If you want to find out how this kid, raised in a very poor country as a member of a brainwashing cult ended up doing business online and living in Germany, read on...
Right off the bat, let me say why I use Mr. Bock on this site and not my complete name. I think "Mr. Bock" is definitely easier to remember than Hermann Bock, which is my proper name.
What throws most people off with my name though, is that given that it's of German origins, it has two 'N's at the end. Most English speaking people tend to forget that and always write my name as just Herman.
Now imagine a website where people always forget one letter when typing it in. It could be problematic!
It does exist though: hermann-bock.com.
Besides, as a teenager, most of my friends actually called me Mr. Bock. So I decided to stick with it.
Having cleared that up, let's talk a bit about who Hermann Bock is and since where you come from has lots to do with who you are, let's talk about my origins for a bit.
When people ask me where am I from, I tend to just to say "I was born in Panama". No, not Panama City in Florida, but Panama City in the country of Panama.
This normally strikes my counterpart as little bit weird, because normally people just give a place when asked where are they from. Like in where are you from? New York, or LA, or Mexico.
However, the reason I normally give that indirect answer is because, well, it's a bit complicated. In this instance though, I'm gonna go deeper and explain a bit more about myself without throwing curved balls.
It's supposed to be an "About Me" page, right? So let's get to it!
As I mentioned, I was born in Panama, but when I was about 2 years old, the whole family moved to Venezuela. Yeah, that Venezuela, that now is seen as a prime example of how "Big Government" can really go awfully wrong when not kept in check.
Back in the 70s though, it was an amazing place to live and raise kids. There was lot of work and the country was starting to benefit from its amazing oil reserves.
However, not for my dad, he was somehow not satisfied with the situation there, so about 6 years later, when I was 8, he decided that Caracas, Venezuela's capital, was not for him anymore. He wanted to be close to the beach and kind of away from civilization.
So we toured the east of Venezuela's coastal area in search for his paradise. We even spent 1 month with the Warao indians in the delta of the Orinoco river, sleeping in hammocks and living in stilt houses. It was fun, specially when my brother fell into the river and everybody was thinking if there were Piranhas in that area...
There were none!
It was an interesting adventure, but somehow still not exactly what my dad was looking for. I guess he just wanted out from Venezuela, so we moved countries AGAIN...
...this time to Honduras...
Yes! That Honduras, where all the "frightening caravans" keep coming from to get you... 😕
Sorry about that, couldn't help it! 😉
Anyway, you might be wondering what up with all the country moving?
No, my dad wasn't in the military and was not a diplomatic either. He was just always looking for his paradise on earth!
See, my father was a very young German (16 years old) soldier that during the 2nd World War was taken prisoner and spent many years in camps in Siberia. So that once he was freed again, he was definitely done with the cold weather, done with Europe and especially done with Germany, so he "took action" and left Europe in search for warmer climates and people which landed him in beautiful Venezuela back in the 1950s where he met my mother.
My mother comes from the most famous party and gold mine town in Venezuela, called "El Callao", which has the best carnival celebrations in the country... or used to, given the circumstances of the country as of now.
So that union of two completely different cultures molded me in part into the person I'm now. You know, I have the punctuality of the Germans but, at the same time, I can be very relaxed and just enjoy the moment like a Latino does. The problem sometimes lies in balancing both extremes.
So, as I said, one day, my father just grabbed a map of Honduras, checked the north coast out (it had to be a beach town remember!) and found a beautiful bay with a town in it called Trujillo. Without knowing anything about it, he sold everything, except for his hundreds of books, and we moved.
Of course, back then in the 1970s, there was not even a glimpse of the internet as we know it today. So we got a few surprises when we arrived in Trujillo.
For instance, the town was so far away from civilization that not even a TV signal was available. I mean, even if you had a TV with a very tall antenna, there was no way of watching anything. So your TV would just be a status symbol and serve no practical purpose.
Now, think on the other hand about a kid moving to a beach town where there is no TV, no internet or anything that could be considered modern.
My brother and I, we did have an amazing decade there!!!
Even though I wasn't born there, I still consider Honduras my home country and Trujillo my home town. For 10 of the best years of my life, I lived in this little town in the north coast of Honduras without the distractions of TV, a fridge or washing machines. I still wonder how my mom managed after having grown up in a cosmopolitan city like Caracas was back then.
For me though, being raised in that kind of environment, gave me so many good and not so good experiences. This resulted in a personality that's very appreciative, resourceful and positive. I'm kind of an optimist.
But then, with 17, I felt that it was not enough to live in paradise. I needed more...
...I guess it was time to start expanding my world, so that's what I did...
I moved to San Pedro Sula to finish high school and my apprenticeship as an accountant. Yes, that city that a couple of years ago was the most dangerous place on this world to live...
Interestingly, that was the year that I got introduced to working with computers. I took a computer "data entry" course, as well as a BASIC programming one.
Thinking about how the world has changed now, it's kind of unbelievable that they had "data entry" courses back then, where the only thing you did was type stuff in into a "data terminal" that was afterwards transferred to a proper huge computer.
After a graduating, I moved to the capital city Tegucigalpa... always looking to expand my horizons... I wanted more!
But, how come I'm now living in Germany? How did I end up closing the "country moving circle" my father started back in the 1950s?
If you honestly examine the Honduran "caravan" phenomenon with a bit of empathy and understanding of people's natural desires and universal dreams, it will be very easy to grasp that what they're doing is just trying to improve their lives. That's what we all do. Well, most people anyway, there are always exceptions.
And that's the reason why at the beginning of the 2000s I decided to reverse what my father had done and kind of come back to Germany.
As you can see, we mostly make "life changing" decisions for security or economical reasons.
Back, when I was 15, my mother in all her amazing wisdom decided that I needed 2 skills to be successful in the future. What were those two skills?
- Being able to speak perfect English (remember I was born and grew up in Latin America having Spanish as my first language) and .... drum roll please....
- being really good at touch typing.
Yes, she was a professional secretary but don't ask me where she got her premonitions from. I mean, in EVERY SINGLE JOB I've had, those 2 skills have been of primary benefit. Of course, that now it's like a given, but back then at the end of the 70s... you'd have to admit it was more like a premonition!!!
Think about it... we work on the English speaking side of the internet and we mostly communicate typing. She was like the Oracle in the Matrix for me...
So, first she literally forced me to learn to touch type. She did that by locking my up in a room with a table, a chair and an old Royal typewriter with a page in it. I was not allowed out until that page was full of "asdf" and "ñlkj". 🙂
To force me to learn English, she just dropped my in the Belize of John McAfee's fame, a completely different country, for 3 months. Talk about total immersion.
And, by the way, my opinion in these things didn't count. At the time I was not happy with any option, but in hindsight, I think she couldn't have done it better, and I fully appreciate her much more for it.
Anyway, after graduating as an accountant - Honduran style - and doing some small jobs here and there, I landed what for Hondurans is considered an amazing job. I got to work for the American Embassy in Tegucigalpa as a Systems Administrator.
I love computers and I loved the prestige of working for the Embassy. I had it made, I thought!
It was during this time in the Embassy that I transitioned into the PC world, I was fascinated by those personal computers. I felt so much power and decided to become an expert in them, which helped me go up the ladder in the IT department of the Embassy.
But after 11 years of loyally giving them my time and kind of withering away in relation to my personal dreams, I got booted out in the most disgusting manner.
I was fired due to alleged security violations for playing with the then nascent public internet. They were super scared of the potential that the internet could provide in terms of communication and thought that my testing and experimenting with it was a lot more than that.
So, out I went!
After that, I worked for about 3 years for an American company based in Atlanta that developed software for hotels.
Back in 1999 when I got that job, I loved it! I had the opportunity to travel all over Latin America and the US. I spent normally three weeks in different hotels doing installation, configuration, training and go lives.
I got to visit amazing places by staying in hotels like The Grafton on Sunset Blvd. or The Brickyard Crossing in Indianapolis, right next to the Nasca racing track.
Once again, I thought I had it made...
But then, 911 happened and that was the end of that.
All this time I was still based out of Honduras. I'd travel for 3 weeks and then spend a week at home waiting for the next assignment. It was a very good arrangement. But after losing the job, and looking locally for a job, I couldn't find anything that could match in Honduras.
So, that's when I left Honduras and headed for NYC with my ex-wife and an 8 year old kid and spent a year as an illegal immigrant doing constructions work and worrying all the time about "la migra".
I discovered relatively fast that living in such uncertainty was not for me. So I decided to apply to German citizenship and successfully moved to Germany.
Adapting to Germany was not easy. Think about learning a language like German as an adult to be good enough to get a job and fend for yourself. I had to do that. And I did manage to get a job and I was happy and, once again, I thought I finally had it made!
After 7 years, our company got acquired by a corporation and they decided to shut us down.
Do you notice the pattern there?
Well, I thought... 3 times is enough!
That's when I decided to take this internet marketing thing a bit more seriously.
But, before I forget, let's talk about...
The Brainwashing Cult!!!
So far you've learned a lot about my life since childhood.
The thing is that during all that time, yes, for about 40 years of my life I was a Jehovah's Witness.
Yes, I did knock on doors trying to annoyingly make people become Jehovah's Witness. I did it in Honduras, I did it in NYC, I did it in Germany.
Why do I say that I was brainwashed into it?
Well, first off, I was never asked whether I wanted to become a JW (that's how they call themselves very often). But I was made to honestly believe that the only way to really be happy in life was by being a JW, so leaving was seen as a huge betrayal go God himself and you'd surely be destroyed soon, so it was basically unthinkable.
Everybody else on this planet WAS NOT HAPPY. They were just faking it all the time. And they were going to, very soon, be destroyed in Armageddon anyway.
This end of world mentality ruled basically everything I did. In fact, I am really grateful that something did not work out well in our birth control methods, which resulted in my having a son, who I'm really proud of now. But for years it was our plan to have no kids, because the end was near.
I also remember once in the Embassy, having a discussion with some lady. I was about 23, she was about 50 and I was claiming that I would NEVER BE OLD. She just laughed!
When I think about how sure I was that my beliefs were real, I actually feel ashamed of having been duped for so long.
Other things that I felt bad doing was anything directly related to earning lots of money. If you decided to work over time to earn a bit more, you were seen as a materialistic person, instead of spiritual, which was a no no.
The first thing that was mentioned is 1 Timothy 6:10 which states that the love of money is the root of all evil. And even though it's stressed that it's the LOVE OF MONEY and not money in itself, immediately you get seen as someone who loves money, because you're doing extra work to get money. So, again, a no win situation in regards to money, and a deep seated belief that screws you up every time you try.
Many other things are somehow discouraged or outright seen as bad. Some of them are as simple as saying "god bless you" when somebody sneezes, or celebrating a birthday, or even growing a beard.
But others are more insidious, like discouraging higher education, which is one of the reasons why JWs tend to have crappy jobs in average, and because they really believe that they will not get old before the end comes, they tend not to have savings for retirement... which, when reality hits, causes a very shitty situation.
Then there is the "shunning" when you decide to leave or for whatever reason stop believing. You lose your best friends, your family, even your spouse sometimes turns on you. That's my case, I haven't heard from my 85 year old mother in years now. Same goes with my brother.
So, how did I get out of this nightmare?
The Waking Up!
It all happened in November 2007 during an MSNBC newscast where Brian Williams talked about a child abuse trial, where the defendant was a JW.
Because it was Brian Williams and MSNBC, I gave myself permission to investigate more and what I discovered sent me down a rabbit hole that gave me a massive case of cognitive dissonance, depression and feelings of having been betrayed my whole life.
The good thing is that having come out at the other side of the tunnel, I have been able to rebuild my life with a new beautiful woman that is open minded and appreciates me, for me and not just for what I believe. A spiritual person, that's not brainwashed by cult mentality.
The sad thing is that child abuse remains a problem within the JWs, just like it was/is within the Catholic Church. And the shunning policy keeps people prisoner, that would otherwise leave if the prospect of losing their families and friends wasn't hanging over their heads all the time.
There are many of us that have left successfully, notwithstanding the shunning policy. And for that I'm immensely thankful.
So there you go, that's my story so far.
Now I'm more concentrated in securing my financial future and in making other people's lives easier. Yes, I've definitely worked on changing my beliefs and this website is proof of that, in my opinion.
Thanks for reading!