Losers. Failure. Despair.
November 7, 2007

Quite a while back, I discovered a little website with some funny posters ... and, not being one of the great dissatisfied at the time, promptly forgot about it. I snickered my ass off in 2001 when they filed a trademark for :-( and "threatened" to sue some seven million email users for trademark infringement. I snickered harder when I realized that despite the obvious satire of the entire Despair site and definitely of the press release about the trademark, people took this stuff seriously.

I rediscovered the site in early 2006 when I was finally trying to adjust to the corporate world ... and fell in love. They are true motivational posters.

For example, my favourite one remains:


The story of this website is one of those, "Good lord, what the heck is wrong with me for not doing this myself" kind of deals. Essentially two brothers and a friend were working at a company who was jerking them around ... as companies are wont to do. They sat around making up "fake" motivational posters one day as they flipped through a "real" motivational poster catalog ... and the idea was born. When they got their "settlement" money from the buyout of the company they worked for, they took it, raised more capital ... and began to discover and create Despair.

So far as I can tell, they've spun off all of the customer disservice and fulfillment duties to a sister company, Amplifier, and Despair itself is just a handful of people. (One article said just one of the founders ... another said four people.)

Other favourites:


Today, of course, Despair has branched out a bit. You can pick your favourite DeMotivators and make a calendar out of them. You can get the pessimist's mug. DespairWear is taking off in a big way. And, of course, there's the book.

Enjoy! Check out more from www.despair.com.

Except you won't find this one over there ... what? you really didn't think after getting laid off I'd be able to resist, did you?

The truly funny thing? When I signed up for Despair's email list, every person in the marketing department was frustrated. We wanted to make cool, hip, edgy emailers like the beautiful sarcasm in the Wailing List emails. But, dealing with a product that really wasn't very cool, hip or edgy, we were destined to relative dullness.

And when I went to my high school reunion, someone brought up Despair. Turns out that I went to high school with two of the three founders. And one of them sat in front of me during Spanish class. He was a kinda quiet guy, into art and poetry. We had a lot of fun commiserating on the idiotic tendencies toward conformity in my high school. He found it amusing that I was in serious trouble at home because I refused to have my senior picture taken. You see, for our yearbook picture senior year, we all wore the exact same outfit. The guys had a suit/tux thing ... and the women had this weird black dress top with a seemingly feather boa. Okay, it was a bit nicer looking than a feather boa ... but still.

My senior class was full of rebels and non-conformists. And yet, every one I can think think of who insisted on individuality and not following the herd ... every single one of them had their senior pictures taken like that. So "Eric" found it amusing that despite all the people in common we knew, I was the only one stupid enough or stubborn enough to actually refuse to have my picture taken like that.

It's funny. I know a lot of people who can't remember their childhoods at all. Many who can't remember high school. But I can still picture "Eric" sitting in front of me during Spanish. There were perhaps 3 of us in the class who would cruise through the work with no effort, which left Eric and I with a lot of time to chat and pass notes. I can remember some intense conversations ... but not quite so much the specifics of what we talked about.

Odd how small the world can be. And how excellent it is that a guy I used to worry about on a regular basis for the despair that he seemed to have back then ... how excellent is it that he has turned that "characteristic" (for lack of a better word) into such a wonderful business.

Posted by Red Monkey at November 7, 2007 10:06 AM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |

I've always loved Despair, Inc., and have featured them in my links section for years. It's cool to learn more about the founders and what they did to alleviate their own senses of frustration and boredom.

Now, if only I had some talent. :D

November 7, 2007 4:47 PM


Jodi said:

I adore! ADORE the madness one.....I just may get me one...


November 7, 2007 6:53 PM


Bobbie said:

I did not know about despair.com until I read this post, so thank you for introducing me to it -- and also for the personal glimpse into one of the founder's earlier days.

November 8, 2007 1:34 PM


Jackal said:

Like the madness poster.

November 19, 2007 10:08 AM
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