“I’m not going to blow sunshine up your ass,” says C.J. Ortiz. “I’m going to show you how you can maximize your resources. But I don’t know if you can, and I don’t think you should lie to yourself either. If you suck, you suck. Improve it. Don’t take it personally. Just improve it.”
Some call Ortiz the Tony Robbins of Heavy Metal. When he’s not working at Bronson Rock coordinating bands, he’s spending his free time motivating people to live aggressively with daily streams that tackle topics such as “How to Put Procrastination to Death,” “How to Think Positive All the Time” and “How to Make Every Day Kick Ass!”
He calls it, “Metal motivation.”
“What metal did for me is what I’m doing for others,” says the 50-year-old former minister, who is nearly a foot shorter than Robbins at 5'7". “Metal wasn’t a destructive force in my life. It was the soundtrack of my life. It was defined. It was edgy. It knew what it wanted, and it was honest.”
What he lacks in height, Ortiz makes up in attitude. Black is his preferred color. With shoulder-length brown hair and a wrestler’s physique, he commands the viewer’s attention in his self-help videos, which appear on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
He’s often treated like a rock star at Bronson Rock, where he works as the entertainment and media director. Located in Keller, a suburb of Fort Worth, the biker bar was once an old gas station but now sometimes acts as “C.J.’s church.” It's also his "watering hole."
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“But I don’t walk around here telling everybody that I’m ‘C.J. the Metal Motivator,’” he says. “People think I’m either in one of the bands, or I’m a biker, or I’m the owner.”
Ortiz says he’s always had a penchant for motivational speaking. He learned it from his father, an immigrant from Ecuador who worked in the construction industry in New York City. His father's upbeat attitude led him to the ministry, where he spent two decades coaching, counseling and speaking to various spiritual and religious groups. “The line between the Tony Robbinses and Joel Olsteens is very blurry,” he says. “There is not a clear distinction.”
In 2005, after nearly 20 years in the ministry, Ortiz became disillusioned with institutional religion. “I dedicated so much of my time and energy to helping build another’s kingdom,” he says. “But they never returned the favor.” So he built one of his own, to serve and help others through metal motivation, but the self-help marketplace was littered with thousands of gurus, all carrying quote cards.
A couple of years later he was watching YouTube and came across a video of a Canadian punk rocker with a heavy New York accent attempting to motivate people with rock ‘n’ roll. It was cool idea, he says, but not distinct enough. “What’s motivating is metal,” he recalls thinking. “If I did this, I would do this as metal motivation.”
“So I created ‘Metal Motivation — daily screams for living aggressively,’” he says. “Think Tony Robbins meets Metallica.”
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He reconnected with an old running buddy named Todd Pack and asked him to join in the metal motivating and appear in some of his motivational videos, all of which were titled after heavy metal songs. “Seek & Destroy,” “Nothing Else Matters: Don’t Let Anything Break Your Focus” and “Mean Streak: Anger’s Collateral Damage.”
The videos were more humorous and dramatic to hammer the metal motivation message of "10 times more for a greater cause." But creating each video took hours of their free time, which Pack would rather spend playing drums. He eventually stepped out of the camera’s spotlight, to spend more time in the limelight with local metal bands Horror Cult and Creeper.
“Despite what some people might think, [Metal Motivation] doesn’t pay the bills,” Pack says.