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How I learned to stop worrying and love falling on my face

This is good. I’ve been riding a high induced by a self help haze for the last year. The fog is clearing and reality isn’t as pretty.

Last year I launched SwoleSnacks, and it was a lovely little failure. The subscription box with no subscribers. The little engine that couldn’t.

But it was fun, and the books that I read while launching it kicked off a major self-help growth spurt. From Jason Fried’s Rework to Tim Ferrissstoicism, James Altucher and too much more.

The downside was, I brainwashed myself with forced positivity.  Worse, I started preaching the self help dogma. It made me unbearable to be around. I was that guy. Someone actually told me, “you’re kinda like Tony Robbins, but without the skill.”

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This strange failure addiction started when I was 18 years old. I got into magic tricks because I thought it would solve my social anxiety. Instead I wound up spending all of my free time in Magic Forums and chatting with budding Houdini’s on AIM at 3 am (my screen name was bowb4darkness… watch out ladies).

One of those kids, Chase Hubler had some really cool magic ideas. In fact, he shared a trick he was working with the forums, and they exploded with excitement. They were begging to buy it.

“Well, I know some HTML, so why don’t we build a website, and you can sell your trick on it?” I suggested.

We weren’t planning on making a business out of it, but that’s how ImperfectReality was born. We were charging 20 bucks for people to receive an email with a pdf tutorial, and they were buying. We were growing.

Eventually Chase came up with a second great trick called Drawn Apart. We were one of the first Magic Retailers using YouTube to promote our product, and we had so many pre-orders that we decided to make a DVD.

We hired a talented web designer named Jake. He was the missing piece of our puzzle. Chase bought a new camera, filmed Drawn Apart, and was gonna send it to Jake to edit. Nothing was gonna stop us. Until…

Friday, October 13, 2006, Chase Hubler was in a severe car accident. He passed the next day.

I didn’t only lose a business partner that day, I lost one of my only friends. I had a few random clips of tricks from Chase, so I made this video to commemorate him. Ten years later, it still chokes me up.


There was a lot more to the story, but the company never recovered, and around 2007 we closed shop.

Face, meet floor.

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I focused on college, finished my Bachelors, then Grad school, and graduated right into the Great Recession. Six months later the Co-founder of ImperfectReality was a security guard working the night shift.

But it gave me time to focus on my next project, Profaganda. It was a place for college students to rate their professors on their political bias.

I know it’s terrible, but at the time it seemed like a great idea. I took what little money I had and invested it into hiring developers oversees.

Profaganda launched, and nothing. It wasn’t needed. Best efforts aside, it was a sinking ship.

I must have suffered some brain damage after that one, because my next project was SovietRussia.tv – aggregating funny and crazy videos from Russia. Fortunately I didn’t invest anything in that disaster.

It was time to focus on my career. The entrepreneurial world wasn’t working out, so security guard Vlad would take over the corporate world.

That’s how I ended up in a mailroom. Two college degrees and four attempted companies later, I was sorting mail for a living. The job was soul sucking, but the dream lingered in me.

I did make it out of the mailroom, but it wasn’t easy. With a lot of help from good people, and more lessons in humility than I would ever have wanted, I escaped.

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It’s like Groundhog day.

2016, another project, and it’s not doing so well. It’s called the Idea Machine, and the reception has been lackluster. But it’s my compulsion. Each day I publish a new blog post, and each week I post a new podcast. There are no followers. There is no audience. But the sting gets a little easier each time.

I don’t know where this journey will take me, but I know that I won’t stop. It’s not a messianic mission, or a delusional belief in success. I just can’t help myself. Create, fail, create. Face, concrete, face.

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