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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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Am I Analog Dating in A Digital World?

How to date when you cant relate. An open exploration of our current dating paradigm.

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The Game We All Pretend Not To Play

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

Image credit

You walk by and see a glimmer of your reflection on the side of a building You still look good. But who’s keeping score?

You are, that’s who. That’s right, I know you are. We all do. We all judge one another based on first impressions or superficialities. We all walk around with this idea of who each of us is supposed to be, but so often, we don’t even know ourselves.

Looking when we can, fighting for a glimpse of the person we think we could become. Hoping that the world will one day see us as who we might be, not as who we actually are. Hoping that they will believe the person we pretend to be.

But then the facade cracks.

The cloak of cowardice that you have been hiding under will be lifted to expose the real you. But the real you is not strong. The real you has not thought that far ahead. The real you has been too busy pretending to prepare.

Pretending not to be flawed. Presenting perfection to the public in order to bask in the glory of popularity. Hiding under your make up and materialism. Hiding the emptiness that has consumed your existence.

But this game will end. And when it does you will know true loneliness, because your entire existence has been built on the pretense of prosperity. Because you have not learned how to handle the hurt. You have just learned how to hide from it.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with a friend. It’s the best compliment you could ever give me.

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

 

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A Brief History of Me!

A brief autobiography. Because everybody should have one!

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.

Overview: It occurred to me that everyone should have some sort of autobiography. It might be important in helping you organize your thoughts, tell your story, or just to write some part of you down for your future self to read. That being said, for today’s challenge, I present you with…

A Brief History Of Me

My parents moved to Columbus Ohio from Puerto Rico a few months before I was born. I guess you could say I was a journey man from day one. I grew up and lived a modest life on the north side of Columbus, Ohio graduating from Northland High School.

After High School I enrolled in the industrial design program at College for Creative Studies in Detroit Michigan with the desire to become a car designer. After a year in the program, unsure if I would be able to afford the next 4 years or be able to sit in a room and draw all day for the rest of my life, I decided to leave school and moved back to Columbus to “figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up”.

Shortly thereafter (March 2004) my mom and I went to visit my dad who had just moved to Manatee County Florida as the county surveyor. I saw an ad guaranteeing $36,000 a year to sell cars and figured “Why the hell not?”. I delayed my flight a few days so that I could take their sales training classes and flew back to Columbus the following Saturday. I packed all my stuff into the back seat of my 1999 Hyundai Tiburon, worked my last day as a lifeguard, had one final hurrah with all my friends before hitting the road back to Florida the next day. In one week I had gone from vacationing in Florida to living in Florida and shortly thereafter, my love for sales was born.

I was recruited from the car dealership to a local insurance agency to sell commercial property and casualty insurance. Things were going really well for me until one day they weren’t (I am skipping a few details here, but that’s 3rd date material). I ended up moving back to Columbus in November of 2009. Floundering around for a while, working misc jobs here and there, pretending to be a consultant, working at the swimming pool as a lifeguard again and I even managed a kitchen, all while trying to get back on my feet after my fall from grace.

Struggling to find a direction in life I felt lost, alone and worthless. I never gave up hope and I always knew I was put on this earth to do something amazing. I moved back to Florida in March of 2012 to chase my dream with reckless abandon. I figured if I was going to struggle and flail around in life, I would at least do it for myself. More than a year later I am doing well, building a reputation in the community as a thought leader in the world of sales and marketing, inspiring people through creativity and free thinking and I am now testing the waters with a few of my own ventures.

I have a variety of talents spread across a number of disciplines. I am an artist at heart, but I am also a skilled graphic designer, writer, web designer, user interface designer, I shoot and edit video in my free time, handle SEO, blogging, social media, write a couple thousand words a week and so much more. I am the modern day renaissance man with a passion for learning and everything creative. My quest for world domination is really a shill for me to learn and explore as much of the world around me as possible without having to do it under the constraints of someone else’s corporate philosophy.

I firmly believe that I have struggled in life as preparation for what is yet to come and am looking forward to the next chapter in my life. This website is my voice to the world. A place for me to speak my mind, stir conversation and show off my creative talents. Stick around for a while, bookmark the site and feel free to keep in touch as I claw my way from nothing to the top of the world!

 

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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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I Saw Myself In Another Man And Hated What I Saw

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.

Today I saw myself in another man and hated what I saw

I was in an argument that had absolutely no purpose. An argument, simply for the sake of arguing. Picking sides in a battle because I had to be right, but by the time I noticed, it was already too late.

I was too stubborn to step back and too determined to prove to myself that I was right. Because, well… I was right.

But so was he. Kind of.

And so there we sat. Both right, yelling at each other for no real reason, and then I saw it.

I saw myself.

Looking at this man I saw myself arguing with so many others over the course of my life. Defending my position because I was already emotionally committed to the argument.

Unwilling to humble myself because my macho man mechanism was in full force.

I hated that moment. It made me realize how it must feel to sit on the other side of a stubborn mule like myself. I found myself in the middle of the same argument that I must have had a hundred times before. Almost always as the immovable rock.

So as hard as it is for me to do, I tried to humble myself. I tried to take a step back but I couldn’t fully disengage. I still had enough of the old me left in the tank to try and show him how much like me he was actually being. But it was of no use.

He had no interest in having himself tell himself how much like himself he was acting.

And it was in that very moment that I grew. As if I had hit a psychological growth spurt. As I sat there dumbfounded, caught in this real life freeze-frame of a time, not long ago, when I was the one who was arguing recklessly. Oblivious to the futility of it all.

It was in that moment that I realized how childish I have been all along and quite often still am. It was in that moment that I realized there was no sense in being right if all it meant was feeling wrong.

And so it ended. Another tough lesson in this game we call life, but one we would all be well served to learn. Maybe next time, I’ll see myself in a man and like what I see. And maybe I’ll learn how to be more like him. Maybe I’ll learn to swallow my pride and take a step back. Or maybe, I’ll just do it all over again, like I have before.

After all, do any of us ever really change?

Are you a writer? Ever have a desire to write? Click the button below to learn more about my 30 day creative writing challenge and learn how you can empower yourself through your words and the words of others.

 

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Invisible. Clearly.

A short poem about self doubt and the process of being consumed by the unhealthy thoughts that often creep into our heads. Day 4 #30DOT

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Today I’m Calling Out All of My Friends

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

Hello friends!

No, not you internet friends. This is not about you. I’m not trying to be rude, but this is my 30 day challenge and I’ll make you cry if I want to.

But seriously…

This post is specifically intended for my real world friends.

These words are for the people I hang out with on a regular basis. The people I eat with, drink with, and sometimes make bad decisions with. The people who know me outside of these short bursts of words that I regularly post online.

Mainly, I want to tell you that I love you.

But keep reading. For real though. Or I’ll cut you!

I know I can be a dick, and sometimes you probably just want to smack me upside the head. But I’m glad you don’t. Otherwise I’d probably have to walk around with a helmet on.

To the girls: Sorry if you catch me sneaking a peek! I’m a guy, and you’re hot. Maybe next time don’t let it all hang out. Wait, what am I talking about? Ignore that last line.

To the guys: Sorry I’m smarter and funnier than you. I have a few extra pounds to make up for and really, it wouldn’t be fair if I was this awesome and in great shape.

Shit, there I go being an ass again. See, I can’t seem to help myself. I really do love all of my friends though, like a vegan loves vegetables. Like a prostitute loves penicillin. Like Asians love rice!

But does any of this even matter? I know a few of you read my blogs because you tell me now and again, but what about the rest of you? I could probably say whatever I wanted at this point and most of you would never know it.

It’s not like I expect you to read every article but hell, I write a shit ton. And the whole world seems to be watching, yet it often feels as though none of you care. We are friends right? Why don’t we talk more about what we can do for each other. How we can help each other get to where we are going?

So enough bitching, here is what I want you to do!

I want you to share something with me. It doesn’t have to be personal, and you don’t have to do it publicly. It doesn’t mean you need to sign up for my writing challenge (but you could subscribe to my email list), I just want you to connect with me at a deeper level.

I know we can’t always talk on the phone or get together face to face but we can at least take the time to share a few written thoughts with one another. At the very least we can take a second to say something meaningful to the people that matter in our lives. And that’s what this post is all about. To let you know how much I care.

To ask you to give me a part of you to hold and call my own. Let me know where you stand, so that I can come stand right beside you! I’m inviting you to share your dreams with me, and tell me how I can help you reach them. Tell me your biggest fears so that if they come up we can face them together. Tell me I suck so that I can get better, and please don’t get mad if I do the same.

Let’s make a deal to stay away from the drama. Let’s make a deal to always be real. Let’s make a deal to not be scared to tell each other how we feel. Because anything less than that would mean we aren’t really friends. And you just read this whole post so that seems pretty unlikely!

So keep on being you. Because you’re fucking awesome. Otherwise we wouldn’t be friends. So… there.

Anyway, I love you guys!

Now share the shit out of this post so I can get on Oprah in a couple months when it’s time to start selling my book! K-Bye now!

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Today I Am Doing Something Different

Click here to learn more about my 30 Days of Thought Challenge

We have all heard Einsteins definition of insanity (or was it a Chinese proverb?) as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. It is something that people throw out via meme, tweet, t-shirt, bumper sticker etc. yet, almost every one of us continues to do the same thing day after day. We are after all, creatures of habit. And I am not the exception.

I like to talk shit about how the world works and bloviate about politics and philosophy, but I rarely take the time to look at myself. Sure I beat myself up here and there, but I rarely talk in depth about my real flaws or focus on the fact that I am often part of the problem, not of the solution.

Give me a website that is not converting and I can show you how to drive traffic, build engagement and increase conversions. It’s like optimizing digital products comes naturally to me, but ask me to fix myself and the blinders come on. My ego throws up a wall that stops me from objectively looking at what is really wrong. I raise the barriers and start to defend my behaviors. I get frustrated and of course, nothing changes. Then, like clockwork, I begin to hate myself for being so stubborn.

But today I am trying something different. Today is the first of my 30 Days of Thought Challenge, and I have decided to do something completely different today than I have done every day for the last 5+ years of my life. Starting with this post and the admission that I need to change myself before I can ask or guide others to change themselves.

That being said, not only am I starting a writing challenge, but I will also be working to change a few of my bad behaviors over the next 29 days as well. For instance, today I set and alarm for the first time in years, I woke up early and I even thought about eating a healthy lunch. See, who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? But those are all surface issues and this is where I hit my first real barrier.

You see, I have been struggling with a few issues that I am not sure I’m ready to share just yet, but I have a sneaky suspicion that they may all come out during the course of this challenge. I intend to purge my mind, body and spirit over the next 30 days and I’m going to do it right here on this blog. So I hope you’ll join me because I am going to need your support in sticking with this thing.

If you do decide to join me on this quest, thenfeel free to share your 30 Days of Thought with me as we go along. Feel free to use the same format, and then share your thoughts in the comments of each article or send them via email to 30DOT@raymmar.com

You can also share with us on social media by tweeting @RayTirado and using the #30DOT in your posts!

That is all for today. See you fuckers tomorrow.

Just a note:

Most of my blog articles are super long and heady. This challenge is not about posting long, well articulated arguments about how the world works. This experiment is about sticking to a new set of behaviors over the next 30 days in order to try and change some of my stubborn habits. That being said, these posts may be all over the place. Think of them as unedited journal entires. There may be some typos here and there and sometimes they might be short, sometimes they might be super long. At the end of the day, I am just challenging myself to stick with it for 30 days and then look back from there.

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30 Days of Thought – A Creative Writing Challenge

I challenge you to join me in organizing your thoughts and connecting with the real you. #30DOT

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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 Nigga Please, 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 the racism 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.


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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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Why Medium Might Have Messed Up Big Time

Trying to understand Medium’s recent reshuffle and breaking down what I think are 2 major mistakes.

Disclaimer: I am writing this story with a conflicted conscience.

You see, I’m the same guy who wrote this  — “7 Reasons Why You’ll Never Do Anything Amazing With Your Life.” An article that went viral on Medium.

It has more than 2.3 million views and been shared all over the world. It landed me access as a contributor to the Huffington post, Elite Daily, a CBS radio interview, and exposure on a number of other national publications.

The article hit #5 on the Medium top 100 list in March, #1 in April and #9 in May . It still gets thousands of reads each day, on Medium, as well as my personal website.

What I am trying to say is that my work on Medium has brought me national attention as a writer, I am a top contributor and a huge fan. Let’s not get carried away though, Medium did not write the article, I did.

I’m not listing these things to brag about my accomplishments, only to say that I think the recent changes to collections and article submissions on Medium were major mistakes.

Let me explain…

Up until these recent changes, Medium had done a great job of democratizing the creation and consumption of written online content.

Before the changes, Medium was a platform that allowed the content creator to stand solely on the credibility of their contributions. Something I admired and appreciated, especially considering I’m a budding blogger myself.

I loved the thought of a publishing platform where a person’s social standing was not a prerequisite for success. I was instantly addicted to the simplicity of the platform. I honestly saw it as a great “medium” by which to build my online influence and stand out online.

Medium’s publishing platform provided a solution that so many online authors are desperately seeking. In a world flooded with crappy online content, it was a place where words were king; a place where the sway of social swagger was secondary to actual substance.

Medium was a bloggers-blog! A place where content was curated and sorted in collections of categories as well as segmented by the individual creator. A duality of content categorization that is not presented in any other new-media model.

Medium was not just another stepson social network, wanna-be. This was the real deal. They had taken the best parts about blogging (the stories) and made them the centerpiece of their business model.

They stripped down all of the unnecessary elements, made it easy to use and then, they made it beautiful. On every device. No ads. No crap. Just content. Great content at that. It was on its way to becoming the holy grail of internet existence.

They were getting it all, so very, right…

But then they went and changed everything

They changed the way people contribute to collections and reconsidered the way collections work as a whole. They must have thought that their new solution would be better than before but this is where I think they made their first major mistake.

In my eyes, and the eyes of many others, these recent changes are a dramatic deviation from everything that made Medium so great in the first place.

I know no one asked me, and Medium is a free platform, so what right do I have to openly criticize it, but hey, I thought they needed to know that many of us, think they messed up. Even though I do still think they got most of it right.

You can read Medium’s explanation for making the changes here but I wasn’t sold. That being said, here are the two biggest mistakes and why they could have a big impact on Medium’s future as a publishing platform. 

Mistake #1

Removing the ability for articles to be included inside of multiple collections

Medium presented a unique value proposition to consumers of content as well as the creators. They provided something that was not available on any other social platform before it.

Readers could come and collect their favorite articles and present them in the form of a curated collection.

Other readers could then follow a collection based on its particular topic of interest or philosophy. Additionally, authors would submit their work to the collection’s curator for approval.

In my eyes, the ability to have an article in multiple collections was essential to Mediums ability to entice people to participate, not only as content creators but as curators of the individual collections.

Their model not only drew in the best writers online, but it also drew in the best readers along the way.

It allowed people who wanted to moderate a collection the ability to do so without necessarily having to write in it regularly. It also allowed writers to shop their words to different collections based on the relevancy of each article and the focus of any particular collection.

Some people just want to write & some people just want to read. Pretty simple really.

Limiting the ability for an article to appear in multiple collections is like telling a blogger that they cannot syndicate a post or contribute their content to another website.

It is a selfish social mechanism of content control that hurts the authors ability to share their work. It also limits the readers ability to consume the content from a source other than the author themselves or an affiliated collection.

Think about it like this. 

What if Facebook said you could not share an interesting post. What if instead they told you that the only place you could go to see that particular post was on the person’s profile page or on whatever business page they originally made the post. Odds are that people wouldn’t find your post, not as often at least, because it is only available in one location online.

Why wouldn’t you want the article to appear in multiple collections (think feed here)? Medium is essentially limiting the social sharability of each post by restricting where it will appear for users that are not already associated or connected to that post author or collection.

It’s either that, or collection owners now have to actively collect authors and somehow entice them to contribute to their collection.

Either way, it adds a hurdle to the submission process and removes part of the original social structure that made Medium so unique.

The new system might be working, but personally, I know I have been publishing my articles inside of my own collection. I even took my most popular posts away from other collections when I found out about these changes. I wanted to make sure that my top performing posts were pointing traffic back to my own collection. Something I am sure many others have done since the changes went live.

It used to be, that after I finished an article, I would go submit it to relevant collections. I would submit my article for review and the collection curator would either approve or reject it. It was a logical process and forced the author to seek out relevant audiences for their newly created content while not placing the requirement of being a regular contributor or even being connected as an author to that collection.

It allowed for a diversity of content inside of each collection that became a big part of what made Medium cool, or so I thought.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the thought of having multiple authors inside of a single collection, and the collaborative features that they have added are great, but why not let people submit either articles or themselves from the front end of each collection?

Read more about the submission process in Mistake #2 below

With these recent changes, Medium expects new authors to reach out and find a place inside of an existing collection in order to contribute any content to it.

It turned a system that was beautifully democratic and turned it into a system of clique based collections that are closed off to the average creator. It’s like content communism.

I can understand their desire to experiment with the social structure of their new online audience, but some of that social exploration was already happening organically. There was already a neat dynamic forming between the creators and curators and that dynamic social element was just plucked from the entire equation.

The question then becomes, “What long term effect does the removal of that social variable become to the progress of Medium as a whole?”

The new search for social collaboration is definitely something that an avid writer might set out to master but what about the average user?

What is a new user going to do when they find out that the only place they can publish on arrival is inside of a new collection? One that they must also build a readership for on their own. A problem they are probably already facing on their personal website.

At least if you (the author) build an audience on your website, you become the sole beneficiary of the audience you create. With the shift in recent strategy, Medium actually undercut the value they were providing you as the individual creator. Again, their product, their prerogative, but I really think they gave up on a huge value proposition here.

The ability to easily have your content shared among many different collections, was a huge differentiator from other blogging platforms. It is hard to think that such a large differentiator could be removed from the equation and not have some form of noticeable effect on their overall user base, sign ups, user activity and more.

I do not have any inside sources at Medium, but I have to wonder whether these changes will ultimately be revealed to revolve around some sort of monetization strategy.

There is, I am sure, some greater plan to turn this thing into a product, and I have to imagine that the guys who are pulling the strings know what they are doing. I just couldn’t help but ask some of these questions out loud and I am sure that other Medium users are wondering the same things.

I know that for me, part of the appeal when I first came to Medium was the way that collections worked. They were like mini magazines. Edited and curated by individuals who often happened to be great authors.

I think Medium might have underestimated the importance of the balance of power they created between the content creators and content consumers.

Which brings me to another question I’d like to ask the management team at Medium…

Why would you want content authors to curate their own collections? Why abandon such a unique social structure where authors had to compete at a certain level for relevancy inside of popular collections? Why remove the ability for curators to manage collections of other peoples work if that all they wanted to do?

By removing this feature, Medium minimized the role of the content consumer, potentially alienating a large portion of the people (readers), who attracted all the great writers in the first place.

I have to believe that many other people were fans of the original collections and how they worked because they were just that. Collections of great content. Submitted and screened as each individual saw fit. Every bit as much a creative expression of the individual who was curating the collection as it was the contributors inside of it.

Whether done with that as an understanding or not, that level of social interaction has been removed as a function of the Medium platform. A move that pushes Medium more towards mediocrity in my eyes.

If an authors only chance at getting published in a popular collection is to connect with the other authors of that particular collection, then new authors are immediately put at a distinct disadvantage over established authors on Medium. Something that is counterproductive to what Medium did by democratizing the content model in the first place.

It allows the authors who got in early and are part of established collections to gain credibility, while making it ever more difficult for new authors to do the same.

In the long run, I think this means that many new authors will end up starting their own collections and self publishing their work in those collections and then abandoning them over time as it becomes difficult to find collections in which to contribute and find readers.

We will watch Medium devolve from a platform where high-level, quality content, was a requisite for distribution inside of any collection, to a place where the established collections control the conversation and the majority of contributors will once again be left on the outside looking in.

If you ask me, (and I know no one did) this move creates a redundancy in the Medium article submission system (specifically by forcing new authors to publish in their own collections as a default) and by removing the incentive (by making it difficult and unintuitive) for anyone other than established authors, and people who got in during the early days, to see any real results from the platform.

Mistake #2

Removing the ability to submit a story to a collection in which you are not already an author

Another one of Medium’s value propositions, especially early on, was the social structure that began to form between the different creators and the curated collections.

Their efforts to democratize content was effective in the sense that it allowed everyone to become an independent arm in their own media machine.

And it was simple. Write awesome words, search for relevant collections and submit the article for consideration.

If you wanted to control a collection then you could, but if you just wanted to write then you could do that too.

Individual collections were just that. Collections of work that the individual curator found interesting. Things that they wanted to share with their growing community of content consumers.

Medium allowed people to separate themselves not only by weaving words into popular posts, but by collecting the words they consumed for themselves into sharable collections.

Medium was as much a social platform for readers as it was for writers and I think they lost sight of that with some of these changes. 

Each collection was a representation of the individual who was collecting its content. Each with a persona in and of itself. One that should have remained independent of their persona as an author.

The curator could choose to publish their own contributions inside of their collection or not. The author was not forced to have the content in one place and the reader was able to find the best stories in the collections that made sense.

If Medium is intending to become the arbiter of all its content, then I guess these changes would make more sense to me. Since they claim to be all about the story, you think they’d have kept it as easy as possible for people to find the stories they want. Logically this would be more likely with as many curators as possible.

All the authors care about is getting people to read their words, so you can see how these changes upset might have upset a delicate balance of power that was present early in Medium’s development.

I for one liked having to submit my work to individual collections. I liked having that real world buffer of relevance before someone actually read what I wrote.

As much as I appreciate the emails that Medium sends out on my behalf, it is not a service that I am unable to easily do on my own. Actually, it is something I do on my own. I do it because I like to build value in that subscriber list and because I get to build relationships with my readers. It’s pretty simple, I build a subscription base and in turn, I own those relationships.

In Medium’s new model, I become a collector of actionable data for them as opposed to myself. Sure the simplicity of their subscriber system is great, but what is the actual value of them managing my subscribers in the way that they have.

The first thought that comes to my mind is a monetization model that will eventually charge power-users for access to the audience they create on Medium. Much like Facebook has done recently with their pages and advertising model, medium could make it so that the audience you worked so hard to build is now out of your reach unless you pay them what they ask. Good for them, not for you.

So what is next? 

It is still early in the development game for Medium, as a social tool as well as a publishing platform. None of these changes are final or cast in stone, but their potential negative impact cannot be ignored.

I am sure this is not the last change we will see and I look forward to watching their progress along the way.

I guess they’ll either get it right or they won’t. As information becomes the currency of the future, the battle to control as much of that information exchange as possible will rage on. And by that measure, Medium is still quite powerful and well positioned to do something big.

I have to end this article by saying again, that I do appreciate what Medium has done up to this point, even considering these recent changes.

All I can do at this point is wait, and watch.

Oh, and write, but not submit, articles to any collection other than my own.

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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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4 Life Lessons I Never Learned, And Probably Never Will

Why you shouldn’t learn them either and why it is time we started playing this game called life by a new set of rules. A message to the establishment.

Skip to the 2:00 mark to bypass the intro. But beware, a baby panda will fall out of a tree every time someone does this.

Life is always trying to teach us lessons. Some worth learning, others, not-so-much.

My generation definitely has it’s flaws. We are not perfect but we are humans. That means that more likely than not, we are simply symptoms of our own environments. Environments that you built for us.

I wonder, if you have even once, considered blaming yourself for the mess we’re all in?

I wonder if these lessons you keep trying to teach us are not specifically intended to hold us back; I wonder if you knew what you were doing all along?

1

“You really should learn to keep your mouth shut!”

Oh really, how has that worked for us in the past? It seems to me that keeping your mouths shut is exactly what got us into this mess in the first place. You must have seen what they were trying to do. You must have wanted to scream out yourself. Why would you tell me to shut up? Why would you think that just because you were willing to be silent we should do the same?

I say scream louder! I say that when a stranger comes around you and tries to bend you over backwards and have their way with you, you should scream as loud as you can. I say you should do whatever it takes to get away from that attacker. Why wouldn’t we teach that lesson to the perverted factions of our existing political and corporate structures? Should we sit here and let you have your way with us just because you sat their and let them have their way with you?

2

“You need to eat some humble pie!”

Humble pie? Really? This coming from the monster who can’t quit telling me how great their product is? Pardon me if I ignore a message on humility from the same people that put professional athletes on pedestals while paying our educators a pittance? Excuse me while I ignore your “Do as I say, not as I do philosophy.”

You wouldn’t know humble if it smacked you in the face so why would you expect us to (1)  know any different and (2) care, even if we did?

The system you designed is built around breaking out of our humility. You have taught us to love the taste of our own egos and we feast on them regularly.

We enjoy giving up our privacy and selling ourselves short. We enjoy our addiction to technology and we accept your propaganda as our reality. Just as long as the illusion of independence remains. But, I see your hypocrisy and I reject it.

3

“What do you even know? What have you really done in your life?”

What do I know? I know that we have sat by for far too long and watched you destroy this once great nation.

I know that you have perverted the free market and sold us all into the slavery of debt.

I know that your thirst for wealth, and gluttony for greed has lead to the most unstable economy in human history.

I know that you have made it impossible for us to find employment and infinitely more difficult for us to try and make it on our own.

I know that we may be young, but we have seen enough. We have watched you bastardize everything, with complete disregard for that moment when someone has to pay the piper.

We might not be good at a lot of things, but we are good at watching, and we have watched a lot.

We have watched an entire generation rot its brain on television and pervert itself on the internet. We have been complicit in burying ourselves in mindless entertainment and massive sporting spectacles. All in an attempt to distract ourselves from facing the harsh truth.

We fear that to be wrong means that we have failed, but it really just means that we are getting better at being people. It means that we have learned from our mistakes and are ready to turn from them. We are ready because we can no longer just sit and watch.

We can no longer watch you gorge on the earth and devour the resources that are supposed to sustain us all.

We can no longer watch you spend money as if somehow, we were never going to have to repay this debt.

We can no longer sit and watch you take us into wars, under the pretense of profit, or pride. We will no longer watch as you meddle with the middle class as if we were yours to play with.

We will no longer watch as you corrupt and infect the entire system of governance. We will no longer elect leaders that are purely puppets at the end of strings. Strings on which the large corporations can pull, any which way they want.

We will no longer sit as a society, stupid, and blissful in our ignorance.

We have sat silent for far too long.

4

“Wait your turn, you just need to pay your dues!”

Wait our turn? If we wait any longer there’s not going to be anything left to have waited for.

You don’t want me to pay my dues, you want me to pay your dues.

You want me to pay the same price you paid to get to where you are. The problem with that strategy, well one of them, is that you falsely assume that I want to be where you are. You think that we all need to do it like you did it.

You want us to play by the rules you played by because after-all, that is what you did and that is how the system is supposed to work.

You remember when you were my age and you were forced to eat your pride. You hated every second of it, but now it is your turn to pass on this despicable trait. It is your turn to have your finger on the trigger. You worked hard and waited a long time for this so who the hell are we to get in your way? Who are we to try and stop you?

Like the alcoholic father who beats his son, and the son who swears to never become that man. But the pawns have been played and the son soon finds himself as a drunken dad, with his own son bent over his knee and a belt gripped tightly in his hand.

It is the only thing you know.

It is what you have taught us and is the example you that have set.

You do not consider how the world has changed. You have not changed with it and you have not allowed us to change. You have stolen from us. In resources and in principle.

You refuse to admit that the way we did things has no relevance on how we can do them now. Very few things that were, still are, and even less of what is left will survive the next shift.

Do you not see what is happening? The system in which you are so desperate to have us play, is falling down all around you.

We have let you lead us down the wrong road for too long. I will not shut-up. I will not “do things your way,” and I will not stand by as you continue to abuse and enslave me, my generation and the ones to follow.

It is time you learned a few lessons. It is time that you learned something new.

Fuck your game!

“This is not how the game is supposed to be played!”

Your game is rigged. I am not sucking your corporate cock just so you can tell me how much money I don’t get to make. I will not let you dictate how I live my life, when I wake up, what I do every moment of my life and how I do it. I’m not going to let you sit there and watch, while I do all the work and you take home all the money. This is not the game I signed up to play.

I say we throw them all out. I say we show government and corporations alike that we are still the American people and that they should still fear us. We are here to hold them accountable now.

Instead of sitting here and blaming us for being lazy, stupid and ideological, I’ll tell you to look in a mirror and blame yourself.

You were the one who thought you could control us. You were the one who allowed the government to treat us like dogs. To pit us against ourselves and distract society from the perils of a populist agenda.

You are not allowed to get mad when the dog chews on the furniture, destroys your belongings, and digs up all the dirt in your backyard. You may not be angered when we tear the fence down and desire to run free.

But us? We get to be plenty pissed off!

You had the excuse of ignorance. But that is no longer acceptable and we now require results!

We will not learn your lessons. We will not play your games. We will not shut up, and we most certainly will not compare our accomplishments to yours.

Success should be measured on how solid a foundation one generation can lay down for the next. And by those standards, you have royally failed.

Sincerely yours,

#GenerationNext

#RaymmarRevolution

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I Am Your Depression; This Is Your Dungeon

Imagine if you were forced to live in a portable jail cell. A dark, dingy dungeon that moved with you wherever you went.

A portable penitentiary. One in which you were inmate, the guards and the warden.

Now imagine never being able to leave that dungeon.

Imagine living your entire life inside of that cell.

Imagine that the whole world sees you as free but you understand the severity of the sentence that you must serve.

A sentence that has no beginning, no middle and no end. Cursed, from birth till death.

I keep you trapped in your own mental prison, but not a shiny new one.

There are no white walls or stainless steel toilets in this prison.

No luxuries from the modern world to save you from your solidarity.

I am a middievil dungeon. One that has enslaved man from the beginning of time.

Stone walls stuffed with the suffering of many, sealed inside of steel bars that never seem to budge.

There is a slow drip from the damp ceiling.

The drops of depression land on your head as if they were dew from the devil himself. Each day leaving the fresh sparkle of skepticism.

Each day another struggle to stand up.

Each day another demoralizing defeat at the hands of your own demise.

You reach out, grasping for whatever you can find, anything to help you cope.

Drugs, alcohol, and sex offer a temporary release but often end up reminding us of the evils we are trying to escape.

You stare into your phone, and then off into space, searching for someone, something more than superficial. But, no amount of social sharing is going to separate you from this solitude.

You feel the answer inside of you as if the key were hiding in plain sight. As if you could just reach down and unlock the door of depression and just let yourself out.

You feel like you might finally get to step outside and know what it’s like to live totally free.

As if there was a magical cure for this disease that devours you, but be sure that this dungeon has no entrance, and no escape.

I am not a place where others can come to visit. This is not a place that others get to see.

I simply am. All around. Inside of you. Inside of me.

Every so often that place leaves us be and for a brief moment we are shown that key.

A key that you think might set you free but its just another false sense of reality.

It’s just another hope that will never happen. A sight you’ll never actually see.

Some days you feel like you may not survive and some days you’ll feel like I might just set you free.

But you would be wrong, I’ll never let you leave.

I am your depression, this is your dungeon and you will never escape me.

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What If The World Finds Out I’m A Fraud?

I am willing to pay whatever the price may be, for being unabashedly me.

– Highlight any text in this article to tweet it directly –

So… What’s Your Biggest Fear?

I was with a friend the other day, and as I was about to leave she asked me a simple question.

She looked me straight in the face, and asked me what I was afraid of.

She caught me a little off guard with that question, and I said to myself, “This bitch is trying to be my mamma.”

I couldn’t tell if I was bothered because of the nature of the question, or because I felt like maybe she could already see the answer.

I puffed my chest out like a proper macho-man and said, “I am not scared of anything!”

But then, I started to think

My heart sunk into my stomach as I came to the realization that I did have a fear. A huge fear.

One that I have trained myself to ignore, but a fear none the less.

But let’s back up for a second, I have a confession to make.

I am a total failure

I actually admit that proudly, and like to get it out of the way early.

I don’t usually lead with it, but hey, this is a blog, and not an HBO special, so I don’t have much time for character development.

I have failed repeatedly in my personal life, my professional career, and definitely in my political perspectives.

Quite frankly, I’m sure I will continue to make mistakes. Lots of them. I’ll continue to stumble, because this is the life I have chosen to live.

I will never apologize for being who I am or how I am, but this does not answer the question at hand.

I’m really good at faking it you see

I can twist you and bend you however I want.

The power of coercion is strong in this one. It has been since I was young.

Maybe that’s why I found the world of sales so comfortable. I felt right at home in a world where all that mattered was whether or not I made the sale.

It was easy for me

Living in a lie seemed normal. It seemed like everyone was doing it.

I’d do whatever needed to be done in order to get what I wanted. The problem was, I had no idea what I wanted.

Maybe that’s what led me to build a house of cards on top of all of those lies.

Maybe it’s that line of thinking that led me to believe that I could be happy in the life I was building, or maybe that is why I sat there that day with a gun in one hand and a phone in the other, wondering whether to pull the trigger or call for help.

Maybe that is why I am writing this article today. Maybe I was unwilling to admit it back then.

Maybe I was unwilling to admit that I was wrong, so I pushed forward. I pushed with no regard for the price that would one day have to be paid.

But that was then, and this is now.

That price has been paid.

In fact, I am still paying. It cost me 10 years, a wife, some strife, and almost my life.

It has pushed me to accept and reject many things about myself and the world around me.

It has forced me on this path that I am on, but this, again, does not answer the question at hand.

You want to know what I am afraid of now?

You want to know what I’m scared of today?

I fear that one day I will become successful, and the world will look at me as if I were a total joke.

I fear that one day I will stand at the top of this mountain I am climbing, and people will say that I lied, cheated, and stole to get here.

I fear that they will say that I hurt others in order to help myself.

I fear that the whole world will get to look at the person that I really am, and then decide to destroy me because they can no longer control me.

You see, I have faced all of my fears

I can honestly look you straight in the face and tell you that the only thing I fear anymore is finding out that I actually am a fraud.

That I am incapable of doing what I set out to do.

I am scared that at some point, I will have to turn back and admit defeat.

I am afraid to find out that the guy who “faked-it-til-he-made-it,” actually made it, and he won’t know that it is okay to stop pretending.

I am afraid that I won’t recognize success, and that I will keep on thirsting for more.

I am afraid that I will never find true happiness because of my inability to truly let people in.

I am afraid that I will be unable to realize that once you fake something for so long, it’s no longer fake, it’s just you.

I am afraid that one day it will all come crashing down again, but that this time I won’t be strong enough to handle it.

But even that doesn’t really scare me

Up until now, I’ve done this all before. I have been on this road, and I know where it leads.

I might not be able to see around the bend, but I have memorized the map.

I adjusted my approach in order to come around the corner just right: at just the right speed so as not to fly off the edge of the cliff.

I will make the turn, hammer the gas, and never look back.

This time is going to be different.

This time, I am becoming successful by being myself, and that is what scares me.

I am scared to be walking around this world naked – emotionally, and otherwise, completely unprotected, yet somehow entirely prepared to take the arrows and to face the consequences.

I am willing to pay whatever the price might be, for being unabashedly me.

There will be no shield, no barrier, no buffer between me and the real world.

No one to blame for my failures but myself…and that, my friends, is absolutely terrifying.

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What is your biggest fear? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.


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The Truth About Happiness

Happiness is not what you think it is. 

Dave Myers takes you soaring adventure, talks with Raymmar about finding happiness and explains how to maintain a positive attitude in life.

You may think you know happy because you have a good job, live a healthy life and have a few friends but guess what…

It could all be gone tomorrow.

In the blink of an eye you could lose it all and then the true test would begin. Then we would all get to see how strong you really are.

In a moment of broken brilliance, you would have to reassess everything you thought made you happy. You would be left looking deep into the dark abyss of what used to be your life and wonder what went wrong.

You would have to reach deep into your soul and have an honest conversation with yourself about what it is that truly makes you happy and you might just find out that you have had it wrong all along.

Maybe then you would realize that It’s is all up to you!

In that dark moment you might realize that happiness is more about understanding that you are perfectly flawed as opposed to thinking about flawlessly perfect you might be.

It is about understanding that you are not the picture of perfection you try to present to the world. You will find that it’s about understanding you’ll never be perfect and learning to embrace yourself anyway.

Happiness is the ability to know how imperfect you actually are and still being able to stand up to the world like none of it really matters.

Why? Well… because at the end of the day, very little of it actually does. In the real world, the only thing that matters is what you want to matter. What you decide to make important in your life.

“Happiness lies somewhere in between desperation and motivation and it often waits until we quit looking for it before revealing itself to us.”

You have to attack happiness by understanding that you were put on earth with a mission to do something amazing. However, you must also understand that it doesn’t have to be that way. It is up to you to you to make sure it goes down in the history books just how you see it. You, and no one else.

Doing that thing you love.

The power of doing or even chasing something you love is highly underrated. People talk about it all the time but very few actually do it. Fewer yet follow through and find fulfillment and financial independence doing what they love but for those who can it is a beautiful thing.

Most people are caught up in their own lives, trying to scrape by, feed a family, enjoy a day off once in a while and then waking up to do it all again the next day. Stuck in the status-quo, unwilling to let go.

Unwilling to jump into the deep end, fearing the water below might be too shallow. Feeling as if they cannot make the jump while watching others walk right up to the edge and take that leap of faith.

You sit there and watch others dive head first into happiness, while sitting back pretending to enjoy it for yourself from the sidelines. Fearing the failure that might just lead you to finally find it.

But, but, but… you just don’t understand…

Oh, I understand all too well. I understand that there is something in your life that you think is holding you back. Something that you honestly believe is keeping you from becoming the person you know you are supposed to be.

We all have our Kryptonite. Maybe a better description would be to say that we all hold on to what we think is our Kryptonite. Thinking that we are Superman and must succumb to its power. Not knowing that this is the real world and what we perceive as Kryptonite is really just a stupid weight we carry around in our heads.

“It’s an excuse you idiot, not some magical rock that has somehow hindered your ability to fly.”

We place these obstacles in our own path as if we were not resourceful enough to find a way around them. As if deep down we didn’t know that we could just walk around, step over, crawl under or otherwise get past this one thing that just seems to keep holding us back.

The reality is that we are often the only ones holding ourselves back. More often than not, you, and only you, are the reason for a lack of amazing accomplishments in life.

It’s all in your head.

You may not want to admit it yet but you know it’s true.

You know that these little voices inside your head are just the different versions of you, fighting among themselves to try and find a place inside of your consciousness. Fighting to find a place in a world of thought that begins and ends with you.

The more you get to know them, the more you can understand how to use them to enhance one another as opposed to letting them interfere with your life. You have to be willing to acknowledge the evil thoughts as well as the good ones. You have to accept the fact that you are after all, only human ,and that might make you feel weak.

But you are wrong. Knowing these things should make you feel strong. It should make you realize that the voices are just other versions of your personality. Why wouldn’t you have to learn how to interact with your own personality; it is just as important as learning to interact with the personalities of others.

In order to find happiness you have to learn how to take this power away from the people around you. You must learn how to live with yourself but this is just the beginning, learning how to let others live with you is step two.

Sometimes you don’t have a choice.

Sometimes failure just smacks you in the face.

No matter how you prepare or plan, life has a way of keeping things interesting that way. No matter how solid you think your foundation might be, there is always an earthquake brewing somewhere waiting to shake you from the foundation. Waiting to bring everything around you crumbling down in a moments notice.

Some people make it through life never having to face their 100 year stormbut some get to face them all too often.

Ours is not a choice of “if”, but more often than not a choice of “how”.

How will you react when your storm does hit because you cant buy insurance for that type of catastrophe.

The only thing you can do is learn how appreciate the scars because more often than not, they define who you are.

So you grind.

When life knocks you down, sometimes you just have to grind. Sometimes you just have to stay low, stay out of the way for a while and just survive.

These are the moments where we are reminded of how fragile our existence actually is.

This is when you discover how susceptible we truly are to the influence of the world around us.

In these moments you get to see how delicate the world can actually be ,but it is in these same moments when we most often find ourselves.

It is so often in these moments where we get tired of hiding from the world and become comfortable exposing our true selves to not only the world but to ourselves.

And then you find it.

Then you discover that even with the weight of the world on your back, you can make it.

You find out that even with the drag of depression, or the struggles of suicide, you can survive life.

You can decide to let the happiness find you. You can allow it to fill you and to flow through you completely.

It is in this moment that you discover your invincibility.

It is in this moment of desperation that you can show the world how strong you really are.

It is in this moment of weakness that our strength is truly tested and our resolve must be resurrected.

It is in this moment that we discover the true adventure of life, when we discover what this whole thing is really all about.

Fun because, once you have discover how to look this hurt in the face and still stand to hold your place, you will begin to see the emergence of real life super powers.

Powers you never knew you had.

The power to influence others and pass on the gift of happiness.

The power to pass on thought and move others through emotional empowerment, and the ability to help others understand their own path to happiness. A path you must explore for yourself. One we must all discover at our own pace.

Image Credit — Sumit Mantaporn

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