His Story

The Latest From Donald Miller...

If you attended The Storyline Conference last year, you’ll remember Lori Ventola, our essay-contest winner who thought she’d only won a trip to Portland to attend the conference but who ended up getting a bigger surprise. Lori wrote an essay about wanting to start a tutoring program helping homeless families get their children caught up and back in school. She’d done this sort of work before, but the organization she worked with had shut down.


We read through her essay and asked her to create a business plan, detailing all her needs to get the program started. We flew her out, and she was excited, hoping to learn something from the conference. At the end of the conference, though, we passed out her business plan to all the attendees and gave them each a white index card, asking them to write their name and phone number along with their profession and any other expertise Lori might be able to call them about to move forward. We also gave Lori a small check that allowed her to leave her job and start living a different story. And she’s done very well. In under a year working in Denver, she’s partnering with friends in Los Angeles to create a program through Union Rescue Mission. No kidding, she’s already creating franchises.

Lori says those index cards helped a lot more than the money, which just goes to show you what a community of people with various talents and skills can do when they combine resources.

So I’m wondering what kind of story you are wanting to live? Are you ready to take the leap? Do you need some help? While I can’t pass out index cards for you, you could probably duplicate a little Storyline magic right there amongst your friends. Here are some tips for getting started telling a better story:

1. Have a clear vision of what you want to do. For Lori, it was simple, she wanted to tutor kids who were falling through the cracks, kids the system was leaving behind. She wanted to get them caught up. With the help of lawyers, educators, designers, organizational professionals and more, she is on her way.

2. Make sure that vision is really coming from your passions. Don’t pursue something because it’s the right thing to do, otherwise you will fail. Pursue your vision because it’s you and it lights you up. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. Last year I was approached with an awesome opportunity that fit right in with the books I’ve written, I found myself less than excited. On paper, everything was perfect. And I’d have made a lot of money doing the work. But the more I thought about it, the more I knew it would fail. My heart wasn’t in it. My mind was asking other questions and I wanted to pursue other opportunities. So sit with your vision for a while and ask yourself if you could live with whatever you create for a few years and if you’d truly be happy if it came about.

3. Take huge risks. Lori quit her job. No kidding. We didn’t even give her that much money, but it was enough for her to commit full time to the work and raise the rest as she went along. It’s been scary for sure. Great stories are often frightening. But she took the leap and she’s changing people’s lives.

4. Pass out index cards to everybody you know. I don’t mean literally (although that’s not a bad idea) but I do mean everybody. Include everybody in your plan and ask them to help you out. Amongst your friends, you are only a few relationships removed from real estate agents, lawyers, accountants, doctors and so on and so on. Put together your team, show them your plan, and ask people for help.

Lori is taking Plumfield Learning Systems to Los Angeles, and is looking for some more help. I’m going to ask for some help for her, because she’s my friend. What she needs is some dough to cover expenses for the trip out, about $5k. You can donate at Plumfield’s site through her ChipIn campaign. She also needs as many airline tickets as she can get from Denver to LA and back. She’ll likely be visiting the program as often as she can.

Visit Lori today and help her along in the amazing story she’s telling the world. And while your at it, feel free to tell a great story yourself! Can’t wait to hear about it!

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