Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Celebrating 50,000 Hits For The Cause of a Lifetime!

This past Friday, we reached a significant milestone on our blog - 50,000 hits! If you've followed our posts for any length of time, you'll probably know that we launched in early October of last year. So if you do the math, you'd see that this feat has been accomplished in less than 10 months. It's quite significant, in my view. All this week, our posts will commemorate this milestone in different ways. And at the end of the week, we'll do a giveaway of some items that are quite precious to me. 

When I started the Upbeat Dad blog, I wanted to share a message of hope with others. I don't believe that I've shared this before but this isn't the first blog I've had. A little over 3 years ago, I started another blog. The emphasis on that one was general motivation. I wrote about the timeless principles of success and tied those principles to current events to show how they can be applied to any situation. 

I thought the concept was great. One little problem though: no one knew it was there. Every blog post was consistently read by only 3 people - yes, 3, and I was one of them! The other 2 were my then-girlfriend (who's now my wife) and a coworker friend of hers. How about that, huh?

I reflect on those days now with a smile. The concept of sharing general motivational messages is fine but the concept of the Upbeat Dad speaks to a deeper issue. Interestingly, I still write about the very same concepts and principles, however I share them in reference to the subject of fatherhood. Success principles such as persistence, determination and resilience are what helped me through some of the challenging experiences I’ve encountered on my fatherhood journey.

To me, there’s no greater cause than to stand up for children. This blog and the entire Upbeat Dad vision is the cause of a lifetime, in my view. Did you know that in the United States alone, 24 million kids go to sleep every night in a home without their biological father? There are consequences that result from such statistics. Specifically, 

  •           71% of all high school dropout come from fatherless homes (National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools)
  •           85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (Center for Disease Control)
  •           63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)
  •          85% of all youths in prisons grew up in a fatherless home (Fulton County Georgia jail populations & Texas Department of Corrections)

According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, children from fatherless homes are:

  •           5 times more likely to commit suicide
  •           32 times more likely to run away from home
  •           20 times more likely to develop behavioral disorders
  •           9 times more likely to drop out of school
  •           10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances
  •           9 times more likely to end up in a state operated institution
  •           20 times more likely to end up in prison
  •           5 times more likely to be poor

As I’ve considered the plight of children as a result of these issues, I’ve embarked on a journey – a campaign, if you will – to impact the lives of men, women and children with the message that kids need actively involved fathers in order to be the best that they can be. I’m not formally trained as a counselor or therapist. I’m not a psychologist or anything that would give me a degree. However I’ve had extensive experience being a dad – trained in the school of hard knocks. It hasn’t been all glamorous, trust me. Here’s a quick view of my fatherhood résumé:
  • 1998 Became married father of a daughter
  • 2001-2002 Had “eye-opening” experience with divorce and saw how the family law system functions to essentially isolate kids from their dads
  • 2003 Became a distant parenting dad with my child living over 1,100 miles away and coming for “visits” during holidays and summers
  • 2007 Became a full-time single dad of my child (then a 4th grader)
  • 2009 Got remarried
  • 2010 Became dad for a 2nd time – this time to a son.

So that’s my résumé. Do I get the job?

Really though, it’s been an interesting journey – one that has had many twists and turns. My blended family of 4 didn’t come together overnight. We’re a happy bunch but the journey to this point has been challenging. Through this blog, I seek to empower others with different posts that they can apply to their lives immediately. Fatherhood is an all-encompassing experience – one that affects men, women and kids. So I’m happy to share with others, knowing that they stand to benefit from the message.

As I started the blog, I expected to find an audience to hear the message. What I didn't anticipate was the overwhelming response from the general public. I believed that the message would appeal to a certain niche in our society but what has occurred is that it has not only reached that niche but it has reached into so many other areas. Both men and women, whether they're married or not, and whether they're parents or not, are active readers of our blog. 

The number one feedback I hear from others is that our message is so needed. It warms my heart to hear that we're making a difference through this medium. Every so often, I am asked the question, "How do you get so many readers?" My response is always, "Content is king." I even wrote a blog post about it - Content Is King. But that's the key.

I don't have the sophisticated tools that stack the numbers in my favor. I haven’t employed a huge PR firm to bombard media outlets with our message.  I simply write from the heart and share what I believe to be life-changing posts on matters that have impacted my life. Then through the use of social media tools - our Facebook page and our Twitter account, I share the message with the world.
Our message has been readily received all over the globe. We have readers on every continent except Antarctica. Do they have the internet there by the way? Our top 5 countries are: United States, France, Canada, United Kingdom and Russia. It’s really been awesome to know that families from every background are being impacted by this message. I’ve been interviewed twice by the BBC. I’ve had so many doors open – all as a result of this simple, yet profound message.

Another thing I find interesting is that 60% of our readers are female. How about that huh? I think that’s great because fatherhood affects us all. Having men and women involved in this vision is key, in my view. 

I cannot take sole credit for what's occurred. I have my wife to thank immensely for her involvement. I write the posts and tell her what I'd like to see in the finalized product. She then adds photos and presents the written words in what I consider to be a way that appeals to the eyes. It's inviting, in my view. So she's very much a part of this project.

Most of all, I credit you with the spreading of our message. If you weren't reading, the journey wouldn't be quite as much fun. But as you read and share with others through social media or other means, you help to get the message to those who can benefit. And as you interact with us on our Facebook page and on Twitter and your comments on the blog, it's just gratifying. So I thank you for sharing and for caring. 

Not long ago, we celebrated 10,000 hits. Today, we celebrate 50,000. Before long, it’ll be 100,000. Then 1,000,000. The sky is the only limit. And as I always say, each hit represents a life that can be touched in a meaningful way. So that’s what keeps me going. It’s all about empowering others. Otherwise, it’s just useless chatter.

All this week, we’ll be sharing different posts to commemorate this significant milestone. But quite frankly, in my view, we've only just begun the journey. There's just so much we have planned with our organization. We've already started phase 2 of our vision with our Upbeat Dad Community Forum.

And let me tell you something exciting: behind the scenes, we're working on some initiatives that we believe will make a lasting impact on our world for years to come. We haven’t even scratched the surface yet, as I see it. Our blog is an important part of our vision and mission but it’s not the organization itself. There’s much more to come so stay tuned.

My greatest thrill is knowing that others are positively impacted by our message. So as you read and share and come back, I believe that lives are being enhanced. And that really adds fuel to my fire. It’s as fulfilling an experience as I could imagine. It’s all about you and your families.

Enjoy your day and do come back often. I believe that you’ll enjoy the journey with us.

The Upbeat Dad

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