SXSW Poker #12: Laurie Davis

9th March 2011

I love Laurie and her inspiring story about taking initiative. 


When I was 18, I wanted to be a rock star. As a student at Berklee College of Music, I met an alumnus who owned an entertainment company and I had high hopes of being his next lead singer.  When we met, he told me more about his other business — a music education service.  Through stream of consciousness, he blurted out a business challenge: He didn’t have enough time to focus on the education side of things though it had higher margins than the entertainment company.

One week later, I showed up to meet him, notebook in hand, and ran through a list of innovative ideas for his music lesson business.  If he did these things, I said, his revenue would dramatically climb.  He stared at me, listening patiently, mouth agape as I outlined my 3 page manifesto for a business that wasn’t even mine.  When I finished, he said, “Great ideas. And I know exactly the person to do all this. YOU.”

I didn’t become a Director of Operations at 18 without taking some initiative.  What I’ve learned is that inspired moments happen when you least expect it.  I didn’t scribble down business ideas in a notebook 11 years ago because I wanted a job; I was just trying to help someone out.  The same happened with my first business, an event planning company — the demand came before the LLC.  Similarly, what once was a hobby helping my friends date online morphed into something that no one could have expected — my internationally recognized brand, eFlirt Expert. Ideas generated by circumstances can often become the most powerful ones in your life.  Being ambitious isn’t necessarily always about climbing the ladder; it’s about noticing opportunities and taking advantage of them.

Laurie Davis is the Founder of eFlirt Expert and eFlirt Expert VIP.  She helps singles find love using technology, and gets just as excited about first dates and engagements as they do!

Reblogged from SXSW Pokes

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I love the idea of following your passion and doing what you love, I was previously in a program in College that I did not enjoy and working a job I despised which led me to drop everything and start over. The problem is that now with the possibility of doing anything, I am doing nothing and I 'don't know how to figure out what I want to do. I guess what i'm asking is how did you find what was meaningful in your life or did you always know?

Asked by souupp

Most importantly, just start. Think less, do more, and begin with the things you enjoy doing. You might have to try a lot of things before you find something that fits. Live for the question and experience the answer. 

My approach is to only do things I enjoy. If I don’t like something and I can’t make it work, I stop. Move on. Appreciate the experience. And repeat. 

That said, if I wanted to be very intentional, I would: 

1) Give myself 10 minutes to make a list of everything in life I want to do and accomplish. (Think career, family, financial, fitness, spiritual, pleasure, etc.)

2) Go through that list and assess very honestly why I want to do each of those things. (Here I find it important to understand if each item is extrinsically or intrinsically motivating. I like to focus on the latter as doing what I enjoy is more fulfilling and rewarding than trying to please others.)

3) Pick 5-8 concrete goals to work on now, listing out a) the benefits of reaching, b) obstacles to overcome, c) skills & knowledge to gain, d) who the groups and individuals who can help.

4) Devise an action plan, set a date, and GO.

This process can be daunting. As is anything great we want to accomplish in life. Good luck.

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Announcing SXSW Pokes with Poker #1: Clay Hebert

4th March 2011

Next week I’m heading to SXSW to rep The Domino Project, talk poking, and collect your stories about taking initiative. Over the next week, we’re curating stories of SXSW Pokers who take initiative. First up: Clay Hebert. 

Want to get your story in the mix? Submit yours now. We’ll hand pick the best.


Two words can change everything.

I love playing basketball.  I remember being 11 years old and going to the local playground.  A bunch of older kids were all just shooting around at the two hoops and not really playing.  

I asked a simple two-word question that changed everything, “Wanna run?”

They all nodded excitedly and we started a full-court game that lasted for hours.  More players showed up.  A group of girls showed up just to watch.  Everyone had a great time and we didn’t leave until they shut off the playground lights.  We started playing every night at the same time.

The sad, surprising tale is that this same scene has repeated itself hundreds of times in my life.  I show up to a court and everyone is just shooting buckets, like they need an 11-year old’s permission to organize a game.  

“Wanna run?”

Minutes later, we split up teams and we’re immersed in a competitive game, whether 3 on 3 or full-court 5 on 5. In 23 years of doing this, it has worked every time.  Never have the other seven people said “no, I just came to shoot”.

Thousands of hours of fun and exercise for hundreds of people from two simple words.

So what’s stopping you?   You have dreams, ideas, that book you want to write, that blog you want to start, that trip you want to take.  So why are you standing around shooting at the hoop?

Wanna run?

Clay Hebert is an entrepreneur, optimist and nomad. The founder of Tribes Win, he blogs at Daily Sense.

Reblogged from SXSW Pokes

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3rd March 2011

From Paul Buchheit, this is the very best thing I’ve read all week. It captures everything I believe about living a fulfilling life:

One of the problems I’ve faced throughout life is that I’m kind of lazy, or maybe I lack will power or discipline or something. Either way, it’s very difficult for me to do anything that I don’t feel like doing. If I try to force it, my energy disappears, and I hate life.

My strategy can be reduced to two rules: 1) Find a way to make it fun and 2) If that fails, find a way to do something else.
The extrinsic path to success is to focus on being the person you are told to be, and put all of your energy and drive into fitting that mold.

The approach I stumbled into is based on intrinsic motivation. To the greatest extent possible, do whatever is most fun, interesting, and personally rewarding (and not evil). External constraints, such as the need to go to school or make money are simply obstacles to be hacked. Be skeptical of external authorities, as they are often manipulating you for their own benefit, or for the benefit of the institutions they represent (often unknowingly, as they were already captured by the same systems which are attempted to ensnare you). Your identity comes from within — external recognition such as degrees and awards are only of tactical importance — don’t allow them to define who you are.

The intrinsic path to success is to focus on being the person that you are, and put all of your energy and drive into being the best possible version of yourself.

Of course this leads to the question, “What is success?” Someone who spent his life working 80 hour weeks, living in hotels, and fighting his way up the corporate ladder to become VP of toilet paper marketing would probably consider himself more successful than a sandwich shop owner who spends his nights and weekends playing with his kids and working on hobby projects, but maybe the sandwich shop owner would be happier and healthier. Ultimately, it is up to each person to decide what success means to them, but I think it’s important that everyone be mindful of the decision they are making. 

It’s often said that people become entrepreneurs because they can’t handle a regular job. Perhaps these people are simply too “defective” to fit into any mold, or maybe they lack the extrinsic motivation necessary to care about bosses, performance reviews, and other things which are so important for success in the corporate environment. However, what they do have is the creativity and natural sense of direction necessary to run their own business. I doubt that this is a coincidence.
The purpose of life (to me): shape your world (don’t shape yourself to it), look within before you look out, and become the very best possible version of yourself. Pursue fulfillment and chase that which makes you feel alive. 


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Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping … waiting … and though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir … open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us … guides us. Passion rules us all. And we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love … the clarity of hatred … the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we’d know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank. Without passion, we’d be truly dead.

- Joss Whedon 

Reblogged from Interweb Wanderlust

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Believe you can and you will

1st March 2011

In the last year, I’ve found that making things happen has less to do with knowledge and resources and more to do with believing it’s possible.

We’ve all had those moments. You know the ones. You have an idea… a bold one, a brilliant one, one that might change the world. You feel the initial excitement, confidence and “YES I can!” when suddenly, the doubts begin to pour in. “Why me? Can I really make this happen? Do I have the time, money or energy? How do other people do this? What happens if I fail?” Sometimes all we need is a little encouragement. Sometimes all we need is to believe.

As Seth says:

I have a controversial belief about this: I don’t think the problem has much to do with the innate ability to initiate. I think it has to do with believing that it’s possible and acceptable for you to do it. We’ve only had these doors open wide for a decade or so, and most people have been brainwashed into believing that their job is to copyedit the world, not to design it.

Today The Domino Project launches its first book, Poke the Box. 96-pages of action-inspiring words, a swift kick in the pants, and a permission slip to Go, Go, Go.

What are you waiting for?

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Take initiative, trust your gut, and create revolutions in your work

21st February 2011

A year ago I set out on a journey to explore my passions and experience the answer of what was next for me. 

I quit my stable and comfortable job, sold my car and apartment of furniture, and gave all but 12 outfits to charity. I packed my life into a suitcase and hopped on a plane from San Francisco to New York. I felt consumed by the idea of living in New York which left me with no choice but to act. 

Throughout my journey over the last twelve months, I’ve met a number of incredibly inspiring and talented people. Tech founders, photographers, designers, stylists, restauranteurs, filmmakers, authors, actors, world-travelers, and more. People who are passionately pursuing that which inspires them and makes them feel alive. 

Along the way, I’ve collected their deeply personal stories of failure and success. Of growth and progress. Of touching hearts and opening minds. I’ve been moved by each story and I hope you will be too.

Today I’m soft-launching thanks to a brilliant team of designers and developers from around the world. (You can sign up now!) They believed in my vision for bringing this gift to the world, and I’m grateful for their help on this project. Together, we hope to inspire more people to discover, explore, act, and accomplish. 

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Sunday night drama: It’s amazing what lengths people will go to when they’re angry…

20th February 2011

Loud pop music has been blaring in my apartment complex for the past two weeks. I wasn’t quite sure where it was coming from and it didn’t really bother me until tonight…

Me 30 minutes ago:

I’m in a spurt of writing, fully focused, and feeling prepared for the week… in the background I hear Lady Gaga so loudly that it sounds like it’s in the next room.

"Where is this coming from?" I think to myself. I decide to ignore the music, staying focused on the activity in front of me.

Soon after, I find myself distracted every 30 seconds and losing focus… Worst of all, I suddenly feel a migraine begin to surface. And I haven’t had a migraine for months!

"Enough!" I think to myself as I put on my boots in search of finding the music.

I exit the apartment and walk to the other side of the building where I find a staircase. 

"Wow!" I think to myself, "This music is coming from another floor?!" 

Reminiscent of my modern dance days, I wonder if there might be dance practice going on below me… But at 10:15 pm on Sunday? That seems illogical. 

I skip down the stairs and discover music playing from the door at the base of the steps. I aggressively knock on the black, much scarier than my only a floor up door, uncertain whether those living inside will even be able to hear me. 

No response. 

I knock again, this time harder.

No response again.

I knock again, even harder this time, feeling evermore curious for what I might find inside.

Finally, a few minutes later, the music turns down.

"Ahhh…" I say to myself, "I can finally hear myself think again."

The voice of an older man shouts, “Just a minute!”

"An older man who loves Lady Gaga?" I think to myself. "Something’s definitely not right here."

A 60something year-old man opens the door with an obvious rage about him.

"Do you hear the people making noise above me too?!" he angrily remarks. "There’s a two-year old and couple who make noise to drive me crazy … I am in battle with them,” he says in a fit of rage.

I inquisitively look at him for a few seconds and then ask “You’re in battle with a two-year old?”

"Yes!" he says. "She makes so much noise! It drives me crazy! They’re out to get me!"

I quickly remark, “So, let me get this straight … a two-year old is out to get you and you think playing loud music will solve this problem?” 

Hopeless, uncertain, and potentially a little crazy, the old man pauses for a moment and stares deeply into my eyes. 

"Why is everyone out to get me?" he says. Only this time, there’s an obvious sadness to him. I can see him holding back the tears in his eyes. So lost, so confused, so jaded. 

I feel his pain for a moment, pause, reflect, and then ask, “Do you really think the two-year old child is out to get you?”

"No," he replies, looking down at the floor this time. "Everyone who ever loved me is punishing me now. They are out to get me.”

I pause again for a few moments, feeling sad for the man but also realizing that this is not a conversation or situation that I want to get that deeply involved in. The more I pause, the more the man gazes at me hesitantly, showing insecurity in his eye contact and pacing. I remain quiet, curious to see if he’ll speak up.

A few seconds later, he says, “I’m very sorry. I apologize for inconveniencing you and causing you any pain. I wish you a good night.” 

I too wish him well and I go on my way. I hop back up the stairs and begin to reflect on the unexpected but enlightening moment I just shared with the sad, older man… 

Me right now:

As I write this and reflect on what just happened I can’t help but consider where anger stems from. The emotional cycle of pain typically goes as follows: Pain -> Defensiveness -> Anger -> Sadness -> Love. Our actions stem from a deeper place, often far deeper than the situation at hand. Usually all we need to overcome these situations is love. 

Everything is connected, love accordingly.

And back to my Sunday night writing I go… 

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