Know your cow and never lose it.

Milk is in my blood. In 1870 my Great, Great Grandpa Fred Albrecht came to America from Schwerin, Germany and began dairy farming in Minnesota. His son Hermann Albrecht, and grandson Alton Albrecht continued pumping out the white gold. Five of my Grandpa Alton’s sons, my uncles Jerry, Tom, Paul, Chuck and Tim Albrecht, spent their entire careers as dairy farmers. My father Robert Albrecht managed dairy farms. Then he oversaw the Dairy Herd Improvement Association work for the states of Missouri, Vermont, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. Throughout my childhood, milk put food on our table.

A New Path

I did not continue the family tradition. I decided to go into advertising instead. I started as a copywriter, and worked my way up to Chief Creative Officer. Then, in 2016, I launched my own advertising and idea agency called The Weaponry.  

What I have discovered is that dairy farmers are really entrepreneurs. I have to believe that coming from a long line of farmers has somehow prepared me for entrepreneurship. I get up early, before the sun, and get to work, just like each generation before me. And just like dairy farmers produce milk, we produce new ideas everyday.

Taking Risks

Farming and entrepreneurship are both risky endeavors. I remember a farmer once saying to me,

You will never find a farmer in Las Vegas. Because we are gambling out here every day.

Words of Wisdom

To be an entrepreneur, or a farmer, you have to be bold and take on risks. And sometimes things will go wrong. As I face the unavoidable risks of entrepreneurship I am emboldened by one of my favorite dairy-isms:

Don’t worry about how much milk you spill, as long as you don’t lose your cow.

Growing

As an entrepreneur I have faced challenges that have cost us money. And trust me, that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Kinda like a swig of milk from a cow that grazed in the onion patch. But it is part of the process. You learn, and grow and then head back to the barn the next morning, where the cows are anxious to be milked.

Key Takeaway

Things sometimes go wrong. Sometime you lose money. Or lose a client. Or lose your job. It may feel terrible in the moment. But don’t focus on the milk you spilled, or the money you lost. Focus on your cow: your skills, experience and know-how that provide great value to others. As long as you have that, you will always make more money. Because as I have seen for generation after generation, if you take good care of the cows, they will keep providing you with more milk, twice a day, every day. And they will take care of you.

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If you are celebrating your failures you are missing the point.

I hate the word failure. In my book, failure is the real F-word. So why the F has this F-word become so popular lately? Organizational leaders, motivational books and quasi-business coaches are encouraging us to embrace our failures. They tell us to fail fast. And fail more often. They say that if you are not failing you are not pushing yourself enough. I fail to understand this thinking. In fact, I don’t place any value on failures at all.

Emphasizing The Wrong Syllable. 

When I set out to create the perfect advertising agency, I expected it would be a lot of hard work. I expected that I would face a lot of challenges that I was underprepared for.  But one of the best things I did from the beginning of my entrepreneurial adventure was give myself permission to be an amateur. As an amateur, I have valued one thing above all else. It’s not success. And it’s certainly not failure.

I place the greatest value on the attempt. 

The attempt is the action that creates all possibilities of success. Failure is simply a result of the attempt. Failure by itself does not lead to success. Never forget that.

A Life Lesson From Newtonian Physics

Newton’s first law of motion says that a body at rest tends to stay at rest. True dat, Sir Issac! You know what that means to me? A body at rest does not start a business. It does not change paradigms. It doesn’t invent new products or services. A body at rest does not create a magnetic culture. It does not develop a force that helps businesses thrive. A body at rest does not lead a company in sales. It does not create a positive impact on friends, families and communities. In fact, the only thing a body at rest does is remain at rest. Which is tragic.

And… Action!

The supreme value of my entrepreneurial-self is action. As long as I am taking action I give myself credit. Every action gets me closer to success. Action is the energy. Action is the possibility maker. Action is the seed of accomplishment. Remember the old saying that sex is hereditary? (If your parents didn’t have sex, chances are you won’t either.) If you don’t take action, none of your dreams will either.

Golf 

Life is like golf. To get the ball from the tee into the hole you need action. That, my friends, comes from you swinging the club. If you are too lazy or too afraid to swing the club you will never, ever get the ball in the hole. Simply by swinging the club you have given yourself a chance to succeed.

Back to Business

As I build my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, I put a premium on action. I place a high value on simply taking one step after another. If the steps are off, or fruitless or inflict pain or damage, that’s ok. The key is to learn, correct and act again.

It was either Steve Perry or Lao Tzu who said, ‘A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.’ But even more importantly, every step of the journey is just a single step taken. Maybe you’ll have some missteps along the way that will ultimately make your journey 1001 miles, or 1110 miles or 2000 miles. That’s ok. That’s not failure. That’s action. Take the first action. Take the second action. Then just keep going. That’s how it happens. Don’t embrace failure. Embrace the action that created the possibility.

If you’re ready to take more action now, consider subscribing to this blog. Where else will you find Sir Issac Newton, Steve Perry, golf and the F-word references in the same 600 word post?