I spent this last weekend in Panama City Beach, which thanks to several spring breaks and family vacations I’m very familiar with. It’s been a few years since I’ve been there but it’s just how I remembered it. Hot weather and some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen.
I love me some PCB and it’s a great place to party but this time around I was going for a different reason. This trip was all about Ryan Mollenkopf (I call him Mellonhead). He’s one of my best friends who was getting married and I was going to be playing a bigger role in the wedding than I’m normally used to.
Will You Marry Us?
Let’s rewind things a bit and listen in on a phone conversation I had with Mellonhead a few months ago. We hopped on a call after he had sent me a text telling me about an awesome idea he had. If you know him like I do this would both excite and scare the crap out of you at the same time. After catching up with some small talk he let me have it.
“So what’s this idea you want to tell me about?” I asked him.
“Well, since the wedding is in Florida we don’t have a minister to marry us we were thinking that you could do it. Would you be up for that?”
As with most decisions I make it didn’t take me long to think about it before saying yes. I mean, how many times will I get to marry one of my best friends? When I agreed to doing it I felt a funny feeling in the bottom of my stomach and I have to admit that I love that feeling. It usually means what I’m doing is a little crazy, but awesome and I’m more than OK with that.
A Secret Surprise
The only stipulation I had after agreeing to be their officiant was that it had to be a surprise to everyone else at the wedding. The best men (there was two of them), the family and our friends would have no idea I was going to do it. Me, Mellonhead and his lovely wife-to-be Stephanie would be the only other people who knew about the plan.
I would be a normal groomsman up until the wedding and at the last minute when we realize there’s no minister we’ll do the reveal. Me being the officiant would be pretty sweet but being able to surprise everyone at the last minute would be epic.
Minister Hupfer and Planning the Wedding
About a month before the wedding I did some research about how to become an ordained minister online. I’ve known several people who have done it before but I didn’t know exactly where to go online to do it. After doing a little bit of research I used American Marriage Ministries and in a matter of minutes I was officially a minister that was able to be perform a marriage ceremony in Florida (each state has different rules, so be sure to check them out if you’re want to do this).
Getting ordained online was even easier than I thought it was and I didn’t even have to pay for it. It’s totally free to be ordained and once you’re official they try to upsell you on some things which you don’t have to buy. You’re emailed a confirmation and just like that you have the power to marry a couple. God bless the internet.
After I was officially ordained the only other thing I had to do was put together the script that I would read during the ceremony. This actually took a lot longer than I thought it would but after piecing some things together and adding in some feedback from Mellonhead we had a great looking script that they were happy with. Even though it took me 3-4 hours to get the initial draft of the script on paper the process was actually pretty fun.
Keeping The Secret
Once all of the logistics were done all I needed to do was show up at Panama City Beach and keep the secret for one more weekend. It’s pretty easy to keep a secret like this when I’m in San Francisco but being around all of the people who were there for the wedding made it way harder.
I had to do some sneaking around in order to make it work and my cover was almost blown a few times. But thanks to the hectic nature of the time leading up to a wedding no one figured it out.
The craziest thing that happened was when one of the bridesmaids in the wedding and her husband happened to sit across from me on my flight in. Mellonhead, his wife and most of their friends are from Nashville and I ended up flying through there on the way to Florida. I met some bachelorettes on my connection flight from Denver into Nashville who were also going to PCB with some friends they were picking up along the way.
Once all of them were on the flight out of Nashville we were talking about how I was going to be the minister in a wedding and that it was a surprise to everyone. By that point I had drank a couple of beers so I’m sure I was being a loud talker.
After landing in PCB I headed to the house that Mellonhead and his family was staying at and not long after I see a couple that looks awfully familiar. Before I know it the husband of the bridesmaid notices me and starts talking about how we were on the same flight and that I’m going to be marrying the couple.
I freaked out and rushed over to talk to them before anyone else knew what he was talking about. I said hi and once they were away from everyone else I told them how it’s a surprise to everyone and that they can’t tell anyone about it or I’ll kill them. (I’m kidding about threatening to kill them but I did tell them to keep it to themselves) What are the odds, right?
Enjoying the wedding
Somehow my cover was never blown and we were able to surprise everyone during the wedding. It was one of the coolest moments I’ve even been part of and I felt very privileged to marry two people I love and care about so much. I didn’t screw anything up and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. We laughed, we cried and an amazing man and woman dedicated their lives to each other in front of my eyes.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever officiate another wedding ceremony but it felt oddly natural to me so who knows. In the meantime two of my favorite people are now a married couple and my signature is on their marriage license. Awesome.
This past weekend I was in Tahoe for an isocket offsite and after spending two days inside working me and the rest of the team were excited to go hit the slopes at Squaw Valley. Seeing as it was the first time I had ever been to Tahoe I was really looking forward to trying out snowboarding, even though I had been told it was really hard to learn.
Snowboarding vs. Skiing
While renting my gear it was decision time — am I going to go skiing or snowboarding? I hadn’t done either up to this point so I could have gone either way.
“If this is your first time on the mountain you should definitely go skiing.”, said every single person I talked to. They all told me that snowboarding for the first time is hard an painful. If I was to ski I would pick it up much faster and would be able to get more time on my feet and not my butt.
I had already made the decision of what I wanted to do way before getting to Tahoe. I was going to learn to snowboard. I could tell the decision even surprised the younger guy in the hoodie who was helping me pick the right gear to rent. He was a long-time snowboarder and me going the snowboarding route seemed to put a smile on his face. As he was getting my board ready I asked him every possible question I could in an attempt to better understand what it took to ride a small piece of fiberglass down a really big mountain.
Everything Is New
When I made it to Squaw it was like landing on another planet. Huge mountains with people sliding down them, big machines that were taking them to the top and an overall style and culture that I had never experienced before. A few things I noticed were awesome looking snow pants, lots of dreads and a parking lot full of Subaru Outbacks. “Welcome to Tahoe.”, I thought to myself while walking around the ski resort.
At the bottom of the slopes we followed the rest of the herd into the tram station that was being fed by a handful of turnstiles. All of us made our way into one of the cable cars and before you know it we were practically on top of the mountain. I had my snowboard in hand like I knew what was going on but I had no clue where we were or what I should do next. Everything was new and I was figuring it all out on the fly and thanks to the rest of the guys who were with me.
Stand Up, Fall Down
Me, on my butt after falling again.
Then it was time to get down to business. I was all good with the whole “just look like I know what I’m doing” for a while but things got real once it was time to strap my boots to the board. I wasn’t even sure how to do it but even then I figured I would be able to snowboard with no problem once I was ready to go. My friend Dom showed me how it was done and before you know it there was nothing standing between me and my first run down one of the easiest trails at Squaw. I think it was called Golden Flower or something like that.
I remember my first fall being on the softer side as I was still in the area where everyone locks in their boots before carving down the mountain. I had no speed and I had barely even stood all the way up before falling all the way down.
Over the next couple hours I fell down more times that I can remember. In fact, I don’t want to remember them at all because they really started to hurt. A lot. Dom being the awesome friend he is stuck with me through these first two hours and helped me as much as anyone could. But I just kept falling and getting up. Falling and getting up. It was tiring, it was embarrassing and I was only a few shoulder, wrist and butt plants away from giving it up completely. Dom was nothing but encouraging but every man has his limits.
In those couple of hours we only used the lifts twice. It was exhausting and painful for me and had to be just as bad for poor Dom.
It felt good to finally figure it out.
Just before lunch there was a magical moment that happened. Something Dom said finally stuck and from that point on I felt like I had control of the board and started going faster and faster without falling down. I still caught an edge here and there or lost balance while trying to get started but I was able to snowboard down the entire path that once took me an hour in less than ten minutes. I guess you could say it was my Neo/Matrix moment and it felt incredible.
For the next few hours after lunch I was on my own and things only got easier. I even got to the point to where I could snowboard straight into the entrance of the lift and didn’t have to unclip my bindings to make it in there. It’s the little things.
It Was Worth The Pain
I rode the lift many more times after that and had an amazing time. I was finally able to snowboard on my own and even though it took me falling down more times than I would have liked it was totally worth it.
Getting to the point to where I could feel the speed of the mountain was awesome and I can’t wait to do it again. From here on out it’s only going to get easier and if you’re thinking about giving snowboarding a try I say go for it. I have some ideas on how to make it even easier (and less painful) to learn for first timers but I’ll save those for another day.
First question, when did I hit 30? Second question, am I really 33 already? According to my Facebook wall, random texts from Congo and future phone calls from friends and family it’s true so who’s to say otherwise? Ok, I’ll admit it — I’m creeping into my mid-30s. I guess the only thing that’s good about this whole “getting older” thing is that this past year was most likely one of the most positively transitional times of my life. Meaning, even though there was plenty of struggle for me in the past 365 days (you have no idea), last year was amazing to experience and I feel more blessed now than ever. In other words, I’m pretty sure I’m in my prime.
So what are some of the thing that have made my last year so valuable to me? I’m sure I could write a million things and go page after page but none of us really want that. We’re all busy people with limited time, which is why I’m happy to give you a Cliff Notes version instead.
To all of my friends and family who have been there for me over the past year, you’ll never have any idea what your love and support has meant to me. I love you and I hope you already knew that without me having to tell you in a blog. Moving on…
Learning what loving someone really means. There are plenty of ways to show that you love someone but the most powerful way is by doing what you know is right and fighting for what you believe. Always keeping someone happy isn’t loving them. Being honest, sacrifice and never letting go is love to the fullest.
Studying the Bible. I’m a strong believer that if I’m going to put my faith in Jesus Christ then I had better know what I’m signing up for. The Bible is the center of following Christ and although I feel a strong spiritual connection I didn’t feel like I knew enough about the word. To learn more about it I’ve been going to Bible Study Fellowship in SF for the past few months and it’s been a great way to dig deeper into my faith.
Becoming a morning person, for real. I’ve never been a morning person but as I got older and had more responsibility I felt like getting up early was the only option for squeezing in everything into one day. It’s been tough and I don’t always stick with it (like when I was in Indiana for the holidays) but I’m not well aware of the amazing benefits getting up at the crack of dawn and it’s becoming more of a habit every day.
Meeting Mo. Wow, what can I say about Mo other than the fact that he’s been one of the biggest blessing’s I’ve ever had in my life. If you would have told me that becoming friends with someone who’s homeless would end up shaping me into a man more than everything else in my life combined I would have called you crazy. The work that God is doing on Mo is nothing short of a miracle and how the relationship has challenged me personally isn’t too far behind. Of course, the fact that our story went viral all over the world was pretty crazy, too. That’s still hard to believe.
Realizing the value of real relationships. My entire life it’s been really easy for me to become friends with lots of people. What hasn’t always been easy for me is creating strong, personal and meaningful relationships with the people in my life who really matter most. This past year of my life I’ve focused on taking the time and making the effort to show those who mean the most to me how much I love them and all I hope is that they’ve noticed.
My connection to Congo. I’m really not sure how it happened but somehow, someway I’ve developed an amazing connection to Congo and the amazingly beautiful people who live there. Traveling there for the second time last year was an incredible experience for me and the time I was able to spend with my Congolese brothers and sisters is something I hold very dear to my heart. If you haven’t seen me dancing while in Congo I suggest you take a look, it was one of the most memorable moments of my life. I have a feeling my story with Congo isn’t close to being over and I can’t wait to see where God takes it next.
Seeing isocket grow into a real company. A little over three years ago I was the first employee at a small, unknown online advertising startup called isocket. I had no idea what I was doing and I knew nothing about the online advertising world but for some reason I felt like what we were doing was important and that our fearless leader, John Ramey knew exactly what he was doing. A couple rounds of funding and about fifteen more employees later we’re building a business that’s leading what’s predicted to be a multi-billion dollar market.
Killing caffeine. I’ve tried to kick the habit of downing Big Gulps full of Dew, brewing K-cups and heading to Starbucks but I always came back. A month or so I ago I decided for the last time that I’m done with caffeine and this time I’m sticking with it. When I’m in shape I don’t need it, I don’t like feeling dependent on it and it only makes me more anxious and over-energized anyway. If you know me you already know I’ve got plenty of energy to burn so cutting out caffeine was really the only option for me.
Dedicating time to writing. I guess this is becoming more apparent as I write more posts like this one you’re reading right now but I’ve been writing more than ever over the past year (and especially over the past couple of months). It’s a great way for me to get my thoughts together and I’m a believer in the power of sharing experiences with others as a way to help them with the things they’re dealing with in their lives. We were never meant to go through things along and getting my thoughts and experiences out to the world can only help.
I’m sure I missed some stuff but these are the handful of things that immediately came to mind when thinking back at all of the awesome things that have happened to me during my thirty-second year on this crazy planet of ours. I’m feeling great going into my thirty-third and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
If you have anything you would like to share with me on my birthday, I’d love to hear from you. I really appreciate you taking the time to stop in and spend time in my little corner of the internet and I can only hope that your past year was as fun and fulfilling as mine. Happy birthday to me and we’ll catch up soon.
A friend of mine, Renee (who I met at church and who traveled with me to Congo earlier this year) is really into the San Francisco Symphony and has seen several of their performances this year. Since we’ve never really gotten on the topic of cultural enlightenment and entertainment she had no idea how much that I loved going to those types of events, too.
Since I’ve lived in San Francisco I’ve definitely cooled off on going to what my mom likes to call “artsy fartsy” types of things but that’s not because I don’t like them. I used to go to all kinds of plays, operas, concerts and yes — even ballet (even though that’s probably my least favorite of them all).
I grew up going to these types of things and I’ve only recently stopped due to some reason that I’m not really sure about. I’m guessing the mix of being newly married, living in a new city and working at a startup has something to do with it but that’s still just an excuse. Who knows.
Anyway, this past week Renee asked me if I wanted to check out an upcoming performance at the San Francisco Symphony of Handel’s Messiah and we ended up going to check it out. I guess the most interesting thing about this performance is that it’s all based around the life of Jesus Christ (hence the name “Messiah”) and all of the singing (it’s an oratorio) was directly from different passages from the Bible.
This made Renee and I very excited since we’re both followers of Christ. It also got me wondering about how many people in San Francisco would be willing to sit through two and a half hours of hearing the Bible. I soon found out that apparently a lot of people were interested as the concert hall was nearly full.
When the orchestra and voices started doing their thing I was hit with some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. Mesmerized I followed along the words of scripture that were typed out in our program and tried to take in all that was happening around me. It was a powerful message and to hear the word of God communicated in such an amazing way made my heart happy.
The best surprise of the whole night and the one thing that Renee talked about a lot before the performance started was hallelujah chorus that’s about two-thirds the way through the show. It’s a turning point of the show and the around the time when the trumpets and drums are brought into the music for the first time. The iconic hallelujah chorus is something that I’ve heard a million times in my life but I had no idea where it came from. The best part of this section of music is that everyone stands up for it, which has been a tradition since the King George II stood up early for what he thought was an intermission back in the 1700s.
The other day I was checking out Hacker News and I was struck by this post that was titled A Life Less Posted. In the post the author Rian Van Der Merwe hits on some interesting points about the feelings and emotions that happen when vicariously looking at people’s lives through Facebook and other social networks. This is something that I’ve thought about a lot, I agree with many points that he brings up and I like the way he has related it to his own life and experiences.
First, he talks about the feelings that he went through while following some of his friends Euro-trip through Instagram and Facebook:
Last month several of my friends were in Europe on vacation. I know this because I followed their every move on Instagram and Facebook. Sometimes their photos reminded me of places we went on our trip. Sometimes I was jealous. Sometimes I just thought, wow, that’s pretty.
I don’t think that he’s the only one who feels this way while scrolling through newsfeeds, although he’s one of the first I’ve seen to publicly admit it. He went on to talk about how he’s happy that he didn’t have social networks and an always-on mindset when he and his wife went on their own trek through Europe.
In a sense I’m glad we did our big Europe trip before social networks existed. We checked our email maybe once in every city — if we could find an Internet cafe. For the most part we were on our own. Just one couple amongst a sea of tourists. There was nothing different about the bottle of wine we had in that one Italian restaurant. Except that it was our bottle of wine, and we shared it just with each other. Not with anyone else. It was a whole month of secret moments in public, and we were just… there. We didn’t check in on Foursquare, we didn’t talk about it on Facebook, we didn’t post any photos anywhere. I now look back and appreciate the incredible freedom we had to live before we all got online and got this idea that the value of a moment is directly proportional to the number of likes it receives.
I love when he says that he shared it with no one else and that the wine they were drinking was theirs and that’s it. They were in the moment, they were the only ones who mattered and they weren’t worried about Instagramming the moment for the rest of the world to see. They own that moment and unless someone comes by their house and takes a look at a photo album they’re not going to share it. I know this is sounding like I’m some old, grumpy man telling kids to get off his lawn, but to me there’s something refreshingly romantic about that.
Of course, the ironic thing is that unless you see this post’s link on Facebook or Twitter you would never know it existed. Ah, the irony. Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments if you have any.
A while back I told you about my friend Marc and how he’s always doing something creative. He paints, he draws, he stacks rocks (seriously, he does) and he’s always doing something. He’s just got one of those creative brains that doesn’t ever shut off and he’s this week’s awesome person of the week.
Marc’s been sending me a ton of the painting’s he’s already made but I don’t think that they tell the full story of his art. Most of his paintings have multiple layers and take several days for him to finish. If you just look at the finished painting you might be able to tell some of the work that’s gone into it, there’s always a lot more.
To better tell the story he’s also starting to send me step-by-step photos of his new paintings and drawings. This past weekend he sent me some some quick shots of a drawing he threw together and I although his drawings don’t have the same process of his paintings you can still get a better idea of how he puts them together from beginning to end.
Here’s one he sent over to me.
I really like seeing each of these steps and it adds more depth and understanding to the art he creates. I’ll keep posting up more as he sends them over and hopefully he’ll give me some shots of a painting, too. Marc. Is. Awesome.
Calling Marc one of my best friends doesn’t do our relationship justice. It’s like we’re family, we just happen to have different moms. Yeah, it’s like that (rat-a-tat-tat).
I like to call Marc a gypsy although he’s always lived in the same place. He’s a guy who’s really hard to explain, in a good way. One time when we were little we were both sleeping in our underwear in his living room (that’s how we rolled) and we thought someone was breaking into his house. We were so tough we grabbed a couple of fireplace pokers, ran out the front door and hid in his neighbor’s bushes for the next hour, wondering if the coast was clear.
Yep, me and Marc are tight and we have some amazing stories that we like to talk about in a way that makes it seem like they’re made up. Heck, at this point I think that some of it might be but to be honest neither of us really care.
Although Marc’s an awesomely weird human and friend the thing that I respect most about him is his insane level of creativity. The guy just oozes the stuff and somehow it ends up on canvases and anything else he can get his hands on.
The people who know him have a have a hard time describing the things that he creates. They’re odd, they’re intricate, they’re beautiful and they’re just…Marc.
Marc is always making art but most of it doesn’t ever get outside the four walls he creates it in. I don’t think that’s fair to me and all of you so I’m going to start showing off some of the stuff he’s made (along with a short backstory of each one). If you have any thoughts on any of it, let me know and I’ll tell Marc.
Art is meant to make you think and feel and wonder what the heck is going through the artist’s head when they’re making it. Here’s a glimpse into what Marc was thinking when he made the painting you see below.
This painting is called “Trip To PCB”, which is an ode to Panama City Beach, FL. It was created a couple of years back, which seems like a couple days now. During this time I was teaching art and my position was cut out of nowhere. As I was dealing with the reality of losing my job I sat down in my studio (aka my spare bedroom at the time) and with pencil started sketching over and over and over again. With this piece I’m definitely trying to capture the viewers complete attention – if only for a few seconds or minutes. This baby took about a week for me to complete due to the many layers involved. During those 7 days I drank a few beers and was happy I didn’t die earlier in my youth. 🙂
I’l be posting more paintings from Marc soon (he’s sent me over twenty of them) but before I did I thought you should get to know him a little bit first. Consider your life just that much more interesting now, you’re welcome.
When I was in the thick of the Mo-sanity several people reached out to me and wanted to get involved. Some wanted to donate, some wanted to be part of the Catch-22 Crew Project and some wanted to offer their creative skills however they could help.
One of the creative people who got in touch is Mark Johnston who reached out to me via Mo’s YouTube account. He told me that he has an interest in shooting some video of the homeless in San Francisco and how he had already put together a short test video a year ago. I reached back out to him and we ended up connecting so he could meet Mo.
After all three of us met up one day in the city and got to know each other (and after one failed, windy shoot) Mark and Mo met up on another day without me to shoot another interview. Here’s the video that Mark ended up putting together, I think it gives a good sense of who Mo is and how he views the world.
Mark has an interesting way of telling stories and he does a great job putting together short, concise videos from literally hours of footage (which isn’t easy). I hope he continues to shoot video of Mo as a way to show more of what it’s like being homeless in San Francisco — I’m really happy with this first one.
Like the video? Don’t like the video? Give me your thoughts in the comments.
I finally have some time to sit down at my laptop and make some sense of all of the stuff that has happened with Mo over the past few weeks and it feels good. All of the things that happened with Mo and the fact that his story went viral all over the world is incredible, but it’s also tiring and slightly addictive. When the real time web decides that it’s chosen you to be the flavor of the day you better hold on because it’s one heck of a ride.
When Mo’s first video was rising up the ranks over on Reddit I was doing my best to keep up with the comments and to make sure that the story was being told the way it should be. There were lots of early critics with what I was doing with Mo but thanks to some of the past posts that I had on my blog (like this one and this one) and some of the earlier videos we had together (like when he got his new shoes) when the Internet trolls went digging into my story there was plenty there to back it up. All of this attention has helped Mo raise over $2,000 which means he’ll be off the streets and eating everyday for the next couple of months and it’s also created a new awareness around homelessness that’s affected thousands of people. There’s still a long way to go, but this was a great way to start.
Before too much time passed by I wanted to make sure to post up a good overview of how Mo’s story spread so I gave this story the respect it deserves. I’m going to do my best to recreate a step-by-step recap of Mo’s rise to international Internet fame through all of the experiences that have happened since I first posted Mo’s video on Reddit. Here goes nothing and let me know if there’s anything I forgot.
Mo Gets Some Video With A Flipcam
A few weeks back I gave Mo my flipcam so I could see what his day was like and find out what other homeless people’s stories were. After a few tries he ended up getting some really good interviews that chopped up and started posting online.
I posted the video around 3am and before I went to bed it already had several comments and upvotes, which means that people were really liking it. The more upvotes and comments you get the more visibility your post gets and when I woke up the video was already near the top of the video section. It eventually went to the top of the video section and even made it to the very front page of Reddit, which meant thousands of people were watching it.
Mo’s video was at or near the top of the r/Videos section on Reddit for over 24 hours.
When something like this happens you start to feel really funny. It’s exciting and you want it to keep on going higher and higher so you can get more and more attention. My video was at the top of the video section for over 24 hours and ended up making it’s way up to the very front page for a couple of hours. That means serious traffic and Mo’s video was well on it’s way to being viewed over 100k times.
At the height of the video getting viewed on Reddit Mo’s YouTube account was literally getting 1-2 subscribers every minute. Here’s what my email inbox looked like. It was nuts.
Mo’s YouTube channel was getting 1-2 subscribers per minute for most of the day.
I was also getting a lot of new Likes on Mo’s Facebook page. Every time I would log in to his account this is what the notifications would look like.
Mo’s Facebook page was getting lots of likes.
Mo Gets Covered In Business Insider
Soon after the Mo and Andrew’s interview became the most popular video on YouTube the press came calling (emailing to be exact). They sent me messages through Reddit, Facebook, Mo’s gmail account and YouTube. It was a crazy keeping up with it, but I was all about getting Mo’s story out there and they were excited to get more details.
The first site to cover Mo’s story was Business Insider.
The first real coverage we got was this post on Business Insider and it was posted even before they interviewed me. Once again, it was valuable that I had already blogged about Mo several times before his video went viral because it enabled anyone who wanted to write about Mo’s story could to go to my blog, grab some photos and quotes and not even have to talk to me before they posted something. That’s exactly what happened with this first post, the photo they used was taken from my blog and so was this quote:
“For some reason out of all the homeless people I’ve talked to, he’s stuck around long enough for us to become friends,” Hupfer wrote on the blog he’s using to chronicle his visits with Mo. A non-smoker, he convinced Mo to settle for a meal at Subway instead. They’ve been pals ever since.
Mandi Woodruff, the writer who posted this first story, interviewed me later on that day to get more of the story and then posted something else about Mo on the following Monday. In this second post Mandi went into deeper detail about me and Mo and was able to get more of the story from me since we talked on the phone. There are some good quotes in there and she linked to my blog, Mo’s donation page and other relevant content that I had out on the web. The media loves having all of that stuff to link off to and it’s great for letting the reader fill themselves in on the details that can’t be squeezed into the post.
Mo’s story was feature on Business Insider a second time a few days later.
Mo Gets Interviewed By Local TV in San Francisco
Friday quickly turned into a really crazy day and the interest just kept pouring in. Towards the end of the day I got a call from Chris Surdi who works at WePay, a local startup here in the Bay Area and the platform I was using for Mo’s donation page. They saw some of the buzz that Mo’s story was generating and wanted to see if they could help get it out into the media even more. Stories like this are PR gold for companies like WePay so it was really smart of them to help out. I didn’t even think about using them as a potential resource before they called but they pulled some strings and lined up some local media in SF to cover our story later that night.
Thanks to WePay we started getting some local media interest in SF.
After leaving work on that Friday I actually had plans for the weekend and was in a car on my way to Russian River with some friends when I got this email from Dave Russo, who works for ABC7 here in San Francisco. They wanted to interview me and Mo which meant I either skipped the interview for the weekend or stayed and tried to find Mo before that night so we could share his story on TV. I decided to stay so we turned around, dropped me off and I’m not sure how, but I found Mo not long after. A couple of hours after that we were interviewed down by the Caltrain station where we met and the segment about Mo was aired on the Friday night news and all weekend long.
That interview was a lot of fun and Mo really got a kick out of being in front of the camera. They only used 1% of what we shot, but that’s how local news goes. The camera guy was really cool and loved hearing about our story. He even posed for this great photo with Mo. I love this shot.
Mo cheesin’ it up and Andrew the camera guy. Mo was a natural in front of the camera.
Mo Goes From Local To National
After the crazy end of that week being topped off with our interview, the rest of the weekend was actually pretty quiet. I wasn’t sure if all of the news about Mo had died off and people had lost interest but I quickly found out that they hadn’t. The first thing that happened on Monday was the national ABC station asked me if they could post Mo’s video on their video player and interview me for a longer online story. Of course I said sure, an awesome reporter named Alexis Shaw did the interview and before you know it the madness was starting up all over again.
After playing all weekend in SF, Mo’s story quickly went from local to national.
Me and Mo looking good on the national ABC News website.
Mo on Huff Po.
Mo Gets Featured In An Awesome Video
Right around this same time a news group I had never heard called Right This Minute posted the best coverage of Mo’s story that I had seen up to that point. They’re a group of reporters who find interesting videos from YouTube and sit around and discuss them together in their newsroom. I didn’t know that they were going to create a video about Mo’s story but when I first saw it I was totally blown away. It was like I was watching a mini documentary on our relationship together and to be honest I found myself almost tearing up while watching it.
The way they brought it all together made the story even more powerful and whoever did the editing on it did an amazing job. Once again this video shows the value of having lots of other content for someone to dig into and use because they created the entire video without ever talking to me about it. That’s pretty awesome.
Me and Mo on Right This Minute — they did an amazing job telling our story.
Mo Gets Featured In Mashable
The next big thing to happen after this was when Matt Petronzio from Mashable emailed me and wanted to cover the story. Mashable is a huge source of tech and social media related news on the web and since Mo’s story included a lot of that he wanted to tell the story.
I was really happy when I saw this email come through from Mashable.
Instead of getting on the phone Matt sent me a handful of questions that I answered over email. Some writers like to do it that way because it takes up less time, they can quote me easier and they don’t have to record or take notes while chatting over the phone. Here are the questions he asked me and I answered them with everything I could and even ended up getting Mo on the phone so he could answer his questions himself. I sent over a lot of information but it’s always better to give writers a lot of information than not enough.
Matt sent me some questions over email, which can be easier for writers to deal with.
It took me a while to knock out all the answers the way I wanted but it was totally worth it. Getting Mo’s story on Mashable was huge and it was the coverage that people who already knew me noticed the most of because a lot of them check out Mashable on a daily basis or see the posts from there getting passed around on Twitter/Facebook.
When Mo’s story was on Mashable the madness started up all over again.
Mo Goes International
The Mashable post got Mo’s story in front of another huge audience and once it was live there were a lot of other posts that followed, including our first international coverage in France. I have no idea why his story spread over there, but it was really funny.
After being on Mashable Mo’s story somehow made it’s way over to France.
This particular story from France was really interesting because it’s the hometown newspaper of Dominique Lafaysse, a friend I work with who’s French. He was so surprised when I sent him a link to Mo’s story — it was really funny and what a small world. This was the only international coverage we had at that point, but there was more to come.
CNN Headline News Comes Knocking
Just when I thought that everything was done and no one else wanted to know about Mo I was emailed by a woman from Turner Broadcasting who told me that CNN Headline News (the HLN Network) was interested in covering Mo’s story. They needed permission from me to use our videos and images in the segment that they wanted to air the following day. I was really excited to hear from such a larger media source and quickly told her that they could use whatever they needed.
This was the first email that CNN sent me. They’re awful needy, huh?
The next day came and there was no segment about Mo. I emailed them to see what the dealio was and they said there was too much current news going on that day to fit in Mo’s segment but they said it would air the following day, which was Thursday. I flipped it on the next day and again there was no Mo segment to be found. I emailed them again and they told me the same thing. There was too much current news and that meant Mo’s segment was pushed out again, which they assured me wouldn’t happen again the next day, on Friday. They said they’d be in touch with more details soon and they weren’t kidding. I got this email the following morning.
Well, it looks like they’re really going to talk about Mo *and* have a live interview with me!
So, not only were they going to air the segment on Mo’s story but they also wanted to do a live interview with me. Of course I agreed and was once again excited to tell our story in front of an even bigger (and much more live) audience.
Friday quickly came and around 2pm I left the isocket office and headed up for the interview which was going to be done remotely from San Francisco. My buddy Henry Sun who is an amazing photographer met me there and he snapped some great pics of the action. I was interviewed via satellite which meant I was sitting in a room all by myself staring at a red light while answering live questions from an earpiece. To make it even better I was doing all of that in front of a super cheesy San Francisco skyline backdrop. You gotta love TV.
There’s nothing more fun (and weird) than doing a live interview via satellite.
Mo Gets More International Coverage
The interview went great and you can check out the video of it over here on the HLN website. Once that interview was over it was what I thought would be the end of the the week and half press blitz, but we I was wrong once again. For some reason the following week ended up being filled with all kinds of international (mainly French-speaking) media outlets covering Mo’s story. There was a a lot of interest in what Mo and I were doing and to this day I’m still not sure why. Large newspapers and TV stations covered it in France and I even did an interview with a reporter from Switzerland who wanted to know more (see a photo of the hard copy of the story below).
A media request from Switzerland. She called me at 4am for the interview.
Oh, no big deal. Just me and Mo in a Swiss newspaper.
I found most of the links to these stories through all of the new French speaking people who were starting to like Mo’s Facebook page. There was a flood of people who came in from France and it was actually kinda cool. They were very supportive and many of them donated to Mo’s cause. There were so many French speaking people who were now fans of Mo I even had Dom translate a status update for me so I could post it on his page for them.
Mo speaks French to his new Facebook fans.
Mo Gets Featured In Over 40 International Media Outlets
You can take a look at some of the international sites that Mo’s story was featured on below. Be sure to watch the video, it’s a really popular Frech TV show that covered Mo’s story (or at least that’s what Dom told me). I can’t understand what they’re saying, but I can tell they did a really good job sharing Mo’s story with the French.
The End Of The Buzz And Beginning Of The Catch-22 Crew
After a few days the international love affair (and the rest of the news interest) with Mo finally ended but there wasn’t any time to sit around. The very next day on Saturday Mo, me and some other friends put together the very first Catch-22 Crew which you can read more about over here (and I’ll tell you more about it later).
I think this is probably enough for one post and if you made it down this far, thanks for reading. This has been an amazing experience and I think there’s lots more to come when it comes to Mo’s story so stay tuned. Oh, and one more thing. Mo wanted to say thanks for everything you’ve done for him.
If you landed on this blog after watching the video, welcome. If you’d like to find out more about Mo you can check out his donation page over here or give directly below. Thanks for stopping by and leave a comment if you want me to tell Mo anything for you — I’ll be sure to pass along the message.