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R.I.P. Rizzo Tees (2008 – 2014)

I Hate Pants Forever

Hi everyone. This is going to be a weird blog post, perhaps too little too late, but I’ll do my best to make it interesting, understandable, and fun.

Today, October 30, 2014, on the 6th anniversary of the birth of Rizzo Tees, I announce its death. Happy 6th birthday, old friend, and I hope you don’t mind being shut down! Today is your official last day.

This is not meant to be dramatic, and at this point, how could it be? To anyone observing, it has been readily apparent for at least two years that the business was no longer getting my attention. I haven’t debuted a new tee design in years. There are probably some steps I should have taken earlier to make something great happen with the business – either ramp it up, or sell it. I got so busy with transitioning to a new career, with trying to learn to be a great ad agency salesman, with trying to write a book, with finding a publisher, with actually writing a book, and now with trying to sell a book … there was no time for Rizzo Tees.

And really no desire either. For the first few years, I loved concepting tee designs, working with amazing tee designers to bring them to life, and I loved debuting the designs. Some sold amazingly well. Some barely sold. I quickly learned what success and failure felt like. But that list of stuff I mentioned in the last paragraph – especially the book – captured my imagination and didn’t let go.

I’ve had several people ask me if I wanted to sell Rizzo Tees. I don’t know … whatchoo got? I sheepishly told several interested parties that I don’t even have time to sell it right now. All of my energy is going into my current job, and my book marketing efforts. I have no cranial capacity to think about selling the business. I don’t feel like dickering over price, and don’t want to be told it’s not worth what I think it is, or whatever.

Anyway, the death of this business is OK with me. Even with a mixed record, I can say I accomplished everything I wanted to with it. I learned so much, met all of you, and left my old CPA career. Knowing that a career change was the goal from day one, I say “Mission Accomplished.” For any of you who have known me since 2007-2008, you know that’s what I wanted to see happen. I even made this video outlining my dream of leaving accounting by July 1, 2011. I beat that date big time, and I’m proud of that.

And now a new mission has begun. This book of mine, Happywork, seems infinitely more important than the tee biz ever did. I know that’s not true, that my feelings are being temporally affected. But yes, let’s just run with it – the message of this book is important to me now, and now is now, so it’s the most important thing going on in my life. I think my message of happiness at work is going to be my number one priority for years to come. We’ll see where life takes me.

Gary Vaynerchuk Props to my TweepsEpic Meal Time

To all the people who bought shirts, especially the bacon ones – after all, I was once known as the Baron of Bacon (TY Shelley Niemeier for that moniker) – THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. It was a joy to make you fun shirts. It was a thrill to see the Epic Meal Time guys and Gary Vaynerchuk wear them in their videos. Mostly, it was just fun making things. There is glory in making stuff (and I draw a direct distinction between this and being a “social media guru”). When I talk to my two young daughters about their future, I tell them to never shy away from making things. Making food (chef), making living spaces (interior designer), making coffee (barista), making art (artist), making clothing (fashion designer), making buildings (architect), or making stories (author). Whatever you do, I tell them, please make something for the world. I’m happy that I did that with Rizzo Tees, and I think the greatest chapter to come will be written by my first and hopefully not last book.

Thank you everyone for being a friend of mine. In 2015 and beyond, let’s make great things happen.

Happywork TV Episode 8: Give Your Employees Variety in Their Work Day

p.s. Really sorry about the sound on this one. I was using my shotgun mic, but it was quite windy. Some gusts of wind really cut into the audio quality a few times. My bad!

In Episode 8 of Happywork TV, I discuss the sixth of 46 commitments in my upcoming book “Happywork.”

Here it is: “I will try to provide some variety in my employees’ work days. Working at Vunorri does not have to be like some Henry Ford assembly line. Cross-training would be helpful. I respect my employees’ curiosity to know how things work, even in other departments.”

If you’re running a company and you’re not giving your employees a little variety in their work day, or you’re not cross-training them, I don’t think you’re committing one of the cardinal sins of management. You’re not firing someone because they’re the wrong color, or sexually harassing them, or threatening them, or sabotaging their work. As I say in the video, providing some variety to your employees isn’t completely necessary. Let’s admit that.

By the same token, let’s also admit that, if we want to cut down on turnover — keep our good employees — and have a workforce working to excel on our behalf, we might do well to keep those employees engaged and interested in what they’re doing. If you don’t care about this, and you just want to keep hammering the square peg into the round hole, you can do that. But please don’t! Boredom is one of the big reasons good people leave their jobs.

So consider the notion that we can build a more cohesive workforce by keeping our best employees, and we can do that by respecting their desire to learn and grow.

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Watch Episode 7 here!

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Happywork is available for pre-order on Amazon – HERE!

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Happywork TV Episode 7: Provide Performance Reviews to Your Employees

In Episode 7 of Happywork TV, I discuss the fifth of 46 work commitments in my new book, “Happywork.”

Here it is: “I will give my employees constructive feedback, taking both their career advancement and feelings into consideration. Such feedback will be provided during the course of everyday business, or in an official performance review, or both.”

Some businesses don’t provide official performance reviews, which I’ve always found odd. Some people are scared to get reviewed. Maybe that’s because they’re doing a poor job, or maybe they think the system is rigged, or maybe the advice isn’t that great.

Here’s a real tough one – I’ve worked at businesses that only told me what they thought of me after I quit. I once quit a job and the damn meeting took three hours. What???? Only after I resign do I start hearing about all the crap I’m not doing right? This is a business that’s being mismanaged.

And when it comes to feedback, if you’re not going to do annual reviews, try to give some feedback every now and then. Note: doing this via email is very dangerous. The intended tone of the emails you send is often completely lost.

Employees don’t just come to work to get their job done. Many of us want to excel at work. We want to achieve. Managers and owners, help us get there!

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Click here to watch Episode 6!

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Happywork is available for pre-order on Amazon – HERE!

Please SUBSCRIBE to my email newsletter! Pretty please – you’ll get these blog posts delivered to you automatically. Gracias!

Happywork TV Episode 6: Give Your Employees a Chance to Improve and Succeed

In Episode 6 of Happywork TV, I discuss the fourth of 46 work commitments in my new book, “Happywork.”

Here it is: “I will provide my employees the tools and training they need to have a chance to succeed … I will remember that it’s not just the business owner who comes to work everyday to achieve great things. Employees want to get better at what they do without having to leave our organization.”

How often have you or someone you know left a job because, “There was no room for advancement?” True, not all companies are large enough to offer robust options for promotions, pay increases, and advancement. However, too many companies have owners and managers who don’t take their employees’ careers into account AT ALL. It is inefficient to have great people leave your employ. If you have an HR department, it keeps them unnecessarily busy. If you don’t have an HR department, who is working to hire new people to come in and replace these great employees?

You might think most employees just want to do their jobs, but I would submit to you that most of them also want to achieve great things at work. It is only the hardest soul whose heart wouldn’t be warmed by a huge success at work.

Owners and managers, give your peeps the tools they need to get the job done, and take a genuine interest in their careers and lives.

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Click here to watch Episode 5!

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Happywork is available for pre-order on Amazon – HERE!

Please SUBSCRIBE to my email newsletter! Pretty please – you’ll get these blog posts delivered to you automatically. Gracias!

Loving Soccer is Unamerican, According to Mark Reardon

Mark Reardon thinks soccer is Communist, and of course he’s crazy. But at least he let me plug my book. I always love going on KMOX radio – thanks so much Mark for having me in.

Let it be known – soccer is an awesome spectator sport!


Happywork TV Episode 5: Be Kind to Others

In Episode 5 of Happywork TV, I share a quote I read on Most NFL players don’t help their opponents up off the field when a play is over, but one player does. And he catches some criticism for it. He doesn’t care, and I love that. Yes, two teams are trying to beat each other, but helping a fellow human being up off the ground isn’t going to make or break your chances of winning. Get real.

Lesson for work: lend a hand when you can. Less competing with each other, and more cooperating.

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Click here to watch Episode 4!

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Happywork is available for pre-order on Amazon – HERE!

Please SUBSCRIBE to my email newsletter! Pretty please – you’ll get these blog posts delivered to you automatically. Thanks!

Happywork TV Episode 4: Give Your Employees Direction

In Episode 4 of Happywork TV, I discuss the third of 46 work commitments in my new book, “Happywork.”

Here it is: “I will give my employees direction … I do not want my employees to have to wonder what is most important to me.

As I say in the video, I think it’s great when companies are looking to hire “self-starters.” I think what they really mean is, “I want an employee I don’t have to harass to have them get their job done.” But here’s what employees need: at least SOME direction. I have worked jobs with NO job description. I have received employment reviews from bosses when they started getting on my case regarding tasks I didn’t even know I was supposed to be doing. (now I ask lots of questions – lots and lots of dumb questions, to be honest. It’s how I learn).

I like clear communication, and teamwork. I like when bosses tell me HOW they like to work, how they like to communicate, and I love when they inform me what is most important to them. No, I don’t think employees need their hand held, but as an employee, management’s vision is rather important (especially to those managers). So please create a wide open line of communication, and use it!

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Click here to watch Episode 3!

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Happywork is available for sale on Amazon:

Happywork TV Episode 3: Don’t Rule With Fear

In Episode 3 of Happywork TV, I take a quick break from discussing the 46 work commitments contained in my book to comment on an article I saw on Sir Richard Branson’s blog.

Sir Richard was giving an external talk about Virgin’s new unlimited leave policy, and found that certain people in the room were afraid to clap for this ridiculously awesome idea. Keep in mind, Sir Richard Branson can give a moving public address, and everyone loves him so we listen even more closely and clap even harder when he’s around (it’s just human nature). The reason those employees didn’t want to clap was that their bosses were in the room. How screwed up must that business be to have a bunch of employees living in fear of their managers? Let me say it plainly: I would not to work at that place, and I can say this without knowing anything else about the situation.

Draw a line in the sand here and don’t take a single step over it!

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Click here to watch Episode 2!

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Happywork is available for sale now on Amazon. Preorder so you don’t forget!


1. Yes, the damn camera was out of focus. I must have accidentally turned off auto-focus. I’ll work to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Still learning!

2. I think I need to shorten these. My wife said 3-4 minutes tops. She’s smart. I kept yapping and went to 7 minutes. Let me know what you think about making these videos shorter. I will get better at this as I go.

Happywork TV Episode 2: Don’t Take Credit for the Hard Work of Others

In Episode 2 of Happywork TV, I discuss the second of the 46 commitments in my upcoming book, “Happywork – A Business Parable About the Journey to Teamwork, Profit, and Purpose.”

Number 2 is as follows: “I will not publicly take credit for my employees’ great ideas and hard work. This destroys employee morale even faster. I hired the talent here; there is my opportunity to take some credit.”

Ever had this happen to you? (When I ask this of you regarding these 46 commitments in my book, the answer is almost always going to be “yes”). This drives me up a wall, and is damaging to one’s confidence. Yes, it is possible to find purpose solely in the completion of tasks. But most of the time, we like to be recognized for our good deeds. We like to feel both a sense of significance and contribution when we’ve done well. Almost worse than being ignored is having someone steal your thunder and the credit for your hard work.

Let’s face it – we feel a surge of tingly happy feelings when a superior publicly compliments us. These are the kind of feelings every boss should work to engender in their people. So this would seem to be a great strategy. When a boss takes the credit and gives you none, it just kills your self-confidence (and often makes you think it’s time to move on).

Of course, when you’re working with an equal (not your boss), perhaps there’s even more incentive to steal the credit. You’re often competing with that person for raises and promotions. And when someone does unfairly steal the limelight from you and you speak up about it, you look like a sour grapes knucklehead. You look like the crazy one.

A brave manager is the one that hires great talent and lets them spread their wings, and then compliments them when they do.

A few requests of you:

1. Please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel. You’ll be able to see all Happywork TV episodes there.

2. Please consider subscribing to my blog’s email list. I’ve spent years making friends on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, but completely neglected my email list.

3. Finally, please pre-order Happywork. I think you’re going to enjoy it, and I’ll really need everyone’s support to spread this message far and wide. Hook a brother up!

CLICK HERE to watch Episode 1!

Happywork TV Episode 1: Don’t Make Rules You Can’t Follow Yourself

In Episode 1 of Happywork TV, I discuss the first of 46 commitments featured in my upcoming book “Happywork – A Business Parable About the Journey to Teamwork, Profit, and Purpose.”

Number 1 is this: “I will not ask my employees to do anything I would not be willing to do myself. And I will not create rules that I cannot follow myself. I realize that acting in such a way destroys employee morale.”

We’ve all had bosses like this. They can dish out the rules (like “be on time”) but then can’t seem to follow their own edicts. Yes, they have the literal power to do whatever they want, as they run the show. Maybe that’s our cue to shut up. But we all know it’s not good for morale to act this way. People don’t like to be told what to do, but they do appreciate when you take the time to explain to them why they’re being asked to do something. And they love seeing management and ownership jumping in and getting their hands dirty.

Mostly, it’s about creating great working relationships, and inspiring employees to greatness. Don’t make rules you can’t follow yourself.

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