One Baby Step Closer to Living My Dream

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0000 2014 wsopIn case you forgot, one of my main dreams is to become a professional poker player. Last weekend I traveled to Las Vegas during the World Series of Poker. Most individuals that don’t really know much about poker don’t realize, depending on the year, there can be up to 60 bracelet events. When the layman thinks of the World Series of Poker, the only event that usually comes to mind is the $10,000 Main Event. This year, there are actually 65 bracelet events. For almost all amateur poker players, winning a bracelet event is a lifelong dream. I went to Vegas hoping to fulfill this same dream although I knew it was quite a long shot.

My plan for this trip was to win my way into Event #8, which is also known as the “Millionaire Maker Event.” As you can guess, it is titled this because the winner is guaranteed $1 Million. This is one of only three events that the winner will become a millionaire if they are not already. The other two are the “One Drop” which costs a Million Dollars just to enter and the Main Event. You must be thinking, who has a Million Dollars just to enter an event. The top 25 professional poker players in the world, that’s who. The buy in to Event #8 is $1,500. I could have just bought into it as anybody can, but I have not been playing as regularly as I should for somebody who wants to win a World Series of Poker bracelet. Because of this, winning my way in was the plan. Yes, as much as I hate to say it, life sometimes gets in the way of chasing our dreams. For me, this should only be temporary.

I flew into Vegas after work on Thursday night and by Friday evening the cash games were not treating me well. I was actually playing okay, but just wasn’t getting the cards and it is hard to bluff unwise amateurs in a low level cash game. So by about 9pm Friday night I only had a few hundred dollars in my bankroll and was worried I wouldn’t have enough funds to finish play a lot more hours without visiting the one machine in Vegas which always pays out… The ATM machine.

The Rio has daily deep stack tournaments and at about 9:30pm I decided to enter the 10pm tournament and figured at least I would get a few good hours of play without having to lose more than $135, since that was the entry fee. By 9:50pm I had my entry in hand and was getting prepared for the trite call to “shuffle up and deal.” So there are was, grinding it out and continuing my streak of almost no cards but picking up about 1 big hand every 1.5 hours. Pocket Aces, win a nice pot. Ace King, win a nice pot. Pocket Queens, win a nice pot. Almost 5 hours into the tournament I had a larger than average chip stack and all the players left (about 30) were getting closer to cashing in the event. The event had 204 entries and the top 21 got paid. I wont get into all the gory details but at about 5am, we were still playing and I was at the final table. There were no TV cameras, the poker room of over 200 tables was almost empty due to the late hour, and most of the people in the room were only the staff and a few cash game players. Despite that, to me this was important. I was already guaranteed to make money since the person out in 10th place would get $387 but I was shooting for the $5,306 first prize. This would guarantee my ability to enter the Millionaire Maker event. Like I was running all tournament, I was card dead except for 1 hand an hour. Despite being short stacked, I was able to outlast a few of the big stacks at the final table. Believe it or not, I can’t even remember how I was knocked out of the tournament. Maybe it had to do with the late hour or the multiple games I had played after the tournament since I was in Vegas until Monday afternoon. I was, however, proud to ultimately go out in 5th place and win $1,298.

This wasn’t really the big time but I did outlast 200 players. Nobody would know but me, my friends, and my family. The rest of the trip, the games went pretty similar but I did go deep in two other daily events I played. 37th out of 220 at the daily Aria tourney and 328 out of 1560 at the 3pm Rio Daily. So I cashed in 1 of 3 tournaments I entered and for the first time in awhile felt really good about my ability to play solid tournament poker.

Tuesday morning, I arrive at work feeling good about my game but realizing nobody else really knew that I cashed. With the exception, of course, of my friends and family. That is until a friend of mine at work, who also plays a lot of poker and knew about my cash, sent me a hyperlink starting with the important http://www.wsop. That’s right, they track and report who cashes in each of the three daily tournaments. And there I was, my 5th place finish listed on a PDF from the WSOP Site that shows the daily winners for May 30th. I felt like Navin R. Johnson from the movie “The Jerk” when he finds out his name is listed for the first time in the phone book. In the wide poker world, I was somebody. To everybody else in means nothing, but to me it definitely means something. It is the first of many upcoming cashes in my poker career. Its the first baby step to living my dream. The cherry on top was when “The Hendon Mob” site also reported out my tournament cash. The Hendon Mob is a group of professional poker players that decided a long time ago to create a poker database of all poker players that have cashed in reportable events. They also keep a running total of each poker players life long earnings. Here I was for the first time, listed on their site with my winning totals. In addition, their database will be tracking me for years to come. Assuming this isn’t my only cash… which it won’t be. I won’t let it be. I won’t stop until playing poker is my main job and I am smiling at the final table with a World Series of Poker bracelet in hand.

Until you see me on ESPN… Smile Big and Dream Bigger!

Love Inc.

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I Love My JobSome people don’t love entrepreneurship so they seek out their dream job at a corporation. If you are cubicle averse, this idea probably makes little sense to you. It does exist, however, and there ARE people who work for a corporation they love.

A great example is Zappos.com. If you walk into their headquarters you would notice that the cubes tend to resemble a kindergarten classroom more than a corporation. Zappos understands the importance fun can play in allowing their employees to provide an exceptional service experience to their customers.

In most corporate settings, love is a forbidden word at worst, and not spoken about at best. But there are companies that infuse love into their culture. Starbucks is a good example. I was recently reading, at work, the book Onward by Starbucks CEO and Founder Howard Schultz. Chapter 2 is titled “A Love Story” and discusses his love for espresso and the associated coffee house experience. When one of my co-workers looked over my shoulder and just saw the chapter heading on each page, he said…. “awwwww, a love story.” And then I turned over the cover and said… “a love story about Starbucks.” As you can imagine, his mouth dropped and was gaping wide open. That’s because we don’t associate love with a company and definitely not the corporate world.

One company, Southwest Airlines, believes so much in the importance of love that they used the concept to create one of their logos. Yes, dreams come in all shapes and sizes. Even if the shape is a cubicle and that size is a corporate monster. Or should I say, a corporate teddy bear. So if entrepreneurship isn’t your thing, find that dream job at a corporation so you can Smile Big and Dream Bigger!

Why I Have Been So Quiet Recently

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00000 quiet phaseI know it has been awhile since I have had a blog post. To be honest, at times I have struggled to come up with a new idea about following your dreams. I have, however, not given up on blogging. I have a second blog with no particular topic in which I blog about anything. No topic restraints. This is actually part of gaining some of the skills required to ultimately achieve my dream. See one of the key requirements for a potential business idea I have is to be a good writer. I wish I had the content to post a blog a couple times a week about following your dreams. Unfortunately, I am finding much difficulty in being successful at this task. This does, however, teach me an important lesson about having to be persistent.

Please bear with me as I go through this period of pause. I know that practicing my writing on another blog without constraints will lead to better and more frequent posts on this blog. Dreams take practice, learning, and patience. I am learning about this the hard way but I won’t let this deter me from smiling big and dreaming bigger.

You Read the Dictionary??

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LarryBookWhen I started reading the dictionary it was more about learning new words and taking on a knowledge quest. All I would need to do to complete the task, in just over a year, is read two pages a day… everyday. On the surface that seems really easy but it is actually quite difficult. It has taken me over two years to get through half and has become much more challenging than I expected. Early on I realized that many of the new words I was learning I would not remember. I do, however, still see the value that this project is teaching me. Now I am doing it just to learn about overcoming key obstacles to reaching a difficult goal.

To this day I remember reading long ago A.J. Jacobs’ book “The Know-It-All“. In this book he discusses trying to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica in 1 year. He was able to achieve, what may seem to be, an impossible feat. My impossible feat of reading the dictionary is something I will never give up on until I ultimately succeed. If nothing else, this experience will teach me what it takes to achieve those seemingly impossible dreams. What is your impossible dream? Don’t give up! Go after it! Smile Big and Dream Bigger!

The Dream, Dream Team

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Dream-TeamI have many authors and invididuals that inspire me daily and help me towards achieving my dreams. I call this group my dream, dream team. While the list is far short of being all inclusive, these are some of the key individuals that have recently inspired me to continue my dream quest.

1. Chris Guillebeau – Travel hacker and author of “The Art of Non-Conformity” he is the epitome of living life unconventionally. Chris hasn’t worked for anybody in the last 10 years and has taught thousands how to find their life’s passion. He sets goals and achieves them like visiting all 193 by the time he was 30.

2. Tim Ferriss – The master of learning anything with profound efficiency and greatness. He is author of “The 4 Hour Work Week” and teaches you how to achieve more with less. From facing his fear of swimming to mastering languages after years of struggling, he will inspire you to try to achieve what feels like it is un-achievable.

3. James Altucher – Reading Altucher’s books and blogs is like riding on an emotional roller coaster. He is, however, willing to reveal all and uses his mistakes to teach you how to succeed. James is not afraid to explain how he became a multimillionaire, lost it all, then became a multimillionaire again, only to lose it all again. Like I said, his life and work is an emotional roller coaster. He wrote the book “Choose Yourself” and believed in the message so deeply that he was willing to give the book away for free for the first 3 months of publication.

4. Leo Babauta – One of the top bloggers in the world he focuses on living life more deeply through simplification. His blog Zen Habits is read by millions. Leo went from a hyper stressed, unhealthy, overworked individual male to a clear headed peaceful individual. He feels that people sharing his message serves him and his readers much more than protecting it through copyrighting. If you are blogger yourself I encourage you to share his message with your readers.

5. Shawn Achor – He will show you how to be happier through 5 different things you can do every day. While it sounds too simple to be true, he is a Harvard Grad in Positive Psychology and has countless studies to back up his claims. The proof is in the pudding and he has lots of pudding.

6. Jonathan Fields – He’s a career renegade that wrote a book by the same name. Jonathan gave up a high profile NYC lawyer job to pursue multiple business opportunities including starting his own yoga studio. He now teaches others how to be their own career renegade.

7. Scott Dinsmore – Scott believes you can do what you love while simultaneously changing the world. He believes in the concept of living your legend and runs a web site by the same name.

There are plenty of others that inspire me but these are the ones I am most focused on currently and impacted me over the last few months. If you are looking to fulfill your dreams, the individuals above will provide a great spring board.

Smile Big and Dream Bigger.

Your Dream Doesn’t Have an Expiration Date

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old dreamsAs I celebrated my 42nd birthday this month I couldn’t help but be a little sad that I have not accomplished more in my lifetime. I quickly realized, however, that I still have time to make all my dreams come true. That’s because my dream and your dream too, do not have an expiration date. As long as your heart still beats and your brain still functions, you still have time. So with the passing of another birthday I am increasing my focus on achieving my dreams and you should too. Use your next birthday as a springboard into the pool of accomplishment.

Everywhere you turn there are examples of individuals fulfilling their dreams late in life. There is Lucille Singleton from Harlem who started running at 67 and finished her first marathon when she was 75. There is Diana Nyad who after decades of not swimming decided to tackle the extremely challenging swim from Cuba to Florida. After 4 failed attempts, at the age of 64, she successfully swam the route. And there is Genevie Kocourek who was interested in medicine early in life but didn’t have the financial means to pay for med school. She decided to switch career paths much later in her career progression and ultimately achieved her dream of becoming a doctor at the age of 53. These are just a few of the endless examples of ordinary people succeeding at their extraordinary dreams much later in their lifetime. Want a taste of even more examples? Then here is a list of the 25 Oldest People to Accomplish Amazing Feats.

So whether you are 5 or 95, it’s not too early and it’s definitely not too late. Dreams are the milk that does not spoil. The milk does, however, very slowly evaporate. Don’t let your age be a barrier to your dreams. There already are way too many barriers. At 95 or 105, you still have some time to smile big and dream bigger.

Ride the 2014 Horse to the Promised Land

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Horse YearI feel, more than ever, that this is the year. It’s time for all the building blocks to come together and create the master puzzle that are my dreams. When the necessary innings come to a close I will score a dream home run. The year of the horse is the year I plan on riding into the Promised Land. Where I spend every day doing what I love and make money from it. Not rich money but money enough to live on. Since I am busy doing rather than writing about doing, that’s all for now.

Smile Big and Dream Bigger!

Leo’s The Man!

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I have been meaning to post in my blog, for awhile, one of Leo Babauta’s blog posts. He is one of the most interesting and inspiring bloggers I have encountered. And when I say encountered, I just mean follow avidly. I also love that he doesn’t copyright his stuff and allows anybody to use it. In this day in age it’s basically unheard of. He realizes his work is so powerful that he would rather have it spread wider than protect it from misuse. So with the the utmost admiration and respect, I will turn you over to Leo now.

Letter to an 18-year-old on the Career Path Less Traveled By Leo Babauta

“Recently an 18-year-old who is finishing school wrote to me, asking for advice on choosing a career without enough life and work experience to make an intelligent decision.

He said, “Should I take the road less traveled, which may be risky and fearful, or choose a college course that interests me to some degree and see where that leads to. I suppose I don’t want to end up as the typical everyday-joe at the office from 9-5. I want to be different from the masses, to make an impact on this world, to be fulfilled. How do I get the best start into adulthood?”

It’s such a great question. And what I love is that he’s asking the question in the first place — most 18-year-olds just take the safe route.

Here’s what I’d say: take the career path less traveled.

If you don’t want to be the typical Everyday Joe, in a 9-to-5 office job, don’t go the route that everybody else takes.

If you want to be different than the masses, you have to take a different path.

I took the safe path when I was 18, and got a job and went to college, and it didn’t screw me up … but it also took me nearly 20 years before I finally found what I loved to do. It was a struggle, being on the road that’s well traveled, because I was consigned to a career I didn’t really like.

Yes, the career path less traveled is scarier. There are no guarantees. You are sticking your neck out, taking risks, being different, probably to the scorn of others. This is lonely.

But the loneliness is temporary. Soon you’ll find others who are doing things different, and you’ll connect with them in a way you’d never have connected with the people taking the safe path. You’ll be inspired by them, and inspire them in turn.

And the scariness is a lesson worth learning — if you can overcome a bit of fear, you can do anything. You’re not limited to the world of comfort and safety.

So what do you do on this scary, lonely, exciting path?

That’s totally up to you — you are empowered to figure things out on your own.

But here are some ideas:

  • Learn about who you are. Meditate, and blog. Those are the best two tools for learning about yourself.
  • Teach yourself stuff. The Internet has anything you want to learn, from writing to 3D animation to programming to carpentry to guitar. Never stop learning.
  • Find out how to motivate yourself. There will be times when you don’t feel like doing anything. This is a good problem to have, because you’ll have to figure out how to solve it or else go get a boring job where someone motivates you. Solve it. You’ll be much better prepared for the road.
  • Figure out what you’re passionate about. This isn’t easy, because it takes a lot of trial and error. Try a lot of things. When you get good at something, by the way, you’ll like it much more. You’ll suck at everything at first.
  • Help others. When someone doesn’t know how to do something, teach them. When they need a hand, lend it. When they’re stuck, offer yourself up. Seek ways to help. It will teach you a lot, including who you are and what you’re passionate about. It’s also good motivation.
  • Connect with others. Find people who love what you love, who are doing weird things, who travel, who make their own path. They are awesome and fun to hang out with.
  • Learn to need little. If you need very little, you don’t need to make much. This frees you up to learn and explore more.
  • Explore the world. You can travel very cheaply if you need little. Meet new people. Learn languages. Work odd jobs.
  • Get really good at something. Practice, read more, watch others who are good, steal ideas and make them your own, work on projects that excite you and learn as you work on them, practice more.
  • Teach something valuable. If you learn to program, teach a beginner. If you learn poker or guitar or martial arts, teach that. People will thank you.
  • Get paid as a freelancer. When you’ve learned a skill, hire yourself out online. You don’t have to be awesome yet, just don’t charge a lot. Try to really deliver. On time. Be trustworthy and your reputation will grow.
  • Sell something. Make a small product, whether digital or real world, and sell it. You learn a lot by selling.
  • Learn to be a good person. Show up on time. Try your best to meet deadlines. Be honest. Learn compassion. Keep your word. Especially to yourself.

If you do half these things, you’ll love the path. If you do almost all of them, your impact on the world will be palpable.

And when you’ve been traveling this path for 6 months or more, write me back and tell me how it’s going.

with love,
Leo”

Powerful stuff from blogging master Leo Babauta. If that doesn’t cause you to smile big and dream bigger, I am not sure what will.

Overqualified = They Don’t Want You

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OverqualifiedHave you ever been rejected and then been given that dreadful, doesn’t make a damn bit of difference, reasoning? Yes, I am talking about the term overqualified. Because it happens more often than it should, we really don’t understand how illogical the term “overqualified” means when it applies to a role you want to assume. The absurdity really begins to take shape when you think of it in the context of a football analogy. Can you imagine the San Francisco 49ers rejecting the renewal of Joe Montana’s contract with the reasoning being over-qualification? If they did so with this reasoning, the fan base would have revolted and the General Manager immediately let go. This doesn’t even take into account the reduction in Super Bowl Championships. That is the absurdity of rejecting due to over-qualification.

When you get right down to the bone of truth and you are judged by a decision maker as overqualified, it flat as a pancake means they do not want you. In these instances, there is usually some other reason cloaked by the term – Overqualified. Overqualified essentially means you ARE qualified but they don’t have any other politically correct reason to reject you.

So how does all this content pertain to pursuing your dreams? The “overqualified” rejection is the subtle nudge you need to tip toe towards the dark forest of fear. While the forest is scary, the dream oasis is waiting for you on the other side. Those skills that have caused the proverbial “they” to reject you are most often the skills that can lead you to the pinnacle of your promised land. Harness that rejection, use that over-qualification competence, and let it become the key that unlocks your dream vault.

Until you ultimately harness the energy of rejection, Smile Big and Dream Bigger!

Thanksgiving Day Every Day!

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thankfulI was going to write a blog about how people should be thankful everyday rather than just Thanksgiving Day. But I happen to be perusing Facebook when I found an article that a friend of mine had posted. I felt that this article explained being thankful every day in a better way than I could explain it. So without further delay, below is a link to the article.

Married or not… you should read this.

My friend is in her late 20s, magically beat cancer, and is married. I am thankful she is alive and still married. Happy Every Day Thanksgiving Day!

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