A few years ago I was having a serious conversation about my career with a close friend. I was talking about a job opportunity I was contemplating that would involve me and my family moving to one of the major cities in the United States. Chad, my son Magnus’ Godfather, asked why I was considering such a move and the impact it was likely to have on our family’s quality of life. Not to mention the impact it would have on the Christmas Eve tradition our families enjoyed together.
I told Chad that I was curious to know what my career might hold if I was in a major market. Chad took a long pause. And then he said slowly, in words I could easily understand,
I don’t think your career has ever been limited by your location.
Chad was right. My career has been full of interesting opportunities and adventures that have outsized the markets that I have lived and worked in. But without Chad’s comment I may not have recognized that myself.
I was reminded of Chad’s statement last week because my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, had a particularly interesting weekend. Here are the 3 big things that happened.
#1 Two of our Weapons flew to the other side of the planet to film a video about an impressive business in Bangalore, India. It was a trip that helped alter my world-perspective. I met amazing people, saw incredible sights and ate incredible food. And, now that I’ve seen the first rough cut, I can say I helped capture a really great video.
#2 A team of our Weapons were working with a former President of The United States. We sent a crew to the Plains Peanut Festival in Plains, Georgia. A major part of what our team did in Plains was work with President Jimmy Carter. Our team filmed President Carter, photographed him and his family and friends at various activities that weekend. Our team also wrote The Peanut Proclamation, on behalf of The Peanut Institute, which president Carter signed. Working with President Carter was a pretty great consolation prize for our team members who didn’t get to go to India. A trip to India was a good consolation prize for those who didn’t get to work with President Carter.
#3 At the same time as the international travel and the Presidential peanut-ing, our team was launching a new campaign for the sporting gear brand Mizuno, and their support of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation during Breast Cancer Awareness month.
The work we created included 11 videos, which featured Olympic Gold Medalist Jennie Finch. Jennie is not only the face of American softball, and a business woman, she is a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model, a contestant on the most recent season of Dancing With The Stars, and a wonderful human being. The videos also included profiles of 4 women who have been battling breast cancer, and 2 women whose mothers have battled breast cancer and won.
This was not a bad weekend for an advertising and idea agency headquartered in Milwaukee. That’s because we refuse to be limited by our geography. What I have found over and over again is that if you do great work, are great to work with, and live up to your commitments, great work will keep coming your way. So don’t think you need to live in the largest, most crowded, most expensive, most traffic-infested cities in the world to do great things. You just have to do great things, and the opportunities will find you.
Last week I visited a fascinating company in Bangalore, India. My team at The Weaponry was hired to tell the story of this impressive organization that has grown from 50 people to 5000 employees in just over 12 years. This kudzu-style growth fascinated me as a business owner. And I was determined to learn all I could from studying this organization.
The business has a beautiful, 500,0000 square foot campus that includes multiple interconnected buildings, two giant cafeterias, a walking path through a forest garden, a rainwater reclamation system, large art installations and a transportation system that moves employees between home and work that operates like a school’s bus system, but for business. And presumably without spit balls.
Throughout the campus of this remarkable organization there were posters of the grandfather of the two Founders. Each of the posters highlighted one of the Grand Patriarch’s core values. This iconic businessman was born in 1903, before the airplane, television and computer. He died 25 years ago. Yet his approach to life and business is very much on display as a source of inspiration to this progressive organization’s employees and visitors. And none of the posters simply said ‘Hang in there Kitty!’
As I read each of the posters I kept asking myself:
Which of your core principles could inspire great success in your grandchildren and the organizations they run 100 years from now?
Something to think about.
Do you have such principles, values or beliefs? Have you identified them, written them down and shared them? I think about my beliefs and philosophies often. But I had never thought about capturing them as a source of guidance and inspiration for future generation of my family, and future generations who will work in my business.
In light of what I saw in India, it seems like a great idea for us all to identify our core beliefs and share them with our children, friends and team members. You never know what you may inspire.
As children in America, we are taught that if you dig a hole in your yard deep enough, you will pop out in China. I now know that if you ever do dig such a hole, and I encourage you to try, two things will happen:
You will miss out on a lot of frequent flyer miles.
You will find yourself in India.
Brew City to The ATL
This week I decided to opt for the frequent flyer miles, instead of the tunneling workout, and I flew to India. I traveled there because one of our great clients hired The Weaponry to film a video of a business in Bangalore. The travel started with a flight from Milwaukee to Atlanta. Which was like a light jog before a marathon. I spent most of the flight talking to my seatmate John, who is a lawyer in Milwaukee. It was social and pleasant and short. It was a flight I have done 100 times before. So John was the highlight of the trip.
I met up with my fellow Weapon, Adam ‘Henry’ Emery in Atlanta. We grabbed some Arby’s, because Mexican food before two long flights had the potential to be a really bad idea. As we ate in the food court at concourse E, we sat next to a group of 60-somethings from Iowa heading to a two-week river cruise in Europe. It made me look forward to party-traveling with our couple friends in another twenty years. When they asked us where we were headed…, actually, they never asked. And when you are headed somewhere really interesting like India, you always notice when people don’t ask.
Atlanta to Paris
I washed down my roast beef sandwich with a Malaria medicine chaser. Then we boarded the plane for Paris. My next-seat neighbor looked like he may be Indian, so I was excited to chat him up. Turns out he lived in Warner Robbins, Georgia and was heading to Oslo, Norway for some work with the US Air Force. Oh, and he was originally from Pakistan. (Nice job with the racial profiling Adam!) From here on I will refer to my seat mate as Warner, because I never caught his real name.
The most noteworthy part of the flight was when we were served breakfast. Well it was breakfast if we acted like we were already in Paris. But in Atlanta it would have been a midnight snack. Moments after the flight attendant placed Warner’s breakfast on his tray and handed him a generous cup of water, Warner spilled his entire cup of water on his crotch.
I don’t know about you, but when I see someone de-planing after an overnight flight with a totally soaked crotch, I assume they suffer from nocturnal bladder control. Warner tried to soak up the water on his tray and nether regions with his blanket. But the damage was done. He was soaking wet in all the wrong places.
I tried to console him, saying, ‘Well at least you got a story out of it.’ But what I really meant was, ‘At least I got a story out of it!’
Soon the joke was on me.
As I opened my utensil pack, my plastic spoon fell to the ground by our feet. With our seat-back trays now loaded with food and drinks there was no way to retrieve the spoon within the allotted 5 seconds.
Suddenly I had to figure out how to eat my yogurt, and minced fruit cup without a spoon. So I had to go MacGyver Mode. I found a little package of jelly on my tray. I opened the jelly package, dropped the jelly into my plain yogurt (or is that plane yogurt?) to try to add a little flavor. Then I used the tiny empty plastic jelly dish to scoop out the yogurt and tiny bits of fruit in the fruit cup. Hunger avoided. And just 8.5 hours after takeoff, we were touching down in Paris.
Any time you start your morning in Paris, you know you are going to have an interesting day.Henry and I got off the plane and had to navigate another security checkpoint. While in line, we spotted the two clients we expected to catch up with in Paris. One was traveling from Boston and the other came from Cincinnati. It’s pretty wild to see people you know on another continent. And after a night with no sleep, it felt surreal. Like Sir Reals-a-lot.
The four of us made it through a highly inefficient security procedure and suddenly had three hours to kill. Our client-friends, Nina and Jake, had access to the Air France lounge, and could each bring a guest. So we got our lounge on.
Now I have traveled a lot. But I have never been any place nicer in an airport than the Air France lounge in Paris. We enjoyed complimentary breakfast and drinks. We lounged in comfortable chairs. Some of us took showers. Others of us worked on our blog and re-applied deodorant.
We were also learning to cope with our newly developed sleep deprivation. Which I enjoy. My favorite thing about being around people suffering from mild sleep deprivation is humor inflation. Thanks to humor inflation, very small bits of mild to moderate humor elicit much larger laughs than they deserve. In these situations my attempts at comedy typically receive greater rewards than they merit. The rest of the world is funnier to me when I haven’t slept much too. It is as close to drunk as I ever get. And I was laughing it up Paris.
Paris to Bangalore
As our departure time neared we grabbed a few extra beverages from the lounge for our flight, and made our way to our gate. It was there that we were told our flight was delayed because of a mechanical issue. I always secretly appreciate these delays. I think they are a sweet gesture from the airline. They say, ‘I know we don’t know each other that well, but we don’t want you to die on our plane.’
The delay was only about 45 minutes long, and we were on our way. The 9.5 hour flight from Paris to Bangalore, India was comfortable and uneventful. I had a window seat and got to see things like Southern Germany, The Austrian Alps, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea and something that looked like Narcolepsy.
Then we crossed over Syria, Iraq and Iran.I saw much of the tense-est political areas on the globe from 35,000 feet. It all looked like Nevada.
We landed in Bangalore a little after midnight. But the immigration process was very slow and joy-less. This 2-hour slog through immigration in the middle of the night, after 24 hours of travel and spotty sleep would prove to be the low-light of the trip.
At 2:30am local time we made our way to baggage claim, and then outside the airport where drivers in white shirts were gathered like paparazzi trying to get the attention of those of us trying to find our drivers.
Somewhere in the drivers lineup we finally found Alfton, our driver for the week. I actually don’t know what his name is. At such a late hour I remember thinking his name sounded like my Grandpa Alton Albrecht’s with an additional F. So it may have been Falton, Alfton, Altfon, or Altonf.
As we walked with Alfton to his van we could see the fancy Taj Hotel directly across the street from the airport. This is where we would be staying every night of our trip, other than tonight. This night had sold out before we booked it. So now, at 2:30 am, we had to make a 50 minute drive into the city of Bangalore.
The air travel was an adventure. And it was long. But it really wasn’t that hard. I got enough sleep to keep powered up. Now, with that leg of the journey behind me I was curious to see what India had in store for me. And that is what I will be sharing next.
I start my journey to India today. The team at my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, are working on a project with a really impressive business in Bangalore. But the first big moment of the trip actually came yesterday. 24 hours before takeoff I received a push notification from Delta that it was time to check in for my flight. I have traveled so much that the mere check-in notice doesn’t usually get me excited. But this one did. There is so much unknown ahead of me in the next 30 hours that I got a fun flock of butterflies flittering in my stomach. I love that feeling. It makes me feel both alive and buttery.
The first big question is, How will I tolerate 2-hour, 8.5-hour and 10-hour flights back to back to back? I have a regular-person seat for both long flights. No first class or business class. No exit row. No incrementally-less-discomfortable seats. The second question obviously is, Do I have enough material to maintain over 20 hours of conversations with my seat mates? I am sure whoever sits next to me on the long flights is going to expect us to have an ultramarathon conversation, like at a no-sleep sleepover. And I don’t want to disappoint.
I leave Milwaukee just before 1pm today and fly to Atlanta. I have a 2-hour layover in my other-home airport, and meet up with my fellow Weapon, Adam Emery. Adam, or Henry as we call him, is our Associate Creative Director, and has been a full-time employee of The Weaponry for a year. When you celebrate an anniversary as a full-time team member of The Weaponry, we like to offer a special project, like working with a celebrity athlete or something that allows you to fly to the other side of the planet. #benefits
From Atlanta, Henry and I have an 8+ hour flight to Paris. There, we will try to find an all-you-can-eat croissants buffet during our 3-hour layover. We will also meet up with the two clients who are traveling with us. I envision us filling our lengthy layover with sitcom-style airport hijinks, and general foreign country hilarity. After 3 hours of ooh la la-ing, we will jump on the final leg of the journey to India. Our 10 hour flight will take us to Bangalore, also known as Bengaluru, where we plan to watch Hulu with a guru.
If all goes according to plan, we will arrive in India just before midnight on Sunday night. Then Henry and I will catch a ride with a transportation service to our hotel in the city center, which is about 35 kilometers from the airport.
This will definitely be interesting adventure. I have watched a bunch of movies to prepare me for this experience. My Pre-India Film Festival included Gandhi, Eat. Pray. Love., Slumdog Millionaire, Lion and Hoosiers. I later realized that Hoosiers actually took place in Indiana. Oops. (or should I say Hoops?)
Thanks for following the journey. I also plan to post updates, pics, vids and stories on Instagram at @adamalbrecht if connectivity allows.
My career in advertising has been an amazing adventure. The interesting experiences I’ve had at work could fill a book. Or at least a blog. I have never taken any of this for granted. And I always look forward to what each new project will bring.
One of the great benefits of my career is that I have done a lot of travel. I have spent more time in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago than I can count. I love each of those cities, and feel at home in all three. But these great American cities represent a small sliver of my business adventures.
My work travel has taken me to Alaska where I was awed by the Northern Lights. I have snowmobiled on glaciers and ATV’d on black sand beaches during the summer solstice in Iceland. I have worked with 100 men in pink bodysuits in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I spent a week in a camper in the Baja peninsula of Mexico while filming trophy trucks bombing across the desert. I have ridden a 1500 foot zipline in Whistler, British Columbia. I have flown to Quebec City on a private jet to ride a secret snowmobile on a 50 mile long private trail. And I was being paid to do it all.
My Entrepreneurial Journeys
When I launched my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, I wondered how long it would be until I added to noteworthy travel. Over the past couple of years I have certainly traveled a good bit. My journal says that work for The Weaponry has taken me to the following places:
Salt Lake City
Taking It To The Next Level
Today I am thrilled to share that I have some really exciting new travel coming up. This Saturday I am going to India! The Weaponry is filming a fascinating global business based in Bangalore, which for those of you who don’t know, is the Silicon Valley of India. Bangalore may be the largest city you’ve never heard of. At a population of 12 million people, it is 12 times larger than any city with 1 million people! (I did the math)
I have never been to India. So this is an exciting new experience for me. The travel itself will be an adventure. Total travel time each way will take 25 hours. I will be in India for just 75 hours, because I need to get home for my wedding anniversary. Which means that my ratio of traveling-time to being-there-time is nothing to envy.
Shots! Shots! Shots!
Last week I got shots for Typhoid Fever and Hepatitis A (which I thought is what Canadians call Hepatitis). I received Malaria medicine and anti-diarrheal medicine. This is the first time anti-diarrheal has appeared in this blog. You know you are embarking on an epic journey when you get counseled on Malaria and diarrhea strategies.
I also called Global Rescue to cover me while I am traveling. This membership-based organization is a life saver. Because if you become ill or injured when traveling internationally, they will come and get you, and bring you home to the hospital of your choice. Even better, Global Rescue was The Weaponry’s founding client, and we are thrilled to be members today.
Once again, my entrepreneurial journey is presenting an opportunity to do, see and learn new things. Thanks to this business I launched, I am going to visit a new continent, a new country and a new culture on the other side of the world. From the beginning, I expected The Weaponry would enable me and my team members to do amazing things together. And it has. But this upcoming trip takes the proverbial cake.
*I will share updates throughout my experience. If you want to follow along, consider subscribing to this blog.