. Pick a good starting day that offers flexibility in your schedule. Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays work well.
  2. Every time you think of someone, reach out to them. Send an email,  text or a call them. Shoot them a message on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Write the impulse down if you can’t send a message at that moment. But send the message that day. If there is a reason that person popped into your mind let them know. *only contact each person once, even if you think of them multiple times during the week. You don’t want to creep them out.

3. Write down the number of days in a row that you completed the mission.


The 3 Reasons You Should Try This Exercise:

1.Entrepreneurship is about turning thoughts into actions. Everyone has thoughts, ideas and impulses. But most of the time these impulses dissipate before they become actions. This exercise helps you transform your moments of inspiration into actions.

2. Entrepreneurship also requires you to actively maintain your network. That means investing time, thought, action and care into other people. It also involves expanding your network. Which could mean reaching out to people you don’t know, or don’t know well.

3. Entrepreneurship requires persistence. You have to keep at it day after day. Even if you really enjoyed a day or two of this exercise, don’t try to launch a business until you can string together a full week of successful impulse activation. 

5 Things You Will Learn From This Exercise:

1. What it is like to activate your thoughts.

2. Whether or not you can activate your thoughts with consistency.

3. Your connections with others will grow stronger.

4. The recency of your communications with make others more likely to think of you again in the near future.

5. Human interactions often set off a chain of interesting positive events. 

Key Takeaway

In entrepreneurship action is everything. In order to invent Facebook you actually have to invent Facebook. And it starts by doing the things you’ve thought about doing but haven’t done. Entrepreneurship requires you to spend a good chunk of your time outside your comfort zone. So practice getting over that discomfort by reaching out to friends and family you haven’t contacted for quite some time. By the end of this Unpatented One Week Entrepreneurial Warm Up Exercise, you won’t have spent any money on your business idea. But you will have created a more fertile environment for it to grow.

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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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Kickstart your day with this powerful and simple habit.

Your first act of the day sets the tone for how your entire day will go. Some people cuddle with a cup of coffee. Some read. Others exercise. While still others begin their morning by repeatedly jabbing at the snooze button on their alarm clock as if they were picking a fight with the Pillsbury Doughboy.

My First Habit 

My first act of the day is simple, and more impactful than any of the above. The very first thing I do each morning when I wake up, is smile. I smile and instantly the day is good. It makes me feel as if the day is a game that I am ready to play. I feel funny and playful. Because smiling to yourself in the dark for no reason is a funny thing to do. But it puts me in the right frame of mind for the 18-hour adventure ahead.

Life Comes At You Fast.

Like everyone else, I face challenges every day. I have 3 semi-domesticated children (12G, 10B and 7B). I have a home that regularly throws me surprises. I have a commute that I don’t control. I own an advertising and idea agency called The Weaponry, which comes with employees, contractors, clients, finances, insurance and a landlord. And they all have the potential to hip-check my plans each day.

But that first smile in the morning makes me feel as if I won the day before the sun even gets out of the starting blocks. It sets the tone for everything else. It reminds me that funny things are going to happen that day, and it is up to me to see those events as humourous, and not tragic, vengeful or a clear sign of how much the universe hates me.

Put a smile to work for you.

Try it yourself. It is the easiest positive thing you’ll do all day. Yet it has the power to propel and protect you until you crawl back into bed at night. And if you have not yet smiled today, do it now.

guy-smiley
This is Guy Smiley from Sesame Street. Fun fact: while he was a guy, he was not actually smiley, because he was stitched without smiling functionality. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?

If you find that a morning smile helps set a positive tone for your day let me know. If you have a great way to start your day that might help me, please share. I’ll take all the help I can get.

*To learn more about how I approach life and business you could shadow me 24-7. Or you could subscribe to this blog. It’s really up to you.

Why you should take more big chances.

I would never take candy from a stranger. But I will take life lessons from anyone. Even Rick Pitino. Pitino, the controversial former basketball coach at the University of Louisville (and Kentucky, The Knicks, The Celtics and Providence) is back in the news again. Not for having naughty relations in a restaurant with the wife of his assistant coach. Or setting up recruits with ‘hired lady friends’. He is back in the headlines today, rumored to be a potential new head coach of the NBA Milwaukee Bucks.

What Rick Told Me.

All this Pitino-talk reminds me of an interesting story he once told me. That’s right. As I was driving to work in Atlanta, Rick told me about his first encounter with the 3-point shot. No, Rick and I weren’t carpooling to pass the notorious Atlanta traffic. I was listening to his audio book, Success Is A Choice.  

Eastern Kentucky v Louisville
Rick Pitino, checking out the scoreboard of his life.

The Power Of The 3-Pointer

Pitino thought the introduction of the 3-point shot would have a significant impact on college basketball. In fact, the first year the 3-point shot was introduced to the college game he told his team that he expected them to take fifteen 3-point shots in every game.

The Russians

Then a funny thing happened. His team played an exhibition game against the Russian national team. And the Russian team attempted twenty-one 3-pointers, in the first half!  Of course many of those shots were nothing but nyet. (Sorry, I could nyet help myself.)

Even though Coach Pitino knew the 3-pointer would have a significant impact on the game of basketball, he grossly underestimated it. Probably because he was surrounded by athletes, not mathletes. Because shooting 50% from 2-point land gets the same result as shooting 33% from 3-point land.

50% from 2-Pointville = 33% from 3-Pointtown

Bigger Rewards

This math holds true in business and in our personal lives too. Taking smaller chances reaps smaller rewards. Taking larger chances reaps larger rewards. So stretch, grow, try, and learn. You can attempt shots with lower percentages and still enjoy a higher payout because of the higher value of each shot made. Don’t limit yourself to the easy stuff. Sooner or later you will regret it.

So step back and think bigger. Try the hard things. And pretty soon you’ll find you’re success rate on the hard stuff will catch up to the success rate on the easier stuff. You’ll be lighting up your own scoreboard. And when you do, you can tell me all about it as I drive.

*For more life lessons I’ve learned from winners and sinners consider subscribing to this blog.

How do you measure your professional growth?

When I was a kid I loved being measured. It was a great way to track my growth. I loved standing against the wall and measuring my height to see how much I had grown since the last time I stood against a wall. But I have not grown a millimeter since I was 14 years old. I topped out at 6 feet and 1/4 inch. But I was thrilled to be 6-something and not 5-something. (No disrespect 5-Somethings. #heightgoals)

Weight

I used to love stepping on a scale to see how much weight I had gained too. While I didn’t get any taller after my freshman year, I did gain 65 pounds during high school. In the 20+ years since then I have never been more than 10 pounds above my graduation weight. But like most adults, I am no longer excited to see growth on the bathroom scale.

Taking New Measurements

Today I measure my growth in other ways. In 2016 I decided to undertake a personal growth challenge and start an advertising and idea agency. I knew this entrepreneurial adventure would push me to grow in a great number of ways. But when I first began my journey I’m not sure I could have identified those many areas of growth. Or perhaps more importantly, how I would recognize the growth when it occurred.  After all, there is no scale to step on to measure the size of you Entrepreneurium.

Last week I saw it.

Late last Wednesday afternoon I left my office and climbed into the driver’s seat of my car. I took a moment to reflect on my day. There, in the quiet of my car, I could measure my own growth as clearly as I could when I was a kid standing against the wall or stepping on the bathroom scale.

The New Growth

Here are a few things that happened that day that showed me how far I had come in my entrepreneurial journey.

  1. I went to my office at The Weaponry. What had started as a business idea in my head in 2016 is no longer just an idea in my head. It’s a real, physical space with walls, doors and windows. It’s located at 1661 N. Water Street, Suite, #206 in Milwaukee. Stop by when you have a moment.
  2. I spent an hour dealing with our employer-offered insurance. We now offer health and dental insurance to our full-time employees. I had to chase down information that morning to get our new group ID numbers. I then put on my HR Director hat and held an impromptu meeting to update our employees who have enrolled in our insurance. Then I distributed temporary ID cards. Even typing this feels like a big step forward. I will have a whole post on this process to share soon.
  3. I participated in my monthly CEO roundtable discussion. I meet with a group of six business owners on the second Wednesday of every month. This group is part of the Council of Small Business Executives (COSBE), organized by the Metro Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC). I encourage you to click that link just to see how beautiful their picture of Milwaukee is. Milwaukee is a great city on a great lake. And I am thrilled to be here. But the discussions I participate in at these monthly meetings are a clear indicator of my professional growth over the past 18 months.
  4. I ended my day with a 45 minute discussion with our IT consultant. We are implementing upgrades to our IT infrastructure to meet the stringent security standards of the banking industry. There will be more to come on this in a future post. But when I stop and think about my expanded vocabulary in this space alone it is impossible not to recognize the growth. I’ve come a long way since I was a young copywriter penning headlines like, “It’s so responsive it knows which butt cheek you’re flexing.’  

Take Away

I don’t need a scale or measuring tape to document the growth spurt that I’m experiencing now. It is clearly evident in my daily actions, my language, and the growing circle of impressive people I spend my time with. This is exactly what I was after when I first experienced the urge for more growth, both personally and professionally. I know there is much I don’t yet know. But I am working on it. And that makes all the difference.

*To follow my journey please consider subscribing to this blog. If you’ve never subscribed to a blog before, consider this part of your personal growth. Yay you!

 

 

The best way to make your New Year’s resolution stick.

Happy Resolution Season! Today kicks off the magical four-week period at the beginning of the year when everyone wants to change their lives for the better. If you are a regular gym-goer it is the worst time of year. Because when you arrive for your regular workout some dude who hasn’t exercised in eleven months is wheezing and dripping all over your treadmill.

What do you want to change?

You probably have a list of things you want to start, stop or improve. I applaud that. But far too often, despite the fresh optimism of the new year, we fail to turn our resolutions into powerful new habits. So I will share my secret, counterintuitive technique that makes it much easier to create a healthy new habit.

How Hard Do You Work?

It is natural to assume that if you want to make a major change in your life you should work hard at it. That approach works for some. The beaver loves to be busy. The sled dog loves to mush. But the couch potato loves to potate on the couch. For most people the hard work simply reminds them how much they dislike the hard work.  That’s why the activity hasn’t developed into a habit, yet.

I was at the gym when it opened this morning to start the year with a leg workout. (I’m not actually as svelte as stick-figure me).

The Easier Approach

My secret formula to goal achievement is to put in less effort. While it is natural to think that hard work in the gym or the office will get you better results faster, your long-term success will be hampered. Because most people quickly grow tired of the work, the suffering, the pain or the sacrifice.

Get Lazy to Win

When I start a new habit, or resume my workout routine after a pause, I do less than I could. I do less than I should. And that is the key. By under-exerting myself I keep the activity enjoyable. I check the box. I know I worked out, or spent time on the project, or studying or whatever the case may be. But I only did the minimum. Or the medium. But never even close to the maximum. At first.

This does 3 things:

  1. It makes me feel accomplished.  After all, I did work towards my goal. I got on the cardio machine. I lifted weights. I created an initial sketch of the business I wanted to start. I skipped dessert. (Yay me! I’m doing it!)
  2. It makes it fun  I did the parts that make the endeavor enjoyable. I worked up some sweat. But I didn’t push hard enough to suffer. I didn’t cramp. I didn’t feel like throwing up. I didn’t overload my brain. And most importantly, I never wished that it was over.
  3. It makes me hungry for more. This is the key. I know I can do more. I know I have more in me. Even in this early stage. So I look forward to more.

Calluses vs. Blisters

Hard works requires calluses. You need to build up layers of your own armor. You do this through repetition. Slowly, repeatedly over time. Your body develops a tolerance to the work and the motion. So you can withstand more.

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But most people blister. They work harder than they are prepared for in the beginning.  And their body or brain rejects the work. The effort is seen as a threat rather than a treat. You get sore. The pain says stop. The skin bubbles and peels off and then you bleed. All the feedback is negative. The rational person rejects the entire activity. Then retreats to the couch again to potate.

But people who slowly build calluses keep going. They see the improvement they are after. Which means they can increase the effort without decreasing the fun. They feel accomplished and prepared for more. It’s a beautiful thing.

Staring my business

When I started my adverting and idea agency, The Weaponry, I had a vision for what the perfect, fully-formed agency would look like. But I started small. And slow. I didn’t worry about all the things I should be doing, or that I would eventually need to do to make the business in my head a reality. If I tried to do it all from the beginning I likely would have been overwhelmed, stressed or scared. Instead, I did a little bit more every day. And it’s been fun the entire time. The kind of fun that keeps me coming back for more.

The Key Take Away 

Don’t kill yourself in January. Underdo it. Make it fun. And make yourself want to come back for more. Plan for long-term success. But allow yourself time to build momentum. By doing so you can change your life forever. Starting today. Isn’t that exciting? So do less. Enjoy more. And get a little bit better everyday.

Happy 2018. This is your year!

*If one of your goals is to read more in 2018, subscribe to this blog. I’ll share a few hundred words to read a couple of times per week. Which is not enough to hurt you.