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A Tribute to Scott Dinsmore

Twenty-four days ago my friend, Scott Dinsmore, passed away near the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro—the same mountain I struggled on four years ago.

Scott was the larger-than-life founder of Live Your Legend, a community dedicated to helping people find and do the work they love. His accomplishments—and the lessons I’ve learned from his friendship for the five years I was blessed to have him in my life—are too many to list here.

In the days since his death, thousands have turned out to mourn and share their stories. [1]

I knew I would have to share mine, as well. Until today, though, I didn’t know how. Trying to eulogize someone like Scott would only make me look like a hack. I’ve tried (and failed) for weeks to find the words to do him justice. So, I’ll share just three stories from our too-short time together that will tell you a little about who he was to me.

When I think of these stories, they inspire me to be a better person. I hope you find them useful. [2]

First, a Little About How It Began

The first time I met Scott was for lunch at Samovar Tea in San Francisco in early 2011. Anyone who knew him would sigh at the obviousness of that; it was his favorite place. I don’t remember what we had, but it was definitely vegan, he definitely told me a fantastical story about why I had to try it, and I definitely feigned interest, secretly wishing there were a chunk of meat on top of it.

The food didn’t matter, though. For the first time, I was meeting the guy who’d secretly become my “Internet Best Friend.”

The year before, Corbett Barr sent an email introducing the two of us. I had just launched this little project called Advanced Riskology and Scott was a speed reader trying to make himself super human by reading every book he could get his hands on and sharing the lessons with the 100 subscribers to Reading For Your Success, his blog at the time.

It wasn’t the blog that impressed me. It was what he wanted to do with it and the conviction he had for carrying it out. I was privileged to get a view of Scott’s vision for what would become Live Your Legend long before it debuted.

At lunch that day I remember thinking to myself, “If I knew how tall, handsome, well dressed, and white your teeth were, there’s no way we’d be friends.” In the world of bromance, Scott was out of my league. That’s the beauty of the Internet—the great equalizer. It lets us set aside preconceived notions of who we think we should pay attention to or what someone is like and focus on ideas, energy, and passion. Scott had those in spades, and I wanted him on my team. I’m lucky he felt the same.

We didn’t see each other again until that summer when he came to Portland for the first World Domination Summit. We were both at the beginning of big journeys and, over drinks at the after-party in Sellwood, we talked about how important it was to surround ourselves with others who understood the struggle and could hold us accountable to our goals.

He floated the idea of a mastermind. I hated that word, but I liked the idea, and I liked Scott, so I said okay. Two people do not make a mastermind, though, so we went in search of a third. I’d recently met a guy named James Clear, and we both agreed he’d be a perfect fit.

We had our first call that August, and we’ve talked every month since—sometimes in person over breakfast at Isabel’s in NW Portland and sometimes over poor WiFi from a cave in Turkey. The location never mattered much. I regard those calls among the most valuable moments of my life.

James and I had our first call without Scott last week. It was good but, at the end, all we could think about was how weird it was to do it without him. [3]

Faith in Yourself Is the Faith You Need Most

When I launched my first product, Scott was the first affiliate I recruited to help me sell it. He was all-in from the first moment. This was before we’d even met in person. After a month, he sold one copy. I thought he’d be bummed (I would have). Instead, he wrote me an email about how cool it was.

dinsmore-email-1

It took me a while to figure out who Scott was. When I did, it was obvious. Scott was the world’s most positive human being. It took me longer to figure out why; Scott saw huge potential in even the tiniest things. He believed in himself, and he believed that where he found even the smallest traces of progress, he could turn them into huge successes.

He had a mindset that could turn any situation into a win. And that mindset, without fail, delivered for him and his mission. I will always admire this about Scott and strive to emulate it. Any time I would tell him something in my life or business wasn’t living up to expectations, his only response was, “Okay, but isn’t it awesome how much better it could get?”

Scott never got rich selling my e-book, but he used that mindset—that faith in himself—to build an empire that will live on for generations to come.

Adventure Is a Catalyst for Growth

I do not think I’ve ever had an appointment with Scott that wasn’t rescheduled at least once to accommodate for some wacky adventure. If it wasn’t a barefoot marathon in the mountains, then it was a trip to Omaha to try to meet Warren Buffet. And if it wasn’t that, then it was swimming from Alcatraz or a fishing trip on the Kamchatka Peninsula while boxing a Russian grizzly bear. This is not hyperbole to write a better story.

dinsmore-email-3
This is a common example of emails we’d exchange.

Some would say Scott was productive, successful, and influential despite his thirst for adventure. Those who knew him and value adventure in their lives, though, know he was all those things because of it.

Where do big ideas come from? And where does the drive to carry them out originate? They come from stepping outside of your normal routine. They come from giving yourself space to think about something besides the daily grind. Skipping town to go fishing in Russia is a luxury for most, but adventure is not. Adventure can be found on any day at any time. All that’s required is, like mentioned earlier, the right mindset. Scott had it.

Scott sent me this picture from Russia. The bear, reportedly, declined the invitation to fight.
Scott sent me this picture from Russia. The bear, reportedly, declined the invitation to fight.

It Is Not Possible to Give Too Much to Your Friends

dinsmore-weddingIf there’s one thing Scott lacked, it was any sense of scarcity. He was generous with his time, and he did not let money or fatigue get in the way of supporting his friends. If I wrote on Twitter I’d taken a great poo, Scott would probably call to congratulate me just in case I was serious.

When Jess and I got married on a Friday last October, Scott and his wife, Chelsea, were scheduled to attend another wedding in San Francisco that Saturday. I told him not to worry about it. Don’t come to Portland for one night and wear yourselves out just for us. Their RSVP card was one of the first ones returned. “We’ll be there with our dancin’ shoes on.”

Later, on the phone, Scott told me, “I don’t miss weddings. If someone invites me to their wedding, I’m there unless I physically cannot be.”

That’s a policy I’ve now implemented for myself for important events. Wish I’d done it before 30. Glad I finally did. I’ve learned that sometimes means saying yes at the expense of sleep. Sometimes it means important projects get sidelined while you celebrate or comfort others. Occasionally, you have to tighten your budget the next month because you spent half of last month’s on travel and gifts.

It’s all worth it. Every penny. Every delay. Every missed hour of sleep. Look at that picture. Try to put a price tag on that.

Next week, Jess and I will follow Scott’s advice to its sad and ironic conclusion as we travel to SF for his memorial service.

I’ll Miss You Forever, But You Left Me With A Lot

Writing everything up to this point was fun. Now it isn’t. Like Corbett said in his tribute, I don’t want it to be over. When I stop writing, it feels like it really is the end.

But, thanks to his larger-than-life personality and dedication to building great things, Scott lives on. He lives on not just in the hearts of his friends, but in his community that includes hundreds of thousands. And the people it will go on to touch in the years ahead will dwarf that number. There are unborn children who will someday quietly thank Scott for having a positive effect on their lives. That’s hard to imagine.

This piece is long. Maybe too long. But screw it. Scott liked long articles. God knows he never wrote a short one. So here’s to you, buddy. Whether I’m struggling with self-doubt, running a marathon with wildebeest, or forcing myself to call that friend I’ve not called for far too long, I know you’ll be there. You’re a part of me and you always will be.

Footnotes:

  1. You can find a roundup of many tributes to Scott here and in the official Facebook Group.
  2. I typically write on a strict schedule, but struggled to for for this piece. As a result, there may be spelling, grammar, and clarity problems. I apologize for that and will clean these up as my energy allows.
  3. In James’ tribute, he mentioned how important it is to take pictures with the people you love. You never know how long they’ll be around. I’m sad that, in looking through my archives, I have very few pictures with Scott and none with the three of us together. I will always regret that.

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