It was an ordinary day until I got on that elevator.

It was June 6th, 2000.  A rainy day. That morning I woke up, ate breakfast, packed my lunch and walked 10 minutes through downtown Milwaukee to my office. Just like every week day.

I entered the building at 733 N. Van Buren Street, and made my way to the elevators. I caught the far elevator, just before the doors closed. I squeezed into the packed elevator, like the last clown in the car.

I was facing the back of the elevator. Everyone else was facing me. I felt like the quarterback facing the rest of his teammates in a huddle. Many in the huddle were my co-workers. So I began to joke and entertain my captive audience from my awkward but enjoyable all-eyes-on-me position. Did I mention I love a captive audience?

That’s when I saw her. To my right, in the back corner of the elevator was a beautiful young woman I had never seen before. I would have remembered. She was smiling at my improv routine. And I was smiling at her smiling… (I’m not smiling, you’re smiling!)

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In my head I went into my own version of Garth’s ‘Foxy Lady’ routine from Wayne’s World the movie. I was totally taken by this young business lady stranger.

The elevator door opened up on the 4th floor, my floor, and I had to get off. To my surprise n’ delight, she got off too. And walked right past the reception desk and disappeared down hallway. So I disappeared down the steps, to my office, where I fired up my Mac (cause I’m a Mac & Cheese guy).

I then pulled up the staff database to find out who the elevator babe was. My name, Adam Albrecht, was the very first name to show up on the alphabetized list. Then I clicked through the profiles, one-by-one, but didn’t find her. I had almost given up hope. Until I got to the very last of 120 profiles. And that’s where I saw her. Ooh, I saw her. She walked in through the out door, out door.

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Her name was Dawn Zabel. She was in the media department. She had just started. And best of all, the Spouse field was blank. She was the one I had been looking for. Not just on the database. In life. I knew it. And we hadn’t even spoken yet.

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Today, Dawn and I are celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary. I am just as crazy about her today as I was the moment I first spotted her on that elevator 19 years ago. She is my wife, my best friend, my business partner, my coach and my biggest cheerleader. And I am her biggest fan.

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Key Takeaway

Keep your eyes open. You never know when the opportunity of a lifetime will appear right in front of your eyes.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.