Sometimes the universe hijacks your life for a reason.

Life doesn’t always go according to plan. As frustrating as that may seem, sometimes we just need to go with the flow and see where it takes us. I was reminded of this lesson on an ordinary Saturday last winter. Here’s the story.

The Plan

On January 19th, 2019, my family and I had our day all planned out. We were craving some Swedish meatballs and snap-together furniture. So we decided to check out the new IKEA in Milwaukee. We would do some shopping and eat lunch at the big blue and yellow box. Afterward we would head to my daughter’s basketball tournament in nearby Oak Creek, Wisconsin and watch 3 basketball games for just 3$ per person!

Tossing Wrenches Into Plans

Right out of the gate our plan started to fall apart. First, we got bit by a serious overnight snowfall. I had to pull out our snow blower and clear the driveway before we could get our car out.

Then, as we got into the car, my kids started arguing over who was sitting in which seat. For context, there were 5 seat options for 3 kids. If we had been playing musical chairs no one would have ever been eliminated with our bountiful collection of automotive seating options. And there was no backseat middle hump to avoid like when I was a kid. Yet, they argued.

In a moment of parental frustration, I told everyone to go back inside. There would be no saucy meatballs, no lingonberries and no Swedish Fish for the Albrecht family today. We were not going out for lunch, shopping or to a basketball tournament acting like this. #MeanDad

Compromising

An hour or so later, with our plans for the day blown, we decided that we would take my daughter to the basketball tournament, but we wouldn’t stay to watch it. Instead, the rest of the family would go to Ikea.

We drove slowly over the 25 miles of snow covered highway to the school where her games would be held. We dropped my daughter off in front of the school, and I cooly told her good luck. But before pulling alway, my wife couldn’t bare to have her baby girl feel athletically abandoned. Because Dawn is nicer than I am.

So we changed our changed plans, again. We parked and went into the school to watch her play her first of 3 games. Following the first game, Dawn and I decided to drive to the IKEA with our two sons.

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Yikeskea!

At IKEA we got seriously turned around a few times. I think we were visiting before they had put up all their wayfinding signage. Then again, IKEA is Swedish for the devil’s maze. So we were doomed either way. Eventually, with an employee escort, we found the restaurant, which was tucked at the far back of the store. The whole Ikea experience took far longer than expected.

As we approached the checkout lines to purchase some souvenir frozen meatballs, a crush of shoppers appeared out of nowhere and jumped in line in front of us. It was like an episode of Punk’d. And I was ready to pop Ashton Kutcher in the beak.

The Shortest Long Line

We picked what looked like the shortest line, but it wasn’t moving. At all. So we left the line and moved to another line, which moved faster. That is until the people right in front of us got to the cashier with what looked like hundreds of pieces of shelving. Their checkout process took forever. Like forever-ever.

Frustrated and late for Ava’s next game, I put our merchandise on the conveyor belt and asked Dawn, my wife, to pay for it. I was going to get the car, and pick up Dawn and my 2 sons by the front door.

I started off in a rush. But I only got 10 feet beyond the end of the checkout stations when I heard someone yell, ‘Adam Albrecht!’

Surprise!

I turned to see who was calling my name. And standing just a few feet away was Terry Schmitt, my college roommate from my freshman year at the University of Wisconsin. I hadn’t seen Terry in 25 years! Terry doesn’t live in Milwaukee. He lives in his hometown of Kaukauna, Wisconsin, near Green Bay, which is 2 hours away from the Swedish Meatball Palace we were standing in. He had driven down to Milwaukee for a spur of the moment shelf project purchase.

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Me and my original roomie, Terry, whom I hadn’t seen in a quarter century.

What Are The Chances?

Somehow, with my totally fouled up day, and his random Ikea road trip, we ended up in exactly the same place at the exact same time. Each one of my delays throughout the day helped make this happen – his random run to Milwaukee to avoid a significant shipping charge, the snowstorm, my kids arguing about the seats they were sitting in, the line that built while I picked up the meatballs, the extreme shelfers in front of us in line, and my decision to run ahead to get the car and meet my family at the front door. All of the unfortunate events, turned into good fortune when I got to see Terry in real life for the first time in 25 years.

The Alchemist

In 2015 I read the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It taught me that the universe conspires to give us what we want in life. It taught me to listen and watch for the signals and messages that the universe sends me.

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The universe wants you to read this book. And no, it is not about a chemist named Al.

Prepare Yourself

Because I read The Alchemist, I was ready the day in August of 2015 when 2 former clients called me and asked me if I would consider starting my own advertising agency. Just months later The Weaponry was open for business.

And on a snowy day in the winter of 2019 the universe conspired, through a seemingly random collection of signals, to reunite me with my college roommate, Terry Schmidt. And I was suddenly thankful for all those little things that had gone wrong throughout the day.

Key Takeaway

There are forces at work that are far beyond our control and our comprehension. Whether you are suddenly put in just the right place at the right time, or oblivious to how a delay or a mistake kept you out of other trouble, there are forces that contribute mightily to the course and story of our lives. Maybe it’s magic. Maybe it’s God (of course it is), and maybe it’s fate. But it helps create your adventure. And sometimes, like a lazy tube ride down a river, you just need to relax and enjoy the ride.

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

Fun Extra:  Terry said that he saw my wife Dawn first. He had never met her before, but he had seen her in my social media posts. So when he recognized her at the cash register he immediately began looking for me. Which means a small thanks for this Swedish reunion also goes to Mark Zuckerberg.

9 killer books that will motivate you to be an entrepreneur.

I always wanted to start my own business. It is a really easy thing to want.  It’s much harder to make it a reality. The single greatest challenge is getting yourself mentally prepared to make the leap from a comfortable salaried job to an only-eat-if-you-find-a-customer reality.  It’s a bit like getting yourself ready to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. It takes mental preparation. It requires you to amass enough confidence in your plan that you believe you can fling yourself out of the plane, and not splatter on the deck below.

How I did it.

To get myself mentally prepared to open my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, I put myself through a self-devised entrepreneurial boot camp. A critical part of my preparation was reading. This reading was really more like serious studying. The books I read provided the inspiration, tools and examples I needed to believe I could generate enough interest in my business to keep me and my family of five fed, clothed and sheltered long enough to fend off family services until my youngest child turned eighteen (and he was only five at the time).

It seems to be working.  I’m well into the second year of my entrepreneurial adventure and we continue to pick up momentum. We are all eating.  Everyone has clothes. We are paying two mortgages. I’m having fun. And I couldn’t be happier. I feel like I was well prepared for the challenge.

That’s why I’m sharing the books I read in hopes that they will provide you with the same entrepreneurial foundation, confidence and motivation to make your own leap.

The books I read, in order.

  1. Rich Dad. Poor Dad.  Robert Kiyosaki51pG7v9PJQL

I had known about this book for a long time. But I thought it seemed hokey. Like attending a get-rich-quick seminar. But finally I bought a used copy and devoured it. My preconceptions were wrong.

It was amazingly insightful. It helped me recongize the difference between assets and liabilities. It shined a spotlight on the perils of working for someone else. And the advantages of owning your own business.  It made me see my skills as an asset that could create a business asset that could translate to significant wealth.  It was a great motivating first read. I’m now reading it to my children as a bedtime story. Seriously.

2. Call Me Ted. Ted Turner 518OfUMIYEL

I bought this as an audio book for $1. Ted Turner is ballsy, brash and innovative.  This book gave me a vision of how someone else had built their personal brand, recognized opportunities, taken progressively larger and larger chances, got creative with financing, changed the world and made a billion dollars along the way. It showed me that action is the simple differentiator between doers and dreamers. He also talks candidly about his shortcomings and failures in a way that make you feel like you don’t have to be perfect to be highly successful. Which is good, because I don’t want to give up my own personal shortcomings I’ve fought so hard to keep.

3. The Alchemist  Paulo Coelho41f1zMJb9WL

I read an article about Pharrell Williams a couple of years ago in Fast Company where he said this book was like his Bible. I bought it, used. I was really wowed by it. This book helped me think about my personal legend, and made me start paying attention to all the signs the universe was sending me, encouraging me to follow my own path. This was timely because the universe started putting up neon signs all over the place. Like Reno. I am sure there are signs the universe is giving you right now that you don’t recognize. This book will help.

4. Think and Grow Rich. Napoleon Hill

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Many of the books I’ve read reference this book and its power. So I picked it up and loved it. At the encouragement of Andrew Carnegie, Hill studies rich people and finds their commonalities. He then serves up his learnings to the reader in an easily digestible way.

This is a great book for the start of your journey.  Everyone should read it.  It is really about the power of positive thinking. It’s about having a clear vision of your goals. The book encourages you to think about the finishline from the start.  I revisit this book often.

5. The Little Red Book of Selling  Jeffrey Gitomer91-1qV3oRfL

I picked this great little hardcover book up for $1 at a library book sale.  It is packed with great little bites of advice, info and techniques on selling.  If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to be able to sell.  Having lots of knowledge in sales makes you feel like your parachute is going to open when you jump.

The two key take aways from this book were, 1. People hate to be sold. But they love to buy. 2. Don’t sell to people. Build relationships.  These were great insights because they play to my natural tendencies. I prefer to make friends and talk to them about what I am doing. Then, if they come to the conclusion that what I’m doing could be helpful for them we both win.

6. The Little Black Book of Connections  Jeffrey Gitomer41nTexTO9fL

I checked this audio book out at the library.  It is a great companion piece to the Little Red Book of Selling. It teaches lessons about the importance of your personal network.  But the most important new lesson I got out of this book was, ‘It’s not who you know. It’s who knows you.‘  It shares great insights and advice around this particular statement that have helped me gain traction. The book helps you think about growing a network that develops inbound introductions and requests. Being sought after makes the entrepreneurial experience much easier.

7. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Stephen R Covey51S1IFlzLcL

I bought this book on Amazon. Full price. Everyone should read this book. It offers great advice on how to become a better, more effective human. I loved the way it highlighted the things that successful people do regularly, and how to continuously improve yourself to become more effective. One of my favorite lessons is about The Win-Win. Highly effective people seek outcomes that benefit everyone. That has become core to my operating style.

8. The Science of Getting Rich. Wallace Wattles51Zy-xiGuUL

This was a happy little accident. This short, pamphlet-like book came up as a ‘You may also like…’ when I was ordering another book. I am really glad I read it.  I had previously read Wattles, The Science of Being Great, and thought it was surprisingly great. TSOGR shared a lot of similar thoughts as Think and Grow Rich, although it was a quicker and easier read. It taught me that earning money is a really important desire that turns the wheels of the economy. 

9. The E-Myth  Michael Gerber51MPu8oSjcL

This book helped me synthesize all of my thoughts and put them into an actionable plan.  The E-myth is the Entrepreneurial Myth.  It focuses on why most small businesses fail, and what to do to prevent that. It helps you think about systems and processes and structure and scalability. It encourages you to think about your business like a franchise model that could be repeated, even if you don’t ever plan to franchise. This was great advice for me.  It made me feel like my parachute was packed with checks and balances to ensure it will perform correctly when I need it to.

Conclusion

If you want to get yourself in the right mindset to start your own business, buy a business or start a side hustle, read these books yourself.  At a minimum you will end up smarter with new ideas. Perhaps you will finally act on that business you’ve been dreaming about, build an empire, make a billion dollars and change the world.  If that happens, write your own book. I’d love to read it.

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If you have books that helped you get mentally prepared to start your own business please share in the comments section.