From time to time in my adult professional life, people would ask me, “what’s your story Matt?”...

and up until recently I would always describe my story as beginning at the age of 28 when I was at the darkest part of my life.

This part of my life read very much like a really depressing country song. I was on the front side of a separation from my ex-wife of almost 5 years because I had found out that she was having an affair for the past 4 months with her coworker. But as bad that may seem, what was worse is that I had also been kicked out of my church and with that my family and friends were also forced to shun me and disown me.

Wait it gets better! 

This was also happening during the beginning of the “big crash” in 2007 and so the company I worked for got liquidated and I lost my job. Because I lost my job I also then shortly after lost my house to foreclosure, I lost my most favorite car to repossession that I worked so hard to get and most all my other material belongings which at the time I identified with.

Life seemed like it couldn’t get much worse.

I did end up finding a commissioned B2B sales job, but then I injured my back and because of that I couldn’t work due to the amount of pain I was in and I couldn’t afford rehabilitation.

Yea, life was rough. I had no car, I was on food stamps, stealing cable and electricity for the house I was renting and sharing with a roommate, I kept pawning and selling items just to stay 3 months behind on rent constantly getting threatened with eviction.

Then one morning as I was laying in my bed, in excruciating back pain, I popped 1500mg of extra strength Tylenol in my mouth as a morning routine. After taking 15 minutes to gather enough flexibility to sit myself on the edge of my bed… when my feet hit the floor, it hit me.

What the F*@k was I doing with my life?! 

Why was I doing everything OTHER than what I wanted and what I loved to do? I had been busting my ass for 50-60 hours a week at that one job for commission payments which many times were no more than $250 bucks for the week. I quickly rationalized that I loved photography and I was really good at it, so there was no way that I couldn’t make the same amount as I was making at that job with just one photoshoot.

I had loved photography since the age of 16 and so I knew that I was not going to fall out of love with it any time soon, and if I hustled and worked hard, I could get 3 or 4 photo shoots a month and make more than what I was making at that sales commission job. Either way, it could not possibly get any worse.

So that is what I did. And now 12 years later I own a very successful digital marketing agency.

So that was what I used to think was my story… a phoenix rising from the ashes against all odds, with no money, no friends, no family, no social circles. Just a cheap camera, the passion and the determination to do whatever it took to make it happen.

Well, I was wrong...

That was only a part of my story. Sure it was the pit of my story, but it was still only just a part.

But the reason why I never talked about the earlier parts of my story was because I was still running from those parts.

As a matter of fact, when most of my friends today read this, it will come as a schock to them because this will be the first time they have learned about it because I just never talked about it. I kept it to myself.

I never acknowledged my past as being a part of who I am today. I always labeled it as "a past chapter of my life that is now closed." No need to talk about it, no need to reflect on it, it has no value in my life today. I would even make social media quote posts that said... 

"I'll never forget my past, but that's not where I am headed."

However, what I failed to realize, is that even though I buried my past deep in the back of my mind and did not face it. That did not mean that it was not still controlling every aspect of my current life, emotions, mindset and success. (This is hopefully something you begin to realize as well)

See, what I did not tell you above was that it took me 10 years after starting my photography business to build a business that was successful, stable and one that sustained myself and my family.

10 years?!!

Yea, 10 freaking years!! WFT?

Think about that for a second. How could someone work at something for a complete decade and after 9 years, still only be making just enough money to just get by?

Most if not all would have given up by then. Most will say it is impossible. Or they might say “Oh Matt, your just being dramatic and making that up to add more spice to your story.”

But I am here telling you that it is the truth, unfortunately that is what happened.

I am not proud of it by the way, I wish I could lie about it and say that it only took me 3 years to build a successful business, but no, it took me 10 whole years and it is embarrassing to say.

But the real point here is why it took 10 years.

The reason why it took me 10 years to build a business that was successful, and thriving was because I had such deeply ingrained limiting beliefs, I was holding myself back from success.

Every day I was consciously fighting against my subconscious and my ego. Every day of those 10 years was a freaking battle and the only reason why I lasted 10 years chopping away at the same darn thing until I was successful is because I am one stubborn son of a bitch. That’s it, I am just stubborn and determined that once I set my mind to something I will attain it no matter what.

However, once my business found its pace and was making steady good money, I still knew I was only scratching the surface of my capabilities and that was a very frustrating thing to acknowledge.

That is when I began to dig, and dig deep into my past to find out what it was that was holding me back. I had literally tried everything, I bought every course I could afford and some I couldn’t, I read so many books, bought so many business programs, and nothing was working.

I was finally forced to face my past to see what was holding me back.

So that is what I did, and what I found was all of the answers to why I was who I was then, why I am who I am today, and why it took me so long to be successful. Not only that, but I also found the keys to unlocking my present and future success.

What did I find? Well, it might take a little while to explain so I hope you have a little but of time. So, fill up your coffee and grab a snack because what I am going to share with you, was really hard for me to come to grips with and for the longest time I wanted to hide it.

However I am sharing my story now with the world because I know I am not the only one who has had a past like this, and I am hoping that by me sharing my story, I will inspire others to do the same and to be able to heal from their past.

Because whether we choose to believe this or not, our past and the lessons we can gain from it, quite literally hold the keys to our future successes

Matt Aponte

The real and controversial story

Wait a sec, why controversial? Because anything involving religion and religious beliefs is controversial... keep reading...

I had a normal childhood.

I grew up in a loving family and I was the youngest of 4 boys. Still not sure how my Mom managed us, but she was a tough Puerto Rican mom standing about 4’ 5” with heart full of love and a paddle with plenty of sting if you needed it.

We grew up in Live Oak Florida outside of the city limits way in the woods, plenty of room for 4 rowdy boys to grow up and run around, and that is exactly what we did. My father was the strength of our family, smart determined and had a real strong entrepreneurial spirit. Since as far back as I can remember my Dad always worked for himself. That is where I must have gotten my entrepreneurial spirit from because in 1st grade I took a box of pens from my Dad’s office to school and I began to sell them for 50 cents each.

I was killing it until I got caught by a school patrol and was turned in to the teacher and she forced me to give back the money to my classmates because only the school store could sell school supplies. Always trying to keep the little guys down. This was my first lesson in corporate control at an early age.

I really did have a great childhood, lots of play outside, building things and exploring the 100-acre pine tree reserve behind our own 3 acres.

Life was good.

Life was good growing up in our home. 

However, what I did not know then, that I know now, was that my subconscious mind was being programmed with many limiting beliefs. Some of this limiting programming came from my parents, at no fault of their own because they too were also products of their upbringing and surroundings. But the biggest impact on the development of my subconscious was the religious organization that I was born into.

See, in order for you to get a complete picture of how my life was from the age of 0 to the age of 27, you have to see that I was part of a very restrictive religious group. Some people describe this religious group as a cult, others describe it as something else. The name of the group is not important as that is not the point of me telling you all this. What is important is how it shaped me as a human being and why I was always only mediocre in my life.

All of my friends and family from the time I was born, till the age of 27 were part of this same religious group. And this is how it had to be because you were not allowed to have close associations with those outside of this religious group. So, in essence, I was raised in a bubble till I was a young adult man.

When I was 16, I fell in love with a girl that was in my same church. She was a year and a half older than me and just as teenagers often do, we spent as much time as we could together. Hormones raging and it being hard to maintain self-control, I eventually lost my virginity to her at the age of 16. This sounds like normal teenage years; however, this was a very bad no-no in our religion. Having sex before marriage was a sin.

I was afraid of being found out and caught, so I lied about what had happened, but it was soon found out that I was lying and because of committing this sin I was shunned from my church at the age of 17. Not only my church, but my family as well. I still lived at home during that time and so I was able to talk with my Mom and Dad, but I was unable to have dinner with them as a family or any meal together at that, my friends did not speak to me, and if I wanted to attend church I had to show up after church had started and leave before it ended and I was not to say anything to anyone while I was there.

Even out in public, my friends and people I knew from my church would turn their heads if they saw me and not engage me as they were no allowed to speak to me. This went on for about a year and a half until I was accepted back into my church after “having learned my lesson”. I was interviewed before they allowed me to come back into church and I had to write a letter for acceptance for them to even consider accepting me back.

Even though I did not fully agree with how I was being treated, I said whatever I needed to say and acted however I needed to act to be accepted back by my family, my friends and everyone I had known since I was a little boy.

This was the beginning of the point when I began to live a conscious lie.  

I was lying to myself.

I was lying to myself because I was taught to believe that my own thoughts and feelings, if they did not align with the bible, were a sin. I was lying to my friends and family because I no longer agreed with what was being taught in the church, however I was so fearful of being exiled again, I lied and went along with everything because being out in the “world” alone was really scary.

So, I lived a double life. On one side, I went to church regularly, I studied the bible and did what a good Christian young man should do and on the other side, I went out on the weekends to clubs to dance and drink with the couple friends that I had made from work, and constantly keeping an eye over my shoulder making sure that no one I knew from church was watching.

Then at the age of 23 I found myself in love again, this time with a good “Christian” girl, and I soon asked her to marry me. To be honest, I had strong feelings for her, but one of the biggest drivers for getting married was so I could finally have sex again!

Then I began to have second thoughts about getting married because I knew my intentions were not entirely pure. I shared my second thoughts with my fiancé and she got really upset and told her mom. Her mom called me a coward and a pussy (yes her words) and said that “no real man proposes to a woman and then starts to have second thoughts.”

So, I talked with my Mom about it. My mother, always a great one to talk to, told me only what she knew to say. “When you propose to a woman, you are giving her your word that you are going to marry her. So, you have to ask yourself now, if you are going to stick to your work, or are you going to back out.”

Even though my Mom was not intentionally pressuring me into going through with the marriage, I am never one to step back from a challenge. So, when I felt like my manliness and my “word” was being challenged, I felt pressured to go through with the marriage.

Fast forward almost 5 years after the wedding and this is when I find out my wife had been having an affair with her co-worker for 4 months.

I stated that I wanted a divorce, and she wanted us to go to the church “elders” to talk about it and get forgiveness. During this “meeting” with 3 of the leaders of the church, they began to accuse me of being the cause for my wife to cheat on me. Stating that if I was not giving her the love and affection that she needed on a regular basis, then no wonder why she was seeking it elsewhere!


I was absolutely shocked that they were not taking my side and supporting my decision to divorce this woman that had clearly been cheating on me for the past 4 months, in my mind it was over and I was never going to be able to trust her again so why put myself through this torment.

But no, they took her side…

This was the straw that broke the camels back for me.

This was the moment when I decided that I did not care what anyone thought anymore because no one seemed to care about me.

So, I removed myself from the church and that world wide religious organization for good. And once again, I found myself out in the world, alone with no family and no friends and even people in my professional circles severely limited their relationships with me until those fell apart as well, because they were also part of that religious group.

This was really tough because I actually had a really good relationship with my family and especially my parents. My mother and I were really close, I was her youngest and we could talk about a lot of things. But all of that, seemingly over night, was ripped away from me.

I had to rebuild myself, I had to finally discover who I really was and what I was all about and I had to start doing this at the age of 28.

So, what does all of this have to do with me not having success in business till after a decade of trying?

Because I was told my whole life that “money is the root of all evil”. I was told my whole life that you need to “be grateful for what you have and not strive for more”.

I was taught and conditioned my whole life that anyone outside of my family and friends that were in the church, could not be trusted, that they were all bad people and needed to be “brought to the light of god”.

In business we all know that “your network is your net worth”. However, I had major trust issues and so I kept everyone at arm’s length never letting them get close enough to hurt me.

I was conditioned to believe that wealthy people were not good because they focused only on riches. So, if I wanted to become wealthy and successful, then I must also become a bad person.

My associations with money were very negative, so therefore I was bad a managing money and did not know how to save it or invest it because I was never taught about investing and saving for the future.

But, the most important lesson from my past was this… 

Never be afraid to discover who you truly are, and NEVER lie to yourself about who you truly are. 

Because of my emotionally and psychologically damaging teens and 20’s I had a really hard time developing meaningful relationships with people. Because I only knew how to lie. I did not know how to be honest about anything I wanted or felt.

It was not until I was 34, and I had a left a path behind me of broken hearts, messed up relationships and failed attempts at business and success, that I decided that enough was enough and I made a promise to myself that I was not going to lie about anything anymore, even if it meant hurting people.

I had finally begun to realize that being able to stand in my truth and be comfortable there, was the most important thing in my life.

So, I began a deep dive into self-discovery and self-development, I began meditation as a daily practice, and I began weeding out and reprogramming old conditionings from my past.

How exactly has this journey of self-discovery and self-development help me? 

I found my true self.

I also found love again at 35 with my current wife and living a life of openness, transparency and honesty has been the best thing for our marriage and it has allowed us both to grow together built strong communication skills and develop a truly blissful marriage.

Since taking a deep dive and identifying my limiting beliefs about success and self-worth and then reprogramming them, my business success has blown through the roof.

I took the average sale in my business from $1,000 - $2,000 and increased it to $10,000 - $20,000 all just from having the confidence and self-worth to charge what I know our services are worth.

I now have a business that is valued over a million dollars that quite honestly, I wouldn’t have even been able to sell it a few years ago.

I have achieved a true state of flow, where my conscious efforts are backed and supported by my subconscious beliefs.

When you achieve this state of flow in life everything comes to you so much easier.

I honestly do not work more than 3 days a week now after mastering effective business processes and achieving that true state of flow and balance in my life.

What I realize now is that my life began when I mustered up the courage to face my past, acknowledge my past, understand my past, learn from my past and use my past.

Self-discovery is not an easy thing; as a matter of fact, it is very scary. However, even though it is a part of who we were, it does not have to be who we become.

So, what do I plan to do with all of this enlightenment?

In 2019 I put myself through a 52 week leadership and coaching certification program with RLC Global and I am now a Master Certified Real Leadership Coach & Consultant. I am also a High Performance Success Coach. Now in 2020 I am also on the way to becoming a certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner.

This, along with a deeper understanding of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) will not only allow me to continue to help myself in developing even deeper positive beliefs and subconscious programming for an even more fulfilling and successful life, but with these advanced skills coupled with my own real life experiences I aim to help as many as I can overcome deep seated and deeply engrained limiting beliefs.

I aim to share my story with those that will listen and not only share my story, but also share the knowledge and techniques I have personally used to effectively take my past and use it as a stepping stone for my future.

Others can do the same.

With my own experience and success in business and in life, I will help others enact real, lasting change in their own lives, in their own relationships and in their own businesses.

This is my story, this is my life, this is my mission.  

Matt Aponte RLC Consult - High Performance Coach

Matt Aponte

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