It’s 12:30am. I’m going to be up before 7am to help get Bella out the door so she can be at the office early to begin preparations. As I start to drift off and dream about my work problems and, consequently, potential solutions, the images were accompanied by Aretha Franklin’s rendition of Ben. E. King’s Spanish Harlem.

There is a rose in Black and Spanish Harlem.

I got up, fixed an iced tea, moved to the foot of the bed so Bella wouldn’t be bothered by the glare of the laptop that I booted up. From there I put on headphones & listen to Aretha’s empowered version of the classic as well as Ben E. King’s original and samplings another 100 versions on Spotify to see if anything was as good. As I listened to the samples and played around with the significance of the song in regards to my specific problem…

I learned two things:

1 – There are no other versions of Spanish Harlem worth listening to.

The best versions of Spanish Harlem I’ve found.

Ben E. King. Aretha Franklin. Everyone else’s sucked. Even the reggae and latin versions were horrible. Save an hour of your life and stick the two standards. The exception that proves the rule: Jay & the Americans. Their version isn’t too bad.

2 – The red rose in Black and Spanish Harlem was the perfect visual for the problem.

What is / was the problem?

The problem is that I hate doing things a little at a time. I hate watching just one episode of a TV show, finishing one song by an artist, or even hearing an incredible song only once in a row.

I will shiver and shake for a second…

…as if frightened in a horror movie. There’s a reason I didn’t set my voicemail for almost two years: text messages and emails are less frightening to me.

I also hate working on a project and not finishing it before having to do something else. If I’m working on a project or a task and the phone rings, I act as if someone just ran witches’ nails down a tortuously long chalkboard.

I also don’t like don’t a little bit of something. I hate only doing part of a workout, shortening the route on a workout, leaving food on my plate (mama said Ethiopians were starving and that if I left the food on the plate they’d only starve more)…i’m like that with writing, video games, books.

I don’t get how people can only do a morsel at a time.

I visualized all the things we have left to do while The Wolf (by the way: his name is Chris Bake. He’s the “Bake” in BakedFinn. People have been asking the name’s origins) & I finish project 03 while simultaneously growing our client base via word of mouth and referrals, I find that all the litle things aren’t getting done but they would be close if I would have taken the little bits of time I had in the day to do what I could with them instead of waiting for big chunks of time.

Project 02 is a great example.

Project 02 is a niche blog we’ve been working instead of the BakedFinn blog. It’s for an international industry where Project 03 can be marketed to sell. We have to continue to grow project 02, but I want to do it 10 blog posts a day – 5,500 words. And I only end up writing on days when I can get 6,000 words in; it takes about 8 hours a day to do that right with the research and follow up and social media syndications and community engagement via the comments.
Lately there hasn’t been time. Up until 7pm last night my flight was set to head to Ft. Myers, Florida on the 26th of February – 5 days away. I was planning on being down there close to a month, probably longer. The OldOld Man’s birthday is on the 22nd of March. 88th. My aunt and mother are planning on being down there. Bella (at this point, I’ll use her real name: Katie) is investigating flight times and looking at Grossbauer’s beautifully growing schedule to see if she can come down for a weekend to wish the OldOld man happy birthday. Also, the OldOld Man’s heavily leaning on selling the place and staying full time up here in Millionaire Acres with his high school and war buddies because they’re all doing the same. So for the family, this could be the last hurrah for our winter / holiday home.

What does this have to do with Project 02.

It means I’ve been doubling up on client means as we train them Inbound marketing – blogging, social media, email marketing, blogging for SEO – teaching them that it is as much a part of their day as their emails and with the right schedule, it takes as much time to get their word out as it does to write a couple thoughtful emails. This means I’ve been in my car more, on the road more, at Blackbird Cafe more, process mapping Project 03 and picking up 3 new project ventures as well as a community venture that some area movers and shakers have been asking me and Bake’s opinion (as well as several others) on. The last being an Economic Development possibility that could help Valparaiso regain its place as a technology / digital marketing starlet in Chicago as it was becoming back when Livemercial had Billy Mays day in Valparaiso.
These are all incredible and prompted me to move my flight back to March 12 . But because of all that’s been going on, I haven’t had 8 hours a week to write for project 02 let alone 8 hours in a day. Therefore – Project 02 is suffering and we are losing touch with the community we’ve built on it.

Our clients and friends have been having the same issue.

Our first batch of clients have all been as passionate but as they look at the roadmap we lay out, they get a touch overwhelmed. What happens? They start treating social media and email as a digital megaphone and start shouting at instead of to their online communities. Why? They don’t get the time to listen and engage because the impression I get is that they feel like they’re trying to learn to juggle by first attempting to throwing 5 balls the air at the same time.

And I’m doing it, too.

Because we all have these passions to tell our stories but are running out of the time in a day we feel we need to match said passions, we all end up not doing any of it. We end up tinkering on a bunch of projects because they’re we love to tinker on them, but like Gag’s dad’s garage when we were growing up, none of the tinkers ever get finished and everything looks like a cluttered, spiderwebbed mess of almost-weres & neverwheres.

And the neverweres never pay the bills.

Unless you’re the famous writer Neil Gaimen and write a BBC TV show called “Neverwhere,” that later gets turned into a book and re-launched into a TV show due 2013 starring none other than Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch….but I call this the exception that proves the rule.

So, what the Hell to do about the Neverwheres…

Katie & I have been reading more about Zen-like philosophical approaches to streamline the cluttler in our lives and maximize our productvity. We blogs like Azubeedo & ZenHabits. Zenhabits did one on investment habits – about starting small and slow, making the goal so unreasonably simplistic that one can’t help but trip over it successfully. And build from there.

To go back to the juggling imagery.

Juggle Balls

Start with one ball and just worry about catching the one ball in one hand. Don’t worry about throwing it up and catching it in the other hand. Don’t worry about the other hand…start small.

For the clients and Project 02…

For clients, this has meant keeping the game plans up on the board so everyone can use them as the finishing line, but start ridiculously small.
We’ve been redrafting blog templates, making them questionnaire / review style and making it so they can reuse them in these first steps so they can’t help but trip into 300 words of good content. For schedules, we’ve been taking extra steps to map out the lay of the land so they have a list of topics to start with one at a time. The reason we do this is because in digital marketing – when not using advertising – we work the blog post into the central focus of their strategy because from there they can use the blog post in the email blast as well as syndicate them to social media.

But syndication is too many balls in the air…for now.

For now, we focus on the story. We look at the storyboard, pick the next chapter, and write. And somewhere the middle of the morning emails, we write the next post and do that every day till it becomes as common to the morning ritual as having to be the one to make the coffee because the jackass in the next cubicle keeps finishing the last cup and not starting the next brew – you know who you are, ass :-).

For project 02.

I can’t worry about 10 a day. I mean I will, and I’ll struggle for awhile. But for now, I can only worry about only 1 a day. I’ll hate it. I’ll drink a pitcher of iced tea a post until either summer or my kidneys need dilation as part of my way of eating through a problem. I’ll also have to consciously remind myself, which will be a personal war of attrition in itself.

How will I force myself to actively remember.

As in the song, I’m going to start with one step.
One task.
One rose.
It will be a special one.
It will never see the sun.
It will only come out when the moon is on the run…
I’m going to pick that next step
Pick that step
Pick that rose
and watch it as it grows in my garden.

It won’t be the 3,000 reviews this year like I hoped…probably.

I’ll be pissed because I won’t get 3,000 reviews done on Project 02 this year by only doing 20-30 a week. I might get to another 1,000 this year – and that 1,000 will be better than they 0 I will otherwise do while I wait for the mythical perfect time.

This is why nothing compares to the classics.

Lyrics to Spanish Harlem by Jerry Leiber and Phil Spector.

There is a rose in Spanish Harlem
A red rose up in Spanish Harlem
It is a special one, it’s never seen the sun
It only comes out when the moon is on the run
And all the stars are gleaming
It’s growing in the street right up through the concrete
But soft and sweet and dreamin’

There is a rose in Spanish Harlem
A red rose up in Spanish Harlem
With eyes as black as coal that look down in my soul
And starts a fire there and then I lose control
I have to beg your pardon
I’m going to pick that rose and watch her as she grows in my garden

There is a rose in Spanish Harlem
A red rose up in Spanish Harlem
It is a special one, it’s never seen the sun
It only comes out when the moon is on the run
And all the stars are gleaming
It’s growing in the street right up through the concrete
But soft and sweet and dreamin’

Anyone else using this “one step at a time” strategy.

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