Lee Rotbart

Posts Tagged ‘one step at a time’

Tiptoeing into uncharted waters

In Getting the mortgage on October 4, 2010 at 12:53 pm

This morning there was another tube strike and I walked 4 miles into work. During this walk I composed a ranty letter in my head to Bob Crow while fantasising about walking along the coastal path.

London looks like Gotham City in the grey light of a wet morning; and along with a touch of light rain – the kind that’s not heavy enough to warrant an umbrella, yet gets you very wet really, really slowly – I can think of better ways to start the week.

20 minutes after breakfast I received a phone call from our mortgage broker. He asked me if I was sitting down (of course I was… that’s all I do 9 – 6, Monday – Friday) and I knew then that this could be the phone call we’ve been waiting 3 1/2 months for. He then proceeded to inform me that Lloyds Bank have agreed – IN PRINCIPLE – to our commercial mortgage application. There’s a bit of work to do yet, a survey, a valuation, and maybe a few other things that involve us paying out lots of money; but we’re over the second big hurdle (the first one was getting them to look at the proposition in the first place), and into uncharted territory.

It went like this: Excitement, followed by ‘I must tell Danny’, followed by more excitement, followed by ‘I must tell my folks’, followed by more excitement, followed by terror.

For the last few weeks Danny and I have been making lists, choosing furniture, and fantasising about breakfasts; and now it’s a reality. Now we’re really going to have to do it. Somebody somewhere has deemed that we are responsible enough, and our business plan comprehensive enough, to lend us lots of money; and I find myself in that place where I think that someone is going to come up behind me, tap me on the shoulder, and say:

“Excuse me, Miss Rotbart. Hello. We’re sorry to disturb you but we’ve identified you and your partner as people who are pretending to be adults, you haven’t done a bad job of it but we have found you out. We got our first clue last year when we observed you making monkey noises at the gorillas in London Zoo, our suspicions were aroused when you went to London Zoo without any children. We also noticed that you skipped across the road in the New Forest last weekend, again, not really behaviour befitting the 34 year old you’re pretending to be. In conclusion, while we love your enthusiasm, we really don’t think that you are grown-ups and therefore cannot lend you this money”

As much as I don’t want anyone to do that it would be the easy option, it would give me the opportunity to RUN. Run like the wind in the direction of a salaried job and a mortgage that isn’t reliant on people wanting to stay in my spare bedroom. Run back to a world with no buildings insurance (I have a leasehold) and a location where I have friends, family, and a solid network.

I wonder if others who go into business on their own have these kind of fears. They must do, surely, but just choose not to talk about them.

I do want this, I really do, the thing is I want it NOW, I want it QUICKLY, and I want it without having to go through all the stuff I’m dreading, like packing and moving (I hate packing more than I hate the aforementioned Bob Crow); setting up the internet / electricity / phone lines / fire systems; having the inevitable arguments over decor; living through the moments when we realise something is suddenly going to cost £5000 more than originally budgeted; need I go on?

I want to be like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I want to click my heels together, say the magic words, and end up in a beautiful, fully-booked guest house in St Ives. In other words I want the rewards but none of the reality.

Just in case you’re curious as to my state of mind I should tell you that I am ecstatic. Sitting at my desk overlooking a Soho back alley (you’ve got a window seat – count yourself lucky!) I have a bubbly feeling in my belly. It’s a bubbly feeling that foretells of a life with no tubes, no smog, no desk job, and no hamster-style running machine. I just need to keep the ‘one step at a time’ philosophy close to my heart and all will be good.

Loyal readers, friends and family, it seems we are full steam ahead into the next part of our journey.

Addicted to social media

In The beginning on July 22, 2010 at 11:16 am

By day I am a strategy consultant, working at one of the top 100 digital agencies in the UK. By night I am a blog crazed, Twitter obsessing, maniac.

I am yet to hand in my notice at work and so blog activities are confined to the hours of 8pm – 1am. During the working day I am ashamed to admit that I probably spend up to an hour checking blog statistics, tweeting, following Cornwall oriented tweeters, and leaping with joy every time someone new starts following Porthminster_Vu.

NB. Porthminster View is spelt like that because Twitter limits characters for user names; it is not because I am of the ‘text speak’ generation – I can assure you, I’m not!

It’s a peculiar phenomenon – social media – 5 years ago no one would have understood the sentence ‘I’ll Facebook you’, yet today it’s part of every day speak (for the under 50s). In some circles I’m considered a digital immigrant, roughly translated this means that I’m not of the digital generation yet I’ve adopted it as part of my culture, this is in direct comparison to a digital native – someone under the age of 15 who has no concept of linear TV, doesn’t know what a VHS tape looks like, and doesn’t remember or understand a world without mobile phones.

All this aside, I never really had much interest in it. Yes, I like to share my photos on Facebook, look up what people are doing and (on occasion) stalk ex-boyfriends, friends, and old schoolmates; and that’s about it, until just recently when I discovered the pure adrenaline rush that can be garnered from Visit Britain (for example), and other iconic organisations beginning to follow Porthminster View on Twitter. It’s all very ‘clan’. In my heart of hearts I know that there’s probably some bored work experience intern sitting in the Visit Britain offices clicking ‘follow’ on every random company that pops their head above the parapet however, that doesn’t really make a difference. I love it, I text my boyfriend proudly every time I get a new person following, and every time my blog gets a new subscription.

“Look what I’m doing” I say, like a child who has just learned how to tie their shoelaces. “How good am I?”… no matter that the mortgage is still to be approved, we are yet to sell my partner’s flat, and we haven’t learned how to make toast without burning it. No matter about all those quite vital things, for I am a social media genius! *Cue brass band music, fireworks and spotlights*

I genuinely never thought that I would be one of those people, people who become so dedicated to a project / job that they enjoy absolutely everything about it: From keeping spreadsheets up to date to organising the marketing, and from proactively phoning solicitors to being almost disappointed at the end of the working day. Yet I’ve discovered that when you are truly wedded to something, truly dedicated, truly want something to succeed, there really are no limits. I’m finally understanding, and having a bit of compassion for, my workaholic CEO who has built her truly amazing agency up from scratch. I get it. I really do.

Don’t get me wrong I love my job, but I am yet to end work on a Friday disappointed that it’s the weekend, and I am yet to leap out of bed on a Monday morning thinking “thank god that’s over”. With Porthminster View however, I am genuinely frustrated when there’s nothing more I can do about something because I’m waiting for the mortgage company / solicitor / accountant / buyer / vendor to do what they need to do.

In all those gaps, and there are many gaps, I have social media. Twitter doesn’t care that it’s 2 o’clock in the morning, my computer doesn’t go to sleep at night, and email still works even if no one (in this time zone) will read what I’ve written until the morning. In this crazy situation where there is so much to do yet nothing can get done before its time, I still feel like I’m achieving something. It’s an outlet that I’m sure, if nothing else, my boyfriend is relieved I have.

Full steam ahead

In The beginning on July 7, 2010 at 6:05 pm

I don’t think I quite believe we’re actually doing this.

I’m planning awards we’re going to win while my more realistic other half is thinking about escalating interest rates, I’m mind-mapping additional services when I should be thinking about selling my flat, and I’m planning long walks on the beach with a dog we don’t have, before writing emails to solicitors who we’ve instructed to represent us.

Focusing on the stuff that’s miles ahead is safe, it assumes a certain amount of ‘rose coloured glasses’ thinking, it also means I can put off doing what needs to be done right now, more importantly, it assumes that the business is already a success without any of the hard work that goes into the basics.

If I’m thinking about cream teas I’m not having to think about the possibility of this failing, if I’m contemplating packed lunches for walkers I’m not considering an empty house in March, and if I’m dreaming of a dog (name: Jasper Penworthy) then I don’t have to fill in a load of Excel spreadsheets or think about a business plan. I am keeping reality a safe distance away (just how I like it).

Every few hours I start doing something practical and that’s when the fear hits me. That’s when I start worrying about public liability insurance, cooking breakfast that doesn’t send guests heading for the nearest bathroom, health and safety regulations, accounting, mortgage repayments, and just about everything else. The big picture is terrifying!

I really need to start living the ‘one step at a time’ theory, rather than just paying the sentiment lip service.

What’s the ‘next’ thing I have to do… and then do it. Then, and only then, do I allow myself the luxury of thinking about the next thing (and only the next thing). It’s quite hard planning for the future and living in the moment at the same time; and, just for a change, I’m struggling with that balance.

How do Buddhist retreats manage their business plans? And is that a book someone’s written, as I need to buy it.