Internship Diary #9 — Creativity As A Habit

Creativity as a Habit

There’s a dichotomy that anyone who is professionally creative has faced. On the one hand, creating as work relies on, well, being creative. It requires imagining and making something where nothing existed before. On the other hand though, to do anything professionally requires regularity and routine. It’s something you do every day, a schedule, a habit, and an exercise. These two ideas butt heads in the mind of the creative consistently, or at least they do in my mind. (If you’re a creative and you’ve never experienced this dichotomy, please teach me whatever secrets you’ve learned.) Imagination and routine are not compatible ideals. At least not without practice. So then, this is the rub: how do you build a way of working and living that allows creativity to become a habit? 

As a marketing firm, creativity flows through the channels of work at Adelsberger constantly. Alex creates videos, Tamara creates images, Brittany creates clean and compelling copy, Ricky and Katie create graphics, and so on and so forth. Creativity has to be a habit, as it does for everyone in every similar job anywhere. 

On the first day of classes, back in August, I sat at a conference table for syllabus day in a writing course. The professor walked in, looking exactly how you want a man who is going to teach you about short stories and poetry and great authors to look. He had glasses and a white beard and a pleasant way of talking that seemed constantly amused by the world around him. The first assignment he gave us was one that would last all semester: get a small notebook and your favorite pen, carry them with you every day, everywhere, and jot down anything at all that interests you. There are a lot of pages in that notebook filled with useless, silly things that I’ll forget. But there are also ideas that became several stories, a magazine article, and several entries in this internship diary. The world produces creativity, and you only get creative by being in it, just as you only get strong by going to the gym and not by sitting at home wondering why you’re not feeling strong today. 

Right now, I’m only an aspiring professional creative. We’ll see where that takes me. But I’ve learned from people a lot smarter and a lot more experienced than me that if you want a productive imagination, you have to build a little haven for it. Anybody truly great has had their haven. Thoreau had his cabin on Walden Pond, Roald Dahl had his desk in a shed overlooking his garden, and Haruki Murakami has his tidy desk in an office nook. For right now, I have a desk in a dorm room. On the top shelf sits a plant in a disposable cup that I saved from a coffee shop just outside the public library in New York City. I saved the cup because the logo is a little guy with glasses who sort of looks like me. A collection of old records by the likes of Johnny Cash, Nat King Cole, and Hall & Oates hang on the wall above. A cheap faux Japanese lamp casts a softly warm glow from its perch on top of a collection of books. This is my haven, the place that lets me write my stories and all of these internship diaries. This is the place that makes creativity a (mostly) joyful habit for me.

Book Review: Traction | Content Machine Ep. #48

In fall of 2022, I began the work of implementing EOS as a structure for our business. Eos is the Entrepreneurial Operating System. It’s a framework for improving your business and getting work done on top of the chaos of client work that you might already be doing. I tell people all the time, it’s really easy to work in your business and not on your business. And as the leader of the business, my job is to work on the business and create a better future for my entire team. When we went to implement EOS, we already had a vision and mission statement, but we didn’t have core values. One of the things I had to develop was our core values, and that was something I initially drafted and got feedback from the team. We then developed those into talking points, and I got graphics designed around them. We work to talk about this every single week at our team meetings, although I’m not perfect at that, and it’s something I have to continue to work to integrate into our work culture. The second big change this has brought to us was a restructuring of our meetings. Typically, we have two meetings per week, the first meeting being a staff meeting, and the second meeting is what we call our catch-up call.


Eos and the demands of EOS meetings caused us to change some of the content of those meetings to be more structured around the EOS model. While we don’t have a quote-unquote leadership team at the business of our size, everyone is involved on the EOS team because the size of our team, which changes some of the dynamics of the book. During our staff meeting, our weekly longer meeting, we review all of our projects. That is something we’ve always done. But in addition to that, we’ve started sharing our scorecard and reviewing issues and reviewing our rocks for the quarter. Our scorecard is an enormous tool for transparency in our company. We choose to go over revenue numbers. We talk about utilization rates, which is an important number in our industry. We talk about the leads that have come in and when we’re having the leads come in that we need. We also have things that are holding me accountable as well, like how many networking events I’ve attended. The transparency that we have brought, I think, and based on feedback from the team, has increased the feeling of ownership from team members that they have in the organization.


Anytime leadership is silent on a matter, people will fill that void with their own narratives, which may be based on fact, or it may not be. I do it, and our team will probably do it. Everybody does that. So it behooves leadership to fill those silences and to speak on important matters. We’ve had a few months this year where we’ve lost some clients or clients haven’t paid on time, and so our revenue numbers have not looked as good as I would like to them to have been. And that affects some of the internal culture things that we do, like profit sharing and fun things. But instead of the team just knowing that those things didn’t happen, they have a much better understanding of what’s going on and what’s affecting those numbers than they did in the past. The understanding that has been brought from that transparency has relieved some of the burden on me for those roles, but also, I think it helps the team feel better about where we are as a company. Another component that has been really helpful for us in this first year of EOS is implementing the People Analyzer. The People Analyzer is a tool that EOS implements for you to review with all of your employees, and it starts with three questions.


Does the person get it? Do they understand the culture here? Do they understand what it means to work here? Do they want it? Do they show the drive to get the work done? Do they show drive to grow? Do they show drive at all? And do they have the capacity to do it? Are they capable of doing the work or capable of learning how to do the work? And then following up on that, you get a plus or minus rating for each of the core values of the company. Has this person demonstrated the core values in the last quarter or have they not? Each quarter, we go through those questions together, one on one with a staff member. In fact, we even do it with our interns near the end of their time as interns so that they can experience what an evaluation is like. During these sessions, I’ve had our staff grade themselves before they come to see me, and it’s been a growing tool for me to see where my team feels strong and where my team feels weak and what I can do to adjust that and help them to be successful.


The final big component of EOS was defining one-year goals that fit into our 10 year goal. We broke those out into 90-day increments, and through the first half of the year, we’ve done a great job of hitting those. We’ve hit some snags in the third quarter goals, and they’re bleeding into our fourth quarter, which is not great. But we have some goal, we have accountability structure around it, and it allows our team to make progress on things that we wouldn’t likely have made progress on in other ways. We’ve had goals in previous years that through lack of leadership on my end, we have failed to maintain and implement over time. This structure that EOS brings to the table is a stronger set up for success. The shared accountability, the shared weekly structure, it allows it to not be ignored or swept under the rug in ways that other things could have been. So as we complete our first year, we’ll be pushing to accomplish a few things, and I will be setting up our themes for next year and working with the team to pick out rocks and figuring out how they fit into our work for next year.


I would highly recommend Traction and the EOS system to anyone who runs a small business or a small organization, or a big organization for that matter, if you’re interested in getting better instead of doing the same old thing. Have you implemented EOS? I’d love to hear from you and compare notes. Honestly, there’s a lot of things that we could do better with it, but I’d love to hear about your experiences with the EOS. Thank you for listening to the Content Machine Podcast, and we look forward to catching you on an episode in the near future.


Sales vs. Marketing | Content Machine Ep. #47

Is it marketing or is it sales? This is a classic question that I run into all the time in my world. In this episode of the podcast, let’s dig into what the distinction is between marketing and sales. What’s the role of marketing and what’s the role of sales and why does it even matter? Well, let’s start with what is marketing? Marketing is the effort of getting someone’s attention and motivating them to take your call to action. We believe in a large definition of marketing. It’s anything that interacts with your customer. Unfortunately, that definition alone leads to some blurry lines. Really, practically in most organizations, marketing is all the external factors that help a customer become a customer or help a customer stay a customer. Sales is enabled by marketing and contains the actual transactions that move a business forward. Many times in the B2B world, there’s a relationship that is managed in the sales department, like with an account manager. Why are these distinctions important? In an organization, depending on how large it is, knowing who’s responsible for what is important. It helps people focus on the right activities, and it helps people be evaluated based on what they’re doing.


It helps us know what we’re tracking and who’s doing what. But it is a collaborative relationship, and when it’s not a collaborative relationship, there will be issues. How can marketing and sales work together? I view marketing as enabling sales. So marketing should be listening to sales, but sales should be also listening to marketing. It’s a little bit like a marriage. In a healthy marriage, the husband and wife talk and they lead together. Sales might say, ‘Hey, this messaging is not working,’ and marketing shouldn’t be like, ‘Well, I know more than you.’ Sales might say, ‘I need a brochure.’ But marketing might say, ‘instead of a brochure, what if we built a website?’ That way we can control it and make A and B testing and things of that nature. It’s important for both parties to play nice with each other. Let’s talk through the life cycle of a brochure and how might the two work together. Sales might say, ‘We need marketing material.’ When we go out to the marketing place, marketing should respond and say, ‘Absolutely. Let’s help you make that so that you have all the tools you need to be successful in selling.’


Marketing and sales should then be able to collaborate on creating that for sure. Sales should be able to say, these are common objections that we face. These are our customers’ common needs that we can fill. And this is the gap in the marketplace that we’re filling. Marketing should be able to say, okay, if this is the objection or this is the gap, this is how we can say that in a manner that helps people see the need if they’re not immediately aware of it. Then marketing can put it all together in a package that allows us to quickly and clearly communicate who we are, but in a way that intrigues the end customer. Marketing can then handle the design, the photography, the writing, the printing. Then sales has this new tool that they can go and use to sell more stuff. Over time, there should be updates to this, and then sales is going to be able to say, Hey, this is working well, or This is not working well, and this is why we think that is, and this is what we hear from our customers. It’s a collaborative relationship, and that should be the same across videography, websites, marketing strategy, all of those types of things.


This is similar how we work with our customers. Our customers are doing the sales and we are equipping them to make those sales happen. What happens when conflict arises? Conflict might arise because sales might feel like marketing is not bringing them good leads, or marketing might feel like sales has unrealistic demands or is not using what they need or make. An important thing is, as a leader above both of those, is that you help them work out those conflicts and work together to solve the problems of the business. When each department knows what they’re responsible for and what each is getting graded on, this can mitigate lots of tension. Are you in marketing or sales in a small organization? I do both of those roles for my team, but my team helps me build all the tools that I need to go enable sales. So are you in marketing? Are you in sales? I’d love to hear from you about something from a marketing department or a sales department that has made your job easier. If you’ve got a great one, send me an email at Thank you for tuning into the Content Machine Podcast.


I hope to see you on a future episode.


Internship Diary #8 – Preparing for Celebrations Through Traditions and Interruptions

We’ve reached a time of year in America when it seems that everyone, everywhere is planning for some kind of landmark. The calendar will change in a couple of months, and companies and people are planning celebrations of every kind: Thanksgiving, End of Year, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and the upcoming New Year itself. 

The season of celebrations produces two things, the opposite of one another. Celebrations are accompanied by traditions, time-honored and reliable practices that give our lives structure and comfortability. This time of year, though, is also accompanied by departures from the routine, new tasks, shopping lists, and boxes to be checked that are not present year-round. These hectic new agenda items exist because, inherently, celebrations necessitate the preparation for celebration. The build up.

Recently, I worked on a small task for the Greater Jackson Chamber’s Annual Celebration. They hosted a game-show type trivia competition, and all the questions centered around Old Hollywood. Do you recognize this actor? This movie? This poster? That type of thing. My job was just to find the pictures, videos, and posters to be used. Somewhere in that process, sifting through photos of actors from the 40s to find shots that weren’t so grainy they couldn’t be used, I saw the iconic poster for It’s a Wonderful Life. If you’re anything like me and you come from one of the thousands of American families for whom that movie is appointment viewing every year, you’ll probably recognize it instantly. It captures the moment near the end of the film when Jimmy Stewart has received his second chance, arriving home, and Donna Reed runs in to meet him. It’s impossible not to be moved. But it got me thinking about the little things we mark our lives by — watching the same movies every year, eating the same pie on Thanksgiving, and so on. I’m sure you have your own list of rituals. This time of year is full of them, both personally and professionally. 

Some people wait with rapt anticipation, like a child on the arrival of Santa Claus, for the day Starbucks tosses out their plain white cups in favor of the bright red and pizzazz of the holiday seasonal cups. Some people leave out their pumpkins and scarecrows until December 24th, waiting out the progressively cooler days of November and most of December with patience. Jackson saw its first actual cold snap of the season this week, enough to frost the grass a glassy white in the morning and freeze a thin layer of ice over the windshields of anyone trying to leave for work. 

After the first cold snap and beginning of this annual season of various celebrations, Brittany Crockett mentioned in one of the non-serious Adelsberger Marketing Slack channels that she had begun the countdown to Christmas. Yesterday, though, I saw someone post on Instagram a picture of their shed, making a not very funny or very original joke about how that is where their Christmas tree would stay until December. I’ll leave you with this, from Brittany in Slack after her early onset holiday spirit was challenged: “We take the wins where we can get them.” 

For that reason, I welcome this season of new tasks, new checklists, and new celebrations. 


Content Idea Generation | Content Machine Ep. #46

If you’re a social media marketer or a marketer in general, generating content can be a challenge, especially over the long haul. The internet is a content-hungry beast, and we’ve got to keep feeding it. With all the customers that we work with, we have to always be generating new ideas for content and then implementing them. Here are some thoughts on how you can also generate content in an ongoing manner. The first and most important thing about content generation is understanding who your customers are. Who’s the target market? Every business’s target market is different and without a good understanding of who these customers are, and in the business we call them personas, you’re going to be spitting in the wind. The first step is to take some deep thought or maybe do some persona exercises on who your customers are and what they care about. As we look about what they care about, let’s think about a few things here. One, do they have a relationship with the organization? Or the people at the organization, do they want to see behind the scenes? Do they feel like they’ve got privileged information or are they just there for a deal?


Making a list of what’s important to our customers will give us an opportunity for a starting place when we start to generate ideas for content. In a second vein, we want to think about what we want the customer to know. Most businesses start here, but we put it in second place because what the customer wants is the most important part. When we think about what we want them to know and what are things as a business that we want to make sure they know about, that list is different. Gary Vanderchuk’s methodology of a jab, jab, jab, right hook, the jabs are what the customer cares about, the things that are entertaining, the things that satisfy them. And the right hooks are the things that we want to promote. So what do we want them to know about? Maybe it’s what makes us special, what makes us different than our competition. Maybe it’s some new product for sale or a club or a membership opportunity or some way to contact them like an email list or a text messaging service. The things that we want to promote are many, but we have to understand that they are not necessarily exciting for the customer.


And then when we think about those two things, we also have to think about what is the level of awareness that this customer has of our goods and services. Are they a current customer and a friend of the business? Do they need a little education on who we are and why we’re important? Are they not aware of us or that our service exists? Or maybe they’ve never heard of us and didn’t know that someone sold what we sold. Depending on that level of awareness, we may need to approach the content we’re creating differently. And then we have to think about is it organic social or paid social? Because the platform affects the content as well. But when we think about whether our customers know us or not, we should be trying to think about how that content reaches different segments at different times. We need not just to focus on experienced customers, but we also need to reach out to new customers and introduce ourselves in different ways. Finally, I like to think about a list of emotions that we can evoke. There’s a long list that we use, including things like being interested, happy, sad, and insightful.


These different emotions can help us think about ways that we can interpret the needs of our customers and the things that we want to promote. So instead of just saying we offer X, we want to imply it in an insightful and emotional response. We might say, did you know what X can do for a business and this is what we have done to someone’s business and how we’ve helped them? Or this is why we don’t do this because of X or Y. Pairing the emotions with the content can help you see through a way to make the content more relevant. Having content that can be approached in a different manner can help it be more engaging. Are you producing content? Are you a content producing machine? What’s your favorite piece of content you’ve ever produced? I would love to hear about it. Send me an email at Thank you for listening to the Content Machine Podcast and stay tuned for more great episodes. And we’ll see you on the next one.

Fractional CMO | Content Machine Ep. #45

How do you stay up to date with marketing? If you’re leading an organization that is not a marketing organization, how do you stay on top of your marketing? Are you investing in a staff person who’s keeping up with marketing? Is it their sole responsibility? Are they having to do all the areas of marketing or are they focused in just one area? Or do you not have someone in marketing and are you having to try to learn marketing for yourself, even though you might be really good at something else like banking or insurance or roofing? There’s been a new concept that’s becoming more and more popular in our economy called fractional work or outsource work or part time work for chief financial officers and chief marketing officers. This fractional CMO or part time CMO or outsource CMO has become more and more prominent and it’s something that we are doing more of because more and more companies are deciding it’s not worth investing in a marketing person full-time for a couple of reasons. When you hire a full-time marketing person, you want them to do everything. And it’s very difficult to do everything. Very few creatives are capable of doing many things very well across lots of disciplines.


Marketing strategy is different from graphic design. Graphic design is different from videography. Videography is different from social media and social media is related to but different from copywriting. Previously, small and medium-sized companies would expect someone, whether they thought it out loud or not, they wanted someone to do all of these things and to do them all well, and that’s just an impossible task. We’ve worked with several companies where we either augment an existing person’s ability or advise those marketing managers to a higher level, or we come in and fill the need completely because we can provide marketing strategy and with our team delivery of that strategy. Additionally, because of our experience in the marketplace, we have a lot more experience than a lot of people who start in these positions because many times these companies hire younger people to fill these roles and we bring a touch of experience and expertise from different industries and cross-pollination from our different accounts. When you hire internally, the hiring and firing of staff members brings a lot of cost and a lot of trouble that can come with it. You have to be thinking about, I’m not just hiring this person for a few hours, I’m hiring them 40 hours a week with salary and benefits and time off and drama and things of that nature.


So how do you compensate for all that? The great thing about a fractional CMO is a fractional CMO is responsible for providing value, not punching a clock. You can fire them and hire them, and well, there’s no severance, there’s no insurance, and there’s no drama. David C. Baker pointed out that perspective and seeing the bigger picture are hugely important values that consultants bring to the table. You are dug into the details of your work. You’re looking at the map with a magnifying glass, and we’re standing back and looking at the entire mountain. Outside consultants give perspective that insiders can often miss. Marketing consultants are available. Like I am, you can call me. But the question you need to ask is, is the focus of your organization enough on marketing? Are you properly equipping someone to do the marketing if you’re internal? Or are you spending enough time learning so that you can stay up on top of what’s new in marketing? Because someone has to do it if you want to thrive as organization. So if you’d like to talk about hiring a fractional CMO and maybe that would be us, I would love to set up a Zoom with you.


Give me an email at or send us a DM. Thank you for listening to the Content Machine Podcast. Stay tuned for more insight and future episodes.