The poem that brought my Grandfather to tears.

My Grampy, Kenneth Adam Sprau was born in 1916 in Meservey, Iowa. Meservey was a small farm town that mostly consisted of the 12 Sprau children in Grampy’s family, and sounded like someone was trying to say Missouri after too much Wild Turkey.

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Grampy served in the Navy in the Pacific fleet during World War II. He came home (Thank God), married my Grammy, and they raised 9 kids in Southern, Minnesota. They also raised beef cattle, hogs, corn and soybean. He farmed well into his 80s when they finally decided to retire and move to town.

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Over the course of Grampy’s life he saw the world transform in unfathomable ways. When I once commented on all of the change he and my other grandparents had witnessed he said to me, ‘Adam, you could never understand what it was like to be us. We went from horse and buggy to putting a man on the moon.’ Grampy was my witness to the greatest century of change in human history. He also taught me 98% of the swear words I know today.

The Library

Grampy was a library of interesting sayings, songs, jokes and poems. Some of it was purely silly. (I’ve got a dog his name is Rover. He is nothing but a pup. He will stand up on his hind legs. If you hold his front legs up.) And some of it was serious and profound.

The Poem

At a family gathering in Dublin, Ohio, when Grampy was much closer to the end of his 92 years than the beginning, my uncle Jon Sprau asked Grampy to share ‘the poem about the 2 Ships’. I had never heard the 2 Ships poem. And I bet Grampy hadn’t recited the poem in the past couple of decades. But Grampy immediately accessed 2 Ships in the jukebox in his head and performed it for our family.

Here is the poem:


Tis The Set Of The Sail — Or — One Ship Sails East

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

But to every mind there openeth,

A way, and way, and away,

A high soul climbs the highway,

And the low soul gropes the low,

And in between on the misty flats,

The rest drift to and fro.

But to every man there openeth,

A high way and a low,

And every mind decideth,

The way his soul shall go.

One ship sails East,

And another West,

By the self-same winds that blow,

‘Tis the set of the sails

And not the gales,

That tells the way we go.

Like the winds of the sea

Are the waves of time,

As we journey along through life,

‘Tis the set of the soul,

That determines the goal,

And not the calm or the strife.


Grampy and Grammy

The Response

Hearing this poem was one of the most profound moments of my life. Not just because the poem itself is profound, and inspiring. But after Grampy recited the following passage, he broke down in tears:

One ship sails East,

And another West,

By the self-same winds that blow,

‘Tis the set of the sails

And not the gales,

That tells the way we go.

The Life Lesson.

When a man who has experienced more than 8-decades of life on a farm, witnessed the greatest evolution in human history, enjoyed more than 60-years of marriage and participated in a worldwide war breaks down while reciting these words, you know these words are important. It was the first and only time in my life I ever saw Grampy cry. And I still think about that moment and that message when making important life decisions.

Key Takeaway 

Tis the set of the sails, and not the gales, that tells the way we go.

*Check out the background image on the featured picture for this post.

What will you do with your bonus hour?

There are not enough hours in a day to do all of the things you would like to do. That is just a fact. Time is the most precious commodity on Earth. It’s worth more than diamonds, helium and CBD. At the end of your days you won’t wish for more money, a nicer car or a fancier home. You would trade all your worldly possessions (and some of your purely regional possessions) for more time.

Bonus Hour

Today marks the end of Daylight Saving Time. Most people focus on the negative fact that the sun now sets earlier. But don’t be a Debbie Sundowner. Today is a great day. It is the one day a year when the universe, Father Time, and the American Clocker’s Panel give you a bonus hour.

At 2am local time you received your annual 1-hour time bonus. With that additional hour the universe also handed you an important question:

‘What will you do with your bonus hour?’ -Universe

When you receive a work bonus, a tax refund or a lottery payout, you spend a lot of time thinking about what you will do with the money. But have you spent any time thinking about what you will do with your extra hour? You should. Because until you can buy a time machine from Marty McFly, your hour is more valuable and more precious than any monetary bonus you will ever receive. 

Invest Your Time

Take a moment today to think about how you will invest your bonus hour. If you came to Albrecht Time Investment Advisors LLC, we would encourage you to invest your time in one of the following areas:

  • Your health
  • Your family
  • Your faith
  • Your friendships
  • Your personal growth
  • Your peace of mind
  • Your community
  • Your future
  • Your career
  • Your hobbies
  • Your bucket list
  • Your experiences
  • Your personal legend
  • Anything that will make you laugh.

Key Takeaway

Don’t waste time. Invest it in the most important areas of your life. By spending your time wisely you will enjoy a richer, more fulfilling and more impactful experience on Earth. Remember, you will be dead sooner than you want to be. So take advantage of all the time you can get while you are still here.

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

How your spouse can be your greatest career coach.

There are many amazing people who have had a significant impact on my career. There have been CEOs I admire. Entrepreneurs that inspired me. Creative Directors who have guided me. And successful marketers of all sorts that have provided me with important lessons and insights.

My Wife

But there is one person who has had the greatest positive influence on my career, by far. My wife, Dawn Albrecht. Dawn and I have a special relationship. I fell in love with her at first sight. Then, just seconds later I realized that she was actually my new coworker. It was a little like the moment Kelly McGillis walked into Tom Cruise’s classroom in Top Gun. #SoYoureTheOne

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My wife Dawn serves up career magic.

The Downside

Initially the fact that we worked together was a negative. It made it awfully hard to ask her out. Because a failed office romance provides a constant reminder of your failed office romance until one of you quits or gets fired.

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The last picture of us before we became BF &GF.

The Upside

But once we became an actual couple, not just a couple in my imagination system, the fact that we worked together became a major advantage. Dawn fully understood my job, my industry and my career path. She understood the workplace dynamics I faced. She saw my untapped potential. And she knew just how to push me forward.

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Dawn always coordinates her shirt with seasonal gourds. #nextlevel  

You know I thought I had it so good.

When we first met I was just 4 years into my career. I thought I had a great title. And I was very proud of my salary. But I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Dawn, on the other hand, had spent 7 years working for great companies in New York City and Chicago, including the Lifetime Channel (television for women), Times Mirror Publications, Discovery Networks and Cars.com.

Simply put, Dawn knew more than me. She recognized my growth potential and she pushed me to realize it.

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Our wedding day. (You knew it was either that or Halloween, right?)

Here We Go

Over the course of the next 10 years Dawn went from my coworker, to my wife and best friend, to the mother of my 3 children. But she also became my career coach. And my personal motivator. She made me think about whether I was stretching and growing. She made me think about my professional skills and abilities. She taught me about the true value I brought to my clients and employers. And she called me out when she thought I had grown too comfortable. And she was always right.

An Endorsement For Coaching

Dawn taught me the value of having a strong career coach. And over the first 10 years of our relationship my title grew from Senior Writer at Cramer Krasselt to Chief Creative Officer at Engauge, an agency with 4 office locations and 275 people in Atlanta, Columbus, Pittsburgh and Orlando.

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The Agency Takes Off

13 years after Dawn and I met, Halyard Capital, the private investment firm that owned Engauge, decided the agency was on the right trajectory to sell. I was part of the 4-person leadership team that represented Engauge as we met with 15 potential buyers. In August of 2013 the agency was bought by Publicis, the world renowned ad agency holding company in Paris. And I was ready for my next chapter.

Entrepreneurship

I always wanted to start my own business. And just 2 years later I began plans to launch my own advertising agency. Despite the fact that I would be trading in a nice salary, and comfortable benefits, Dawn was 100% behind the plan. She never questioned or doubted that an agency I created would be successful. Her total confidence in me added to my healthy confidence in myself.

The Weaponry

I launched The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, when I was 42 years old. Today, I am frequently asked what the scariest moment of my entrepreneurial experience has been. But I really haven’t been scared at all. I credit much of that to Dawn. Because she has had full confidence that this would work out exactly as planned. And if Mama’s not worried, nobody’s worried.

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Our tribe at The Weaponry.

Birthday Girl!

Today is Dawn’s birthday (at least it is if you are reading this on October 29th). I will take the day off, just like I do every year. We will spend the day together. And I’ll reflect on how I wouldn’t have made it this far down my path this fast if it wasn’t for her. She has encouraged me, inspired me and challenged me. She has put her complete faith in me (and maybe my life insurance policy).

She has fully supported the decision to walk away from a comfortable life in search of an adventurous and even more rewarding experience. Dawn is like the Jelly of The Month Club. Because she’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year. In friendship. In family. And yes, even in business.

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Key Takeaway

If you want to be do great things, find someone great to go with you. Someone who believes in you. Someone fun and funny. Someone who won’t let you get comfortable. Someone who challenges you to grow and become all that you were supposed to be. If you find someone like that never let them go. Never take them for granted. And if you can take their birthday off every year and spend it with them, do it. You’ll never regret it.

If you liked this I also wrote about the first time ever I saw Dawn’s face in the post It was an ordinary day until I got on that elevator.

My 10 Simple Rules For Business Success.

My 14-year old daughter Ava has been studying The 10 Commandments during her confirmation class. She has lots of questions. Like, ‘How did we arrive at these 10?’ (I said God and David Letterman decided.) And, ‘Which one is the most important of all?’ (I told her it’s the one about honoring thy mother and thy father.) Her many questions are hard for humans to answer. But they serve as great kindling for meaningful conversations.

Rules For Life

I try to live my life according to The 10 Commandments. I’m so-so at it. I haven’t killed anyone. I haven’t worshipped any golden calves. But I sometimes use the Lord’s name in vain. (Sorry Big Guy.) And I have definitely coveted my neighbors house. But come on, my neighbors have sweet houses!

Rules For Career Success

I love simple rules. And all of our recent talk about The 10 Commandments got me thinking about my own rules. So I wrote down my 10 rules for business success. Here’s my list. These are short enough enough to be carved on just one stone tablet. Which means that you could carry these rules and a gallon of chocolate milk at the same time.

10 Simple Rules for Business Success.

  1. Always do what you know is right.
  2. Develop and maintain strong relationships.
  3. Solve problems.
  4. Deal with the decision maker.
  5. Hire people whose results make you jealous.
  6. Collect Dots and Connect Dots.
  7. Add value.
  8. Focus for greatest results.
  9. Add energy.
  10. Start with the end in mind.
  11. Overdeliver.

Key Takeaway

It is important to develop a strong set of rules to help you perform your best. The rules serve as reminders, guides and inspiration. They stand as pillars that support great people and great performance. If you ever lose your way, go back to your rules. They will never let you down.

What are your go-to rules?

What pieces of career advice would you write in stone and have delivered by Charleston Heston? Please share in the comments section. Or send me a note. If you do I will create another post called The Top 10 Rules I Learned From Readers, and I will give you credit. It will be a collaboration. Like Band Aid, USA For Africa or Dionne and Friends.

Do you know what your bottleneck is?

Just like every party has a pooper, every bottle has a neck. You learn that in Bottle Anatomy 101. But what you might not have known is that every business, machine and human has a bottleneck too. The bottleneck is the singular constraint that limits an organization, object or person from accomplishing more, creating more and earning more.

Lessons of Entrepreneurship

I spend a lot of my time thinking about bottlenecks. It started when I first launched my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry. As an entrepreneur, you have to spend a lot of time working on your business, not just in your business. By doing so you find that both you and your business have limitations. Unless you are Master P. #NoLimitSoldier

Finding Bottlenecks

A great way to know what areas of your business you should work on is to simply look for the bottlenecks. These are the areas that limit everything else a business can accomplish. They can be processes, equipment, people or money. In some cases your bottleneck could be too many long necks. (You can learn all about that by listening to Garth Brooks music.)

Delivery

The Weaponry’s bottleneck is not how much work we can deliver. Because we are organized in a way that allows us to scale our team when necessary to meet surges in demand. I am confident we have the right kinds of people too. So that is not our current limiter either.

Business Development

Our bottleneck is related to business development. We have discovered our businesses limiter is about awareness that we exist and what we can do for our potential clients. Which is perhaps the most common bottleneck in business. It is why advertising and marketing agencies like us exist in the first place. Alanis Morissette would say this is ironic. Don’t you think?

They Don’t Go Away. They Move.

Because we know awareness is our bottleneck we make it The One Problem To Solve. By increasing our awareness we can increase demand, which increases our business. Once awareness is no longer our limiter, our bottleneck will move somewhere else in the business. It may become our bandwidth, financial resources, location, skill sets, or the types of snacks we have in the break room.

As the business grows and evolves the bottleneck will continue to move. But by paying close attention to the business we will identity the new bottleneck, and the solutions needed to improve our business. Which is like winning at Whac-A-Mole.

Key Takeaway

The single most important thing you can do today is identify your bottleneck. Ask yourself what your greatest limiter is. Then address that limitation. Because if you open that limiter you open all kinds of new possibilities. This is true in business and in our personal lives. So find your bottleneck. Widen it out. And you will find new levels of success.

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

If you want results do what my son does.

When I first became a parent I was prepared to drop knowledge on my kids. I had prepared a syllabus of over 30 years worth of life lessons. They were sorted into 3 files. The first was labeled Smart Things I Did. The second was labeled Dumb Things I Did That You Should Avoid. And the third file was simply labeled Bill Cosby.

Magnus

What I wasn’t prepared for were are all of the lessons that my children would teach me. My latest lessons have come from my 9-year old son Magnus. Magnus, has taught me a lot about socializing. He has a remarkable ability to make instantaneous friendships anywhere. His social intelligence is as good as the best adults I know. He’s like a little Dale Carnegie on the playground, just winning little friends and influencing little people.

Losing Teeth

But as impressive as Magnus is at socializing, he is world class at losing teeth. It’s an odd thing to be great at, I know. But lately Magnus has lost teeth at a meth addict rate. I think he has lost 8 teeth in the last 2 months. In fact, I don’t know how he actually chews anything anymore. #popsiclesfordinner

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Me and Magnus and all of our hair at the top of the Astoria Column in Astoria, Oregon. 

Talk Is Cheap

However, it is not his quantity of tooth loss that impresses me. It is the style. You know how I know when Magnus has a loose tooth? He puts the tooth in my hand. Before that he doesn’t talk about it, complain about it or brag about it. He says nothing until the tooth is out. Even then he doesn’t really talk about it. He just shows me the results, and smiles an ever toothlessier smile. And every time he surprises me (and the Tooth Fairy) with absolutely no advanced warning, I am more impressed by his ability to quietly take care of business.

The Reminder

I meet people all the time who go on and on, (like Steven Bishop, down in Jamaica, with lots of pretty women), about their big dreams, lofty goals and ambitious plans. But talk doesn’t bring a dream to life. Discussions don’t achieve goals. And ambition doesn’t execute a plan. Talk is the cheapest of all commodities. Action is the the most valuable. And it’s the only currency you can use to buy your goals and dreams.

Key Takeaway

Success requires action. To be successful do more. Talk less. Complain less. Analyze less. And focus on results. Don’t tell the world what you are going to do. Show them what you’ve done. Then, after the work is all done, you can sit back and enjoy the rewards. Just like my son Magnus does.

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

 

 

Are you surrounding yourself with the best people?

The legendary motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. That’s why it’s so important to spend your time with the best people. This past Friday, during the University of Wisconsin homecoming weekend, I spent 6 hours with an amazing group of former University of Wisconsin varsity athletes. These Badgers are some of the brightest, most driven, most fun, and most successful people I know.

Business Up Front

I kicked off homecoming weekend in Madison with a 2-hour advisory board meeting for the W Letterwinner’s Club. The advisory board is like Noah’s Ark. Because it features two former athletes from every varsity sport.

We meet to discuss how we can help our members develop more meaningful relationships with each other, both personally and professionally. We discuss how we can offer assistance, guidance and mentorship to graduating Badger student athletes. And we explore ways that our network can add value to the mission of the University of Wisconsin and its world class athletic department.

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The Dub Club representatives from track & field and cross country. And the handsome profile of a tall soccer alum in the top left.

Up In Da Club

The former Badger student athletes on the board are inspiring. They include Big 10 Champions and National Champions. They include All-Americans and professional athletes. They include school record holders and Hall of Famers. They include athletes who made it to the Final 4 and the Frozen 4.

Our youngest members just graduated from Madison. And our most senior members used to get run with Crazy Legs Hirsch, Alan ‘The Horse’ Ameche and Paul Bunyan when he was just a babe himself.

Today these W Letterwinners are crushing it in their post-collegiate careers. They are executives and entrepreneurs. They are administrators, professors and coaches. They are leaders and volunteers. And they are great parents, wives and husbands. Just spending time with these badasses enhances my own false sense of badassery.

Party In The Back

On Friday night, after the work was done, we did what Badgers do. We played. We migrated to the iconic State Street Brats, and joined hundreds of others at the annual Badger Athlete Reunion. We spent the next few hours together, talking, laughing,  sharing memories, making new friends, connecting dots, drinking beer and eating brats.

While it certainly looked as if we were having fun, we were doing more than that. We were strengthening our personal bonds. The bonds between former student-athletes who know just how hard it is to live up to the demands of academics and athletics at the Big 10 level. We were strengthening the bonds between Badgers who know that if you can excel in both the classroom and athletic arena at The University of Wisconsin, you have the critical tools and the skills to be successful for the rest of your life.

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Former Badger athletes at an impromptu meetup in Atlanta. Badgers are everywhere.

Key Takeaway

If you want to be great surround yourself with great people. Find rockstars who inspire you. Spend as much time with those special people as you can. It will make you a better person. I know it will. Because I learned that lesson in Madison as a student athlete at the University of Wisconsin.

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