Eavesdropping on Danielle LaPorte part 1: Generosity

Randi's note:  This is an excerpt from an interview I did with


a while back, a few weeks after having enjoyed a fantastic dinner with her and the local goddesses in Vancouver.  Danielle just retitled her excellent "The Fire Starter Sessions" to "The Spark Kit".  Same excellence, new name.  Danielle and I riff a bit and you get to read a transcription thanks to

Sara Blackthorne

.  Part 2 will post soon (hint: mysticism). Enjoy!

moulin rouge
moulin rouge

RB: Hey Danielle! How are you?

DL: Hi, hi, hello, I’m great. I’m so excited to talk with you.

RB: Excellent! So as I was preparing to talk with you, a movie that kept popping up in my head. I’ll preface with that: It was Moulin Rouge.

DL: [laughter]

RB: [laughter] I was thinking about you, and what I wanted to talk to you about, and the movie Moulin Rouge kept popping up. You know, the movie in part embraced a carnival atmosphere, but the essence of truth, beauty, freedom and love seems to be what that movie is all about.  I think that is very much what your work is all about and having jumped into my own copy of The Firestarter Sessions, that’s very much what I’m experiencing. So, I just want to put that out there.

DL: Mmmm. Thanks for that. You know what I love about that is that you’re paying attention to the themes and the stories and the images that come up. I think so many of us have those little daydreams, or imagery floats in, and we just kind-of, we let it float by, but there’s always connections to be made there. Aren’t there?

RB: Always.  Very cool.

DL: And hot-looking costumes. I mean, there’s the depth of truth, beauty, freedom and love... [laughter] and everybody looks hot, too. [laughter]

RB: There’s something about red crushed velvet that really [laughter] really helps. So that was coming up, and that was really the cocoon which, when I was thinking about talking to you, that I found myself being wrapped in. For me, really having particular interest in the areas of leadership, leadership on one terms, trail-blazing, and then partnership, there are four aspects beyond truth, beauty, freedom and love that, when I thought about you Danielle, really came to mind. And those are: generosity, mysticism, partnership, and there’s something genius -- well, I think you’re genius in all these areas -- but particularly genius in finding your own voice. So, if it’s okay with you, I’d like to talk to you a little bit about those aspects.

DL: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.  Generosity. Yeah. Ooh, Let’s start with ... can I just start with generosity.

RB: Absolutely!

DL: I think the more you give, the more you have to give. And, what I really dislike about corporate strategy is that, that dynamic, the tactic of withholding, and of, of umm, tampering and the pacing and ... I mean, of course, you know... Product development 101: you’re gonna come out with this, and it’s going to evolve into this, and ... But there’s this holding back, and I see it, I’ve seen it happen creatively with people. Oh, I’m so heartbroken when someone says, “What do I do about someone stealing my ideas?” or “I don’t really wanna tell everybody.” Or “I don’t, I shouldn’t, maybe I...” You know, one of the reasons I left my life in Washington, DC was that I signed a nondisclosure agreement, like I was signing like 2 or 3 a week. It was ridiculous. Um, so, for me that spirit of generosity comes in: I’m just going to give all I have to give right now, and I’m going to -- because I feel to -- and I’m going to trust that there’s going to be another idea behind this great idea. And, I’m gonna trust that, if this idea is meant to be mine to execute on, um, and to prosper from, then it will be mine. And, I also know, ideas are a dime a dozen. You need to have the cash, or the resources (doesn’t always translate into cash), and you need to actually execute. So, go ahead and share your ideas. None of it matters unless you are actually gonna do it. Um, yeah, like I’ve been saying lately, I always find that generous people have more to give.

RB: Nice. Well you must have discovered that looking in the mirror because I’ve been trying to catch as many of the interviews you’ve been doing as possible and, you’ve got to be close to a hundred...

DL: Am I? Yeah, maybe. [laughter] Yeah...

RB: And you know, prior to that, you know, really giving a lot of your time, um, in addition to creating the Fire Starter Sessions, you know, all your blog posts are just, it’s like nectar for the soul. Do nourishing. And then, I think, you know, what is just incredible, for your birthday -- happy belated -- , you did the “pay what you can” and, from what I can tell online, you’ve received over seven hundred offers.

DL: Yes. It was nuts. I had no ... [laughter] This is such a great experience of me having ... Like, I had fair expectations, like, “Oh, you know, maybe I’ll get a hundred and fifty comments on my blog and wouldn’t it great, people can offer me anywhere between twenty bucks and two hundred bucks.” Some people decided to over-pay, which was great, they offered scholarships...

RB: Ooh.  So lovely.

DL: That was amazing.  So Amazing.  I had no idea that that many people even knew I was here. [laughter] And, um, but really, I was so touched by, that it just, it really was this pay-it-forward dynamic; like, you know, two women got together and like, I’m gonna, I’m, let’s do scholarships! And I’m gonna put an extra fifty bucks in for someone who can’t afford it and one guy said to me “I want to pay you two hundred bucks, one copy for me and one copy for someone who can’t afford it,” and THEN, behind the scenes, it was moving and heart-stretching to get, see you know, all the comments of what people were saying they could pay, on the actual site, but the stories I got, behind the scenes via email, are a book in and of themselves. I was just amazed, at people’s honesty, and vulnerability. I was amazed at, um, the hardships of the economy. I was amazed at people’s wealth, and abundance. Um, you know, and there are a few tricksters in that whole mix of people who, you know, want to put ten bucks on their credit card; you know what, that’s not cool. You got a credit card, you can put more than ten bucks on it. That’s, that’s, that’s ... I’m not into that. Um, so there were just a handful of boundaries that I had to put up, so I gave people a complimentary chapter and said, you know, when you have more than ten bucks, I’m here.

RB: I like how you handled that.  Elegant and self-respecting.

DL: Yeah, it was a really great lesson for me in boundaries. Really great. There’s probably a lot I could probably, there’s a few articles I need to write on that, but, um, yeah.

RB: Mm-hmm. Well, it’s just, you know, and I was preparing to talk to you and then that happened. I was like “Whoa! I’m on to something with generosity here!” because it was really amazing to watch and I really hear in your voice that it was deeply moving. And still is.

DL: Oh yes, yes. It still is. It’s still, well, I mean just the logistics of processing orders, specific requests and some funky, strange, lovely requests from 700 people.

RB: Oh, wow. [laughter]

DL: Mm-hmm.

RB: Yeah. I mean, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the root of generosity, the word ...

DL: Nnn-hnn.

RB: It goes back to Latin, but really the g-e-n, the gen; what’s it mean when we say -- you know, of course generosity meaning expecting nothing in return, but the French, ah, how it evolved in French was “of noble birth.”

DL: Mmm.

RB: So I thought that was very interesting. And g-e-n is also the same root as gender, genius, genesis, and genteel. And I that was SO you, all of those.

DL: Mmm. That’s lovely.

RB: Yeah, so thank you for putting that out into the world.

DL: Yeah, it was fun, thanks.

RB: And one more thing, before I move on to the next thing I want to talk to you about that. I’m curious, Danielle, how generosity has helped you find your own voice.

DL: Oh, well, I just want to - I want to be generous. It feels better to be generous, and um, like I said I also have, I have boundary issues [laughter]. I have over-given, and I have over-compensated, um, because I’ve under-given to my self of just, you know, my own self worth. It’s like, I don’t have to over-produce here, I’m enough. And, um, what was the question -- how has it helped me?

RB: Yeah. yeah, just curious how it helped you find your own voice.

DL: How it’s helped me find my own voice ... My own voice wants to be unleashed, it wants to be unbridled. Um, I want that freedom. I don’t want to hold back in any way. And, you know, I want to be intentional about it, it’s not about being sloppy. It’s about being impeccable. And there’s a purity. And also, I’ve been shown generosity at some very key moments in my career, certainly in my life, but you know, entrepreneurially speaking ...

RB: Mmm-hmm.

DL: I’m just so touched by people who were willing to, that have, it was the basic stuff: to have tea with me, to hear my idea, people who wrote me very big checks, um, to invest in me after, after having a muffin. [laughter]

RB: Excellent! [laughter]

DL: People who kept just showing up and showing up and saying, you know, there’s another dimension to this, there’s another, there’s another little loophole we gotta talk about, oh my god it’s just a curveball. And, you know, those crisis times that last for weeks until you untangle and clear it out. I was, ah, wow, you know, late night emails, and, ah, an really people saying from their heart, “however I can help you, I will.” And me calling on them! And them being there, just, I, so touched.

RB: Mmm. Very cool. And it’s really clear that you recognize that, too, that you haven’t taken that for granted at all.

DL: Nnn-hnn, nnn-hnn.

Part 2 Coming Soon!

Here's the direct link to The Spark Kit (formerly known as "The Fire Starter Sessions".  I'm a proud affiliate, by the way!).