SXSW 2014 Panels – Please Vote

Published by hardlynormal, August 20th, 2013 in My Big Mouth  No Comments  
sxswlogoThis year I am excited to be included in three SXSW panels:

A Core Conversation with Google Glass Explorers

I have always wanted to work with Serena. She is brilliant, fun and always full of  excitement. But what’s really going to make this panel amazing is Serena and I are just the facilitators, it’s our fellow Google Glass Explorers that will be sharing about all the cool things, and not so cool things about wearing Google Glass.

May I Have Your Attention, Please?

Obviously, sharing stories to effect social change is something I do everyday, so I was very honored when AARP asked me to join them in this conversation. John Martin, who produced this eight part video series on senior hunger will be joining me. Although this panel is not senior or age specific, I’m sure at some point we’ll talk about the Silver Tsunami coming, and how has media creators we can influence change.

Can we “game” homelessness?

This year, the plan is to enter @home in SXSW’s Film Festival. Excuse me for a second while I yell “HOW AWESOME IS THAT!!!” @home is not just a film, but a campaign with a smartphone game. This panel with Danny Albert, executive producer at Kindling Group,  and Heidi Boisvert from FuturePerfect Labs, will focus on the gaming aspect of @home campaign.

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Big Changes on and

Published by hardlynormal, April 6th, 2013 in My Big Mouth  1 Comment  

Once again it’s time for me to make a make changes to my online presence. When I started, the goal was to pick up some consulting work to get out of a horrible job. I worked for an employer that created the most horrible toxic work environment. Freedom of thought or speech was actually punished. 3856257792_4c482f05ab_oIt was hell! I only bring this up because my early posts reflect my trying to be free in a world where freedom was not allowed. The blog kind of was a mesh between marketing and whatever madness was going on in my head that day. There was really no direction to the blog until I started Invisible People and started writing about homelessness.

Back then the thinking was that Invisible People would just be homeless stories and Hardly Normal would be anything and everything else. At the time it made sense, but I started to look at the numbers and the future direction Invisible People is headed, and I realized I was sending traffic in two different directions. Even a bad marketer will tell you that’s kind of dumb, so I set on a quest of trying to merge the two.

Thanks to the amazing help from Raul Colon we were able to add a second blog to Invisible People and important all the homeless related posts off of Hardly Normal. This wasn’t an easy job. Raul worked hard to make it happen. Right now everything is good enough to go live, but there are some small ‘issues’ still being worked out.

Invisible People will continue to feature all the wonderful people I meet that are still experiencing homelessness, but now all the other great content created about homelessness will be right in the same spot. As far as the Hardly Normal site, since a lot of people have linked to posts, I figured I’d still leave all the homeless related posts up, but all new homeless related content will be on As many of you know, I became unemployed a few weeks ago. It’s actually a good thing. Given time and resources, my thinking is to transition into a resource for digital storytelling. But first I still have to create the We Are Visible community I have been trying to build for a few years!

If you’re reading this post because you subscribe to Hardly Normal’s RSS feed click here to subscribe to Invisible People’s RSS feed.

Some amazing things will be happening this year! Thanks everyone for your love and support.

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charity: water – amazing org, amazing marketing, awesome integrity!

Published by hardlynormal, March 21st, 2009 in My Big Mouth  1 Comment  

I had been following Scott Harrison on twitter for about a month yet didn’t know much about charity: water until he spoke at The Idea Camp. I was blown away. 100% of donations go to the need. He even pays credit card fees out of admin funds so every penny you give goes to provide clean water. AMAZING!

You don’t have to be a designer or marketer to appreciate this photo as the coolest nonprofit campaign EVER!

Now check out these videos!

Jennifer Connelly in charity: water Public Service Announcement from charity: water on Vimeo

The September Campaign Trailer from charity: water on Vimeo.

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Hundreds Homeless after Shelter Closes

Published by hardlynormal, March 16th, 2009 in My Big Mouth  No Comments  

Please watch this video. The homeless shelter where I was the outreach case manager closed. There are people who because of the economy lost their job and apartment who tonight are sleeping outside in the cold.

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Church Giving 100% of Donations to Hurting People

Published by hardlynormal, March 15th, 2009 in My Big Mouth  3 Comments  

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Best use of twitter, yet!

Published by hardlynormal, March 13th, 2009 in My Big Mouth  4 Comments  

I’ve been amazed at the power of twitter. I’ve used it to find raincoats, shortcuts on LA freeways, grocery lists, learn about PR, and connect to all kinds of cool people! But today I found the very best use so far.

We helped John a homeless friend who you met on travel up north to find work. Last night John was mugged and he lost everything. When you are homeless and lose everything it’s not like you can go to Macy’s and buy new clothes. You literally have nothing.

My first action was to go to Virgin Mobile and add some time to John’s phone. Next I tweet an urgent request for help to anyone in the Seattle area. RunJimmyRun was the first to respond and it just so happens John was a short distance from where Jimmy works. Jimmy helped John out with what he could and at least John will not sleep outside tonight. Last night he did and it was 27 degrees.

John is a great guy and has had a string of bad luck that is far worse than mine. My heart goes out to him. He has a long battle to go. He saved money so he could look for work and get back on his feet. Even his bags were taken, he has nothing! If you can help please let me know.

The collaborative real-time interaction of twitter made it possible to help a homeless friend through a crisis. So far helping homeless people is very best use of twitter that I know.

What’s the best use you have found for twitter?

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I’m Not That Nice.

Published by hardlynormal, February 26th, 2009 in My Big Mouth  4 Comments  

Today I am truly honored and humbled that Phil Cooke wrote a post about me. Please know if you read the comments I’m not a hero. Far from it! I’m really not that nice! Michael Buckingham said it perfectly, “I truly don’t think he can help it” – I can’t!

I am not this nice guy that wakes up in the morning motivated to help people. I just don’t see any other option but to help people.

Today the world is a mess. If I look at what’s going on I freak so I just focus on helping the hurting people directly in front of me. I cannot help people in New York or Chicago, but I can help the homeless I see here in Los Angeles. The interesting part is I feel they are helping me more than I’m helping them. After these last few months I will never be the same. My life is in a crazy perpetual crisis and if I didn’t start helping people I think I would have lost touch of reality.

I want to stop doing this. I want an easier and softer life. I quit all the time yet when I get close to really meaning it I hear this voice inside of me ask, “if not you, who?” It’s not that I am better than anyone, I simply take action. That’s it. No miracle, and most certainly I’m not a hero. I am just a hardly normal guy trying to navigate through an abnormal world by helping others.

Thanks you Phil for writing such a great post. Ya even connected it to Seth Godin’s, “Tribes”.

For all of you that left comments I am humbled and grateful, but stop smoking crack – I’m not that nice :-)

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Don’t miss the Idea Camp

Published by hardlynormal, February 23rd, 2009 in My Big Mouth  1 Comment  

When Charles Lee asked me to participate in the Idea Camp I was honored. With people like Brad Abare, Greg Atkinson, Dawn Nicole Baldwin, DJ Chuang, Mike Foster, Scott Hodge, Dave Mahanes, Dan Portnoy, David Ruis, Cynthia Ware, (click here for complete list) there had to be a mistake. I mean who would ask a loud mouthed guy like Hardy Normal to speak! Crazy!

Then today Charles announces the secret surprise guests and it wrecks me. I mean wrecked into tears. Not because Erwin McManus and Scott Harrison will be there. Both of whom I want to meet and it is like a crazy WOW, but Matthew Barnett is going to be there.

What hit me is all the pain of my past and my current crisis seems to now make sense. If you don’t know Matthew Barnett and the vision of the Los Angeles Dream Center is what God used to pick me up out of homelessness. (click here for a short video)

I have over 14 years of history with Pastor Matthew and I NEVER thought we’d be speaking at the same event. That just blows my mind. Truth is I probably shouldn’t be surprised. Years ago when my rock band played the Whisky a Go Go Matthew took the stage and told all the people in the club that not only would he pray for them, he’d fight for them because as he put it, “I wouldn’t want anyone praying for me that wouldn’t fight for me, too”. I still get chills thinking about him saying that to a secular crowd in a Hollywood nightclub. That is just one of many crazy stories of life at the Dream Center.

Please know what I felt this morning was not ego or pride. I was completely overwhelmed and honored. It’s not about me or Matthew Barnett. It’s all about what God continues to do in so many of our lives.

Too me there are two kinds of spiritual moments. There are the “lightning bolt” divine experiences that don’t happen often enough. And there are the little realizations that you’ve changed for the better that are far more common. This is almost impossible to put into words. If you look at my homelessness over 14 years ago and then walk through the last two years of crisis after crisis it’s a miracle that I’m even typing this. I moved to the Midwest 6 years ago and to be candid coming back to LA was never a plan. Neither was and working in homeless services. Now I’m a facilitator at the same event as the visionary that helped get me off the streets talking about poverty and homelessness! That rocks hard!

One of my homeless peeps came up to me last week with a joke. He asked, “Want to know how to make God laugh? Tell Him YOUR plans for YOUR life”. God without a doubt has a plan. There is no way any human could have made this happen and knowing that is what wreaked me.

Some of the greatest people I know will all be hanging out in the OC next weekend. Why not come and join us!

The Idea Camp

a free hybrid conference for idea makers (Feb 27-28, 2009 in Irvine, CA)

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humbled by Edward’s story – a true hero!

Published by hardlynormal, February 14th, 2009 in My Big Mouth  4 Comments  

Last night I was honored to work with a great team of people that helped a quadriplegic man get off the streets. I was also privileged and extremely humbled to meet our new friend.

The night before Edward and his brother slept outside in the rain. Edward is confined to a wheelchair and cannot feel anything below his neck. He has some slight hand movement but very little. They told me they found a couch on the curb and made a bed out of the soaked cushions. That alone is humbling!

My co-workers and I worked extra hard to make life a little easier on Edward and his brother. We made contact with the VA (Edward is a veteran and on Tuesday they’ll be able to help) and we were able to work out a hotel voucher. Because the shelter operates a school bus it would have been too much of a challenge for Edward to stay at the shelter. We also did his intake in our van so we would not have to lift him in and out several times. Not one person complained about putting in the extra effort to help Edward. We all really didn’t even talk about it, we just made it happen!

While driving Edward to the hotel he shared his story. Those of you that follow me on twitter know I often tweet about fighting back the tears while working in homeless services. This time I could not fight and while Edward spoke in a quiet yet happy voice tears rolled down my face.

Several years back Edward was in a horrible car wreck. In the car with Edward was his bride of 19 months and another good friend. They were hit by a drunk driver. The drunk driver freaked out and kept hitting the gas continuing to slam into the car over and over. The friend was thrown from the car and died. Edward’s wife also died in the wreck. Edward was flown to a hospital in a neighboring town. The hospital started to prep Edward for surgery and a 15 year-old girl also in critical condition was flown in moments later from a different car accident. The hospital only had one surgical team and Edward allowed the surgical team to work on the girl first consciously knowing that his decision would probably result in him being permanently paralyzed.

Edward said to me in a very confident voice, “she was only 15 and I was 43. I’ve lived a life. I had to let her go first”. I was too far gone to ask what happened to the girl. I could not say a word. My mouth was dry and tears were screaming down my face!

Edward’s story humbled me. I don’t know if I could make that sacrifice. Although he is numb from the neck down confined to a wheelchair he has no regrets. He was happy with whatever we presented to him and was a joy to work with. Many people get nasty because their coffee is cold, or they cannot find a covenant parking space.

Too me, Edward is a true hero and I will never forget him. His story has made a huge impact on my life. I often question the tiny sacrifices I’m making to help others and E gave everything to help a young girl he didn’t even know! Maybe he didn’t get his name in the paper or a spot on the Today Show, but no one should sleep outside in the rain, especially heroes like Edward!

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Published by hardlynormal, February 11th, 2009 in My Big Mouth  No Comments  

Thanks to my friend Charles Lee for connecting the dots this last Friday I spoke to a live crowd about the issues of homelessness. It was an amazing night and I was honored to be speaking at the same event with David Ruis.

Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine playing videos and speaking to a live crowd but it seems to be happening more frequently.

Here is a clip about the night from KAC Media

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