Why baby steps are the key to big progress.

I bet you have good ideas all the time. Ideas about inventions you should create, businesses you should start, books you should write, and funny comebacks you should have said (#TheJerkStoreCalled).

We all dream of writing a best seller and starting the next cover-of-Forbes business. Unfortunately, for most people, these are never more than dreams. Because most people have no idea how easy it is to make their dreams a reality.

Baby Steps

There is one simple element that changes dreamers into doers. It’s action. To make a dream come true you simply need to step towards it. You don’t need a giant Giannis Antetokounmpo or Stretch Armstrong-size step. Any baby step will do.

Launching My Business

When I really wanted to start my own advertising agency I started taking little actions that moved the idea forward. First, I bought and read books about starting and running a business. I followed the advice in the books, and actually wrote down my plans. Then I started following the plans. I met with entrepreneurs and harvested their insights and advice.

None of it was hard. Within months I had started a business in my spare time that would support my family. All because I kept taking baby steps.

pexels-photo-2261282.jpeg
Not only is this a baby about to take her next step, it may be the cutest picture that has ever appeared in my blog. Credits go to Angeliz Olivares on Pexels.com

More Baby Steps

Over the past 2 weeks I have taken small but meaningful steps forward on several new projects:

  1. I have created a growing monthly meet up with my college track and field teammates that I think could have a major impact on many lives.
  2. I started writing a script for a live show that I think could become a template for live entertainment shows in every city in the world.
  3. I have taken steps forward to create a new food brand, because I recognized a wide open opportunity that no one else was grabbing.
  4. I contacted a publication and told them I was interested in writing a regular segment for them. I now have a meeting with the publishers in 4 days.
  5. I have started writing 2 different books.
  6. I have been actively studying real estate investing. Not just thinking about it.
  7. I have been sketching out new t-shirts I want to create.

What Happens Next

I am thrilled to have started all of these projects. But they are not reality, yet. They all require more action. In fact, none of the 8 things I started can or will move forward without me. So the baby steps have to continue. But if I keep moving I will have a new line of t-shirts to wear and sell, a food brand you could find at grocery stores, a real estate business, 2 new books, a regular meet up group format that could be repeated around the world, a regular column in a publication and a crazy live show you would pay money to see (even though everyone wears clothes).

Key Takeaway

Action is everything. It is the different between dreams that come true and those that vanish into the ether. Talk is cheap. Action is magic. If you just keep taking baby steps, before you know it, you will have completed a marathon of progress. So, when you get an inkling that you should create or do something, take a baby steps towards it. It’s how I created my advertising and idea agency. And it is how I’ll be able to bring all the other ideas to life too.

If you found value in this post you would also enjoy, The most important ingredient to entrepreneurial success.

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

Advertisements

The impact of a life well lived. Remembering Steven a year later.

One of the unfortunate realities of life is that we don’t get to see the full impact of our actions during our lifetime. A life well lived not only creates a positive influence on friends, families and communities, but that influence can be felt for years if not generations after we are gone.

Steven Schreibman

One year ago today on May 17, 2018, I published a blog post about the unexpected passing of my great friend and former client, Steven Schreibman. I had no idea when I wrote the post that it would become the most popular post I ever published (and far more popular than the posts I haven’t published).

If Steven were here today he would have said, ‘Oh Adam, the reason it was the most popular is because today you went from one reader to two!’ And we would have had a big, loud laugh about it. But Steven’s good natured math joke would not have been true. Last year my blog was read in 105 different countries by tens of thousands of people. Yet the post about Steven was still the most popular. In fact, the first 3 days after I published the SS post represent 3 of the 5 highest traffic days my blog has seen in the 3.5 years I’ve been writing. Which means Steven was responsible for generating Los Angeles, Atlanta and Boston levels of traffic.

IMG_9046

The Feedback

The quantity and quality of the comments, texts, calls and emails I got about that post also surpassed all others. Because Steven had touched so many lives. What I shared in my post turned out to be not just my experience, but the universal experience of everyone who had the good fortune of crossing paths with Steven.

Key Takeaway

There is nothing more important than the positive impact we have on other people. This is true at work, at play, at home and around the world. Steven had a profound impact on everyone he encountered. He showed us that we all can in our own unique way. Thanks again Steven for all the laughs, the kindness and intelligence you shared with us. Thanks for your over-the-top delivery. And most of all, thank you for being you.

If you’d like to read or re-read the original Steven Schreibman post, here it is:

Our time here is short. Make the most of it, like Steven did.

*If you know others who knew Steven please consider sharing this story with them.

How to really make your network work.

Your network is one of your most valuable assets. But how much work should you put into building and maintaining your network? It’s an even more important question to ask than how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck would. But I bet you don’t have a good answer to either question. And neither did I. Until now.

Gary Keller

Recently I bought a couple of books by Gary Keller. In addition to being a best selling author, Keller is the co-founder of Keller Williams Realty. Which, my Spidey Sense tells me, is how the company got its first name.

The One Thing

The 2 Keller books I now own are The One Thing, which I have not yet started, but assume is about going number one, and The Millionaire Real Estate Investor, which I highly recommend.

The Millionaire RE Investor

Your Work Network

In The Millionaire Real Estate Investor Keller writes a lot about Your Work Network. He breaks this network down into 3 concentric circles:

  • Your Inner Circle,
  • Your Support Circle
  • Your Service Circle

The inner circle is comprised of your mentors, partners and consultants. The support circle is comprised of the core people you need to support and advise you on specific work transactions. The service circle consists of all the people that you may need to perform specialized tasks with a limited scope.

Your 3 Rings

Regardless of whether you are involved in real estate or a stay at home mom or dad, you have a network with a similar 3-ring structure. Which is not to be confused with the 3-ring circus, 3-ring binder or the 3-ring rule when answering a call after a first date.

The Aha

Envisioning your network as concentric circles is useful, but not not mind blowing. However, I found Keller’s recommendation on how to maintain your network relationships thought provoking.

Maintaining Your Network

Keller writes that to maintain your work relationships you should:

  1. Call Them Every Month
  2. Mail Them Something of Interest Every Month
  3. Meet With The Members of Your Inner Circle Every Month

This is a great rule of thumb. Most of us probably fall nowhere near this level of contact with our network. But we should. Calling is easy. If you broaden the term mailing to include email and texting you can certainly do a whole lot of #2 (#snickering). And meeting with the members of your inner circle once a month should be a no brainer, scarecrow.

IMG_7804
My college teammate Bryan Jones is a Realtor with Keller Williams, and someone I talk to every month and meet with several times a year.

Key Takeaway

You get out of your network what you put into it. Try Keller’s advice to stay connected to those in your network once a month. Start with your inner rings. We should all fully invest in our inner circle on a monthly basis. However, increasing your investment in your middle, or even your outer ring could pay huge dividends for you both personally and professionally. So as Rhianna said, work, work, work, work, work on putting more work into your network. And you are sure to draw more great things your way.

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

Introducing our new work for one of the world’s greatest athletic brands.

I have had many great opportunities throughout my career. The kind of opportunities most people who work in advertising never get. I’ve never taken any of it for granted. But when I started my own advertising agency, I wondered if I would be able to create the same kind of opportunities for my own agency. Or if we would spend most of our time creating coupons for gerbil food and pro bono flyers for Book-A-Roo at my kid’s school.

Today I am thrilled to say The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, has worked with an American president (Jimmy Carter), an innovative sport aircraft brand (Icon Aircraft) and the people who rescue climbers on Mt. Everest (Global Rescue). We’ve worked with fun brands from Quebec (SeaDoo, BRP, Prevost & Volvo Bus) to California (Sunrun). And since 2016 we have worked with the international sporting goods powerhouse, Mizuno.

Mizuno

Mizuno is a Japanese sports equipment and sportswear company. It was founded in Osaka in 1906 by Rihachi Mizuno (who is on my all-name team, along with my college buddy, Azree Commander). Today, Mizuno is a major player in baseball, softball and volleyball around the world.

IMG_4449
Adam ‘Henry’ Emery clubbing every minute of our recent shoot.

If you are a serious golfer you know that Mizuno makes the best irons in the business. Mizuno makes the best racing suit for competitive swimmers. They also make amazing running shoes. Including my favorites, the Wave Riders. I currently have them in Badger Red and Anatomy Gray. (Ok, maybe I just made up those color names.)

IMG_4432
Guys from The Weaponry and swimmer Blake Pieroni.

Reach Beyond

In the fall of 2018 The Weaponry began work on a really fun new project for Mizuno North America. Mizuno had already introduced their new Reach Beyond tagline internationally. But they wanted our help to determine how the theme should be adapted for the US Market.

Exploring Like Dora

We explored a broad range of options for Mizuno. We shared 7 different campaign angles. Each direction brought the brand message to life in its own unique way. In the creative process we always explore a wide variety of looks, language and tones. It’s a hallmark of The Weaponry Way. Which is why clients turn to us when they want a fresh new perspective and a variety of creative options.

Beyond Training

There was one brand direction that Mizuno especially liked. It was not about winning and losing. Or being the best in the world. It was about the training you do to compete with yourself. We call it Beyond Training.

This commercial features Olympic swimmer Blake Pieroni. And a lot of bubbles.

swimming
Here’s a look at some of the outdoor billboards you may see this year.

Beyond Training is about putting in the work to set new personal records. It is about you reaching beyond your own previous bests. I think this is the greatest mission in life. And one of the greatest elements, if not the greatest element of sports.

swimming_2

Push Yourself

We believe that Reaching Beyond is about continuously pushing yourself to see just how much you are capable of. I love that this idea accommodates for athletes at all stages of life. It allows us all to frame our best in whatever way is most relevant and most motivating today. As an athlete in my 40s I am encouraged to reach beyond the best I have done this year, or this decade. That idea is exciting to me, and keeps me pushing myself.

swimming3

Self Improvement

We found that athletes are good at creating a relevant frame of reference for self improvement. This is true whether you are a world class swimmer at the top of your game, a 70-year old golfer who wants to be the very best they can be this year, or a 7th grade track athlete just getting started. The key is to continuously work to better yourself. And that is the spirit the Mizuno Reach Beyond brand campaign captures.

Golf
If you went to The Masters you may have seen this billboard along the way.
Golf2
Cant you spot the golf tee in this pic? (hint: it’s above the space between ‘is’ and ‘your’)

The Goods

We have created a series of brand commercials that will run both online and on TV. We have also created a billboard campaign that we will roll out throughout this year.

baseball2

baseball_4

baseball

The Athletes

We worked with Olympic gold medal swimmer Blake Pieroni in Atlanta. We filmed professional baseball player Austin Riley at the Atlanta Braves spring training facility in Orlando. We filmed runners Ali Ritter and Alexa Crow, on urban trails in Atlanta before dawn. And we shot golfers Jackson Kemper and Todd Ormsby at a driving range at night, in the rain. (Sorry guys.)

One of several commercials that are part of the Mizuno brand campaign. This one features pro baseball player Austin Riley. 

The Photographer

To create this work we hired a phenomenal Milwaukee-based photographer, Lucian McAfee. He’s a great shooter. But more importantly, he is a really fun and nice guy. Fun fact, Lucian’s brother Jesse was a track teammate of mine at the University of Wisconsin. Go Badgers!

IMG_4434
Lucian and Blake, each bringing it the best they can.

The Production Company

We worked with Proper Medium out of Atlanta for all of the video. We have worked with this team on great projects for UPS, Fifth Third Bank, and Global Rescue, and they always hit it out of the park. Unless we are shooting swimmers. In which case they hit it out of the pool. Proper Medium and Lucian are both really great at what they do. Plus they worked really well together. Like peas and carrots.

This spot tells you why should not reach your potential.

The Great Clients!

Big thanks to our clients Harper Cornell and Tomohiro Ota at Mizuno for leading this work and letting us collaborate with them. Thanks to Shelby Novak and to Clint Sammons at Mizuno for all your help pulling off the swimming and baseball shoots.

I am extremely thankful to The Weapons that worked on this project, including Adam Emery, Kevin Kayse, Jeanne Mayer, and Tony Sharpe. You guys crush things.

IMG_4808.JPG
Austin Riley with agents Bryan Figueroa (in pink) and Brian Hannaford (also in pink), looking sick! (In a good way.)

Mizuno_Running_roough2

Mizuno_Running_roough

Key Takeaway

Self improvement is about reaching beyond your previous best. It’s what we should strive for ever day. Whether we are Olympians, office workers or stay at home Moms, we can all get better at what we do. Reaching beyond your previous best in any endeavor is more meaningful and more rewarding than winning. Because it is all about your journey and your personal performance. Reaching Beyond is what I am trying to do in my career and my athletics. I hope you are too. Because as Eminem said, ‘You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.’

The most important gift my mother gave me.

There are conversations that stay with you forever.  Today I am reflecting on a conversation that I had two decades ago. I was at the house of my high school track coach, Jude Dutille, in New Hampshire. Jude’s wife, Val made a comment that I will never forget. It was about my Mom.

Val observed that there was something unique about the kids in my family. It wasn’t that she thought me and my sisters Heather, Alison and Donielle were smart, funny, or kind.  It wasn’t that we were hard working, well mannered or good looking. It wasn’t even the crazy thing I wrote about it the post, What makes these siblings freakishly unique. (Which is worth the read.)  There was one noteworthy trait that Val recognized in me and my sisters. And she gave my Mom all the credit for it. It was our confidence.

img_1368.jpg
My parents and sisters.

Confidence

Val wondered what my Mom, Jill Albrecht had done to create such confidence in her children. I am not sure I had the answer in that moment 20 years ago. But today I do.

We felt confident because we knew were loved unconditionally. We felt confident because we trusted our Mom and our Dad. We always felt supported. Our Mom always made sure we were prepared. Because preparation is a major ingredient in the confidence recipe.

My Mom designed her home to feel safe. I had lived in 5 states by the time I started 7th grade. And despite the changes, or perhaps because of them, I always felt the stability of home, no matter what state, city or time zone we were in.

IMG_9141
My Mom and Dad at The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency.

My Personal Success

Today I recognize the confidence my Mom developed in me as a key factor in my personal success. I have always believed in myself. Even when the odds were long and the path was uncertain. My confidence has played a major role in my career success. And it was my confidence that things would turn out well that allowed me to launch my own business 3 years ago, when there was really no proof that I could pull it off.

My Wife

Today, my wife Dawn provides our 3 children with the same type of support, security and preparation that I enjoyed as a child. While you can’t give someone else confidence, you can create the perfect environment for confidence to flourish. That’s exactly what  Dawn is doing.

IMG_4873
Dawn and her mom, Cynthia Zabel. 

Dawn continues to bolster my confidence too. When I told her I wanted to leave my job and start my own advertising agency, she was 100% behind it. Her unwavering belief in me made me believe in myself. Launching a startup can be extremely scary. But the truth is I wasn’t scared at all. A major reason was that Dawn, who had the most to lose, never doubted that the business would be successful. And she was right.

IMG_1805
Dawn teaches our children to aim high.

The Power Of Self Worth

Lately, I have been studying the lessons of vulnerability expert Brene Brown. Brown, a famed vulnerability and shame researcher at the University of Houston, says there is one key indicator that helps people stick their neck out and feel comfortable with vulnerability. That key factor is worthiness. That’s exactly what my Mom always made me feel. I felt worthy of good things. I felt worthy of love, friendship, of career success, and high achievement. And that self worth has fueled my confidence, motivation and posture my entire adult life.

Key Takeaway

The greatest gift we can give each other are the building blocks of confidence and the self worth that comes as a result. My mother made confidence development a priority. My wife is building it into our children. Confidence is the fuel and the foundation for success. There is no greater source of confidence than our mothers.

Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom, Dawn, my mother in law, Cynthia Zabel, and to Val Dutille. Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s who have worked hard to build confidence and self worth in their children. Your job is the most important of all jobs on the planet. The results of your work will not only last a lifetime, it will be passed along for generations to come.

*If you know a mother who deserves to hear this message, please share it with her.

 

The Eye-Issue Part 2. The Big Meeting.

Earlier this week I faced a problem. And the problem was on my face. On Sunday night I noticed that a blood vessel had burst in my left eye. It didn’t hurt me, but it hurt anyone who had to look at me. Unfortunately, my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, had a significant first meeting scheduled with a brand new client’s executive team.

Naturally, I was concerned about making an unnaturally gross first impression. So I wrote a blog post called, I have a strange problem I don’t know how to solve. And I want your help. I solicited advice on my best course of action. Readers like you, and maybe including you, offered great feedback.

If you haven’t already read that post, you may want to take a look at it before proceeding with chapter 2. Or you could be a rebel and read them in reverse order. You so crazy…

Here’s What Happened

In addition to writing the blog post, I called Calla Stanford, the Account Leader on the business. I told her about my eye. And then the plot thickened… It turns out that Calla was extremely sick and was about to go see her doctor. UFDA! (Ufda is not a text-cronym. It’s Norwegian for whatever you need it to mean.)

I sent a message to our client explaining that my eye had suddenly gone Red Rum, and that Calla was sick and would not be able to attend the meeting. I inquired about the possibility of moving the meeting. But I added that I was still willing to attend alone, and wear something that would protect their team from my evil eye. Like sunglasses, a grocery bag or a 1920’s dive helmet.

A few minutes later they called to tell me that they were looking for another meeting time. They called back again within the hour to say that it would be weeks before the same team could assemble. So they preferred to proceed with our original meeting time. And they were mentally preparing themselves for Eyemageddon.

Let’s Do This

I prepared to handle the meeting solo. Meanwhile, helpful friends, family and blog readers were offering great advice. Many people encouraged me to proceed as if there were no problem. Others said call the client to explain the situation and ask them how they want to proceed. Which, of course, is what I did.

However, the most popular advice I received was to proceed with the meeting as planned, but rock an eyepatch to cover up the offending eye. Several people encouraged me to take it one step further and brand the eyepatch with The Weaponry logo. Surprisingly, no one encouraged me to guzzle Visine.

Looking For An Eyepatch

As I was getting ready for work on the morning of the meeting, I asked my wife where we might have an eye patch. She told me to check our 8-year old son Magnus’ room. I went to his room, opened the drawer in his night stand, and within 5 seconds found an eyepatch! Yay! But a minute later, when I tried to put it on, I realized the elastic band was way too small to circumnavigate my head. Boo!

So I went back to the same drawer in Magnus’ room to see if there was any chance that there was another eyepatch that fit a more mature cranium. Sure enough, within 10 seconds of searching I found another eyepatch! And this one was big enough to fit Jack Sparrow’s head after a full day of compliments.

IMG_5818
Me and eyepatch number 2, looking like Eye Patch Adam.

The Meeting

I went to the meeting, solo, as planned. And it was great. I had properly warned them about my issue. I had given them the ability to choose how they wanted to proceed. So there was no surprise. And no disappointment. (That I know of.)

The issue created a great topic of conversation at both the beginning and the end of the meeting. But the eye was a non-issue in between. Instead, we focused on the business at hand. I also positioned myself at the front, on the left side of the room. This meant that the team primarily saw Righty Winksalot, (my nickname for my good eye).

After we wrapped up the business end of the meeting we all gathered for a photo. I always enjoy a good group photo op. But under normal circumstances I would not have taken a pic after a kickoff meeting. But then again, this wasn’t a normal circumstance.

IMG_5822
Me and 5 of the 7 clients who didn’t run from the meeting screaming.

Key Takeaways

  1. Ask and Ye Shall Receive. I received a lot of good, supportive and humorous feedback from my people that helped me make my decision. Thank you all.
  2. Honesty is the best policy. I shared my challenge with the new client and let them decide how they wanted to proceed. And they said Let’s Roll! So we rolled.
  3. Everyone loves an eyepatch. The amount of love shown for the eyepatch was a significant surprise. Then again, eyepatches are intriguing. Like a good ad, the eyepatch makes you stand out from the crowd, and makes people want to know more.
  4. Things go wrong all the time. You will never be able to avoid all problems. Learning how to deal with whatever comes your way is one of the most valuable skills you will ever develop.

*If you know someone with a bad eye, a nasty rash or simple chronic halitosis, who you think could benefit from this story, please share it with them.

**For those of you paying close attention to the details, the photo used as the featured image for this post was taken as a selfie, using Instagram. Instagram doesn’t un-reverse a reversed image. Therefore it looks like it was my right eye. But it is my left.

I have a strange problem I don’t know how to solve. And I want your help.

There are some business problems they don’t teach you how to solve in business school.  They are too odd and too unlikely to happen to spend time discussing. So today, I am going to serve up an odd, real-life scenario to see how you would respond. Because I am not sure what the right answer is. Or even if there is a right answer. So let’s try to figure this out together.

The Setup

Last night, just before dinner, I went into the bathroom at my home to wash my hands. As I was washing I looked at myself in the mirror and noticed a problem. My left eyeball was completely red. Not as if it was irritated. Or as if I had taken a red eye flight. It was red like a blood vessel had burst in my eye. And it looked disgusting. Like an eye I never want to make eye contact with. Like ever.

When I returned to the table and shared my problem with my family the reaction was not good. My 11-year old son thought I looked hideous and demanded that I not look at him again. My 8-year old son was fascinated, the way a boy may be fascinated by road kill. My 13-year old daughter was greatly concerned for me. (Everyone should have a daughter). And wife Dawn immediately asked if I had any important client meetings this week. The answer was yes.

The Problem

I have an important meeting with a brand new client that is scheduled to start 24 hours from now. The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, was just awarded a significant project with this client after an agency review. During the review process we met 3 members of the marketing and sales team, whom we liked very, very, very much. #IThinkTheyWillReadThis

The upcoming meeting is for us to meet the client’s executive team, a team we will be working closely with throughout this project. The purpose of the meeting is to introduce ourselves and take them through the proposal with our color commentary.

The most important outcome from this meeting is for us to make a great first impression on our new client’s senior team. That’s hard to do when you have a horror film eye ball. What makes this worse is that I have had a burst blood vessel in my eye before. It was many years ago. During that red period I had multiple client meetings. And my clients were undeniably grossed out by my gore eye. Sorry clients.

Seeking a Solution

This is where I need your help figuring out what I should do next. There are a couple of details you should know before offering your advice. 1. This problem usually takes 5 to 7 days to clear up. There are only 2 people from my team scheduled to attend this meeting, Just me and the account leader. There was a 3rd member of our team who would have attended if she wasn’t on vacation in Europe. It’s amazing the lengths some people will go to in order to avoid seeing my eye.

The Options As I See Them (through my bloody eye).

  1. Reveal the problem and ask to reschedule the meeting for 1 week later.
  2. Send the account leader alone.
  3. Proceed as if there was no problem.
  4. Make the meeting a phone call or video conference.
  5. Attend the meeting, but wear sunglasses
  6. Attend the meeting but wear an eye patch (Arrrr Matey!)
  7. Attend the meeting but wear a welder’s mask.
  8. Attend the meeting but avoid all eye contact, like Rain Man.
  9. Call the client, explain the situation, and ask them how they want to proceed.

What would you do?

Which of the options do you think I should choose? Or do you have a good solution that is not on the list? I appreciate you sharing your opinion. If you know a wise owl who-who offers good advice, please pass this along to them too. Me and my eye look forward to hearing from you.