Hey dude. With Optimus one of the things I would do is send letters of encouragement to people once in a while. This is one that I sent to a boy named Max who just got his Eagle Scout award. But the words in here are so important to me to share with you. Because this is a journey that has changed my life forever. And whenever you have doubts in your own life, I want you to read this again and again until it sinks in. Bottom line – NEVER GIVE UP HOPE! I LOVE YOU RYAN!!!
It’s Joe! You know…that really awesome guy you met who just happens to drive a replica of Optimus Prime?
Your mom extended an invitation to join you for the Eagle Scout celebration. And we’d love to be there for you, but a trip from PA to TX isn’t exactly something I can accomplish in 2 hours of driving lol. However I wanted to recognize your efforts and accomplishments. In my day, I only made it to Star scout, and lost the motivation at the time to keep going. I’m sure there were moments you felt like throwing in the towel, but you didn’t. And now look at what you’ve achieved! AWESOME!
On a more personal note Max, I’ve had the pleasure of spending some time with you 1:1. And occasionally I see what’s happening in your life through social media (sorry about the house by the way; glad you are all safe). In the short time we were together, I got the feeling there is a lot going through your mind at the moment. So many uncertainties…so many choices…so many paths to choose…and so many risks that could change your life (for better or worse) forever.
You already know a lot about our story Max. But I feel the urge to share a little more with you. Because no one (except my family) really knows all of it …
One of the difficult decisions I faced at a “crossroads” of my life journey was whether or not I should leave a 15-year career to pursue Optimus. I was actually a corporate trainer who was paid very well. And for a while I loved it. In fact I was one of the most sought after software trainers in the industry. I conducted classes for major Fortune 500 companies and traveled all over the world to do it. I even went to Australia on a business class trip for Singapore airlines.
O-M-G – BEST … FLIGHT … EXPERIENCE … EVER!!!
But as time went on, this job no longer satisfied. In fact, I was becoming miserable. I lost my passion as a trainer, and started losing my passion for life. So back in 2013, I decided to try something new. Something I developed a new passion for after our son was born – launching a new website called
America’s Footprints. I was hopeful this was the best idea ever, and that everyone would support it. That the struggles we faced up to this point and the misery I was feeling would finally end. Because this new venture would give me a new purpose, and would make us all successful.
But to this day, America’s Footprints has yet to gain any serious traction. And that was not the outcome I was hopeful for.
For years during all of this, I still managed to put on a smile everyday in front of the people I would meet. I learned to become really good at hiding how I truly felt inside. But I just couldn’t do it anymore, and it was starting to show. I was struggling to find the joy I once had in my younger years. I would keep asking myself” why I am getting out of bed each day to be miserable? Why don’t others appreciate the work I do or the efforts I make? Why are my new ideas not going where I envisioned? Why do I feel like a failure? Is this where I was destined to wind up? Is this the father figure I was meant to be?”
Years went by before I reached another crossroads. And I had to see if there was anything I could do that would help me smile once again. I had to find that
“test of wills”…and something where I could prove to myself and to my son that I still have what it takes to succeed. So ultimately (and with the backing of my amazing family), we chose the path of Optimus late in 2015. But many don’t realize that this path nearly destroyed us. We lost everything financially, and we even struggled to keep our family ‘bond’ amidst the chaos that just took over our lives. Things have calmed down a bit, but we’re still living month to month while also trying to rebuild a family unit that almost fell apart.
However it’s almost like my life did a reboot. Everything is starting over again for me. It’s like we’re building our empire from the ground up again. Like it’s a 2nd chance to find our happy place together. And that’s a life lesson I was not expecting, but is also one I am truly grateful for.
This project with Optimus opened my eyes into what it means to take a chance. Yes, I did this for my son. Yes, I wanted to show him what it means to truly take a leap of faith in pursuit of a dream. Because even if I failed at building Optimus (which believe me, there were plenty of moments that almost happened), at least I could tell my son “I tried my best.” And that’s all I look for from him as he grows up…to try his best, to walk an unchartered path in life, to lead others with morals and respect, and to conquer his dreams with no fear of failure.
But moreover, I’ve learned that life is what you make of it. Life is about making choices and taking chances. Sure, maybe not as crazy as Optimus. But if you don’t take a chance…if you don’t venture into the unknown…you’ll never know what could have been. And here I find myself halfway through my lifetime, starting all over as if I just got out of college. All because I took that leap of faith.
As you celebrate your Eagle accomplishments, the uncertainty you may be feeling now will always be there. It never goes away. It just adapts to your present circumstances as you get older. You will always second guess your choices. You will always be faced with challenges you never expected. You will often feel forced to make decisions you don’t want to make. And the daily struggles of life will continue to keep you up at night. That’s just the way things are.
But I’ve learned that doesn’t mean the darkness and dead ends will linger forever. A new life awaits us, no matter your age. And a new (uncertain but optimistic) future is ahead. And I can say that because I never would’ve gotten here if I didn’t choose to take this chance with Optimus.
So through this simple letter, the message I want to leave you with is just that. Don’t be afraid of future challenges… fears…or uncertainty. Don’t be afraid to face LIFE and try new things. Because I believe all it takes is an idea, no matter how big or small, and a belief in yourself that you can turn that idea into reality with the power of positivity. The rest happens organically. When the sun sets, sometimes darkness takes over. But eventually that sun will rise again.
I certainly wish all of you the best for a bright future ahead Max. You got this. Find a healthy way to deal with whatever punches life throws your way. But don’t ever let them keep you down. Stand up, stand tall, and stand proud. And remember to leave behind a legacy worthy of a Prime.