The first time I met Paul Laurie he was running through a venue in a grey top-hat attending to the 100s of people who had shown up for his Silver Spork Social Bacchanal event last November. I later learned that it was the emergency venue, because the warehouse where it was supposed to be had flooded. Yet you never would have guessed it, as Paul seemed very calm and collected, and definitely in his element.
Silver Spork Social is an underground supper club that Paul started when he returned to Denver after living in New York City for eight years. He told himself that when he returned to his hometown, he was going to be sure to see it through fresh eyes. Expressing, “If there is something you don’t like about Denver try to change it, and if you can’t change it then just be quiet.” He wanted to get people out and socializing during the week, and decided to create a supper club that would not only introduce people to local culinary minds, but also help them see that they could have an adventure in their own backyard.
Adventures are Paul’s day-time job, too, as he is one of the founders of Walking Tree Travel, an organization that offers oversea travel programs for students who are looking for cross-cultural interactions. The programs work to help the students recognize the similarities between people instead of the differences, and many have a service or conservation element to them. The common thread through all of Paul’s work is getting people to step out of their comfort zone, and through this process make connections to others around them.
Paul and I talk about how he created both of his companies, what he’s learned through the process and the importance of listening to your heart instead of other people’s perceptions of you. Listen below to learn more about Paul’s Chapter Be story…
PODCAST POINTS TO REFERENCE
[03:10] Paul’s personal experiences with travel before starting Walking Tree Travel.
[08:00] What was deemed as “rebellious” as a teenager became “entrepreneurial” as a twenty-something. Paul talks about his experiences with playing the career field before starting Walking Tree – “I’ve always tried to keep an eye on what I actually want to be doing, as opposed to what people are telling me I should be doing.”
[10:30] The importance of showing young people that there are multiple paths available to them.
[14:45] Paul’s decision to move back to his hometown of Denver after living in New York City, traveling and realizing that he had not lived in the same place for a five week stretch since high school.
[22:20] The changes Paul has seen in Denver and how the city might be able to bring more diversity to the city.
[25:15] Is the desire to create your own path innate or is it a conscious decision? “I don’t think I have a ton of the answers, but I know that I usually try to follow what my heart says…other people’s perceptions or what they want me to do really don’t matter to me much.”
[27:00] “I don’t see risk as something negative, I see it as something positive, and I thrive on that.” Paul also talks about the importance of keeping the creativity connected to the work so it doesn’t turn into just a job.
[30:40] The importance of managing expectations and taking small steps in the process.
[34:45] Some methods for getting out of your comfort zone and not living in a space of fear.
[37:00] How you can benefit from connecting with your competitors and making them your community.
[42:30] Paul’s advice on how to make a change in your life – small steps matter! “I’ll never regret doing something. I’ll only regret not doing it…small steps of breaking molds will lead to bigger cracks, which will eventually lend itself to help you do what you want to do.”
CHAPTER BE QUESTIONNAIRE…
What’s your favorite story to tell at a dinner or cocktail party?
A Splendid Torch by George Bernard Shaw:
This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.
I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch, which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
Worst work experience?
Cleaning the urinals of a fast food burger joint.
What is your definition of success?
Following a career path in which you never question if it was the correct choice.
How do you tap into your creative energies – especially when you are feeling drained?
For small boosts, I exercise.
For medium boosts, I journal.
For large boosts, I meditate.
What does “to be” mean to you?
To be is to have the awareness that life is short, but possibilities are limitless.
How do you spend your time when you are procrastinating?
Ideal READING LIST – books, websites, blogs, podcasts, magazines, etc. that you would want on your Swiss Family Robinson deserted island?
- My Dining Room Table Podcast, by Adam Cayton-Holland
- West with the Night by Beryl Markham
- The New Yorker
- 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Favorite song with “be” in the title?
Be by Common
LINKS & RESOURCES…
- Walking Tree Travel
- Silver Spork Social
- Santa Clara University
- Colorado Travel Alliance
- Flour Mill Lofts
- Dana Crawford
Images via Chapter Be, Paul Laurie & Clare Black