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On Life Or Death Situations

I remember it like yesterday. I was 14 years old. My mother is very religious, so she used to drag me and my older brother William to church with her all the time. One night, she had us come with her to a meeting that involved the church anniversary. We were upset, but understood that it was pretty late, so we didn’t want her to be alone at night. So we went along.

Lucky for us, we were not the only kids who got dragged along with their parents to this church meeting. We grouped up with 2 other boys and went just outside the church doors to talk. We started debating who we thought were the best rappers at the time and what the best video games were. I don’t know how it lead to this, but we began to start freestyle rapping to one of the church boys beat boxing.

As I start to do my corny rap, in a distance I see a boy running as fast as he can down the street towards us. As he got closer, you can see that he was being chased by two guys with gang colors on them. The boy eventually got near us, and ran right past us, it was so quick. One of the guys chasing the boy continued the pursuit, but the second one spotted us and stopped immediately.

Fuck.

I began to back up slowly towards the church doors to open it, but it was locked. I was giving signals to my brother and the other guys to back up with me. There was a doorbell there, and I placed myself in front of it pressing it radically behind my back so the guy could not see. For some reason that night, the doorbell did not work. I was the first person he walked up to.

“What that red be about?” he said to me. I understood what he meant, this particular area was known to be ruled by a Bloods gang. I had no real knowledge of the area, but I knew enough to know he was referring to something regarding his gang colors. The only thing was, I wasn’t wearing any red. After he said that, the first guy who was chasing the boy earlier came back. He yelled at his partner “come on!” His partner told him “go ahead” he wanted to “handle us.” The first guy looking frustrated just ran off, and left us with his partner, asking me again “What that red be about?”

“I don’t know” was my answer. After I said that, I looked down…. and saw a gun at my lower chest.

At that moment, all I could feel was the wind blowing on my face. I began to think about a bunch of random shit. Is this what the TV shows and books always talked about? Is this really it? Is this the end? I looked up at my brother and he looked horrified, as well as the other two boys. The guy was wearing an all black hoodie, with a red bandanna covering most of his face. I’m thinking to myself, at least let me see the face of this coward who is going to do this.

My brother said something. I can’t remember what it was, but it was bold and it took the guys focus off of me and towards William instead. He walked towards my brother, and I inched towards my brother too, showing that I was with him no matter what. Then something happened.

A little girl stood at the church door glass looking at us. I don’t think she was really aware of what was happening, she just looked. The guy then put the gun under his hoodie, but had it still pointing at us through the fabric. He then asked, “What you got on you?” This turned from a guy looking to do the unthinkable, to a robbery. As crazy as it sounds I was relieved.

We were kids, we had no money. But my brother took my CD Player and handed it over, and old me it was the smart thing to do. The guy took the CD player slowly backed up, then ran off. We immediately ran to the door and told the girl to open it. Thank God. The crazy part is, this is right outside of a church.

As soon as I walked in the church I was very normal explaining the situation, and then I just started crying my ass off.  That could have went either way, if it wasn’t for that little girl at the door. That night helped to shape who I am today. Life is short, and we only get one. There is a gun at my chest everyday, and I have to change the world before the trigger gets pulled.

Excuse any typos, or grammatical errors. Will fix later, typed from iPhone

Build Your House On Value

Common advice I used to always receive is to network and be a connector. While that’s a good way to come up, it’s not stable by itself. Its shaky, like a house of cards. I think networks are definitely important, but creating some form of value as a foundation to build your success “house” on is even better.

Value doesn’t catch feelings, value can’t stab you in the back, value can’t just decide it doesn’t like you anymore, in other words value isn’t human. If you build a house based on connections alone, you can go very far, but one card can cause the whole house to collapse. Then what do you have to fall on?

Lately I have been reading a ton of bios from great entrepreneurs and many of them who are wildly successful, didn’t get there by meeting a bunch of people. They got their because they locked in and created something incredibly valuable. The networking and helping people personally was like the icing on the cake. So do both.

Lock in. Create.

“We get paid for bringing value to the marketplace. It takes time to bring value to the marketplace, but we get paid for the value, not the time.” — Jim Rohn

Validating An Online Side Business Idea

sidehustle

I ran a short experiment on The Phat Startup, that challenged me to find a validated side hustle idea. I did it to help show people that starting is really simple. It’s not a short read, but it’s packed with enough information for you to use it as a guide to come back to. I hope this post helps sparks some of those fires you have inside yourself.

View post on The Phat Startup >>

How To Hustle Content Like A Movie Theater

This post originally appeared on The Phat Startup a while back. I thought it was still relevant, given the heavy focus on content all brands are now pushing towards. So, time to give it new life!

I had a great conversation with The Phat Startup co-founder James Lopez about Jay-Z’s ownership with the Nets. There were people criticizing him as if his position with the ownership club didn’t mean anything financially. Well, they were wrong. Jay has pulled a classic move that we jokingly coined the “movie theater hustle.” Give away the movie for little or nothing, and just make money selling the popcorn. Even though we were kidding around, its really a unique analogy for delivering value.

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Faith Without Works Is Dead

I’m as patient as they come, but sometimes when something clicks in me I ask myself “damn, why couldn’t I have figured this out earlier?” But I accept the way life comes, because everything surely does happen for a reason. Lately I been somewhat addicted to James Altucher blogs and Jim Rohn audio tapes. I connect with them. They come from places where I have been, and even where i’m currently at mentally, physically, and even financially. To “choose yourself” as James would say is to not let the world put you in the rat race, and to take hold of your destination. You can’t just say it, you need a daily practice that stimulates you mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

There were times in my life when obstacles got so hard I would get down on my knees and pray: “God, why me?”, “God, please help”, “God, give me this or give me that” you get the point. Little did I know all the things I was asking for was already given to me…..and you. See we are born chosen, its the reason we are even breathing. Its the reason you are alive, God chose you. The only thing left was for you to choose yourself. And that my friends requires a little work. … 

Most Valuable Twitter Accounts To Follow In 2014

This is really a best of 2013, but i’m looking to help people out moving forward. These following accounts have been a blessing, and helps to keep my Twitter timeline full of value, inspiration, great information, and laughs. You are what you eat, and who you follow on Twitter. I believe what you see on your timeline can effect your thinking, especially if you are a heavy user. Some nights I just can’t escape the talks of the tv show Scandal, others i’m joining in on how horrible my Knicks are. But overall, my experience on Twitter is a learning and networking experience. If you don’t already follow these accounts you should start today. In no particular order, except for the first one ;)

The Phat Startup

This goes without saying. I wish I could take credit for the dope tweets that come out of this account, but they are mostly from my partner James Lopez. On any given day you can catch inspirational pictures, links to our exclusive interviews with entrepreneurs, or just random rap lyrics. Follow this account if you are someone on your grind, and want to always get content that fits you like a glove.

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5 Sites To Create a Landing Page For Non-Coders

2013 was the big learn how to code year. I still believe it’s important to learn how to code, but now it’s far from being a reason not to start something. I feel like creating a landing page is a great way to start validating an idea. I emphasize ‘start validating’ because some people get stuck at this stage, and depending on your product it may not provide enough validated learning. A landing page is not a MVP, its one of many things you can do. We have some great resources including a “Side Hustle: 101″ mega post coming to The Phat Startup that will dig even more into that. When teaching people these strategies I always get the “I can’t code” or “don’t know where to start” push back. So I compiled 5 websites that can get you a landing page up and running in a hour or incredibly less. Disclosure: none of the links below are affiliate links. I won’t get paid for you using any of these products.

LeadPages

leadpages

 

I’m a big fan of the founder of LeadPages Clay Collins. He comes from a successful internet marketing background, so much of his past before starting LeadPages involved….creating landing pages. Because of his experience he knows exactly how to make it easy for someone to create a landing page with the least technical knowledge ever. LeadPages is literally point and click and comes with a wealth of templates, new ones released every single week. I would suggest if you are someone who continuously releases digital products online, then LeadPages is for you. The pricing is a subscription based $37 a month. As awesome as this product is, if you just need one landing page I would try some of the other options below. … 

Starting 2014 Early: How-To Entrepreneur Podcast

I thought I would kick start things a bit early, and announce my new podcast “How-To Entrepreneur.” I started this podcast because I feel like i’m better at speaking than blogging. Because of the lack of personal blog updates I figured a podcast would be the perfect format to deliver value and talk a bit The Phat Startup, projects in Newark, great content for entrepreneurs on the web, and much more. I will record episodes on Saturday nights, and post them on Sunday. So this has become my new weekend thing officially. Next week will be the first episode, along wit a fresh iTunes feed for you to subscribe to. See you soon!

Fear

Im scared. Im scared to fail. Im scared to let people down. Im scared of speaking in public. Im scared of a lot of stuff. The funny thing is, some of the things i’m scared of doing, i’m most known for. Nothing can remove fear from me, I’ve tried it. What I was able to do is instead of removing fear, is control it. Try to be the master of your own emotions rather than trying to get rid of them.

Fear became motivation. So when i’m nervous about something, I use it as motivation and tell myself its the next step. I have become so accustomed to fear, that if I don’t get a bit scared then the opportunity may not be big enough. I need it now. Its a complete 360. I say this because I speak to so many people who have the same fear as me. They look at me as if I have some secret to overcoming obstacles that I can reveal to them. I don’t.

We have more in common than you assume. My best advice is to work on changing the definitions of your emotions. I changed fear to motivation. Do the same.

Culture Not Color

I have been a fan of Steve Stoute for a while now. But, I feel like his latest interview alongside Ben Horowitz reveals more behind his belief. I love it.