The Dream Fulfillment Litmus Test

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00000-litmus-testLast night I attended the Mike Doughty living room show in Arizona. Many don’t know Mike Doughty by name alone but he got his claim to fame as the lead singer of the band Soul Coughing in the mid 90’s. In the last 15 years or so, he has had a pretty successful, although flying mostly under the radar, solo career. Last night was the second time I have seen him play at a living room show. This type of show is just as it sounds; He plays a very intimate show in somebody’s living room with no more than 30 attendees.

During his first set of living room shows in 2015 some feedback was given to him about his overly shy nature. In an intimate setting such as a living room show, it should have allowed for much more interaction with the crowd. Since Mike didn’t want to get overly involved in a conversation, as it was still a music show after all, he decided to add a question jar to his 2016 living room show tour. This was a jar in which many folks in the room could add a question to. Throughout the show, he agreed to periodically answer the jar questions from the crowd. Many of the questions were interesting, unique, and funny.

The most interesting question, at least for me, was the following… “What would you rather be doing right now?” And there it was, the question that every dreamer should be asking him or herself. Mike gave the answer that I think most individuals with a fulfilled dream should give. His answer was…. “Just This.” He did decide to incorporate a funny addition, “…and maybe a pizza right here”, pointing to the table just to the side of him.

And there you have it. The litmus test revealed. If somebody asks you what you would rather be doing and the answer is “just this,” than it is most likely that your dream has been fulfilled. Here’s hoping you will one day be able to say, “just this” and smile big while you realize there is no need, at least for now, to dream bigger.

I’m Not Giving Up

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000 never give upBlogging takes a lot of work and it’s really easy to slow down to a point where the work of a blog ultimately fades away. Have you ever stumbled across an interesting blog post and then realize you are looking at something that was posted 3 or 4 years ago? It’s surprising, at least to somebody who is motivated like me, how many of these blogs have not had a post in weeks, months, and often times years. On multiple occasions, its almost happened to me. One thing to remember, however, is that all free blogs never die. If you are using a free blogging site, it will continue to remain in the ecosphere of the web unless you purposefully take it down.

I have been watching a lot of Eric Thomas videos lately. He is a relatively well known motivational speaker but I hadn’t been exposed to him until he showed up on the Ask Gary Vee Show a week or so ago. He is very much an in your face sort of motivator but he got my attention. Just recently, I was watching his video about finishing. This video motivated me to post this blog. It has been way too long and I am not going to start a race without finishing. I am not sure what finishing a blog looks like but I do know that you can’t finish a race if you stop running. So with this post, I have decided to start running again. Maybe finishing just means smiling big and dreaming bigger.

Do You Want a Path to Happiness? Here is the Most Important PowerPoint Slide You Will Ever See!

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To start, I must give credit where credit is due.  I didn’t create this slide.  The slide was created by Shawn Achor, who has a PhD from Harvard where he teaches positive psychology concepts.  He is also author of the book “The Happiness Advantage.”  His TED Talk: The Happy Secret to Better Work is one of the most entertaining and insightful talks I have ever seen.

While most of the bullet points on the slide are self-explanatory, I will give a brief description of each below.  They are, essentially, actions you should take to increase happiness.

  • 3 Gratitudes – Write down every day three things you are grateful for.
  • Journaling – Start a journal and write down on a regular basis your thoughts or feelings.
  • Exercise – Get moving… Period!
  • Meditation – Proven to decrease stress, this is a good one.  There are many helpful apps out there that provide guided meditation exercises, but this can be as simple as sitting and paying attention to your breaths for 5 to 15 minutes a day.
  • Random Acts of Kindness – Look for ways to do kind things.  Preferably ,spur of the moment things.  If you have never bought coffee for the person behind you at the Starbucks drive though.  Try it sometme.  You will be shocked at how good you feel the rest of the day.

The best part about the 5 items above, there is actually research to back them up.  So these are not just ideas, they are proven steps for increasing happiness.  Try them out for a few days and leave a comment about your experience.

This could be the clear path to Smiling Big and Dreaming Bigger.

Top 3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Dream of Winning the PowerBall Lottery

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0000000 powerballDon’t get me wrong, it would sure be nice to win the PowerBall.  I would be stupid if I said I don’t want to win.  That’s not really what we are talking about here.  I am talking about if you should actually dream to win it.

It may be bold to say, but here are my top 3 reasons you shouldn’t dream of winning the PowerBall lottery.

 

1.  Money won’t buy you happiness – It sounds like a cliche I know.  And having millions would definitely alleviate most financial burdens.  In particular, your concerns about paying your bills every month would disappear like a magicians coin. Perhaps, more specifically, the thought of how you might escape that dreadful office cubicle also disappears.  But there are plenty of happy people who are poor and miserable people who are rich.  Much of the research I have read talks about a minimum threshold for happiness so your basic needs are taken care of.  I have heard it can be as low as $40,000 a year and as high as $70,000.  After that, it’s more of your own personal circumstances and attitude based on factors unrelated to money.

2. Dreams are aspirations – Dreams are things you want to do or achieve based on passions you have.  Often times the best dreams happen when your passion, skill, and concept of helping others collide.  Winning a lottery takes no effort.  And when is the last time you heard somebody proclaim, “I am passionate about winning the lottery?”  Well if they did say it, I am sure their tongue would be pressing a ditch in their cheek.

3. Small money small problems, big money big problems – I can hear in your head what you are thinking when you read this.  “Those are the problems I would love to be faced with.”  I am not going to try and convince you that you wouldn’t want to win the lottery.  I will say, there are a host of huge problems that come with having money that you can’t even imagine.  Do you I know from experience??  Absolutely not!  Do I know others who have had these experiences??  Absolutely!  With money comes freedom but freedom with strings attached like a marionette.

So there you have it.  My top 3 reasons why you shouldn’t dream of winning the PowerBall lottery.  I guess that gets us down to one last question which is probably swirling around in your head.  Did I put my money where my mouth was?  Well…. sort of.  I have not dreamed of winning the lottery but I did put $2 into an office pool.  Why would I do that you ask? Because having fun talking with my co-workers about what we would do with all that money is worth $2.  It’s also funny to think what my company would do if they lost a whole team of workers on a single day.  That’s right, $2 worth of wonderful and giddy entertainment.  Maybe next time I will just put $2 to flame and watch it burn away.  Cause after all, that sounds fun too.  Until next post… Smile Big and Dream Bigger!  Not about winning the lottery though.

 

My Turn, My Dream: Next Man Up

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00000 2014 wsop 2This past week I have been an observer of one man dream’s coming to fruition, and one team heading in the direction of their dreams. Who would have thought that a man which almost quit poker could become the World Series of Poker Main Event Champ? Who would have thought that one of the worst football franchises could be having a dream season with a backup quarterback and individuals severely injured or out at their positions.

I am talking about Martin Jacobson and I am also talking about the Arizona Cardinals. Martin Jacobson was the next man up for the Poker Championship and the Cardinals are relying on the Next Man Up philosophy to pave the way to be the first team ever to play in a Super Bowl in their own city.

I can’t help but get energized by these two stories. Thanks to my wife, who is an angel, I was lucky enough to be able to attend and watch the World Series of Poker Main Event final table in person. To see one man win $10 Million playing a game of cards is indescribable. Some would say its just dumb luck, but others who know better (I include myself in this category), realize that there is a reason some folks can make millions of dollars consistently beating the game while others can’t find a way to win under almost any circumstances.

As for the Arizona Cardinals, there is not that much talent difference between the worst team and the best team in the NFL. Don’t believe me?? How can a team that has been so bad for so long bring in a coach and 2 years later be the best team in the league. It’s all about attitude and desire. The attitude to believe it can be done under any conditions and the desire to do it on a team level even with some bench players. It’s the next man up to play that has to deliver the effort of the starter so they can participate in a team effort to continue the win streak. It’s not about one individuals efforts, its about team wins under adverse conditions. This is the attitude that Bruce Arians has brought to the Valley of the Sun. If you ever wonder how coaches can be fired when they don’t play the game, the Cardinals are showing you why. A good coach creates a great team. Just ask Phil Jackson who teaches his team meditation and visualization. There is a reason he is thought of as one of the best coaches ever in the NBA.000000 Next Man Up

So as I see it, it’s my turn. It’s my dream that is due to be fulfilled with enough effort, attitude, and determination. I AM the Next Man Up. Smiling Big and Dreaming Bigger all the way to the Main Event Final Table. Look for me soon on an ESPN poker broadcast near you.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back – The Dream Delayed

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000 arizona state poker championshipAfter going to Vegas this Summer for the World Series of Poker I was feeling that I had honed my tournament skills and was really excited about the possibility of playing in this years Arizona State Poker Championship. The buy in was $1,100 which I didn’t want to lay outright. So I decided to try and win my way in, first with a Mega-Satellite in which they give out 1 entry for every 10 people who play. I was doing great and playing great. In this one, they were giving out 14 entries since 140 people signed up. I was getting short stacked as we got down to 19 players and was feeling really nervous. Getting this far and not winning my entry would be crushing. I was short stacked to the point of needing to push all in with any hand that contained an Ace. So I was in early position and looked down and saw my ace; when I was about to say all in, I of coursed looked at the next card and wouldn’t you know it, another Ace. I quickly pushed All In and the guy after me who had a few more chips than I, thought about it for at least a minute and a half before calling with Jack-Nine suited. I won’t draw out the story since most people hate to hear bad beat stories. Basically, I got knocked out when he hit his straight on the river.

Was I extremely disappointed, absolutely! I did, however, decide I was going to enter a two win one table satellite the weekend before the tournament. This is a $200 buy in where they play down to 2 players who each get their entry. It was a grind and a battle but I won my entry. I was extremely excited and called my wife and plastered it all over Facebook to let the world know I had won my entry and would be playing in the event.

I got into the event and it played out very similar to the Mega-Satellite. I was playing great but seemed to be short stacked most of the day. After playing about 8 hours of tight yet aggressive play, which is a very solid strategy, I looked down and saw Ace – King. For those of you who are not poker players, this is the best hand which doesn’t contain a pair. So I raise because I have enough that I can play a couple of solid hands without having to go All-In. The aggressive professional poker player Matt Affleck decides to re-raise me in hopes to get me off the hand. It folds around to me and I think for a minute to decide whether I should make my stand here or try and play on with an extremely short stacked. For most players it would be a no brainer to go All-In but I happen to be a damn good short stack player. In the end, I decided to go All-In and risk it. Mostly because I figured Matt was being aggressive as usual and most likely had a worse hand than me or a small pair which would make it a coin flip. Turns out, he had Jack – Queen suited and I liked my chances. To make the story short once again, he hit a Jack on the flop and knocked me out. All any player can really do is get their money in with the best of it and hope the better hand holds up. In this case it didn’t and it took me a few weeks to get over this beat. To rub salt in the wound, Matt ended up placing 5th in the tourney and winning $82,000 dollars, with of course, some of my chips.

So I decided to dig deeper into Matt Affleck’s poker career. After watching some YouTube videos of his deep runs in back to back World Series Main Events, I felt good to be up against a real time pro with the best of it. Even better, I realized he took a really bad beat as well in the Main Event with much more money on the line and much deeper into the tourney. Not because I wanted to see my revenge feeling realized but because I knew he could empathize completely with what I experienced.

As they say all the time, two steps forward and one step back. Time to pick myself up and get prepared for the World Series of Poker Circuit Event which comes to Arizona in February. Until then, Smile Big and Dream Bigger.

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!