My friend Scott Dinsmore died last week. He passed away during a tragic mountain climbing accident on Mount Kilimanjaro. He was 33 years old.
Scott is my first friend to die young and unexpectedly. One of the hardest parts of growing up is realizing that life is a race with a different finish line for each of us. We walk this journey together, but we all finish it separately.
This article is about Scott, about the lessons I learned from him, about the global movement he created, and about the incredible difference one person can make in the world. My words are a poor tribute to the life he lived, but they are the best I can offer.
In August of 2011, Tyler Tervooren reached out to me and asked if I would like to join a three-person mastermind group. It would include Scott, Tyler, and myself.
The three of us were just beginning to take online entrepreneurship seriously. We used the calls to talk through business issues, make big plans, hold ourselves accountable, and—mostly—as a form of therapy for dealing with the rollercoaster ride of emotions that awaits every entrepreneur.
Because of these calls, I spoke with Scott every month for the last four years. He became a peer, a mentor, a friend. When we started, I had no idea that I was about to watch him connect people from around the world and make a dent in his corner of the universe.
Scott ran a business called Live Your Legend where he focused on helping people find and do work they love. He was on a quest to help people make a living off of their passion.
His website grew rapidly. Out of the three of us, Scott’s site was the first to hit 10,000 subscribers. About a year after we began our monthly calls, Scott told me that he wanted to give a TEDx Talk.
He spent months talking to previous speakers and conference organizers. He went to dinners and other conferences with the hope of connecting with someone who could get him on the shortlist for a TEDx event. Eventually, he worked his way into the second alternate spot for TEDxGoldenGatePark.
A month before the event, the first speaker dropped out. Six days before the event, a second speaker dropped out. Scott received the call informing him that he would be speaking, created his presentation in six days, and delivered his now famous TEDx Talk titled, “How to Find and Do Work You Love.”
Within a week, his talk had nearly 50,000 views. Within a year, 500,000 views. By the time he passed away, it was one of the 25 most popular TEDx Talks in history with more than 2.5 million views.
I was fortunate to get a behind-the-scenes look at how hard Scott worked to achieve his success. He didn’t stand by and hope for his chance to come. He didn’t wait patiently to be tapped, nominated, appointed, or chosen. He worked his tail off to get the chance to be on stage and when the window of opportunity opened, he made the most of it.
The World’s Greatest Gym
A few months after his TEDx Talk, I visited Scott in San Francisco. We decided to get a workout in while I was there. I just assumed that we would head to his local gym and train together. When Scott picked me up, I asked which gym we were going to and he looked at me like I was crazy.
“Hell no. You’re not coming to San Francisco and training in some gym.”
We drove down by the marina and parked along the bay near Chrissy Field Marsh. The early morning fog had burned off and the sun was warming the Golden Gate Bridge. The weather was perfect.
We ran for a mile or two along the water before Scott told me that he had designed a workout for us. We ran back to his SUV, he pulled a few kettlebells out of his back seat with a grin on his face, and we proceeded to do so many damn burpees that I nearly threw up.
Before our final set of kettlebell swings, Scott asked a woman walking by to snap a photo of us working out in the world’s greatest gym. Now that he is gone, I find myself wishing that I had more photos of our times together. I wish I had pictures from our dinner in San Francisco, from our brunch in Portland, from the drinks we shared at the hotel bar or from the conversations we had on the rooftop patio at WDS. Memories will have to do.
Take photos with the people you love. It’s too easy to let those moments pass us by.
Scott and I both had dreams about facilitating ways for our community to meet in the real world and not just online.
We decided that hosting a series of meetups in various cities would probably be the best way to start. I got commitments from readers in over 60 countries who expressed an interest in hosting a local meetup in their area. Scott developed his own list.
The software for organizing something like this wasn’t great and while I was busy whining about how I didn’t have the right tools, Scott said, “Screw it. I’m going to go with what we have.”
Live Your Legend LOCAL was born. The global kickoff event featured simultaneous meetups in more than 150 cities. Scott asked me to be the featured speaker at the event in my area. I was happy to help.
By the time Scott passed away, Live Your Legend LOCAL had grown to include monthly in-person meetups in 206 cities in 57 countries around the world.
The scope of the project is incredible, but I know that the impact of the venture meant even more to Scott than the numbers. He told me with pride about one attendee who, after attending the meetup with his wife, sent Scott an email that said, “After the meetup, my wife told me that she finally understands me.” There were tons of testimonials like that.
The moment that Live Your Legend LOCAL launched, Scott’s work and mission became bigger than himself. His life was a perfect example of how work is not merely a task to be finished, but an opportunity for us to do something that matters. I’m so grateful that I was there to witness it.
Living His Legend
If you could rewind the clock to January 1, 2015 and tell Scott that he had eight months to live, he very well might have done the same thing he actually did.
The climbing accident that took Scott’s life happened during a year-long round-the-world trip with his wife, Chelsea. He traveled the globe with the person he loved most in the world. He shared meals with people he impacted through his work. He sipped wine in France with Leo. He battled strangers in a Mexican dance off with Corbett. He re-lived his honeymoon in Croatia.
Is it even possible to fill eight months with more adventure, love, passion, and joy? His final year was a gift.
One of my favorite memories of Scott was the night he ran through the streets of Portland in a cape, twirling at every turn, while Steve Kamb and I ran behind him covered in paint of all colors. We finished the night drinking beers and doing impersonations of one another. I can’t imagine what the strangers who passed us thought, but we were having a blast.
We tell people to follow their dreams. We claim that you should be the change that you wish to see in the world. We encourage people to bring others together and to create projects and businesses that impact those around them. Start a business. Travel the world. Live life to the fullest.
Scott actually did those things.
You Are Not Alone
During one of our regular calls a few months ago, Scott said something that I immediately wrote down and placed at the top of my mission statement.
“People just don’t want to do this journey solo.”
We all need to be surrounded by people who can support our dreams. We all need to connect with someone and think, “You understand me.” Scott used Live Your Legend to build a space where connections like that could happen. He fostered understanding, meaning, and connection for people all around the world.
And as I try to grapple with this loss, I’d like to extend Scott’s advice to the people who need it most:
To Scott’s family and his closest friends, you don’t have to do this journey solo. I am so sorry for your loss. Know that Scott loved you, that he talked of you often, and that he was grateful for your presence in his life.
To his wonderful wife Chelsea, you don’t have to do this journey solo. I’m here to talk, to support, to help. That’s true today. It’s true in a month. It’s true in a year. And I know you already know this, but let me tell you again: Scott adored you. He loved you fully. He was constantly talking about how lucky he was for “marrying up.”
And to Scott, wherever you are now, you didn’t make this journey solo and you won’t make the next one alone either. We are with you. We are here to carry on the work you did. You are not alone.