If you asked me what I wanted to do for a living while in college, I would have never been able to answer. And I certainly would have never thought I’d be in the position I am today—a director of a brand’s website and the social media channels that I’ve loved since I was a teenager. #HumbleBrag… although I must say, I am very, very grateful.
SUCCESS IN JOURNALISM WAS A PIPE DREAM…
I’d always been a hard worker, could be focused when I wanted to be—but never really had a clearly defined path to follow.
But, what I did know was that I loved my sports, traveling, bodyboarding—and of course—hitting the gym. Plus, I wanted to do something big.
I was a Communication Major in college and took loads of classes about media literacy, debate, persuasion, and production. One class in particular—TV/radio production—actually irritated me. I constantly thought to myself, “OK, we’re talking about… things. Trending topics, celebrities, sports, Facebook… but how the hell does this all make money?! How do you actually make a living like this?!” It was something that drove me nuts. I’d always come to the conclusion that there’s no way all of this “creative stuff” can have you living happy and comfortable. I didn’t get it.
CLARITY? THINK AGAIN.
After shifting a bit more towards “business side” courses like marketing, advertising, and management, the whole “career thing” and making money actually started to make sense. Well, I thought. Long story short—I started seeing newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, and the internet strictly as a business. Solely an opportunity to sell a product to an audience. (Yeah, yeah. I know all that hard editorial work is what builds those audiences, but let me finish the story).
At the end of college I decided I want to be an advertising executive. Easy. All I need to do is sell the brand, its reach, and all the great things about it. (Yeah, yeah, I know… again that comes back to how good of an editorial product it is.)
In 2007, I went out there and helped a friend with ad selling for a start up website. And in 2008, I graduated and landed myself a great entry level sales job for an incredible brand. Everything was amazing, until I realized that banging out phone calls all day, getting hung up on, and dealing with the ups and downs of a sales roller coaster wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. All of that complaining about “creative stuff” was driving me to be more… well… creative.
SMALL SPARKS OF CREATIVITY EMERGE.
In 2009 or so, I was one year into doing the sales thing, feeling beat up and that everything was just about making money… and less about helping people. I wasn’t feeling so great about how I was living my life.
Even though I worked in a cubicle, I had always been so into working out, I decided to casually start blogging on Facebook using the “Notes” function about the things I learned over the years training, my own fitness goals and aspirations, and BOOM! After seeing some of the diverse responses, commentary, and generally positive feedback to what I was doing, my true calling and vision became much clearer. I was going to be some type of media influencer in the fitness and active-lifestyle space.
THE BABY WAS BORN.
Things were all starting to make sense. Fitness as a category was becoming more of a trending topic, social media—more specifically—Facebook was really starting to take off, and everyone was creating websites about fitness. There were tons of individuals pushing their own brands, their own programs and philosophies, but I wanted to do something larger than a workout program or diet. Something far bigger than me.
I decided I wanted to compete with the big boys (and big girls) and create an overarching brand—an authority that housed and curated everything health, fitness, and well-being. The concept of HUMANFITPROJECT was born in a small cubicle at 500 7th ave on the 9th floor (I think) in New York City.
THE FIRST STEPS.
In the very beginning a couple friends from high school and college liked the idea and wanted to contribute. It began as some small meetings, a photo shoot or two, and the creation of the first logo, along with a very simplistic blog.
COMING SOON: The growing pains of building a business
THE FIRST REDESIGN, EXPANSION, AND MOBILIZATION.
Being a blog with a large overarching concept, you need more space, and you need more contributors. In 2010 my current business partner, Ron Parham officially came onboard. Ron and I worked diligently to create roles, responsibilities, and work flows for production. We also reworked the logo, completely built out a site inclusive of a home page, about us page, section fronts, article pages, all of this while trying to maintain my own writing, and keeping up with our social media presence as best as possible. HUMANFITPROJECT version 2.0 published four complete months of content with between 20-30 pieces of content across four main sections each roll out.
COMING SOON: The sacrifices entrepreneurs need to accept
A STUNT IN GROWTH.
In late 2011, I had been pushing along as much as possible and was approached with an offer to work for American Media, Inc. to help build out mensfitness.com. Considering I was in a tough position—being unemployed for 6 months after leaving my ad sales job and transitioning over to another failed startup in the beverage industry—I needed a job that actually paid the bills, allowed me to be creative, and was right in my interest area. I opted to take the position with AMI. However, HUMANFITPROJECT would cease production due to the magnitude of the project at mensfitness.com. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, I had no other choice but to halt editorial operations.
COMING SOON: Untold stories of fear, struggle, depression, and learning from failure
HFP BECOMES A MARKETING/PRODUCTION AND MEDIA PARTNER.
Lucky for me, I’ve been well-positioned and able to work with new comers and contributors to HUMANFITPROJECT for many of the stories and productions that mensfitness.com needed to maintain our incredible growth trajectory. (I came into Men’s in 2011 with 300k unique visitors, finished just under 10 million in August 2014, and hit an all-time high of 14.7 million in January 2016.)
TAKING FLIGHT: THE NEXT STAGES
The HUMANFITPROJECT brand, network, and family of contributors will be expanded through 2014, 2015, and now into 2016. Our editorial channels populated to provide the most important material for living a fit and healthy active lifestyle.