Do Your Work

I stayed up late on Wednesday night, watching all of the commentary about the NBA game cancellations. Since Thursday morning, things have been hazy. My head just feels in a fog, with so many reports, stories, and noise.

What’s the best course of action? What to do next? Should I get extra cat food?

Then a Friday call with a good friend set me at ease; “just do your work.” I’m paraphrasing, but the first thing I need to do is my work, because it needs to get done, so I can send an invoice and get paid.

Does it NEED to be done? In the grand scheme of things? Doesn’t matter. Now isn’t the time for grand thinking, and figuring things out. Do the work, then do what else needs to get done.

Everything is Cancelled

I was supposed to travel to NYC on Wednesday, and I’m glad I didn’t. That night I sat down to watch some NBA basketball, and then all heck broke loose. One game cancelled, then another, then the entire NBA season was suspended. Other leagues followed suit in the next day or so.

So just two days later the Queens Marathon got pushed back to November 15th. All schools in PA are closed for two weeks.

Nearly all the people I work for, they’ve got bands who were just heading out on tour, and those tours are cancelled now, which affects a ton of people.

Everything feels foggy now, in a haze. It feels like 9/11 did, but that was this moment, whereas with this we’re still in the after shocks, and we don’t know when it’ll end. All we can do is wait.

Early Morning Adventure

Above photo by Jesse Keenan

On the day we set the clocks ahead and lose an hour of sleep, I met my friend Jesse at around 6am and hiked to The Pinnacle. We hiked in the dark, but once we made it to the top we were rewarded with such an amazing view.

From there, we ran back to our vehicles. Running the Appalcian Trail is always rough, and it was my first “real” run since tweaking my hip-flexor a week or so ago.

It was cold, and yeah, it’s always nice sleeping in on a Sunday morning. But when adventure calls, you have to answer.

Make ‘Em Feel Good

I’m part of a project called Metal Bandcamp Gift Club, which is basically a bunch of metal nerds that gift albums to each other from their Bandcamp wishlists.

If you want niche, that’s pretty niche.

But it’s been going on since 2016, and my sources tell me we’ve helped sell a shit ton of music during that time.

Our website fell stagnant for awhile, but I got it rolling again in October 2019. A few months later we had our biggest month ever.

That big spike is from our February fundraiser, where we raised almost $500 for girls’ rock camps (we eventually broke $500 in March), from Dallas Texas to London and Canada. It was pretty awesome.

I’ve been working on “content strategies” in one form or another since 2001, and what’s really worked for me is this: make the reader feel something, the happier the better.

When I did Skull Toaster (my metal trivia project on social media from 2011-2018), I built the questions with the answers in mind. Some questions were pretty damn obscure, but I usually knew someone would get it, and what would they feel? AWESOME. It wasn’t about driving clicks to my website, it was about that feeling of answering metal trivia.

With this recent fundraiser, people felt pretty good – especially the organizations that got some money in their accounts.

Don’t Grumble, Donate

I saw a bumper sticker tonight that I don’t care for. Instead of grumbling about it, which does nothing, I donated money to something good.

The person with the bumper sticker – they spent the money, right? They believed in something enough to pull out their wallet. And if all I do is scoff, then they won.

And it doesn’t have be $25 every time. Five dollars still helps. So does sharing something you like, emailing a friend about a cool video you found, or loaning a book to an old friend.

A Little Sore

Back in 2016 I ran too fast in my first 5K race, and tweaked something, which I felt for a week or so afterwards.

Sometime later, my lower back was hurting. Saw a doctor. He laid me down, raised my leg, and asked, “do you stretch?” Uhhh… so I started stretching more, and wow, my lower back felt better.

A week before the 2019 Broad Street 10 mile race I tweaked my ankle on the stair climber machine, of all things.

Each time, I took it easy, stayed mobile, stretched, got plenty of rest, and things worked out.

Earlier this week I knew I was too sore to run. Today is my third day in a row of not running, my longest time off since December.

My marathon is 25 days away. Stinks to not be ON TARGET with my training, but it’d stink more if I powered through and hurt myself even more.

Worst case? I don’t finish my marathon. But I learned so much from this training block; working with a coach, discovering new abilities, building mental toughness for long distance… none of this will be a waste.

Clients

Spoke with a good friend today about being our “authentic self” online, and sometimes fearing the vibe we give off could lead to lost work, as maybe a potential client is turned away by the way we carry ourselves.

One lofty client came up, Starbucks, of course. They’re top banana, sure. But who’s the #2 coffee company? Who’s the #8 coffee supplier on the East Coast? I bet they have a budget, right?

Meg Lewis comes to mind when thinking about this sort of thing, as she is so amazingly herself. Such an inspiration, and a reminder that playing the part is just sort of playing yourself. Be who you are, and you’ll attract your dream clients.

I Made a Video and I Hope it Helps

I’m not sure why my face is so red, but hey, this video was made and published. Heck, I even messed up the date in the clip, but perfect is the enemy of done, so this video is live.

I’ve been making videos on and off since about 2006, when I actually auditioned for a web-series video show for AOL Music (Sara Schaefer got the gig, and now she has her own Comedy Central special – she rocks!), and then started making a video show for my then music blog Buzzgrinder.

It’s funny – I keep reading and seeing so much about “building a YouTube channel,” along with other buzz phrashes like “build your brand” and such, but I don’t know, it’s weird.

From 2001-2011 I ran two pretty okay music blogs, and did Skull Toaster from 2011-2018, which had a solid niche following in the metal world. Since I stepped away from running any sort of “media thing,” I’ve been reluctant to really start anything again, I guess because I don’t want to get into that schedule, always having to publish content. Yuck, that word.

But this video I made serves a purpose I guess, and that’s to drive donations to girls’ rock camps. As of today, Metal Bandcamp Gift Club raised almost $250 (oh yeah, I guess running Metal Bandcamp Gift Club is a “media thing,” but it just feels different), so if this video helps drive $10 more to a good org, then I am super pumped about that.

Like Seth Godin has said, be helpful. Be of service. That’s where my head has been lately, with writing, video, audio, social media – how can I publish work that helps?

There Are No Shortcuts

It was a moment where my draw dropped, and I never bothered to write it down.

I was walking somewhere up 5th Ave in NYC, listening to music on my iPod (yeah, this was awhile ago). I remember hearing a lyric from the song I was listening to, and seeing inside a BestBuy, the exact same words on a sign.

It’s not like it was a Top 40 hit, and I saw a display for the same top 40 hit. No, they were completely separate. A song lyric, and some marketing message on a sign that I’ve long forgotten.

But it happened again recently. Sort of.

I was listening to a song by one of my favorite bands, Into Another, from their album ‘Seemless.’ As I was running on the treadmill at my local Planet Fitness, I glanced at a TV commercial for some bathroom product, and the word ‘Seamless’ flashed across the screen.

Okay, not quite the same word, but close.

Today I read Khe Hy’s email newsletter Rad Read, and the first story was “Be the best at the worst,” which I then read on his site. The phrase “there are no shortcuts” stuck out to me, especially in the area of running.

Then my friend Jasper published a blog post (thanks RSS newsreader!) about cleaning his keyboard and he said, “Easily the most boring part of mechanical keyboards is lubing switches. It is, unfortunately, not optional. There are no shortcuts.”

What’s it mean? I don’t know, but it’s a double dose of truth today; “there are no shortcuts.”

Dedicated Devices

My Garmin 235 has a solid, physical button for starting and stopping runs. For selecting items, there are buttons for up and down. No screen gestures, no inadvertent swipes, no random locked screens. It syncs with the Garmin app on my phone, which then syncs to my Strava account.

I wanted to take more photos on my runs. While I have an iPhone Xr with a fantastic camera, it also comes with a big screen loaded with notifications for emails, messages, calendar events, and a jillion other things. And not to mention that if I ever drop or damage this device, then my GPS, phone and everything else is damaged, too. The GoPro is rock solid, fits easily into my hands on runs (it came with me on my recent 18 mile run), and takes great footage.

Running is an absolute passion of mine now, since 2016, and I just want to track it efficiently, and document the journey. These two devices help me do that.