You’ve all heard a story that intimates that a successful business that once started in “the basement of their home.” In the case of Darren Meenan, this isn’t a stretch. It’s fact. What started with Darren, a huge New York Mets fan, wearing a simple t-shirt he made that stated “I Survived” in 2009, ended up becoming the wildly successful, “The 7 Line.”
Meenan didn’t just settle on the fact a number of people asked about that one shirt. He sensed an opportunity and created his hustle. It began with equipment he bought on eBay and he created a few shirts in his parent’s basement. Since Mets fans (myself included) haven’t had too much to cheer about since 2006, Darren used these t-shirts to echo fans sentiment. One design said, “I Was Born into This Mess.” What Mets fan doesn’t feel that way sometimes? As 2009 turned into 2010, his hustle and entrepreneurial spirit began to pay off.
By wearing newer designs to Citi Field, the word began to spread about The 7 Line and Darren’s quality of work. It also didn’t hurt that he worked hard to spread the word, as well. Darren held signs with his website around the ballpark, some of which showed up on TV. More shirts, more exposure equals needing more space. So, Darren moved into a warehouse not too far from the ballpark.
While Darren’s story sounds like it happened overnight, it didn’t. He needed to work hard to conceptualize, print, and distribute everything with little help. His hustle has been featured on, among others, CNN Money and in the New York Times. Oh, and a little show called “30 Rock” featured Darren’s shirts, by request from the producers.
Darren has even been able to get the support from Mets’ players. A few years back, he traveled to spring training a gave a bunch to hand out in the clubhouse. Now, that’s hustle (and smart marketing, too). Mets players loved them and can be seen wearing the shirts before and after games.
Despite the Mets struggles, you’ll never hear a negative word from Darren. While fans may be frustrated, his hustle has helped create a new faction of fans. He thought it would be a great idea for Mets diehards to sit together, cheer on and support the team. “The 7 Line Army” was born. That one game spawned into the army not just going to games at Citi Field, but Wrigley Field in Chicago, Marlins Park in Miami, and AT&T Park in San Francisco to name a few.
Darren’s ability to bring fans together with his infectious attitude and excitement is a testament to dedication, hard work, and a never-ending hustle. See, Darren loves what he does because he works hard at it. He doesn’t cut corners. No one who hustles the right way does that. The Mets even noticed and The 7 Line now has a kiosk at Citi Field and is a licensed Major League Baseball brand.
What’s next? Darren has mentioned in interviews and on Twitter that he wants to open a bar one day next to Citi Field. If his hustle with The 7 Line is any indication, the bar will be a huge hit.
We all deal with things differently in life. Some of us can adjust and let things slide off like teflon; others take things and absorb them. It may be pressure, it may be feelings of doubt. Either way, it’s an inner pain that some do not let others know about, until it is too late.
Last week, the multi-talented Robin Williams took his own life. The reports were that he was battling depression and had been at a low point. Some called him a coward for committing suicide. You are wrong. Unless you’ve been on the edge, you don’t understand.
I posted this on Facebook on Aug. 12:
I’ve heard way too many people say that Robin Williams’ suspected suicide was a choice. It was. Because he may not have felt there was another way out. Do we truly know what he felt inside? All we saw was the imitations, the comedy, the fine acting. We did not know him after the lights went off. I find it hard to hear people say Robin Williams was a coward. Until you battle depression and reach the point where you want to kill yourself, please don’t tell me it’s cowardly. You don’t understand…
I understood what Mr. Williams may have gone through because I’m still dealing with it. And that is depression. It is something I’ll deal with the rest of my life.
I had my own attempt at suicide when I was in college. I hit an extremely low point and I didn’t think it was very much worth it to live any longer. I wrote a note, downed some pills, drank a ton of alcohol. My hope was that the mixture would keep me from waking up again. But I did… thankfully. I thought I beat it, but three years ago, my depression returned.
Suicidal thoughts entered my mind. This time, though, I reached out for help. It was the best thing I have ever done. My family doctor told me that it took a lot for me to admit that I needed that help. It was the first step in dealing with depression. That is why I’ve decided to lend a voice to those that have attempted or thought about suicide.
On Sept. 13, I will join hundreds of others in Buffalo, N.Y. for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s “Out of the Darkness” Walk. My team is called “Assemble for Strength” and the goal is to raise $1,000. If you feel empowered to support this cause, we would love to have you walk as part of our team. Want to give a dollar or more? Your efforts will assist AFSP’s vital research and education programs to prevent suicide and save lives. If what we do can support others around the country who have had the same thoughts as I did, we will go a long way to helping them down a better path.
You may see someone’s cheery personality and think they could never be dealing with depression. A person could be a dynamic speaker or a great mind in their industry. There’s no way they’d try to take their own life.
We never truly know what someone is going through, until we hear the news that they’ve committed suicide.
Please do not take this blog post as an attempt to capitalize on Robin Williams’ passing. It is an attempt to shine the spotlight of the grave nature of depression. I have a normal life with a great family. However, just because things seem normal does not mean that I don’t have days where I feel weak.
I sought help for my issues. It is my hope that if someone facing the same things reads this, they will reach out for help.
If you need help, there are many professionals in your town or city. Your healthcare provider can also give you the name(s) of someone who you can talk to one-on-one.
Thanks for listening.
“Nobody’s hustle is like anyone else’s” – Robert Downey, Jr.
A few months back, I watched Downey on “Off Camera with Sam Jones.” It was a great look at how the Academy Award Nominee prepares for a role and how he views his impact on the world. Downey said something during the show that really hit home for me.
I think the greatest gift anybody can give anyone is the opportunity to develop your hustle. Sam, you didn’t
wind up with these great pictures on the wall and documentaries in the can because it was all handed to you. You have to develop that, and nobody’s hustle is like anybody else’s you know?
Think about that for a moment. You can’t fit your career goals, ambitions, and dreams into someone else’s box. So, while you may look to people for inspiration, your trip in this life will not mirror what they have done. Nothing is ever handed to you.
In 2010, I landed hard after getting let go from my job. But, I didn’t expect any handouts and wanted to work for everything. That is absolutely what you need to do, as well. Focus on your hustle… Make your hustle like no one else’s.
Over the coming weeks, I am going to focus on people who have developed their hustle. These will be folks that haven’t been given a handout; they’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into their careers.
I’m excited to feature these hard-working and great folks.
A nearby conversation caught my attention during a recent subway ride. Three gents were talking about starting their freshman years of college. My initial thought was, “Lucky.” After that, I got to thinking about how I was feeling at their age about my upcoming new life chapter.
Don’t take anything for granted. People say your time at college will be the fastest four years of your life. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but time only gets faster when you leave the bubble that is college and enter the “real world”. Go out on a Tuesday night. Skip a class to enjoy time on the quad with friends. (But don’t make a habit of it – as a “student always” words cannot express my jealousy for not being able to go into a classroom daily. Take full advantage.) Choose courses for a reason. And then throw in some for the heck of it. Read the class assignments not because you have it, but because you can see how it will benefit you.
Leave behind your comfort zone. As someone who took her sweet time adjusting to life at college, I urge you to jump in without any reservations. College is the most ideal time to work really hard, play really hard (sorry parents) and fail more times than you’d like to count. You have your entire life ahead to be a professional – now’s the time to try, fail and give that whole trying thing another go.
Contribute to the community. Donate to a cause. Host a fundraiser. Chalk the quad. Join a club. Start a club if they don’t have what you’re looking for. Introduce yourself to someone new in class. Write an opinion piece for the daily newspaper. Run for student office. Do something to get involved.
Take road trips. Visiting my friends on their campuses created memories that we still laugh about to this day. Make sure some of those trips bring you home to Mom and Dad. Aside from the perks like free laundry and home-cooked meals, you will find that your conversations with M&D have reached a new level. You’ll appreciate them even more and your relationship will only improve with age.
Create a loose life plan. There will be plenty of time for tailgates and nights out, but it is important to remember that college is not forever (sad, right?) and you will need to land a job one day. You don’t need to know exactly what you want to do when you grow up – I certainly didn’t at your age. Internships, job shadows and informational interviews will offer you great insights into the working world. Instead of focusing on the title/department, I looked for companies I thought I would look forward to going to every day…knowing that the workload would inevitably interest me.
To the college kids, what questions do you have? To everyone else, what did I miss?
Stephanie Florence is a 20-something who can talk to a brick wall and dance to a kazoo. She contributes to the 40:20 Vision as the Millennial Editor and on every day that ends in “y” you can find Stephanie meeting people, telling exceedingly long stories and taking the approach of a student…always. Find her dancing around New York City in her personalized Chuck Taylors, complete with her Twitter handle: @StephanieFlo.
When you hear the words “Twitter Powerhouse,” you may think of a brand like Mercedes Benz or Starbucks. But, you’d be wrong. The Twitter Powerhouse we are referring to is Stephanie Wonderlin. Not only is Stephanie a passionate user of Twitter (@swonderlin), Facebook, and Instagram, she is also one of the savviest people on YouTube. Whether it is TweetheartTV, being a social media corespondent, or working on her own new segments, titled “It’s a SWonderful Life,” Stephanie has proven time and time again that not only is she one of the most talented people on social, she’s also one of the kindest.
In this edition of The JourneyCast Podcast, I talk with Stephanie about her career, so far, how she has had to adjust her brand, what “lean in” means to her, and how she balances her busy home and work life.
You can find all of Stephanie’s links by going to her website.
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