Would Your Goal Speak Highly of You? | He Tells Stories Relaunches
If you were in a relationship with your biggest goal, how would he or she describe your union? Would they rave about how diligent and caring you are, how much effort you pour into them? The joy they have when you’re together? How true you are to them? Or would it be the other way around?
Maybe they’d whine over the fact that you don’t spend enough time with them? Cry about how—even though they consume your dreams as you sleep at night—you do nothing for them when do-something hours arrive with the sun’s light. Do they resent you because you still give energy to their nemesis, Safety?
Since 2014 I’ve wanted to be more than a traditional entertainment journalist who mainly writes and edits articles. I wanted to take photos and produce videos and events that accompany a corresponding theme, free of the constraints of conventional media. I wanted to work with artists and brands—many of which have become media platforms in their own right—to make positive content that I had more of a say in.
In the past, when I’d participate in branded content, my role was strictly that of a journalist. As an editor at Complex, I went to Coachella on Dr. Pepper’s dime to interview Kendrick Lamar and others on camera, but had no part in the content creation. As Features Editor at Billboard, I went to the Sundance Film Festival in Utah under Sonos' banner and dollars. Again, I interviewed talent and then sat on the sideline for everything else. I wanted more.
So I bought a camera and enrolled in after-work video editing courses. Night school! By the end of the summer, I split with my day-job all together and immersed myself in my dream. I filmed musician friends in studios and took photos of buddies at birthday parties. Days would be spent at friends’ dinner tables, Soho House, Neuehouse and countless coffee shops editing videos and photos that eventually lived on the first version of my website, He Tells Stories. Investing time in my goal was a thrill, one that was only tempered when I looked at my ever-dwindling bank account.
No salary meant deposits happened infrequently. By the time I moved to Los Angeles with my girlfriend (now wife) Safura, I had real decisions to make: Find a job or be broke-broke and keep dating my goal. I chose stability for the next few years and worked gigs that had everything to do with who I was—jobs with titles adjacent to Senior Editor and Dot Com Manager. Though I occasionally got to write cover stories and features about topics I loved, I was miserable spending the bulk of my time editing click-bait pieces that are the norm even on the most popular sites.
Once in awhile, though, I’d reconnect with my goal. An old friend would call me and ask if I was still shooting video. “Yes!” I’d respond. (Though I’d go ages without even touching my camera). Then before you know it, I’d be in a recording studio shooting for a little doc-short. And that’d be an awesome day with many subsequent hours of editing that felt more like a labor of love than the drag of my day jobs, which I'd return to on Monday.
Those who believe in the ways of the universe and the concept of manifestation know that in order to get to where you’re trying to go, you have to be completely faithful to destination.
Safura often reminds me that where I am, in proximity to things I want, is in direct correlation to my thoughts. Simply put: Fears, worries, distractions… putting energy into anything that’s not aligned with your dream can and will become a detour that either delays or completely derails it. I didn’t ask Kobe Bryant this when we spoke, but I doubt he spent much time doing anything other than practice his hoop skills while he was in the NBA. He had a laser focus and then he became a champion five times over. On Kanye West’s classic debut album The College Dropout, ‘Ye raps that he made five beats a day for three summers before hitting it big as a producer. Success clearly takes devotion.
After years of hurting my dream's feelings, I started to make things right in 2018. But even then, I wasn’t fully locked in. Again a freelancer with consulting gigs and writing assignments, I’d often apply for safety jobs while fantasizing about my dream job.
In 2019 it really clicked: I can be frustrated for life or zone in and really go for it. And that leads me to the relaunch of this website. Frankly, the old He Tells Stories was just a blog. It was a nice home and showcase for the work I did as a journalist for major magazines. And every now and then, I’d drop in a post that showed visitors that—HEY!—I also produce videos and events, like the 10-part series I did with The Broad or the branded content (including an on-message SZA cover story) and dinner party I did for Nike. As I’d meet with big dogs at marketing agencies, they’d tell me I needed a proper portfolio and two Creative Directors strongly urged me to make the switch.
I took their advice. Well, kind of. After about five years of not changing the HTS layout, I consulted with a few Wordpress experts and created a site that was a hybrid of a blog and portfolio, not the clear-cut thing the CDs told me to do. Why? Fear.
Ever since I decided to be a Creative Content man, fear has been a stifler. Fear that I’d fail and have a hard time going back to journalism gigs. Fear that editors at the big publishing houses I know would think less of me for crossing over and tarnishing the sanctity of my storytelling and disregarding the idea of journalistic integrity by mixing my stories with commerce. As I took steps in the direction of my dream, I was also trying to make my old life fit into my new one.
As many movies and TV shows have taught us, attempting to be besties with your ex inevitably makes things messy with your next. Anything other than forward movement is a waste.
The new version of He Tells Stories (“HTS 2.0,” I’ve been calling it)—what you’re looking at now, reflects the bold energy I’ve been consumed by lately, because fuck fear. Fear keeps you with that lame you’re dating because you’re not sure anyone better will want you. It keeps you at that wack-ass job, like me sadly clinging to my old career path when my new one makes me blissfully happy.
HTS 2.0’s homepage is my portfolio. Again, fuck fear. The first thing you see when you come to my site is that I’ve helped Perrier, Nike, The Broad Museum, and Billboard get money with my videos, photos, and events that I produced. I’m not hiding my goal anymore. It’s right there. Then there’s the HTS Journal (a sexier word than “blog.” Lol), where I’ll get my off-the-cuff thoughts out and post things I’m into. In some entries, I’ll even be a damn model. My parents didn’t create this face for it to be hiding behind a MacBook screen 24-7, 365. Honestly, I’m still a bit nervous about publishing my Brad Wearing Products pictures. Will “friends” and peers see them on Instagram or Twitter, think “Oh, Brad’s that guy now” and roll their eyes? Maybe, but one more time:
When you’re manifesting and moving towards your goal with full force, sure, there may be a bit of a gap between the initial wish and its actualization. But the universe has a way of assuring you that you’re on the right course. It’s called an Alpha Reflection. I just had one the other day.
It was the night that I was shooting and producing content for Perrier and Billboard at The Broad Museum. The evening began at 6 pm and stretched to midnight. I was editing footage, zipping from taping on stage to my laptop, then whizzing to Cat, Billboard’s Branded Content Manager who hired me, for approval before I sent her finished clips to publish on their social media pages. Working so late would be the pits if it wasn’t something I actually enjoyed.
Lo and behold, I was happy as shit executing an idea I’d pitched her team months back. I was cooking with joy, which is the only way I think I should be working on anything that late. As if the night couldn’t get any better, something else happened.
As we were wrapping, I saw that I’d received two text messages. I walked towards my phone assuming it was my wife asking if everything was okay and when I’d be home. It wasn’t. Instead, it was my guy Sir. He helped me shoot a documentary short a few weeks back, but our work schedules haven’t much allowed us to connect to edit it together. His first text said, “Scary hours.”
For those not in the know, that’s a term for the late night into early morning window where mostly only two kinds of people are up: hustlers and partiers. Sir is the former. His second text was a picture of his MacBook screen with video editing app Adobe Premiere open and our footage on it. He was up at 12-something working on an HTS flick! When I was doing something that aligned with who I really am and where I’m headed, Sir’s texts came through.
The universe is showing me that I’m on track. Now we’re working together to make my reality as vivid as my imagination. People are constantly popping up to assist. Sir, who has shot for and produced content for the likes of Toyota, Gillette and CoverGirl is along for the ride. My friend for more than a decade now, Charde, is a photographer and shot me for several pieces you’ll be seeing soon, in addition to the Billboard x Perrier stills. Even how I found Alex, who drew the artwork for this piece you’re reading, is validation that I’m living on the right frequency.
My vibes are right, the intentions are set, and the support is strong. My relationship with my goal is in repair, and it feels like she’s starting to believe my renewed dedication. I do love her like I always said I did, but now when she gets her Janet on and asks what I’ve done for her lately, I have something to show her.
Welcome (back) to He Tells Stories. I am “He,” and this is me.