“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Calvin Coolidge

My college geography teacher had that equation written on his chalkboard the first day of class. He explained that what motivates you, determines which goals you’re capable of achieving, and what kind of life you’ll lead.

I left college later that year to work with the State Department in Iraq, but that equation never left me. Apart from its truth, its one of life’s most complex questions. What we’re motivated by says a great deal about our values, our potential, and our character. After completing my year in Iraq, I went back for more college, lived through Katrina, started a demolition company, sold it, went into sales, worked on offshore oil rigs, and even an oil refinery in Canton Ohio. After Hurricane Ike hit Houston I got on with a temp company responding to disasters across the country in the insurance adjusting industry. There’s nothing easy about catastrophe adjusting, but thats what made the work fulfilling. I also enjoyed connecting with new people, and found passion in the work as it empowered me to help others. As with anything, the more energy you pour into it, the better you get at it.

We Can, We Should, and We Must Do More

When you get to know someone, they’ll always tell you two things; their recent accomplishments, and current struggles. After handling over 6,000 catastrophe claims in homes across America, I’ve heard it all, seen more than I care to recall, and find that deep down, we’re all just alike. I encountered more situations than I care to recall where I was helpless to do anything. And that’s a terrible feeling. You come to terms with what you feel you have no control over, and push on. Work. Stay Focused on the positive. Until you can’t any longer. At a certain point you realize more could, and should be done.

I started donating small amounts to the different causes I’d come across. After doing this for an extended period, in over 20 major cities, and countless neighborhoods; it became less of a benevolent experience, and more of a headache. My mail, email, and phone were constantly blown up with non-stop marketing and solicitations. There had to be a better way.

Of all the apps, and social platforms on the market, I found that none actually improved lives by empowering users through their involvement with Brands. The same brands that rely on our loyalty. I envisioned A new commerce model that builds brand value by empowering consumers to impact the things important in their lives, in their communities.

Mark Twain once said, “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, and most do”. That’s actually all that most people do. I had no intention of building another platform that encouraged complaining and the spreading of trash. The many problems I witnessed across the country do not have easy solutions. The kind of positive change we need on so many levels, in so many communities; will require us to reevaluate our priorities, and start connecting with one another again. Not just those in our social media echo chambers, but also with the people in our community that we may not agree with. When open minded people of character and intelligence communicate about issues, problems start getting solved.

The process of learning about, engaging with, and supporting effective community nonprofits should be easier, and the process should be more engaging, transparent, and social. In our modern, multicultural, multiethnic, politically divided marketplace; brands are desperate to connect. While as consumers we’re judging brands on far more than just price and quality. The modern consumer (you and me) are inundated with nonstop marketing from the time we wake up, until the time we go to bed. Its excessive. Its so excessive that we’ve started subconsciously tuning it all out unless its something we personally care about. Personal connections for brands are extremely valuable. Everyone reading this has a Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) it’s about time we started using them collectively for human progress.

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” – Benjamin Franklin

I came across James Altucher when I decided to start trading high risk patent litigation stocks on the side. James wrote for Seeking Alpha, but after I started following him, I found he wrote about far more than financials, he wrote about life; and all of its craziness.

James takes the things that have scarred him personally, and instead of hiding these embarrassments like most of us do; he uses his to teach others, to spread uncommon wisdom, and in doing so he inspires others to seek greatness in their own way. He motivates his readers by inspiring them to find their better selves. To make decisions not based out of fear, but growth. Reading James, helped me take the leap from contract employee to Entrepreneur. To take my grand concept, my fanciful idea; and turn it into reality. It’s all about value creation.

Lets Make Our Purchases Matter

If you create value for others, they’ll create value in you. There is a process for everything; in business as in life; growth only comes from renewal. Inspiration drives innovation; innovation drives growth; growth facilitates prosperity; prosperity leads to unity.

We need unity now more than ever.

We need quality connections that unite and strengthen communities. That may sound like a grand idea; but its the foundation HelpFirst Inc. is built on.

If the greatest nation in the history of mankind can conquer the moon, win both world wars, bring the world online while creating a trade environment that gave more humans access to cell phones than clean sanitation,  we can do anything, but we have to work together. And we need to know what we’re motivated by as a people, and as individuals.

 

It was also symbolic, meeting James in Austin at SXSW. It was James who helped me to Choose Myself and start this crazy journey, and it was Austin that I moved to four years ago to start building the HelpFirst platform. James has had a tremendous impact on my life, and I would encourage anyone reading this to check out his articles or podcast. James promotes empowerment, and that’s what I want to help facilitate through the platform connections that folks make on HelpFirst. I want it to empower people to impact the things that matter in their life, with every platform connection. If we can make the American consumption process an empowering social experience with a process of guaranteed quality, unexpected efficiencies and unique value for consumers, businesses, and charities alike, while also improving the communities we operate in; we’ll have redefined the definition of success.

One of these days, I hope I have the courage to speak as openly and direct as James, and use my experiences to empower others.

 

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