Purple Milkshakes.

Life is full of choices.

Pepsi or Coke? Salad or pasta? Boxers or briefs? Compact or utility vehicle? Answer it or let it roll over? Go out or stay in? Take the over or the under? Call or send an e-mail? Drive or take a cab? Lots of choices…. a seemingly endless stream of choices.

The funny thing is, many of them – most of them – do not even register on a conscious level. Yet all of them have the potential to turn your life upside down. The right choice can put you in the right place at the right time. And the wrong choice can put you in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Life is funny that way.

The thing is, you rarely know until it is too late how the choice you made will turn out. So, the best you can do is raise your awareness and try harder to think just a little longer about the decisions you make. I mean really, how many times in life have you looked back and admitted: “I knew this was going to happen.” And yet you made the choice anyway.

Then you beat yourself up, focusing on those times when your choices have serious ramifications (usually bad ones). When the decision to go out instead of staying home leads to one too many drinks and a DUI. When the choice to order dessert instead of stopping after the main course leads to stomach pains and guilt pangs. When the choice to buy the off-brand HDTV for $499 instead of purchasing the proven brand for $699 leads to frustration when the picture dies two days after the warranty expires. I hate that.

Judgments are a bitch.

Mostly because we don’t give ourselves enough credit for the good choices we make and pay way too much attention to the bad ones. All of which is compounded when those around us (friends, family, associates, employers, spouses) also pay way too much attention to our bad choices and not nearly enough to the good ones. And so it goes.

I recall a hot summer day from my youth when I made the decision to spend one of my hard-earned paperboy dollars on a jumbo, grape milkshake. The owner of the Kustard Kastle tried to talk me out of it. My best friend Bill tried to talk me out of it. Even the little voice in my head was trying to talk me out of it. But I was having none of it. I wanted that grape milkshake; the thought alone of purple ice cream had me captivated.

But after only one sip I knew I chose poorly. Or did I? Truth be told, I learned some valuable lessons that hot summer day; lessons I still remember 40 years later.

1. Listen to the advice of people you trust; they have your best interest at heart.
2. Don’t waste hard earned money.
3. Give yourself a break when you make a mistake; you are human.
4. True friends will always stick by you, even when you screw up.
5. Never, ever order a purple milkshake.

Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.