Author Archive

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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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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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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Charles Lee has great ideas.

Published by January 5th, 2009 in My Big Mouth  1 Comment  

I have been wrestling with this post all day mainly because I am not a writer and I honestly want to convey all the love and respect I have for Charles Lee.

We connected kind of by accident. His church needed a rent-a-drummer and I needed food. Seems like a match to me. What I didn’t plan on is how much Charles wrecks me. My first thoughts were, “this is cool I get paid to sit in church”, but when Charles started to speak I was so challenged I could not take their money. Heck, I want to support them. You need to support them.

Well, I’ve TRIED to give them their money back, but they keep sending me checks. How I’ve personally been able to deal with this is I don’t play drums – they are filing my fridge. As some of you know I am going through a financial challenge and literally the money New Hope sends me was my only income for a few months. The temp job I just landed only pays rent so the money they send me is still filling my fridge. To my shock on December 15th the whole church made a commitment that I would not go without food in 2009. You know what, I believe them – they are not like any other church I have ever experienced.

Again – words cannot describe Charles Lee.

Charles has lots of great ideas. Ok, one may be questionable. He actually allowed me to speak at three of his services. Me?!! You can read about it and download the podcast here. I don’t point to the service because of me. What Charles said to his church that day I never believed was possible. You’ll have to hear for yourself.

Here are more of Charles’s great ideas. The Idea Camp, The Freeze Project, and JustOne

But, and it’s a big BUT, Charles submitted an idea to a contest on . Wait! That’s not all! His idea made it to the finals. The winning top 10 ideas will be presented to the Obama administration just before inauguration day. Cool, huh?

So click on the following link and vote for this cool idea

National Campaign to Build More Trafficking Shelters

Then check out New Hope’s website and sign up for their podcast.

I’m telling ya. I never knew church could be so real! Charles Lee ROCKS!

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Donor Fulfillment & letting go

Published by January 3rd, 2009 in My Big Mouth  Comments Off on Donor Fulfillment & letting go  

I recently had an interesting experience that as a fundraiser hits home. Working at the winter shelter I saw a need a few weeks back. It was a huge need that seemed to go unnoticed and easy to solve. In true “hardly normal” fashion after trying to figure out how to work with the system to solve the issue I just ran to Home Depot and made it happen.

The next day the issue was still there and what I bought was never used. Honestly, it bugged me. I hate wasting money and the reason I made the purchase was to make that nights relocation easier on all.

Here it is a few weeks later and my donation is still not used as I INTENDED. Please notice those last two words.

This is what I learned:

As a donor, even though it was a small donation – I wanted to see what I donated being used. It is extremely important to show fulfillment to validate donor’s gifts.

As a donor – I need to let go! Although the reason I made the donation was not used as I PERSONALLY wanted it to be used, the organization decided to use it a different way. They are doing the work and they have to do what THEY feel is best for them. When giving a gift of any kind cut the strings. It’s not easy, but it is the right thing to do.

Interesting, though, both of those lessons are the exact opposite for us working in donor development. We must show donors their money is being spent as intended. Designated funds is a law! But as a donor we must let go and allow our gifts to be used by the organizations we give to as they wish.

This has been on my mind for a bit so I thought I would start the conversation.

What do you think?

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Be Yourself – Always!

Published by January 2nd, 2009 in My Big Mouth  Comments Off on Be Yourself – Always!  

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thanks to my friend @LizzHarmon for the quote. Interesting she tweet it today. I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions, but some new friends invited me to a party at Venice Beach today. Part of the deal was everyone had to say a resolution on camera to make a video. Luckily, I missed the camera, but I would have said, “be myself – no matter what”!

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Sign of the times?

Published by December 29th, 2008 in My Big Mouth  3 Comments »  

@abc7 just broadcast this tweet: OC teens unleash paintball attack on homeless man, permanently damaging his eyesight:

I hope you watch the video and I pray it pisses you off.

It made me so mad I had to take a walk. While at the corner store security comes dragging in a middle-aged clean-cut white guy. He had just lifted a Sneakers bar and got caught. The whole thing seemed kind of odd to me, and to make it even a little weirder the clerk behind the counter says, “Everyone is going gangsta right now because no one has money”! He was so casual about his words I got the feeling shoplifting is not only increasing…it is becoming rather normal.

Point blank – a few weeks back I was in a city meeting and unofficial comments were made about the possibility of riots this February. With more massive layoffs coming, a new administration, and the backlash of the down economy it is not far-fetched.

Over a year ago I wrote this post, “Serious change is coming! Are you ready?”.  At the time I was employed in an organization that is very superficial and that has some very “unique” beliefs. Good people, they just don’t know any better. I was not my (hardly) normal self back then and genuine honesty was discouraged. That said, I may have written it a little different today, but much of the post is still right on. The point I was trying to make is simple: because we are entering into unstable times relationships with good, honest, and loyal people are all that matter, and building mutually beneficial relationships should be our priority – not the accumulation of financial wealth!

What do you think about any of this?

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