I overcame abuse and bullying as a teen to build multiple million dollar plus companies in my 20s. In my 30s, a brain tumor severely disabled me, and I battled against the odds to regain my health so that I could help my pregnant wife with her fight against cancer.
I want you to know who I really am. Every “about page” I see talks about how great the person is and what they have accomplished in business. My close friends and family have seen me on top of the world running multi-million dollar businesses. They have also seen me mentally and physically disabled, watching helplessly as I faded away. This is my story, and I hope that it gives you an idea of who I really am.
2000 – Getting 50 Million Unique Visitors a Month
In the days before Google Search became famous, I worked diligently for two months straight to reverse engineer the search algorithms of Yahoo and Alta Vista. I knew that this information would help me understand how to ensure that every website I created would rank number one. My diligence paid off and I cracked the algorithm perfectly. I called up my best friend and asked him if he wanted to come along for the ride. It took us less than a year to fly past seven figures. We blew every goal and expectation out of the water. During our second year, we spun off an e-mail marketing company, which also went over the seven figure mark.
At our peak, the company’s websites were getting over 50 million unique visitors each month. We helped buid FreeCreditReport.com and Esurance from the ground up. I was worth millions and I wasn’t even thirty yet. I partied with billionaires and drove around in a custom Dodge Viper with over 800 horsepower. During the third year of the company, I started to have an increasing amount of health problems and it took my focus off the business. My best friend took over the company six months later.
2004 – Building a Sales Company to 100+ Sales People
After stepping down as CEO of my prior company, I partnered with a business acquaintance to start a direct sales company. I secured a contract with SBC and AT&T to handle door-to-door sales for the major metro areas in Texas. We built offices in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston. At the company’s peak, I had over 100 salespeople. After 18 months running a sales company, my health problems continued to worsen. Every day it seemed like I had a new symptom. At this point, I’d taken time off only once in six years. It was clear that I was overworking myself and needed to make a change for my own health.
2006 – Moving to Ireland for My European StartUp
It took me just three months to pack up or sell everything that I owned. On January 10th, I packed up my entire life into one carry-on bag and flew into Dublin, Ireland. I secured spots for my business and my home within a week. A month later, I relocated several employees from the United States to Dublin. It was an incredible period that I’ll never forget. My health continued to decline, but I was having fun and seeing the world.
In 2007, I moved to London to open a second office. Every day, I visited museums, ducked into a new coffee shop, ate at world class restaurants and explored one of the greatest cities in the world. Here, even my relationships with women were a new experience. During my time in Europe, I dated women from Russia, Poland, Finland, Turkey and Norway. Despite this being one of the best periods of my life, something wasn’t clicking. My mind and my body continued to decline. After yet another medical emergency in London, I decided it was time to come home and fix what was broken.
2008 – Brain Tumor Tears Down My Mind and Body
I moved to Houston and went to see dozens of specialists. None of them knew why my body was slowly failing me. My mind and my body were a shell of what they used to be. The list of countless problems continued to grow, and finally, my heart began to fail me too. My doctors sent me to one of the top cardiologists in the world. I underwent a cardiac stress test and the specialist immediately called in multiple doctors to review the results. If a top cardiologist needed extra opinions to interpret my stress test, I knew that my prognosis was not good. Before I knew what was happening, the medical team whisked me away to have an echocardiogram. After seven hours of tests, I finally drove home. By the time I pulled in to my driveway, the head cardiologist had already called to inform me the grim news. He told me that I needed to come in for an immediate heart catheter procedure the next morning, and it would most likely be followed by open heart surgery that evening. I made two of the roughest phone calls of my life and let my fiancée and my parents know what was happening.
The next morning I had the cardiac catheterization and spent an hour waiting in my hospital room with my parents and fiancée. The cardiologist came in with a team of specialists trailing behind him. He told me that in 40 years of practicing medicine, he had never seen anything like this. The muscle of my heart appeared healthy, but it was sending off signals that were identical to a failing heart. Nothing made sense. For the next six hours I was introduced to seven different specialists who would begin conducting new tests on me.
At the end of that day, I got up from my hospital bed to take a shower. In the shower, I felt lightheaded and told my fiancée that something was wrong. I barely made it back to the bed before collapsing. My femoral artery had opened up where they had performed the heart catheter, and I was bleeding out rapidly. Through the fog and the pain, I heard someone call out “code blue” as the room filled with medical personnel. A team of specialists and nurses took turns applying pressure to my leg, and one doctor stood over me asking me to hold on. As I lay there dying, I thought about how terrible it was for my life to end this way. I was completely naked, surrounded by panicking doctors and nurses. Everything was for nothing. I was going to die on this bed and nothing could stop it. I could see my fiancée distraught, collapsed against the wall, completely helpless. I could do nothing to spare her from witnessing my suffering. Miraculously, after fifteen minutes of people taking turns applying pressure to my leg, I was stabilized. Clearly relieved and stressed to the point of joking, the lead doctor joked, “Give this man a towel and let’s end the free show.”
After nine days in the hospital and over 100 different tests and procedures, the root of the problem finally became clear. My team caught what dozens of other doctors had missed over the years. A tiny brain tumor next to my pituitary gland had been secreting toxins for years without detection. My case moved on to MD Anderson, and within three months they were amazingly able to seal the tumor with a pharmaceutical drug. Unfortunately, the damage was done. I could barely find words to complete a sentence, and I struggled to walk a matter of steps before experiencing vertigo. I felt demoralized having to urinate in bottles because I could not make it to the bathroom. I moved from specialist to specialist, seeing 17 doctors in just a month. The most likely theory was that the damage to my brain was constantly stimulating the other major systems of my body. If my body could not rest, then it was just a matter of time until I would die. I went on to see the top sleep specialists in the world, but there was no drug that would allow my adrenal system to rest. My brain literally woke up over 280 times per hour during sleep.
My medical tribulations brought me $390,000 into debt. The fortune that I made in my twenties was gone. I felt robbed by my body. I knew that if I could just think clearly again, then I could build another business. If I couldn’t think, then I was as good as dead. As I continued to battle my own body, I became part of a miracle. I got my wife pregnant. My body was so exhausted that I could barely tolerate sex, but somehow my reproductive system still did what it was meant to do. Even though I felt like my very self was irretrievably gone, I had achieved the most important goal in my life. I was going to be a father.
At this point, I needed to get my life back. I started pursuing experimental treatments, hoping that something would enable me be a great father for my unborn child. After seeing almost 50 different specialists in 60 days, I found a doctor that believed he knew how to help me. We worked together to test cocktails of drugs that would suppress the damaged areas of my brain, allowing me to sleep and my body to repair itself. I knew that if we tried enough combinations, one of them had to work. And one of them did. When we hit upon that magic cocktail, I slept 38 hours over a 48-hour period. I slept so much that my wife thought that I was dying. This insane amount of sleep was normal for me because I had a six year sleep deficit to make up.
The final solution was a combination of three drugs and sleeping for 13 hours each night in a controlled environment optimized to suppress my adrenal system. I would sleep in a room super cooled to 58 degrees, completely blacked out, sound proofed, with special air purifiers and ear plugs to keep absolutely all stimuli out during sleep. After a 45 days, my mind and body started to slowly come back online. The months passed slowly, but I noticed as every one of my symptoms began to ease up and allow me to live once more. Little did I know that God was lifting me up only to face me with the biggest battle of my life.
2009 – My Pregnant Wife is Diagnosed with Stage 3 Cancer
My wife was five months pregnant when she found a red mark on her breast, along with a nodule the size of a pencil eraser. We watched in horror as the nodule reached the size of an orange within a month. That same month, my wife was diagnosed with stage three inflammatory breast cancer. We had a week to decide between her life and my son’s life. If we treated the cancer, then we would most likely lose our unborn son. If we postponed the treatment until we could safely have a C-section, then my wife would have gone from a 40% survival rate to a 5% survival rate . Our son would be born alive, but hers would be gone, having waited so long to begin treatment. I couldn’t make such an agonizing choice.
I decided that there had to be another way. I spent 20 hours a day researching everything I could find about pregnancy and cancer treatment. Every waking hour, I hunched over the computer, reading journal article after journal article. E-mailing professional after professional. Three days in, I found something. On the fourth day, I asked the oncologist to perform a variation of the needle biopsy. My version used a hexagonal axis for the basis of testing all areas of the tumor. My suspicion was that the growth rate of the tumor, which was stimulated by pregnancy hormones, had caused the clinical diagnosis to be inaccurate. The results came back on day five, and those results confirmed my theory. MD Anderson’s top doctors came together in an emergency meeting to discuss the direction of treatment, and I no longer had to choose between my wife and my son. On day seven, my wife joined only a handful of women to ever have had a mastectomy during the second trimester of pregnancy.
Our first son, Grayson Burke, was born healthy three months later. On December 23rd of that same year, we found out that my wife was officially cancer-free. The next day was the best Christmas Eve of my life, knowing that my wife had beaten cancer. It was the most difficult year of my life, and it made me appreciate life in an entirely new light.
2011 – Getting Back to Business and Another Son is Born
It took another two years for me to get my health back to the point that I could start another business. I came to terms with the fact that I would have to sleep in a special room for 13 hours a night in a drug-induced state for the rest of my life. Then I let it go, and focused on what I could do. There was an awful lot left in store for me, and I knew it. By the end of the year, I had erased over half a million dollars of debt and established another profitable business in ByReputation. In November, my wife gave birth to my second son. We named him Branson Blake.
2013 – Becoming a Top Business Blogger
With my marketing company growing larger every day, I decided to start a small business blog. Before I launched the blog, I spent six months studying the most successful blogs in every industry. I created a process from everything I learned, and I launched my blog with my first seven posts. Within four months, my blog garnered over 100,000 monthly unique visitors. The blog allowed me to personally help and connect with thousands of small business owners.
Towards the end of the year, I began creating and running blogs for my existing clients. I may have arrived late to the blogging game, but I was able to quickly rise to the top.
2014 – Helping My Clients Get More Traffic Through Blogging
The blogs that I created for my clients continued to grow. By the end of the year, the blogs I managed were getting over 3 million monthly unique visitors. I was able to replicate the success I had with my personal blog and create a business system around it. My company was thriving and my employees were having a great time. That Halloween we started a tradition of working together to decorate the entire office for each major holiday. It was such a hit that it inspired the entire building to hold an office Christmas decoration contest. We won the contest, and everyone in the building got to know one another a little better.
2015 – Launching The Blog Millionaire Online Course that Reveals My Secret Process
I spent another six months developing a course that laid out a step-by-step process for achieving the same results that my clients pay me up to $100,000 a year for. The course was named The Blog Millionaire. It broke down my secret process into easy to understand video modules. The 13 modules were grouped into three sections; Create, Grow, and Monetize. The course was so successful that I had to make people sign up to a waiting list, so that I could make sure I delivered the best of me to everyone that was signing up. You can find out more about the course here.
Here I stand at the halfway point of my life. My beautiful wife and I have beaten the odds and have also been blessed with two children. More than anything, I’m grateful for my faith in God, my family, and myself. Without faith, I could have never regained my health, helped my wife win her battle with cancer, and become a wonderful father to my two incredible boys.