3 Hard Lessons About Life I Learned While Writing Online

Thought Catalog Featured Writers Page Mid-2014.

Thought Catalog Featured Writers Page Mid-2014.

Freedom of speech is a double-edged sword. By utilizing your First Amendment rights, you may run the risk of upsetting some overly sensitive people. Such people may even seek to strike back at you, hoping to bully you into conforming. Such is the nature of writing. Ever since I’ve embarked on the writing path, I’ve experienced a few hard lessons on how my real life can be affected by the crazy shit I write.

1. Never Tell Your Coworkers That You’re A Writer

In mid-2013, I was working as a bouncer at a restaurant/bar in Huntington Beach, CA. It was a corporate establishment that made the big bucks because of its prime location overlooking the beach, decent Mexican food, and practices of hiring masses of young, hot chicks with sexy bodies. I had the goal of becoming a bartender, but since I had no experience in the restaurant industry other than working at Taco Bell in high school, I saw being a bouncer as a stepping stone.

This was quite exciting for me since this would be the first time I ever got to work with an overabundance of attractive females. My previous means of employment—the Army and security contracting—had left much to be desired on that front. I had also read Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica which seared into my mind images of a work environment where people hustled and partied hard while having cool personalities, crazy life stories, and forging friendships.

I had also been writing my blog, RaulFelix.com, for a little over a year at that point. It included such wonderfully crass articles as “I’d Pee In Her Butt,” “Politically Incorrect and Loving It,” “The Pick-Up Follies: The Gimp,” and “Where Are My Whores?” Having been accustomed to the fucked up sense of humor my military and security contracting buddies possessed, I was naively unaware how my writing would tarnish my reputation at work as I gave my coworkers my business card to promote myself.

bc

While my male coworkers loved my writing, many of the female cohorts began to gossip among themselves. Sleazy-E, my best friend who also worked there, fed me intel that the girls were turning against me and complaining to the management about my misogynistic writing. They also thought I was creepy as fuck.

This realization came to fruition one night when I went to party there with my Ranger buddy, Dirty Dick. A lot of the waitresses were drinking and hanging amongst themselves. I tried to talk to them and introduce them to Dirty Dick, yet they were standoffish and barely acknowledged us.

“These chicks look like they fucking hate you,” Dirty Dick said.

“I think they do,” I smirked.

Over the next couple of weeks I went from having four or five shifts a week to being given just one. Knowing my days there were numbered, I got myself a new bouncer gig at a bar down the street. I was eventually laid off as part of the post-summer cutbacks, but I knew the truth. Later on, Sleazy-E (who was now training to be a manager) told me that one of the managers requested that I not return there again. It was just a bouncer job, so the loss was negligible. The lesson learned was priceless: Never tell any of my coworkers about my writing career.

2. Chicks Either Love Or Hate Me On Tinder

I was initially opposed to online dating because I felt that it favored women over men. Bitches got bombarded with messages and dick pics, while we dudes had to make ourselves interesting while resisting the urge to send a picture of our dick. Surprised by the success my knuckle-dragging buddies were having, I decided to give Tinder a shot. I soon realized how this medium favored two of my natural talents: the ability to write a short, witty, and hilarious profile and selecting pictures of myself that highlighted my best qualities and minimizing my goofier ones.

TinderRaul

I soon developed a standard operating procedure of just liking girls who weren’t ugly or fat. Rarely looking beyond their first or maybe second photo. Once they matched me back was when the real fun began. At times, after a thorough inspection of their profile I would realize that I accidentally swiped right to an ugly chick or a fatty, so I would correct the deficiency by simply unmatching them immediately. Then, using info gathered by her pictures and profile, I would initiate a conversation. About one in five girls would respond.

After some witty banter, chicks usually would ask, “Oh, you’re a writer? What do you write about?” That’s when I would copy and paste my five pre-selected pieces that show me at my best: my feelings on my military service, my ability to love tenderly, my Mexican-American family values, the lessons I’ve learned from womanizing, and my dominant, animalistic, lustful side.

Some chicks would say they’ll read it later but not really get around to it. These ones would usually fizzle out.

Some chicks would read one or two pieces, be slightly curious to know more about me, and meet for a drink because at least I wasn’t boring.

Some will really like what they read, then go to my site and randomly click around and commence to binge-read. Loving what they read, thinking it was insightful and raw, they tell me they’d love to get a drink.

Some will start impressed, then dig deeper and find some of my more risqué pieces. She would then morph into Feminazilla, laying waste to the Tokyo that is my writing. They’d spit scathing remarks about how men like me perpetuate the patriarchy and impose the Madonna/whore double standard. Then they’ll speculate on my broken relationship with my mother, insisting that I truly hate women and have enough psychological baggage to keep a seasoned psychiatrist engaged. It’s a shame that such a classically handsome man could spew such filth. Also, I must have a small dick. *Unmatch

It’s all for the best, really… let the chicks who don’t dig me filter themselves out, I don’t give a fuck. I’ve met some pretty great ones who do dig my style.

3. People May Recognize You In Real Life And Won’t Like You

“Are you Raul Felix?” a beautifully tattooed chick with purple hair asks.

“Yeah,” I say as I am cleaning glasses while working as a bar-back at a bar in Ithaca, New York.

“The writer?”

“Yeah.”

“You wrote that article about stinky pussies!”

“Yeah,” I laugh, “but did you bother to read the rest of it?”

“No, I just remember the stinky pussy part,” she replies.

I smirk and shake my head as I continue on about my duties.

“Can I take a picture with you?”

“Sure!” I give a shit-eating grin to the camera.

I receive a text message from the owner of the establishment, “DirtBagJim,” a few days later:

“Raul, I have received numerous complaints that you have written articles online that are offensive to women. Some customers and employees have shown concern. I can no longer offer you employment.”

Raul: “Huh…because I have treated every single employee I work with respectfully. Also, I’m am an experienced bouncer, bar-back, and bartender. I’m hard-working, have customer-service skills, and I have muscles—I’m a perfect bartender.”

DirtbagJim: “While I agree to that, we just have a huge LGBT community and we can’t risk someone like you working here. I’ll give you a reference if you wish.”

Raul: “I never promoted my writing nor did I hit on any of my coworkers, but I guess that’s the price you pay for being a man who tells it how it is.”

The main reason I call the owner DirtBagJim is because he was supposed to give me three bartending shifts per week. It was only to lure me away from my low-paying, yet educational, fun, and consistent bartending job at a vegan restaurant. Instead, he opted to give me two bar-back shifts in a one-month period under the guise of me learning his set-up, promising to give me bartending shifts when the students showed up. I’m a straightforward man who works for a living, so it really pisses me off when motherfuckers jerk me around.

After getting fired, I posted a status update on Facebook of what had occurred. I got a lot of encouragement from my friends, family, and fans. My boys at Article 15 Clothing were more than keen to launch a social media nuke on the establishment and tarnish their reputation for firing a combat veteran for exercising his First Amendment rights. While grateful, I decided it wasn’t worth dropping a $200,000 missile on a $100 tent. I opted to carpet-bomb my resume all over town. Two days later, I had a new bartending gig at a pizza restaurant in Collegetown with an awesome cast of coworkers.

I went back into that bar on a Saturday night a couple of weeks later since I know he is always there on busy nights overseeing things.

I walk up to DirtBagJim. “You still owe me for 10 hours’ worth of work.”

“It’s really busy, come back Tues—”

“—no, you’re unreliable. I want my money now,” I sternly say to him, crossing my arms.

He pulls out his phone and types out a text message.

I wait, staring him down. The bar staff looks at us nervously. Then a cute little thing in an elegant black dress with a sweet smile appears with a check for $50 and hands it to me.

I look at DirtBagJim and reach out for his hand and shake it.

“You have been honest for the first time in your life,” I say into his ear and walk out.

While trying to keep my business and artistic sides separate can be a hassle, it’s worth it. I’ve made connections with some great people. Have had dudes I went to combat with reach out to me and tell me they love what I write. I’ve had my real-life friends, family, and fans be my biggest supporters and help me out. I’ll keep at it cause I’m a scrappy motherfucker. Freedom of expression has a price; I’m willing to pay it.

~Raul Felix

Read: 3 Proactive Steps To Becoming A Writer
Read: A Few Maxims On Writing
Read: 3 Life Lessons An Old Man Called “Wild Bill” Taught Me

Read more of my work at Thought Catalog
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30 Things I Learned By Age 30

IG: raulfelix275

IG: raulfelix275

This year I hit the big Three-O, which means I’m no longer an overeager twenty-something who is trying to figure it all out to prevent becoming a failure in life. I am now a thirty-something who realizes he doesn’t need to have it all figured out to get the most out of life. This year I followed my standard operating procedure: worked, wrote, read books, worked out, chased after women, traveled, partied hard, and attempted to become a better version of myself than I was last year. Consequently, a few life lessons worked their way into my twisted thought process.

1.

Solitude is a powerful tool for gaining control of your life. It allows you to traverse down that rabbit hole that is your mind and reflect on the events that molded you. During that long process, you will slowly and painfully begin to gain insight. What you do with that insight is what will determine the course of your life.

2.

Whenever you seek advice, be fully aware of whom you’re seeking it from. Does the person whose counsel you’re taking into account have any practical experience in the matter? Or are their opinions formed from theory and an unrealistic idea of how things should or might be, not how they are?

3.

When a woman is truly into you, she will find out everything she can about you on social media. She’ll look through your old statuses and photo albums. She’ll check out your exes if they’re still tagged in your photos. She’ll stalk every single female who comments or likes your updates. She may never let on that she does that, but she does. You do it, too; don’t lie.

4.

The world of art is quite daunting. The task of creating something out of nothing is so tough that many stop themselves before they truly begin. The thing is that you have your experiences, your skills, the events that created you, all the lessons that you learned, and the conversations you endlessly analyzed in your mind. You own everything that you have done and has happened to you; use and embrace them.

5.

Most traditional artistic education that is offered at universities is overrated. Those who attend such institutions are seeking permission to pursue their artistic endeavor from an authority figure more than anything else. One question I get asked often about my craft is if I went to school for it and I respond with a disgusted, “Fuck no.” I’m still working my way upwards in this art form, but through self-education and discipline I’ve accomplished more than most creative writing majors I’ve met.

6.

Charlatans appear in all forms in this world. Beware those with grandiose promises of riches for little hard work or those who demand an unreasonable amount of handiwork for little reward. Both are a form of exploitation—one by taking advantage of your laziness and gullibility, and the other by taking advantage of your work ethic and ideals.

7.

Staying in shape is simple. Not easy, but simple. Don’t try to overcomplicate it. Pick an exercise routine, do it right, push yourself, don’t always eat like a pig, and keep showing up for an extended period of time and it will get you somewhere.

8.

Women have it easier when it comes to getting laid, but not in terms of finding a quality mate. A lot of guys fail at the most basic fundamentals of being a man. If you’re able to achieve those fundamentals, then you’ll be the kind of man women want to fuck.

9.

If you want to do something extraordinary, don’t worry too much about the opinions of the ordinary folk.

10.

Yet remember to remain humble about your accomplishments and respectful of those who have accomplished less than you. You are, after all, just another human being among billions.

11.

Extremists of any sort have a disproportionate amount of pull. That’s because most people are moderate by nature, so they can’t be bothered to care about a certain issue until it becomes critical. There are bills to be paid and life to be lived, after all.

12.

One day you or those close to you will die. It could be after you finish reading this or sixty years from now. The best way keep honoring those who have fallen before you is to live your life to the best of your ability.

13.

Haters are gonna hate. I’ve lost friends, jobs, and potential lovers because of the words I write. I’ve been told I have no talent, that I should quit, that I should kill myself, that I should shut the fuck up, and that I need to keep my ideas to myself. These comments are usually left by emotional cowards who don’t even use their real names. It takes an uncommon amount of mental toughness to endure these slings and arrows launched by the trollish hordes. Yet I’m still here writing and most of those fuckers are forgotten. No one builds monuments for critics; only those who dare greatly earn their place in history.

14.

You can still learn from your critics. Let your ego take constructive advice and apply it where you’re able. One of the most valuable skills you can learn in life is the ability to distinguish between genuine criticism and blind hatred spilled out by malicious mouth-breathers with a skewed perspective on life.

15.

What is more gratifying than waking up next to a beautiful woman you deeply love naked in your arms each morning? Nothing.

16.

Just because someone is famous doesn’t mean they’re smarter, better, or even more interesting than you are. I’ll indulge in the reality-TV junk food on occasion. I often can’t believe how many punk-ass bitch excuses of human beings make it on these shows. They’ll make a significant emotional event out of something that most normal human beings will brush off with a laugh.

17.

Writing never gets easier. If you’re writing something worth a damn, then it requires you to constantly dig deep, trudging in order to find that moment of raw humanity. When you do, you’ll forget how hard it was until you have to search for that next moment.

18.

The person who talks the most usually has the least to say.

19.

Running up the steep hills of Ithaca, New York gave me a lot of time to think. One of my best epiphanies came to me during a particular run. As I was running through the campus of Cornell, I analyzed the faces and movements of the students as I passed them. They lacked awareness of their environment, eyes glued to their phones, bits of gossipy chitchat in that nasally tone of voice only college kids seem to have, and slumped postures as they went about their day. I thought to myself, “You motherfuckers aren’t smarter than me.” That doesn’t imply that I know everything, because I don’t. It means that you don’t need an elite education to be educated like an elite person.

20.

You know how you get people to like you at your workplace? Work hard, make their job easier, and be cool.

21.

Some friendships aren’t made to last forever. You will drift apart from some of the people who knew you best at a certain point in life. Your priorities and interests will change; so will theirs. There is no need to be resentful about it; just be grateful you had those friendships when you did.

22.

The ability to shut the fuck up is very underrated.

23.

Narrow-mindedness comes in many forms. Some of the most unaccepting and condescending people I’ve met in my life have been open-minded free-thinkers who believe you must think as they do or you’re an *insert term that discredits your opinions in an educated manner*. Some of the most accepting and welcoming people I’ve met have been those with a more traditional belief set.

24.

Not every single chick is going to be into you. I wasted so much time and energy obsessing over why X or Y girl wasn’t into me when I felt I had all the qualities she should find attractive in a man—so much that I overlooked the chicks who were into me. No matter how high a caliber of a man you become, the chick whose bikini pictures you’ve been jerking off to from Facebook may still not pay you any attention because you’re not her type. Fuck it; move on without throwing a temper tantrum. There are over 3.5 billion women in the world; I’m sure a few million will dig you.

25.

It’s easy to overestimate what you can accomplish in a day or week but underestimate what you can accomplish in a few years. At the age of 25, I decided I wanted to be a writer. I knew it was going to be tough as fuck, but I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t quit no matter what. There have been times that I have slacked, and it showed in my professional progress, but quitting never entered my mind. I have explored different styles of writing and have had successes and failures, but with each piece I struggled through I learned and gained more insight into this art form. I’m not a big name, but you can bet your ass that nearly everyone who knows me recognizes that I am a writer and a damned good one at that.

26.

We humans have a tendency to glamorize our past. Veterans often look back on our military days as our glory years. We were a part of something bigger than ourselves and took part in history. We forget how overworked our bodies were, our nearly nonexistent social life, the lack of autonomy we had over our lives, the petty feuds we had with some cocksucker from our platoon, and how we couldn’t wait to get the fuck out. The past was tough; if it wasn’t, we wouldn’t take any pride in it.

27.

They say time heals all emotional wounds, but some of them will leave scars as permanent reminders.

28.

Common sense is not common.

29.

Whether you love them or hate them, your family gave you the base foundation of who you are. I’ve been lucky to be blessed with such an amazing family that has supported me in whatever I decided to do, whether they understood my reasons or not. You may not see them for months or years, but the best gift you can give them is to make something productive out of yourself.

30.

The artistic path is not linear. It requires a lot of suffering, loneliness, hopelessness, stagnation, and frustration. It requires others and yourself questioning your progress. It requires the constant feeling of failure. It requires you constantly doing the work. It’s a path that gives you countless opportunities to quit and no one will blame you for doing so. It’s one whose rewards are few and far apart. It’s a path without a destination, where scattered throughout will be the remnants of your heart and soul.

~Raul Felix

Read: 28 Things I’ve Learned By Age 28
Read: 29 Things I Learned By Age 29
Read: To My Future Wife: I Will Make You Proud To Have Me As Your Man

Read more of my work at Thought Catalog
Follow me on Instagram.
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4 Things That Happen When You Start To Mature As A Man

IG: raulfelix275

IG: raulfelix275

I, like any self-respecting man, have done a lot of stupid shit that I am not proud of but not really ashamed about, either. There are some things in life you can’t learn by just reading a book. Some things you have to experience firsthand in order for the lessons to drive themselves into your skull. Some men mature relatively early; others opt to stay a man-child for life. While every individual is on his or her own maturity timeline, when you reach a certain threshold of growth, you begin to see the world a bit differently.

You Begin To Reject Chicks You Would Have Fucked Before

Being a young man sucks in many aspects. You have little to no money, you haven’t accomplished shit, and you’re not fully developed physically or mentally. Girls have it easier during those years when it comes to getting laid because they’re in their prime in appearance and are usually banging guys who are older and way more interesting than you are. Or because they’re in a band or an all-star athlete. Regardless, they have dick buffet and they get their pickings. For young men, these bleak years, pussy dry spells are more like dust bowls. So when some random skank who may be missing a chromosome is all over you because she’s in dire need of a dicking, you dive in with reckless abandon.

As you’ve slowly grown over the years, experienced more, and hooked up with varying qualities and kinds of women, you’ve become more frugal with the amount of effort you’re willing to put into a particular type of chick. You begin to think of not only about wetting your dick, but the possible consequences. Not just STIs and babies, but of social, time, and emotional cost.

Some homely chick is giving you clear signals she’s eager to let you test her gag reflex, yet you’re way more into her friend. Since you’re no longer in a poon deficit, you’re in a better position to gently yet firmly turn her down in order to continue flirting with the cutie. Even without a third,party factor, you know you’re going to hate yourself later for messing around with her because she’s going to want to be around you post-coitus. That’s precious time you could be using to work out, play video games, read a book, stare off into the ceiling of your room as you contemplate life, start a multi-million dollar business, or jack off.

Yet the most important thing you learn is to respect your emotional health as a man. You’ve become weary of girls who are flakes, liars, complainers, negative, lazy, and who create drama for drama’s sake. When a girl tries to play emotional games with you, you don’t play their game; you simply cut them out of your life. Being emotionally crippled, broken, and unstable may create character depth and interesting plot points in movies and novels, but a girl like that can ruin your life in the real world. Many a good man has been destroyed by a she-serpent’s charms.

You grow to appreciate the girls who aren’t girls, but women. Who do what they say they’re going to do. Who tell you the truth, even when it hurts. Who go out of their way to make you feel worthwhile, instead of when it’s convenient. Who try to help you accomplish your goals without being a nagging bitch. Who compliment your manhood, not belittle it. Who respect your time and emotions. Who are trustworthy. Who make you happy to be man.

You Realize Who Your True Brothers Are

Women come and go. Your ex-girlfriend whom you told all the little tidbits of your life one day becomes a total stranger whom you avoid all means of contact with because she has blocked you on social media and changed her number. That one fling you spent a whole summer with begins to fade from your memory. If you’ve been a solid dude who has been loyal and maintained some semblance of contact with your male friends, you know when shit gets real, you’ll have someone who has your back.

Whether it’s going on a mission to kill or capture a high-value target, riding motorcycles side-by-side, playing video games, or getting thrashed and attempting to pick up chicks, male friendships are forged by doing activities together. Through many nights, months, and years of consistent shit talk, laughs, and tempers being pushed, you’ll develop a good idea of the character your best male friends possess. You’ll learn who the fake thugs and who the real gangsters are.

These are men who will attempt to keep you from getting into a fight with that douchebag of the pop-collar variety. If that fails, they’ll assist you in bringing the hammer down. Men who will give you some realistic perspective on your flaws when your delusions of grandeur have gotten the best of you. Men who will help you, within their means and ability, when the world has beat the living shit out of you. Men who will mentor and give you some solid advice when you’re crossing the same path they’ve crossed a few years back. Men whom you can call brothers.

You Learn To Accept You Character Flaws and Take Responsibility For Them

We all have character flaws that hinder or set us back. Maybe it’s a short temper, a severe drinking problem, overwhelming shyness, womanizing, gluttony, sloth, or arrogance. Owning your character flaws and attempting to fix them is what separates you from the typical boy.

The boy blames others for his shortcomings; the man figures out how to eliminate or mitigate them. The boy does the bare minimum in order to get by; the man does more than his share of the task, one hundred percent and then some. The boy believes that the world owes him something; the man knows he must earn everything. The boy avoids the consequences of his actions; the man accepts them, no matter how painful.

We aren’t robots, we’re people. Each of us has our dark secrets and insecurities. Our moments of selfishness that hurt those we love. Those times where we let our outlandish emotions get the best of us. Where our vices caused us to make a mockery out of ourselves. Where our hubris and cockiness caused us to push beyond on our true competence and we were schooled by reality as a result. Where we stood by quietly when we should have spoken up. Where we lied or omitted details in order to get what we wanted.

Your flaws and mistakes and how you interpret them will mold you into a man, whether it’s the kind of man young boys look up to or one who will serve as an example of how not to be. The small actions you take each day in your effort to harness and control your flaws will determine which you shall become.

You Start To Realize How Not To Be An Idiot With Your Money

Being broke fucking sucks. Anybody who has been in that position for more than a moment knows it’s detrimental to the soul. Maybe you’re not so broke to the point where you’re out on the street sucking dicks for a tuna sandwich. But you’ve been in a position where you’re barely scraping by. Where after your rent is paid, driving further than ten miles becomes an economic decision. It could mean the difference between eating one meal or two that day.

When you’re young and stupid with your cash, payday becomes a spending frenzy. All those promises you made to yourself about setting aside ten percent or more go out the window. Because you’re fucking rich, bitch! #YOLO, carpe diem, and fuck the police! You go out on the town and treat yourself to a good, hearty dinner with a few fruity cocktails because you don’t give a fuck if they’re chick drinks. Then, fuck it, you’re out and about anyways; time to hit up the bars and chug some shots and beers. You then see some cute chick and want to impress her and show her how much of a baller you are. Even though your game is weak as shit, you convince yourself that buying her a Merlot from some vineyard whose name you can’t pronounce is a surefire way to pound that puss.

The next morning you wake up alone fully dehydrated and still wearing your piss-dampened jeans. You check your bank account and see a bunch of pending transactions that total $147. Fuck it, it was just one night though, no biggie. You’ll be a good boy with the rest of the money in your account. Oh yeah, your car payment is due, minus another $280. Toss in another couple of nights of drunken shenanigans with your buddies, minus $170. Oh yeah, you must pay your cell-phone bill because you definitely can’t miss out on texting them fine bitches, $47. Two credit-card payments from those cards you have maxed out, $100. Random little toys and trinkets you absolutely need, $150. Don’t forget that little trip to the strip where the woman of your dreams seductively tells you her life story while taking off her clothes. Damn it, you’re broke again. Payday is still seven days away. Looks like you’re eating Ramen noodles and Spam again.

Give or take a dozen years into adulthood, you begin to realize how stupid this cycle truly is. It’s great to treat yourself and buy those experiences to help you grow as a person, but it’s also great not to have to be constantly vigilant about the money in your account lest you get an overdraft fee. While being a penny-pincher makes you a mundane waste of existence, blowing all your money unscrupulously isn’t going to get you ahead in life, either. You learn both the skills needed to increase your earning potential and the discipline not to spend it all on snorting cocaine from an escort’s ass. You set aside cash for the hard times because the boom-bust cycle that is life comes hard and fast…an expensive car repair, a lost job, a medical emergency, or worse, getting some chick pregnant and thus ruining all your hopes and dreams. You have to hedge a bit for those unforeseen circumstances, or being broke ceases to become a cycle and instead a lifestyle—one that makes it really hard (not impossible) to reach your full potential as a man.

~Raul Felix

Read: 3 Life Lessons An Old Man Called “Wild Bill” Taught Me
Read: How To Find The Greatness Within You
Read: 29 Things I Learned By Age 29

Read more of my work at Thought Catalog
Follow me on Instagram.
Follow me on Twitter.

Ego Is The Enemy: An Interview With Ryan Holiday

IG: ryanholiday

IG: ryanholiday

Ryan Holiday hit the real world hard and fast. At 19, he decided to drop out of college because he was offered an opportunity any ambitious would-be writer would pounce on: a job as a research assistant to Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power. This would lead him to working with and advising several bestselling authors and multiplatinum musicians.

He kept the ball rolling from there and became the marketing director of American Apparel, where he put into place a very successful campaign that produced both big profits and heavy criticism. But he grew disgusted with the state of online media and released a book that put his name on the map, Trust Me, I’m Lying. The book detailed how easy it was to manipulate online media because of its lack of source verification and its traffic-driven outrage-porn business model.

After reading that book, I discovered and devoured all of his writings. I studied and applied a lot of his stoic principles about business, life, and writing into my own thought process and actions. He is one of the most unique, practical, and highly respected contemporary thinkers.

In his new book, Ego Is The Enemy, he seeks to advise the reader through the lives of notable and not-so-notable historical and current figures about what havoc an untamed ego can have on a person’s life and how one goes about controlling it.

Raul Felix: Ryan, in this book, you analyze how the ego can have destructive effects on people. You even mentioned seeing one of your mentors transform from someone you aspired to be like to never wanting to be like that person. Egos don’t only exist in people of high achievement or celebrity; it is also quite common in the general population. What common examples do you see today of people with high egos yet little substance to back it up?

Ryan Holiday: Yes, exactly. It is precisely because we see this type of behavior in a lot of prominent public figures that we try to reverse-engineer their success and manufacture the right pose. There are plenty of “wantrepreneurs” out there acting like mini-Steve Jobs and plenty of musicians who think that behaving like Kanye West is acceptable. We falsely assume that ego—manifested in their entitlement, arrogance, braggadocio, and swagger—is what drove success. In fact, it was the talent that compensated for the ridiculous, destructive ego. We don’t think about the survivorship bias that hides from view all the people who’ve failed and flamed out because of their own ego-driven sabotage. What is also hidden is the huge subset of successful people who are not clamoring for the limelight.

We also live in a culture that actively promotes constant self-promotion and grandiosity—all of it magnified by a thousand by social media. It is also hard not to think you’re the greatest if that is the message you’ve been hearing constantly from your parents since you were born. Combine these factors, and you see why we have a downright epidemic of ego.

Part of why I initially wanted to write this book is because I would get a lot of emails from really overconfident and brash young people who would send me all these ridiculous emails. And then at large, you see it for instance with people who are not willing to take entry-level positions—But I went to college! But it was the Ivy League! —or people who are not willing to listen or take any sort of feedback because they think they’ve already figured it all out. You see it with people bragging and boasting about what they’re going to do—their ego craving for validation and applause before the fact.

Raul Felix: A line that really stuck out to me was, “If you start believing in your own greatness it is the death of your creativity.” I’m sure any artist who has produced a piece or two of topnotch work has fallen into that trap—even gloating to themselves or others about their creative genius. I’ve done it a few times when I wrote some really good stuff. How does one avoid falling prey to that part of the ego while keeping the fortitude to drive on?

Ryan Holiday: I love that line, too; it’s actually from Marina Abramović, the performance artist. There is another quote from UFC champion Frank Shamrock that I try to think of on a regular basis: “False ideas about yourself destroy you.”

The second you start gloating and letting success get to your head—that you’ve figured it all out—that’s precisely when you make some critical mistake or miscalculation. In that moment of self-satisfaction, learning grinds to a halt. What I love about writing, actually, is that those feelings are constantly elusive. You can’t get a big head with a craft which requires decades and decades of work before you even begin to approach mastery. There is no “graduation.” If you think like a craftsman, become an eternal student, and adopt a beginner’s mindset, ego is suppressed and you can go on working and working.

The problem is when you start to listen to other people. My last book has started to sell very well, so I could let that puff me up. I’ve gotten some very kind and generous reviews. It would be a mistake to listen to those things too closely. For the next book, you have to continue to approach it with humility and self-awareness. Essentially you have to start from zero.

And in the book I talk about how ego separates us from reality—we start living in our heads. This sort of intoxication with positive feedback and success makes us forget that there are people in our field who are infinitely more successful than we are. Someone recently mentioned that one of the best things about attending TED is how humbling it is to be in a room with all these people. It doesn’t take away what you’ve accomplished, but it puts things into perspective—it grounds you back to reality.

Raul Felix: You also mention the incubation process, that period where you must trudge through a long period of obscurity as you wrestle with a topic or a paradox. What would the incubation process look like for the normal person, who can’t really drop everything and live in a cabin cut away from society as they hone their skills?

Ryan Holiday: I’ve mentioned the incubation process, which is what the strategist John Boyd called his ‘draw-down’ period. It is the time after we’ve had what we think is a brilliant idea and then take the time to process it and think it through before we embark on it.

I do not think it requires you to drop everything and go live in a cabin away from society—I certainly didn’t do that (although living on a ranch helps!). It’s simply the moment after you’ve had the idea, after you’ve put the first round of thinking into the project and then have to step back and say: “OK, what do I really have here?” “Do I actually have something?” “What is this really going to be?”

Otherwise, we have ego telling us that we have the best idea ever and blinds us to all the components that we need to work on. Ego Is the Enemy ended up being different from the initial book proposals precisely because there was time between conception and execution.

And wrestling with a topic or a paradox requires you to invest a serious amount of time in a state of what the author Cal Newport calls “deep work”—that place of intense concentration and cognitive focus where real progress is made. Two examples for me are walking and running, during which I wrestle with ideas. I also have an article on this site on how to accomplish more deep work in our lives where I give some other examples that can be helpful.

Raul Felix: You made an a sharp distinction of how the ego affected two Civil War generals: Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman. Grant sought the high office of the presidency and chased after big money, causing him to have one of the most corrupt administrations in our nation’s history and going publicly bankrupt, while Sherman chose to be content and lead a private life afterwards. How can a person distinguish if what they’re chasing after is genuine or if it’s their ego yearning for more?

Ryan Holiday: It’s funny because I really admire both of them. This country we live in would not be possible without the personal heroism and bravery of both of them—probably Grant most of all. At the same time, I find the end of his life to be very sad. I wish he could have enjoyed the success he had.

In my view, the main reason doing that is so hard is because we try to have it. We want what we want and what other people have, too. We want to do our own thing but not be left out, either. We want a quiet life but also want to be the center of attention.

It’s our ego telling us to always say yes to more things, more projects, events, meetings. It will also always say yes to more money if given the opportunity. (Ego doesn’t care whether that’s the right decision for us.) Ego rejects trade-offs. It wants it all. It’s incredible how hard it is for us to say no to anything—again, especially money.

The solution? Really ask yourself: Why do I do what I do? What is important to me? What is the one goal or thing I want more than any other? That’s the question you need to answer. Stare at it until you can. It’s not easy by any stretch, and I am telling you that from my personal experience. I’ve had to do so in my own life and it’s why I have an entire chapter dedicated to that idea. Understand what’s important to you and know your priorities.

The goal is to make decisions with clarity and purpose—not ego. Only after spending time alone and asking ourselves these tough questions can we know which way we are swaying.

Raul Felix: Hitting rock bottom, whatever that may be for a person, is one of those humbling experiences that can make or break you depending on how your ego responds to it. I’ve been through a couple of hard times in my life where I needed to fight for every bit of progress while I got back on my feet. Along the way I learned some lessons. Yet I remember being warned that my actions would lead to that. What do you feel it is about our nature that makes it so we don’t always learn from others but have to fuck up big time in order to drive consequences of our actions through our skull?

Ryan Holiday: Nobody gets very far or lives very long without getting their ass kicked a few times. It’s not pleasant at the time when in retrospect we tend to appreciate those experiences—because we learned so much from them. The problem is that those lessons tend to fade over time, because we start to feel like we’ve moved past them—that we’ve got it. When I got Ego Is the Enemy tattooed on my forearm it is exactly this part of human nature that I wanted to warn myself against on a daily basis. It is this part of us that says that we know better, that makes us unwilling to listen to others, to remember to be objective and clear-headed and honest. I have made those mistakes myself, and having a daily reminder is one way to prevent it from happening again.

And it will always be the case that the hardest lessons are learned from direct experience. Plutarch says that we don’t “so much gain the knowledge of things by the words, as words by the experience [we have] of things.” That shouldn’t be an excuse to not study and learn to prevent those from occurring. Reading books—especially biographies—becomes helpful here. Whatever situation you are currently facing, others have gone through that and written about it.

There’s a quote from Bismarck that says, in effect, any fool can learn from experience. The trick is to learn from other people’s experience. It is why the book is full of cautionary tales—so that we see what ego-driven choices and decisions others made in history and how that led to their downfall. Still, though, I understand that we’re often going to need to experience some of that directly. I wish it wasn’t true, but it is.

~Raul Felix

Read: Teaching Men How To Mate: An Interview With Tucker Max
Read: Keep Moving, Young Man
Read: An Army Ranger Interviews A Navy SEAL On Resilience

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4 Things That Are Awesome About Riding A Motorcycle

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Despite the possibility of getting killed by an absentminded undergrad who is Snapchatting herself singing along to the latest hit pop song as she makes a left turn while you’re crossing the intersection, causing you to hit the side of her car at 45MPH, riding a motorcycle is pretty damn sweet. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a speed demon going nearly twice the speed limit on a crotch rocket with no intention of pulling over if the cops chase you because if you get one more ticket you’ll get your license suspended…or a grizzled biker covering vast distances on a tight time hack with several of your brothers on cruisers…or a cute liberal chick or skinny gay guy on a Vespa putt-putting about town…the thrill of the ride is incomparable to those who decide to forgo the cage-like safety of the car, even if just for the weekend. Why is that? Because there are many reasons why a rider’s life is way more awesome.

1. Kids Are Crazy About You

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Remember when you were a kid and you would see a motorcycle passing by on the freeway? Maybe your mom would comment on how dangerous they are. You didn’t care because the cool guys on TV rode the shit out of them, wearing badass leather jackets, jeans, and sticking it to the man. You’ll fantasize about being one of those dudes when you got older as you played with your Hot Wheels and always had the motorcycle do insane stunts that defied the laws of physics as it was shooting its machine gun.

Many years down the line, you are at a red light thinking about how much of a total badass you are ’cause you’re finally on a motorcycle. A car pulls up next to you and out of the corner of your eye you see a hand flailing. You look to your right and in the backseat you see a kid seven or eight years old waving at you with a missing-tooth smile. You wave back at him and he starts laughing. You rev the throttle a bit and he goes ape shit from excitement. The light turns green and you speed away.

Kids love motorcycles, plain and simple. Whenever you make appearances to any family event, all the little kids are going to see your bike and want to sit on it. You will be one of the cool grown-ups, not one of those who drives a soul-crushing minivan.

 

2. Chicks Dig You, Too

As much as it may frighten them, few things are more effective at drenching the panties of a female than a man who rides a motorcycle well. It’s not as simple as getting your ass on a bike and going to places where girls hang. First, you must prove that you aren’t some idiot who is going to try to impress her by riding dangerously. You must recognize that riding on the backseat is quite intimate. She is signaling: I trust you with my life. Sadly, a lot of men these days aren’t capable of handling that sort of responsibility.

Also, the seat positioning will have her body in constant contact with yours. Most chicks aren’t willing to do that with whatever chode on two wheels, either. Only after gaining her respect and trust will you be able to get her to take a ride with you. As the ride happens, the breeze in her face, the revving of the engine as you twist the throttle, and the utter freedom of it all will make her lady parts tingly. Don’t forget the vibrations of the engine, too. You’ve displayed your competence as a man.

Riding a motorcycle is not something that can be done by any random dude. Thousands of people—even long-time riders—kill themselves each year on bikes. But the fact that you ride one puts you in the niche class of “bad boy” that nearly every woman has a few sultry fantasies about.

 

3. You Instantly Have A Connection With Fellow Riders

 

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Men form bonds by sharing knowledge and conducting activities together. Riding a motorcycle is one of the manliest hobbies in modern times. A man on a motorcycle represents the images of glory reminiscent of galloping knights and cowboys on horseback—as opposed to the simplicity of driving a cage that requires no more from you other than grabbing your keys and hopping in the driver’s seat.

Mounting your iron steed has the aura of prepping for combat. You look at the weather report and adjust the amount of cold weather gear you’ll need to wear. You put on your vest, grab your helmet, gloves, and glasses. You approach your baby waiting for you in her spot.

“Hello, beautiful,” you say.

You fire her up to warm her up a bit while you don your protective gear. You give her a quick little rev to make sure she purrs all right. She does. Away you go.

If you can relate to this feeling, then you’re a fellow motorcycle rider. You get it; others don’t. That’s why you always have an immediate connection with those who also ride. You’ll make small talk with fellow bikers and make friends with fellow bikers. And at times, you party hard as fuck with fellow bikers.

 

4. There Is No Better Way To Travel

 

MC4

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The world is a gorgeous place. We become immune to the wonder of it all during the routine of our daily lives. Yet when you’re on a motorcycle, you can’t help but notice. You feel everything…the feeling of needles poking your face when you’re riding through rain at 80MPH…the blazing furnace that is Arizona…the smell of countryside…the fresh breeze. Everything, good or bad, is a part of your journey. Back to our primal roots, before the windshield and air-conditioning of the cage shielded us from it all.

I’ve traveled a vast majority the United States at some point or another on my motorcycle. I’ve also ridden it to Mexico and Canada. I rented one for three weeks and traveled the whole of Italy. I had one as my sole means of transportation for a year and half last time I lived in Cali. I ride one now when it’s not snowing or freezing over in Upstate New York.

It’s a wondrous love affair. Every journey feels like an adventure, like that rare lover you can share you life with. Whether to the neighborhood bar to have a beer or across the country, the saddle of a motorcycle puts you closer to the elements and the world.

~Raul Felix

Read:29 Things I Learned By Age 29
Read: The Gay Meth Story
Read: 6 Things I Learned About Israel While Living and Working There

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Buffalo Hill Will Make A Man Out Of You

“I’m a fucking beast,” I say to myself,
I take those first steps running up Buffalo Hill.
There is always some college student slowly walking up it,
Occasionally, it’s a chick whose glorious ass I get lost in,
I’m reminded of what I want in my life.
More often, it’s a scrawny nerd unaware of the world around him,
I’m reminded of what I don’t want to become.
Buffalo Hill will make a man out of you.

When the body is in pain, it’s best to let the mind wander.
Halfway up, my mind runs rampant.
Thoughts of women past, family, friends, war, motorcycle trips,
Parking tickets, writing, money, and schemes for pussy.
Buffalo Hill will make a man out of you.

I’m approaching the final incline,
My stride becomes faster, eyes focus, bellowing grunts.
I reach the peak, smile as I stare down on conquered land.
Nice warm up. I continue my run.
Buffalo Hill will make a man out of you.

~Raul Felix

Read: She Was Traveling Through My Country
Read: Becoming A Beast May Help You Win The Beauty
Read: Keep Moving, Young Man

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11 Veterans On How To Succeed After The Military

SPC William Lockwood, 55th Combat Camera

SPC William Lockwood, 55th Combat Camera

The military life has its own protective bubble in a way. You have a steady paycheck, health insurance, and a host of career trajectory options. Retention Non-Commissioned Officers will attempt to scare you into reenlisting by warning you about how hard it is in the real world and the dire condition of the economy. The feeling of finally gaining your freedom back as a civilian can be overwhelming and full of contradictory emotions ranging from full-fledged glee to utter dread when you realize you have no idea what you want to do with your life now that you’ve hung up your uniform for good. Most of the career advice you find never quite feels suited to your unique skill set and experiences. In an effort to pass down some hard-earned knowledge, the following 11 veterans will give you a bit of advice on how to succeed in your post-military career ambitions.

1. Raul Felix, U.S. Army 2005-2009, Writer & Poet

“Realize that most people will not understand that dark sense of humor you may have developed. Be consciously aware of whom you’re talking to and whether or not they can handle a fucked-up joke that may come out of your mouth. Test the waters a bit first; don’t go full-on dead-baby joke after only talking to a person for five minutes.”

2. Jack Murphy, U.S. Army 2002-2010, Editor at SOFREP

“The most important thing I realized when I left the high-octane world of Army Special Operations for the private sector is that you have to learn to be both a soldier and a manager at the same time. That is to say, you no longer have a Team Leader or Squad Leader looking over your shoulder telling you it is time to rest, time to eat, time to go to sleep. That soldier work ethic is critical and gives you an edge over civilians, but you also have to keep in mind that life is a marathon, not a sprint. Besides, you’re not a 19-year old Ranger now. It’s OK to take a vacation, read a book, or play some video games at the end of the day. Otherwise you end up working yourself to death.”

3. VaNiesha Honani, U.S. Navy 1998-2005, Certification Manager

“Job Interviews outside of DOD / Government jobs like Tech Startups: 90% of my interviews outside of DOD and governmental jobs have assumed that because I was in the military—it’s ‘robot do.’ We are only used to instructions and stringent structure with little initiative or innovation. I started cutting them off at the head with a good anecdote (they love hearing the “Once in band camp…’ stories.) that shows how we had to use some innovation in a stressful time. Second thing I point out is we are very adaptable. I’ve won every time by pointing out, ‘Being in the military – I’ve learned you can’t have a 3rd eye and be sensitive about it, adapt and take it with a grain of salt.’ In Tech Startups – you tend to be around some finicky but talented people – not being high maintenance and self sufficient is a dream employee.”

4. Leo Jenkins, U.S. Army 2003-2007, Author of On Assimilation & Lest We Forget

“Leaving shouldn’t mean severing ties. I get it; I wanted nothing to do with the rank and file of the military when I got out. Sadly that meant isolating myself. Guess what, you just served in the most cohesive fraternity in the world. You know the one thing fraternities are actually good for? Networking. You’ve just spent X number of years establishing relationships with people from all over the country. Those people are your best bet at making it in the world. You’re gonna need a job now and I guarantee one your military buddies has a family member looking for an employee who know what responsibility looks like, who can show up on time, and get the job done right, regardless of the raging hang over caused by binge drinking until 4AM. Bottom line, stay in contact with your buddies.”

5. Tyler Gately, U.S. Army 2004-2009, Press Secretary, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

“Come to the realization that when you get out of the military you are starting over professionally. The truth is that your military skills will likely not transfer to a civilian career. Research careers you are interested in and read about how other people got there. Maximize your benefits and intern as much as you can. Internships are the easiest and quickest way to learn what your passion is and more importantly, what it is not.”

6. Brent Ebell, U.S. Army 2001-2007, Professional Cameraman

“Use your past as fuel. Remember all the pain, suffering, humiliation, freezing weather, blistering heat, spit flying in your face as someone screams the most degrading shit at you. Use all of it because people will inevitably doubt you. You will hear phrases like, ‘that’s impossible.’ ‘Can’t be done.’ Or ‘those are pipe dreams.’ All you have to do is look back at what you’ve already survived and overcome. Whenever someone doubts you, look him or her in the eyes and smile, but just think to yourself, ‘Fuck you!’”

7. Glenn Ness, U.S. Army 2004-2015, Student

“Try to get up to college level before you get out so that you aren’t wasting the GI Bill on menial classes. If you know that you are shooting for a high-credit degree, try to pay out of pocket as long as you can before tapping into the GI Bill because a community college now is going to be cheaper than a university in 4 years. Also, stay away from predatory schools. Some for-profit universities design their programs to squeeze every bit of money out of your GI Bill.”

8. Nick Palmisciano, U.S. Army 1994-2003, CEO of Ranger Up

“You know how you look at guys who were high school athletes and all they do is relive those days forever because that’s as good as it ever was for them? Don’t be that guy with your military service. Just like high school athletics should be a stepping stone to greater successes, so should you think of your service. It made you stronger, taught you valuable life lessons, and helped you hone your character. So take that wisdom and find a new mission and get after it, knowing it may suck at first the way basic training did. Your life should always be leaning forward, never anchored to the past. When you lean forward, no matter how hard a year is, at the end of it, you’re a tougher, better, more skilled person than you were before. When you spend all your time looking back, the world keeps changing and you remain still, slowly becoming less useful with each passing moment.”

9. Shannon L. Adams, U.S. Air Force, IAVA Michigan Community Leader

“Find a mentor to help you with the transition that’s recently been there themselves. This can be achieved through your IAVA [Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America] network or a Veteran service organization. We all learned from others’ experiences while in the service, we accepted advice from our peers, our leadership and learned in professional environments (training) to overcome obstacles, to get promoted and to dust ourselves off when we stumbled. Don’t try and do it alone!”

10. Vincent “Rocco” Vargas, U.S. Army 2003-2007, Army Reserves 2007-Present, COO of Article 15 Clothing

“I have two things that really drive me. One is my family. I always imagine them watching me walk across some imaginary stage receiving an award of some sort and just seeing the proud look on their faces….It’s easy to justify giving up to yourself, but when you have to justify failure to your kids, or your father…that’s always more difficult. That thought has gotten me through some of my hardest days in training and in hardship.

I know the only way of making that thought a reality is to work hard toward a goal. Which brings me to my second driving factor….I like to give myself small goals or missions if you will. Once getting out of the military, I felt there was no real direction. I wanted to do something with myself, but unlike some achievements in the military, there is no prebuilt path. So I created these missions and strive every day to achieve them. Something as simple as being a more affectionate dad to something as difficult as getting back in shape. I continue to hold myself accountable for my self-improvement.

By the end of the year I should have, hopefully, become a better person, husband, and father by accomplishing these small missions. This has given me motivation to wake up the next day and keep grinding. Setting these smaller step goals and holding myself accountable to be the man I want to be for my family.”

11. Jarred Taylor, U.S. Air Force 2003-present, President of Article 15 Clothing

“There is no magical career path where you don’t have to put in hard work. Yes the circumstances and definition of ‘hard’ change outside the military, but don’t for one second think it gets easier once your out. Focus that ‘never quit’ and ‘don’t have the option to quit’ attitude when pursuing a civilian career and you will quickly see yourself rise above your peers. Because those that only know an environment where if they don’t like something they can just ‘quit’ don’t have the same drive a military person has.”

~Raul Felix

Read: 4 Things That Security Contractors Love To Spend Their Money On
Read: Army Rangers Talk About The Times Their Words Have Shocked Civilians
Read: 12 Things Only Veterans Of The Global War On Terrorism Will Understand

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