I Build Personal Brands

Rules Of Success Podcast: Featuring Nicolas Cole

Self DevelopmentNicolas ColeComment

Hey everyone,

Over the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of traveling. First I spent a week in Atlanta (working on this video, actually). Now I'm in LA, getting ready to launch a course on Personal Branding through the startup LVLUP Dojo. Aiming to be in NY beginning of November for the Quora Top Writer conference. And then back to Chicago!

But while I have been on the road, I have been recording a few podcasts with some big channels, particularly around the book, Confessions of a Teenage Gamer. There are a lot of lessons in that book I consider to be the foundation of all that I am doing right now, many of which can directly apply to things like entrepreneurship, creativity, work habits & discipline, etc. I always want to share what I know so that you can learn and apply it to your own pursuits. That's the intention behind everything I do.

Last week, I recorded an awesome podcast with Bryce Prescott, creator of the Rules of Success podcast. You can listen to it here.

On the show we talked about:

  1. Blogging and Gaming were once looked at as career paths that would never be viable. Now they are. What things do we consider not to be viable right now, that one day may be?
  2. Trust your intuition. If you're in a growing industry and you see potential, even if everyone tells you you're wrong, trust your intuition.
  3. Find a way to "Gamify" your projects. Measure your growth.
  4. Don't be afraid to put out content. Being a content creator requires daily practice—in public.
  5. Influence within your own tribe or community is a pathway to success.
  6. Teaching others while telling your own unique story is a great content strategy to create authority.
  7. Privilege isn't always privileged (the challenges of growing up in a wealthy environment).
  8. If you don't follow your passions, it will ultimately be your downfall.
  9. The scenic road is where you learn the skills that make a real difference in your successes. Because later they add unexpected value.
  10. You can be both a true artist and have a great grasp on how to make money doing it. The artist and the marketer can be the same person. (Big one here)
  11. A key part of all this is asking yourself, "What do people want to learn?" And then providing them with those answers.

Podcasts are always fun for me because somewhere during the show I find my flow, and then I say things that make me realize something new, or something I didn't fully know how to articulate until I had said it. This very much speaks to the bigger lesson that I talk about a lot, which is you can't possibly uncover the answers you are looking for by standing still. You have to get moving. Get talking. Get creating. Get sharing. And then (and only then) will the answers reveal themselves to you.

If you listen to the show, let me know what you think! Comment below or Tweet me @nicolascole77 (or Instagram or Snapchat or Facebook or etc...). 

Photography by Drew Reggie

Photography by Drew Reggie



How Confessions of a Teenage Gamer Came To Be

CreativityNicolas Cole1 Comment

Well, we did it. 5 years later and we finally, finally did it.

On Friday, I released my debut memoir, Confessions of a Teenage Gamer. For those of you that have already finished the book (that was fast...), you now know that this is actually the first of seven books. 

It has been so great to hear from people and what they thought of the story.

"I was dreading the fact of waiting for the copy to arrive until you sent it! Flew through your book in a weekend of nonstop reading! Going to share the hard copy with my older brother. I think you're onto something big with this story of yours. Please don't stop writing. I'm already a fan!"

"I never read books, ever. And I read yours in record time. Incredibly well done."

And the Amazon reviews...

"As soon as you begin reading Cole's work (as any of his Quora followers can attest to) it's almost impossible not to become invested in his story, as he eloquently guides us through an experience which is as honest, earnest and relatable as it is completely impressive and inspiring. I look forward to seeing the continued evolution of his work as an Author, and am so incredibly excited for his first venture in this direction. This story is incredible and he truly is an expert in his craft."

"Nicolas Cole's debut memoir, Confessions of a Teenage Gamer, is an in-depth look at the coming of age for an entire generation. Millennials and gamers alike will relate to and admire the brutal honesty of the book, which is nested within a subtle critique of a predominately white affluent image-driven suburb."

To have worked so hard on something for so long, and to have people not only read it but actually take away the lessons I wanted to make sure were conveyed the right way is a feeling I can't describe. 

Thank you to everyone who bought the book on launch day. We hit #2 on Amazon in 2 different categories, and #1 on Product Hunt. 

How Did Confessions of a Teenage Gamer Actually Happen?

Now that the book is out, I thought it would be cool to go back and trace over the steps it actually took to bring this book to life.

Let's start back at the beginning...


January, 2007

The above photo is me at seventeen years old. I know because that was the laptop my parents bought me for college, which I received the Christmas of my senior year in high school. This photo was taken up at our cabin, where we go every year to snowmobile. 

I was using my brand new laptop to watch World of Warcraft videos of the top players in the world, studying their play styles and preparing for the next 3v3 arena season—the season I ultimately became one of the highest ranked players in North America. This was also the laptop I used to start my first blog, Exitec Style.

January, 2012

5 years later, I found myself at Columbia College Chicago.

I had transferred from University of Missouri, and after about a year of bouncing between different majors (poetry, music production, piano performance), I ultimately settled on majoring in Creative Writing. My dad was just happy I'd settled on something

I took this class called Journal & Sketchbook (I tell this story in Confessions of a Teenage Gamer in more depth) and ended up writing a short story about my years playing World of Warcraft. It was terrifying for me because in every one of these writing classes we had to read our work aloud—and admitting to the world that I was secretly this hardcore closet gamer was extremely nerve-racking. 

The whole class loved it. Other kids came out of the woodwork, admitting their own hidden infatuation with the World of Warcraft, or previously addictive habits with games like Minecraft, Ultima Online, etc. They found it extremely relatable, and my teacher urged me to continue "exploring the material."

What I hadn't told anyone was that at the same time, I had actually started playing World of Warcraft again myself—and not casually. By the time I was a junior in college, I was right back competing at the top tier levels in 3v3, wondering if I should pursue my dream once again.

Ultimately, as both the writing and my nightly gaming sessions progressed, I realized I had to pick one or the other. I was either going to devote all my time to becoming a professional gamer, or I was going to write a book about gaming.

I chose the latter.

In an attempt to leave the game behind once and for all, I made one final PvP Video, Exitec IV, and said goodbye to the World of Warcraft. I accepted my quest to try to put into words what that game and that world meant to me. 

The last song in the video, A Town Called Hypocrisy, is the name of the first chapter of Confessions of a Teenage Gamer.

June, 2012

That summer, I studied Creative Writing abroad in Prague and Italy—Prague for 6 weeks, Florence for 4. 

In Prague, I wrote more in 6 weeks than I had in the entire year prior. My daily schedule was 2 hours of reading in the morning, 4 hours of class, and then 4-6 (and sometimes more) hours of writing per day. I was so far from home, so detached from all of my friends, no Internet, no air conditioning, sitting in my boiling hostel sweating in my boxers, that the only thing I could do (and really felt like doing) was writing. 

At the end of the 6 week program, we had a reading at this well-known coffee shop bookstore in Prague. There, I read one of the chapters from my now book-in-progress (a chapter I ultimately cut, but needed to write in order to know that). 

This was the first time I really revealed to people what I was working on: a book called Confessions of a Teenage Gamer.

(I was growing my hair out, so excuse the ridiculous haircut...)

(I was growing my hair out, so excuse the ridiculous haircut...)

August, 2012 - March, 2013

When I came back from studying abroad, I went into my senior year of college fully intending to finish and publish Confessions of a Teenage Gamer by the end of the year.

Not so.

One of the last classes you take as a Creative Writing major at Columbia College Chicago was called Prose Forms. The whole purpose of the class was to focus on the art of non-fiction writing and telling brutally honest stories.

The first week of class, I handed my teacher hundreds of pages from my book-in-progress. 

The next week, he handed them all back, unmarked—and told me to grow a pair of balls.

Here, I was writing a memoir, and I was writing it in the 3rd person. "Cole said this, Cole said that." Seriously. And do you know why?

Because I was terrified to admit that the author was "Me." I was scared to say, "I."

That entire semester was a struggle. He urged me, over and over again, to write it in the first person, and every time I would try to tell my story, my story, I would just end up staring at a blank page, frustrated. I had a lot of underlying issues I still needed to work through if I wanted to tell the story the way I knew it needed to be told.

My teacher encouraged me not to give up, and to instead try telling it as a short story first.

I heeded his advice, and wrote about the day I became one of the highest ranked World of Warcraft players in North America—and at the same time realized that, in the eyes of my father, my accomplishment still wasn't good enough.

That short story, Exitec's Success, ended up being nominated to be included in the department's 2013 Story Week Reader for Story Week. Only 20-some students were accepted. It was a class favorite, and I read my short story aloud to a packed auditorium of students, teachers, peers and parents.

(Oh, and if you can't tell, I put on a bunch of weight. Bodybuilding was starting to come to fruition, and the bigger I got, the more comfortable and confident I became admitting who I truly was to the world. My "protective armor" so to speak.)

May, 2013

When it came time to graduate, I was selected to speak on behalf of the department to rooms full of parents and prospective students about why they should study Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago. 

I knew better than anyone.

That school helped me find my voice. That school is what changed me from a kid who wanted to write, to a writer who wanted to explore what it was like to be a kid. That school encouraged me to learn my own lessons, to fall and get back up again, to let me discover myself instead of telling me who I should be.

I owe that school a lot. It gave me the space to be Me.

I read my short story, Exitec's Success, to all those parents and high school seniors. 

After I read my story and spoke on my experiences, one of the kids came up to me afterwards. He had wrinkled clothes, and a few pieces of acne on his forehead. He said, "When is your book coming out? I really want to read it!" He said he played World of Warcraft too.

That was all the encouragement I needed. I saw myself in that kid. And in that moment, I realized who I was writing for.

I threw out every single draft I had of the book so far—hundreds and hundreds of pages—and started over. And this time, I wrote it in the first person. "I."

August, 2013

Yet another obstacle!

To back-track a bit, my senior year of college I started dating this girl from my school (my first girlfriend in quite a while). I am such a driven and goal-oriented person I find it difficult to make time, let alone connect with someone romantically. But this girl was studying abroad from Costa Rica, and I had just gotten back from studying abroad. I had a newfound respect for spending time on foreign territory, and we shared in that. 

The first night we hung out, I told her I was studying Creative Writing. She asked if I was working on anything in particular. I decided to be honest and revealed this still very new work-in-progress. She was ecstatic. She loved to read, and she insisted that I share with her the first chapter. I pulled up what I had saved on my phone (in my e-mail) and read the whole thing aloud.

She thought it was a great story.

(Side note: That was probably version #27 of the first chapter. It was changed 100 times over since then.)

She played a big part in my tackling this project. She supported me when I doubted myself. She would read my drafts and give me feedback (she loved literature). She would challenge me during parts where I would shy away from my feelings. And she always, always listened to my ridiculous World of Warcraft tales from the past. Things I found absolutely hilarious and she in no way could have possibly understood, she still tried to understand.

She tried, and to me that meant all the difference.

Well, the summer after I graduated (August, 2013), she bought me a plane ticket to her home country to see where she was from—as a graduation present. She wanted me to understand where she had grown up, and all the things that had made her "her." 

I was very nervous to travel to Costa Rica. This wasn't a study abroad trip. I wasn't traveling with my family to a nice hotel in another country. I was going to her home. Where there was no grocery store—instead, people traded vegetables in the heart of town. There was one bar, where she would go salsa dancing. Her backyard was the ocean. Her dog ran the beaches. And every guy there was her protective "older brother." 

The moment I arrived, I knew I didn't belong. And she knew I didn't belong. And over the course of 10 days, our relationship slowly began to unwind. Because I was a "gringo," and I wasn't from there.

(If you want to read the rest of the story, click here.)

September, 2013

When we came back from that trip, I became extremely depressed. Our relationship had completely fallen apart. She didn't want to be together anymore. I had just spent 10 days in paradise and at the same time felt completely vulnerable and like an outcast. 

Oddly enough, it was right before we left for that trip that I'd stumbled upon what ultimately became the rough skeleton of the first chapter's final version. It still changed many times, but the outline was there. And when I read it aloud to her days before we left for Costa Rica, she gave me a big smile. "You've done it, Cole. That's the voice for this story."

After we came back, from September, 2013 to December, 2013, I shut myself out from the world. I was so mind-fucked from that trip to Costa Rica that I questioned everything about myself and my life. I felt like I wasn't good enough. I felt like I had been lied to. I wondered if I had done something wrong. I wondered if I could have done something different to preserve our relationship. All I did was go to work and then go to the gym. I didn't really talk to anyone. I didn't write. I barely journaled. And when I did pick the book project back up, I realized I was still fuming with anger.

I have this memory of that time in my life when I was working 9-6pm, gym from 7-9pm, and then writing from 9:30pm - midnight, every single night. It was exhausting.

I held that schedule for months. It was my way of coping. But sure enough, at some point I started to barrel through the book again.

January, 2014

The amount of drafts I went through by the time the new year hit was overwhelming. When I say I re-wrote the book in its entirety multiple times, I am not exaggerating. I have folders on my desktop of so many different versions, looking back I essentially wrote 4 different books.

(Each one of these documents is about ~100 pages)

(Each one of these documents is about ~100 pages)


See how many chapters are there? That's 1 draft. And each one of those chapters was revised anywhere from 10-40ish times (as you can see by the time stamps, and the last time I changed something in the document).

...but I'm not an obsessive perfectionist or anything.

I started to realize that I had two issues going on:

First of all, I wasn't finishing the book because nothing I wrote was good enough. And I knew that wasn't an issue with the book. That was an issue within me. 

Second, I was extremely fearful to actually finish the project because then that would mean actually putting out the book and sharing with everyone stories from my adolescence—something I have spent my entire life trying to forget about.

If I wanted to write an honest story, then I needed to do some serious inner work, and come to grips with a few things.

I reached out to my Spirituality and Empowerment teacher (a class I took at Columbia College Chicago) and asked if he would be open to meeting up once a week to work on meditation and mindfulness with me. I told him I wanted to finish my book, more than anything else in the world, but knew there were things holding me back.

He agreed.

Over the past 2 years, he and I have met up just about every Tuesday, for two hours, to work on mindfulness and self awareness. He has been an incredible mentor to me, and without him this book would never have gotten done.

May 23, 2015

Almost a year and a half later, I found myself the closest to "the end" I had seen yet. The book was starting to feel like a finished product (despite the fact that it was around ~600 pages and needed to be cut drastically). 

For my birthday (May 23rd), my teacher said he was getting a bunch of his students together to go to a farm in the middle of nowhere, Illinois, to meditate for three days. He asked if I would be interested in joining.

Without hesitation, I said yes.

I had really come to understand that my outward creativity was a direct reflection of how in tune I was with myself. The clearer I got within, the clearer my writing and my creative endeavors were externally. Conversely, the more I ignored "that voice" within, and tried to just distract myself from underlying issues that needed to be addressed, the more my writing and creativity suffered.

For the first time in years, I felt re-connected to my "creative well." 

For 3 days, I went to this farm and meditated with a group of other Columbia College Chicago students—some current, some long graduated. All we did was read, journal, reflect, meditate, and talk with one another. We shared our fears. We shared what made us happy. And on the last day, we had an "art circle." Each of us shared something special we had created.

I read aloud one of the chapters from my book—the one that ended up becoming Chapter 8, Just Lose It.

The response was overwhelming. Nobody there knew anything about competitive video games, but they all said they could relate to the story. The story of growing up in a suburb. Of dealing with expectations to succeed. Of trying to fit in. 

I came back from this trip with the fire to finish this project once and for all. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

(My teacher and mentor is the one in the red. I'm standing in the back.)

(My teacher and mentor is the one in the red. I'm standing in the back.)

June, 2015 - January, 2016

The final obstacle in finishing this book was learning how to say "No" to certain things so that I could devote the necessary time to the art.

This was such a big issue for me that I actually stopped working on Confessions of a Teenage Gamer for about two months and wrote an entire musical album to confront and work through some of these issues. Honestly, the biggest lesson I learned in writing this first book was the true importance of inner work, and mindfulness, and self knowledge—even more so than just "getting it done."

I called this musical project About The Author, and it explored the remaining issues I had in not just devoting time to working on Confessions of a Teenage Gamer, but calling the thing "complete" and publishing it.

Because I was being pulled in two different directions:

In the past 2 years, I have "done" a lot. 

  • I achieved Top Writer status on Quora two years in a row, accumulating over 13,000,000 views and ~20,000 followers.
  • I had my short story (related to Confessions of a Teenage Gamer) published in Quora's 2014 print anthology.
  • I became a daily columnist for Inc Magazine (and in less than 6 months have cleared 1,000,000+ views on my articles).
  • I became a contributor for Entrepreneur Magazine.
  • I have had work published in TIME, Forbes, Fortune, The Huffington Post (also a contributor there too), The Observer, Business Insider, and more.
  • I have been featured on podcasts and other blogs.
  • I have worked with an e-famous YouTube influencer, helping create the strategy and direction for his personal brand—along with a product launch that is putting him on track to clear six figures in gross revenue.
  • I have written, produced, recorded, and put out two music projects: Through Your Eyes and About The Author.
  • I was featured and interviewed in the book Quora Domination.
  • I worked with a Professional Bodybuilder, building his entire Personal Brand, growing his Instagram audience from ~700 to over 40,000. Ghostwrote his eBook series. Built his website. Co-launched his clothing line. Shot multiple promotional videos for him and his sponsorship company. (All for free, just so I could get better at my craft.)
  • Worked with multiple local Chicago start-ups, creating their entire marketing strategies and influencer strategies. (Again, also for free, for practice.)
  • Launched my own fitness eBook series, Skinny to Shredded. Sold copies in 30+ countries worldwide, and had my first Quora answer go viral, front page of Reddit (1M+ views). 

And all of this was in addition to working ~50 hours a week as the Editor in Chief at a digital agency downtown Chicago.

I don't share the above for any reason other than to paint the new challenge that started to presented itself:

A lot of opportunities started hitting my inbox.

The challenge with doing anything in life really well is knowing how to balance what you do for others and what you do for yourself. You have to master both. And as incredible as all these opportunities were, I knew that if I didn't finish Confessions of a Teenage Gamer, I was going to regret it.

I made a concerted effort to stay focused on what mattered most to me right now.

I had to finish my book.

May, 2016

At the start of this past summer, I set a date in my mind. No matter what, I was going to finish my book by August 30th.

Obviously, I missed that goal by about a month (not because of the writing, but all the other things I forgot to take into account like proofing and formatting and cover design, etc.), but setting a clear date in my mind really helped me visualize what the "end" would look like.

This last and final turn in the journey, it's crucial that I take a moment to acknowledge my other mentor, and the one who ultimately had a massive impact on my finishing this book at all.

He is the Creative Director of the agency I was working at, and over the past 3 years he has had a monumental impact on my life. The entire process of writing this book I realize now was the slow and steady task of learning to "accept" myself. Each draft became more and more vulnerable. Each story pulled the curtain back further and further. Until by the end, it was just me. Not the "me" I hoped people would see and accept. Just Me. 

I learned how to do this by watching and learning from him—this mentor. He took me under his wing and found every possible way to bring me outside my comfort zone. I was scared to talk to girls? Great, we're going to a rooftop modeling party. I was hesitant to speak up? Great, I'm going to present the new campaign to a room full executives. I doubted my ideas? Great, then he would ask me why I was suggesting them in the first place, over and over and over and over again until finally, the first time I shared an idea, it came with so much conviction there was no need to question it. 

He brought me out of my shell—and at the same time, allowed me the space to become the person he (and I) knew I could be.

Whenever I hear people say, "I wish I had a mentor!" I don't know how to respond. I have somehow attracted multiple highly influential mentors into my life. And the relationship is always extremely revealing, emotional (in the "vulnerable" sense), challenging, and full of difficult lessons. But it is also filled with friendship, and fun, and hilarious stories, and this mutual understanding of the path: This is where you started, and this is where you are now.

Being able to write and publish this book could be reduced down to one single lesson: No fear. No doubting your ideas. No worrying what people think. Just pure, unapologetic, creative freedom. 

Having him as a mentor was the driving force behind my learning this lesson. 

You can't be afraid.

And you can't "not be afraid" by just telling yourself to not be afraid.

You have to actually go out there, leap into the unknown over and over again, and actually embody that feeling of not being afraid. 

You have to live it.

September 30, 2016

Confessions of a Teenage Gamer was released. 

That night, my closest friends and I sat around a table at Soho House for dinner and shared stories. I looked around and saw how influential each one of them had been in helping me along my path—and I hope, in some way, I have helped them as well.

But this book, to me, is not an "end." It is a terrific milestone, and one I am diligently taking some time to appreciate (since that's something I need to work on, pausing and appreciating the wins along the way).

But this book is the beginning.

Book II, coming soon...


7 Things You Didn't Know About Confessions of a Teenage Gamer

CreativityNicolas ColeComment

7 Things You Didn't Know About Confessions of a Teenage Gamer

Yesterday, I put up my debut memoir, Confessions of a Teenage Gamer, for pre-sale on my website. For anyone who orders the book before the launch date (this Friday), I will autograph the physical copy AND give you a free eBook version as well.

On Friday, the price will drop from $25 to $17, but then you don't get it autographed :'(

(Side note, and shhh.... This is actually the first book in a series of 7 books. So, I'm just saying, 1st edition, autographed copy, first book.........)


Incase you didn't know, Confessions of a Teenage Gamer is a true story. 100% true. In fact, it's more like 150% true because I feel like I'm revealing way more about myself than I probably should. But that's what makes for the best stories, so it's a price I'm willing to pay.

However, there are some hidden things in Confessions of a Teenage Gamer most of you probably would never know unless I said so explicitly. So I wanted to share some of them with you here.

1. Chapter Titles

The chapter titles in this book are all names of songs I listened to during my "rise to Internet fame" back in 2005-2008. Each of these songs is extremely nostalgic to me, and I listened to them endlessly throughout the writing of this book. Also, it used to be very popular for World of Warcraft players to make gaming videos (and still is, somewhat), and back in 2004-2008, these songs were in so many videos. That entire 4 year era had a very particular "sound." We were all hardcore gamers and teenagers listening to the same type of music. Any time I hear a song from that era, it reminds me of World of Warcraft.

2. The Cover Design

The cover of the book was actually an extremely last minute decision. My original idea was to take a picture of myself with a laptop on the toilet—since that's where I learned how to write. I tell the story more in-depth in the book, but I really did spend a lot of time in the bathroom as a teenager, and most of those hours were spent blogging about World of Warcraft. In fact, that's originally what put me "on the map" as a gamer, was my blog. A friend of mine and I went back to my family's house maybe 6 months ago to take the picture (and it's been on my website ever since), but at the last minute I realized it wasn't right for the cover. So I requested some help from two very talented creative minds: Jonathan Speh and Ron Gibori, the Art Director and Creative Director at Idea Booth.

3. Independent Publishing

I studied creative writing at Columbia College Chicago, and started this project way back in 2011. My senior year of school, right before I graduated, one of my teachers (an author himself) made it a point to explain to us that the publishing world was "fickle and dying." He said that if an author wanted to become successful, he or she needed to find a way to do it online. I did A LOT of research trying to decide how I wanted to publish this book, whether I wanted to pitch it to an agent or publish independently. And actually, through Quora, I had multiple agents reach out to me regarding publishing the book through a big publishing house. Ultimately though, I decided I wanted to do it independently. It speaks to what I discovered as a 17 year old blogger, back when nobody said you could make a living writing online. I wanted to do this on my own, not just to preserve my creative freedom, but to show other artists how they could do things independently as well.

4. 100 Rewrites

At some point, I would like to actually put together a document showing all the different drafts I have of the first chapter of the book. I think from a writing and literature perspective it would be helpful for other aspiring writers to see what the process looks like. Over the past 5 years, I have, EASILY, re-written the first chapter alone over 100 times—and those are not counting the hundreds of read-throughs I did to check for commas and adjust sentences here and there. I mean I re-wrote the entire thing, new concept every time, new voice, new perspective, new everything, 100+ times. And every time I wrote it, I loved it for a day, and then the next I decided it wasn't right. This was a huge learning experience for me in realizing how much work it takes to truly understand what it is you want to say. 

5. Nobody Really Knew Me Back Then

The truth is, 99% of the people I grew up with had no idea any of this was going on back in high school. I can count on one hand the number of people in my life that knew I was a top World of Warcraft player, and/or knew how sick I really was growing up. I hid a lot from people, and that's part of the reason why writing this was such an inner exploration for me. This story is very much a "pulling back of the curtain" and showing the boy beneath the exterior. 

6. I Almost Failed English My Junior Year Of High School

Here's a funny story: My junior year of high school, I was writing an essay on a book for my English class. And in the essay we were supposed to cite a few sources, showing we had done some research, etc. Well, I didn't cite my sources correctly, and my teacher accused me of plagiarism. Now, something you should know about me: I can type 120+ words per minute (thanks World of Warcraft). It would have taken me longer to plagiarize something than to just re-write it in my own voice. My teacher didn't believe me, and it became a whole thing. I failed the essay (our biggest essay of the semester). She called my parents. I had to sit through half-a-dozen teacher conferences. I had to write an apology letter. And I had to do an extra essay for additional credit just to get a C in the class. All because I didn't cite something correctly. This was also the same teacher that told me, when I confessed I wanted to one day write a book, there was no chance I would ever end up an author. HEYYOOOOOOOOO.

7. This Book Isn't Really About World of Warcraft Or Gaming

It's not. Honestly, the book is about adolescence, and trying to make friends, and wondering where you fit in, and dealing with puberty (or the lack thereof), and coping with parental expectations, and the unnecessary stress that accompanies high school, and chasing dreams, and fighting dragons, and sneaking downstairs at two in the morning to play 2v2 arenas with a coke-head Rogue just to get the title of Gladiator. This book is about privileged America, and a wealthy suburb, and the differences between being driven by the allure of achievement or the contentment of happiness. And this book is about the dark road that achievement can lead to, and what it's like to be one of the best in the world at something most people deem to be a complete and utter waste of time. This book is a portrait of what it's like to be in love with something so much that you are willing to give up every other thing in your life for it.

If you're a gamer, I hope you read it. If you're not a gamer, I hope you read it. If you had a close friend that got completely obsessed with World of Warcraft, or any other game, I hope you get a copy for yourself and a copy for them and you both read it.

Every single person I have mentioned this story to has either said one of two things:

1) "Man, that was me. I have a very similar story."

2) "Man, I had a very close friend who was exactly like that."

I really feel like this is one of those books that is going to be a slow burn. People won't necessarily flock to it. People won't get it right away. But over time, they will. They will pick it up on a whim and end up finding a very honest, very relatable story inside. A story about chasing dreams, and trying to find your place in the world.

You can pre-order your copy here. Otherwise, stay tuned for Friday...


About The Author by Nicolas Cole

CreativityNicolas ColeComment

About The Author is a musical project that came about roughly one year ago, at the precise moment that I had decided to give up writing my forthcoming memoir, Confessions of a Teenage Gamer

Part of the process of "creating" something that rarely gets discussed is the inner work that has to happen along the way. We, as artists, hide this. We hide the nights we sit in our empty apartments, scribbling and scribbling, furious at ourselves for not producing something that is "worthwhile." We scrutinize what falls onto the page, or the canvas, seeing it from our "head" instead of feeling it from our heart. We beat ourselves up worse than anyone else ever could. We live in a state of inner struggle, questioning whether what we are making will be loved and validated externally by those around us, while at the same time being unsatisfied by our work's ability to speak to the deepest part of ourselves. It is a push/pull that happens within, and instead of being a calm ship at sea, we find ourselves amidst a storm.

I speak and write a lot about Personal Branding. That is the "external"—the way you present yourself, the way you sculpt your exterior, the way you develop your own voice and style out in the world. But that hardly scratches the surface to the real work that happens "behind the scenes." Behind all of that "external" stuff is the humble and reflective process of what I like to call "inner work." This is the questioning and reflecting that is required, on your own, away from anyone else, that gives you and everything you create, depth.

"The novel is only as good as the novelist knows himself."

1 year ago, I was ready to give up on my book. I had spent 4 years brutally demanding from myself more, more, more, better, better, better. The only phrase that played in my head was, "You're not good enough." Every time I would write a chapter, a paragraph, a sentence, I would read it back to myself and in my head the phrase would play, "It's still not good enough." 4 years—and finally, I felt like I'd had enough. I was so beaten down and exhausted from enduring that voice that I was ready to give up. And as soon as I did, as soon as I moved all my Confessions of a Teenage Gamer documents to my external hard drive, never to be touched again, I felt both relief and great sadness. Relief, because I no longer had to face that voice. Sadness, because I had failed to understand it. 

Immediately, I felt a sudden urge to make music. Before this, I hadn't made music in years. Years. But I went into my closet, brought out my mic and keyboard, and knew exactly what was being asked of me.

I needed to undergo a little "art therapy."

This is where our best work hides, deep in the crevices of ourselves we fear most. And so the process of "being creative," in my opinion, is 10% external and 90% internal. Anyone can go to Pinterest, pull a few examples, recreate what they've found and call themselves "creative." That is not my definition. To be creative is to know yourself. It's to be willing to explore what it is you fear most, and come back with something valuable from the journey to share with others. 

Before you go read Confessions of a Teenage Gamer, you should know what I had to dig up in order to finish the thing in the first place.

You should know where in me that book came from.

This is About The Author.


Every year, I set an intention for myself. I go with my family up to our cabin in northern Wisconsin, deep in the middle of nowhere, a forest painted with fresh white snow, and I read through my journal from the previous year. I look for lessons learned and lessons I've yet to learn, and then set a new intention for the year to follow.

The intention I set for myself at the beginning of this year was to truly understand two very distinct parts of me: Nicolas and Cole. For those that don't know, my real name is not Cole—it's Nicolas. That's the name that is on my birth certificate, and the name that was given to me under the pretense that Cole, the other contender, did not sound "good enough." Cole didn't sound "professional enough," if I was to grow up and become something as esteemed as, say, a spine surgeon or a lawyer. So, my formal name is Nicolas—that which I can only hope to one day "be"—but everyone calls me Cole, he who is simply "not good enough."

Obviously this isn't anyone else's issue, this is an issue within myself. But I have long been aware of this inner struggle within me, no matter how subconscious.

In my mind, I associate "Nicolas" far more with external approval, professionalism, validation, success, etc. "Nicolas" as a "character" is the person who others like, others respect, others see and say, "He is a good man." Nicolas has then become a symbol for what is "right" in life, who I "should be."

"Cole," on the other hand, then represents the opposite. He is the troublemaker, the rebellious child, the kid with ADD who can't quite get himself together, the artist, the creative, the one who fears very much to be open with the world because, on some level, he automatically assumes that people won't like him. He's "not good enough."

All throughout the past year, these two "sides" of me began to crystalize. In everything I did, I saw them and their different emotions and motives clearer and clearer. Nicolas, as a persona, works in advertising. Nicolas handles himself well. Nicolas is professional. Nicolas is on top of his shit. Cole, on the other hand, hides away working on his book. Cole writes poetry and doesn't tell anybody. Cole reads a lot, and spends many nights journaling. Cole doesn't care at all about "success" or "achievement." All Cole wants to do is create what he finds to be beautiful. And Nicolas doesn't like that very much—because none of that is very "productive."

By the time I decided to give up writing Confessions of a Teenage Gamer, these two parts of me were in total conflict. I had, very quickly, gone from being a soft-spoken kid studying creative writing in college, to a fast-paced aspiring entrepreneur. I was living 95% as Nicolas and 5% as Cole. I was working a lot. I was going to events. I was shaking hands. I was bringing in new business. I was frequenting nice restaurants. And from every single direction—my family, my friends, my peers, the people I work with—I was receiving approval. I was being validated for what I was doing, and it was all great because that part of me was thriving. But it was only one part of me. Nicolas. And Cole, the boy who wanted to write his book, the boy who wanted to be an artist, was not being heard. And deep within my soul, there was a rumbling. Anger. Resentment. Unhappiness. Frustration. 

Here I was "succeeding," and yet no part of me felt "fulfilled." 

When I felt the urge to start this project, About The Author, I set a very clear intention for myself. It's not that I suddenly saw who I had become and the skills I had gained as "bad." If anything, I was extremely appreciative to have learned things many artists and creative people never learn: How to navigate the world of business, how to handle contracts, how to collaborate without getting screwed over, how to make a living doing what you love, etc. No, I simply wanted to be aware of how much time I was spending in both parts of "me," and find a bit more balance. Because the moments I was 100% "Cole," the other part wanted to be in a fast-paced environment, working with teams, building brands, making moves. And the moments I was 100% "Nicolas," the other part wanted to sit in my apartment and just write. Read. Meditate. Reflect. It was becoming extremely clear to me that neither "character" was "correct." It wasn't about being one or the other. It was about being both

My intention for About The Author was to more clearly understand both "Nicolas" and "Cole." I wanted to identify them both as characters, understand them and their wants and needs, so that I could better learn how to integrate them within myself.

It wasn't until I actually started this project that I realized neither Nicolas nor Cole is, actually, my "true Self." Because if both are "characters," who then is aware of them? Who sees them, hears them, and ultimately paints them?

There is a third voice here, and this voice is where the real art lives.

The Witness.

Consciousness itself.


About The Author is a musical project you listen to with headphones, by yourself.

First of all, my original thought was to record rough versions of all the songs, and then re-record the whole project to release as something more "professional." Ok. Knowing what you already know, who is that talking? That's Nicolas. "Let's master this, let's make it super high quality, let's market it, let's package it, etc." And those are very valuable ideas, skills, right? He's the marketer. The business man. He has great ideas. I love that about him. But he wasn't who I needed to practice. Who I needed to practice was Cole.

More yang, less yin.

Instead of re-recording all these songs and making it "professional," I am using the act of my sharing this as a step on the inner work path itself. I'm giving you the rough draft. These are the versions I recorded, first or second take in my apartment, as rough sketches. The quality is extremely sub-par. This is not a polished manuscript—this is my journal. And I am sharing this with you because something I myself need to work on is learning how to deal with being a "perfectionist." I re-wrote and re-wrote Confessions of a Teenage Gamer 4 times, start to finish, in a period of 5 years. And when I say "re-wrote" I don't mean I went through and changed a few words, or deleted a few commas. I mean I re-wrote every single page, from scratch, different ways every time—and each individual chapter I probably re-wrote upwards of 100 times, refining it and refining it. This is not an exaggeration. So, because I know I have a core issue with "perfectionism," I want to share one of my rough drafts with you as a step toward better understanding that within myself.

Second, the primary artistic concept behind About The Author is that I physically gave voices to each "character" within me. There is a voice for Nicolas, a voice for Cole, a voice for The Witness, a voice for the Inner Critic, a voice for the Inner Child, and a voice for the Wounded Child. And every song is a conversation between each of these different voices. 

This is an exercise frequently done in therapy, where you put a physical voice to an emotion or a "persona" that lives within. I wanted to use music as this exercise to give each of those voices somewhere to be heard—because once I could hear them, I could see them and understand them. Inner work is not about suppressing what is inside you. It's about giving it the opportunity to rise to the surface so that you can acknowledge it.

This entire musical project is a conversation happening within myself. And no particular voice is right or wrong—that was the one thing I was trying to keep in mind throughout the entire process. Each voice you hear is a voice that lives within me. And each one seeks to be understood, on its own terms. 

As soon as I finished About The Author, I went right back to working on Confessions of a Teenage Gamer.

4 months later, the book was done.

Sometimes, you have to take one step back to move two steps forward.

Let's begin.


Before I began officially working on this project, I took some time to be very clear about my intention. One of the first books my mentor ever gave me to read was Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.  It is a classic for any business-driven individual, and taught me a lot about work ethic and "vision," but now, three years later, I was curious as to whether the same principles could be focused inwards on personal growth instead of outwards in generating revenue.  In Think and Grow Rich, Hill suggests being very clear about your business intention and planting it firmly in your mind. He then instructs you to write down a Chief Aim, a manifest of sorts, sharing in detail exactly what you wish to "achieve." He then tells the reader to read this Chief Aim every morning upon first waking up, and every night just before bed.

This is the Chief Aim I wrote down for About The Author.

My dream is to tell my story.

I want all the kids out there who have ever felt like they’re not enough

to know that they aren’t alone.

My dream is to tell my story.

I want people to know that what’s most important is staying true to you,

and I want to share that through my writing because that’s how I will stay true to me.

My dream is to tell my story.

I would rather be a poor artist than a wealthy businessman

because I already know that all the money in the world can never make you feel how you feel when you’re doing what you love.

My dream is to tell my story.

I want any kid who has ever grown up in a town like mine to see that there’s a different way.

That you can still become successful

without compromising yourself.

My dream is to tell my story.

And I want to tell it as honestly as I can

so that I’m challenged to always be honest with myself,

and give others the permission to be honest too.

My dream is to tell my story.

I want the shy ones, the awkward ones,

the insecure and the afraid and the unpopular

to know that they can be whoever they want to be.

All you have to do is take a chance.

My dream is to tell my story.

I want to look back at myself at 25 and know I took that chance,

I wasn’t afraid, I put it out there,

no matter how daunting it may seem.

My dream is to tell my story.

I want the world to know that I’m listening,

and what I say isn’t for attention or recognition.

It’s to help others see too

and learn how to grow themselves.

My dream is to tell my story.

My dream is to tell my story.

My dream is to tell my story.

My dream is to tell my story.


The first song immediately addresses the most fundamental issue I had in finishing Confessions of a Teenage Gamer: Perfectionism. 

Every draft I would finish, I would convince myself that it wasn't right—I needed to start back from the beginning. This also speaks to all the different times I have "reinvented" myself. It's the story that made me "e-famous" on Quora, going from a skinny, awkward adolescent to a 170 lb fitness model. And then again, I reinvented myself from that new version of myself to an aspiring Creative Director, and so on.

This is a very beneficial thing, reinvention, but it has a shadow side as well. And the shadow is that you never quite feel "good enough." You set a vision for yourself, and you work, and you climb, and you one day reach the summit, only to look out at all you've achieved and, without an ounce of appreciation for what you've done to get there, you say, "Nope, not good enough." And then you set your sights on a new mountain peak to climb, only to work and work and one day get there too, and come to the same conclusion.

I believe one of the most fun parts of being human is reinvention—but I have also become painfully aware of the shadow that comes with that, if left to its own devices. If you are not appreciative of the process, and able to enjoy in the journey, then the creative freedom that comes from reinvention becomes a race against yourself to which you can never win.

This song is an expression of exactly that.

The introduction is 4 simple lines that speak to the inner dilemma: Cole wants to write, and yet he is struggling to write because Nicolas is asking him to be "perfect"—and art, in itself, is inherently flawed because it is a representation of humans, who are "imperfectly perfect." The "white" being referred to here is blank paper, and the lines are the "rules" Cole is being told to stay within. The last line, "I NEED A NEW BEGINNING," is then both a request to "start fresh" between the two of them, a cease in conflict, as well as a very direct confession of the core issue: Cole is always telling himself he needs to start over because what he has written simply "isn't good enough."

Intro (Cole, voice muffled trying to be heard):

Tell me if I'm wrong, but don't tell me if I'm right.

Swear you're here to solve a problem, but the problem is I'm white.

You went and gave me this pen, yeah, but all I see are lines

saying, "To be right is perfection"—

But perfection doesn't write.


Next, the first verse of the song is written from the perspective of Cole, unconscious to the fact that he is living completely for the external. For a very long time, I myself had no idea that I had gone so long without writing. I was so busy and caught up in the act of business, in nurturing the Nicolas side, that I was blind to just how quickly Cole was slipping away. There was a period where I didn't write anything for almost 4 months, and an entire year when, at best, I journaled some here and there. It happened without me even realizing it. Until finally, it was too late, and I was completely absorbed in my achievement-seeking self.

Verse 1

I try to tell 'em what my name is, what’s my motto.

They try to ask me where I been, I say hit the throttle.

And every time they wanna ask where I get the models

I go and tell 'em in the back, if they wanna holler.

I need that New Beginning now, how’d I get this bottle?

I hear 'em hollerin’, what’d you say, oh you got a lot?  Oh.

I need that New Beginning now, caught up in the dollar.

I need that New Beginning now, but I can’t be bothered.

I’m on it now, Underground, walk in with madonnas.

They know my name.  Who am I?  The mayor of Chicago.

The way I see it this could be a problem.

They bring the bill, shoulda spent this on myself, if I’m being honest.

I know I should call the night, tell her we should stop this.

But all I want is to take her home and get her goin'.

We grab an Uber take it to her place and break the door in.

Three hours later, grab a coffee walking to the office.


It astounds me, even, how far out of alignment I got within myself, and the things I started to value in life. When everyone around you is validating you for the wrong reasons, scary things happen—and for a while, I felt like I had lost touch with the deepest part of me. 

The chorus is a conversation, and our first glimpse at the two sides, Nicolas and Cole: Nicolas is basking in his newfound "achievements," proud of his ability to have reinvented himself into someone who receives external approval. 

Hook 1: Nicolas

Ay baby, ay baby, ay baby, I’m in that New Beginning.

Ay baby, ay baby, ay baby, I’m in that New Beginning.

            On the flip-side, Cole speaks up in exchange—his voice sounding very naked in comparison to Nicolas' (and all the extra "effects" on Nicolas' voice to make him sound "perfect"—the autotune a symbol for the new clothes, the nice restaurants, etc.). Cole here is speaking from the heart, trying to remind Nicolas that at one point, the whole reason he became interested in business was to learn how to carry his own creative ideas out into the world. Nicolas was intended to be the external representation of Cole. But instead, Nicolas took on a life of his own, and that original intention was lost.

Hook 2: Cole

I wanna change but, I don’t know how.

I know I’ve changed but, I don’t know how.

You see I used to be a hard worker.

I used to know what I lived for.

But ever since I got that raise, now what am I really here for?

I used to be this real quiet kid.

Used to write a lot too.

I used to have big dreams and

believed everything would come true.

I used to be true to myself no matter who said what to who.

But now I’m just the same as you.  Collar blue.


Looking back, it astounds me how far off the path I found myself when my very mentor was constantly reminding me of the importance of avoiding fleeting gratification. We had so many conversations about that, and every time I would insist that I needed to hit a "number," that I needed to achieve some sort of external success in order to feel like I'd "made it," he would calmly (or sternly) explain to me the danger of that road. "Who you will be 10 years from now is no different than who you are today," he would say. "You are, and will always be, Cole."

As I started to really understand what he meant by that, and find my way back, I wondered often then how if I, someone who has a fair sense of self-awareness, and who had a mentor that took the time often to explain the dangers of falling into the "chase" of external approval, what then happens to all the other kids who graduate college and enter the real world chasing the same things? 

This is a theme I continue to explore...

Verse 2 is written from the perspective of Cole, beginning to "wake up." His eyes are open and he is looking around at this new world he has found himself within, and he is now questioning how he got there, what he values about it, what he doesn't value, and what he even defines as "success." What is it that will ultimately put him at ease? Because no matter how much he touches externally, he still feels "without." So where, then, is fulfillment truly felt?

Verse 2

When you get into the real world you’ve got a lot of choices.

You want money?  Climb up corporate.

One voice says, “Get promoted.  Stick around and you'll get your fortune.”

But where’s your voice?  What’s your dream?

Never thought I’d be in advertising.

Until I found a mentor, oh boy, that’s when something changed in me.

Got addicted to the business.

Man I’m moving up fast!

Fuck a book, I want some new pants,

Ferrari, and a double-tap ass.

Man, it’s like I learned a new dance.

Everybody wanna walk like Cole.

Haven’t written in a year now

but fuck it, take a look at all my new clothes.

Am I tryna run from who I am?

Am I Creative or am I just playing Business Man?

I can’t quite tell cuz I’m out right now.

Got a girl in my ear saying she’s down.

Bring her to the rooftop of Soho House.

This is why they call me the man about town—I’m all in.

Am I the only one who feels like they’re falling?

This is not enough for me.

I think I felt more of myself as a humble writer.

Bring me back to that wide-eyed kid please.

At this point in the story, Cole now realizes how far off the path he's gotten, and that he needs to make his way back. All the external approval in the world will never bring him the same amount of fulfillment as he feels when he is expressing himself honestly and with clear intention.

Another conversation ensues, this time Nicolas taunting Cole to go ahead, go ahead and try to change. You can't do it. You've come too far, and you've forgotten yourself. Cole then addresses Nicolas directly, explaining that what Nicolas is "searching for" is still an "end" in itself—and the whole idea is that there is no "end."  "Nicolas" is just another name for "Cole," and Cole has been here from the beginning.  And so it is not so much a process of "discovery" or "becoming someone different," but rather one of "remembering" and self-realization.


You try to change, try to change, try to change.

You try to change, try to change, try to change.


Well stop saying NEW BEGINNING!

Stop saying NEW BEGINNING!

Stop saying NEW BEGINNING!

Start saying,


The final line of this chorus is another nod to the bigger theme here, the combination of Nicolas and Cole. Instead of seeing them as separate, inner peace can and will only be found by merging them into one: Nicolas Cole.

However, not without adversity! In this third verse, we are confronted by the first shadow—the Inner Critic. This is the voice that Cole has internalized, keeping him from writing—and in many ways, reinforces the benefits of Nicolas. Nicolas knows how to achieve. Nicolas represents being a good kid, a "successful" kid. Nicolas represents that "who is good" and so the Inner Critic then reminds Cole of all the dangers that come with self-expression. He wants to convince Cole that they are "the same," and to just live life solely as Nicolas (free from the fear that comes with true creativity).

Don’t go.  I need you.

I am you.  We are two.

You say Cole, but I’m Cole,

cuz I know your truth.  Please Cole!

Nicolas will make it all right.

Nicolas is who your parents want.

He is more refined.

Listen to me.  I can show you how to get what they have.

Don’t you want the sports car?

Don’t you want the mansion and respect?

Aren’t you tired of them saying, “Cole why do you think like that?”

Wouldn’t life just be so wonderful if you were just like Dad?

Hey, here is a solution.

Let's pretend this didn’t happen.

Let’s go back to work and put our head down,

that will make us happy.

We can take our money, spend it all,

that might get us a girlfriend.

She will love us, oh she’ll love us,

long as we’re successful.

That’s why we can’t give up, Cole,

no we can’t, we must achieve.

The only time we will feel love

is if we both succeed.

Forget the art, it’s too risky,

what if no one believes?

Yes, better to listen to me,

success is guaranteed.


The last verse of the song is then an answer to the Inner Critic, a sort of shouting from the Inner Child. It is a leap of faith in acknowledging that the Inner Critic is not the right voice to led guide the journey, and a commitment to the path of Inner Work instead. It was after writing this song that I realized I was not making music, I was putting myself through art therapy, and over the following weeks devoted a considerable amount of time to self-reflection.

Verse 4

Now I know, now I know

who I am and what I show.

What you see is what you get

and what you get is what I love.

So if you've got a problem

then come up here and say it.

Cuz what I'm saying is my dream

and my dream is amazing.

Don't need no New Beginning.

Don't need no New Beginning.

I've been me since the Beginning.

I've been me since the Beginning.

See me? 

I'm just Beginning.

See me?

I'm just Beginning.

My dream is just Beginning.

My dream is just Beginning.


You can have it all.

You can have it all.

You can have it all.

You can have it all.

You can have it all.

You can have it all.

You can have it all.

You can have it all.


And so we arrive in the Core. The first song was very much a process of working through a lot of voices, only to end up at the Inner Child—the quiet one, calmed down, sitting with his pad and pen. 

He is writing a letter to himself.

Verse 1

Dear Cole,

You really wanna spin it like that?

Make it seem like you’ve never been good enough to rap?

Let me take you back.

Nineteen with a back pack - no confidence.

All green and a black hat - yeah, you wanted it.

The dream was to be one of the popular kids.

I think it’s safe to say you just wanted to be accepted.

Don’t feel bad, we all go through it.

It’s part of your past. What you gotta ask is what you do with it.

You want to prove with it?

I can tell you now when they see Cole

they see who I became but not who did it.

But who did it?

Yeah, tell me who did it.

Tell me who the one was being blunt spitting rhythms.

Who was the motherfucker saying, "This is how I get it."

Who bought a microphone and went on a mission to kill it?

Me. That was me.

If you have any doubts now, don’t look back.  


This letter is intended to be a reminder of the voice that is most honest, soft, kind, but also confident, and knows deep down that this voice is the voice to listen to. This is where all the vulnerability hides, and as scary as it is, this is the voice that needs to be trusted the most. 

The chorus then is Nicolas, the autotuned voice again symbolizing this desire to protect one's self from the world's judgments, and to be "perfect." Nicolas is desperately asking for help. He wants to be vulnerable, he wants to trust Cole and his self expression, but he fears him being hurt—just like an older brother. He wants to protect him. And so we see the struggle that is going on within Nicolas, the one who has learned how to present himself well to the world, but is afraid to show his other side: Cole.


Everybody’s got a different way,

tell me it’s gonna be OK, brother.

If you really wanna talk tonight,

It’s gonna be alright.

Everybody’s got a different way,

tell me it’s gonna be OK, brother.

If you really wanna talk tonight,

It’s gonna be alright.

The next verse is what in psychology is referred to as the Wounded Child. This is the Inner Child opening up about where he has been hurt, and what it is he is struggling to work through. Here we see some of the issues that plague Cole's creativity, and make it difficult for him to trust his Inner Child.

Verse 2

Deep in the clouds is a home,

in it all the people that I know.

“Oh, look at Cole. He’s a handful.”

Look around, oh well.

Guess I better not spill.

Mom says don’t kill.

Dad is worried 'bout the bill.

I just wanna write the real.

I just wanna finally feel.

I don’t wanna get in trouble so I suppress and just deal.

Inner child jokes, Mom and Dad smile.

Cole becomes his false sense of self—for now.

You want a handout?

What, clear the clouds out screaming man down? 

Nah, I wanna walk the hard road I know now,

Cole’s down there,

got his long hair, says he doesn’t care,

but he holds out.

Hoping to say his peace,

trying to write what he means.

You try being yourself

and being told to "achieve."

I'll never satisfy the beast

and the beast is the "me"

chasing anything but

my own creativity.


Everybody’s got a different way,

tell me it’s gonna be OK, brother.

If you really wanna talk tonight,

It’s gonna be alright.

Everybody’s got a different way,

tell me it’s gonna be OK, brother.

If you really wanna talk tonight,

It’s gonna be alright.


Now this third verse is a vocalization of the Inner Work process. In order to get to "the good stuff," it's necessary to find your way to the Inner Child, and then also address the Wounded Child and what is keeping him back from "creating."

In the third verse we see that a big "trouble spot" for Cole's Wounded Child is his Inner Critic—he hates what he's written before he's even had a chance to look and appreciate it. 

The first few lines are, quite literally, a journal entry of what happened in the moment I made this song. I wrote it, I looked at it, I hated it—and then I forced myself to record it. And as I started to record it, I started to find my flow. And I kept writing. And I kept writing. Until I had effectively worked through those fears keeping me from "opening my mouth" in the first place, and once I found my stride, I loved what I was making. I appreciated it—which was the real goal. Self-love.

Verse 3

At first I hated this, got up after writing almost dying.

I would have burned this shit, inside fire-fighting.

But I thought, "You know what? I'm going to record it once.

Just to see how much I suck."

Turned my Mac on.

Turned my mack on, got my Mac on, watchu tryna mack on?

Cole got his swag on, hit record s0n,

put me in, young, yo, gimme the gun,

pass the blunt, I'ma fuck it up.

And I'm the king, what you want?

Can't stop me, my analogies, Nabokov.

Study everything: Robert Greene to 2pac.

Stephen King, Steve Jobs,

fucking Franz Kafka, even Kawabata.

Can't put me in a box.

If you try to, we can box.

You don't want me when I'm hot.

You don't want me when I'm not.

My Inner Critic coughs:

"Ok, you won."


Everybody’s got a different way,

tell me it’s gonna be OK, brother.

If you really wanna talk tonight,

It’s gonna be alright.

Everybody’s got a different way,

tell me it’s gonna be OK, brother.

If you really wanna talk tonight,

It’s gonna be alright.


As "Through The Clouds" comes to a close, we enter a scene:

Cole, who has been "downstairs" in the Heart Space, creating, suddenly hears a knock at the door.

It's Nicolas. And Nicolas is not too happy with Cole, because all he's been doing is sitting down there "creating." He hasn't actually "finished" anything.

This brings us to the first verse, and where we see both the light and the shadow of Nicolas' persona. If Cole is The Artist, then Nicolas is the Creative Director. He's the one who makes sure Cole sticks to deadlines, and Cole finishes projects, and Cole brands them well, and Cole markets them well, and Cole finds "success" off his art. This is an extremely, extremely beneficial skill set for any artist to have—but it can also be a difficult one to tame. The Artist needs time and emotional space to create things well, and so it becomes a careful game for Nicolas of knowing when to push and when to leave Cole alone to create.

In this scene, we see Nicolas erupt in frustration.

Verse 1

I don’t think you understand what my purpose is so I’ll break it down.

I’m here to make you safe, Cole, I’m here to keep you off the ground.

You don’t want to be a failure. You don’t want to lose it all.

Promise if you put me on everyone will give you approval.

Think about beautiful women and how now they look at you.

Here go put these shoes on, cut your hair off, wear this jacket, see now look at you.

And by the way, that writing stuff? It’s good but now tell me the truth.

Can pages pay for vacations? Can book buy dinner for two?

Let me help you, since I know you want all of those things.

Let’s put the writing down, instead let’s pick up advertising.

You have a knack for that, you have natural born conviction.

Imagine me there with you. We could sell water to rivers.

The more we do it, the better we will get, I promise.

I’ll put you on the path to become Creative Director,

and then with that title you could sell whatever you wanted.

This is a better position, Artist Cole won’t have to struggle.


Looking closely, we can see both the benefits to listening to Nicolas and the dangers of letting him be the "sole/soul driver."

The first chorus then is an expression of that inner conflict. Which voice do "I" listen to? Which one is "truly Me?"


Who am I? Who am I?

Who am I? Who am I?

Am I who you say I am?

Or am I this kid inside?


This is who you are. This is who you are.

Trust me.

This is what you want. This is what you want.

Trust me.

This is who you are. This is who you are.

Trust me.

This is what you want. This is what you want.

Trust me.


Verse 2 is Cole's rebuttal. He is trying to explain to Nicolas that, while those are all really great ideas and he clearly wants to help, making any of that the "first priority" is not something Cole is remotely interested in. Cole values expression for its own sake. It has nothing to do with making money, or achievement, or receiving validation. It is the "process of" that brings him fulfillment.


I try to tell him this is what I know:

Everybody’s always tryna tell me where to go.

How come I don’t get a say in what my future holds?

All I gotta do is tell 'em what they wanna hear.

This is why I don’t care.

Why can’t you just let me roam?

I don’t wanna be the man, let me be Cole.

I don’t care about the Maserati or the big house, big house

if I didn’t get it with this big mouth, big mouth.

I’m a writer, didn’t you know?

I’m a writer, didn’t you know?

And If I had to pick I’d rather be broke,

long as I get to keep my pad and my pen close.

Can’t you see where I’m from?

I know where I wanna end up.

And it’s not where you say that I gotta be.

What I know is who I am is me.

Why can’t you just let me be who I wanna be.

And so we hear yet another argument between Nicolas and Cole: Nicolas here, taking something Cole had said, "Let me be who I wanna be," and using it against him, taunting him, calling him a "Wannabe." Meanwhile, Cole, very aggressively, is reminding Nicolas that without him, he would just be a shell of a man. Anyone can portray success and say they are "creative," but the real creativity comes from deep within. And if Nicolas wants to be a successful Creative Director, he can't do it without Cole.


Wannabe. Wannabe.

Yeah, yeah.

Wannabe. Wannabe.

Yeah, yeah.

"This is what I wanna be. This is what I wanna be."


Tell me who to be right now.

You don’t know me.

If you did then you would see me right now.

You don’t know me.

If you did then you would get it right now.

Try to tell me.

If you didn’t have me who would put it down?

I’m the gifted one.

At the height of conflict, in comes The Witness. This is consciousness itself, and the awareness that both Nicolas and Cole are, essentially one in the same—two sides to the same ego. They have different qualities, they have different needs, different aspirations, different preferences, but ultimately they are One.

The Witness is writing from a place of distance. It can see that these two parts of Self are in conflict, and it is bringing awareness to the situation. To live in The Witness is to have the awareness to know when you are emotionally reacting to the moment, allowing you to see what is happening within yourself and make a more conscious decision as to how you'd like to proceed, instead of reacting out of pure emotion.

The Witness is where we as humans all strive to exist from. The Witness is awareness.

Verse 3

It seems like every time I leave you two start fighting again.

It’s Nicolas on the money train

versus Cole and his pen.

Let’s take a second, a step back and maybe try to be friends.

You both have so much in common! You both are focused on ends.

Now, here’s my suggestion:

we all know the pros and cons of having an obsession.

It’s practically guaranteed that you’ll become whatever it is you imagine

but if there’s one thing I know you’ve both learned it’s that balance is the real lesson.

So what’s the question?

Why can’t you work together, make educated investments?

Nicolas you can handle the marketing, shaking hands, business and finances,

that way, Cole, you can focus solely on anything you want that’s creative.

What a team! What a team, what a team.

I can see it this clearly because I am witnessing.

Who you are is Nicolas Cole, not one or the other.

You’re the farthest thing from enemies, start to see that you’re really brothers.


Writing this was the "Aha!" moment of the project. Giving voice to Nicolas and Cole, I was able to see what it was they both truly wanted, and as soon as I gave voice to The Witness I realized that it wasn't about being Cole and tolerating Nicolas, or being Nicolas and tolerating Cole. It was about practicing living from a deeper state of awareness, and allowing both sides of me the freedom to function, converse, share, and help each other. "My" role, then, is to play the Conductor. "I" am the one orchestrating these two parts of myself.

The final chorus is a short song from the voice of The Witness. It is a reminder to stay in this state. To let go of trying to be one or the other. Non-attachment. If you're going to create, create without apology. If you're going to put your head down and work hard toward a goal, do so without apology. Learn to be ok and accept both sides: Nicolas and Cole.


Every time you get in my way,

I’m gonna tell you this is what I really wanna say:

If you’re gonna do it, do it cuz you wanna play (wanna play)

and don’t bother if you’re tryna run away.

If you wanna know how I'ma keep it my way,

I wanna tell you this is all you really gotta say:

If you’re gonna do it, do it cuz you wanna play (wanna play),

but if you want me be you, 

let me tell you what to do.

Find somebody else to be cool.

Of course, all this is great in theory, but understanding this dynamic logically is only the beginning. It is extremely difficult to stay in the state of The Witness for an extended period of time. It is almost like a meditation. And so as quickly as I felt it, I came out of it, and was right back in my state of inner conflict, the two sides of me bickering once again.


Taking shots in the dark.


This is why I do it my way.


Think I might play the part.


This is why I do it my way.

If you don't want to play, well,

that's OK.

Cuz I'm the one whose running this ship anyway.

The Witness

Find somebody else to be cool.


A few months ago, I released a project called Through Your Eyes. It was a musical story (and another Art Therapy piece) wherein my intention was to work through a former relationship.

I wrote this song prior to that project, during a time when I thought our relationship was beginning to rekindle. When I started to realize it wasn't ever going to return to the way things once were, I got really upset—more so with myself for trusting her again. 3 months later is when she asked me to deny our relationship ever happening, should her new boyfriend ever reach out to me and ask, and that's what prompted my writing Through Your Eyes.

The whole theme of this song is the fact that no part of me wanted to emotionally address how I felt with this relationship. For 3 years, I had effectively taken the part of me that she had fallen in love with, Cole, and suppressed him out of sight. Instead, where he used to stand, now stood Nicolas—and I found myself attracting only externally-focused women. They weren't really interested in Cole. They were only interested in being seen out with someone "young and successful." 

Verse 1

Your eyes say the whole world just isn’t enough.

To be honest, I don’t even know why we’re still meeting up.

You called and said that you were hoping we could be friends.

I don’t know Ocean Girl, you see I thought we broke up.

I sip my coffee and listen to all the things that you’ve done.

I can’t believe it’s been a year, it’s pretty clear you’ve moved on.

Part of me is here, but honestly the other part of me is gone.

The other part of me is gone cuz

you don’t love me anymore,

don’t love me anymore.

Why you always calling me?

Why you always open door?

If you really wanted me,

you would have been open more.

If you really wanted me,

Rica Girl I would adore. 

This is not what I’m talking 'bout when I say I wanna be with you.

I don’t know what I’m talking 'bout, I’m not even with you, with you, with you...


I really thought you were the one, I thought we were in love,

love, love, love.

I said you were the one I want, even told you who I was,

was, was, was.

I used to hold you in my arms, tell you it was only us,

us, us, us.

Tell me what changed, was I not enough?

Do you want someone else? I guess this is where it ends, so...


Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye,

my Lonely Girl.

Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye,

I already gave you the world, but...

Verse 2

If she wanted me I know she woulda stayed.

If she wants to talk about it, I can’t move on right away.

I’m not here to talk about it, I don’t wanna play this game.

I don’t wanna talk about it, I don’t even wanna say, that

you don’t love me anymore,

don’t love me anymore.

Why you always calling me?

Why you always open door?

If you really wanted me,

you would have been open more.

If you really wanted me,

really girl I would adore. 

This is not what I’m talking 'bout when I say I wanna be with you.

I don’t know what I’m talking 'bout, I’m not even with you, with you, with you.


I really thought you were the one, I thought we were in love,

love, love, love.

I said you were the one I want, even told you who I was,

was, was, was.

I used to hold you in my arms, tell you it was only us,

us, us, us.

Tell me what changed, was I not enough?

Do you want someone else? I guess this is where it ends, so...


Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye,

my Lonely Girl.

Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye,

I already gave you the world, but...

Verse 3

Remember how you met? 

You went up to her after class and said you were headed out with a couple friends.

She had on green sweater, very humble, not like the rest.

You didn’t think much of it, got her number and started to text.

Nice girl from Costa Rica.

Nice girl, happy to meet her.

Nice girl, wanted your feelings.

Nice girl, said you were different.

You trusted Nice Girl. Nice Girl would never deceive you.

Still hurt from Last Girl, but This Girl you did believe her.

When she said she loved you.

When she asked if she could marry you.

When she told you that it was only you.

How many times did you not see what she was doing?

Not telling anyone you were together, she was never really with you.


I really thought you were the one, I thought we were in love,

love, love, love.

I said you were the one I want, even told you who I was,

was, was, was.

I used to hold you in my arms, tell you it was only us,

us, us, us.

Tell me what changed, was I not enough?

Do you want someone else? I guess this is where it ends, so...


This is what you want, Cole.

Every time she calls you, this is what you want Cole.

Why don’t you call her back?

This is what you want, Cole.

I know you want the approval, what you want, Cole?

You see, she’s a model.

Models can make you feel better.

Models can weather your senses.

We know how much you love models.

This model’s from Costa Rica.

So go and call her back, promise it’ll make you better.

Make you feel better, why don’t you go Feel Better. 

By the end, we hear a very sarcastic Witness poking at the deep issue here: Rejection. Cole's way of coping with this rejection has been to identify completely with Nicolas, who has a knack for attracting the type of women who are externally focused. But here, The Witness brings to the surface the fact that trying to "date model women" isn't a viable coping mechanism. What needs to happen is that the emotions have to be felt head on. The last line is the most revealing, in that The Witness is challenging Cole to actually call her back and confront her—and at first, Cole thinks this means "getting back together." But what The Witness is really challenging Cole within is to learn to "feel" again. Not suppress. Not run away. To "feel" whatever that relationship made him feel, acknowledge it, and then move on.

Again, so much easier said than done...


It's one thing to "know logically" what you need to do. It's entirely another to actually experience it, feel it, touch it, and sit with that emotion for an extended period of time—and for a while, I found a whole lot of very effective ways to avoid facing those emotions.

If Cole, the creative, is Red, then Nicolas, his counterpart, is Blue (and in making both Lonely Girl and Burning Blue, these 2 colors were blatantly apparent: Lonely Girl being red, Burning Blue being, well, Blue).

This song is a musical representation of the social life of mine that followed. I started going out way more than I ever had in the past, to clubs, fashion shows, rooftop events, concerts, VIP everything, etc. It was cool, and definitely made for some great stories, but there was this part of me that was looking for something much deeper. Nobody wants to go to the depths at Paris Club at four in the morning—and I get that. But still, I found myself at these events, surrounded by beautiful women, only to feel like I couldn't find what I was looking for. And every time I would think I'd met someone I could "go to the depths" with, I realized all they really wanted was to play with Nicolas. 

So the question I began to ask myself, then, was why I was attracting these types of women. Obviously I was emitting some sort of aura that was catering to that type of female. So, by becoming aware of this pattern, I was forced to question which part of me I was exuding when I was out. Was I really being Cole? Or was I being Nicolas.

Verse 1

I see you in it and looking alive

so why don't I go on and step on inside?

It's been so long, and I'm getting tired

of you just hanging me out dirty to dry.

I thought you'd hate me for turning you out.

All I was doing was just looking for love.

But now I'm making a move on you and

all I can think about is how I've had enough

because I'm...

What's dangerous about dating for the "external" is that you fall into a bad habit of valuing that over anything else. You sort of tell yourself, "Well, since I'm not going to get what I really want out of this, I'll just get what I can." A lot of people settle this way, and don't keep searching for what it is their soul truly craves because that would mean two things: First, admitting your own shadow and why you are attracting this type of person in the first place, and two, taking the risk of leaving something that is comfortable, non-threatening, and easy to control, since your heart is not fully involved.


I'm Burning Blue.

Burning for you, baby.

I'm Burning Blue.

Burning for you all night.

I'm Burning Blue.

Burning for you, baby.

And nothing's gonna stop from me burning you.

So even if you had your way with me

then I can still have my way with you.

Cuz you know I'll be Burning Blue.

Verse 2

If you catch a good girl with a bad side

be sure you've got nothing on your mind.

Be sure you've got nothing but time.

Be sure you've got a lot of quick lines cuz

you know how they want it—and bad.

And she knows she's got it like that.

So when the lights go down

and you've lost your girl

just know I've got her here in back.


I thought you'd hate me for turning you out.

All I was doing was just looking for love.

But now I'm making a move on you and

all I can think about is how I've had enough

because I'm...


I'm Burning Blue.

Burning for you, baby.

I'm Burning Blue.

Burning for you all night.

I'm Burning Blue.

Burning for you, baby.

And nothing's gonna stop from me burning you.

So even if you had your way with me

then I can still have my way with you.

Cuz you know I'll be Burning Blue.

The big lesson (that took me a really long time to learn) is that all those social events have their place, and they can be fun, and they're cool, but you have to understand why you go there, and what sort of energy you are going to consciously carry with yourself. It can be very easy to get wrapped up in that world of flaunting, and so it takes a certain level of awareness to be able to navigate it without egoically associating yourself with it.

Eventually, I came to a point where I realized I was looking for someone whom I could share both parts of me with: Nicolas and Cole. Someone I could go out with, go to these events with, be "out and about" with, but also someone I could be extremely vulnerable with, and I could reveal the other side of me. And I was having trouble attracting that because I wasn't yet there within myself. 

I still had a lot more Inner Work to do.

Why Father Cries

A rapid pivot, "Why Father Cries" is an exploration of privilege and guilt—and very much a digging out the shadows that drive Nicolas.

This is something I have yet to truly divulge in my writing, but is one of the major themes within Confessions of a Teenage Gamer. I grew up in one of the wealthiest suburbs in America. The top 1%. My father is an extremely successful spine surgeon, quite possibly one of the best spine surgeons in the world. He is, by every definition, a true master of his craft, and as a result, I grew up with everything I could have ever wanted handed to me on a silver platter.

The problem with this sort of upbringing, which rarely gets discussed, is that this prevents the child from learning a lot of very important lessons. You can't possibly know what it's like to be hungry, because you've never been hungry. You can't know what it's like to "not have," because you have everything. And so what happens is you (without even knowing it) internalize a lot of guilt, because you know that you have things in life that very few other people have. Some children cope with this by acting out—the ones from super wealthy families you see snorting cocaine in club bathrooms, wearing a bright blue collard shirt. Other children just walk the straight and narrow path, following in their parents footsteps exactly. We all cope with it in different ways, but nobody ever talks about the challenges growing up privileged because, in all honesty, you aren't allowed to. If you say you're stressed, you're not allowed to be stressed—you're "weak." If you fail, you aren't just "bad"—you're "the worst." If you complain, you're unappreciative. If you say how you feel, you're spoiled. And it's all because the family you were born into, of which you had absolutely no control, has money. And that causes a lot, a lot, a lot of underlying issues for those kids—and how sad, because many of those parents only wished to give their kids the opportunity to succeed.

I have traced so many of my own insecurities back to the fact that I grew up in an environment that did not allow for insecurity. Failure was not an option. I had the best schools. The best teachers. The best books. The best technology. The best summer camps. A king size bed. A BMW. Vacations around the world. I had everything. And so any little thing that I did not succeed at was not taken lightly. I was a failure. I wasn't "good enough." I was unappreciative. I was rebelling. Growing up in a wealthy environment is like living your life on the edge of a cliff, looking down. Amazing view—and terrifying if you fall.

The first verse of the song is written from the perspective of my Inner Critic. This was very much an exercise in giving a real voice to the critical thoughts that I deal with on a daily basis. I do not "blame" the environment I grew up in, nor do I point the finger at anyone around me. This is merely what I internalized as a young kid, for whatever reason, and my goal here was to give it a voice so that I could see and better understand this part of myself.

Verse 1

You know that you’re the reason Dad is never gonna be proud.

Gave you everything and all you did was say you wanted out.

Stereotype perfect: Wealthy white kid taking circumstance for granted.

All you had to do was listen.  On silver platter to you success was handed.

How about the hockey pads that he bought you so you could play?

How about Hawaii vacations, beamer on your birthday?

Least you could have done was tried in school and given him straight As.

Even one A would have made him feel his money wasn’t waste.

But you were waste.

You were less.

You weren’t great.

You were fail.

You were dumb.

You weren’t fast.

You were late.

You were type of kid parents say has potential but is too misplaced.

"Probably has ADD. Probably can’t find his way."

I hate to say it, Cole, but you are why Dad blames himself.

Worked and worked and worked and worked

so boy could be man and have wealth.

Man has kids, one of them you,

and all he says is follow suit.

Instead you take your suit off

because you insist on being you.

This is why father cries.

The inner struggle that ensues, then, is one of guilt. I know how much I did not live up to my father's expectations of me, growing up. I am painfully aware of the pain I caused simply because I wanted to "go my own way." And so, as a child, you are faced with this great dilemma: Am I what is being requested of me, even if that isn't "who I truly am?", in an attempt to make my parents proud, or do I go my own way, face their rejection, but maintain a strong sense of Self.

Ultimately, I chose the ladder—and it was one of the hardest, if not THE hardest thing I have ever done.

Cole's dialogue is both an expression of that choice, nobody really knowing how difficult of a decision that is for a child to make, to stay true to himself, while at the same time addressing his father, them both echoing the same phrase: "You will never know." I will never know what that must have been like for my dad, giving me every opportunity to succeed and me somehow failing, over and over again. And simultaneously, he will never know what it is like being his son, and having such big shoes to fill.


You will never know. You will never know.

This is how it goes. This is how it goes.

You will never know. You will never know.

You will never know. You will never know.


I said, this is why father cries.

I said, this is why father cries.

He tries to do his best

and you say I don’t want your life.

This is why father cries.

I said, this is why father cries.

I said, this is why father cries.

He gives you all he has

and you say no, Dad, I want, I want, I want mine.

The second verse is now a change in voice, written from the perspective of Cole but spoken through the portrayal of Nicolas (the autotuned voice, again, acting as a symbol for that "suit" of acceptance and validation). Cole, here, is talking about what it's like to "hide" himself beneath Nicolas.

Verse 2

If you focus on Nicolas you can’t really see me.

I can be made to look rather angry and not all that appealing.

They call me trouble for being the one to question the ceiling.

There’s a reason we never talk about what I am revealing.

I am the one, with the gun, pointed right at your feelings.

They say shut up, we don’t want to look up we love kneeling.

Am I the only one, looking around, counting the killings?

Another kid, with a tie, and no backbone to speak of.

See when you're part of the one percent you give up your voice

unless you’re telling the ninety nine they should chase all these toys.

You aren’t allowed to feel pain.  You aren’t allowed to speak up.

Because you’re rich and life’s perfect and have what everyone wants.

But — What do you do when you know the end isn’t real? 

If when you’re ten you can see that a job won’t ease how you feel.

No matter how much you make, you can’t make up for the fact

that what you do in life isn’t enough

unless you’re doing just like Dad.

You see, in towns like this, there are "acceptable" things to pursue and "not acceptable" things to pursue. And many of the things I wanted to pursue growing up were frowned up, or discouraged, or told to keep only as "hobbies"—either they weren't good enough, or they were simply were "too" outlandish. For example: Being one of the top spine surgeons in the country, totally acceptable. Being a professional hockey player, "Well, let's be realistic, Cole...". 

As a kid, you don't care to be realistic. You don't want to be realistic—especially if you are creative and ambitious. All you want is your parents to believe in you, and to let you walk your own path. For me, this was a big struggle.

The chorus here is an expression of both the inner and outer conflict. The muffled voice is an internalization of my father, which has become a sort of Inner Critic. And the naked voice is an expression of my Inner Child. 

The two argue back and forth... and yes, all of these were, at one point, different dreams of mine.

Inner Child

I want to play in the NHL!

Inner Critic

Cole, be realistic.


I want to be a professional gamer!


Cole, be realistic.


I want to be a writer/rapper!


Cole, be realistic.


I want to be a bodybuilder!


Cole, be realistic.


I want to follow all my dreams!


Cole, be realistic.


I want to be what I believe!


Cole, be realistic.


I want to see what I can see!


Cole, be realistic.


I want to see, I want to see, I want to see if I can be


The third and final verse is written from the perspective of the Wounded Child. There is a lot of very rich and revealing art that the Wounded Child holds, however getting this portion of Self to open up enough to share is quite the challenge. The Wounded Child is the part of the self that keeps everything locked away. It has been hurt enough times to know not to share anymore—so when you do finally open the door, it all comes spilling out.

Verse 3

Wanted to say this for so long, I have,

I might as well start with Dear Dad.

Why was this the hand I was dealt?

Why am I so unlike the rest?

Why when I look at the world am I sleeping in king size bed?

Why can other kids not afford college while I graduate with no debt?

Am I supposed to just keep my head down and forever pretend?

Should I just float on through life oh so blissfully ignorant?  

And become a title and solid paycheck and not question the rest?

Go buy a wife, have some kids, a sports car, and a white picket fence? 

Maybe forget all the times I heard it from close family friends,

"Oh, Cole can go conquer the world, well just take a look at his dad!"

And all the things I’ve ever done were stolen right out of my hand.

"Of course Cole succeeded in that, anyone in his position can!"     

Now I see why I’ve been pursuing only things I love.

I want, I want, I want, I want, I want to feel like I’m enough. 

No one can say I didn’t earn it pointing at my circumstance.

My goal is not to be successful, goal is to be my own man.


Here we find ourselves in the rain.

The biggest overarching lesson I took away from this project was that the path of Inner Work has no "end." In fact, the mere searching for a destination is flawed in itself. Inner work is a continuous process, and I had forgotten that. I kept looking for something external to let me know I'd "made it," that I was "done," only to realize over and over again that there is no such thing—and it is the path in itself that is the true reward.

Beautiful Rain is a manifestation of all of the voices I discovered throughout this process, being channeled through to sing as One. Before, they were each different parts of me operating by themselves, playing solo. Here, they are playing together, working together as an orchestra, giving the voice a range of depth that did not exist before. 

Beautiful Rain is also a nod toward my own remembering that a path must have adversity in order to teach you valuable lessons. It's not about running away from the things that scare you, as much as it is being able to acknowledge them, see how you can work through them, and then allowing that practice to make you a better person. Everything that I have learned up to this point has been a result of acknowledging "tough stuff." And I had forgotten that. And so, all one must do to walk the Inner Work path is continue to open their arms to the challenge of being challenged.

The process of acknowledging all of the above is what ultimately allowed me to finish Confessions of a Teenage Gamer. The Inner Work came first, and the outward expression came second.

This song is structured as follows:

Verse 1: The Ego. This is the outward competitive blend that occurs when Nicolas and Cole work together. When I am in my "zone," I know that it is never a matter of "if," but simply a matter of "when." If I pick something, I obsess over it until I have mastered it. If I enter your market or arena, I will one day become better than you. If you are my competition, I will study you relentlessly until I defeat you. Blending Work Ethic with Creativity in this sense is a powerful combination. Anything I do, I do to the Nth degree. I took what I learned becoming one of the top World of Warcraft players in the country and applied it to fitness—and crushed it. Then I took what I learned in fitness, went into a completely different industry, creative and digital marketing, and crushed it. This is very "masculine" energy, and requires a lot of mastery in order to learn how to wield wisely. Also, this entire verse speaks to something that truly motivates me: True innovation. Anyone can create a shit product. Anyone can market shit. Anyone can make shit look bright and shiny. All of that frustrates me and feeds me to bring a different level of depth to markets, industries, and art forms (like rap, for example) that I love, but are filled with so much shit. Advertising and marketing is mostly shit. Big brands and big campaigns are mostly shit. Most people do not take the time to think through what it is they are creating. They want quick fame instead of lasting loyalty. And in order to create something of value, it HAS to come from a deeper part of you. So then, within myself, I have to learn how to navigate both: Being competitive enough to want to outperform my competition, but being soft and open enough to create from the heart. This is Nicolas and Cole working together.

Verse 2: The Inner Work Process. In order to create something of value, you have to place so much emphasis on your own personal development. If you are purely outward-focused, you are going to cap out. Your ceiling is going to be very low. What I am sharing with you are my own set of rules that I have learned help me stay the course. First, I do not abuse substances, I do not binge drink, I do not lose focus on what truly matters to me, which is self-development. Second, in everything I do, I look for the intersection: Creative Expression and Business. Instead of creating yourself to be this shell, this "representation" of success, how can you let your creative expression be the driver, and the "branding" of yourself be a reflection of that? That's what I'm interested in, and that's where my focus stays. Third, I read A LOT. You have to read in order to feed yourself. Input is just as important than output. Fourth, I treat my inner work with the same discipline I treat any business venture. I know what my goals are, I know how I'm going to measure my steps forward, and I remind myself of that process on a daily basis. And fifth (and this is the hardest part), I know how to say No. I put my personal practices ahead of everything. Everything else comes second, and in my mind it has to, because if you aren't right within yourself, you will never attract that which you truly want. If you are seeking inner growth, you have to treat that practice with respect. Honor it. 

Verse 3: Realization. Finally, this last verse is a sort of culmination of all the lessons learned throughout this project. Seeing things from different perspectives, but realizing they all contribute to the larger portrait. As much as I wish there was one single "pose" I could hold that puts everything about me into nice, neat boxes, I cannot. Some sides conflict with others. I, we, as humans, are walking contradictions. And so it's not about highlighting some sides and denying others. It's about letting them all shine through, and being appreciative of the whole—instead of separate parts in themselves.

Beautiful Rain is a "THANK YOU" to that process—a thankfulness of Self. 

Verse 1

Pulling at me? You might as well stop.

If there’s one thing I know it’s how to get to the top.

I don’t treat my time lightly and I’m not some white collar on the clock.

In college I studied art because I believed in my potential

even though my dad told me to be more focused on financials.

But the way I see it if I work like I mean it

then my work will be a reflection of what I believe in.

And from a marketing perspective that’s the shit that’s going to ignite a feeling.

See I’m different in the fact I have both sides:

Left brain is the crack.

Right brain tells me how to bag it up, distribute it, go and collect a check.

If you thought I wasn’t paying attention in class you’re 100% right.

I was learning all of this late at night on my desktop way back in 2005.

Gamers don’t know shit, huh?

Gamers don’t know shit.

Well this gamer grew up, applied his knowledge and right now is fucking your bitch.

That’s what makes me different, and that’s what makes me cool.

And the same strategies that made me a Gladiator have made me a Creative Director with something to prove.

If you want to be your best self then you need a code for you and only you.

And if you want some samples of mine, then here are my rules.

Verse 2

When someone asks me to take a drink or to smoke

I play it off like I don’t know, but I know

what’s right for me might not be right for them, and I know what I need to grow.

Rule 1 is never compromise who you are just to fit in,

even if it means giving up a business connection or a dime piece bitch.

Trust me the right people will come along with you

when you make choices honoring the inner you.

Not the outer you. The "you" you think is going to get you approved.

Rule 2 is simple, there’s two kinds of pleasure in everyone’s life:

the kind that inflates the ego and the creative egoless adventure inside.

Which coincides with 3. You’re not learning if you don’t read.

Pick a new book each week, and at the end reflect on you, a little culpability.

4 is Dale Carnegie, Think and Grow Rich is the name.

Write down exactly who you want to be - this is your Chief Aim.

And every morning before breakfast read it aloud,

every night before bed, read it aloud.

Read it aloud so much that you memorize the whole script from the top down.

This is called a habit — and this is the root of the madness.

Rule 5 makes the master: let no one, no one, disrupt your practice.

Verse 3

I know I talk a big game, but I can walk the walk

and if you really wanna talk the talk, don’t ball to ball,

be the ball, shoot the jay, it’s ok, kill a mockingbird with your brain.

I said with your brain. When I was seventeen all I had was my brain.

Nobody saw me, nobody gave a shit cuz of how little I weighed at the end of the day

but, well well, look at me now.

Everybody wants the King Cole crown.

Couldn’t get a girl to take me to the turnabout dance,

now I got models all about bounce bounce bounce butt.

At the same time, here’s the flip side:

Mom and Dad don’t understand why, of all the things you could do, YOU coulda been a doctor, 

this is what you decide.

Lemee tell you what it means.

If you really wanna go and get green,

say "Be the tree,

I’ma go deep, I’m gonna know myself, I’m gonna chase my dream."

Everything I am today, I owe and attribute to the path of Beautiful Rain.

Marcus Aurelius said, "The obstacle is the way."

So all the tough shit, you flip it.

You really wanna get rich? Go get it.

You wanna change yourself? You wanna make yourself? You wanna be the man you envision?

Then stop thinking the answer is somewhere out there, 

because I hate to break it to you it isn’t.

The answer is right where you’ve always been.

All you have to do is listen.