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We Survived Hurricane Irma

We survived Irma. And by that I mean Mother Nature took it easy on us. Here is a short video we made to remember the experience.

Shoutout to Chris Brown for letting me crash his bunker.

  • Video excerpt from the Hobbit
  • Video excerpt from Evan Almighty
  • Song is the instrumental version of G-eazy Some Kind of Drug.
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The Choice We Face [video]

New media is driving a fundamental shift in how we communicate at scale, and we will soon have to make a choice about how to move forward as a society.

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You Disgust Me

A introspective post about people who walk around looking at the world through their own narrow ideological blinders.

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Start Here – Everything you need to know about Raymmar.com

Learn everything you need to know about where we have been and where we are headed here at Raymmar.com.

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How Writing Changed My Life And Why You Should Start A Blog

An in depth article that explains how a single blog post changed my life, and why you should start building your own personal online brand.

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Raymmar & Chill – Lots of New Videos!

Explore my videos and get an inside look at our software startups, advice for how to build your own digital business, and random rants about life.

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Does America Deserve Donald Trump?

Is America about to get the president it deserves?

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What It Means to Be Unhireable

After blowing the first Unhireable Podcast, I’ve decided to release the individual segments as separate videos.

This first one is a deep dive into what people think it means to be Unhireable.

To get a diverse range of opinions, we went out to the Mall at UTC (and promptly got kicked out), stopped by the HuB to ask some entrepreneurs, sat down with the founder of Sarasota Day, and even interviewed a few randoms out on the street. All with the specific intent of finding out what people think it meant to be unhireable.

It’s part of a long term project we are working on here at Raymmar.com, and is an idea we will be exploring further in our future videos.

Were you surprised by any of the answers?

What do you think it means to be Unhireable?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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The Future of Sales: Understanding Information as a Currency [video]

Watch a passionate presentation that outlines the 5 steps to every sale and explains how social sales will evolve over the next decade.

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9 Reasons Why You Should Quit Your Job & Become Your Own Boss

I just talked to the boss. He said your raise is effective just as soon as you are.

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Am I Responsible for the Drowning Death of A 13 Year Old Boy?

This article was featured on the Medium home page!

When I was 19, a boy drowned at the pool where I worked. I was the first responder. This is the story of that day as I remember it.

Dedicated to Murphy Shurig. Aug 4, 2002

This post is part of my 30 day creative writing challenge. Click here to learn more about the challenge or explore the other posts in this series.

“Lifeguard, lifeguard!”

The screams were coming from a group of boys who moments ago were playing and throwing a ball back and forth. They were regulars at the pool but I didn’t know any of them well.

This was my first summer at this particular pool, so I hadn’t gotten to know all of the pool rats yet. I did know that they were all above average swimmers though. They were also just on the edge of my zone, (the part of the pool a lifeguard is responsible for watching). It was right where my zone and the other life guard’s zone intersected.

I thought they might be trying to get my attention as part of a game they were playing, something that is not all that uncommon. But when I looked over, I saw them holding up one of their friends. They were lifting him to the edge of the pool.

I looked over in time to see them setting him up on the edge and let him go. Just in time to watch his pale body fall lifeless to the deck.

And then time stopped…

THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!!

In what seemed like slow motion, I jumped from my platform on the guard chair down to the ground. I’m not sure why, but as I ran over to where the boy was laying, I pulled the whistle and lanyard from around my neck and flung it away.

When I got to where they had dropped his body I saw my worst nightmare laying on the ground in front of me. His skin tone was not natural. Not blue like they show in the movies, but not like any color skin I had ever seen before.

I checked for a pulse. It was there, but it was weak. The manager on duty must have noticed that something was going on because she started to walk over.

I screamed at someone  nearby to call 911, and ran to the guard shack for gloves and a mask. Thing I should have had on me at the time.

When I got back, the manager had starting rescue breathing. She must not have had the airway opened properly because that air went right into his stomach and not his lungs.

How do I know? Because vomit, that’s how. Lot’s of it. Right into her mouth!

Watching the kid throw up should have thrilled me, except this was not voluntarily evacuation. The air she was breathing into his stomach just needed to escape… along with whatever he had eaten for lunch.

I straddled his lifeless body and started thrusting above his pelvis and just below the belly button. Pelvic thrusts to make sure the airway was clear and to help purge the rest of whatever was left in his stomach so we could try the breaths again.

She cleared his mouth with her finger, put the mask over his mouth and tried to give him another breath. He threw up again but this time was different. This was a mild mix of foamy whiteness and whatever else was left in him from the previous purge.

I look to my right, towards the two other pools. The rest of the lifeguards are still sitting in their chairs. People swimming as if nothing was happening. I noticed that the lifeguard who had her back to me was turned around to see what was going on. I could tell she was crying. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to sit there and not be able to react.

My first thought was anger. “Why aren’t you helping?” And then I realized it was actually a good thing. It was a big facility and if they had cleared the pools, a huge crowd would be gathering around us.

Even then, a crowd was forming. Small at first, but the people who had cleared the slide pool were starting to notice that something was seriously wrong.

I continue scanning the scene. It was like time was frozen but I wasn’t.

I locked eyes with a mom who was standing there with her two kids. One on either side of her, under each arm.

“Get them out of here!” I shouted in her direction.

Where is the other lifeguard that was watching the slide pool with me? Shouldn’t she be handling crowd control? Did anyone call the paramedics? Breathe kid, Please just take a breath on your own! Dozens of thoughts were shooting through my head all at once.

I finally see the other guard. She’s standing over by the front gate, probably waiting for the paramedics. She was also crying.

I look back down, another breath, still nothing. I check for a pulse again. It’s there, but barely. No chest compressions, yet.

It get’s a little fuzzy from there, but those few minutes felt like forever. The next thing I know the paramedics were there and it was all I could do to get away from the seemingly lifeless body.

I took a step back and fell to my knees. How could this be happening to me?

I was prepared for this. I was the guard who was always stressing the importance of training. I was the guard who suggested that we start doing weekly in-service trainings, but “that would not be necessary at this pool!” is what I was told it.

“We’ve never had a drowning or major accident at this pool. There is no need for that kind of training.”

That’s what the manager told me earlier that summer. The same one who had just been mouth-to-mouth with a lifeless 13 year old boy.

What a shitty time to be thinking I told you so!

That was just a few days before another ominous conversation I had at the beginning of that summer. A conversation in which I told my girlfriend at the time (a lifeguard at the same facility) that “Someone is going to die at this pool.”

I wasn’t specifically saying that someone would die that summer, but I sure as shit said it, and I hate that about myself. I hate that I saw it coming and still did nothing.

I saw that the training was lax and that to most of the seasonal staff, life guarding was about getting a great tan and hanging at the pool all summer. They were all strong swimmers, and the pool was in a wealthy neighborhood. After all, things like that aren’t supposed to happen here.

At least that is what they thought, before that day.

Could I have done more?

I hated myself for not being more vocal. For not being more adamant when I saw someone sitting in their chair sideways, or ignoring the pool. I should have spoken up when I saw someone using the rescue tube as a pillow, or reclining in their chair for a better tanning position. But I was the new guy. What was I gonna to do?

It wasn’t like I spent the summer before that managing a another local pool, and the summer before that working the wave pool at a large water park. I quit counting after 100 rescues that summer. But not at this pool.

There we were, half way through the summer, and I hadn’t made a single rescue. Maybe they were right. Maybe nothing bad was ever going to happen here.

So I started to relax. I started to become complaisant. Mostly I just wanted to fit in. And after a few times of being called “Pool Nazi,” I decided to roll with the cool kids. I decided to set my intuition aside and do things their way. I decided to drop my guard.

But I should have known better. Because I was also the guy who had been through everything you could ever go through as a lifeguard. I was the guy who knew, that at any moment, something could go wrong. The one who should have been prepared. But there I was. The first responder, and unprepared. I was the guy who failed. And it might have cost the kid his life.

To make things worse…

The police wanted to talk to us right away. They took me and the other guard, the one who had run to the front gate to wait for the ambulance, and put us in the back of a cop car to fill out the required reports. A cop car that just so happened to be sitting at the base of the steps that lead to the entrance of the pool.

It left us sitting so that everyone leaving the pool, as it was being cleared, would have to walk by and see us sitting in the back of that car. I felt like a criminal. I couldn’t stop shaking. No tears though, those would come later.

After I was done with the police I went into the office where some of the pool staff and management was talking. I remember trying to call my parents to come pick me up, driving was out of the question. My dad answered the phone.

Before I could get a single word out, I started bawling. Uncontrollable tears as the reality of the event began to set in. One of the managers, or maybe one of the board members (I can’t really remember) took the phone from me to explain the situation and have them come pick me up. I was 19 years old.

A piece of me died that day, even though the kid lived. But just barely. He would never regain consciousness.

It would take me more than a decade to realize how this event had changed my entire trajectory. To realize that it sent me on a spiral of self destruction that would eventually lead me to drop out of college, move across state lines and bury myself in whatever distraction I could find.

I spent a lot of time at his bedside the next few days, until the family decided to take him off of life support. His pain was over. But mine was just beginning.

A final round of tests during an autopsy revealed that he suffered from some sort of heart condition. It just happened to hit him while he was under water. They said that the same thing might have happened to him if he was playing at a baseball diamond, or in his back yard.

But he wasn’t at a baseball diamond. He wasn’t playing in his back yard, was he? He was at a pool. He was at my pool. And I was the guy. I could have saved him!

I was left to replay the events of that day in my head over and over. Wondering what I could have done differently. Knowing that none of those thoughts were productive but allowing them to eat at me nonetheless.

The local fire station set up some counseling for us, but it wasn’t at all helpful. How was an hour of talking going to change anything? The memory would be forever engrained in the deepest creases of my mind.

I would later meet with the boy’s parents and deliver a letter I had written to them.  Two letters actually.

One was a firsthand account of the events of that day (in a sealed envelope in case they didn’t want to read it) and the other was a letter offering myself to them, in whatever way they might have me.

They never blamed me for the events of that day, but they didn’t have to. My worst fear had come true, and I blamed myself.

 

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The Desire to Create

A metaphorical post intended to inspire the creator in all of us.

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I Had Dinner With A Murderer, And Didn’t Even Know It

This is a true story, based on actual events in Manatee County Florida.

Update: A year later, Avalos is facing another Murder charge for attempting to kill an inmate in prison.

Imagine you are at a dinner party. You are at your friends house but you only know a few of the more than thirty people that fill the room. Look to your right, now to your left. Three days from now, one of these faces is going to kill three people. Who will it be? Could it be you? Could it be me?

It’s like a scene out of a movie, something you’d never expect to experience in real life. You never image you’ll get a call telling you to turn on the news because one of the guys you were at dinner with a few nights before is accused of going on a murderous rampage.

It is not something you think about while sitting at dinner with friends and great food enjoying the camaraderie of a family birthday celebration. But this particular party would quickly be overshadowed by the actions of one young man.

He wasn’t a murderer at the time, but a few days later Andres Avalos Jr. would murder his wife, a neighbor, and the pastor of a local church they attended.

He left his 6 children without a mother, 2 more wthout a father, a church without their pastor, friends without friends and family without family. And after confessing, he will probably spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Andres-Avalos-Jr-with tattoo

Image credit – Bradenton Herald – https://www.bradenton.com/2014/12/07/5517903_andres-avalos-jr-has-first-appearance.html?rh=1

At one point, he was trying to convince me that Mexican hip hop was better than American hip hop, but that argument was settled quickly as the crowd decided that the music coming from another friends phone was more worthy of being plugged into the small set of speakers that were sitting on the countertop in front of him.

He had a tattoo on his neck, coming up from underneath his shirt, something that looked like a cross with a name on it, but hey, lots of people have tattoos.

I never got a warm and fuzzy feeling while talking to Andres but I didn’t get a bad vibe from him either. He was just another guy in the room.

I could tell he was street savvy because of the way he talked and carried himself but I have a varied past myself so I try not to judge anyone based on first appearance.

Most of the nights conversations were centered around the home made Thai food that was being prepared in the kitchen and outside on the grill. It was delicious and there seemed to be so much love in the room.

I guess that’s what makes this all so hard to take in, what makes it all so difficult to comprehend. How can the same guy, who sat there talking to me about lettuce wraps and bad beer, be the same guy who just ripped the lives of three families to shreds?

I don’t know the guy other than the few hours we spent hanging out that night so I am not going to assume to know what was going through his head, but if you ask me it was not murder. Not that night, not in that moment.

So what causes a person to snap like that? What causes someone to gun down three people in cold blood? Could anyone else in that room have snapped like he did or was it his destiny to be a murderer? Was there something in the stars that said it was his time to go, or was this simply the hand of someone’s god?

Does that mean that I am capable of murder? Does this mean that we are all one missed step away from fatally falling apart?

How is it that we can seem so normal on the surface but be falling apart inside? Why are humans so good at hiding their pain? How come we wait until it’s too late before we let someone know that we are about to blow?

There have been no reports on a motive, but what motive can there be for a crime so heinous other than self hate? And if you have so much hate that you are willing to kill, then why not kill yourself instead? Why not end your own pain as opposed to spreading it like a plague by killing those you love?

I’m not one to advocate for suicide, but if it means saving the lives of innocent people, at the expense of assholes who can’t express anger, other than through the barrel of a gun, then I say go ahead and blow your fucking brains out.

Because no one’s life should ever be cut short by the actions of another man. That’s the one gift that no one should ever want to give. We have no ability to create life and should therefore think twice about taking it. Shit, you should think three, four, five or even more times about doing something so stupid. And once you think you’ve thought it through, then write about it and think about it some more. Tell a friend about it. Do something to get it out in the open and please, give someone a chance to stop you before it’s too late.

You might just learn to understand and love the dark parts of your soul. And you might just save someone’s life in the process. Maybe even your own!

By the way, this is a real story, and you can help support the families of those involved by clicking the link below and donating to their GoFundMe campaign.

 

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The Part of Me That I Won’t Let You See

A short audio poem that will surely move your soul.

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How I Drove Millions of Page Views & Got 10K+ Subscribers In One Year With $0 Ad Spend

The history of Raymmar.com and why I am uniquely qualified to help you grow your online presence.

 Executive Summary:

Let me save you some time here.

There is no secret to building a brand online.

  1. It takes time and a lot of great content.
  2. It takes a good story and a willingness to open up and make yourself and yes, your product vulnerable to the world.
  3. It means sharing the story of why you do the things you do as opposed to trying to trick people into helping you do them.

Once you break that barrier, you can begin to build trust with your audience and turn your online presence into a revenue generating machine that can help you spread your message across the world.

If you are interested in learning more about how to do just that, click here and let’s talk about how I can help you optimize and grow your online business.

It Begins

Raymmar.com started out as just a simple online portfolio…

I was just starting out as a marketing consultant and trying to build a name for myself online. I bought a cheap hosting plan on GoDaddy, installed WordPress and bought my first theme. I had no development skills, and zero dollars to spend on any of it, but I was going to take over the world.

The site was pretty gross. At the time I thought it looked good, but a few friends told me they wouldn’t come back until I changed how it looked.

I was bombing my Facebook feed with requests for people to “Like” my page and to “check out my new website”. That is, until a friend sent me an article from The Oatmeal about how to get more Facebook likes.

To make a long story short, the article said to quit begging friends for Facebook likes and start creating content that they would actually like.

I had been so focused on trying to get people to my website, that I forgot to give them a reason to come in the first place. There was no reason for them to stay when they got there or come back if they did decide to visit. And even the few people who came had little to see, and even less that was worth sharing.

I set out to find a better theme, and then learn as much about blogging, search engine optimization and inbound marketing as I could. I wanted to learn everything I could about how the internet worked and I still had quite a few things to learn about writing words that people would actually want to read.

Starting to tell a story

I started trying to express more of my personality online. I started playing around with online memes and Infographics. I began writing more in depth articles (like this one about email marketing) and tried to understand the best marketing practices by actually practicing them.

I started writing articles about the town I lived in and wrote a couple stories about the incubator I was working in at the time. I was testing my writing abilities and trying to find ways to use local events to boost views and engagement.

I started sharing stories about being a broke entrepreneur, and the emotional struggles of giving up everything you love to go chase a dream.

I started sharing part of my personal struggle but not in an attempt to gain sympathy or pity from my audience. I did it in an attempt to inspire them. To show that determination, hard work and the willingness to fail fast are things anyone can learn and use to accomplish their goals in life.

I was able to convert my story into something people cared about. Something someone looking to find a place online would do well to learn quickly. My audience finally had a reason to come back. Now they were rooting for me.

But how to get to that next level? How would I shake things up or separate myself from the millions of other online bloggers?

“I know, I’ll start making videos!”

Said the guy who had never shot, or edited a video in his life.

I was watching some Vsauce videos and decided that I could do something similar and started to produce videos about politics and life.

My first video did pretty well online and I was happy with the couple thousand views it got but I wasn’t prepared for what would happen when I released my next video.

I published the rant on a Friday afternoon. By midnight it had 5,000 views.

Friends immediately started messaging me, telling me that I was crazy. Even some of my fellow content creators told me I had just ruined my career. They said I was stupid to put something like that out to the world. That even though I made good points, I had also made a big mistake.

The next day that video did more than 80,000 views. That Sunday it did 221,505 page views and another 77,007 the day after that. Then Facebook shut down the link. This was the first, but not the last time, that Facebook throttled my content.

my-first-viral-moment-online-nigga-please

Nigga Please video stats from WordPress

 

Not only did they block the post, but since my commenting system was connected to Facebook at the time, I lost the ability for people to comment on the post as well as losing the 900+ comments that had already been made.

Although the video got blocked from Facebook, I still got a big viral bump from it and it helped me build an early subscriber base. I now had a small group of people to update with new posts, and I had an article that was giving me some credibility with Google.

Over the next few months I kept writing and made a few more videos. Nothing took off like that first video, but I wasn’t worried. I now understood that the path to building a strong online presence would be slow and steady. It would be about testing and trying, tweaking and breaking, constantly evolving until the site gets to the point where people can’t help but spend time interacting with it.

In my mind, the goal was to build a library of evergreen content. I was telling beautiful stories and stocking the digital shelves of my website with arrangements of words that people liked to read. Available to anyone, at any time. This is the real key. Sticking with it. Sure the viral posts help but those will come eventually if you just focus on telling great stories and putting your best work out to the world.

Over the next few months, I set out to refine the website and prepare it for the next traffic explosion. In the process I connected with a group of people that asked me to come out to CPAC with them and be their on-air personality on Radio Row

broadcasting on Radio Row

From left to right, Benjamin Doherty, Raymmar Tirado and Lisa Mei! Broadcasting live from Radio Row at CPAC 2014

Raymmar On-radio-row-2

Raymmar on set with David Webb on the SiriusXM set at CPAC

Keep in mind, I have no formal training as a journalist, reporter or anything that even resembles either of those things. What about my radio experience? That hadn’t happened yet so I was a total rookie! But what kind of blogger would turn down an opportunity for that kind of exposure on a national level?

While preparing to head out for CPAC, I wrote and published an article titled 7 Reasons You’ll Never Do Anything Amazing With Your Life. It was not until a couple of weeks later when I looked at my web stats and saw that I was getting a thousand views a day, two thousand, three thousand and then one day 26,000 page views. Turns out that the article was going viral on Medium.

Million Views on medium

7 reasons article going viral on Medium

That month (February 2014) we did 1 million views on Medium alone and another 1.5 million in the following four months. We still do 20-50K views a month on Medium and while that traffic might not be directly tracked on my site, the hundreds of thousands of people who did come to my site from Medium were already highly engaged with my work. This means they subscribe at a much higher rate which is definitely one of the perks of being a top publisher on Medium.

Medium-stats-stayed-consostent-for-a-while

The traffic from Medium fluctuated dramatically for the next few months

There have been other articles that performed well online. Namely this one, and this one. The exposure I got from these articles lead to being asked to become a contributor at the Huffington PostElite Daily, and a number of other notable online publications. All of which have gone a long way towards helping me gain credibility as a writer, but for me, the focus has always been on turning my website into the center of operations. The rest of these things are just part of the distribution mechanism but any aspiring web mogul would do well to make sure their website is the hub for all of their online interactions.

All of this exposure was giving the site a boost in search rankings which is one of the things that young blogs can struggle with. This past July, the website was showing up in Google search results hundreds of thousands of times per day. It seemed that we were not only gaining credibility with readers but with the search engines as well. And remember, this is all organic. There is no paid advertising behind any of this growth at all.

Webmaster-stats-raymmar

Showing up in Google search results millions of times,

All in all, over the last year (not including the Medium traffic) we did just under a million views on my personal website and gained more than 10,000 email subscribers. Sure the web traffic is still erratic and I am sure it will continue to be that way as it grows, but I drive regular engagement, have a steady base of repeat visitors and am regularly getting leads from all around the internet. All of which has allowed me to work from home and be my own boss.

Year-over-year-stats-2

Raymmar.com, year over year web growth by page view.

Making a confession

I do not have magical marketing powers or any secret tricks to teach you about how to be a better blogger. I can only tell you that the moment I started sharing bits of my personal story with the world is the moment that the world started actually listening.

There is so much noise online and so many people are always trying to sell you something, that most people enjoy it when someone is honest and open with them. They appreciate it when you share your goals and struggles with them, and I think that businesses can learn a lesson from all of this as well.

I think that businesses can learn a little something about lowering their shields, and letting their customers see the people that actually make them a great company.

Tell me the story of the immigrant CEO or the mom who created the product to help her kids. Tell me why you make the product, not why you think I should buy it. Let’s start making better products so that we can restore some level of faith in a sales process that has become completely perverted over time.

These last few years have been an interesting journey. They have taught me how to be a one man media mogul and showed me how to broadcast my message to the world. My web presence is now bigger than most of the media companies in my local market and I will continue to hone these skills until I pass each of them up alltogether. I will continue to publish high quality content and keep helping creative entrepreneurs and small businesses do the same thing along the way.

So if you have a business, product, or website that you are looking to build an online presence for, then I’d love to hear from you. Whether we do business or not, I love to connect with other people who are doing cool things online.

Anyway. Hopefully you have enjoyed this story and maybe you’ll even come back for another one sometime soon.


Subscribe-raymmar-cta

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The Power of Words

Sticks and stones my ass. Words hurt like hell and they have the power to destroy. They can control you, drive you, push and pull you. Words are all things and words are nothing. Everything is a word, and according to Urban Dictionary, so is this but…

What exactly is a word?

If you Google the word “word,” you get this:

noun – 1. a single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing, used with others (or sometimes alone) to form a sentence and typically shown with a space on either side when written or printed.

And if you dig a little deeper, (all the way down to the next result) you find this definition:

: a sound or combination of sounds that has a meaning and is spoken or written

or

: a brief remark or conversation : something that a person says

Getting closer but words are stronger than that

Words are the foundation of everything we do; of everything we are. They are the mechanism by which you are currently reading my thoughts, and they are the core components of communication in any real sense.

There is no other way to describe in detail, the events of any particular moment in time, without diving into the words of some other individuals reality. And even if you could, how would you describe it without words?

Sure there are pictures and video, but the world captured inside of them must also rely upon words.

Words are the purpose of art.

Art is the visual expression of the words inside of an artists head. The visual representation of emotion. Interpretations designed to spark thought. Thoughts that can drive words from your mind to your mouth. From pen to paper.

A writer must paint with no brush and shoot video with no camera. They must reach through the eyes of a reader using these silly arrangements of letters that we call words, and those words must appeal to intellect, as well as emotion. They must move the audience with substance, not simply with style.

Words are pictures that develop right in front of the readers eyes. A painting that is perpetually being painted. A writers canvas is the reader’s brain and his medium is the combined thoughts and ideas of each individual reader themselves. Impossible to be completely understood unless the message is received in context and in its entirety.

Writing is a form of art where each observer is required to participate actively in order for its true impact to be felt. The reader must give in and allow the author access to their brain. Leaving them completely exposed, if only briefly, to the mind of another man.

Words are the DNA of language. They are the root of commerce, the basis for human interaction, and most definitely the ruler of every religion.

Put words in an old enough book and they become history. A snapshot from another world, a moment captured in time and displayed for anyone to explore.

Words are the ultimate level playing field.

Words allow you to travel through time, and are entrusted with recording history. They are the sum knowledge of our entire species, and are a requisite to educate and inform societies. It is the responsibility of words to fill the pages on the scripts of life.

Words, or the lack thereof, are the root of every battle between good and evil.

Those who can use words to captivate audiences and project their visions clearly are the ones that get to shape the futures of the world we live in.

They are the visionaries and the entrepreneurs, the psychologists and the sociologists. Words are the engineers and architects, the designers and the developers, the you’s and the me’s. Words are everything and we should all have them as friends.

You should learn to play with them regularly. Because the more time you spend with words, the more power those words will give you in return.

You should learn to respect and revere them. Listen, read, and hear them. You should find a way to explore new things because each new experience leads to new words, which then become stories, that then become you.

But what do I know, after all, these are only words.

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Understanding Power: Why Being Stupid Is In Style

A harsh look at the ignorance that affects our society as a whole, and an explanation for why the powerful have no problem keeping you in the dark.

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum….”

― Noam Chomsky, The Common Good ―

We are all susceptible to the influence and power of others. We also crave to have it for ourselves.

We watch those who do, and all we do is hate. If we can’t have it, then neither should they. We are no longer taught to understand the power of the people so we forget what if feels like to have any power at all. Over time we start to believe that we have little or no power at all.

As a society, we have outsourced our intellect to a large group of social, political and financial oligarchs. We have given way to a new type of tyranny. Digital tyranny. A version that hides in plain sight and secretly wishes to take control of everything, including your behaviors.

We see some story on Twitter and take it at face value. We hear the satirical perspective from a social celebrity and let it shape our opinions and ideology, but rarely think to explore the topic deeper. We never read proposed legislation before it’s passed. Instead, we rely on those who wrote it to tell us how great this next new law is going to be. Instead we find ourselves fighting about left vs right, while both are nothing but wrong.

Most of us don’t know how governments are created, how they work, or how they are destroyed. Why then, would we notice that our own government is falling apart right in front of us? We pay little attention to other countries who are facing or have faced the same perils we face, so why would we pay any attention when it happens here at home?

It’s not that you are all stupid

After all, I have no Idea how smart any of you actually are. For all I know you are a 4.0 grade-getting, chess-club-running, pocket-protector-wearing, three-degree-having, bad motherfucker who knows a lot about something.

I’m just saying that in spite of all the things you know, you still have no clue as to what any of it actually means. And by any of “it,” I mean life in general.

Sure, you graduated high school, maybe went to college, got a job, got married, bought a house, had a kid, etc. But the question I want you to ask yourself is this; what do you really know about any of it? What is your purpose in life? Other than to exist that is?

“Men are more easily governed through their vices than through their virtues.”

― Napoleon ―

We’ve been trained to be idiots

You can use the word interchangeably if you’d like. Slaves, surfs, peasants, proletariat, or whatever popular label you’d like to put on the purposely oppressed people that have populated this planet over the years.

The powers that be have always controlled the people through the flow of information and we are all to happy to accept their projections as our realities. We are happy to have a place to lay our heads and we take for granted the responsibility of what it means to live in a free country.

So many people walk around thinking they know something about anything, but in reality, all they know are the things they think the know. And really, what kind of benchmark is that for understanding anything in life?

What would the world be like if all that we needed to do to flourish and to understand it was to sit around and watch? At what point are you going to admit to yourself that in order to accomplish anything, you have to go out and do something? You must learn to experience and influence the people and the world around you in order to truly elevate your intellect?

That’s the way the world works. Someone has an idea, then they do something about it and in the process of building, refining and distributing that idea, they convert it into a reality. Often creating something from nothing.

The problem is that inside of that growth comes power and with that power comes perversion.

As we begin to create and manipulate the methods of information distribution (governments, religions, businesses), power shifts to the individuals who control and manipulate the flow of that information. Often embracing the structure and benefit of power but repressing you, or anyone else from finding it for themselves. This is the problem that has lead us to where we are.

“If you are not open to the idea that everything you know might be wrong, then you are likely to be wrong about most things.”

― Raymmar Tirado ―

Think about the power that entities like Google, Facebook or the NSA have amassed recently.  All of the things we fear most about any of them are the invasions of our privacy as they manipulate the flow of our personal information.

We are seeing larger and larger power structures spring up around the flow of this precious information. As if information were becoming the ultimate and final currency. One that gives the bearer the power to control entire civilizations, regardless of their country of origin.

The first groups of man did it through grunts and chest-thumps, cave drawings, swords and story telling. Then came written languages and and eventually books. Now we have radio, television and the internet. All results of technological innovation. All brilliant in their own right, but all easily manipulated for power. All easily used to exert control over the narratives that then become the societies we live in.

Every time humanity meets a new invention that allows for the mass distribution of information we see these fluctuations in social behavior. We see new influencers emerge and old pockets of power fade. Superpowers are born, then they die or adapt to fit in with the new technology of the time.

Publishing houses, media companies, news organizations, revolutions, wars, and even new governments, all born from the desire of one man (or a group of men) to control another. The advantage always siding with whoever has the best information at the time of battle.

Winners write the history books…

So who is writing the books that are putting the thoughts inside of your head? Where did you get your understanding of life? What experiences have made you, you?

Did you get your information from the same place as everyone else or have you gone out to find it for yourself? Did you ever stop to wonder why some things stay the same while others are constantly evolving? Is it because stillness is the natural state of the universe or is it because man has intended those things to remain stagnant.

It seems to me that the universe and nature itself is always changing and evolving, always adapting to the most efficient version of itself. Why then, have we as a society stalled when it seems we should have everything we’ve ever needed to solve all of the problems we’ve ever had?

Why does it seem like humanity is sliding backwards?

Why does it feel like we are regressing as an entire species? Why can’t we make meaningful change, and how come there seems to be less-and-less on which to rest our hopes on as more-and-more changes take place around us?

How is it possible that we are still letting the same flaws that have hindered humanity since the beginning of time slow us down when everything around us seems to be speeding up?

Is it really so hard to believe that the people who would want to control you would also rather you remain ignorant. They prefer you that way. It makes the process of keeping you under their control easier. This is what we must resist.

This is the unrest we are starting to see all around us. We are watching as the established powers, fight to defend their existing control over the flow of information, while new methods of distribution pop up faster than they can be shut down.

You are seeing information fight to be free but these fights always end in ferocious battles. Sometimes in the courts but often in cold blood. And every once in a while, in grand scale with a global war.

Their power will be protected at all costs and we must no longer be willing to accept that as our reality. We must wage this war of ideas now in order to stop the oppressive war that waits for us at the end of inaction.

In what America was just-good ever good-enough?

In order to drive any meaningful change you must be willing to go hungry, to be bored. You must be willing to be uncomfortable, to do what is difficult and refuse what is easy.

It’s hard to let your intellect evolve. It’s hard to admit to yourself that you have been wrong about the things that have felt so right your entire life.

It’s almost impossible to make those changes alone. So for most of us things will stay the same, that is to say, until they’re not.

One of these days the changes will affect you. They will finally make an impact in your life and your reality as you know it will be revealed as ridiculous. You will be left running and screaming for help as if the sky were just starting to fall. But in that moment you will know that it is already too late.

In that moment you will know that your ignorance has finally failed you.

What do you think about ignorance and power? Let me know in the comments below.

Eric Liu: Why ordinary people need to understand power

A friend sent me this video as I was editing this article and it goes right along with my greater point so I thought I would share.


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Robin Williams Dead: Why I Don’t Care And Neither Should You

Beloved actor Robin Williams was found dead on Monday, police reported. He was 63. The apparent cause of death was suicide by asphyxiation Read more

So now you know, but should you care?

I did not know Robin Williams and I would venture to guess that many of you didn’t either. Not outside of his movies that is.

I did enjoy his work and he had a major impact on the entertainment industry to be sure but what difference did he make in your life for you to run around crying like you care for any reason other than a few more likes on your Facebook wall?

Of course his family and friends should mourn his loss. And honestly, if you want to light a candle or say a prayer for him and his family then by all means, go ahead. I just think that the attention we spend as a society focusing on issues like this are symptoms of a larger problem that we face as a people.

The questions you should be asking.

When will we start paying attention to what matters?

When will we stop glorifying the people who’s jobs it is to entertain us, while ignoring the major facts that underlie these viral explosions of grief. When have you cared about the fact that tens of thousands of people commit suicide each year or that depression affects more than just celebrities?

When will we stop ignoring the fact that entertainment and most media for that matter is designed to distract us from the bigger picture. That we have allowed pop-culture to fracture our society by enthralling us with stories about one or two individuals that we have never met as opposed to connecting with the people in our lives that really matter.

How many of you are reading this story while sitting next to someone who you call a friend? What if they died tomorrow? How would you feel about having spent this final moment with them on your phone as opposed to getting to know a little more about them?

When was the last time you spilled a tear for the death of a soldier?  A teacher or policeman? Aren’t those the political heart strings that are usually pulled in situations where the media is trying to make a point?

How many news organizations are flooding their front pages with this “breaking news” while burying the information about our pending economic collapse somewhere below the fold; in section E 12.

What does it say about us as a people that we are more interested in the death of a comedic celebrity than the death of a US Army General, a Death and Cover up of a US Ambassador, an IRS that is arbitrarily spying on its citizens or any other number of stories that might have you thinking you were reading a political fiction novel.

I do not mean to be insensitive, but give me a freaking break. My heart goes out to people who have had to or are dealing with any death, especially suicide. Having been close to the edge myself I know the thoughts that must be running through most peoples heads right now but please take a step back and think about why you really care.

If you can tell me that it is because you really loved him and it is breaking your heart then by all means, enjoy your grief. This is after all, still (for now) America.

I just think that most people are using this as an opportunity to suck up another moment in social media glory and to drive page views. Heck, that’s the only reason I am writing this article at 3:00 am instead of working on my book or sleeping, which is what I should be doing.

In closing

If I had my way, no one would care whether Rhianna and whoever she is currently sleeping with break up, or whether another comedian dies today or even tomorrow. Not in the grand scheme of things that is.

Maybe that makes me callous and cruel. Maybe that means that I will have a lonely funeral, but I think we should be spending our time and media resources caring about the health of our country because it is also dying.

We should be worried that our entire society is on life support.

We should care that we are completely incapable as an entire country of giving a shit about anything that doesn’t come with sparkles, sex or sporting equipment.

So, I will gladly pour one out for my fellow depression sufferers, but I will not sulk over this celebrities passing in any context other than that. And honestly, neither should you.

Did I get it wrong? Leave your comments below.

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Has Your Entire Life Been A Lie?

“We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter.”

Denis Diderot

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Why do we walk around pretending like the whole world is telling us the truth when most of the time, we won’t even tell ourselves the truth.

We accept lies every day. From the world, from the government, from the media, from our friends, from our family and mostly, from ourselves.

We tell ourselves that we will get-to-it-tomorrow, or maybe we’ll send that email later, let me just mark it as un-read real quick.

We have all heard the excuses, “This is the last cigarette. I promise…” or “I haven’t had that many drinks, I’m good to drive.”

The truth is that we lie to ourselves every day. Shit, many of our memories are lies. Our brains are notoriously inefficient at creating accurate records of our life experiences. Sometimes we just fill in the blanks for ourselves.

Over time our imagination can even shift our reality. We start interjecting our own opinions and begin to mold our own memories while re-writing the past. Eventually our new version becomes the truth.

We lie to ourselves about past lovers and romanticize the experiences. We dwell on that someone we just broke up with, someone we couldn’t live with, yet somehow, can’t seem to let go.

We know it’s over. It probably should have been over a long time ago but we can’t bring ourselves to pull away. We live the lie of love, and love to live the lie.

We use lies to protect us from ourselves and to soften the blows from reality. We allow lies to excuse our behaviors. “Just this once…” because, “You know me, I never really do things like this!”

I’m not saying it’s right to lie, and I’m not saying it’s necessarily always wrong, I’m simply saying that it is. It’s hard wired into each of our brains and it is something we all do. No matter how much you want to pretend not to.

We don’t need to be taught how to lie, we just do it. We’ve known how to lie ever since the fist time we fucked up. From the first moment your mom looked at you with that face. The face that till this very day means only one thing. Brace for impact!

“I don’t know what happened…” or “it was the dog! I swear! Cross my fingers hope to die, stick a needle through my eye!”

Anything to deflect the truth. Anything to save face. But at the end of the day, we know what is right and what is wrong.

We all know what we should have done or how we should have done it. More likely than not we even knew how we should have done it, while we were doing it, but we still made the wrong decision.

Sometimes we even pretend to know what is best for our friends while we can’t even figure out what is right for ourselves. Something called the “Solomon Paradox” Instead of pushing ourselves to be the best, we’ve become ok with just “fitting in” with the rest.

We then shower praise upon the people who live inside of the very screens that stream the majority of these lies directly into our lines-of-sight. The actors and athletes, the affluent and the elites.

Forget working hard, just become famous. That’s what the cool kids are doing. Just do something silly, have sex in the street. Sell your soul to the devil and maybe you can get a spot on the next hot reality show.

We set our eyes on the spoils of those who have and instantly think of ourselves as the have-nots. We accept the lie of a level playing field and then lie to ourselves about why we can’t succeed on it.

We deserve our share after all! We want what they have and we would have it if only things were a little different. If only life wasn’t so hard and the world wasn’t out to get us! Poor, poor us. Whatever will we do.

Life is made up of these little lies. Things that you get to discover as you go. We love lies, fairy tales and falsehoods. We all pass them on, like a bad plague, from generation to generation.

We allow ourselves to be shackled by lies. Controlled by the system in which we live. For god’s sake, our entire monetary system is a complete lie. Digital ledgers of ones and zeros that for some reason we continue to believe in.

We lie to ourselves about why we can’t get a new job or why we can’t lose those last few pounds. Why we don’t have enough time to get it all done, or… wait, what was I saying? Hang on a sec, while I have some more fun.

The problem with lies is that they become complicated. One day you look back and you’ve wasted your youth, all of a sudden you don’t know which part of your life is a lie and which part is truth.

The world was flat, and then it wasn’t.

The sun revolved around the earth, and then it didn’t.

We knew each of those things to be true for hundreds of years before they were commonly accepted as fact, yet at the time, many still believed otherwise.

Like many before us, we have allowed lies to tear through our entire society like rust. Slowly eating through all of the structural components and now, finally out onto the surface. Leaving the entire structure weak and ready for collapse.

The truth is that our whole lives have been lies, and we are supposed to remain stupid. We have been played and will continue to be played until we decide to create the change we seek. Pawns in this game called life.

And sometimes those distortions lead to something good. Because well intentioned shifts in thought based on deeper understandings and new information, can often lead to great innovation; but sometimes it get’s out of control.

Sometimes that distorted reality can bring down an entire society.

Sometimes that house of cards collapses and brings everyone else crashing down with it. And you’d be believing another lie if you thought it was not happening again. Right now, and all around you.

And that right there, is nothing but the cold hard truth.

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