Are you making your list and checking it twice? Lists seem to be the way to go these days. A list for who to call, email, text or write; the want list; the need list; and ultimately the to-do list.

With a lot to do is the Daryl T. Downing “I-Am-Harlem” Marketing/Production Consultancy, there to meet all of your Harlem needs, along with Curtis Archer and Francisco Guzman representing the Harlem Community Development Corp, a subsidiary of Empire State Development and Harlem Business Alliance, who together presented the Mastering the Elevator Pitch workshop. Gathering at the art gallery of the Harlem State Office Building were several entrepreneurs who were in various stages of their business development. Lloyd Cambridge, proprietor of, served as presenter. Cambridge had a very impressive corporate background before starting his own business, and he had a lot of very useful information to share.

The concept of an elevator pitch is analogous to having only a few seconds to grab your intended target’s attention, get your point across and obtain your desired results. As an example, picture this scenario: You are trying to get a one-on-one interview with a particular person who would be extremely instrumental in advancing your request. One day, while standing at the corner waiting for the light to change, who do you notice standing right beside you? It’s no other than the particular person in position who would be extremely instrumental in advancing your request. Here’s your chance. You have 30 seconds (the average length of the elevator pitch). What are you going to say? I know at this point you are saying that it only takes 15 seconds for the light to change, but this limitation is the essence of the elevator pitch. If your pitch starts off strong, the person will stop to grant you the extra 15 seconds.

Because you never know when or where an opportunity may arise, you want to be prepared. According to Cambridge, an elevator pitch begins with asking yourself the question, “Why?” Not what do you want, but why do you want it. As I too am a student, I won’t presume to explain the process like Chambers can, but I can attest to the fact that “Why?” is a good place to start. The pitch shouldn’t be more than 75 words, include what is unique about what you have to offer, drop a name or two if you can (someone you know, who knows someone, who knows someone, who is somehow connected,) and conclude with an “Ask.” Ask for another meeting to speak more in-depth, a contact, a review of your proposal, your book, your CD, a date. Whatever you are seeking, ask for it. If you want to know more, contact Darryl T. Downing at

The 121st Street Block Association brought together all of the neighbors for a Christmas celebration that was filled with good food, drinks and good cheer. The block has an eclectic group of residents representing so many sectors of community life. Besides having gained the reputation for the consistently best block Halloween party over the years, they are intent on keeping Harlem beautiful.

Also beautiful is Sam Hargrove, owner of Paris Blues located on the corner of 121st Street and Seventh Avenue, who is providing the best in live music seven nights a week, offering a warm welcome to all who pass the threshold. Tourists are finding a place in Harlem that is all they imagine it to be. On one recent evening, it became known that a young lady visiting from Italy was having a birthday. Stopping the show, Tyrone “FlyTy” Govan, guitar player with the group Der Secret that was performing, invited the young lady to grace the stage and belt out a chorus or two of her favorite song. The band would keep up. With her husband recording, the young lady grabbed the mic and began singing her version of Aretha Franklin’s “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman.” All I can say is whee doggies! After a rousing round of applause, Sasha the barmaid brought out a small cake. Hargrove lit the candle, wishes were made and everyone in the house got a slice. Talk about a fun night, and it was only Tuesday.

Families from far and near are heading to the Iverson Mall located in Temple Hills, Md., right outside of Washington, D.C., to see the Black Santa Claus who’s taking the little tots’ requests straight to his workshop at the North Pole. Black Santas have always been around. We just don’t get to see them that often. The legend of Santa Claus dates back to the third century to a monk named Nicholas who was born in the village of Patara in present-day Turkey. Nicholas was born into a very well-to-do family. He had a privileged upbringing but was raised to be a devout Christian. As a young man, he decided to devote his life to serving the Lord by helping the needy. During his travels, he heard of a man who was very poor and could not afford a dowry with which to marry off his three daughters, so they would likely be sold into slavery. Before the man’s daughters could be sold off into slavery, Nicholas is said to have thrown a bag of gold through an open window into each daughter’s stocking that hung by the fire to dry, thus providing the dowries. We can all be a Santa Claus of sorts, not by passing out gold coins, but by embracing the love, kindness and compassion Santa Claus represents and giving that spirit to others. Ho, ho, ho.

Until next week … kisses.