Let’s try this again…

February 3rd 2014 was the last time I posted on this site. I was 24 years old and had just graduated college. My dreams were still fresh in my mind and I was riding a natural high from it. I thought the sky was the limit and was sure of myself to a fault.

But just like my intentions when starting this blog – I had a good idea that was stifled by my inability to execute on them. Don’t get me wrong; the dream is still more alive than ever but the road has been paved with a constant battle against myself. It’s a battle against procrastination and a crippling anxiety in a war I haven’t been able to win. Historically, I tend to overthink myself to indecision or find ways to sabotage my progress. I fill my head with thoughts and ideas that overwhelm me and then I end up doing nothing about them.

Honestly, as I skimmed through the last few blogs posts on here I felt a deep sense of shame and embarrassment. Why did I let this slip through the cracks? Why didn’t I prioritize sharing my thoughts as I encountered obstacle after obstacle and failure after failure? I even thought of erasing the first posts and starting fresh as I vowed to relaunch this blog and dedicate myself to blogging at least once a week. However, I decided that the best way to hold myself accountable was to keep them on here to serve as a reminder about how plans fade can over time if they’re not nurtured with action.

I’ve put things aside too many times with the intentions of getting back to them later on only to drop the ball and leaves things undone permanently. Fortunately, the one constant thing I’ve done throughout the last 8 years was keep dreaming. And although I should have been executing at a more productive pace I’ve been able to grow the Gully Steez brand into a digital media network with over 200,000 aggregate followers and a monthly reach that exceeds 1 million people per month. Even though we’re not profitable and I can’t live off our brands yet I’m extremely proud of where we’re at and my ability to change directions multiple times without regrets. We’ve touched hundreds of lives with our projects and I’ve willingly given my time and money to support the creative community.

Since my last blog post I’ve worked multiple jobs in accounting and have accumulated nearly a decade of experience in that field. It’s something that fell on my lap and that I accepted. I thought I was doing the right thing by going into accounting and playing it safe. I worked for a start-up for five years and thought that I’d be able to grow rapidly but ended up stuck in place and eventually laid off. The whole time I worked there I tried my best to impress my bosses and expressed my loyalty by going above and beyond my job duties but it didn’t matter to them. I wasn’t deterred though and have kept the same attitude throughout my journey – I’ll always go above and beyond whether it’s appreciated or not. And I did just that in my next gig for a lovely company that treated me well and who I saw a future with…until the pandemic hit. I’ve been unemployed ever since and am now reassessing my entire career and adult life in the process.

I’m nearly at two years without a job and just moved to a new city with a mountain of rejections piling up in my inbox on a daily basis. And yet, I’m not overly worried. I know that all things come to those who work for it and I’ve been hustling my tail off on the things that matter to me: my writing, my brands, and my growth. I’ve enrolled in coding classes and plan to learn everything I can about Front-End Development with the hopes of switching careers while learning a skill that can help me expand on my vision for the brands. I’m not sure when or if my company will ever make enough money to pay me a salary so I’m willing to take it slow and work 20-30 years while making sure to always work on growing my projects on the side. That being said, I’m completely focused on monetization after 8 years of building out the foundation and running our art projects without thinking about how to scale them or how to make money with the goal of sustainability.

The time for dreaming has come to an end. I’ve reached a different level of awareness while struggling with who I’ve allowed myself to become and the only thing left to do is act on how I’m feeling. I need to give it my absolute best shot. I can and I will grow my brands into a sustainable business. I will support myself with my writing. I will prevail.

Be You. Live R.E.A.L.

New York – Agenda Emerge – (11/22 – 11/26)

photo (4)

First and foremost you’re going to have to pardon my horrible photography skills. I did the best I could with my Iphone 4 (I know, prehistoric right?) dangling over the edge of the GE building and Empire State Building. All I could think about was the crater my phone was going to leave on the sidewalk 1,000 feet below us. Or the crater it would leave on somebody’s head. Or what my body would look like if I fell. Thoughts like: would I die before I hit the ground or on impact crossed my mind. I started getting dizzy. A bit woozy. And then I said, “OK, let’s keep it moving”. Hence, I didn’t take many pictures from the top of these great landmarks. I didn’t really take many outdoor pictures at all. It was too brick for all that.. TOO COLD. FREEZING, in fact.

Moving on, by now I’m guessing that you’ve figured out where I was a little over a week ago. If you didn’t get it after reading the title that’s kind of sketchy. If you still didn’t get it after I wrote about my phone dangling over the edge of the Empire State Building then SHAME ON YOU. Anyway, I traveled to New York to attend Agenda Emerge, a fantastic speaker series hosted by Group Y that brings moguls from  the streetwear/retail industry together to bestow their knowledge on whoever is lucky enough to purchase tickets. The event I attended had a success-studded lineup that included: Bobby Hundreds, Johnny Cupcakes, Jeff Staple, and Marc Ecko (in order of presentation). It was amazing. So amazing I blogged about it right when I got back to my cousins house- you can read my response to it HERE.

However, Agenda was on Thursday and I stayed in New York until Sunday.  Which meant I had plenty of time to reminisce. Plenty of time to wander the streets I used to loiter on. And plenty of time to sight see, becoming a tourist in the city I once called home . Correction- becoming a tourist in the city I STILL call home.

At first it felt like I was a stranger in my own town. It had been 6 years since the last time I saw the park I used to frequent on 85th and 30th. 8 years since I moved to Florida. I was a stranger.

I took a nostalgic stroll around Queens. Walked by my old house. Passed the bodega I used to frequent. Bought Tims at the Modell’s I sometimes copped my Js. Took my old route to 82nd street and Roosevelt, passing the elementary/middle school I attended (St. Joan of Arc). I also walked by City Jeans (another place I used to harass for Js back in the day on 82nd street and 37th ave). And then hopped on the 7 train I used almost every weekday for two years to get to my high school (School of the Future).

As I walked the streets of Manhattan I was hit with an influx of beautiful memories. Memories of taking the subway to school every day. Memories of great times I had with my friends. Of the laughs we had. The crushes I had. The dumb sh!t I did. It was a great feeling to be back in the city that raised me.

The walls I used to tag up with my paint marker looked completely different. But the feeling was the same. I was home.

The day after Agenda Emerge my girlfriend got to town and we immediately set out to Manhattan so I could give her a tour of New York City. Turns out I’m not that great of a tour guide. My sense of direction stinks. And after not navigating the trains for 8 years I was more than rusty. It was funny at times as I pretended to know where I was going, got lost, and luckily ran into something I could point out. But these “somethings” we ran into were great “somethings”, like the New York Public Library. I have been in that library numerous times in my life and was never as happy to see it as I was that day when we ran into it.

It’s crazy how when you live in New York you can easily take everything for granted. I’ve been to Rockefeller Center countless times in my life. My mother brought my siblings and I to see the Christmas tree there almost every year. Yet up until last week I knew close to nothing about all the art out in the open for people to see. Or the history behind it. We learned these things by taking a guided tour around Rockefeller Center that concluded with a trip to the Top of the Rock, an observatory deck at the top of the GE building that is absolutely breathtaking. The picture up above was taken as I was half crapping bricks / half acting as a professional photographer.

We visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Ate at a burger joint around the area. And then hit Moma (blog pending- the art needs a blog post of it’s own).

The following morning we visited the 9/11 Memorial to pay our respects to the lives lost that fateful day. We briefly walked by Wall Street afterwards and then headed back to Queens to spend some time with my family. We got to see my little cousin’s basketball game, ate lunch as a family, and watched a movie. When the sun went down we decided it was time to see the main event of our weekend, the Empire State Building. The wind chill felt as if it could pierce through skin. And my girlfriend and I felt like the weather was catching up to us-  the coughs, sneezing, and mucus running down our noses evidence of our bodies attempt to keep us healthy. But we worked our way through the cold and eventually got to the top of the Empire State Building where, due to the freezing cold weather, we spent nearly 45 minutes attempting to see New York from every side of the building.

The weekend in New York was a great getaway. A learning experience that furthered my resolve to keep building my brand. It validated my goals and made me realize that starting my own business is the only route that would make me truly happy with my professional career. Having my girlfriend there to share the experience with me was also unforgettable. We had a great time taking guided tours and sightseeing (something I never thought I’d do in New York). And as always we nerded out at a museum.

Anyway, till next time…Be Cool. Stay Fresh. Live REAL.

photo (3)

http://www.GULLYSTEEZ.com