To Catch a Fake Influencer

Catching a fake influencer is actually really difficult these days. However, becoming one is easier than you think. It’s as easy as clicking a few buttons and having a few dollars to spare. Is it really that easy? After all, we have been trained to detect frauds, scammers, and become part-time FBI agents all thanks to social media. This article discusses the tactics you can use to catch a fake influencer committing influencer fraud and explains how they appear to be something they’re not.

The question is why would anyone want to do this? The answer could be fame, but most likely it’s because of the amount of money someone can gain from fooling companies out of thousands of dollars per post.

What is an Influencer:

According to, an influencer is someone who has the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of his or her authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with his or her audience; or since we’re being honest, purely based on looks.  Influencers can make up to $0.10 per follower per post or more depending on their engagement. This may not seem like much but if you have 100,000 followers, it will add up quickly.

 Analytics Influencers Provide:

Paid partnerships have been on the rise since influencers hit the scene. Even more concerning has been the number of influencers taking advantage of being paid to talk about a product they don’t even like or use. It can be seen as a win-win situation because the brand earns brand recognition and the influencer is paid to show products to their audience.

The issue is that some of these “influencers” have a fake following. According to an article published in, up to 24% of Influencers have created a fake following to mislead brands into a paid partnership. This is known as Influencer fraud and is more common than you think. These frauds are so good at being perceived as authentic that they even go undetected by artificially intelligent software and even self-proclaimed digital marketing experts.

How to Catch a Fake Influencer:

Engagement to Follower Ratio:

The easiest way would be to compare an account’s number of followers to its average engagement rate. Engagement rates are the number of likes, comments and/or shares per post according to The formula to calculate the engagement rate is the total number of interactions their content receives divided by the total number of followers, multiplied by 100%. If these numbers are too good to be true, they usually are. For example, if the account has 10,000 followers but only receives 100 likes, this is most likely a fraud. Luckily for these scammers, there’s a way around it which I will explain in-depth later in the article. This makes it increasingly more difficult to catch fake influencers.

Catch a fake influencer with their Instagram Stories:

The latest way to tell if an influencer is fake is by asking for their Instagram story analytics within 24 hours of a story being posted. The story analytics displays the amount of impressions which is usually a little more than the accounts reached or the amount of people who viewed the story.

However, the most interesting part of a story’s analytics is the interactions by story viewers in the navigation section. These interactions are known as tap forward, tap back, exited, and next story. If you have a business profile and monitor your interactions, you will quickly notice that these numbers are similar to the amount of story views you have. The median tap-forward rate with a story containing 5 frames per day is about 75% according to a study done by RivalIQ. The quickest way to spot a fake is to compare story views and interactions in the navigation bar. If these numbers are way off, they are most likely an influencer fraud.

The pictures below were taken from an influencer’s provided story analytics. At a quick glance, they can quickly deceive even the most trained professional. They simply do not represent the claimed number of viewers because that would mean their engagement is amazing.

Figure 1: Catching a Fake Influencer using their Analytics: Compare the number of Impressions to the “Forward” number to see that only a few hundred users tapped forward on the story. We are all human, based on your own Instagram interaction, a majority of people tap through stories which is the biggest signal of forged numbers.

Figure 2: Screenshot of my Instagram Profile Story Analytics with 961 Followers.

Auditing Websites:

Another way to spot fake influencers is to use auditing websites like HypeAuditor. Unfortunately, it seems that the artificial intelligence of some of these sites can’t tell the difference between real and fake followers. This is because the websites that you can purchase followers from make ghost/zombie accounts that are difficult to tell apart from a real profile. This is why it is important to analyze the data yourself. If you look at the graph below, you can see the sharp peaks indicating a very fast increase in followers. I ain’t no mathematician, but I know when shit don’t add up.

Figure 3: Instagram Auditing Tool to Check for Fake Followers

Fake It Until You Make It:

Faking it until you make it seems to be the most common type of social media fraud. Hell, the same can be said about those not on social media, but I’m going to just sit here and sip my tea though.

Fake Influencer Communities:

The easiest way to avoid being caught and called a fraud is to join a community of real users that have strict rules in place that operate on the basis of “engagement trading”. These communities trade engagement (likes, comments, follows, etc.) back and forth so there is a sharp increase in engagement as soon as content is posted and appears to be genuine interest in the post/influencer.

Fake Influencers Buy Followers, Likes, & Comments:

The quickest way to overcome the suspicion that you are a fake is to purchase followers, likes, and comments from websites like BuzzVoice. This website even goes as far as offering real comments from those with 10K followers. This makes catching a fake influencer nearly impossible as they have social proof.


Figure 4: A website to purchase real followers, comments, and likes.

Figure 5: Zoomed in view of Buzzvoice Statement

Catch a Fake Influencer with their Reels:

Many Instagram users mindlessly scroll and maybe pause for a second when someone or something catches their attention while scrolling. Unsurprisingly, it isn’t someone’s analytics or engagement rate unless you’re a nerd, such as myself. Reels are the latest feature on Instagram and is a clone of Tik Tok.

One influencer, in particular, is the reason I wrote this blog. The fake influencer purchased likes and views for their reel. This influencer’s reel was uploaded and within an hour had 3,000 likes but only had 709 views. After waiting 10 minutes thinking the reel’s views may be delayed, the views only increased by about 116 views. (See figure 6).







Figure 6: Screenshots of views and likes of Finfluencer’s Reel.







Figure 7: Screenshots of the same reel analytics.

The reel had 98.2K views and 5084 likes the next day.  This is surprising considering they had 3762 likes with 700 views within hours of posting it. Moreover, the likes continued to decrease up until 2 days later reverting back to 3614 likes. (Figure 7) Did 1200 people all of a sudden realize they don’t really like the reel anymore?

The Conclusion:

You need to be really cautious about who you hire or scout to represent your product or brand. Of course, nobody is going to admit they are a fraud. Luckily, you were blessed with a brain to catch a fake influencer.  I will update the blog with part 2 where I show you step by step how I replicated these steps.

One of my famous 9 minute Lunch Time Naps
One of my famous 9 minute Lunch Time Naps

Working until you Burnout

Working Until you Burnout:

Anything worth doing is worth overdoing and that includes working until you burnout. A fierce competitive drive that propels you to always be number one should circulate your bloodstream. Losing should elicit a physical sensation of pain and winning to provoke nothing more than a smirk because that should be the norm. Playing sports at a young age teaches the competitive spirit with what eventually becomes this instinct where losing is unacceptable. No matter what a coach or parent says about losing, instinctively it should be known that losing isn’t acceptable. Maybe this wasn’t the case for everyone but it should be.

Love to Hate Losing:

If you’ve read my earlier blogs, you’d know my definition of a L.O.S.E.R. A LOSER is someone that has a Lack Of Self Enthusiasm and Resilience. People have become so weak to criticism and want first place trophies for last place effort. Their effort resulted in last place and you shouldn’t be congratulating them on trying their best, because their best was someone else’s opportunity to show you that you suck. You need to take those results and use that as fuel. Practice EVERY SINGLE DAY and don’t practice for an hour or two because remember, anything worth doing is worth overdoing. Practice for at least 6 hours a day on weekdays and 12 hours on weekends. Working until you burnout will help build resilience and self enthusiasm as you complete tasks and start winning.

Building Resilience:

It’s nearly impossible to focus without interruption in a world full of distractions. The easiest way to build resilience is to get into a state of flow and eliminate distractions such as notifications and even people. Wake up earlier than everyone and start the day without looking at your phone. Building this habit into your daily routine will take about 66 days but you will be happy you did. Building this resilience into your daily routine will add up over time to make you a winner.

Days Off:

There are two types of people who you shouldn’t listen to. People who love you and people who hate you. People who love you are going to be concerned that you will lose or even worse, lose yourself. On the other hand, people who hate you will be betting against you. Both types of people will see eye to eye on one thing and will come together and form a stronghold of loser mentality. They will encourage you to take days off or rest or even worse, slow down. Take this advice and do the complete opposite and go harder. Sleep less, learn more, and go deeper into isolation to master your craft. The only day you get to rest is the day you have accomplished your goal and that’s only because you need time to think of a new goal.


There is a really important idea that is being overlooked in this blog and by many who speak about the same thing. “What if I burn out before I win or become my definition of successful”? If you have truly burned out and can’t push yourself any further, ONLY THEN is it ok to rest. This is only after you have dug deep and emptied out every single drop of energy which only you can decide for yourself. You should have at least developed a By Any Means Necessary mindset so you don’t lose focus or give up. This will help you keep working until you burnout again and again.

I want to Have Fun and Travel:

Everything that was mentioned in previous paragraphs ONLY applies if you want something bad enough. If you don’t, then you are allowed to do whatever the hell you want. Before you leave this blog, I want to ask you one thing to think deeply about. Is flying business class and staying at 5-star hotels and giving yourself everything you deserve, fun? Do you contrastingly define fun as sitting in the last row of the plane and staying in motels giving yourself what is “good enough”? My favorite video from Gary Vee says it best, “if you are happy with your life and don’t want to change a thing, then don’t“.


Lamborghini Obsession

A Lamborghini obsession has circulated through my veins ever since I can remember. I’m not special, I’m not better than anyone, I’m a regular person who is willing to die to accomplish whatever I set my mind to.

May 5th, 2020. 2:00 PM

My family surrounds me as the gate lowers and without notice, the titanium racing exhaust lets out a supersonic roar heard only through your speakers dreaming of the days that sound will light up your soul.

The Lamborghini Roadster is unloaded and the keys are handed to me. Is this real? Am I dreaming again!? “It doesn’t happen like this”, I yell at the top of my lungs internally but completely unphased on the outside as If I didn’t just buy my dream car during a pandemic via text message and facetime.

Be Realistic: 2003

My mom and I were standing around the table as we do to discuss my future and my goals. I had just read Rich Dad, Poor Dad and knew the answer to the million dollar question that no sane 15 year old actually knows. My mother asks, “Eddie, what do you want out of life?”. I replied, “I want to be happy, healthy, and have a Lamborghini.” She laughed and said, “Eddie, we know some of the wealthiest people in the world and none of them have a Lamborghini so I want you to be a little more realistic. That was all I needed to hear. Being realistic is death and why some people are 25 years old and lost.

Around the same time, my friends were all straight A students and would ask me what I’m doing with my life after high school and I would say that I’m going to get a Ph.D. This usually resulted in a laughter so loud it made me regret even talking about my future. Maybe they were right. I was a C Student who couldn’t pass an exam if I had the answers in front of me.

The Universe is Listening:

For anyone who hasn’t read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, there’s one major takeaway that I believe wholeheartedly. The universe is always is listening.

“But this payment goes well beyond my generosity”, the monk responded. “Don’t say that again. Life might listening and will give you less next time.”

I really began speaking things into existence as if they already happened. I changed my words from “I hope this happens” to “This is going to happen”. Sometimes I’d forget that certain things didn’t happen yet.

Victory List: 2010

Look at my victory list below. If you want something, write it down and watch it come alive but you better be prepared to be the hardest working person alive because I promise I’d die for my dreams. Are you willing to go all in?

Lamborghini Dreaming: 2014

I have dreams that feel so real and when I wake up, I know they are going to happen in real life. This is for both good and bad dreams. One dream in particular I remember was me getting out of a Lamborghini Roadster in Narragansett, RI and turning around and telling myself that I can’t even believe that it’s real and it’s mine. I woke up and began to question if I actually had a Lamborghini Roadster. I didn’t but I knew it was a matter of time.

Google Home: 2019

5:00 AM Monday through Friday and 6:00 AM Saturday and Sunday:

“Good Morning Eddie, Early Bird gets the Lambo”, is how Google Home wakes me up along with playing some motivational song and turning on all the lights in my room to make sure I wake up By Any Means Necessary. The canvas hanging up in my office, the model car on my desk, and most importantly what I would put out into the universe when asked what I’m going to do with my life. The answer was simple, “I’m getting a Lamborghini”.

The fuel to my fire was people laughing in my face when I would say absurd things like I’m getting a Ph.D, I’m getting a Lamborghini, or I’m going to cure cancer. I promise you the last person you’d ever want to laugh at or tell they can’t do something is me. I’ve stayed up 66 hours straight just to submit a dissertation on time and you don’t think I’m willing to die for my dreams? My kidneys know otherwise.

Google Home Wake Up Call

April 15th, 2020:

I wired my savings account into my stock portfolio and went all in on 5 stocks which miraculously did better than expected in 2 weeks. I was already looking at Lamborghini’s but it was the Huracan because not many 32-year-old guys/girls can really afford an Aventador.

April 29th, 2020:

I cash out and contact a dealer when I found the Lamborghini Aventador of my dreams.  Lamborghini Houston contacts me and before I even see it, we start talking about price. If the price isn’t right, there’s no need to see the car. We agree on a price and he says, how would you like to see the car? I tell him I’m not flying there because of the Corona Virus and he asks if Facetime is ok. After a quick minute walk-around, I put a deposit down on the car. I intentionally text my sister who is the voice of irrational spending and ask if I should get an Aventador. Unsurprisingly, she encourages it.

May 5th, 2020:

The vision comes together. Me telling my mom I will have a Lamborghini, my victory list from 2010, model cars, posters, and desktop backgrounds are right infront of me yelling at me to get in the damn car and soak it all in.

Lamborghini Dreaming would be an understatement for this post. A Lamborghini obsession has circulated through my veins ever since I can remember. I’m not special, I’m not better than anyone, I’m a regular person who knew that one day, I was going to have an Aventador and I was going to do it By Any Means Necessary.






Is Sunscreen Safe?
Is Sunscreen Safe?

Is Sunscreen Safe?

Is Sunscreen Safe?

The short answer is no, sunscreen is not completely safe. Ask any dermatologist and they will tell you to wear sunscreen every day. The question rarely asked is if sunscreen is safe? According to the American Academy of dermatology (AAD); everyone should wear sunscreen everyday if they are going to leave the house.  The sunscreen application guidelines advised by the AAD are as follows:

How much sunscreen should I use, and how often should I apply it?

  • 25-50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen is applied.
  • Cover all sun exposed skin that clothing will not cover.
  • Apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before being exposed to the sun
  •  Apply a lip balm that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more.
  • Reapply sunscreen approximately every two hours, or after swimming or sweating, according to the directions on the bottle.

Evidence Suggesting Sunscreen is Not Safe:

According to a recent clinical trial, six active ingredients commonly found in sunscreens were evaluated for their absorption into the bloodstream of 48 healthy volunteers. The ingredients tested were avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate, octinoxate. These ingredients were determined to be absorbed into the bloodstream at concentrations that exceed 0.5 ng/mL after only one application. This is the safety threshold not to be exceeded as recommended by the Food and Drug Administration.

Active Ingredients in Sunscreen:

The study includes 48 healthy volunteers with no skin issues and included different forms of sunscreen applications including lotion, aerosol spray, non-aerosol spray, and pump spray. Volunteers were to apply sunscreen for 4 days and had a total of 34 blood samples taken over the course of 21 days. Safety threshold for all 6 of the sunscreen ingredients were exceeded. The concentrations remained above the safety recommendation for 23 hours after one application. Even more concerning is the concentrations of the ingredients remained in 50% of the volunteers for over 7 days and up to 21 days for two of the six ingredients.

Are there any Safe Alternatives to Sunscreen?

Consequently, these studies call into question the safety of sunscreens and alternatives for effective photoprotection. Antioxidants applied topically such as vitamin C and vitamin E have been shown to work at the skin’s surface but also inside skin1. Following topical application, once the skin is saturated with L-ascorbic acid after 3 days of application, it remains in the skin for up to 4 days1. Direct topical application of antioxidants could be a good alternative to sunscreens for photoprotection and antioxidant benefits. However, it is important to use a clinically tested formulation of vitamin C and vitamin E such as Phyto-C’s E in C Serum. It is important to note that topical cosmeceuticals are not a replacement to sunscreen, but may be effective as a photoprotective antioxidant to correct the visible signs of aging.2

What’s the Verdict on Sunscreen Safety?

The FDA does not recommend to avoid using sunscreens, however, more research is needed before any further decisions can be made regarding the safety of sunscreens containing avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate, octinoxate.

Are Parabens Bad?


Parabens are preservatives formulated in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products for their bactericidal and fungicidal properties. They are found in skincare, pharmaceutical products, and as food preservatives.  Parabens occur naturally and commonly found in bacteria, insects, and royal jelly. Parabens may be a common defense of plants against bacterial or fungal infections.

However, using parabens in a formulation is frowned upon by consumers due to their potential toxicity and carcinogenic properties.

Are Parabens Bad?

Parabens are non-irritating and non-sensitizing. Less than 3% of patients tend to have sensitivity to parabens among people with contact dermatitis.1

A 2005 study concluded it is highly unlikely that parabens could increase the health risk of the effects on the male reproductive tract or breast cancer.
The estrogenic activity of parabens increases with the length of the alkyl group. The effect of one of the longer paraben molecules being butylparaben suggests that it should be the most harmful. However, the negative health effects of butylparaben are observed at a dose level around 25,000 times higher than the level typically used to preserve products.2 The study concludes that the activity of parabens is reduced by about three orders of magnitude when investigated in vivo (human or animal) compared to that when done in vitro (in a lab experiment not involving a human or animal). Therefore, worst-case daily exposure to parabens would present less risk compared to naturally occurring chemicals found in the diet.3

Paraben Concentrations in Formulas:

The European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) claim that methyl and ethylparaben are safe. Although, using them at the maximum concentration of 0.8%. Additionally, the SCCS concludes that safe use of butyl and propylparaben should not exceed 0.19% in finished cosmetics.4

Should I Avoid Parabens?

Ultimately, with so many natural alternatives available it would be in your best interest to research before purchasing.  Call or email the brand and be sure to ask about the concentration of parabens in their products. You can call Phyto-C customer service line and speak to one of our representatives who will happily answer any question you may have even though our products do not contain parabens. However, it should also not be a reason to avoid a product.

If you do decide to stay away from parabens commonly found in creams and are in need for an excellent moisturizing cream free of parabens, consider trying Phyto-C SuperHeal O-Live Cream or Phyto-C Moisturize Cream.

Drink 3 Liters of Water To Replace Your Moisturizer

Drink 3 Liters of Water To Replace Your Moisturizer

The two most common cliché sayings in skincare tell you to drink 3 liters of water and get enough beauty sleep. Both of which are nearly impossible because everyone is always on the go fueled by caffeine and ambition. To conceal the effects of a hustle fueled lifestyle, women have taken their skincare routines to another level. Skincare regimens cost hundreds of dollars and provide short-lived results. However, we often overlook the basics of beauty which will benefit skin almost immediately.

How Much Water You Should Drink:

The most basic, important, and overlooked step of a beauty routine is drinking 3 liters of water per day. Water is responsible for up to 75% of the body’s composition making it essential for almost every function. Although, knowing why it plays such a crucial role for optimal skin health and function is rarely discussed. The “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010” report recommends drinking 3.7 and 2.5 liters for men and women, respectively. However, the average person drinks about 1.2 liters of water per day according to the CDC, leaving us well-below that number.  To further understand the relationship between water consumption and skin health, scientists assessed the effects of consuming less than the daily recommended volume of water.

Drinking 3 Liters of Water Improved Visible Skin Health

49 healthy women between the ages of 22 and 34 were put into groups separated by total daily water consumption. Group 1 consumed less than 3.2 liters per day while Group 2 consumed more than 3.2 liters per day. Each group increased their daily water intake with an additional 2 liters of water for 4 weeks. After 4 weeks, surface and deep tissue hydration significantly improved in group 1 compared to group 2. Additionally, the skin became more smooth and firm. Scientists determined drinking more than 3 liters of water may hydrate skin equally as much as some topical moisturizers. This is further supported according to another article published in Skin Res Technology.

Drink Water AND Use a Great Moisturizer:

Ultimately, drinking 3 liters of water per day along with a great moisturizer to address both surface and deep tissue hydration is the best way to maintain great skin health. All moisturizers aren’t created equal so be sure to look for a moisturizing cream or gel with hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5, and antioxidants and apply at least twice a day or as needed to keep your skin properly hydrated and healthy.


Skincare Ingredients to Avoid if You Get Less Than 5 Hours of Sleep

Skincare Ingredients to Avoid if You Get Less Than 5 Hours of Sleep

Skincare ingredients to avoid if you get less than 5 hours of sleep include popular AHA’s and BHA’s. Skin health has a direct correlation to how much sleep you get. There’s finally some data to validate the cliche phrase, “Beauty Sleep”. Cancelling plans to ensure enough beauty sleep was only an excuse up until this article. Even though it was only an excuse, there is scientific data that can validate that reasoning. In a study published in Clinical Dermatology, sleeping for less than 5 hours results in increased trans-epidermal water loss and decreased barrier recovery. In English, this means your skin loses more water and becomes thinner.

Ingredients to Avoid if You Sleep Less Than 5 Hours:

  • Lactic Acid
  • Glycolic Acid
  • Salicylic Acid

 If you’re anything like me and believe that sleep is important but have major FOMO; then there are a few important skincare ingredients to avoid that will further thin your skin.  Ingredients that resurface or exfoliate your skin also decrease the skin’s barrier leading to increased trans-epidermal loss along with sleeping for less than 5 hours which has the same effect.
Three of the most common ingredients found in skincare products responsible for exfoliating include glycolic acid, lactic acid, and salicylic acid. Typically, these ingredients can be beneficial when used in low concentrations around 1%. However, an article published in Molecules states that higher concentrations of AHA’s and BHA’s above 10% resurface the skin and disrupt the skin barrier resulting in increased trans-epidermal water loss which may expedite the appearance of skin aging.

Sleeping Less Than 5 Hours Results in Thinning Skin:  

60 healthy women were categorized as poor-quality sleepers or good quality sleepers. Poor-quality sleepers received less than or equal to 5 hours of sleep and good quality sleepers  slept between 7–9 hours. Both groups were evaluated dark under‐eye circles using standardized photos and barrier recovery after tape-stripping the skin to measure their trans-epidermal water loss. The women were exposed to simulated solar ultraviolet light, and recovery from erythema was monitored. The women also completed a questionnaire evaluating self‐perception of attractiveness.

Unsurprisingly, poor sleepers had increased trans-epidermal water loss compared to good-quality sleepers. Additionally, good sleepers had 30% greater barrier recovery 72 hours after tape stripping the skin and had significantly better recovery from erythema. Good-quality sleepers also reported a significantly better perception of their appearance and physical attractiveness compared with poor sleepers.

The good news is that there are ways to improve the skin’s health and barrier function with natural ingredients to combat the effects of too little sleep.

Ingredients to Look For if You Suffer from Lack of Sleep:

  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Vitamin B5
  • L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
  • Alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E)

Ingredients that help in maintaining optimal skin health are vital in a good skincare routine but are even more essential when skin is thin. Thin skin tends to sag, produce pronounced wrinkles, and discolors easily.

Common ingredients to search for to improve the skin’s health and barrier are hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E. Hyaluronic acid holds up to 1000x its weight in water. Adding vitamin B5  and hyaluronic acid will leave your skin hydrated, moisturized, and rejuvenated. This may be the reason Phyto-C’s B5 Gel is one of the best-selling products for hydration and skin maintenance.

Vitamin C and Vitamin E have been well studied as the strongest vitamins to combat free radical damage and protect your skin from the premature signs of aging when formulated correctly with L-ascorbic acid, below a pH of 4.2, and in a concentration less than 20% similar to what is found in Phyto-C’s E in C Serum.






Be Smart, Act Stupid

It’s important to be smart but act stupid. That doesn’t make any sense, does it? By the end of this blog, you should have a clear understanding why it’s important to be the smartest person in the room but have everyone write you off as an idiot.

The Takeaway:

  1. Be Smart, Act Stupid
  2. Become a Lover of Learning
  3. Realize you don’t know what you don’t know
  4. Strategize and test
  5. Fail Fast and Fail Forward

Be Smart, Act Stupid:

In graduate school, my lab mate overheard a conversation I was having with a professor about the graduate school curriculum that I was told to figure out. Once I thoroughly read through the  graduate school manual, one of my committee members thought I found a “loophole” but it was just oversight because it wasn’t a common path students took.  My lab mate turns to me and says, “Eddie, you’re really smart and played that off well”. I was really confused and caught off-guard. I asked her to explain. She said, you pretend like you have no idea what you’re doing, but you’re so calculated that the person in front of you has no idea that you’re only testing them to see if they’ll say what you already know about a particular topic. I was taken back. How did she see this? I thought my cover was blown and questioned whether everyone else was able to see this.

The Lesson:

Early on in graduate school, my professor was a relatively new professor and the best advice he gave me was to “figure it out” and ask around whenever I had a question. I was told to follow what the other students are doing by other professors. This included taking graduate level Biochem. I had a difficult time passing Bio101, they couldn’t be serious. I read the curriculum and surprisingly, it wasn’t a requirement. Looking back, I should have taken it for sure to develop my less than adequate chemistry skills but I needed to graduate so I ended up taking more research credits in place of those courses. This played to my advantage because I didn’t do well on tests but excelled at research. That’s when it clicked for me. I thought to myself, nobody actually has a clue what’s going on in the world. We’re all sheep and we all follow what the other is doing. To set myself apart, I began reading EVERYTHING and outworking everyone but never letting it be known to those around me.

 Become a Lover of Learning (Philomath):

There is no right way to do anything. There’s always a better way but that’s why things need to be done over and over for 10,000 hours to become mastered. The best skill to develop is to become a lover of learning, a Philomath. Acquiring information, perspectives, and formulating your own thoughts is extremely gratifying and rewarding. Most importantly, it allows you to size people up and FAST.

            I recommend spending as much time as humanly possible to read everything about any subject. The goal is to become a subject matter expert as quickly as possible with ALL the information available. The task is then to organize the material and question it to develop an opinion. Test your opinion by trying it out or questioning subject matter experts. They key is to realize you don’t know what you don’t know. We are all stupid and there is always so much more to know.

Can They be Trusted?:

People want to feel important, intelligent, wanted, and accepted according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This means many people will do whatever it takes to feel important. They’ll lie, cheat, steal, etc. In life, it’s important to be able to see through these people and fast. It may cost you a lot of money or potentially even your life if you trust the wrong people.

Strategize and Test:

Acting stupid is really easy and often done unintentionally. Imagine doing it intentionally and using it to your advantage to strategize. For example, imagine you’re about to sign a contract for a specific region that can easily make or break your company and you have several offers on the table. How do you decide who to choose? Each company has impeccable salesmanship and all say the same things. If they all offer the same thing, does it matter? YES! You need to find the right partner.

Act stupid and talk to multiple people from the same company. Ask them all the same questions several times and in many different ways so they don’t sound the same. Some people may pick up on this but may write you off as an idiot who doesn’t remember anything. This is the data acquisition I was referring to earlier. If they all say the same thing, you need to do your research and ask the competition to sandbag them. The competitor will happily get you this information but you need to validate it by asking the company about what you were told. They will be caught off-guard but do not allow them time to think or get back to you. Pressure them about the information. The worst thing you can do is allow people time to think because a story can be corroborated with enough time.

If you made the wrong decision; you should find comfort in realizing almost every decision is reversible. Put your pride aside and realize you made a mistake and learn from it quickly. It’s likely you won’t be forgetting it anytime soon so spend time alone trying to analyze what went wrong.

Fail Fast and Fail Forward:

Failure is fine as long as you learn from it. Mistakes are made daily and it’s to be expected. I learned from them as quickly as possible and move forward. This is progress in its purest form. You know what they say if you make the same mistake twice, “fool me once, shame on you…”. You will never know everything but you can be smart and act stupid as long as you read, study, strategize, test, rinse, and repeat; things will tend to go in your favor By Any Means Necessary.

I Was Told I Was Going to Die

I was told I was going to die on October 23, 2019:

The Day Before I was told I was Going to Die:

The day before I was going to die, I had just returned from LA and I had swollen lymph nodes in my neck growing at an alarming rate which I first noticed in September after shaving. I felt fine but I also had a rash on my face that was only getting worse. I also felt more tired than usual but of course I’m tired, I’m working 16 hour days, 7 days a week. After speaking with my mom, she pretty much told me to take it seriously, or else. It’s better not to question which is worse, my mom saying “or else” or me finding out something is seriously wrong.
My doctor was out for 6 weeks and I wasn’t about to wait and see why these bumps were growing. Being the curious SOB I am, I googled everything and came to the conclusion that this is serious and I shouldn’t wait. I made an appointment on ZocDoc to get a physical at a nearby medical office. The doctor took 3 vials of blood and told me she’ll get back to me sometime early next week. The bumps needed an ultrasound to confirm if they were swollen glands or lymph nodes. I was sent on my way and felt slightly relieved. Then I got to play the game I hate most, the waiting game. I didn’t have to wait too long for “The Call”.

The Day I was Told I was Going to Die:

October 23, 2019: The Call
8 A.M: My phone rings and I NEVER answer my phone. I felt compelled to answer this one.

Me: Hello?
Doctor: “Hi, this is your doctor. You need to come back for a second blood test, you have kidney failure”
Me: ….. WHAT?!
Doctor:  Yeah, so come back today. Are you free now? Can you come right now?
Me: No, I have a busy day at work.
Doctor: Eddie, this is serious. You can come tomorrow morning at 8 am but no later.
Me: Are you sure? That’s impossible. (In my head: I’m superman, I lift buildings with one hand with a double quarter pounder in my other hand)
Doctor: We need to confirm it before I can confirm anything but according to this test, yes.

The Day After I Was Told I was Going to Die:

I spent the next few minutes getting my shit together before stepping into work because I cant tell anyone what I just heard. Stepping into work and caught between wanting to be around people but also wanting to be alone is a feeling everyone has dealt with at some point or another. I stayed strong throughout the day, besides not listening to a word anyone said which is quite typical of me when I’m focused. At 6PM when everyone left; I went to the bathroom and had a breakdown. I looked in the mirror as I wiped a few tears away and asked myself, so now what?
Staring back at myself, “Eddie, if in fact  you don’t have much longer left to live, what are you going to change about your life”. My answer was really simple; “tonight, you’re doing to work harder and more focused.” I won’t change a thing. As a small joke, I wondered what my career in heaven is going to be? If god tells me that we don’t work in heaven, then I’m in hell.

The Takeaway:

I wasn’t going to share this with anyone to be honest. However, I think life is something everyone takes for granted. You can change it so fast by taking the necessary steps but inaction is death along with negativity. Many of us have been dead for so long that you don’t truly know what living is. We all have different definitions of living and if you’re miserable, there will be no difference for the rest of your life. My life is far from perfect but you can change every incidence into a positive one. Life is too short and I hope nobody ever has to ask themselves what they would change if they knew they were going to die. I do however encourage you to ask yourself if you’re living the life you want to live. If not? Change it By Any Means Necessary.

3 Small Steps that Make a Big Difference:

  1. Go to the gym EVERYDAY. It made such a huge difference with my confidence, my mindset, and physical strength.
  2. Read 10 pages everyday. Expand your mind outside of social media and inform yourself outside of Netflix.
  3. Become obsessed with change and do the things that scare you. It only takes 15 seconds of confidence to change your life forever. Fear nothing.

How’s My Health now?

My second blood test showed that my levels were normalizing and after a copious amount of sifting through articles on Google Scholar, I think I’ll be ok but I need go back for a follow up in about 3 weeks. I was told I need to minimize stress, drink more water, and relax. The doctor may as well have told me to just roll over and die though. The bumps were in fact lymph nodes but they were reactive lymph nodes. This could be due to a virus and they have completely normalized as of 2 weeks ago. These were confirmed by my ultrasound and a second opinion from a thyroid doc. I’m not completely oblivious to the fact that I need to take better care of myself and I took a few steps back and made some changes. I leave work at 9PM everyday and head to the gym no matter what. I also get more rest and wake up at 6AM instead of my usual 4:45 AM-5AM alarm I had set. I’m also becoming much more direct in saying no to things that simply don’t interest me. I receive about 40-80 messages through various platforms regarding work, 3-4 conference calls a day, an insane amount of emails spread across several email addresses. There isn’t enough time in the day to do it all but there will always be tomorrow, unless I neglect my health.



How to Focus

How to Focus:   

The Problem:

Knowing how to focus is hands down the most important skill to have and constantly improve. In a day and age where everyone has access to each-other in literal seconds; it can be impossible to complete anything over the course of the day.

Our mental weakness contributes to our lack of focus. This can be from something as simple as a bird flying by, phone notifications, or mind wandering. In any event, to achieve complete focus; there is one secret that will absolutely be the biggest letdown since finding out the new guy/girl you’re talking to texts back with green bubbles. So here it is, the secret that isn’t a secret…

The Secret:

Put your f*cking phone away! When people hear this, pushback and denial immediately present themselves because apparently phones aren’t a distraction. Really? Televisions are now a form of background noise and phones are the new center of attention. Simply said, you distract yourself from being distracted. This sounds like an episode of black mirror.
Here’s the good news; you don’t owe anybody shit. That includes a response to text messages, DM’s, or even answering a phone call. Remember the meme where it shows someone waiting for the phone to stop ringing only to be able to respond with a text to see if everything is OK? This should be due to the fact the phone isn’t in sight and not deliberately being ignored.

Minimize Digital Interation:

Personally, minimizing digital responses to focus with the intention of responding later is worth its weight in gold. However, 1AM is typically when time can be set aside but logical responses are usually lacking as a result of working 16 or more hours. No disrespect is ever intended towards those in any way; however, there must be a fundamental understanding that time is important. The silver lining of minimizing digital distractions and interruptions helps achieve focus and places greater significance to scheduling a time to meet up in person and enjoy each other’s company.

Attention Leads to Focus:

Attention occurs before information processing. Distractions that occur every few minutes minimize the probability of achieving deep focus and flow. Therefore, attention is fundamental to the onset of major cognitive focus. (Petersen & Posner, 2012).  Moreover, intentional control and regulation of attention are essential for achieving focus. (Reisberg & McLean, 1985). Minds also tend to wander, negatively impacting focus and attention. Similar to the way you hop from one youtube channel to the next and you’re 19 videos deep into cat videos wondering how you got there. I digress. See!?

How to Focus & Flow:

Achieving deep focus and flow will positively impact individual task performance. Deep focus needs to be practiced repeatedly in small increments and improved continuously. Early weekend mornings are a great time to practice as people typically wake up later allowing for time to practice.

Reading for six hours every weekend before noon has been life-changing for self development and growth only achievable before anyone wakes up. One of the main reasons to wake up earlier to practice is because text messages and social media updates tend to begin later in the day resulting in less distractions. What if someone is dying and really needs to get in contact with you?  Their first mistake was thinking I should be the first person to contact in such a situation. Anyone who really knows me understands one thing about me; I am absolutely terrible at answering texts, DM’s, calls, etc. I do this for good reason. FOCUS.

Intentional distractions can be favorable in some instances (i.e. music). Personally, music helps positively influence mood when doing computer work to block out other small noises that would otherwise be a distraction. Alternatively, reading is best done silence in order to focus on absorbing and retaining information. Wearing Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones to completely eliminate all sounds emphasizes how serious silence should be in order to achieve laser focus. I highly recommend getting yourself a pair to help with noise, especially helpful for those studying in a library and suffer from misophonia.

Let People Know Your Priorities:

Zero interruption is another key component. Isolation has been instrumental in learning a new skill or completing a tough deadline. Implement crystal clear and unapologetically strict guidelines regarding any and all interruptions to help decrease the potential for incoming distractions. This will help ease into the state of flow and concentration.

No Energy=No Attention:

An energy drink or supplement for energy isn’t necessary but highly recommended. In all honesty, I run on 4 hours of sleep on a daily basis and need something to keep me focused. I personally invented my own energy and focus enhancing jelly shot  (Wake the PH Up) because there weren’t any products made for people like me who didn’t want to sleep because they would rather be working 24/7. Equally helpful to a lot of people are popular energy drinks or coffee. How much caffeine is completely up to your discretion, health condition, and healthcare professional’s advice.A suggestion would be just enough to Wake you the F Up.


Knowing how to completely focus is about taking active control/regulation of the surrounding environment and incoming distractions. The one key component of all of this is to put the phone away and reward yourself with breaks to check notifications. Be sure to limit the amount of time spent on it. Furthermore, discuss specific goals with those who are most likely to be a distraction in order to avoid reaching out until a certain time. Remember, be sure goals are S.M.A.R.T. No excuses, just results, By Any Means Necessary.