SXSW Pokes

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  • 8/7/2019 SXSW Pokes


  • 8/7/2019 SXSW Pokes


    About Poke the BoxPoke the Boxis Seth Godins latest book and the rst book coming to you rom Te Domino Project, a pioneeringpublishing venture launched by Seth and powered by Amazon. Poke the Boxis a book about taking initiative, a rststep toward creating change.

    About this eBookSXSW Pokes includes 50 o the best anecdotes about taking initiative rom ambitious doers at SXSW. People whostart projects, make a ruckus, and take what eels like a risk.

    Tese juicy anecdotes are written by leaders rom around the web. Each contributor is responsible or her own story,and no endorsement or act-checking is implied. Your mileage may vary.

    Feel ree to share this and send it to everyone who needs to read it. Even better, write your own ri and post itsomewhere. Go, go, go.

    A special thanks to Becky Johns and CC Chapman or sprucing up this eBook with their great SXSW shots.

    Hint: click the cover to your le to learn more about Poke the Box.

    SXSW Pokes50 about making a ruckusstories
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    If you get in the habit of shippingthings, of making a difference and

    of poking the box, thats your doing,and the rest of us will take pleasure

    in enjoying the fruits of your bravery.

    Seth Godin

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    Rob Wu

    Tis is my second time at SXSW. I expected the usualinteresting sessions, lots o networking,and good ol exas BBQ.

    Tere are ar greater things.

    On the morning o the rst day o SXSW, I saw the jaw-dropping photos and videos rom theJapan tsunami disaster. Te news agencies were reporting that hundreds o people have diedand thousands were missing. In addition, earthquakes and potential nuclear reactor meltdownsposed serious threats to an already disaster-torn country.

    Something needed to be done quickly. Without hesitating, I set up an online undraising site torally the SXSW community around the cause.

    Later that aernoon, we launched a ull campaign at with a ew collabora-tors. Our hope is to leverage the inuence o the SXSW community to raise $10,000 or disasterrelie.

    At the close o the second day, weve beat our goal and have raised over $12,000 through theSXSW community. Its hard to stay what the end result will be, but this could be the start o amovement.
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    Thomas Edwards Jr

    Trough spending a lot o time working on becoming a better person, many people looked tome or advice on how they could do it themselves. I was so passionate about personal develop-ment I just wanted to help as best as I could. I didnt realize there was an opportunity to make aliving rom it - until one night in Austin, exas.

    While I was at SXSW 2009 (rst time), I was out with a riend at a bar. He saw a really attrac-tive woman across the way, wanted me to be his wingman and introduce him to her. I couldntunderstand why he couldnt do it himsel but I wanted to help him.

    Jokingly, I asked him i hed pay or my next drink. He responded, saying i he was able to get her

    number, hed pay or my drinks the rest o the conerence. With more o an incentive, I intro-duced him to her, he got the number and went on a lunch date with her the next day.

    My drinks were paid or and a business was born.
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    Brian Schechter

    In the spring o 2009, we were hiking these goat paths along the Agean Sea in urkey. Wed justturned 30 and aer a decade o directing 99% or our ocus towards urban education and medita-tion, we decided to do something totally new. Our discussions were about two things: 1) build-ing a social network that would be all about making lie better, (not a new outlet or narcissism)and 2) modern romance.

    Tese two ideas intermingled, at times. But mostly, our time was spent designing a website(in our minds and on butcher paper) and writing a play about relationships. Trough it a ll westarted to see an underlying theme: our g eneration the generation that nurtured Facebook,made political activeness cool again, and who is shaping a undamentally new way to dissemi-

    nate inormation, hasnt managed to modernize one o our most precious pursuits: nding love.While our lives were busy, vibrant, and active, the process or nding love hadnt been updatedto match our needs: our riends were getting older and the traditional dating sites elt too ormaland staidit was nothing either o us could ever see ourselves actually doing.

    So upon returning to the states and having the reality o time which sort o reezes while trav-eling become urgent, one o us turned to the other and said: What i there was just a datingsite where people actually just posted the dates they wanted to go on?

    Um, thats a really good idea.

    And so, HowAboutWe was born.
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    Dane Sanders

    Te college oered ree photography classes to proessors, so I signed uper, signed my lie away.One day youre 30-something working sti with a secure Ivory ower gig and a growing amilyand the next youre a struggling photographer umbling in the dark. But, I used my insecurity tomy advantage. I interviewed photographers and businesspeople who were better at the job thanI was. I wrote up the interviews and posted them online. I l istened. I learned. People appreci-ated my candor. My chin lied. I was booked. A ew years later, I woke up in the middle o thenight with a story about a proessor who became a successul photographer who wanted to helppeople like him through transitions into the creative world. I sel-published the book and thenRandom House published it too, and its sequel. Step to the ledge and you will be seen.
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    If you are the only

    one getting in

    your own way ofgoing after your

    dreams, stop

    and realize thatyou are the last

    person who should

    be doing that!

    C.C. Chapman

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    Melissa Pierce

    Tree years ago, I had questions about living a passionate lie without a plan that nobody I knewcould answer. Most o the thought leaders I contacted reerred me to interviews they had givenor books they had written, which didnt really help answer my questions either, but did g ive mea great idea.

    Without any journalistic or lmmaking experience, I picked up a camera and started to make adocumentary lm about my search. I met and interviewed amazing people about passionate liv-ing, creativity, serendipity, and the benets o l iving an unplanned lie, all while homeschoolingmy three children.

    oday, my documentary, Lie in Perpetual Beta, is a become a series, has screened across thecountry and has even won a ew lm estival awards! Its available to buy as a DVD and peoplerom all over the world can watch it online or ree and be inspired by something I made!
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    Cindy Gallop

    Im an action-oriented person oen rustrated by too much talking around me and too littledoing. I realized suddenly one day (on vacation on a beach in Belize) that the single biggest poolo untapped natural resource in this world, is human good intentions that never translate intoaction. My background in advertising made me realize theres another massive untapped pool -corporate good intentions. Companies nd it as dicult as people to act on intention, quickly,easily and simply, but importantly in a way that makes sense or, and drives, their business. So Istarted I WeRanTeWorld - a simple web-meets-world platorm that turns human and cor-porate good intentions into collective action, one microaction at a time, and is designed to doexactly what Poke Te Boxdoes - make shit happen. :)
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    Andy Drish

    Boss - I want to go part time.

    Tats what I told my boss the day I got back rom SXSW last year. I spent the weekend hangingout with crazy, awesome young people who were changing the world... while I was still stuck inmy cube in Corporate America.

    Te dangerous part about a corporate job is that its O.K. You have health insurance, benets,and a constant paycheck. Youre rarely orced out o your comort zone. Lie is okay... but its notgreat.

    I ound mysel slowly becoming more and more content. More and more comortable. And thatterried me. I knew it was time or change...

    Te problem was: I didnt know how I would make money.

    Instead o quitting my job completely, I negotiated cutting my workload back to three daysper week. Tis allowed me to keep a steady paycheck and benets. It also lit a re under my assbecause my income was nearly cut in hal.

    So what happened?

    I hustled. I identied problems, chased opportunities, and pushed mysel outside my comortzone over and over again. I elt alive. Not only that, but a year later, my side business generatesmore revenue than my job.

    And then I went back to SXSW again this year. I hung out with all weekend with amazingpeople who are changing the world and that same eeling came back. Again, its time or change.

    I got home rom SXSW yesterday. omorrow Im having a conversation with my boss that willstart with...

    Boss - I m ready to make the jump... this is my two week notice.
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    Emily-Anne Rigal

    As a little girl, I was teased or being overweight. Each morning, I crossed my ngers in hopesthat it would not be a day when my teacher would let my class pick our own partners because Irarely had someone to pair up with. It was mortiying, leading me to eventually switch schools.

    Troughout middle and high school, my sel-condence gradually increased. Te more I ac-cepted mysel, the happier I became.

    At seventeen, I now know the benets o embracing who I am. But memories are made to last even the painul ones have a purpose. So my heart goes out to young people struggling withsel-acceptance. I believe it is my lies work to help others turn sel-hatred into sel-love.

    o do this, I ounded, which is now a grassroots movement changing the wayteens view themselves.

    I spearheaded WeStopHate by creating videos telling my personal stories. By exposing my innerthoughts and eelings, I put mysel out there subject to ridicule.

    However, instead o criticizing me, teens respected my authenticity and responded to my hon-esty. It was as i there was a piece o me in each viewer. Having been the rst to put mysel outthere, I led by example, and now many other teens have ollowed in my ootsteps.

    Tis January, only six months aer we launched, WeStopHate was ranked the 27th MostSubscribed (o all time) nonprot Youube channel. We have received well-over a quarter oa million total video views rom over 100,000 teens across the world that have interacted withWeStopHate through our Youube and social media sites.
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    Tara Benwell

    Aer graduating rom the University o oronto I jumped into my Honda Civic with a riendand moved to Vancouver. I taught English as a second language or a ew years and then movedto a small town in the Okanagan where everyone spoke English already. Since there was noteaching work, I ound online work as a reelance material writer, developing content or web-sites or ESL learners. Tis was un and allowed me to stay home with my new babies. I loved be-ing a stay-at-home working mom, but I missed my writing students. Te main website I workedor called itsel a club, but it lacked a sense o intimacy. At the beginning o 2009, I helped theounder o the club connect a social network to its main website. I immediately began teachingwriting through my blog by challenging English learners to write on a set topic and oering amodel example. At rst they responded in the comments o my blog . Ten they started writ-

    ing their own blog posts. Soon aer we launched the social network, the ounder o the website(who Ive worked or 8 years but have never met in person) invited me to take on the role oadministrator. wo years later we have over 30,000 members, including a group o volunteermoderators (a tribe o English learners) who help run the show. Ive just been invited to speakabout blogging with English learners at an international conerence in England. Im just a smalltown girl who missed her writing class.
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    Signing up for the initiative path is not

    the same thing as creating a checklist

    from a job description. Its a frame ofmind you actively choose daily. Its seeing

    something you want and going after itnot

    because of some selsh draw, but becauseits the rightand bestthing to do.

    Alana Edumunds

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    C.C. Chapman

    Ive had a passion or photography my whole lie that started in the basement o my Grandpar-ents house developing photos with my Grandather.

    But, it took one moment walking down the street in Austin to change everything or me.

    As I was crossing the street while attending SXSW I noticed a amiliar ace crossing the samestreet. I quickly asked, Are you Marc?

    urns out it was Wm. Marc Salsberry, an event photographer who I had been ollowing ormonths online and whos photos had really inspired me. We chatted a quick bit (and moved out

    o the street crossing) and then the magic happened.

    Would you mind taking a photo o me and my son? Here was a pro asking little old me to takeHIS photo? When I spoke this out loud his response has always stuck with me. I may take greatevent photography, but this is what you do. You take photos o people that look natural, happyand awesome. Keep it up. I took the photo but I also took his words to heart.

    Ever since then, whenever I question i Im good enough to do anything I think back to thatmoment on the streets o Austin when someone I looked up to gave me permission to believe inmysel and push orward.

    I you are the only one getting in your own way o g oing aer your dreams, stop and realize thatyou are the last person who should be doing that!
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    Sean Ogle

    In 2009 my lie sucked.

    I was in a job I wasnt happy with, doing work that wasnt inspiring, and then one email to a guynamed Chris Guillebeau changed all o that. I met him or coee in my hometown o Portland,Oregon determined to make a dramatic shi in my lie and the things I was doing.

    Chris oered up some advice and pointed me in the right direction. I started a blog , and made abig deal to riends and amily about the act I was g oing to do start doing something dierent.

    Most just smiled and nodded.

    In August Chris told me he was eaturing me in his book, Te Art of Non Conformity.

    Youre in the book, and you better ollow through so I dont have to rewrite the chapter.

    Tis was in August. By January Id quit my job, sold my car, and moved to Tailand to startbuilding my new business.

    A year later Im able to do what I love ull time in helping to inspire others to live a lie worthliving through the power o entrepreneurship.
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    Sandy Harper

    You are who you hang around. Tose words were spoken to me oen by my sweet Mombeore she passed away. I was 16 when she died. Decades later, I made the decision to reinventmysel. I became 100% sure I would become an Author & Speaker who would impact others.Aer all, it was my lielong dream and it was time to make it a reality.

    My Moms words came ooding back. I started connecting with Authors and Speakers whohad and were impacting my lie. I took the initiative to call Bob Burg, Co-Author o Te Go-Giver and Author o Endless Reerrals. Tat call led to a meeting over coee which led toan invaluable relationship. As my rst solo book, Gratitude Habit, comes to completion, I amthrilled and honored that Bob is writing the oreword.

    Whats your lielong dream? As you step out to make it real, reach out to someone youd like toknow and emulate. Tat one phone call may change your lie orever!
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    Adam Greenberg

    Sometime between Christmas 2009 and the ensuing New Year, my sister ara took up her ownresolutions and cleaned out her closet. So it was among this dusty pile o crap pouring out intothe hall that I unearthed a new and unused eight-piece watercolor set rom Caldor, still with its$0.89 price tag rom circa 1994.

    Coincidentally too, or the ew days preceding my nd, I had been wanting to depict a certainpicture or my girlriend - the one with the date o Fri. 1, Jan. 2010. Up to this point though, Ihad only really seen the options in drawing stick-gures - beore this new non-toxic, semi-moistriend by RoseArt came into my lie. And so I began to paint or the rst time since probably9th grade art class.

    When I nished that night, I thought Id continue it the next day, as a series. Te day aer, I justwanted to see a Pirate Ship. Tis is how an appreciation is born.

    So every day in 2010 I painted a simple watercolor and posted it at that night.

    Initially I gave them away or ree (shipping included) to people who donated to Haitis Earth-quake Relie... now I just give them away or ree anyway because as Seth Godin writes art isa gi.

    onights Watercolor! will be with intent or making my own me time o colorblind creationeach day. I invite you to do the same.
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    Alana Edmunds

    Signing up or the initiative path is not the same thing as creating a checklist rom a job de-scription. Its a rame o mind you actively choose daily. Its seeing something you want and go-ing aer itnot because o some selsh draw, but because its the rightand bestthing to do.

    When I graduated rom Syracuse in 08, I was, like many, energetic and ready to tackle just aboutanything. When I joined GEs IMLP program that summer, I noticed one thing we didnthave a strong online presence.

    So I took the initiative to change that, without letting my age, rank or organizational role get inthe way. My idea? Launch imlpblog, an external blog run entirely by employeesnot because

    someone tasked me with it, but because it needed to be done. Was it easy? No. Was I in PR? No.

    Finding a team at rst was hardmany wanted to know what exactly was required o thembeore they would join orces, because it was, as many projects o unclaimed territory and highvisibility arerisky.

    But it was out o this risk that I accomplished a ew things. I learned invaluable lessons on lead-ership and change, and also carved both a name and respect at a young ageor something thatwas never on my job description.
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    The initiative I took

    then for *myself*

    will always remindme that Im the

    one driving this

    train, and that Imaccountable to

    the person in the

    mirror most of all.

    Amber Naslund

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    Jenny Blake

    My most powerul (yet simple) lesson in taking initiative showed up when I was nine years old.I was on a Disney cruise with my amily (very 90s, I know), and my brother and I were headedto lunch. We arrived at the buet line earlywe were hungry and we knew that the people whowere rst in line got the best crack at everything.

    A small crowd had gathered. My brother and I looked aroundthey were all waiting orsomething. We checked our watchesit was time or lunch. While everyone else was waitingor some kind o permission, we decided to go ahead in. One by one, everyone ollowed (youcant keep people rom their a ll-you-can-eat buets or long). We were awed by how easy it wasto lead the crowd. At that moment, our rst amily motto was born: Its not the early bird that

    gets the worm. Its the early bird with *initiative* that gets it. Being early is not enough.

    When I tell people Im an author, a large majority reply by sharing their own ideas and dreamsto write a bookwith a somewhat wistul yet eager look in their eyes. o them (and to you) Isay: stop waiting or permission. Stop waiting or an agent or a publisher or a magical blessing totell you that its okay to start. GO. Poke the box.
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    Wesley Faulkner

    In 2008 I went to my rst South By Southwest Interactive Festival. Not or un, but or work. Iwas working or AMD at the time, and they wanted me there or tech support. I have been toseveral conventions and I only met one o two kinds o people, the techie or the talkie. I havealways been both and elt like a rare anomaly till that day. I met person aer person that wereboth extremely smart and could carry on a great conversation. I elt like a veil had been lied toa whole new world o creative thinkers and doers.

    From that moment on, my lie has been changed. Feeding o the knowledge and conversationslike a pack o locust, hopping between social media conerences, meet ups, and clubs, devouringall that I could. I have not missed a visit to SXSW ever since.

    Tis year, 2011, I am not just an attendee, but also a member o the SXSW Advisory Board. Assuch I now have the power to shape and inuence the very thing that has shaped my lie. Sincethat spring in 2008 I have gone on to ully embrace witter, start my own blog, lead the rst everAustin westival Local and soon start my own company, WordRipple.
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    Lynette Young

    It seems my entire lie has been spent trying to be dierent. Dierent than you, not better thanyou. I cant even begin to describe some o the ashion choices I made in school or the solepurpose o being dierent. Aer surviving a bit o teasing , the admiration that came with takinga stand about my own individuality was honestly addicting. Now that Im ocially grown upIve given up all but a purple stripe in my hair to ght conormity and any hint o soccer momthat tries to creep into my lie.

    Heading to SXSW this week or the rst time I realize that Ive been struggling to separatemysel proessionally as well. What perect timing, throw mysel into a sea o originality right inthe middle o an identity crisis. At rst I crumpled a bit thinking how completely average I will

    be at SXSW, but now I have ound a primal need to burn trails in the brush and make my ownway again. Dont look around too long, and dont look back, just keep moving orward. Makeriends, enjoy their uniqueness and develop my own. I have to keep reminding mysel o that. Ilike you, but I dont want to be you. You have great ideas, but I have dierent ideas.

    Burn your own trail.
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    Steve Gareld

    Im not the bigg est Sarah Palin an but I ended up helping to promote her show, Sarah PalinsAlaska on LC rom Mark Burnett, at Blog World Expo 2010.

    Brian Solis saw that I was attending the conerence, through my tweets, and asked me i Idhelp him do an experiment when he did a keynote interview with Mark Burnett on stage. I washappy to help Brian out even aer hearing that my participation would end up supporting SarahPalin.

    In a urry o activity I was brought backstage just beore the keynote and given a video toupload to Youube.

    Aer the video uploaded, it was 2 min. beore Brian and Mark would take the stage. I saw thatthere were V lights set up, so when Mark Burnett came over to thank me or helping him withhis project, I asked him i I could interview him or a moment. He said yes.

    I brought them over to the studio lights, asked i we could use them, and turn them on. I had myvideo camera and was ready to shoot the interview at a moments notice.

    We did a quick interview and then o he went on stage.

    I only had that one moment, took the initiative, and got a great interview with Mark Burnett.
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    Jay Goldman

    Tere has to be something dierent about the DNA o entrepreneurs. Something in the bloodthat makes us look at the world through a dierent perspective. Somethingeither wonderulor terriblethat puts us very much outside the box. I come rom a long l ine o entrepreneurs,ollowing in the proud ootsteps o both my grandathers (an electrician and a silver plater)and my own ather (ounder o a series o successul soware companies), and I couldnt reallyimagine leading lie any dierently.

    Ive been an entrepreneur as long as I can remember, starting my rst business in grade ve. Agood riend appeared at school one day with something quite surprising: his own, personal-ized letterhead. He pulled it out on the playground, proudly showing me the manila le older

    like it contained state secrets, then revealing the striking black and white design inside. He hadmade them at his dads oce, careully lettering his name and address, drawing a personal logo,photocopying them on what must have been a a irly massive and quite new machine. He wasrightully proud o them and saw a long and shiny uture o handwritten correspondence but Isaw something dierent. I saw our ticket to untold riches.

    I was wrong, o course. It turns out that our ellow grade vers just werent in the market orcustomized letterhead. And, naturally, that the world had plans that didnt involve a whole lot ohandwritten letters. Never mind that, though. Te important thing was that I bravely launchedsomething, ailed quickly, and learned a whole lot rom the lesson. I m on venture #3 now4i you count the letterhead debacleand Ive certainly learned the lesson o customer develop-ment and the value o shoot rst, apologize later. Plus, I have a whole pile o unused letterheador all those ancy apology notes. :)
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    Shoot rst, apologize later.

    Jay Goldman

    The biggest obstacle to overcome was myself.

    Gretchen Rubin

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    Becky Johns

    Ive been playing around with cameras my whole lie. I always had an eye or nding the mo-ment and ound that the art o photography was something that inspired me. I shot or a ewnewspapers and took photos o riends or un, but never took my skill very seriously as anythingmore.

    I moved into a new apartment and wanted something to decorate the bare walls. So, I took thebacking and glass out o a picture rame and made some riends pose or photos. Tey loved thepictures. I loved the pictures. I named the project Friends in a Frame and began sharing theportrait project on Facebook, and just kept shooting.

    I disciplined mysel to shoot consistently or an entire summer. 3 months later, Id done 100shoots, become a better photographer and had built a project people were begging to be part o.

    I stumbled into a reelance photography business.

    Soon, I was booking portrait and amily sessions, covering events and licensing my work or useon websites and publications. Less than a year later, Ive been published al l over the place online,in major magazines and even a book.

    None o that would have happened had I not stepped up and taken the Friends in a Frame con-cept seriously, stuck with it and shaken my concept o how photography t into my lie.

    I reelance when I want to and have plenty o decoration or my apartment. Not too bad or akid with a camera.
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    Matt Ridings

    My natural tendency has always been to be a problem solver, but Ive never been g ood at theask. Tats what I have salespeople or.

    However, Id gotten wind o the act that a competitors deal was looking a little shaky at acompany where I happened to know someone. And while dicult, I knew it was a deal that mycompany could oer a lot o value to. I had no time to gather up the sales olks and put togetheran attack plan. It was now or never, and Id have to reach out o my personal comort zone toplay the pushy sales guy.

    With rankly little hope, I called into the prospect and leveraged a ew outside reerences to

    eventually make my way to the decision maker on the phone. Within 45 minutes o that mo-ment I was sitting in his oce. Within 90 minutes o being in his oce I had a 7 gure dealliterally drawn up and agreed to on a single piece o handwritten paper. Tat was one hell o anask.

    Tere is no clever, quotable moment to this anecdote. No tale worthy o urban legend statusto be deposited in the annals o sales history. Sometimes, when you know you have what thecustomer needs, its enough to simply get o your ass and take a chance.
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    Nick Reese

    Fortune Favors the Bold.

    It was the summer o my reshman year in college.

    At the time I was working at a large luxury real estate rm in Florida. I was the low man on thetotem pole. Te work was mindless and unullling but it paid well. I had no power to makeobvious decisions; I was just a cog in the machine.

    One day while discouraged with my work I asked my boss i I could rework the marketing pro-cess to accomplish work aster and more eciently.

    She told me: Tis is how it has always been done, just keep doing it.Aggravated with my lack o power, I went home determined to nd a better way.

    Te next day, I returned to work and presented my solution. My boss immediately shot medown and told me to keep doing it the old way.

    I went home rustrated and disheartened. Determined to make a change I created a brie presen-tation. Te next day I arrived early to work and marched straight into the presidents oce andasked or a meeting.

    During our meeting, I suggested the company implement the new process to save hundreds

    o hours o work a year. I also oered to resign i we didnt implement it because I had clearlyjumped over my bosss head.

    Te company would go on to implement the process and I was hired on as a consultant when Ireturned to college.

    Tis simple decision to take control changed my lie orever.
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    Amber Naslund

    Sometimes, initiative can be about taking your ear and excuses and kicking them straight to thecurb.

    About our years ago, I was laboring in a job that wasnt making me happy. Tats not an uncom-mon tale. But yet I kept going to work every day, thinking something would change. And itdidnt. And it didnt.

    Until one day I took my best riend to lunch, and she asked me - point blank - why I didnt justquit. And oh, I had a litany o excuses: money, security, the typical stu. Until I realized - smackin the middle o that conversation - that nothing was changing without my creating momentum.

    So I walked in and quit. On the spot. Deying convention and the meager three months incomeI had in the back. De ying my status as a single mom with a mortgage. De ying my own notionso what kind o a proessional I was or should be.

    Four years later Ive launched a successul business, landed a job that taps my passion, written asuccessul blog, published my rst book...and gained a denitive sense that *I* am my own cata-lyst or change. Te initiative I took then or *mysel* will always remind me that Im the onedriving this train, and that Im accountable to the person in the mirror most o all.
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    Ian Greenleigh

    I landed my dream job by taking out a Facebook ad.

    In early 2010, I decided that marketing was what interested me, but you wouldnt know it judg-ing by my sales-heavy resume. I had been blogging a bit, and had built up a healthy witter ol-lowing with no particular goal in mind. I was reelancing, selling custom blog setups and doinga bit o design work or a riend. It wasnt paying well, but I was starting to be recognized locallyor my social media eorts.

    In the rst week o my job search, I had an interview at a cell phone kiosk in the mall. I didntget a call back. Te next week, I saw a post on the Bad Pitch blog about Grant urck, who had

    taken out a Facebook ad, targeted PR agencies he wanted to work or, and seen great results. Isent Grant an email and set up a phone call. He gave me a ew killer inside tips, and I took outmy own ad.

    Te ad targeted local Facebook users that were management-level and above in marketing. Iteatured a photo o me, the act that I had been nominated or the X Social Media Awards,and a link to the Hire Me page on my blog.

    Aer a week, the phone calls, emails and blog comments started to pour in. I was talking to ahiring manager every other day, and I had spent less than $150 on the campaign. One o thecalls was rom Bazaarvoice, the company on the top o my list.

    Someone at Bazaarvoice saw the ad and called me up to interview or their new Social MediaManager position. Four interviews and a presentation later, I had my dream job.
  • 8/7/2019 SXSW Pokes


    Initiative is the magic that

    makes a role of dominos

    fall. Sometimes thedominos fall beautifully, and

    sometimes the momentum

    comes to an abrupt andunexpected stop, despite

    all of our best efforts.

    Most importantly, none

    of itgood or badever

    happens without taking the

    initiative to poke the box.

    Bryan Johnson

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    Owen JJ Stone

    Te other day I went out to dinner with the amily. I sat in the back with my daughter and hermother drove. As we pulled out o the driveway, my three year old says, L or Leiyah! Hermother and I looked around looking or a sign or something that she could be pulling this rom.

    She said it again. We said, OK, Leiyah. Drove to the restaurant and she said, look, Mommy,we make a L! Te position we were sitting in the car did orm the letter L. WOW. wo adultsout witted by a three year old.

    Tinking out o the box is so important. You dont have to be the smartest or the richest to bethe best. Sometimes it just takes creativity. Get out o your box and start looking at things in

    your world dierently and something awesome might happen to you.
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    Bryan Johnson

    CELL PHONES were hot in 1999. Wanting one mysel, but not wanting to pay retail price, Iound an independent dealer in the Yellow Pages whod give me a deal.

    Aer meeting at the local mall to pick up the phone, the agent said: Hey, youve got a lot oenergy... why dont you come sel l phones or me? Ill pay you $40 or each activation. As I wascurrently looking or a way to make money that wasnt hourly based, the proposal was intrigu-ing.

    I took him up on the opportunity and started selling. On the second day, I thought, I Im sell-ing phones or him, why cant others sell phones or me ?

    I stopped selling and drove home as ast as I could. I called around and, within a week, I had awholesaler lined up, my training completed, and I was earning $200 per activated phone. Aerbecoming comortable with the sales and activation process mysel, I recruited college riends(and subsequently their riends) to sell or me. My rst oray into entrepreneurship paid my waythrough college and whet my appetite or building businesses.

    Initiative is the magic that makes a role o dominos all. Sometimes the dominos all beautiullyand sometimes the momentum comes to an abrupt and unexpected stop, despite best eorts.Most importantly, none o itgood or badever happens without taking the initiative to pokethe box.
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    AJ Leon

    On a random New York City evening in November 2008, I walked into a small independentmovie theatre in the East Village. On this one night only, they were playing War Child adocumentary on the lie and times o London-based Hip Hop artist Emmanuel Jal, an ex-Suda-nese war child and one o the so-called Lost Boys o Sudan.

    Te documentary told the story o a child who had lost everything he ever knew at the age osix, who grew up as an orphan in UN reugee camps, who was orced into a militia when hewas ten years old to kill people he knew nothing about, and who was nally rescued by a bravewoman who smuggled him on a cargo plane headed to Kenya. At the end o the lm, Emman-uel stands on a piece o ground saying his lies mission is to build a school in his hometown o

    Leer, Sudan because the education o his people will keep his story rom being repeated.

    When the lm ended, there was a live Q&A session with the producers. I sat and listened to thequestions, but no one seemed to care about the one question that was burning me up inside. DidEmmanuel build that school? Was his redemption complete? I was the last hand raised, andasked my question to which the reply was no they hadnt been able to raise the unding.

    I was stunned. A story that compelling should move mountains. When I walked outside, I sawEmmanuel, and somehow mustered the courage to walk right up to him and tell him that Ihad no money, but I knew how to start res. And that I could guarantee we would raise all themoney within six months. (side note: I had never raised money nor worked with a non-prot in

    my lie)

    Te ollowing day, beore his ight back to London, we met at in his hotel lobby, and I sketchedout on a napkin Emma Academy Project. Right then and there, we named the school aer thewoman who had rescued him. And right then and there, we decided we wouldnt stop until thelast brick was dropped.

    Six months, a community o 10,000 strong and hundreds o disparate acts o undraising later, weraised all the unds needed and broke ground in Leer. One brie moment o audacity was all it took.

    And now over a thousand children a world away have access to an education that will change thetrajectory o their entire lives.
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    Laurie Davis

    When I was 18, I wanted to be a rock star. As a student at Berklee College o Music, I met analumnus who owned an entertainment company and I had high hopes o being his next leadsinger. When we met, he told me more about his other businessa music education service.Trough stream o consciousness, he blurted out a business challenge : He didnt have enoughtime to ocus on the education side o things though it had higher margins than the entertain-ment company.

    One week later, I showed up to meet him, notebook in hand, and ran through a list o innova-tive ideas or his music lesson business. I he did these things, I said, his revenue would dramati-cally climb. He stared at me, listening patiently, mouth agape as I outlined my 3 page maniesto

    or a business that wasnt even mine. When I nished, he said, Great ideas. And I know exactlythe person to do all this. YOU.

    I didnt become a Director o Operations at 18 without taking some initiative. What Ivelearned is that inspired moments happen when you least expect it. I didnt scribble down busi-ness ideas in a notebook 11 years ago because I wanted a job; I was just trying to help someoneout. Te same happened with my rst business, an event planning companythe demand camebeore the LLC. Similarly, what once was a hobby helping my riends date online morphedinto something that no one could have expectedmy internationally recognized brand, eFlirtExpert. Ideas generated by circumstances can oen become the most powerul ones in your lie.Being ambitious isnt necessarily always about cl imbing the ladder; its about noticing opportu-

    nities and taking advantage o them.
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    Loic Le Meur

    Have you read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell? I you havent you should read it, its one o the rarebooks that deeply changed the way I think.

    I can summarize it in one sentence: when you meet someone you get an impression in the rstminute o that person and how you get along. rust your rst eelings, theyre right most o thetime.

    Why would you need hours o interviews and reerences with someone you have a positiveblink with? Just trust your rst impression.

    I have met the youngest person ever invited to the World Economic Forum in Davos a ewweeks go, revor Richard Dougherty (mind you, hes only 18 and already has his wikipediapage)

    I was the moderator o the Davos dinner about social networking with leaders such as MarissaMayer o Google or LinkedIns ounder Reid Homan and revor had his table and was one othe speakers. I was immediately impressed. When he came to meet me in a corridor at the An-nual Meeting and asked:

    Do you know anyone looking or an intern I immediately said yes, join my company Seesmicanytime.

    He was surprised I answered this ast as I was entering a session. We then exchanged a ew directmessages on witter and agreed on a salary and hes joining us today, revor told the whole storyin the Washington Post.

    I knew I did not need more than a ew minutes. Get a good blink about someone and try, youwill see it rarely tricks you. Oh, and its not only about recruiting o course.
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    Rachel Happe

    Tere is no reason or me to be an entrepreneur. By most measures Ive had a successul andinteresting careerbeyond what I could have hoped or when I graduated. But Ive never beenhappy with the status quoparticularly in the business world where organizations did notcarein a practical wayabout the wider context in which they operated. As online communi-ties started to change communications, I saw the power and economic shi that would eventu-ally happen. Tat excited me because it means that the complex needs o societywhetherexibility in working conditions or employees or green energy practiceswould get moreattention.

    At a practical level, I understand how large organizations operate, how soware works, and the

    new communications dynamic. I saw the opportunity to help the individuals within organiza-tions see how to transorm the way they operate. I got excited about building a business that usesthe network dynamic to ensure every constituent group gets more out o it than they contribute.wo years ago, Jim Storer and I started Te Community Roundtable to do just that. It has beenall that I expected and so much more.
  • 8/7/2019 SXSW Pokes


    Simon Salt

    On 10th February 2011 I opened a box that I had been waiting to arrive or almost ninemonths. In that box was a dream, it also contained the previous nine months blood, sweat andtears. It contained thoughts that had consumed me night and day, sometimes to the detrimento my health and my relationships. It contained my hopes and my sel- doubts.

    Te nine month gestation period was both ironic and a llegorical, or while the box did notcontain a human child what it did contain I had both conceived and birthed. Te contents othis box represented my eeble attempt to leave behind a legacy, something to be rememberedby. Something to carry my name orward to the next generation.

    Far rom relieving my doubts, examining the contents o the box only created new ones. For I

    realized that the contents o the box was not an end but a new beginning, just as with a child,birthing is the transition rom one phase to another, not the end o something. Now the liemust be shaped and g iven direction.

    So what was in the box that could possibly aect me this way?

    My book.
  • 8/7/2019 SXSW Pokes


    Ari Greenberg

    When I was in high school, I had the unique opportunity o being invited to be a ball boy or acharity tennis tournament at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles (this is what happens whenyou grow up in Lala land)

    As an avid reader o Mad Magazine, I knew that i you took a photograph with a celebrity hold-ing a copy o Mad that theyd print your photo, and give you a ree subscription. Since I guredthat Hugh Hener would be at the event (aer all, it was at his house) I decided to bring along acamera and a copy o Mad with me.

    While taking a break rom picking up tennis balls, I saw He emerge rom his house. Nervously,

    I ran up to him and asked him to pose with me and the magazine. Lucky or me, he obliged.

    I quickly sent in the photo and lo and behold, I soon ound my photo in Mad Magazine withmy new best riend, Hugh Hener.

    Want proo? Heres the photo.
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    Nick Seguin

    In 2008 Startup Weekend was held in Columbus, Ohio. My company sponsored and I alsoparticipated. It was a great experience: my team put together a compelling company that won a$50,000.00 grant to help continue its growth.

    I was excited about the capital, but more excited about what I had just been through. In ewother places had I experienced similar energy and ocus on creation. I approached the theninterim CEO and asked how I could run Startup Weekends. I paid my own way to an event inIndianapolis, learned the ropes, and began running weekends around the country and world.

    Startup Weekend, the organization, was sold and the strategy broadened. I remained active as a

    acilitator and connector throughout the network. aking weekends to travel and do the worknecessary or a successul event allowed me to build a global network o ounders, unders andpeople riendly to startups. Eventually, my Startup Weekend network made the connection tothe Kauman Foundation where I am now building initiatives that help ounders and startupson the highest level possible.

    Seeking to understand the source o my incredible experience and committing to acilitatingthat or others paved the path to the top o the ecosystem.
  • 8/7/2019 SXSW Pokes


    Gretchen Rubin

    I spent a year on my happiness project, when I test-drove the wisdom o the ages, the currentscientic studies, and the lessons rom popular culture about how to be happier.

    Research shows that novelty and challenge bring happiness. People who go new places, meetnew people, and tr y new things are happier. However, I didnt think this would be true in mycase; mastery and amiliarity (I thought) made me happy.

    But or my project, I had to test this theor y.

    A riend ofandedly said, Why dont you start a blog ?

    Oh, I dont want to do that, I answered. Im not tech-y, I dont read blogs, I like to write long,not short.

    But I needed something novel and challenging or my experiment. Without knowing exactlywhat to do, I sat down at the computer and started my blog. o

    Five years later, my blog is an enormous engine o happiness or meand I came so close todismissing the idea entirely. I I hadnt sat down at my desk that particular evening, a March27, I might never have started the endeavor that has changed my lie. Te biggest obstacle toovercome was mysel.
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    Trust your rst

    feelings, theyre right

    most of the time.Loic Le Meur

    The single biggestpool of untapped

    natural resource in this

    world, is human good

    intentions that never

    translate into action.

    Cindy Gallop

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    Sydney Owen

    Remember that one time that my lie elt like the movie, Serendipity? Let me g ive you the skinny.I went to SXSW in 2009 as a senior in college and walked out o there with three interviews anda job oer beore I graduated. I met my rst boss at that conerence, and moved rom ampa toChicago three months aer returning home rom SXSW. Fast orward to SXSW 2010. I raninto a riend who asked i I wanted to go skydiving. I said yes. In the interim, I learned how toskydive, moved to Austin or a dream job, and then had my dream opportunity all in my lap.Now I am starting my own company, skydiving every day (weather permitting) and I couldnt behappier. All because o one little conerence.
  • 8/7/2019 SXSW Pokes


    Amber Solettihttp://www.OnSpeedDating.Com

    I was 32, single living in NYC and SO unimpressed with the dating scene. I had tried prettymuch every singles event out there and then decided to give speed dating a go. I signed up or anevent or singles 25-35. Upon arriving, I ound mysel surrounded by a sea o short, unattractive,socially awkward men. My rst date started with the g uy saying, I know you, youre on Match.Com. I emailed you 10 times and you never responded to me. I paid my $40 and now you haveto talk to me or 8 minutes. Tat brutal experience was the catalyst or me being inspired to cre-ate my own service where I could nally meet the type o men I was looking or.

    A ew months later, I along with a business partner, introduced OnSpeedDating.Com. Insteado oering events based on just age range, we host over 75 niche events themed around dating

    deal breakers and preerences like Hot or eacher, Men With Accents Are Hot, Gentle-men Preer Blondes, Inked or tattooed singles, Non-Practicing Jew night, HO or NOor attractive singles, and Size Matters or guys and gals with a hankering or height.

    By taking matters into my own hands, I was able to raise the bar on the NY singles scene while atthe same time signicantly improving both my income and dating lie.
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    Andy Traub

    I live in the sparsely populated state o South Dakota. Aer readingLinchpin by Seth Godin,I desperately wanted to connect with other Linchpins and connect Linchpins to each other. Iemailed Seth and asked him permission to use the Linchpin cover and name and he gave it tome. I started the Unocial Linchpin Podcast and I ve shipped 12 episodes connecting withmembers o Seths SAMBA program and other Linchpins. o date, weve been downloaded over25,000 times. People are shipping and connecting because o the show and that is what makes ita success. Oh yeah, I get to talk to really cool people too. One guy in South Dakota connectingLinchpins all over the world. All I had to do was ask.
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    Ron J Williams

    Labor Day 2009, NYC: I wanted to surprise my girlriend by grabbing a motorcycle or theweekend and cruising around the empty streets o the city I love with the woman I love. Ro-mantic. But theres a problem: even though Id been licensed or years, I didnt own a bike at thetime. I needed a weekends worth o motorcycle but the rental option wasnt there.

    So I jumped on a classieds site and posted my very rst rent/borrow want ad. Hey, Ill leaveyou a deposit and pay you $100 per day i youve got a motorcycle to lend me. An hour latera guy with the same rst name as me responded that he was interested and had an old Harleythatd be perect or cruising. We negotiated details, and set up times, and did the silent online-classied prayer: I hope this guy isnt an axe murderer. Did I mention that I was rolling with

    $2000 in cash or deposit?

    Tat Saturday I snuck out o bed, asking my girlriend i she wanted to go biking around 1pm.When I showed up, she was outside in workout gear with her 12 speed and I was sitting on aglorious machine looking like the Fonz. She broke out into a big grin and we spent the weekendexploring the city on the back o a machine I didnt own. Oh snap! I thought, What i every-thing were available to be consumed as needed?

    So I called my riend John Goodwin and we started building SnapGoods to make this kind onetwork and neighborhood powered commerce sae and possible or everyone.

    T hi i l i d T
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    Try this simple exercise today: Test your energy

    meter when traveling around town and talking

    with people. Make note of when it gets too highor too low, or stays stagnant in the middle. Its

    when the meter is off the charts that you know

    you are doing something right. Follow that.

    Carla Blumenthal

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    Jo-Ann Tan

    Can you poke the box by leaving it? In 2009, I le a strategy job that paid nicely, but le meeeling soulless. I planned to take time to reect on what I really wanted to be when I grew up,but in reality it was a nerve-wrecking ew months living in NYC with no income, while mypartner amassed grad school bills. Dont tell my parents, but I was unemployed, uninsured andat one point risked becoming undocumented (Im not American). In desperation, I startedlooking or jobs like my old job because I knew how.

    Ten I stumbled across an amazing position at Acumen Fund. But I elt totally unqualied andon paper, I was. Tey wanted a web 2.0 expert, applications were due in 36 hours and also I hadto build a Squidoo lens. WF is Squidoo? I didnt blog, hardly used Facebook, and didntknow what web 2.0 meant. It was a lost cause. I remember walking away rom my computer inrustration. Ten I circled back, bootstrapped a Get Jo-Ann a job lens and emailed 10 people.And surprisingly, my lens actually jumped to a decent Squidoo lensrank in less than 24 hours.

    I got an interview.
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    Jon Thomas

    One o my all-time avorite sitcoms is/was the Cosby Show. Im a child o the 80s, so I grew upon the parenting o Cli and Claire Huxtable.

    One o my avorite episodes is when Vanessa introduces the amily to her ancee, DabnisBrickey. A surprise to everyone, this prompts Bill Cosby to explain exactly why they dont likeDabnis, and its not because o his age or his proession, or anything to do with him, but howhe was presented by Vanessa. Cosby delivers a quote that would change my proessional lie anddene me as a presentation designer.

    You see, its in the presentation. Tats the way she brought you hereon a garbage can lid

    Four years ago I was ollowing the same presentation principles we all inherited as we wentthrough school and business. I youre giving a presentation, use slides with titles and bulletpoints and maybe a ew small images here and there.

    Ask anyone. Teres no denying that presentation visuals are terrible. We all have our horror sto-ries o being an audience member slayed by bullet points. However, when we sit down to createour presentations, were held prisoner inside the connes o slideware. We ollow the prompts toadd text because thats what PowerPoint is telling us and thats all weve ever known.

    Until one day I thought to mysel, Tere has to be a better way. I decided to start poking that

    presentation design box. I went on a mission to change the way we view the idea o a presenta-tion, and particularly how we design our visuals. I wanted to SAVE AUDIENCES, becauseI too am an audience member. I wanted to save presenters, because their stories MAER. Iresearched, read, and attended workshops, with the aith that I would nd a solution to theproblems plaguing presenters around the world.

    Soon thereaer, I ounded Presentation Advisors to help others tell visually engaging stories.People may look at me strange when I say Im a presentation designer, as theyre not sure exactlywhat that means, but it only gives me an opportunity to open their eyes.

    Im just one o a ew presentation designers out there, but were a eisty bunch ready to not justpoke holes in the traditional PowerPoint box, but tear that box apart.
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    Carla Blumenthal

    You can see it in people. Everyone has an aura surrounding them, emitting rays o it in everydirection, almost like their skin doesnt encase their ull body. Cities have it too. Workplaces,schools, even your neighborhood deli.


    Ive always been an enthusiastic person, curious and hopeul about where lie would lead me.Aer grad school, I was living in a city with a job oer at my doorstep. I had the world waitingor me, and it seemed to have landed at my eet. Despite my good ortune, my energy was at itslowest. Te city was not clicking or me. I had to do something.

    I knew New York City had an energy that would orce me to learn about mysel, about living,giving, and doing. Even when visiting, I elt at home with the streets and people. I did every-thing I could to nd the unds and a job to move to the city, and here I am.

    ry this simple exercise today: est your energy meter when traveling around town and talkingwith people. Make note o when it gets too high or too low, or stays stagnant in the middle. Itswhen the meter is o the charts that you know you are doing something right. Follow that.
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    David Spinks

    Indecision was always my worst enemy. It wasnt the risk that prevented me rom taking theleaps I knew I needed... it was the uncertainty o it all. Starting a business is one o the mostuncertain things Ive ever done, but every step o the way has been incredibly rewarding. Whenyou believe in something with all your heart, taking initiative is the only rational choice. I ghtto make my visions a reality.
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    Andrew Norcross

    As I was cruising along with a good corporate job in investment management, I had a gnawingeeling that I wasnt doing what I was supposed to do. I wanted to x things, solve problems,and basically tinker with the world around me. Not aggregate p/e ratios and chart out modiedDietz method. So in December 2009, I le my position and started out with exactly 2 clients.18 months later, Im turning away more work than I do. Its been nothing less than amazing.
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    Step to the ledgeand you will be seen.

    Dane Sanders

    Fortune favors

    the bold.

    Nick Reese

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    Sarah Wallace

    Tis may come across as bragging, but I can honestly say Ive achieved every g oal that Ive everset my mind to: journalist, editor, analyst, wie & mother, successul reelance writer, then ana-lyst again.

    Did I ace rejection along the way? Yes. Was I persistent till I reached my g oals? Yes.

    My advice. I you dont take a chance, you dont stand a chance.
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    Monique Johnson

    I received a huge wake up call 2 years ago when I experienced 3 CEOs red; a major takeoverrom another major bank; and lastly seeing people drop like ies rom their cubes rom the re-sult o massive lay-os. I am very blessed to have survived all o this but it just made me unhappyand angry. I quickly realized that I had no control o where my career was heading by workingor a major bank and they could end my career with a snap! I was convinced that something elsewas out there and thats when I came across the blogosphere and Jenny Blakes Lie Aer Collegewas my introduction.

    I engrossed mysel as much as I could in blogs that covered various topics and thats when thelight bulb went o. I discovered that I really would like to pursue social media marketing anddigital media. I launched my rst blog that honestly did not do well but I used it as leverage tointerview some key people; gained a social media internship; and took the initiative to expandmy network. Te summer o 2010 I pledged to mysel that I would attend as many networking/social media/tech events possible and thats when I met the co-ounders o Genjuice duringtheir national tour. Since then, I have joined Genjuice as their Community Manager; beenhired as the marketing director or Coach Jennie; and I recently launched my new blog Anotherwenty-Something where I hope to inspire 20-somethings to start their next project and con-quer their ears.

    A lot has changed since that wake up call and I know I am on the right path to saying goodbyeto my 9 to 5. Stay tuned!
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    Ryan Martin

    Im a rm believer in the saying, Its not what you know, but who you know. Seriously!

    Networking, alongside with travel, has opened opportunities to me that I wouldve neverthought possible. Il l leave you with 2 examples, one rom traveling and one while at SXSW.

    When I traveled through Europe in 2007, I met a couple Brazilians in Prague and partied withthem or a ew days. Tey invited me to Rio de Janeiro and in February o 2009, I took themup on their oer (whether they meant it or not). Unbeknownst to me, my riend was highlyconnected in Brazil and was able to get me into the actual Sambadrome to dance in the Carnivalparade. What an amazing experience that I wouldve never had without meeting others throughtravel.

    At SXSW 2011, I met a riend o a riend who is organizing a meet-up in Cancun the ollowingyear. Aer a ew beers and great conversation, I was oered a ree trip to Mexico in exchange ororganizing the event. A pretty good trade-o i you ask me and another antastic networkingopportunity. Again, not what you know, but who you know.

    So get out there and be social. Who knows what opportunities may present themselves.
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    Jenna Forstrom

    Hal way through my rst year o college, I realized I needed an internship. I was going toschool in Boston and wanted to head home to Oregon or the summer. I sent out my resumeto ve business women (my only requirement) who were riends with my parents. Interviewedover Christmas break and ended up being the rst intern or the General Manager o NikeGlobal Womens Fitness, which was ormed months beore I started working at Nike. Ended upwith a lie long mentor and had a wicked awesome summer.

    The best part has been
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    The best part has been

    how much help poured

    in from the sidelinesonce people saw how

    determined I was.

    Laura Fitton

    When you believe in

    something with all

    your heart, taking

    initiative is the only

    rational choice.

    David Spinks

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    Learn MoreMore inormation about Poke the Boxand Te Domino Projectat

    SXSW Pokes was written by the contributors and curated by Amber Rae.Designed by Alex Miles Younger.

    Tanks or reading!

    Hint: click the cover above to learn more about Poke the Box.