luke | on passion, courage and making your own luck
When I met Luke it felt like I was meeting a celebrity.
It was March 2015 and I had recently joined an exciting startup company and he was the face of it. I mean this quite literally - the company’s branding was centred around his face. He was as charismatic as I had anticipated.
Within a few months Luke became my manager. He made me nervous. Not because he was my manager, but because he was Luke. I was uncharacteristically concerned about making a fool of myself around him, which eventually became a self-fulfilling prophecy. After a particularly challenging week at the office and one too many beers on tap we went out dancing. I woke up the next morning to a memory of tumbling across the dance floor as Luke rushed to lift me off the ground. I was mortified. Yet that moment had formed an unbreakable bond and since that day, Luke has become a friend, mentor and inspiration. Here's why.
Luke is a genie. If you want something to happen then tell Luke and consider it done. In May 2015 I had been lightly toying with the idea of working from France. I cautiously broached the subject one day just to test the water, fully prepared for him to require more than a little persuasion. I hadn’t anticipated that his response would be “okay great, you’ll go to France”. Nor did I anticipate that later that day he would announce it to our team. From that moment on, Luke treated my working from France not as a possibility, but as a hardened fact. Four months later, it was.
Luke is a straight shooter. He has little tolerance for BS or weak proclamations. He tells me that he’s working on that and I honestly wish he wouldn’t because it’s one of the things I love most about him. He won’t settle for a half-ass version of you. He sees your potential and demands that you rise to it.
Luke is a phoenix. Knocked down, he comes back stronger. He is a visionary. I know he will do incredible things and will touch the lives of many who will go on to do the same.
He knows that there is more than enough room for us all to thrive and he is committed to seeing to it that we do.
These days, Luke is busy crushing his career goals in Seattle, Washington as a co-founder of Timber Tax. Their vision is to make it as easy and lovely for people who are tuned into their passion to stay tuned in. They aim to approach tax services in a way that is helpful, even delightful. Although he’s incredibly busy, we were able to fit in a quick chat last week. Here are the highlights ...
J: What would you suggest to someone who feels inspired by an idea but is having a hard time getting started?
L: I think the biggest thing is to define your tribe, who you belong with. By that I mean gritty, self-driven people who are passionate about whatever they’re passionate about. Whether it’s photography, blogging, accounting, architecture, etc. It’s about connecting with people who are in tune with their passion.
J: What about when fear is getting in the way?
L: The biggest thing to remember is that people performing in front of huge audiences are still nervous … fear is normal and it’s okay. The best remedy for fear is practice for sure.
IT KINDA COMES DOWN TO JUST DOING IT. YEAH YOU’RE AFRAID BUT WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?
If you can, find a friend or a mentor in an area where you want to get more involved. I love asking people for help. I will call anyone and ask anything - just about - and I think that it’s great. People like helping people, it’s all very mutual to do that sort of a thing. So yeah, if you can’t find someone, just do it. If you can, then don’t be afraid to ask for help.
J: In October 2015 you started one of the first successful piano bars in Vancouver. Do you think that pursuing something purely out of joy contributed to starting your own business?
L: Absolutely. At my previous job I eventually felt like I wasn’t contributing as meaningfully as I wanted to. I wasn’t in a good place about that, at all. Then we did that vision workshop and you helped me identify what I would do if there were no limits … and the piano bar was definitely one of them. I thought that would be awesome to own and run a piano bar because it was so fun in New York. Part of what attracted me to it is that people are so vulnerable in that situation. It’s intimate … people are singing, and not everyone is a good singer, but that’s okay. They’re enjoying themselves and that just oozes vulnerability and fun. Being able to start that was so profoundly fulfilling and rewarding. And it’s still going!
J: Luke, that’s incredible. It lived on without you!
L: I think that it’s very difficult to let go of your ego … I get very attached to “it’s mine, I did it, look at me, I’m so great” and then I realize that the more amazing thing is to have a legacy. Certainly, piano bar isn’t a huge thing right now but I think that identifying a community, supporting them, developing them, embracing what they stand for and bringing it to other people is really amazing.
Having piano bar be a success really reminded me of how much I enjoy coming up with ideas and implementing them and seeing them through. This actually started when I was a kid doing little projects or businesses. In my previous job, I had been sort of stagnant in a somewhat traditional role that didn’t stimulate me. I learned that I need to be able to be creative, make quick changes, and see something really grow.
THAT GAVE ME THE CONFIDENCE THAT I NEEDED TO BE ABLE TO SAY “YEAH, I DO HAVE GOOD IDEAS, AND I CAN ACT ON THEM, AND I DON’T NEED PERMISSION OR BUY-IN IN ORDER TO DO THAT”
J: What have been your biggest challenges?
L: I think the biggest one recently has to do with stress and creating space by giving yourself a break. I like to do a lot of high volume work. I write these massive lists and when I don’t complete them I feel bad. I was at a yoga class recently and they talked about creating space … you need to create space for yourself.
J: What’s something that you are often reminding yourself of?
L: So many things. To breathe. You can do a lot but you can only do one thing at a time. Every time I get frustrated I stop and say … okay, I can do one thing right now. What is it?
J: Good one. Especially in the beginning, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed by everything you’re not doing and then you wind up doing nothing at all. I’m going to use that.
J: What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
L: Moving to New York. I sold my motorcycle, left all my shit in Wyoming, moved on a Wednesday without a job and started work on the following Tuesday. I just truly believe that you make your own luck and that life is what you make of it. If you’re committed enough you can … okay, I don’t want to say that you can do anything … but you can do a lot more than you think you can.
J: Absolutely, I agree. What was it that drove you to do that? That is a sizeable leap!
L: I know, that scares the shit out of me. I don’t think I could do that now. I think it was just that fire of needing to find out more of who I was and to explore more of the world. New York was a very big part of me becoming who I am now. And look what happened! I’m very thankful. It’s funny because as frustrated as I get about things not working out the way I want them to or the way I think they should .. and I hate when people tell me this, but it’s true .. these things often turn out to be the best things that ever happened.
J: It’s true. And it is super annoying when people say that.
J: What inspires you?
L: People who are willing to make mistakes, who are willing to try, inspire me. People who are also humble and empathetic. Humanity inspires me, caring for other people and trying to make the world a better place. I think that is inspiring.