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Campaigning For One Million Heroes Around The World

As much as many of us wished we lived in a world of Superheroes and mystical powers, where we could just sit by and wait for someone to come save us from the problems we see, we do not. There are no Norse gods coming to save humanity, there aren’t narcissistic millionaires building suits to defend the defenseless, there aren’t radioactive spiders to bite nerds and make them awesome web slingers, and there aren’t mystical monks who can bend the four elements at will to stop power hungry overlords and corrupt leaders from coming and staying into power.

That doesn’t mean we do not have our own heroes. Doesn’t mean that everyday people can’t step up and be heroes. We may not all be able to read minds, or heal superfast or even have super speed, but we can change the world, defend the defenseless and save humanity all the same.

Each an everyone one of us has the ability to change the world in which we live. We can change our world one person at a time.

People in our world both today and yesterday have made massive leaps in technology, psychology, philosophy and social change and each and every one of them are heroes. People have dedicated their lives to making a difference in the world and did it.

These are everyday people who had an idea, saw a need, dreamed a better way and they got to work and did it. These people are heroes. Everyday Heroes.

And we think it’s time those people were acknowledged and rewarded for their hard work because without these people life would be very different for us indeed.

So we came up with an idea. We thought that the best way to show our appreciation of the people working hard to make a difference wasn’t to throw them fancy parties or give them a golden statue (although that did cross our minds), but to help them in their endeavors.

And thus One Million Heroes was born.

One Million Heroes is a campaign that aims to give funding to the Everyday Heroes of our world. We plan to do this through a nomination and voting system using Hero Points and Nomination Badges. The people who nominate their heroes and vote are called the Champions. They Champion the Heroes of our world and bring them to the forefront.

Here nonviolent activists, start-ups for change, and nonprofits working to make a difference are nominated as Everyday Heroes and people. We use social media as a way for Champions to nominate, vote and share their favourite Hero, their cause. Once enough Nomination Badges and Hero Points have been cast, $10,000 USD equivalent will be redistributed in a universal currency of their choice to 1 – 3 of  the top selected Heroes to use to continue their great work or put their plan into action.

To keep it balanced at least one Hero must work for the greater cause of animals, and another for people. The more we raise the more we can include more Heroes into the top to receive rewards, the more we can give to each participating Hero. Champions who help champion their Heroes to victory will receive a chance to win awards starting from 100 USD equivalent and reaching up to 3k and more.

The voting system uses our Hero Point system by which users can purchase or earn points that they can then spend voting on a Hero of their choice that has been Nominated by someone during the Nomination phases starting November 2nd. Those who purchase their Nomination badge before November 2nd will receive two badges starting at the price of 28.86 USD equivalent. The price increases to 48.86 to those who Nominate November 2nd and after, with a few exceptions. You can Nominate your Hero multiple times. The more your Hero has been nominated the closer they move to the top of the nomination page. There are a total of 20,000 slots available.

We will have full transparency during this process so that all users can see where their votes and their money is going. Much of this money will be spent maintaining the systems that allow this campaign to be a reality. Including the unsung heroes and agents that work tirelessly (mostly fueled by coffee and ramen) in the background to bring this campaign to you.

To learn more:

Read The Press Release for One Million Here: http://bit.ly/2e66M4A
Read Zenratstudios Press Release: http://bit.ly/2dsAjTsh
Like & Follow us on Facebook To receive daily hints for our ARG: http://facebook.com/zenratstudios

Follow us On Twitter: http://twitter.com/zenratstudios

Visit and get your Nomination Badges now: http://onemillionheroes.zenratstudios.org

And if you have any questions email us at: savingtheworld@zenratstudios.org , send us a tweet or FB message.

Behind The Scenes: The Birth Of The One Million Heroes Campaign And its counterpart a CYOA ARG

Introduction

I was young when I decided I wanted to be a writer, 15 when I first came online and discovered MUDS and Interactive Fiction, and 16 when I decided I wanted to build games and brought my first books on programming, when I decided that I wanted to use games to make my stories come alive and in essence to save the world. I was around that same age when I began volunteering with people and animals to gain experience that I could bring back to my work. I was 19 when I first discovered digital currencies like Bitcoin, it was fairly new and not as easy to get as it is today. You had to get it online and it took days to arrive. Today with companies like Circle and Coinbase those days are over. But at the time all the steps it took to get it turned me away. I kept my eyes on it as an outsider looking in. I was 21 when I went to school to learn game development, I was only there for 2 years and it was all to grow my skill so that I could work on the project I had set for myself at 16. That project was codenamed “The Medusa Project” after the Greek “Villain” Medusa who had been the centerpiece for my research, growth as a person and the second universe to a 13 part series that was growing and expanding as I was. Medusa was a project that focused on identity, belief and demonization, more importantly it was a commentary on sexual violence, war and social conformity and what it takes to break out of that including the consequences for doing so.  I would later redubbed it to “The Compassion Project”, and not long after that I founded my game and book publishing company Zenratstudios as a nonprofit.

This past year has been a journey. It’s taken me one year since starting Zenratstudios to formulate my thoughts, define a clear message, to figure out who I am and what I want to say to the world, and what I would like us to do together. Technology is evolving fast and there is more I can do today than I could have done yesterday or even just 3 years ago. When I first entered the internet  scene, AOL was a thing, Yahoo chats were still popular and we were still using tables, and CSS3 was hard to use with a lot of hacks that I was first introduced to via Myspace. Things I wanted to do in Javascript could only be done with Jquery and were more complicated to do than they are now with a lot less libraries available for use. Flash was the way to animate and game engines like phaser non-existant. I have a love-hate relationship with programming, but I have an even worse relationship with Javascript and so for years I refused to touch the stuff. I wanted to work with C# or something similar and if it were up to me I would rather not work with any programming languages at all. This year was the year I had to face those fears and embrace my projects head on.

 

“What are you willing to do to achieve your dreams?”

During my time in school I discovered Tabletop RPGS for the first time and I was absolutely fascinated. How amazing was it that you could create an entire game with game mechanics that people people could enjoy without programming. Board games, card games, tabletop RPGs all of them were things I could do and none of them involved programming, and of the two only one of them could be created solely digitally, no need to print anything. There was only one tiny problem. I had never played tabletop RPGs with other people. So I would spend the next 3 years neck deep in a world of online RPGs, melodrama and mental illness only to come full circle in 2015.

It’s a long story of how I got from A to B but it’s that entire story put together that gave rise to Zenratstudios. The accumulation of all my years searching for answers and knowledge and integrating it together, an accumulation of my journey. Every detour always seemed to lead me back to the same road, and so here I am today.

 

In 2015 A Hero Is Born

In November 2015 I decided I was done waiting for the right moment to live my dreams. I decided to take on the task of going Indie. A common theme with me is constantly figuring out how to make money to bootstrap my dreams. For as long as I remembered I was always thinking of other ways to make money so that I could make money doing what I love, so that I could continue to give back to others that trend followed me with this company.

 

At first I decided I would take the concept of House Flipping and flip and reskin apps instead. It was something easy that I thought could give me quick money which I could then use to fund my philanthropic endeavors. So I spent November – December researching Android, and places to go to find these apps, and then I found one place that mentioned Unity which was cross-platform and easy. Platformer pro and other solutions made it easy to put together games with minimum programming skills. So for the Month up until December and a bit into January I worked on a game called Winter Solstice about mental illness and part of a series on a blogspot page. The game ended up being a source of stress for me both because I was just one person trying to do all of it and because of losses taking place in my life. In January I put the game away, officially brought my Zenratstudios domain as a .com and began focusing on “Afterlife” a board game based on my original tabletop rpg game from 3 years ago, that turned into an RPG card game. The purpose of Afterlife was to help me heal from my pain and to discover who I was underneath it all, and so the game Afterlife takes place in a world where you’ve died and you have to pass through a series of Gates and Guardians located in the cardinal directions to reach the center. It was inspired by ancient Egyptian Senet and Inanna’s descent into the underworld from sumerian mythology. It merged the Medicine Wheel and other mythologies weaving them together. The goal was to discover all that I was by undoing all that I wasn’t and reconnect with my center, and rebuild and create my life to be what I wanted it to be.

I stopped short of publishing it because I wanted to add art to it, to test it, and because most importantly I really wanted another Game Designer and Artist to give feedback as well as play testers. I can be a bit wordy and antisocial, and to be honest wasn’t quite ready to reach out to the world as I still didn’t know me. Taking a pause from Afterlife I went through another bout of pain and in March I decided to try to make money by trading cryptocurrency. It was the first time I had decided to participate not as an observer but as someone taking part in it all. I didn’t know who I was and wanted the freedom to make blunders in the community without associating that with Zenratstudios. What I found was that most people in the cryptocommunity were actually quite friendly, enthusiastic and pioneers full of ideas and inventions. They offered many insights and I learned much.  I discovered Ethereum and fell in love with the concept despite its flaws, I took part in the DAO and I learned many lessons that I would later take back to my Zenratstudios including but not limited to viewing Blockchain as a simple technology, a tool, no different than using C# or Javascript or some other thing, and not necessarily the best tool for every situation. It is this years experience in the blockchain community that gave me insights on what I wanted to do with Zenratstudios and how to bring my dreams of “Saving the world” together.

In August I decided that my time spent focusing on trading digital currency was while fun, a full-time job for me. The markets spend more time in the accumulation phase and swing-trading was taking up all my mental energy. I wanted to make games, I also went through another emotional crisis, and it would be the last major crisis for me. In September I would begin working on my Workshop and took a detour into Astrology, web development and workshops. My focus was on learning SASS, react.js and building my websites from scratch using frameworks, getting up a site and doing a workshop separate from my company in order to make money to hire people to help me make games. It was in working on that that I came full circle again, and I recalled my Project Graveyard game that I wanted to make a long time ago in March but didn’t have the skills. I also came to realize something important. Here I was trying to make money to make money to make money so that I could give back to people…why didn’t I just cut out all the middlemen out, break the loop and cut straight to the chase?

 

And so: One Million Heroes Is Born

One Million Heroes was the simplest thing I could do with the current skills that I have and was based on the One Million Dollar Homepage designed by the man who sold 1×1 pixels for ad space for $1 each. It also integrated well as one of the main ways to monetize your blog by creating ad space and affiliating linking on your blog.

I had wanted to do something similar for a long time under the name Project Graveyard and Project Heart but I wasn’t confident enough in my web programming skills and didn’t know how to implement it until my detour into building my Astrology websites and workshops.

There was just one problem. I hate ads. I block every ad I come across. I find them obtrusive, they tend not to be quality and they are always in my face when I’m looking for something else. It’s not that I didn’t want to see ads, there were plenty of times I could think of when they were done right. Amazon for instance when it recommends books to me based on what others had read, or Youtubes recommended video features that introduce me to other contents. There are times when I’m actively looking for services but when I’m reading an article for knowledge and the blog is littered with ads or pop ups or are bluntly salesman-like, and most of the ads are for-profit to companies not making a real difference. I get turned off. Moreover it turned me off just thinking about building something similar.

One Million Heroes was born as a way to earn revenue by showcasing “Ads” but not just any Ads, Ads from non-profits, non-violent activists and start-ups catered to people when they wanted to see it, not when we ‘wanted’ them to see it. It took what I hated and was designed to make it fun. In this way quality advertisements from “Heroes” all over the world could apply during the Entry Phase. Originally there were 1 million slots and so it was called “One Million Heroes” the problem however was twofold. I was just one person and didn’t have the skills to keep up with that and I didn’t have the funds to automate the process. This was a project that would be done manually. What was the minimum number of slots I could allow, and how would I have to adjust the price to reflect this? I decided that because we were targeting companies and that these were advertisements which often cost a lot that I would charge a pay what you can model starting at  ~48.86/slot, costing more for people to purchase the header and front page and ranked less. I also decided that the currency we would use would be a universal currency such as BTC and something we were designing called “Hero Points” (originally called Karma Points).  The number of slots available would be 20,000 because 50 * 20k would come up to one million at minimum, with the option for people to give more. We would keep the campaign up until One Million USD equivalent had been reached at which point we would either give 1% (10k+) of the money raised to the top paying Hero ads right away, or we would use a portion of the funds to hire a coder to help us build Phase 2, the voting phase.

This is  where I had built in the idea that the very act of viewing games could be fun, engaging and motivate people to share Heroes and nominate them. It was a great way to drive traffic to the showcase, but also to motivate people to vote up their Heroes. People would purchase game badges or points starting at 0.99 USD equivalent and up and would then proceed to give those points to their Hero company, non-profit or start-up of choice.

To give people an incentive for sharing the people who shared or referred the most people would in turn be able to receive a small reward. And later I would integrate an extra feature, unlocking codes, secrets and new levels as possible rewards in our ARG as well.

I was integrating a lot of different concepts I had seen into one place here and I was having fun doing it too.

 

The Challenge That Gave Birth to A CYOA ARG

Now I had a concept, and I had a showcase but I didn’t have an audience.

Releasing Press releases were not only expensive but No one knew me! I wasn’t and still am not a big company or well known figure. I’m just a person coming out from the ethers of my headquarters with a mission.

This was me launching for the first time after 1 year of being official, developing and learning new skills and experimenting. How was I going to do this? I began reading every social media book I could get my hands on, and began focusing on building my social media presence and finding a team of helpers and that was a journey in and of itself. I’m a very shy and introverted person and social media up until recently wasn’t something I felt confident about, but once I broke through that barrier that was hindering me from moving forward I was able to post and feel confident about doing so. I got buffer, I began focusing on analytical tweets, I focused on twitter first. And it was while posting on twitter and building my presence that I realized, maybe I don’t need all the fancy programming and tools that I think I need to build a game. Maybe, just maybe taking the tools and skills I have right now and utilizing platforms like steem.it, reddit, twitter, youtube, facebook and more…just maybe I could…use social media itself, where retweeting and likes and shares was how we kept track of points, and utilizing tools available like qr-codes online, maybe the showcase didn’t have to have all those bells and whistles just yet. Maybe I had all I needed right now. Armed with just social media and a showcase for ads I could do this.

So that’s when I decided that One Million Heroes would be a social media campaign. There was only one slight problem. Tweets other people wrote were getting a lot of hits, people were interested. But things I was writing including notification on the campaign wasn’t getting a lot of likes or shares. It was a solid idea but how was I supposed to get it out there and by November 2nd no less!

I had made a list of influential people who I could possibly contact, but what was I supposed to do, walk up to them and say, “You don’t know me but I’m working on this project–” that’s like never calling your Mom and Dad except on Christmas to say, “Hey…so where’s my gift?” or cold calling a random person, “You don’t know me but can you do me a favor?”. The same idea followed with using forums and blogs. I thought about logging onto these social platforms and saying “Here is what I created, here’s my pitch, make a difference and buy now.”

But I didn’t want to be one of those people. I decided that the best way to tell what we’re about is to SHOW people what we’re about. I wanted to make the very act of learning about our company, our game, our products and services a game in and of itself. And not just any game, a choose your own adventure, alternate reality game, with RPG elements,  interactive fiction and storytelling design in ARG form. Leaving behind short little puzzles, riddles, varying degrees of difficulty, could encourage the community to work together, and could help people solve the problem. Oh I was starting to get so excited!

One of my biggest challenges was trying to word these big concepts in my head to share it with everyone, and writing everything all at once as a solo person, but this way I could reveal everything in pieces all around the world. I could leave clues and hints, pieces of the puzzle that people could work together and solve. I could have a game within a game, and One Million Heroes Campaign could be a part of that.

You see One Million Heroes isn’t JUST a showcase for ads, it’s the a test for our pay it forward economy that we’re developing that takes life and kindness and makes a game out of it. Similar to programming languages like Flux (parent of Redux w/React.js) it’s an architecture a pattern. What we do here can be taken and learned from for our own economy. We’re still developing the details and refining it. But every game we do is part of the grander picture, a way to save the world or at least make a little bit better in pockets hoping that the butterfly effect will carry those effects forward.

Making the very act of releasing One Million Heroes a game in and of itself served the purpose of allowing us to build community, test engagement and interest, and test our pay it forward economy as an architecture and pattern. To experiment while also introducing what we do ‘in action’.

We weren’t just going in and saying “Here is our idea let me tell you about it” but showing it itoo.

It is our goal to bridge different communities and bring them together: The Gamers and the Non-gamers, the pioneers and the newcomers. Games and stories, world-building and economies it’s all related, it’s all interconnected. Together we can build a better world and somehow our small tiny site is part of that.

It took me 2 weeks to build One Million Heroes as a showcase without the bells and whistles, but it took 1 year to develop the idea and bring it to fruition.  And it’s finally here!

 

How It Works

So without further ado, this is how the Game works!

Utilizing different platforms we’re going to be posting different hints. Some platforms will have binary codes that contain a link with an article. Inside those articles are encrypted messages each one tells a story or a description of a location that contains another clue or hint. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes not so much.  Every encrypted message has a simple key that can be founded by reading the main article or passage from which it came. The binary codes, riddles and the sort are a bit more complicated and increase in difficult. They lead to treasures and adventure around the world. Some even in physical locations.

Different platforms will have different types of messages, so you might have to do a little digging to put all the codes together.

Just like in a game people can earn points, level up, and discover unique items and things and even redeem those discovers for badges. We want to encourage people to retweet and share, and to work together and we want there to be real awards. For instance in our One Million Heroes campaign people who participate will be given an option they can take a cash reward or opt to pay the cash reward forward and instead choose one of several encrypted messages and binary codes that start a new adventure and lead to new treasures, adventure, danger and opportunities.

Hashtags will be used as “commands” similar to interactive fiction, for example, “unlockLevel” or “unlockHint” @Zenratstudios to receive hints are just a few of the hashtags used for the game. #NominateHero and #NominatedHero are other tags.

People who don’t care about the encrypted messages and just want  to use One Million Heroes as a showcase to #NominateHero are free to do that too. They can l just glaze over it and go straight to One Million Heroes but people who do care will delve deeper and further searching for codes. We intend to use the money we raise to maintaining this adventure longterm.

We’ll keep a forum or place that keeps track of the different levels, stories, and areas that have been unlocked for people to piece together the story, discover mysteries, redeem points, earn money and more.

P.S. Hidden with this article is a keyword, you’ll need it to unlock a key later!

To learn more:

Read The Press Release for One Million Heres Here: http://bit.ly/2e66M4A

Read Zenratstudios Press Release: http://bit.ly/2dsAjTsh

Like & Follow us on Facebook To receive daily hints: http://facebook.com/zenratstudios

Follow us On Twitter: twitter.com/zenratstudios

Visit: http://onemillionheroes.zenratstudios.org

And if you have any questions email us at: savingtheworld@zenratstudios.org or send us a tweet or FB message.

 

Hashtags:

#unlockHint

#unlockLevel

#HeroPuzzle

and more!

 

We’ll release documentations on the best practices on how to use those hashtags in time!

A Journey: Social Media & Launching a Campaign

This past few weeks have been an amazing time. Watching ideas come together and materialize has been an amazing and subtle thing. This year has definitely been a journey and there’s still a lot of work to do. At the start of this month I realized I needed a team, depression and the feeling of being overwhelmed was starting to wear on me. It was the first symptom that I was stretching myself thin and needed to enlist help.

There’s a lot of things I’ve had to do myself on a dirt small budget to fund an ambitious dream, saving the world, making it a better place by getting to the root cause of the problem, ourselves.

“Start Where You Are”

At the beginning of the year I made the decision that I wasn’t going to wait for the right time for me to start building my dream. I couldn’t sit by anymore listening to the news, feeling helpless about my own situation and the world around me. I needed to take action. But how? One cold night of November I was sulking about the state of my life and my dreams. I hated my life. I listened to manifestation tapes over and over again, and like a broken record my thoughts replayed over and over again how powerless I, just one person, felt to change the world or make it better, hell I couldn’t even change my life for the better…or so that is what I had thought.

My entire life up until that point was thinking and feeling there was something wrong with me and reading medical books as young as the age of four looking for clues as to what was broken inside of me. I used to get depressed because for all the pain in the world, even if I could save just ‘one’ person I couldn’t save them all. My job wasn’t done unless I could save everyone. I was depressed because I was trying to reach the moon but my arms were too small. I asked questions again and again about the universe, about life, about people, about myself, how the mind works, how people works. Why, why, why. I was always asking why. Until one day, there was nothing left to ask. I’d finally figured out the answer to my question, and just like that I began to empty my cup that I had once filled to the brim with questions and their answers. I went from wanting to fix myself, to wanting to save the world, to wanting to fix life as if it were broken – to coming full circle back to me. There was nothing wrong with me, or you, or the next person. We were each perfect as we were, like the kintsugi, our cracks and scars becoming a part of us…start where you are. This mantra I’d heard time and time again from books on programming, to Pema Chodron, to video games — stare where you are.

Somehow I realized the problem wasn’t with the world. The world was fine, the problem was with me and the relationship I had with myself, my heart and as a direct result the world. My pain, my interpretations of and reactions to it, every insecurity and belief I had built and created, how I felt about myself whether it was an over-inflated ego or a deflated-ego in comparison to others, infected how I related with others and the world around me. I wanted the world to have more love and more compassion, and less judgment. I wanted to feel more connected to the world and less disconnected, and yet there I was standing apart rather than with people in solidarity. In my mind I was somehow set apart and different a spectator constantly reacting to my observations, never realizing that I was part of the very problem I wanted to solve.

There I was judging the world for not having more love and more compassion and empathy and openness. I wanted people to stop following and take a stand and be leaders. So badly with all of my heart, and yet I laughed when anyone said, “Why not you?”

I’m no leader. I’m not qualified.

And a little voice said to me…So become qualified. Learn.

“You have all the tools you need to start right now.”

Tired and exhausted, I asked myself, “Why did I need to learn?”

“What skills did I need, to live my dreams of saving the world?”

“What were my challenges?”

“Most importantly what skills did I have in that moment and how could I use them to help me build momentum and level up?

Not having a lot of money was the biggest challenge, but I am good at learning and asking questions and finding answers to those questions, utilizing free and cheap but quality resources. I’m good at seeing the big picture and breaking it down into smaller chunks looking at symptoms and getting to the root and integrating solutions into their whole again. I’m great at world-building and I love to write and constantly utilize storytelling as a tool to test models and theories and build gameworlds–no reason why I can’t scale that up to the next level. My programming skills are weak, and I’ve never brought a webhost or launched a website, or used wordpress, but I can make table-top RPGs and text-based games and scale up.  And I do have some experience with game engines. Besides,  I had built small games on my own, never anything worth sharing but all projects that were added to my skillset, these were things I could learn. I had a laptop and an internet connection and though I’d never launched a company or gathered and lead a team…I could learn…I had a lot to learn but I had all the tools I needed to do so.

“Learn, expand & Level up”

90% of my time this past year has been spent learning. Execution doesn’t take nearly as long as it takes to learn and then organize that data. So there is a large percentage of time is spent just learning as I go along. Learning about new technologies and how they can be integrated into my projects and dreams. Learning about Javascript and React.JS and Node.JS and SASS and word press and PHP and building those skills up one at a time.

30% is organizing the data I’ve researched and pulled together, and 20% is execution. I’m constantly reading books, tutorials and ebooks around the web, constantly learning, and evolving and taking notes. I’m a library of knowledge and always trying to integrate it into something small and executionable. If I could write a book or start a workshop but then….that leads to my next problem.

“Every day I make a trade-off”

I’m just one person, and every single day I make a trade off. These are the trade-offs I often make.

  • Spend 1-2 months focusing on building & refining Website, making it mobile responsive …or…
  • Dedicate a few hours to work on a blog post this week sharing Tips I have to share, Insights, News & Developments, and so forth. …or…
  • Continue developing my sites and websites …or…
  • Get out games and ebooks that are in our queue …or…
  • Work on the Roadmap and Documentation …or…
  • Start and Launch Our Campaign and Design Posters …or…
  • Raise and set aside funds to outsource help affordable help …or…
  •  …And the list goes on…

The fine-print clause: “If this, then I can’t do that”

“Outsourcing Help”

Even outsourcing help is a trade-off. In truth, the biggest reason I decided to start the One Million Heroes Campaign was so that I could get help from people to help well, people! People who need food to live in a world that is not yet sustainable and won’t be for so long as we live with the mindset and relationship we have with Money. Think about it, climate change, war, poverty, we have all the resources we need to solve this problem, but we don’t do this because no one will work for free even if it’s for their betterment. Any non-profit organization that depends on volunteers will tell you, depending on volunteers is difficult if not iffy. Volunteers work in their spare time and aren’t always available, employees and independent contractors are because they have a reason to be.

Money is a necessary tool to build a new and better world beyond it.

Knowing how to outsource help on limited funds, and getting the right people who aren’t just there for a quick paycheck but are interested in long-term growth, progress, and improving the world is essential to the project. Finding people who are as motivated and enthusiastic as you are is essential. I can’t say it enough: Alone I can get far, but Together we can get even farther.

I realized that I had spent the past several years of my life and even this past year, trying to do other jobs in order to bootstrap money for this project. But I had all I needed right now. I recalled the One Million Dollar Homepage and I decided to take my Project Graveyard and convert it into something that represents what we do here and so “One Million Heroes” was born. It takes all of us to build a better world, and finances is the way we can do that.

“Building My Team”

The first part of my goal has been building and expanding my team. I ran into some emotional blocks that were hindering me from making progress and holding me back, fears I had about putting myself out there, so I sought a business coach. Working with him helped unblock what was holding me back and once that unblock happened I was able to march forward without limitations, the sky is my limit.

One of the greatest additions to my team has been a young woman whose enthusiasm and proactiveness in helping has been a breath of fresh air. It’s rare to meet someone who mirrors your passion even just to brainstorm. I welcome her to our team of Heroes and am glad to have her on our side.

“Getting Clear About What You Want & Refining Communication”

Throughout this entire month I’ve realized one of my biggest problems is communication. I speak a lot of words, I talk a lot, but it’s mostly noise that gets lost in translation. I’m starting to enjoy infographics, memes, posters, and I love Twitter because it forces me to use ‘short words’ to express myself short and concisely. Perhaps my style of communication will change as I continue to grow and refine this method.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned this month is that your team will only execute your tasks as good as you can communicate it to them. Getting S.M.A.R.T. and taking the time to document my goals and be concise has been a challenge but well worth it. But it’s not just communicating with the team, it’s communicating with people in the social world too, they want to know WHO you are and WHAT you do HOW you plan to do it and WHEN. As a result refining and expressing these grand visions and plans has been my focus thus far while also being productive, moving the project and campaign forward. So taking my vision and refining it again and again until it’s the barebones concept is an essential part of my journey.

It takes me a few writes and rewrites, to revise again and again, but somehow I’m starting to get there. Both with my Team and for the people around me.

“This Month’s Social Media Campaign”

Nowhere does this skill spillover than in social media. This month my goal is to expand my audience and to engage. I want get to know people, make my presence known and to find help wherever I can get good quality help from people who believe in the vision. There’s a lot of work to do and I don’t necessarily think I’m doing the bestest job or that my campaign is the most efficient, but I’m just one person and I’m doing my best to make the best of the tools and resources that I have available to me.

“Not Stopping Life”

This past year I’ve neglected my personal life. I’m a parent, martial artist and a writer. Forming and getting this company launched and running off the ground has been exhausting work, but it’s been worth it. I’m finally reaching a point where I can relax more. I breathe. I don’t let life stop. I make two do lists, one for life and one for work, and I outsource where I need to in both spheres but I also continue going to classes, playing music on my new Artiphon, meditating daily before and after bed, practicing manifestation, reading books and articles, playing with my child, drinking tea and doing things that I love to do leaving work at the door if only for a short time.

“Taking Frequent Breaks”

To do the above I just leave room for a lot of breaks. I work in bursts, focusing on a single task, take a break, work on the task again, take a break, get that done and move onto the next one. Sometimes it takes me all day, sometimes it doesn’t. But either way I make a point to take breaks.

“From Zero to Hero”

Start easy and build up has been a motto I now live by. These days I work on what’s easy first and gradually work my way up to the hard stuff. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, whether I’m learning the fundamentals to something, or whether I’m working on a project that requires doing a lot of increasingly complicated tasks. Breaking big things down into small chunks and gradually increasing the difficulty has been a great way to progress.

This year I have watched myself transform from Zero to Hero.

I still have a LONG way to go, but it’s happening and I know that if I can get this far so can you.

“Signs I’m on the right Track”

People tell me that my energy and enthusiasm is contagious, that I’m the most ambitious person that they know, and so on. These are signs to me that I’m on the right track, particularly when people meet me each week or the week after and see how much progress I’ve made. Even though I can’t always see it, if I look at my to do list from one week ago let alone one month ago and compare it to a year then how far I’ve come is amazing.

Sometimes I may spend a month working on a theme and learning and refining and may come back to it another month. But keeping a journal tracking my goals in present tense (being as specific, short and concise as possible) and my daily to do lists, prioritized and focused, and then frequently meditating and leaving room for visualization of myself, and my goals has been essential to my continued progress and ultimately success.

That and my ability to learn from failure, refine, and move forward.

“I relax and somehow things get done.”

I have all the tools I need and am more equipped now than I was even a year ago when I first started Zenratstudios. In this hour I’ve made a trade off in time. Now it’s back to writing posters for me. Hopefully I’ll get to refining the documentation soon and clarifying some visions and coming up with creative and fun ways to solve the challenges ahead!

Stay Tuned and Grow With Me!

Follow us on Twitter: zenratstudios@zenratstudios

The World Doesn’t Need Changing YOU Do

 

I woke up this morning after a weekend vacation. Feeling calm and relaxed, a sense that everything would be alright. While following my morning regimen of checking my goals from the previous night, meditating, checking mail and practicing manifestation I came across an article, about how you can’t change the world and it’s OK not to. It concluded with how you can only change yourself.

This was the determination we here at Zenratstudios had made a long time ago. I recall a person I once spoke to whose pastime was causing pain to others. I asked her question after question about her life, probing deeper before she snapped back, Why do you always ask so many questions! Because I said if I can understand you, if I can understand the world around me, I can learn how to save it. I can save you, I can save the world, I can save everybody.

Well first she said, you have to stop saying you want to save people. That will create resistance, it causes walls to come up. I shared with her my insights on the world, all the pain, and what it needed, more love I said. And she replied and SECOND what if people don’t want to change, what if they don’t want more love, what if they are happy with where they are, with how things are. That was the moment that a woman I once labeled as sociopath taught me a profound lesson. Focus on yourself she finished it off. Don’t worry about the rest of the world, don’t worry about me. Focus on you.

I retreated into my cave and I sat atop my mountain and I looked down at the world meditating. Looking for a solution to the worlds problems. I had spent forever trying to ‘fix’ me, trying to figure out what was broken in my mind, to save me. And then once I had found a solution I’d turn my attention onto others only for my insecurities, flawed thinking and zealous ideology to become no better than Religious dogma. I laid in bed listening to Alan Watts and reading books on Shamanism, I delved deep into Buddhism and wore that hat for some time, I joined martial arts, I meditated and practiced manifestation, trying to change my brain and the neurons will fully inspired by Wim HOFF and the torture king who had changed their responses to pain. I read book after book from spiritual guru, I read Anthony De Mello’s The Way To Love, but what about the way to changing the world?

And that’s when it dawned on me. The world is perfect, you are perfect, we are all perfect where we are, we are exactly where we need to be and we all contain within us a Hero that is waiting to break through, and it’s up to each of us individually to save ourselves to chip away at our exterior, to find our hearts to make that happen. And surprisingly there are a lot of people in our world who don’t want us to do that. It’s almost as if we need permission to love, permission to be free, permission to discover ourselves, to let our hair down, to have an adventure without facing rejection, backlash or assaults.

It wasn’t enough for me to be aware of this alone, because I was still sitting on top of a mountain, looking at the world, observing it, judging it. What did it need. Love. Who did it need it from, was it you? No. The answer was me. I needed to be more loving, more understanding, more compassionate. I needed to get off the mountain and step down, I needed to heal my heart of all the wounds and insecurities. I need to look deep within. In another bout of suffering I turned to the stars, finding comfort in the mythologies of astrology. Laugh if you will but it was from this place, from reading the astrology and natal charts of others, and of myself that I realized a pattern. We’re all in this together, we’re all on this floating rock trying to make sense of a messy and chaotic world together. We’re all doing the best we can with what we’re able, we’re all trying to cope with our lives.

It was that moment that I stopped seeing myself as separate from the world but rather one with it, and it is from that, that the words Saving The World became synonymous with ‘Saving myself’, a life-long battle and journey. I set out on a mission. Not everyone is meant to be a Leader, we are herd animals by nature, but everyone is meant and is fully capable of being a Hero. Hidden within each of us is a gem, just waiting to be uncovered and unleashed. I am on a mission to help uncover those Heroes, to bring them all out to the forefront, to build a better world, one person at a time. For every Hero that comes out from the shadows and touches the lives of another 4 more are born.

 

Can a pay-it-forward system really work in a world where people live with a ‘what’s in it for me’ Mentality?

 

October is the month where we begin marketing, campaigning, hiring teams on limited funds and putting ourselves out there. Our campaign, One Million Heroes, a showcase ad that will add gamification elements to help fundraise money to build what will be a book and game publishing company as well as home to a pay-it-forward ecosystem built on blockchain.

To give some background. I grew up volunteering, I’ve won awards for my volunteer work in the community and I’ve learned many important life skills and lessons. I once said that I wanted to be a professional volunteer and to take my volunteering to the next level I began to travel and WWOOF with the goal of working my way up to the Corps (or at the very least as an alternative). I read Jacque Frescoes vision and explored bartering systems and money-free lifestyles, traded my time to learn how to build yurts with wonderful people who were conscious of money and how many hours were worth how much. That was my first taste of how obsessed people were with money, and not for no reason, people needed money to live and to eat and their family was struggling work-exchange helped them get something back for their time.

I admired Daniel Suelo and tried to give up money myself, I went to WWOOF and met a family who were the perfect example of what it meant to live on a farm and to take in interns, and introduced me to the mindset that all farm animals and people had to pull their weight, if they weren’t producing they were eating money and had to be killed or sold if they were animals, or let go if they were people. I learned that they didn’t accept WWOOFer’s with children because children didn’t work, they ate food but weren’t able to pull their weight and this mindset was common across the board. To my horror I would later discovered the foster care system had its origins in this philosophy and mindset too, there is a reason why abuse occurs so frequently in these types of homes but that’s a story for another day. Prior to this experience I had volunteered with companies that were run predominately by volunteers who were passionate about helping people and giving back and I saw first-hand how non-profits struggled to raise money in a world that was becoming increasingly jaded, self-centered and slow to give.

I recall a year ago when I was homeless due to mental illness having no place to go. No one would take me in, nor would I have accepted it from anyone were they able. I was agoraphobic and terrified of homeless shelters and I remembered a story where a woman donated candy and junk food to the homeless shelters because they were too unhealthy for her kids. People believe homeless people should be grateful for what they are given and so they must accept anything, ‘beggars can’t be choosers’, and at the same time I recalled a woman who had started a community garden and began giving free food within her own community, and not just her but the people at Unsung. People with a mission to help make the world a better place.

For me the concept of working for free or for little pay solely to make the world a better place and to help someone was not new to me. I was well aware of people taking advantage of others, and had been a victim of this myself, but I thought about it differently than others did. I think about life differently. Only in running my business and seeking help has it become more clear to me that people won’t help you for free, there is always a catch. Codementors a great place where you can meet experts, whether you just need help with something very small and tiny for 15 minutes, or something big there’s a person available, but no one will help you the way they might on a forum out of the kindness of their heart, everyone had a fee attached even to write just 3 lines of code. Afterall everyone has a family to feed, no one would be there if the reward wasn’t worth it.

In my exhaustion from coding I went on fiverr, I’ll have to write about my review of that site later, but what I found was that almost nobody offered anything of value for $5 and people laughed at me when I asked them to assist me for $15 for 2 areas of code. Find someone else one person said, and on craigslist the reply: You will find no one experienced in Foundation Zurb to help you for just $15. I just wanted to know why my columns were collapsing in foundation zurb which was supposed to be responsive by default and to receive help. What had I done and what needed to be adjusted. It wouldn’t take me more than an hour to do maybe less myself but I was beginning to feel burnt out and funds were limited. I had hired three people already on the short-term and my budget was starting to run out. But the issue I faced brought attention to a larger one, a question in the back of my mind. Something that had been haunting me from the beginning. It’s then that I began to realize the biggest problem we face as a people in building a pay-it-forward platform is building a community and environment where people who want to help others genuinely help others out of the kindness of their heart. They pay-it-forward because they know that it may not come back to them directly from the person they are helping, but that it will eventually come back around to them in some way, shape or form. This was Karma in action and it was the very foundation of my entire life and how I had lived.

You see suffering and sorrow and pain has been the very foundation of my life. I have an intimate relationship with sorrow of observing it, understanding it, studying it, I feel sorrow and pain deeply in the eyes and hearts of others, and deeply within myself. I’ve struggled with abandonment and feelings of being unloveable, of unworthy. And like many I went on a mission to find myself, to accept myself, in freedom, to discover me, to fix what was broken in my heart. At times I felt I needed permission from those I loved to be free, to find me, to love, and there were times when I had to let go of their acceptance and walk alone so that I could drop all that I am not and be accepted for all that I am. That journey has led to what has now become been part of my mission, my motto in life, my work. No not saving the world one story at a time, though it’s certainly one of my mottos, a different mindset based on the law of you receive what you give.

If you want love, give love and be love itself, if you want understanding give and be understanding itself, and so on. You get what you give back. If your heart is full of selfishness and hatred that is what you will receive. Fundamentally I began to realize what the problem was. The problems we faced in this world were symptoms of our flaws at our very core. Our Human Nature. Ourselves. We as humans with all our ego, self-centeredness, me-first, survival-based mentality are part of the biggest issue we face in achieving happiness and peace, everything else is a byproduct of that mindset.

My company Zenratstudios was founded as a way to tackle these issues, through games and stories we uncover all that we are by discarding all that we are not, we focus on building compassion, empathy, and love and more. We try to make giving fun, and we work on developing a built in reward system. The biggest problem is philosophical can true altruism arise from this system? Can we make and build heroes or can we only call out the Heroes in our world, the rare leaders, the rare people who want to make a difference?

There are many challenges we face as a company, many human challenges we face as a people in building a system that is meant to help people, to be a solution to the problems in the world around us. But I truly believe that it is possible to build something that can benefit the world and reward people at the same time for being good people. Can we train people to give just for the joy of giving, teach them how the laws of abundance work. I believe we can, or at the very least I believe it’s worth it to test, experiment, and try.

This Month I am bringing together a team to help refine, test, market and launch One Million Heroes, which at its heart is both a fundraiser and a showcase that shows in action the roots for how our system and philosophies work. Raising awareness to the Heroes in our world, taking revenue we earn from the services and products we create and redistributing back into the people, back into the community we serve.

I’ve spent the past year building the roots and the foundations for this company, but now I’ve hit a wall. Working on my own I have quickly become burnt out and exhausted, signs that I am doing too much and need to call together my team. Alone we can only go so far, together we can go far.

For all those out there who need a hero. Please join us on our journey, and our mission to save the world, one story, one adventure, one person, one you at a time.

The Bane Of Building Responsive Sites

I sat proudly looking over the site I had built over at One Million Heroes, excited to begin asking for Beta Testers and gathering feedback, and writing articles explaining what it is about. Refining my message. I had resized the page during building on my PC only to look at my phone to see both my site Zenratstudios.org, and my site One Million Heroes built in Foundation Zurb had columns that were collapsing on small.

No problem Media Queries could fix this I said to myself, but then just the thought of having to leave content writing mode and marketing mode to go back into programming mode was starting to make me sick and nauseous. I needed a mobile responsive version of my site, and I needed something fast. I clumsily thought of my options and my budget for the month. I could go in and create a mobile version of my site, I could start hunting down people and setting aside finances for a mobile version — or I could just leave it alone and focus on outreach and raising funds.

I tried to log onto Foundation Zurb’s forums to ask for help but their sign-up sheet is missing and my email address says it doesn’t work while support is telling me my email is in the system. I take a deep breath feeling stress and I walk away. I ponder for a moment adding a disclaimer, or taking another weekend or what do I do to fix this. I recall Wayne Dyer’s theirs a spiritual solution to every problem, and I begin to meditate. Can I just focus on what I want to do, what excites me, focus on refining my message, and content, can I just walk away from programming for a while, please? If I put myself out there, marketing, and people access the site from their phone and see a terrible website won’t that affect my message badly?

I don’t know. Building websites and factoring in the different window-sizes (mobile, tablet, desktop, and larger), the different browsers, the frameworks, the CSS hacks, has never been my favourite thing to do. It’s always been something I have done out of necessity. It’s fun to learn about and to say “I can do that”, but it takes up valuable time that I would otherwise prefer to be spending on writing.

I sit down at my desk and lament that I can’t continue finishing up my Novel, Editing it and seeking reviews, or writing the content for my games because I’m so wrapped up in the programming itself, from the website, to the foundation, to the marketing. I take a day off Saturday, and on Sunday I move slowly. It’s starting to feel like an uphill climb and so I take a moment’s pause to walk, smell the flowers, and enjoy my life. I let it all go to regain my energy, I take a much needed break to keep myself from working myself sick.

This months task: Putting together my start-up team to help communicate our vision and make this project a success! Afterall a business is only as good as it’s team. I’ve made it this far, laid down the initial bricks, I can only go so far solo, outreach and planning phase to launch.

The Birth Of One Million Heroes

It’s 5AM in the morning and I know if I don’t sit down to write this then I never will. When I first started this blog I wanted to give tips that I had learned for myself on combatting mental illness, tips I’d gained from programming and learning as I went along, and more. But somehow I ended up having just enough time to focus on development, and getting through the ups and downs of leading a start-up and building the initial foundations of a dream.

It’s been an intense and crazy year and we’re now in October, one month away from November when I initially came up with the idea to begin, and two months away from when I first stopped researching and brought my domain, building this site. I am truly excited. I have just spent the entire of September going through with the project that initially began as “Project Graveyard”, I took that concept and created “Project Hero”, inspired by the one million dollar homepage, and is a campaign called “One Million Heroes“. It is probably the one most significant example I have of my vision in action, and is the essential foundation for how my entire company Zenratstudios will be run. Using profits to build a better platform and redistributing the rest of the earnings to our Heroes in the worlds, the non-violent activists, the not-for-profit companies, the start-ups in this world.

One Million Heroes isn’t just for Bitcoin companies, it is for anyone willing to apply with BTC. I imagine that will be a lot of young people and early adopters. The entire gallery was built with React.JS, and is currently only built for displaying ads. My goal right now is to get enough applicants so I can hire someone to help me build a gaming system, and ID system with the features I wanted.

Without further ado here are things I learned recently.

You Can’t Build Rome Alone

Start Where you Are

Every Great Leader needs help. I live on $700/month, after bills I am left with $150 sometimes not even. Initially because I had limited funds and at one point was even homeless my only and greatest asset was figuring out how to make money so that I could do what I loved, while also learning the skills I needed to build as much as possible on my own. I spent almost an entire year just trying to learn new skills, expand old skills, and gain more confidence. I spent 1-2 months learning wordpress and building theme after theme, adding a new feature and concept with each new theme. I spent another month working with Android and then Unity and then Phaser and then React.JS, with 500 pages worth of NOTES in my physical notebook and in my word documents. I fought depression and mental illness, ups and downs. I even took a moment to explore blockchains and communities, and started swing trading hoping to raise enough money to live this dream. At some point towards the end of August I began making a list of all the knowledge I had and could share with others, and then decided to build a workshop only to end up round-circle back to the same place, here.

I took a list of my skills and abilities, all the things I could do and all the things I couldn’t yet do or wasn’t so great at. I had spent so much time investing in myself and growing my skills, knowledge and ability that where I was now while not great was just the right amount of tools to get the job done. I had all the tools I needed right here, right now to build something in 1-2 weeks and begin marketing. I didn’t have to make money so that I could have money to do what I loved so that I could make money to do more of what I loved to do. Problem solving and saving the world. I could cut out the 3rd wheel and just focus on what I love, the vision and spreading that, building a community.

I simplified everything and One Million Heroes was born. It was the most simplest thing I could build, the most simplest service I could create that could still give back to others, while also allowing me to raise revenue for my work, and at the same time showcasing exactly what Zenratstudios is about in action. My Start Where You Are was simple, and yet profound.

Outsource, Delegate, Hire

Because my funds were limited I had to build a lot myself in some areas, and had to view what I did purchase as investments. During September I went to Codementor and I hired a mentor to help me figure out how to do a specific thing using React.JS, I gained knowledge and was able to build my gallery. Outsourcing and getting help from someone in real time was the best thing I could have done. It was $20/15 minutes and cost $60 for the help, but it was the best help I had ever received, and an investment that would give me all I needed to build my showcase of heroes.

I began looking for help on Fiverr but my issues with that and some of their deceptive practices are for another day. There are some things they are good to reach out for help on, but there are better places to seek help. So I made a commitment to setting aside money to outsource help on projects to get things up and done quicker and more efficiently and to do so in a price effective/strategic way.

Expand Gradually

I decided that I needed to hire a Virtual Assistant, Programmer, Artist (UI/UX & Graphics designer), and a Business Mentor. So September I hired a coder for help, October I hired a Business Mentor, and next month I plan to hire a Virtual Assistant, and use money set aside for a Programmer to help build the voting system and add unique “IDs” to my react.js gallery. Last on my list but necessary is an Artist who I want to hire and bring onto the team, for the starting team.

Get Support

Initially I sought a mentor. One of my desired Mentors was Jane Mcgonigal, one woman who shares many of the same visions that I do. I tried everything! Facebook, Twitter, Email, applying to her hero site but I didn’t hear back. I purchased a mentor from Fiverr for $50 ($45 after my discount with Honey), and his emotional support was great.

I applied for Score and shared my vision and essay, and received the reply, “I’m not the right coach for you, I only do sales”. I thanked him kindly and waited for another mentor to come along. So I haven’t had as much support in the way of business mentoring, but I’ve set aside the time to search for mentors while also meditating and seeking my own inner wisdom and strength while I steer these ships in unknown territories and waters.

But even without business coaches, being surrounded by successful people whether it be in business or in their life (people who are employed), and being able to post on facebook and share the ups and downs and struggles and receiving feedback and warm comments has been great for me. Family & Friends at least cheering me on even if they are tired of listening gave me a great boost to my confidence.

Therapy and crisis hotlines during times when I needed emotional support the most and just talking about this reignited my passion and reminded me why I was doing all that I was doing.

And More

I want to write more but it’s 5 in the morning and I want to go to sleep before I get up to begin my day working and so on. This blog post has been long overdue but I am truly excited to have One Million Heroes up and so ready to test it, and begin receiving feedback from as many people as possible, marketing and campaigning. I’m excited, I’m nervous, and ready with all my heart.