I find most bios to be insulting.
They are usually written by the subject of the bio in a fake third-person perspective attempting to fool the reader into believing someone else wrote it. It’s an ego play. I won’t do that.
Instead I’ve written my bio as a straightforward story. This is me. Like it or not. There’s no pretense here at all. Here’s my story so far…
I was born Joseph DePalma in Orange, New Jersey, located about twenty miles outside New York City.
I was raised in the ‘down-the-hill’ section of West Orange, New Jersey, as the only child of Frances DePalma, an outdoor advertising marketing assistant, and Joseph “Buddy” DePalma an independent courier.
My mom was awesome, still is. My father, not so much. He wasn’t around very often, and when he was chaos wasn’t usually far behind.
Then, out of nowhere when I was 15, my father died. To this day my mom still attests, “It was the best thing he could have ever done for you at that point, because he was never going to let you become what you were born to be.”
My small family never had much money. We scratched for every penny. It was a daily issue. However, nobody around me really had any money either so it didn’t seem to matter much.
The first real concern I had early on in life was being diagnosed with moderate dyslexia combined with astigmatisms in both eyes after the first grade.
Basically, I couldn’t see straight a lot of the time and when I did my brain would mix up some of what I saw. It sucked.
School is difficult for a lot of kids, but for kids with any level of dyslexia it can be practically unbearable. I immediately fell behind in reading which led into everything else.
I hated it. Like most kids with dyslexia I felt like I didn’t belong. Class after class. Test after test. Year after year. The feelings of confusion, inferiority, and isolation never went away.
Even though I knew I was just as smart as everyone else, and more creative than almost anyone; I always felt like an outsider which is something I’ve never shaken.
Fortunately, I was a talented athlete which gave me an opportunity to build confidence and self-worth outside of classrooms and schoolwork.
I also discovered comic books along the way which helped me develop a love of reading, albeit at a much slower pace than the average kid.
Nonetheless, I read thousands of comic books and eventually carried that passion and stick-to-it-ive-ness over to reading schoolbooks and completing school assignments.
Doing so eventually helped me catch up with my classmates after many years of being stuck far behind.
As I mentioned earlier, even before my father’s death he wasn’t around much and my mom worked very hard to keep things together. That combination left me alone quite a bit.
However, after a while I really began enjoying the solitude, the self-reliance, and the inward exploration that being alone a lot promotes.
That’s when, at my father’s funeral, I vowed never to burden my mom like my father did.
Of course we would still live under the same roof; but from that day on I wouldn’t cause her any undo problems. I wouldn’t make her worry. And I wouldn’t ask her for a cent.
As far as I was concerned her days of dealing with that type of bullshit were over. (Here’s the last known picture of me and my father.)
I was already a year into my first teen job at that point bagging groceries and gathering shopping carts at the local supermarket, but I picked up the pace from there.
All told I lost five close family members or loved ones during high school. It was an incredibly difficult time for me both inside and outside of school.
I usually wore a smile on my face, but inside I was broken and lost. I ended up spending a lot of time during those years by myself away from the regular dramas and turmoil of teen life.
I’m mentioning these obstacles from my youth so you can get a sense of who I am and where I come from. Because it’s the storms of life that really shape us; not the sunny days.
My childhood and young adulthood were great; however playing with toys and trading sports cards didn’t make me the person I am today.
As high school ended I had no plans for the future. I had received a partial scholarship to play baseball in college.
However, my head wasn’t into playing sports anymore and my mom and I couldn’t afford the rest of the tuition anyhow.
Instead I would stay up late lying in bed watching those classic Tony Robbins infomercials over and over again.
Somehow I never got tired of it. I would marvel at the possibilities for my life that Tony promised. Eventually I took the plunge and purchased his Personal Power Program. That’s when things began to change for me.
Soon thereafter I graduated from high school. The entire experience was just a blur. I didn’t enjoy it very much. My mind always seemed to be elsewhere contemplating life, death, and the universe.
I didn’t study much, I didn’t party much, and I didn’t get in much trouble. Instead I worked a lot and got by on a combination of creativity, moxie, athletics and personal development.
Plus, I always showed up to class and I was always nice to my teachers. I felt the path of least resistance was the best way to navigate high school. Overall, for me, it worked.
After high school ended my mom talked me into attending community college. It was the right thing to do, but my heart wasn’t in it yet so I immediately failed three out four placement tests.
That meant I had to take three no credit basic skills classes before I could get my college career off the ground. I was now forced to spend time, money, and energy on classes that I could have easily avoided if I had only committed and applied myself.
That was a huge reality check moment for me.
My mom and I were spending good money on my education and I needed to start taking advantage of it. I knew I had only one shot. This was it.
However, even though I had my moderate dyslexia mostly under control, it was still an issue. It never goes away. It’s true there are significant upsides to having dyslexia. Yet, those upsides aren’t valued in a typical classroom situation.
Yet, knowing all of that I still went against my high school counselor’s suggestions and opted to not tell anyone at the college that I had moderate dyslexia.
I wanted to prove to myself I could succeed in college straight-up. No crutches. No safety net. I wanted to finally feel like just another student in the halls. So that’s exactly what I did.
The college was 40 minutes from my house. I would drive there for classes from 8am until 12:00pm. Then I would drive twenty minutes down the road to work at Toys’ R Us from 1:00pm to 5:00pm.
Finally, I would drive home and work at a local liquor store from 6:00pm to 10:00pm. I did that four days a week. On the other three days I would work a combination of both jobs while doing my school work whenever I found the time.
I very seldom ever had a full day off, but I persevered for the year. I completed all three basic skills classes along with five other fully credited classes with a solid B average. I was on my way.
Next, I transferred to another community college closer to home for a few summer classes and a fall semester. I did well which increased my overall GPA to the point where I was accepted along with all my credits into a full four year university. I was amazed.
I had done very little in high school. Then, I worked my ass off in community college for 16 months until I found myself in the same classes, at the same university, with traditionally success students I knew who didn’t have learning obstacles to overcome.
It was the proudest moment of my life to that point. I was excited, but the hardest part was still to come.
I didn’t have a great start at the university. I found the classes to be much harder than the ones at community college. I was also working 25 hours or more a week delivering pizza and washing dishes at an Italian restaurant.
I was quickly getting involved in the campus social scene too even though I was commuting from home. All of that caused me to spend a lot of time driving around and then sleeping on friend’s couches or floors.
It wasn’t an ideal situation for doing well in school. So I didn’t.
It wasn’t long before I found myself on academic probation. Basically, that meant if I kept screwing up I’d be kicked out of school. Something had to give.
That’s when my favorite professor ever entered,. Dr. Rob Gilbert an expert in Sports Psychology. He taught classes with many different names, but they were all based on strategies for successful living.
Dr. Gilbert didn’t harp on black and white facts so much as he taught frames of mind and concepts for achievement just like Tony Robbins.
He also didn’t assign much homework and he was the kind of teacher who would hire guest speakers out of his own pocket.
He was the offbeat professor who taught out of a windowless room in the basement of the gymnasium. His style was way outside the box. Just like mine.
I took every class he taught. Then, I developed an independent study course which allowed us to work together outside of the confines of a structured class.
That’s when I was exposed to decades of motivational speakers, self-improvement programs, self-help books, and personal development videos. It was awesome.
After that, the rest of college was a much easier. I still worked a lot including a mall retail store job, a job delivering liquor, and a job operating an embroidery machine.
I still partied a lot too, but nothing bogged me down anymore. I had a permanent residency on the dean’s list. I worked hard, I played hard, and I studied hard.
After everything I’d gone through college graduation was in sight, but there was one last hurdle standing in my way. That hurdle was Foreign Language class.
For most students Foreign Language class isn’t that big of a deal, but for students with any level of dyslexia it’s a flat-out nightmare.
Having to speak a foreign language isn’t a problem at all, however having to read and write in it for pages at a time is often the equivalent of an academic death sentence.
So two of the very last classes I ever took in college were Spanish 1 and Spanish 2.
For those classes I geared up with tutors, instructional tapes, and daily help from my girlfriend. Those were the two most agonizing classes I’d ever taken in any level of education.
Some days I would break out in a cold sweat as I walked into the classroom. However, in the end I passed them both with C’s. After years of dreading those two classes it was all finally over. I’d done it. College was now complete.
When I graduated from college with honors in my major of Communications, it was sweet victory for my mom and me.
She kept her promise to pay my tuition even if it took her last dollar. And I kept my promise to never cause her any worry or ask her for a nickel along the way.
Throughout college I bought six different old cars to commute in as they died one by one. At times I was a commuter with no car at all. I also worked 7 different crappy jobs year-round without ever having more than a day or two off at a time.
Through it all, I never missed a car insurance payment. I never had a computer at home. I never owned a cell phone. I never had a dorm room. I never had a meal plan. I never failed to clear my credit card balance each month.
I was also never lonely, hungry, and I always had a bed, a couch, or an inviting floor to sleep on somewhere. I didn’t do it the conventional way, but I made it to college graduation. It was and still is the single proudest day of my life.
After college I immediately converted my senior internship into a full-time job with the Economics Press a leading training and motivational newsletter publisher at the time.
Its flagship publication was the little magazine which had been motivating the world since the 1960s called ‘Bits & Pieces.’
I joined the sales team and assisted in the production of some of the publications for about two years until I left to go on a 10,000-mile cross-country road trip with a childhood buddy. It was transformative. (Here we are in California at Yosemite National Park.)
When I returned I decided to put my degree to the test by taking a job as a success and career speaker for high school students. I traveled all over the New Jersey/New York area speaking to high school audiences every day.
I excelled at the job, but that’s not always a good thing when you’re young and easily taken advantage of. Because the better I preformed the 45-minute presentation, the more I was asked to do it.
I had to do the presentation up to 8 or 9 times a day regularly. I was working myself to exhaustion and heading straight for a wall.
Overall, I conducted the 45-minute presentation 503 times over the course of one and a half school years. Also, in addition to my own presentations I was training other speakers.
My hectic schedule and the lack of microphones or amplifiers at any of my spirited presentations started putting a bad strain on my voice.
Then, one day it all came crashing down at a high school in Paterson New Jersey when I suffered an acute vocal fold hemorrhage right there in front of the audience.
All of a sudden my throat was on fire and I could no longer speak. Not even a whisper. I’d try, but nothing would come out. Basically, my throat was burnt toast.
This incident led my doctors to prescribe me with medications and a period of complete silence for two months hoping to avoid surgery. This was definitely the strangest time of my adult life.
Hardly speaking for months was really weird. In the end thankfully, surgery was not required. However, I did use this period of silence productively.
As I sat quietly alone in my apartment I finished writing my first book. A ‘how-to guide’ for students on maximizing their overall college experience.
The book went through many revisions over the years and ended up at 223 pages. I titled it, College Success Code EXPOSED: Campus Secrets Professors Don’t Know & Parents Can’t Tell!
I have converted select sections of the book into posts, which you can find in the ‘Motivational Coaching: College’ section of this website.
Next, after I finished vocal therapy my doctor completely cleared me to resume full activity as there was no permanent damage done.
At that point I decided to find a new job so I searched the internet for the two key terms that were most relevant to the company I wanted to work for next.
Those search terms were “New Jersey” and “Self-Improvement.”
I called David and immediately discovered he wasn’t hiring, however I persuaded him to interview me even though I knew nothing about internet companies at the time.
He agreed and ten minutes into the interview he hired me as the company’s first full-time employee.
In the coming years we dramatically expanded the company’s size, created new products, and extended the reach of SelfGrowth.com until it received more traffic each month than Tony Robbins’s website, Deepak Chopra’s website, and Dr. Phil’s website.
The first product we created ended up becoming one of the most successful self-published e-books in self-improvement history.
The release of the e-book ‘Self Improvement: The Top 101 Experts Who Help Us Improve Our Lives‘ had an astounding opening campaign which generated over $108,000 worth of sales in the first 24 hours alone.
Next, we branched out to assist self-help entrepreneurs build their online platforms with a series of top selling internet marketing programs titled “E-book Marketing in a Box,” “Email List-Building in a Box,” and “Search Engine Optimization in a Box.”
Overall, being an integral part of SelfGrowth.com has offered me the opportunity to work hand in hand with virtually every name, both large and small, in the self-improvement industry since 2003.
Along the way I also created websites and products of my own. I started in 2007 with ReadySetRise.com which transitioned in 2015 to an earlier version of MotivationalJoe.com.
I also created and released a best selling online law of attraction music program called ‘The Sonic Secret.’ I even grew my personal mailing list to over 50,000 subscribers without spending a dime.
I was putting everything I had learned about self-improvement and internet marketing into practice. Things were going well. I was successful by most people’s standards.
Then recently it all abruptly changed and I discontinued all of my products and drastically overhauled the MotivationalJoe.com website and message.
Here’s a list of all of my prior products which are now discontinued and unavailable:
* 75 Greatest Motivational Stories Ever Told (ebook)
* Best Of Motivational Coaching (ebook)
* Motivational Quote Of Destiny (ebook)
* 1-Minute Motivator Special Reports (email series)
* Original Motivational Music CD (download)
* College Success Code Exposed (print book & ebook)
* The Sonic Secret: Law Of Attraction Music System (hard copy & download)
* The Sonic Secret: Law Of Attraction Music System (Clickbank Sales Page)
Why I made such a radical shift and gave up my platform along with the monetary rewards that came with it is a whole other story.
I was brought behind the curtain so to speak. I was pulled down a new path which caused me to go rogue on just about everything in my life.
It was frightening at first, but after a while everything began to make sense. For the first time all of the lingering concerns and frustrations I had throughout my life finally had real answers. At last I was able to truly Thrive. It was then that I added the ‘X’ onto my name signifying a new ‘no bullshit’ approach to real personal development.
I’ve documented exactly what happened in my manifesto ‘The Black Secret Sabotaging Our Entire Lives.’
By writing it I pissed off a lot of people, but so be it. The manifesto is the only product I offer at this time and it’s free on this site only until further notice. Check it out here if you’d like.
That’s my story for now. It’s very difficult to write about yourself like this. I hope I did a solid job and you were able to take away something good from it. Thanks again for reading.
For more information or to book me for something use the form on the Contact Page.