The honest truth behind All Groan Up

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It’s time I gave you an honest glimpse behind the All Groan Up curtain.

Whether you’ve been reading for years or just joined us here, I’m Paul Angone the author and creator behind All Groan Up. I launched All Groan Up in 2011, almost quit everything in 2012, then published my first book 101 Secrets For Your Twenties in 2013 and went full-time on my own as an author and keynote speaker.

I’d like to share with you, my friends, the good, the bad, the struggles, and the successes of All Groan Up.

I hope the truth in my story will help encourage you, especially if you’re also pursuing a blog, a dream, or anything way bigger than yourself!

Let the tell-all begin.

11 Things You Might Not Know About All Groan UP and Paul Angone

 

1. All Groan Up started as my Master’s Capstone Project

I received a Master’s in Organizational Leadership from Azusa Pacific University and for my final capstone project I created AllGroanUp.com. I’d wanted to create a site like this for years and knew if I had a deadline, and my Master’s diploma depending on it, then I’d be forced to make it happen! Paul-Angone-in-a-Tree -- Why Not?

The night before my capstone presentation, I was up until 4 am putting on the finishing touches.

The next day, full of coffee and anxiety, I presented the birth of All Groan Up to a room full of professors, family, and friends. I told them that I wanted to be a voice to and for twenty-somethings. It was very far from the reality of my present, but I was speaking into what I felt was the truth of my future. 

Here’s the video that started it all that I shared to a room full of professors. I can’t believe they let me graduate.

2. I STILL battle bouts of insecurity and fear at times.

Always have.

Since I was a kid, I’ve always been afraid to talk to new people. Going to parties to meet a bunch of new people is as comfortable to me as going sky-diving without a parachute.

So putting out articles every week and baring my soul still feels a tad nerve-wrecking.

Most days I feel like I haven’t strayed too far from my middle school self — insecure about my weight, acne flair-ups, and someone cooler than I making fun of me. I have this sneaking suspicion that our insecurities never fully go away. We just have to become better at shutting insecurity up when it starts whispering its lies.

3. I type with two fingers

Yep. Two fingers. I think in the last seven years I’ve typed around 300,000 words. And every.single.word typed with two fingers. I tried learning how to type like a real professional person, but it just never clicked. I never tell anyone this because it’s embarrassing to be a writer who types with two fingers! But, what the heck. Now you know.

4. I almost quit. Many different times.

There’s been many times I’ve almost quit. I wrote from age 21-29 with little success and a lot of failures. I got rejected by every publisher around. I was working a full-time job in marketing and my wife and I were both beginning to wonder if it was worth it anymore. I’d been writing for twenty-somethings for eight years. When was enough, enough? Some people were reading All Groan Up, but nothing to call home about.

But then a few weeks before quitting I wrote one post 21 Secrets for your 20’s and everything changed. Beautiful people like you shared the article like candy on Halloween. My website crashed numerous times from too much traffic (I didn’t know that could be a thing) and that finally gave me the momentum to land my first book deal for 101 Secrets For Your Twenties. 

5. I wrote 101 Secrets For Your Twenties in a month!

The publisher wanted to get a book out quickly to capitalize on all the momentum so I turned the 21 Secrets For Your Twenties blog post into a full book in one month. That’s a crazy deadline for the publishing world. But I’d been waiting for something to break open for eight years, so I was going to run as fast and far as I could. My wife left with our two kids at the time for almost the whole month, I took every sick day I could, and I just wrote. Now, 101 Secrets For Your Twenties has sold over 100,000 copies. So incredibly thankful and I’m still in disbelief.

Now I have four published books. 101 Secrets For Your Twenties and 101 Questions You Need to Ask in Your Twenties. All Groan Up: Searching For Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job! (which was pretty much a flop) and my newest book 25 Lies Twentysomethings Need to Stop Believing. 

6. All of this started because I felt like such a failure

My passion for starting all of this came because I felt like such a failure in my twenties. As I’ve written about in my books 101 Questions You Need to Ask in Your Twenties and Thirties and then my newest book 25 Lies Twentysomethings Need to Stop Believing, “sometimes our pain and problems are not a distraction away from our purpose. Sometimes it’s the pathway right to it. What we see as our pain now might be our purpose later.” 

So if you’re going through some hard stuff right now, you never know how it will be redeemed in your life and how you will then help redeem it in others.

7. Writing is freaking hard for me

I don’t just whip these posts out in an hour while drinking a Mai-Thai at the beach.  It takes me time, a lot of time, re-reading, re-tweaking, and by the end, my rear-end hurts like I’ve been sitting on a railroad track for two days.

And most of the time writing feels like work. Hard, lonely work! Yes, at the heart, I love it and it means something deeply to me. But it doesn’t mean I’m singing Disney tunes or whistling while I type.

8. My wife edits every word I write

And when she is not free to edit, the article usually runs wild with a few glaring grammar mistakes.

My wife is seriously the brains behind this operation and does not get the credit/accolades she deserves. She’s a former Merryl Lynch financial adviser, but now has the craziest full time job of them all staying at home with our two active girls. To edit my stuff she either has to forgo the only  9 minutes of peace she has in the day or stay up really late.

And she definitely does not shy away from letting me know what she really thinks about something I write! Then I get defensive. And we argue about it. Then I sulk. Then two hours later I usually change it because I know she’s right.

9. I had a blog before All Groan Up called Graduwait.com

And a big thank you to the 21 subscribers who read Graduwait!

Very rarely is the first attempt successful. We have to just go for it, put ourselves out there, and learn. I learned so much during the Graduwait days that even though no one read the darn thing, there’s no way I could be doing what I am doing now without that first “non-failure, failure.”

Here’s a picture of the Graduwait logo. How could this not have been a smashing success?

Picture of the Graduwait Logo

 

10. For many years I had a day job.

I used to be a marketing specialist at a private university where I strategized marketing plans, creative elements, and was somewhat of a project/client manager. So all my writing for All Groan Up was done in the wee hours of the morning or late at nights.

Here’s what I found is the winning formula to pursuing something bigger:

We work at our job, which feeds us while we work at our dream. Then we keep working at our dream, which feeds us while we work at our job. We do both. At the same time. For years. 

But since 2013 I’ve been a full-time on my own as an author, keynote speaker, and entrepreneur. Now some seasons I’ve spent more time watching our four kids as my wife worked various part-times as well to help keep things afloat. And now we’ve also thrown commercial acting as a family into the mix, which has been a fun, interesting, new adventure.

Being an entrepreneur and having a family is rarely a straight-forward endeavor. I never know what each new day is going to bring, which I love and is a challenge at times. Yet, we try to put the right spokes in the wheel to keep everything turning.

11. I strive for authenticity, humor, and a little inspiration/challenge/oh-my-gosh-is-he-in-my-head, with every article I write.

I strive to be the voice of encouragement, wisdom and laughter to our generation. In everything I do. I hope that carries through. If not, please let me know.

(Bonus 12). Emails and comments I get from you keep me going.

Seriously. It’s the emails and comments from you that motivate me to log into WordPress again and again, and click “New Post.”

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Wait, did I say THANK YOU!

I can’t tell you how much I value hearing from you.

So that’s just a small peak behind the curtain. Enough about me! I’d love it if you shared something about yourself in the comments on this article. There’s some great comments there already! Maybe something you’re embarrassed to tell people (like my two.finger.typing) or maybe just a cool, fun fact about yourself. Don’t be ashamed to brag too. We will sing praises or lament with you here at All Groan Up..

Or if you don’t want to talk about yourself, ask any question you want about me or this site, and I will do my best to answer as soon as I can. I always try to get back to every person.

Love you all! Thank for your support over all these years and giving me the platform to speak truth, hope, and hilariousness into our lives.

39 Comments

  1. mike

    Paul. Bro. I’m really proud of you. Aside from the two-finger thing. And I’m really proud of your wife, and thankful for her. And I wish we were nearer to each other so we could figure out how to be dads of wildly, mind-blowingly cute baby girls together.

    Had to say all this. Couldn’t help myself. That is all.

    Reply
    • Paul Angone

      Wow! Thanks Mike for these amazing words. And for being one of the 21 Graduwait faithfuls! Very thankful for you

      Reply
  2. maleny

    THANK YOU!!!! THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!! Your updates get me through the day, knowing that my 20’s will not be so scary and that we ALL have one of those days.
    Paul, your family should be proud on your success!
    And don’t worry, we all go through the two-finger typing phase -hahahaha!

    Cheers!

    Reply
    • Paul Angone

      Ha, thanks Maleny! You’re awesome. Comments like this are better than coffee

      Pretty sure my two-finger-typing-thing has moved way beyond being a phase at this point 🙂

      Reply
  3. Bobby Audley

    Thank you for this post Paul! Too often those of us in our 20s (or 30s or 40s or 50s!) tend to think that everyone else has it ALL figured out, except for us. I read your blog every week and as a Speaker & Author myself I get incredible value from your posts. Thank you for your authenticity in this post. I too still have a day job, still have insecurities, and while I don’t type with two-fingers…I still use my fingers for simple addition! I get caught with this one quite a bit! I always say, “No one will ever hear you, until they know you.” Well now I hear you loud and clear and your already valuable blog will mean much more to me. Thank you again for this post and keep up the great work!

    Reply
    • Paul Angone

      Bobby, amazing hearing from you. Thank you.

      “Too often those of us in our 20s (or 30s or 40s or 50s!) tend to think that everyone else has it ALL figured out, except for us.”

      Great line and very true. Thank you for the work you’re doing to debunk that as well! Excited to connect more

      Reply
  4. Neil Bruinsma

    Thanks Paul for your vulnerability. You are a great writer and you have something to say and I am glad you are saying it! Your discipline speaks highly of your character.

    Reply
    • Paul Angone

      Thanks Neil. Been awesome connecting with you this year and the work you’re doing to guide and encourage students. Very needed. Thank you!

      Reply
  5. Ryan L-K

    I’m not sure when the first time I read your blog was but I can tell you with certainty it changed my life by putting it into perspective. At first I thought I was alone and had this weird disease at age 25 and then after reading a few posts you diagnosed me as having “quarter-life crisis”. That was hard to bare with but after reading all of the symptoms I realized you starting posting the manuscript for cure.
    That’s really funny because once you stated you type with two fingers I started to read your article slower because I started envisioning how long that would take! I’m glad you stuck it out. It makes a difference for this twenty something.
    Something about me? I like to make rap songs here and there, ok fine sometimes a lot!, that I’m pretty embarrassed about!
    Ok. Have fun at work! Whichever job you’re at!

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks Ryan! You’re awesome. Yep, I think we’ve all been a little surprised when we realize that our twenties are a little bit more crisis than party. Thanks for the kind, encouraging words.

      Reply
  6. Stacy K.

    This is a great post (as they always are)- thanks for the insight into your blog and life. Your writing is always genuine, witty, and insightful- I read every post when it lands in my inbox! I do have a bit of a secret to share, though it won’t be a secret for long. I’ve been working on starting a lifestyle blog for creative and intentional living for the last 3 months, and almost no one knows! Not my friends, not my mom… just my husband. I didn’t want to get ahead of myself and just wanted to concentrate on the blog. But, I’m planning on officially launching May 1st, so the word is going out and I’m taking a leap of faith. I attached the web address to this comment, so anyone reading this can have a sneak peek… just, please forgive the bits that have yet to be completed. This post was very timely, so thanks again! Can’t wait to hear your big announcement! On to awesome things for both of us next week! Cheers!

    Reply
    • admin

      Stacy, the site looks awesome. Clean, beautiful, and I love the logo. Just went over to Twitter and started following. Great work

      Reply
      • Stacy

        You rock! You are officially my first follower- thanks!

  7. Snow White

    I just love your writing style. Don’t ever doubt that there are followers who are in love with what you produce. I really appreciate the light-hearted humor you put in it- and I’m thankful that you and your wife make such a good team doing this! Thanks again!

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks Snow White! My wife is 100% amazing and I couldn’t do it without her. Not even close.

      Reply
  8. Alana

    I look forward to your emails in my inbox and always read them. They have helped me (and my friends) so much. Don’t even bother doubting what you’re doing here – it’s amazing and has touched more lives that you’ll ever know about (email forwarding, what what).

    And buy your wife some roses… I’m a grammar nazi myself, I feel her pain.

    Reply
    • admin

      I’m honored Alana!

      “it’s amazing and has touched more lives that you’ll ever know about (email forwarding, what what).”

      Beautiful music to my ears. Thank you! Gosh I’m being blown away by these comments today!

      Reply
  9. Erika

    I’m so glad you hear you had a failed blog before this one. I had one too. Hopefully the new one I’m setting up will take off as much as this one!

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks Erika! We all need those “failure non-failures” for sure. Graduwait taught me so much about writing a blog, WordPress, social media, networking, and it honed the idea of what I really wanted to write about. I was able to take the best from it, and intentionally tailor All Groan Up with more purpose.

      Reply
  10. natalie

    i had to laugh when you said meeting new people is about as appealing as sky diving without a parachute. mostly i laughed because that is exactly how i feel about meeting new people too. i’m strongly introverted and sometimes that is really frustrating in real life situations, but i also really enjoy it about myself. it’s something that makes me, well, me.

    Reply
    • admin

      Totally Natalie. Thank you. I’m kind of a strange mix. I’m somewhere in the middle, kind of a closest introvert masquerading as an extrovert. Most people would never think I’m introverted, but I love my quiet space to think and be.

      Reply
  11. Kris

    The fact that you have a day job was a very nice surprise! It’s hard to find blogging role models who aren’t primarily bloggers.

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks Kris! I definitely love that my day job speaks into All Groan Up, and what I learn at All Groan Up speaks into my day-job. It’s the first job I’ve had that aligns my outside passions with my daily work. Definitely makes a huge difference

      Reply
  12. Nalini

    Just want to say Thanks for all the hard work you put into this for others! Really cool to hear the “inside story” as I am always curious to know how people got their start. Also, super excited to hear this big news! Keep up the amazing job and awesome writing that you do (even if it is only with two fingers:)

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks Nalini. Yes I always savor the inside story and the steps it took. Always cool to hear each person’s individual story of perseverance.

      And thank you for the “big news excitement”. I’m extremely pumped to announce it!

      Reply
  13. Jason

    Yes, Paul you are great! I look forward to reading your latest blog every week. It’s amazing how everything you write I find a way to apply it to my everyday life. You are very talented and I know this is just the beginning. Thank you for making so many of us in our 20s feel NORMAL!

    Reply
    • admin

      Thank you Jason! I’m honored. Gosh, the comments on this post are going to have to go up on my fridge.

      Reply
  14. NyssaJay

    Your blog inspires me, and writing in mine. I came up with my idea for it before stumbling upon yours, but the themes run in tandem. I don’t write mine for anyone more than myself and my friends, really… I have no grand plans for it. But it helps keep me sane. And I truly enjoy yours! (I think I’ve told you that before lol!)

    My big “Secret”: I’m a teacher, and I get up in front of 160 kiddos every day, and I put myself out there in groups… I’m an introvert, and I always hated group projects in school. Fortunately, the teachers made me do them, so now I know how to.

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks for being an awesome member of this Groan Up community NyssaJay. And huge respect getting in front of kids all day! That takes courage

      Reply
  15. Louise

    I type with 2 fingers and I am a secretary :-0. I love your blog! I do not enjoy my job but being reassured that this will not be forever and that most people my age don’t like their work is very helpful.

    Reply
    • admin

      Yes! I’m with you Louise. Glad to hear I’m not the only one :), and that All Groan Up can be a place of encouragement

      Reply
  16. Beth M

    Thanks for putting this out there Paul! Like a lot of people I am very inspired by your words and impressed by your dedication to a day job and such a robust website! I am also impressed by your wife’s dedication to reading your work too. Both my husband and I enjoy writing, but we only occasionally read each other’s writing and posts – although we often argue about each others ideas when we discuss them. It’s always good to have someone to bounce ideas off of.

    Please! Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • admin

      Awesome Beth. Having an in-house team is huge. Definitely the only reason I’ve been able to keep doing this.

      Reply
  17. Rachel F.

    Paul, I love reading your blog. I was seriously shocked to read #9, that you have a day job! I touched on this in an article today: about how sometimes we still have to suck it up and have that day job, but intentionally carve out time for our passions and hobbies. You are definitely an inspiration!

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks Rachel! You’re awesome. Yep following our passion is usually not an all-in endeavor, at least at first. It’s walking this tight-rope of reality and future, and trying our best not to fall too far in the process 🙂

      Reply
  18. Ryan Chatterton

    Ahhhhh! We have almost the same job! Content Strategist here (which mostly means I do the things on your list, minus the marketing strategy and with a different title).

    I wish more successful or almost successful bloggers would do posts like this. It’s great to understand that we all have our “things”.

    Loved the insecurity bit too. Thanks for this.

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks Ryan! Content Strategist! I like that. Same flavor, different brand of chip 🙂

      Yep, we’re all faking until we make it because we’re all a work in progress.

      Reply
  19. Alyssa

    I love this article! The “My wife edits everything” is the best!!! I do the same thing for my husband.. helping him with grammar and spelling! 🙂 I love your site and you continually inspire me to keep moving forward. I may not have everything together at 26, but I know that things are going to get better and my husband and I will achieve success. Thank you again!!!

    Reply
  20. maya

    ummmm just came here to say your pragarpah about how you and your wife support each other literally made me cry. that’s all i want in life. you make me believe love and marriage is possible and that we can actually like each other and both partners can be fulfilled and happy in their separate careers AND share a heart-warming love. thank you!!! im seriously emotional. that was beautiful to read.

    Reply

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