Category: Blogging

The Science of Engagement explores the way that technology is being leveraged to quantify the interaction between brand and consumer.


When boiled down, the Science of Engagement Looks to answer two pivotal questions:​​

  • Can you turn followers into co-creators?​​​

  • ​​What is the value of increasing engagement from monthly to daily active users?

To answer these questions, we need to give The Science of Engagement some context. Gamification is the new normal and these tactics are being used to compete for your audience’s attention. At it’s root, the science itself is centered around brand advertising effectiveness and user behavior. The conduit for measurement, however, is being defined on a daily basis by developing technologies emerging from the tech sector. Here are the main points to look at.

Platforms are the new disruptors 

“The basis of disruption is that competitors are creating new markets. The playing field is changing, not the product or service. And few incumbents can afford the breadth of imagination to envision a new playing field.”
― Haydn ShaughnessyPlatform, Disruption, Wave: How the Platform Economy is Changing the World

As author Haydn Shaughnessy states in his quote above, the playing field is changing and causing disruption, but not the product or service itself. Case and point: What does the largest hotel chain and the largest taxi company in the world have in common? Both Uber and Airbnb do not own a single property or a car that they rent out to consumers, yet they now dominate both of their industries. Similarly, mobile platform creator Skylab Apps is becoming the platform influencers and brands go to build and own their tribes.

The Science of Engagement

​Skylab Apps has created a white-labeled social engagement platform that allows clients to leverage a multi-million dollar platform to create eco-systems similar to companies like Uber and AirBnB at a fraction of what it would cost a company to build on their own.

Everyday enterprise brands tell us they think the Skylab platform is quite remarkable as it solves some of their toughest ‘pain points’ around communication and engagement with key stakeholders like employees and customers.

– Ferris Thompson, CRO Skylab Apps

​This concept is hugely disruptive as it would give power to just about anyone with a few thousand bucks and a desire to engage their tribe or community to get on the playing field.

The most exciting part about the Skylab Apps platform is it’s ability to help organizations and causes meet their mission through learning the science of engagement and applying it through technology.

If you’re going to make it rain, you better own at least one of the buckets. Influencers and brands desire to drive their existing communities from all forms of media and into a playground ( platform ) they control. For the first time, they have the ability to train, track, reward, and recognize their tribe and co-creators through the Skylab Platform.​

– Dean Grey, ​Founder of Skylab Apps 

Own Your Tribe

By default, we usually don’t own our tribe or the game board that we are playing on. Influencers commonly use social media like Facebook Groups ​or meetup.com as a way to manage and grow their community. Through understanding ​The Science of Engagement, influencers can make the quantum leap of graduating their followers from 3rd party platforms that limit their engagement to their own digital sandbox where they can own the platform, and ultimately turning their tribe and co-creators in to a referral army that organically grows and out-performs paid advertising.

An influencer doesn’t need a million followers accomplish this either, Tim Ferris commonly quotes Kevin Kelly’s book 1000 True Fans stating very simply that:

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, video maker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.​

Companies like SkylabAirBnB and Uber understand that their platforms have to meet their user’s needs. More importantly, they need to keep their users engaged for long enough to take an action, and then measure those actions. This empowers tribes, co-creators, and any part of their respective communities to get involved. For Uber, it’s a new driver, or a new rider. For AirBnB, a new client can mean a homeowner or renter. On the Skylab Platform, this engagement between brand and communities can mean a variety of things based on the client’s business model.

Skylab Client Case Study

​For Allysian Science, leveraging the Skylab platform did amazing things for their community. The platform created some incredible results in the form of DAUs (Daily Active Users) and MAUs (Monthly active users.) Seen here is an example of one of the Allysian distributors mobile profile. From the dashboard view, you can find all kinds of information about the user: How many actions they have taken, what they did, courses they completed and even how many times they shared the application with others.

​Sure, Having a platform that collects data is great… Being able to have access to all that data makes things really interesting…

How about the ability to decide “what” data actually gets collected, and, get ready for the mind blower……  Actually have a gamified platform that creates the kind of engagement that has users like Roslyn coming back 460 days in a row. KABOOOM


Apolo Ohono, eight time Olympic Champion and Co-Founder of Allysian Sciences

“Skylab Apps technology gives me the platform to engage with my community through chat, trainings, and recognition all while giving my community a place that isn’t bombarded with traditional social media noise.”

The CheerLife; another company using the Skylab platform has created an an industry specific app for the Cheer community. For the last 4 years, in the U.S. alone, an average of 410 people join cheerleading everyday. 75% of cheerleaders consider it important to keep up with the latest trends because cheerleading has a role in many team sports, in addition to cheer-specific competitions, participation requires year-round dedication.

CEO of the Cheer apps had this to say about Skylab:

Skylab has revolutionized the rapidly growing cheerleading industry by providing cheerleaders, coaches, and gym owners the best opportunity to train, learn, and develop their skill-set as they strive to become world class athletes. By utilizing the Skylab platform, we are now able to use Gamification to connect a global industry, and the result is extraordinary.”

Alex McCarthy Co-Founder of CheerLife about Skylab

​​This is the Science of Engagement being defined right before your eyes, and it is only happening like this on one platform, the Skylab Apps platform.

Make America Great Again. This is the slogan of Donald Trumps campaign that I have to keep hearing again and again as the 2016 election looms over our heads.925393

The 2016 election cycle is shaping up to be just like 2012 and 2008 with fewer options and far worse choices across the board.

In 2008 I was working on the Ron Paul Campaign. I got behind Dr. Paul because he was the only candidate that stood out to me who in the very least was telling the truth and had 8-term congressional voting record to back it up. His ideas resonated with me. Talk of limited government, conservative economics and internet neutrality seemed were important matters to me and a lot of other Americans.

Unfortunately, in both those elections, Dr. Paul lost. In fact he didn’t even come close. People would ask me why I was working on a losing campaign, and told me I was throwing my vote away. I simply replied that I was going to get behind and vote for the person I believed was best for the presidency and that I didn’t care about what the news was saying or any of the bullshit you hear from people who only talk politics every 4 years when it’s on the T.V. everyday.

I remember all of the blatant tactics the media used to skew the polls for Dr. Paul, and the last minute changes by the RNC to keep him off the debate stages. I remember Dr. Paul barley won the Ames straw, then won the CPAC straw poll and then when he poled higher in the preliminary debates, FOX News decided just skirt the issue. Below is just one of many videos that outline just a couple of the events that took place.

After watching the Republicans tear themselves apart in the months following and ultimately losing the presidency to Obama for another 4 years, I was convinced that there was no place left in American Politics for anyone that was going to attempt to defy the establishment.

Now without getting all conspiracy theorist on you, I think when we look back at the case of Dr. Paul, most people would agree that the media snuffed him and that his attempts to bring subjects to the light like blowback, foreign intervention, auditing of the FED and the out of control budget deficit were not met with kind regard by the RNC, media and virtually the “establishment” as we know it.

What I learned during this time was that if the establishment (AKA media, RNC, Democrats super PACs etc.) could simply get the message across to the American Public that Ron Paul couldn’t win, then it would come true and it most certainly did.

The most common thing I would hear back in 08 and 12 when speaking and or advocating about Ron Paul was the logic behind the idea that Paul didn’t have a chance to win, therefore I would be throwing my vote away, and hence I am voting for someone else.

Well Clinton and Trump are among the most disliked Candidates to ever run for President according to this poll.clintontrump

History is repeating itself once again and we are seeing it play out right in front of us with Gary Johnson. In the next couple of weeks I am going to release a series of blogs as these event unfold, and it should get pretty interesting.

Keep this in mind when you are reading these…..

  • I have voted both republican and democrat evenly since I could vote
  • I am registered as a democrat currently, but have been registered as a republican, democrat, independent and libertarian in the past.
  • I usually follow the money and that leads me to the real answers.

Continue on to Part 2

Go Forward To Part 3

So let’s wrap this up. In the last two blogs, I laid some ground work in to some major problems in the political process today. To recap, I bullet point them for you:

  • 3rd Party Candidates don’t stand a chance…. ever, and it sucks!
  • The Media may be conspiring to stomp out any chance of an alternative candidate getting any air time as we saw in the case of Ron Paul, and Gary Johnson.
  • Being left with 2 horrible choices isn’t that much better than no choice at all.
  • The public sphere in general is getting pretty stupid and it’s scary.

So what do we do about it?

As I am finishing this last blog I am currently vacationing in Bali Indonesia. I love traveling and I LOVE Bali. One of the greatest experiences I get to have when I am traveling is running in to people from other parts of the world to get their take on how they perceive American Politics. The other night I was sharing a table at dinner with my Wife, 2 girls from Sweden, a guy from Germany and an Australian dude. The consensus was the Donald Trump is a buffoon, and Hillary Clinton is just down right shady. So, we were in agreement.

The next night while having dinner with my friend Luke and his girlfriend we got in to a long conversation about politics ranging from 1984, to 9/11 conspiracy theories, the Viet Nam War and my experiences traveling to Viet Nam to the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Man city.

This is the point that we all came to. Americans live in a state of irrational fear and the Federal Government has a lot of motivation to keep it that way. This is always apparent in every election, and any time someone, or something is trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

Politicians are professional liars. They say what ever they have to so they can get elected. The funny thing is that generally we all know this and agree that it is true, yet you will her people argue over who said what at some debate as if in 2 months either politician will follow through on any thing they said.

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So what should you do? Well, as I told my friend in our conversation last night, I believe that as long as millennials can get the rent paid, get a new iPhone, and have some money left over to get drunk on the weekend, they are going to do shit to change anything. I think people are indifferent, but being indifferent is not going to change anything.

Older folks like my parents who lived through the 60’s understand the importance of voting and a 3rd party, yet in a lot of ways it’s like they forgot about Viet Nam and the Nixon scandals in the 60’s & 70’s because here we are 50 years later in a long drawn out war with plenty of civil and racial unrest to go around and not one likable or redeeming politician in sight who actually has a chance to win.

I am beginning to think that most people just don’t give a shit anymore or they are like me, meaning they will vote their conscious not matter what, say fuck a political party and generally believe that things are probably just going to need to get worse before they get better.

That being said, if you do give a shit, and you are looking for some actionable items to help you decide who to vote for this year, I have provided some bullet points.

  • Don’t know were you stand politically, this will help you: https://www.isidewith.com/
  •  Follow the money. If you want to know who the next president is going to be soft on and quick to help out, simply look at who is donating money to their campaign.
  • You don’t need to pick a side, fuck what your friend said, don’t worry about your liberal college professor, and you can just tune out your parents when they start telling you how great Ronal Regan was. Just form your own opinion and if you feel like you need to change your mind, then do so, it’s a free country.

Finally, the most scary and sinister of all is the repressive desublimination of the public sphere which is more zombified than it has ever been. The only way to combat this is to turn off the news and find your own information. We are getting dangerously close to an idiocrocy generation and the Federal Government is starting to look more and more like Big Brother every day…. Don’t beleive me? Read this and prepare to have your mind BLOWN http://theantimedia.org/george-orwell-1984-came-true/.

Now go out and vote and enjoy this clip from Trump VS. Camacho Debate

Go Back to Part 2

Go Back To Part 1

Shortly after I returned home from my wedding in Costa Rica, I felt motivated to do something with all of the footage I had collected for the year leading up to our beautiful wedding in Costa Rica and the entire week of fun that we had in Central America. I wanted to make something that Keeley and I would always be able to look back at to remember this time in our lives and show to our kids one day!

This entire movie was shot on cell phone cameras and Go Pros! Coupled with my limited video editing skills, I put together a 40 minute movie that tells the story of the entire year leading up to our marriage and I think it’s pretty epic.

In the movie, you will go on a journey with us and all of our friends to around the world, surfing, skydiving, dodging volcanoes and eventually see the moment that changed our lives forever.

I hope that you like it as much as I do! Now enjoy, and let me know what you think! Thank you in advance for watching and for everyone who was a part of this and helped make this happen!

Do you ever dream of being able to run a business from anywhere in the world? Have you ever found yourself looking online for different ways you could travel abroad and somehow make an income while you were half way around the world.

Over the past decade I have been perfecting this skill. The truth is that it is not as easy as it sounds. This is especially true if you are used to a 9 to 5 standard day job. The dream of one day quitting that job and breaking free from the chains of the corporate world can be elusive and fleeting.

When I was 22 I left the country for the first time. I had always wanted to travel but I was a troublemaker growing up and spent the later part of my teen years in rehab getting sober. By the time I was 20, I had been sober for a couple of years and my life was back on track, so I decided to leave America and embark on an adventure.

I signed up for a study abroad trip to Spain, paid the money and prepared to leave home. To be perfectly honest, this trip wouldn’t be my first time out of America, I frequently went to Mexico in my teen years growing up in San Diego. None of my trips to Mexico had any real cultural importance. In fact, I don’t even really remember what transpired during most of those trips and never really made farther the the Tijuana bars on Revolution Blvd. This trip was going to be different, I was with college kids, and there was some structure, so I figured that was a good place to start.

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I remember getting off the plane in Madrid. I was bustled away from the group with my host mom who didn’t speak a lick of English and was given a room in her little apartment. I was super jet lagged and had never been on a flight that long in my life so I passed out immediately.  When I woke up it was dusk outside. I walked down the 4 flights of stairs and sat out on the side walk in the neighborhood I was staying in listening to all of the sounds of the city and taking it all in. The smells, the cars, the food, everything was different, I didn’t know anyone around, and I was far from home. I was in LOVE.

This first encounter of Wanderlust was intoxicating to me. I vividly remember it and I was so grateful to be in that moment experiencing life again in a new way for the first time.

I thought to myself, what if I could do this all of the time, what if I could just travel a lot? It was sometime on that trip that I decided I was going to need to find a line of work that was going to allow me to do this. About a week before the program ended, I told my professors running the program that I wouldn’t be accompanying them back to America, and stayed in western Europe an additional 4 months traveling around Spain, Italy and France.

Once I ran out of money, I came home. At that time I was running a Mortgage office which surprisingly was still standing after my almost 5 months of me being gone. It didn’t matter though because I came home in September 2008 just in time to watch the housing market collapse completely. I was screwed. I had done really well for a kid who dropped out of college to get rich but it was all back firing now and traveling was the last thing on my mind.

After the dust settled I was about $190,000 in debt and in need of a new career. I had decided to go back to college a year earlier and had about a year and a half left for my undergrad degree so I figured I would spend the next 2 years finishing college and finding a career that would set me up to travel the globe and make money while I was doing so.

The first business that I found that worked really well for me was multi-level marketing. It seemed like a great fit, I was recruited in to a company being sold the dream that if I spent a couple years working hard at building an organization, it would eventually take off and continue to pay me residually. This was PERFECT. I could build the business for a couple years to about $100K per year then disappear to Indonesia

For a first timer in MLM, I did incredibly well, and I build that $100k per year income in a short amount of time but it was short live. The first company I was with asked me to leave and the second company I joined eventually went belly up. Also every time I would leave the country on a trip, I found myself on my phone or laptop the whole time putting out fires and that was just plane stupid.

When I finally walked away from the industry I decided to put my entrepreneur hat back on. I had raised some money for a tech start-up and was actively learning how to trade currencies in the FOREX market.

I never lost site of my desires and dreams of being able to make money from a Laptop; I just needed to be a little more resourceful. I found that as long as I can offer real value to a client even being a great distance away, that my capability to earn money anywhere where I was in the world would be there.

So over the past 5 years I have been doing just that. Most of the consulting work that I do is never from an office, maybe my home office. I do keep an office at the Currency trading school that I have a long-term contract with but they have always been cool with me leaving and making my own schedule. Again, I attribute that leniency to the results I am able to deliver. The moral of the story is that there is a million ways to make money and add value to a person, place or business, however you need to be resourceful if you are going to do this from a laptop half a world away.

I have put together my top 5 tips to finding your own way to take your business on the road with you for good. Read “Top 5 Tips to Working remotely.” To see what it’s all about

If you are like me and are a nomad traveler that works remotely then having a working smart phone is an absolute must. Aside from getting work emails, checking the market and other tasks that you may use your smart device for on a daily basis, your phone is the most incredible travel essential for a remote nomad.

Imagine being in Viet Nam for the first time and you need to rent a scooter to find your hotel you booked on kayak, well imagine if you could get turn by turn directions from your iPhone with out having to ask a sole for directions.

Or, what if you are in Indonesia for the first time ever and are trying to haggle with street vendors to buy a shirt or exchange American Dollars for Indonesian Rupiah but you have no idea what the exchange rate is? Imagine being able to jump on to the XE currency app and know exactly what your $20 USD is actually worth.

Smartphone owners spend an average of more than three hours per day using their devices. That doesn’t necessarily stop when they go on vacations or work trips outside of their home countries. But if it’s not done right, international mobile internet access can be sketchy and it can cost a lot.

Here’s everything you need to know to get affordable access to data while abroad.

Find out what you’re working with

International roaming has gotten easier and cheaper over the past few years, but some older phones may still have issues. The vast majority of smartphones in the world run on a common type of network called GSM, but some older phones from the US and other countries use a different, incompatible technology called CDMA, which could limit where they might work. (Most newer phones sold by CDMA carriers, including Verizon and Sprint in the US, are “world phones” that can use GSM networks.) When it comes to newer, faster “4G” networks, most operators use a format called LTE, which has other compatibility issues between wireless bands. But roaming often still happens on older, slower networks.

If you know your phone will work where you’re traveling, next check to see if your phone is unlocked, which would allow you to switch SIM cards to another operator. Many carriers still lock phones to their networks, especially when they subsidize the price. In the US, nearly all Verizon Wireless smartphones are sold unlocked. Some providers, such as Vodafone in the UK, also need to be told if you’re leaving the country, so make sure to check if you need to let your provider know before you leave. If you bought your phone unlocked, or have unlocked it through an unlocking service, then you’re all set.

Figure out what your provider offers

Most mobile providers have international partners and offer international calling and data plans. And while they continue to come down in price, most are pretty expensive—and some are absurd. In the US, for example, AT&T charges $30 for 120 megabytes of international data use—which could last hours or days, depending on your mobile-data frugality. Sprint is worse, charging $80 for just 85 MB of international data. WIND in Canada charges C$8 ($7) per day to lower its international data rate to C$1 per megabyte—which is still rather expensive. The worst are plans or countries that still charge very high amounts per megabyte. In the United Arab Emirates, for example, Verizon Wireless still charges $20.48 per megabyte, which is prohibitively expensive for almost all uses.

Some providers offer a flat daily rate for international use, on top of regular charges. Vodafone in the UK charges £5 ($8) extra a day when you use its phones abroad. The European Union recently slashed data maximum roaming rates allowed across the region, so if you’re traveling from one EU country to another, you can find out the maximum that your provider can charge you.

There are a few providers that have international roaming—to select countries—included at no cost in their plans. Recently, T-Mobile in the US started offering unlimited roaming to over 120 countries, with the catch that download and upload speeds are capped at slow speeds. (It’s fine for most uses, including email, maps, and social media, but it won’t work for video or VoIP calls. But you can pay more for faster speeds—$50 for 500 MB over 2 weeks.) Three in the UK offers free roaming in some other countries, such as the US, France and Australia. Japan’s SoftBank recently launched a promotion that allows customers to pay the same rates when using Sprint’s US network (which SoftBank owns.)

Buying a phone abroad

If all you want to do is make calls while you’re abroad, there are some countries where you can buy a cheap pay-as-you-go phone. In the UK, you can pick up a simple phone for just 99p ($1.50). Some of them even have some amazing Siri-like features. In most countries, however, the cheapest phones won’t be less than about $50, so it would make sense just to stick with getting a new SIM-card for your own phone, or using a Wi-Fi-calling app on your smartphone.

Buying a SIM abroad

If you’re going to be somewhere for more than a week, or plan to use a lot of data, it may be worth buying a local SIM card. At London’s Heathrow Airport, for example, you can buy a variety of SIM cards from vending machines after baggage claim.

For the best deals, you’ll be better off heading to the local high street or mega-mall. With Vodafone UK, for example, you can buy a £10 ($16) top-up and get 500 MB of data and 100 minutes that you can use for 30 days. In France, Orange sells prepaid SIM cards at its stores, and 500 MB data top-ups for €10 ($12). If you’re visiting the US, T-Mobile offers prepaid SIM cards for $10, with an option to pay by the day for unlimited data for $3 a day. In Japan, B-Mobile offers relatively inexpensive data-only service to foreign visitors.

Some providers, like Three in the UK, also offer short-term contracts that you can cancel after the first month that are equally affordable. Just don’t forget to cancel them when you leave the country. China Mobile offers a SIM that works in Hong Kong and mainland China for 90 days for HK$120 ($15).

Some countries have mobile resellers, like the UK’s Carphone Warehouse, which will have options for multiple mobile providers. Find a sales representative and ask them to help you figure out which option works best for you. If the country doesn’t have resellers, many will still have standalone stores for each mobile provider. If you’re buying a SIM for your phone, figure out which providers are compatible with your phone before you go in. If you don’t speak the language, it might be helpful to write down some basic requests, like “nano-SIM, 1 GB data”—or look for their sales pamphlets.

If you’d rather have everything sorted out before leave home, GigSky is another option. For $19.95, they’ll provide you with a SIM that lets you access data networks in most countries. But their rates are generally higher than buying a SIM from a local provider.

There are some downsides to using a foreign SIM. Most notably, unless your phone has two SIM slots, you likely won’t have access to your home number, or calls or text messages that go to it. And certain services tied to your home number, including Apple iMessage and WhatsApp, may need to be reconfigured—an annoyance at best.

An O2 mobile store in the UK. Mobile stores are often clumped together, so make sure to shop around.(Reuters/Luke MacGregor)

Many countries ask for a passport for identification when you buy a mobile service. In some countries, such asSouth Korea and South Africa, it’s difficult to purchase any mobile service without a local address or a visa that lasts longer than 90 days. If you have a friend in the country you’re visiting, ask them if you can use their address to sign up for an account. If you have no contacts, check to see if there are options to rent a phone from a local provider. Otherwise, you may have to rely on Skype and messaging apps over Wi-Fi, or whatever roaming your home provider offers.

Using your phone

Make sure to test out your new SIM card before you leave the store. Usually, you’ll need to restart your phone before the new service will start working. (Sometimes, it could take hours to activate—less ideal.) It’s a good idea to send a text or call someone just to make sure everything is working. You’ll also need to figure out the country dialing code for the country you’re in so that people back home will know how to reach you.

Penalty fares for going over data limits are severe on most carriers, so make sure to choose a plan that will cover the amount of data you’re likely to use while abroad. AT&T has a calculator to help you estimate how much data you use if you’re not sure. It’s probably best to avoid doing anything too data-heavy while abroad, like streaming music or videos, or downloading games.

Calling home will be expensive on almost any plan you purchase. You can check to see if the provider you’re using offers any international dialing plans that you can add on to your service. In the US, AT&T’s international dialing plan is an additional $5 a month. In the UK, you can add an international dialing package to a PAYG plan for £10 ($16). Alternatively, you can stick to Wi-Fi options, like Skype or Apple’s FaceTime.

There are also apps you can use to call from abroad. Roamer lets you make and receive calls from your regular number, even while you’re out of the country. Vonage also offers cheap VoIP calls through its apps for iOS and Android phones.

Other things not to forget

  • Buy an adapter for your phone’s charger before you leave. It’ll be cheaper to do at a local electronics store or from Amazon than the airport.
  • Download anything that’s going to be useful—city mapstravel guidesfuturistic translation apps—before you leave, so you can use them to get around the city before you purchase a new SIM.
  • Turn off data roaming or leave your phone in airplane mode when you land. This way you won’t get surprised with data charges from your local carrier.
  • Make use of Wi-Fi at cafés and hotels. Many cities also have hotspot networks that you can join for a fee. There are also worldwide Wi-Fi networks like Boingo, but they’re often as expensive as buying a local SIM plan. Fon lets you join Wi-Fi networks around the world if you share yours at home.
  • Both Android and iOS phones let you check how much data you’re using. On iOS devices, go to Settings, then Cellular. On Android, go to Settings, then Data Usage. You can also set a limit on Android so you won’t exceed your plan’s data allowance. It’s smart to reset your counters when you start using a new network or SIM card so you get a good idea of how much you’re using toward any limits.

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When I was 17, my mentor Mike Watson asked me to write a list of all the things I wanted in my life. Here is what I wrote

-Get my own place.

-Get a car.

-Get a girlfriend

-Get a job and be able to support myself with out the help of my family.

By the time I was 18 years old, I had gotten these things. I had a little apartment in South Los Angeles, bought a 95 Acura Integra for $5,000 and met a pretty girl that I was with. I was working at Guitar Center in Lawndale CA as sales rep which was a step up from my last job working the burrito line at Chipotle. I went back to my mentor and told him that I had gotten everything that I wrote down on my list. He told me to go make another list, but this time dream bigger.

My next list looked something like this.

-Go to Jr. College.

-Move in to a bigger place.

-Make enough money to where I have some left after bills at the end of the month.

-Get a truck!

-Start a businessAEF

When I turned 20, again I finished these things. I enrolled at El Camino Jr. College paid for by a scholarship I won in a persuasive speech contest. I found a nice little house in Lomita CA I moved in with a couple of friends and started my first business, a clothing company called All Else Failed Ind. He told me to keep going, that I can have whatever I wanted as long as I put it down on paper and was willing to work for it. (So I did, but I went big on this one)

-Make 100k or more per year

-Transfer into a UC/CSU school to finish my undergraduate degree.

-Write a book

-Make an album (Im a musician)

-Buy a house

-Buy a nice Car

07 TravelsBy age 23, I published my first book The Rich Kid Syndrome.” I moved from Los Angeles to San Diego to buy my first home in Oceanside CA, and then transferred to CSU San Marcos after spending the summer of 2007 Studying abroad in Spain, Italy and France. This was also my first $100,000 year and I earned quite a bit more the following year with my little brokerage firm that started in Carlsbad. I was doing so well, I decided to buy and new BMW, and I bought it with Cash 🙂 I also finally completed my first full-length solo album entitled The  Midnight Songbook.”

As my 24th birthday passed, it seemed as if I could do anything. It was like every single year, I would just write a new list of things down that I wanted, and then I would get them. I felt unstoppable, and invincible. Then the year 2008 came and everything changed.

It only took about 6 months after the economy crashed to lose just about everything that I had worked for. Aside from the fact that I had lost all steams of income, I ended up being 160K in debt to boot.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I broke up with the girlfriend of 2 years, my dad went to prison, my mentor Mike (pictured above) died from cancer, my best friend screwed me over and I was conned out of my last $10,000 by a person posing as a roommate of mine who stole my identity and flew the coop. That’s what I call a bad year. I was so beaten down by all the loss in and around my life that it was hard to get back up and keep going. In fact some days it was down right direly depressing and some very bad thoughts entered my mind.

I realized that even though I had some major setbacks, and life threw me a couple of shit sandwiches, I had 2 choices. 1)Quit and kill yourself 2) Eat the shit sandwiches and make a list of things you want (as it has always seem to work before). So after a long day of gathering my thoughts and some  meditation at the beach, here is the list that I made.

-Finish college

-Publish my second book

-Find a new industry to work in

-Surround myself with better people.

-Climb out of the hole (meaning get out of debt)

So, I picked up the pieces of my life and got back to work. I was 24, in serious debt, couldn’t find a job that would pay me nearly anything I was making in the mortgage game and all my “friends” or at least the people who I thought were my friends seemed to disappear with the money, the girlfriend and the stuff. I literally just had to hit the reset button on my life and start over.

24-28I got in to Multi-level marketing, first with a company called Mona-Vie and then eventually in a company called RevvNRG. I always thought MLM was a scam but saw a lot of people making money in it. I figured if some barley high-school educated bozo’s from the Utah could make a couple million bucks on the Network Marketing game, how hard could it be? So I jumped in with both feet.

It took me about 18 months before I saw my first $10,000 month. As it turns out, you really can make some money in MLM. The next 3 years of my life seemed as if I was getting back in to my groove. I was traveling around the country, building a huge organization, making great money again and speaking on stages around the world telling stories of success and rising back up once life had knocked me down. I graduated college, published my next book The Young Entrepreneurs Guide to Life.”

I felt relieved in a lot of ways. I felt as if I had a handle on things, life threw me some curve balls but I learned how to bend and fold in the situations and survive. As I was nearing 28 Years old, I began to reach my peak again. Now that I had the money game on point it was time for me to start living again, for me, this meant lifestyle.

What do I mean by lifestyle? Well to me “life” encapsulates all the things a human being has to do to live. Meaning we need to eat sleep, make a living, have friends etc. “Style” is a manner of doing something, so when you put those two together what you have is how a human being goes about living. I’ve come to understand that living life can be done many ways. Some people live very safe, they like a 9-5 job with benefits and 2 weeks vacation. Some people don’t even get that choice, they feel stuck in their life due to circumstances. Example: The man who worked as a mechanic his whole life because that’s what his father did and grandfather father did before him or the idea that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Well, thats all bullshit at least to me it was.

So I picked up a few new hobbies, and got back in to someones that I had neglected due my crazy ass work schedule. Here is what it looked like.

So I finished, college, published my new book, completely changed the people I surrounded myself with and found myself 5 years in to a promising industry that was allowing my to travel the world, live my dreams and crawl out of the black hole that I had lived in. I wish i could end the story here, because then it would be a happy ending, but there was one more twist that was going to happen to me before I hit the age of 30. But I at least got my dream trip of traveling around South East Asia and Surfing in Bali twice before shit hit the fan again. (see below)

And then I got back to America. in fact it was Early May of 2013 when I arrived home from Bali for the second time that year to find out the master distributor of the Network Marketing company I was involved in was trying to do an end-run on the distributor base and secretly move them in to another company all together. When I caught him in the middle of it, I blew the whistle (get that full story here). 

In a mad rush to try to save what was left of the company, I began negotiations to broker a buyout from another MLM company. In fact that is where I was last year on my 29th birthday. Even though we were able to get a deal done, it ultimately fell apart because as it turns out the owner of the company I was staying loyal to was scarred and greedy.

Fortunately, being down the “put all your eggs in to one basket” road before, I had some back up plans this time around. I had learned how to trade the FOREX market (read that story here) for some time and I had a little Tech-Start-up called Roommatefax.com that I had been working on for a little time. Although I though I would have at least another year of residual income to count on from my network marketing ventures, I didn’t so I had to execute that back-up plans a little faster and take some side consulting work to make ends meet till I got them off the ground.

That brings us to the present, and as I cross the threshold into my thirties, I took some time to reflect, and these are the questions that kept repeating to me in my head.

-Have I lived honestly and had the best intentions?

-Did I take all the risks necessary to pursue success no matter the cost and safety?

-Would those (dead or alive) who came before me and made sacrifices for me so I could get ahead in life be proud of the man I have become?

-Will I be able to look my child in the eyes one day and proudly tell him or her about the choices I have made?

-If I were to die tomorrow, did I accomplish everything I set out to do? and when some of those things failed, did I see them through till the end and learn something from the experience? 

-Have I lived with Honor, Integrity and loyalty?

-Was I a good son, brother, friend and human being?

I can honestly and confidently answer yes to all these questions, and that makes me grateful. I always thought by 30 years old, I’d have a million dollars and today I’m 30 and  I don’t have a million dollars, in fact, I’m far from it, but what I do have is something that money can’t buy. What I have is something a lot of rich men spent their entire life chasing but could never seem to find. It’s the thing that most people live their whole life trying to find but it eludes them. What is it? Love. I’m surrounded by it and all the things that happened to me in my life were for a reason, they were to keep me safe from people, places and things, and sometimes from myself. I had lots of guardian angels that came in the form of people and circumstances.

I did my best to put Love out in the world, to give it when I could and try to keep the faith that it was there even when I couldn’t see it. I found hope, even when good people died or went to jail. I make hard amends to people I disliked, and let go of hatred for those I could justifiably hold resentments against. I found out what kind of man I was when life got hard, and saw what I was capable of when surrounded by the right people and situations. I learned to have a thick skin, be fearless and most importantly, not take life to seriously.

So all that’s left to do is make a new list. The list will probably have some things like get married, have kids etc. For me, it’s an open book. A big blank canvas waiting to be filled with life, love and memories. Fortunately, I’ve got quite a bit of experience now and I believe my best years are ahead. My 20’s were the minor leagues, and now its time for the major’s and I can’t wait to start playing!

Thanks for all the love and support! See you at the top!

-Steve Wolf

 

 

(You are in Part 2 of 2, to see part 1, click here) /////and scroll down because all my favorite Vice.com videos are at the bottom of this post. 

It is always interesting having conversations with people when it comes to questioning their belief systems. Depending on the emotional intelligence ofvice-logothe individual you might find yourself in a very sticky situation if you begin to allege that what ever the believe is simply not true. No one likes to have their bubble popped, and for a long time, I believed that even if I was to send the person in a tail spin temporarily by popping their bubble, I honestly believed that the truth would set them free, and even though they would hate me in the moment they would thank me for it later. They approach worked about 1% of the time.

Case and point. One day I made some comment on Facebook about why football was a modern-day bread and circus. I went on to say that  “it is ridiculous to spend as much time, money, and effort following, knowing about and discussing football games, players etc.” What happened next was absolutely mind-blowing. A group of my so-called “Facebook” friends turned on me and started jesus_footballattacking me. It was as If I told them Jesus doesn’t exist and their mom is a Kunt!

As I watched these people attack me personally and go through my past Facebook posts trying to find hypocritical statements that would give them more fuel to de-legitimize me as an individual proving to anyone who looked at the post that I was an idiot and fuck me because I didn’t like football. I should have known better. You can questions someone’s religion, you can punch them in the face or call them an idiot, but don’t EVER attack football! And if you are going to attack football, don’t do it in a public forum like Facebook, ask me how I know. I’m pretty sure I lost about 25 or so Facebook friends that day.

So what does this have to do with VICE. Well everything actually. As one of my favorite political philosophers Herbert Marcuse wrote about in his book The Dimensional Man. He introduced the idea of “Repressive-Desublimination.” It’s the idea that Pop-Culture eclipses real culture. For example, give a 21-year-old the option to listen to Frederick Chopin or Flo-Rida and see what happens. Even though Chopin is considered by many to be one of the best pianists of all time, most of my generation doesn’t even know who he is.

Here is a better example, and one you test. Next time you’re in a group, ask the group “who here know’s who Brad Pitt is married too?” Guaranteed 100% will know the answer. Then ask “Can anyone in here name just 2 standing supreme court justices.”

No one will get that one. So what does this all mean? It simply means that the media has done an incredible job of keeping us fat, entertained and happy. This won’t stop either. As long as we continue to plug-in and support shows like MTV’s Teen Mom, or Jersey Shore, and have a bigger turn out for the super bowl than the popular presidential vote. The Media or the people/corporations that control the media, aka: the elitists, illuminate, the Bush’s, Clear channel, AOL-Time Warner, Disney, The Kerry’s, Powell’s, News Corp, GE, and of course Wal-Mart will continue to sell you watered-down cheap thrills, food, explosions, wars, and fake Chinese-made bullshit wrapped up in American flags as long as we continue to buy it.

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Click to Enlarge

So coming back to why I love Vice is because they are the one entity that is going against the mainstream and finally getting some traction. If we as a public sphere could become more educated as a culture, then we could do a better job at such things like electing public officials or not allow ourselves to be manipulated by some dodgy lobbyists looking out for the corporations the represent and not the people. I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with anything. I’m not representing a conservative or liberal biased here. I’m not even going to tell you what you should or shouldn’t believe, all I ask is that you look and decide for yourself.

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God, or the Universe, (what ever you believe) gave a you a brain and the ability to reason so that you could make informed decisions about your life and the world around you. As for as American Democracy is concerned, what I believe is that because it is a democracy, we all rise or fall together as a nation of people. Just because I may have been against the war in Iraq doesn’t get me off the hook for all the innocent people who died out there at the hands of American Soldiers. If you disagree, good, but what did you do to stop it then?

You see, in a democracy, like it or not, any decision made as a country represents the individual decision I make or don’t make if I agree to call myself an American Citizen. So with that being said, lets stop complaining about shit that we “DO” have control over. Educate ourselves, and become a more informed populous. A more informed populous = better elected officials. Better elected officials = Government that represents the people better. Government that represents the people better makes for a happier life. Happier life = longer life and a solid future for us all. Choose wisely.

Now here are my most favorite media spot Vice ever put out, I guarantee once you watch one or two, you will be hooked too! After all, the truth feels good!

Here are some of my favorites!!!

Vice (Show: Guide to Travel) North Korea, the only American media outlet ever to get in to the country. 

Vice (News) the aftermath of Iraq and Afghanistan (This is what winning looks like)

Vice (Documentaries) “The Jesus of Siberia” Classic Vice reporting! Awesome

Vice (Picture Perfect) Saudi Arabian Women “Unveiled” 

Vice (Fresh off the Boat with Eddie Huang) FOB in Mongolia

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8v9Gw9BJB0

Vice (Far out series) Surviving in the Siberian Wilderness for 70 Years

See more at Vice.com

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As you may or may not know, I am somewhat of a political / media watch dog. If you are not sure what a media watch dog is, let me fill you in. The “Media Watchdog” is  a person or organization guarding against illegal practices, unacceptable standards or inefficiency in the media, and the “Political Watchdog” is a body or person which watches something, especially government departments, or businesses, to see that regulations are being obeyed.

Usually, other self-proclaimed watchdogs like myself can be a little extreme. Like my main man conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of infowars.com.

Although Alex does make some valid points, he can go a little off the deep end from time to time as seen in the video. Then of course there is my favorite local activist/antagonist Mr. Mark Dice. Mark and I have done some activism together and I really like working with him. He is probably the most Punk-Rock political watch dog/activist that I have ever had a chance to know. He makes some ridiculously entertaining content showing just how brain-dead some people really are. Check out this video

So aside from some very animated personalities that are very clear on their agendas and absolutely serve a purpose in not only pushing the limits of, but reinforcing our 1st amendment right to free speech and press; where can we find some real news that speaks to our culture? This is a questions that I posed some years ago, and while I was in my undergrad program at CSUSM I did a very interesting research project on media outlets around the world to see just how fair and balanced our news outlets here in the states measured up to news outlets outside the country.aljazeera-english-logo

As it turned out, Al Jazeera, the Iraqi based news conglomerate headquartered in Qatar was gave the most fair and balanced report based on the criteria that I had set which by the way was non-biased, and compared all the major U.S. networks and others from around the world like the BBC, Australian and Russian news. In an even more surprising turn of events, out of the 25 media outlets I compared, the U.S. media outlets didn’t even break the top 10 out of 25 for being the most fair and balanced. There were communist countries and Theocracies that had more fair and balanced news than anything we were putting out. Sad? That doesn’t even begin to express how it made me feel.

So for the next 5 or some odd years, Al Jazeera was my go-to network to get my daily dose of what was going on in the world. Although they were somewhat limited as to what was happening in America, I could at least get an idea of what was happening in the world around me with some amount of confidence that the information that was being given didn’t have some secret plot or agenda involved in it.

v21n3-cover-72Then about 2 years ago, I rediscovered Vice media which was a little magazine publication out of Montreal founded in 1994 by Suroosh AlviShane SmithGavin McInnes. I remember seeing publications of Vice magazine back in 2002 while I was attending the Magic International Trade Show in Las Vegas Nevada promoting my clothing company. The magazine back then seemed to appeal to a very sub-culture group of New York hipsters but upon further investigation, the articles seemed to speak to me in a way where they weren’t biased, they were just writing content in a way that really engaged my generation. In fact I remember thinking to myself “wow, if this could only reach main stream press, we might actually be on to some kind of cultural revolution in this country!” Then I put the mag into the the magazine holder next to old editions of Surfer and Thrasher and didn’t hear or see anything about Vice for years.

It made me a little sad because after everything I have seen and lived through over the past 10 years, I knew that the ideas that Shane Smith and Vice were putting out were way ahead of their time and that no one from the main stream media would even blink or think twice about giving these guys some love for investigative journalism or writing even though it was some of the most real, and thought provoking writing I had ever seen in any publication to date at that time.

Furthermore, knowing that “we” (meaning America politically, socially and psychologically) were on the brink of indoctrinating a generation (AKA the “Gen-Xers” and “Millennials” or “My generation”) of mindless media Zombies through use of consumerism, advertising and scare-tactics, I become more and more apathetic to the political process. This all came to a head in my last year of my undergraduate studies in college when I came to the realization that by going to and completing college only reinforced the ideas and ideologies I already believed and confirmed my biggest fear to be true.

What was that fear of mine? My fear was that college, a place that I was raised to believe was a market place of ideas where you could freely discuss any and all subjects turned out to be an outrageously expensive watered-down version of liberal pop-culture indoctrination with a blip of conservative ideas that were only entered in to the discussion so the institution could make the claim that they were being fair.

I went to college somewhat optimistic that would be able to find like-minded people who like me were fed-up with the bullshit, and ready to instate some kind of change, some how through activism, political awareness, or  in the very least, entering alternative ideas in to the classroom. But what I found was that the same brain-dead zombies who weren’t in college were really not all that much different then my classmates at all. My college experience felt more like going to the DMV for a couple of years with the exception of a couple teachers who were my only light in that pop-culture media cesspool, and I am grateful they were there, because without them, it would have truly been a lost cause and waste of time and money.

article-2333102-1A0EFCD8000005DC-279_306x423When I found Vice again 2 years ago, I quickly realized that they had come a long way and that people were really starting to take notice. What changed in me? Nothing. What did Vice do differently to attract more people to it? Nothing. They stayed true to their core ideas which I must say is pretty fucking Punk-Rock considering every single media conglomerate in this country has been bought-up re-sold and watered down to 2 very singular ideas. 1) NBC, CNN, and MTV – They gay loving, super liberal, democrat blue team or 2) FOX, ABC, and ESPN The bread and circus, gay hating, gun-toting bush-loving AMERICA fuck-yea red team. There is no 3rd party, there is no middle any more, there is only Vice.

Here is a good example of the mentality behind  Vice’s political views: In a March 2008 interview with The Guardian, Shane Smith (Vice Founder) was asked about the magazine’s political allegiances and he stated, “We’re not trying to say anything politically in a paradigmatic left/right way … We don’t do that because we don’t believe in either side. Are my politics Democrat or Republican? I think both are horrific. And it doesn’t matter anyway. Money runs America; money runs everywhere.”

This statement personified exactly how I felt. It spoke to me in a way even Al Jazeera couldn’t because even though they put out fair and balanced content, they are not here and they don’t pretend to understand the struggle of my generation. All that I ever wanted was to be told the truth. Stop lying to me and tell me the truth. It’s so comical because it seems like despite knowing that we are being lied to on a daily basis, no one seems to give a shit anymore. Russell Brand says it the best here in this interview on Newsnight with Jeremy Paxton on the BBC network.

Continued in Part (2) Where I share my favorite Vice.com highlights.

3072834In about a month (June 13 to be exact) I am turning 30 years old. It seems that even though I have arrived at this point in my life with a nonchalant free-spirited attitude not giving any real weight, worry or concern to the age milestone, people around me seem to think that it is a huge life changing event. I never really understood the phenomena of people getting anxious each year they grow older. For me, I have always believed in the buddhist ideology that our body started dying the day we were born and more importantly that this (life) is all temporary. I also did most of my radical changing in the early parts of my 20’s. Meaning that from where I am sitting today, I have direction, purpose and drive and I am not nearly as impressionable as I was at 22.

Before I go off on a philosophical rant about my metaphysical beliefs in modern Tibetan Buddhism, lets just agree that it’s impossible to get younger, all we have is the body were given, and one day, like it or not, I am going to physically DIE! I cannot change these things no mater what I do, therefore for me to get upset that my body is getting older is about as crazy as crying because the sun keeps coming up every morning.

So why is turning 30 such a big f&^%ing deal. Well, depends on who you talk to me. For me, the only real mile stone that I set out to accomplish by 30 years old was that I would stay sober (as I have been since 16 years old) and that I would be a millionaire. Fortunately I am still sober after 13 years and counting, but I haven’t quite made my first million dollars yet, but I’ve done ok. Perhaps just because we’re 30, we fill its high time we get our shit together. All my friends seem to be getting married, having babies and doing the things “adults” do. There is nothing wrong with that. Some of my friends refuse to do this as for me, I have always been open to it. In fact I look forward to getting married and having kids of my own to indoctrinate in to mini me’s! For fun I took a list that I found on Buzzfeed.com entitled “30 signs you’re turning 30.” and added my own twist 🙂 Enjoy.

You get carded, and your first instinct is, “AWESOME, then your annoyed.

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Instead of drunken party photos, your Facebook friends are all about the baby pics.…and marathon times.

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You have 10,000 business cards from old jobs that you have no idea what to do with.

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You find celebs who are in their early thirties and think, “There’s still hope, or it’s time to switch careers.”

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You’re getting increasingly scared to check your credit score.

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You’re seriously thinking about getting a dog. No, having a baby. No, definitely getting a dog.

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When you do drink beer, it’s not Spuds choice, it’s Imported or micro-brewed locally from organic hops.

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You’d rather pay a little more for a “nice, clean” hotel room than cram into a hostel with 12 of your friends.

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Everything cool is being marketed to people younger than you now.

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You’ve definitely lost the enzyme that lets you digest Taco Bell.

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There’s an increasing number of musical artists you haven’t even heard of.

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You realize your parents were your age (or younger!) when they had you, and you start cutting them some major slack.

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Teen slang words like “YOLO” makes you viscerally angry.

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An 11-year-old has to show you how to do something on your smart phone.

When you watch teen movies/TV shows, you find yourself siding more with the parents than the kids.

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The Punk-rock scene is truly done.

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 ok. No that we have had some fun, let’s get real. Continue on to part 2 for the epic conclusion to this blog 🙂