Author Archive

SXSW 2014 Panels – Please Vote

Published by 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 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 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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I’m Not That Nice.

Published by 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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Countrywide is killing me – part 2

Published by January 24th, 2009 in My Big Mouth  No Comments »  

Some really great news arrived this week. After three months of contacting Countrywide several times a week and getting a different story each time we made contact with a real negotiator! Shelley Chase, a senior negotiator has been assigned to the account.

This actually all started last July but the short sale process didn’t start until we found a buyer in November. If you’re calling CW for a new loan ya get right in. Try calling to arrange a short sale – complete nightmare. In addition I have researched this some and CW seems to purposely stall on these transactions. Too me, it makes no sense because I would want to get rid of a house when I have a huge inventory of foreclosures like they do now.

Out of frustration and complete desperation I wrote this post and broadcast a link over twitter. You can see at the bottom of the post a few of the people who helped retweet. Why I say few is there were many people who helped yet the tweetback does not show all for some reason. Traffic to this blog increased over 700% – that’s huge! Thanks again to all of you that helped me make a noise. Although CW will not admit it the noise we all made is why finally a real person has made contact.

Before you get all excited like my realtor did something does not seem right. Shelley Chase has only made contact with my realtor and not me, and Shelley has not responded to an email I sent asking why I have to jump through hoops again.

Countrywide has now requested that I resubmit all my paperwork all over again. New everything! Their excuse is because this madness has taken so long the paperwork is outdated. WHAT! I’m I missing something here? Countrywide caused this delay, not us! It’s their fault they gave us the runaround.

So although Shelley Chase made contact with my realtor there is absolutely no forward momentum. My situation has not gotten better; in fact it’s much worse. The paperwork they have is more than enough to start and complete the process and I fear once again we’re getting the “Countrywide Shuffle”. As many of you know if I didn’t pick up this winter homeless shelter temp job in December I would literally be homeless myself right now.

I sure hope this nightmare ends soon. Countrywide looked like the best lender at the beginning, but they are horrific to deal with!

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Countrywide Home Loans is killing me

Published by January 17th, 2009 in My Big Mouth  9 Comments »  

First a little history:

November 16, 2007 I had major surgery and my employer let me go on my first week home on disability. At the time I could not even drive so it was not until the first of the year that I was able to look for work. I aggressively looked for work everywhere and anywhere. Both high-end and minimum wage jobs, yet the minimum wage jobs won’t hire me because they believe I won’t stick around, and executive employment can be hard to find. I lived off credit for 9 months increasing my debt to a crisis level. I sold almost everything I had at pennies on the dollar.

In June of 08 I applied for food stamps because I was out of food and money. In July I accepted a job in Los Angeles and relocated. Unfortunately the move to LA was at reduced pay and a higher cost of living so I could not pay both rent and a mortgage. My realtor tried to sell the house and we dropped the price $5k every two weeks.

October of 08 I was laid off and right now I only have a temp job that lasts another 58 days. The gig has no benefits and only pays rent. Thanks to some loving people I’m not going hungry, and because I have now given my life to help the homeless I have some peace about my situation, but I am still in a very serious crisis.

Here is the deal:

In November of 08 we found a buyer for my house in ST Louis and started the process of a short sale with Countrywide, yet it has been nightmare after nightmare. To make a very long story short Countrywide is killing me. You can never get to a manager, or the people who are (supposedly) negotiating the short sale. It took a month to schedule an appraiser yet they assigned the data to only one of the loans causing more delay (they kept saying it was not done when my realtor was with the appraiser at the house)

I call a few times a week and they give a different story each time. “It will be 7 business days” they told us in December before the holidays. After the holidays they say that 7 days was just to assign it to a negotiator so now it will be another 10 business days. Once 10 days was up I called and they responded 10 business days is just a ballpark figure. My realtor also calls and gets the same madness.

You’d think that since we have a buyer and the offer is right in line of market value Countrywide would want to make this happen so they don’t have to sell it themselves. Not the case and my buyer is now done with this. My realtor has had other short sales competed in half this time but with different lenders.

I’ve been trying to do the right thing and I paid my mortgage with my credit cards for almost a year. Of course they are maxed but I’ve never missed a minimum payment. Yesterday that payment jumped because Bank Of America more than doubled my interest rate. Now, it’s beyond me to pay. I called B of A last night and they closed all of my accounts and slammed my credit. They said I have been a faithful customer for a long time with never even a late payment, but because my mortgage has not been paid in 150 days they have no choice.

This flat out SUCKS! 14 years ago I was homeless and I’ve worked so hard to restore my credit. If Countrywide had moved on this like they should, and kept their word, I would not be in such a bad situation, oh, I’m still in crisis but now I’m tanked.

This laptop, my car, some furniture, and a box of photos is all I have left.

Please do my a big favor – blog about this, tweet this, forward to someone, yell real loud because if Countywide is doing this to me I am sure there are many others who Countrywide is tanking.

Also, going through a foreclosure/short sale procedure is HORRIBLE. It makes you feel dirty. I feel dirty! I’ve done all I can and I work very hard to do the right thing – always! But this just makes me feel like I am less of a human. With what’s going on in the world today you know someone who also is in a similar situation. Be nice to them, take them to dinner and the movies – get them out of their problem! Chances are they don’t have money to get out much and are living in their crisis. At the very least be a good listener. Losing a house after losing a job is horrible!

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Mark Horvath on blogtalkradio – using social media for social marketing

Published by January 11th, 2009 in Life's Lessons, My Big Mouth  1 Comment  

John Lawlor interviews me for blogtalkradio. The topic is using social media to help bring awareness to the issues of homelessness. Two months ago I started with only $45, a small camera, laptop, and I aggressively used twitter to make things happen.

Wow – I don’t know how I did it but I was able to work in The Dream Center, Union Rescue Mission, Andy Bales, Michael Buckingham, Guy Kawasaki , and many more. We talked extensively about homeless issues and I used real life examples of my social media successes like “persuading” Guy to build – the best resource for current homeless news.

I reference a post about a baby that showed up at the shelter you can read here. Homeless has a new face and that is two parent families with children.

If you would rather listen to the podcast you can download it here

Honestly, this was my first time doing live radio in over 7 years so I was very nervous. I didn’t say everything I wanted to say the way I wanted to say it. Plus, even in the few weeks since it was recorded I have learned so much more about social media and working with homeless services. The post below this is a good example. That all said, there’s still plenty of great stuff that I think you’ll enjoy.

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – twitter for raising $

Published by January 9th, 2009 in My Big Mouth  1 Comment  

This week David Armano with the help of his network of influence used twitter to raise lots of money to help a homeless family in need. That is not only good, it is flat out GORGEOUS. My network of influence is very small compared to David’s, but once I saw the first tweet I screamed as loud as I could to everyone who would listen. I also donated money because I would not ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do myself. Yes, I’m in a financial crisis of my own, but I am sick and tired of people talking about giving yet not taking any real action.

The bad is nonprofits who are grasping for air as it is will only see twitter and not the relationships. Twitter was only the vehicle. David could have sent out a direct mail piece and raised this money. If you are jumping on twitter to raise money – GET OFF! You clearly do not understand the value of building relationships or social media.

The ugly is right now while I type there is a marketing firm out there who felt this buzz and is going to try and sell twitter to a client as a fundraising strategy. Seriously, it would be so gorgeous if more of this genuine compassion takes place, and I hope it does. But the more people with big hearts try and help their neighbors in need, the more the big ugly nonprofit fundraising machine will try and sell the “miracle” of twitter to their clients. That is uglier than my step-sister!

My friend Moira Nordholt wrote a great post “Influence 4 Compassion” – I’m adding it because I met Moira on Christmas day this year. She was using twitter to help the homeless. Of course, that got my attention. #tweetUplift

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Powerful short video says it all – invisiple people

Published by January 9th, 2009 in My Big Mouth  No Comments »  

This short video shows one of the main reasons I started

Thanks to Lloyd Davis for the video and Tessy Britton for bringing it to my attention

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That’s what I’m talking about – bye-bye Magic Jesus

Published by January 7th, 2009 in My Big Mouth  2 Comments »  

Phil Cooke rocked my world tonight with a great post: “Conversation #4 For 2009: The Prosperity Gospel Is Lost”

Two quotes that slam me:

“Some of the greatest men and women of God were poor and it had no impact on their right relationship with God.  So rich or poor, we can all serve God and make an impact.”

“It’s raised a lot of money for sure, but at the same time has created a selfish generation of Christians.”

Flat out. I’ve tried “Magic Jesus” and it does not work.  Rain falls on the just and the unjust. We cannot buy God’s favor, and if someone is telling you we can – they are lying.

The prosperity gospel plays off our greed and our selfish desires just like the subprime mortgage lending that now has America in crisis.

The commercialized church is a joke. It does far more harm than good! The commercialized church needs to change or die.  My prayer is that in this troubled economy everyone will wake up to what really matters, and discover the real truth about God!

to quote once more from Phil’s post:

“Whatever you think from a theological point of view, it’s time to put prosperity teaching to bed.”

You cannot grow a giving heart when you are always focused on receiving. Bye-bye Magic Jesus. It’s time to pray for other people and not a new Mercedes.

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