We’ve all heard some version of the adage “Tomorrow is not promised to anyone.” It’s our reminder to live in the moment. Easy to say, hard to practice. What if you were told “You didn’t have many tomorrows left?” What would you do differently? How would you change?
Chris and I recently met someone who was presented with this fate. What he did was pretty extraordinary—turning a life-threatening obstacle into a life-changing inspiration.
It’s our Lesson # 7—and the most heartwarming one so far.
Lesson # 7—Learned from the Vice Cream guy
A few weeks ago, Chris and I found ourselves on Powder Mountain in Eden, Utah. It was Nicole Yershon’s fault we were there. She’s one of those limitless-thinking, “anything’s possible” kind of people. She urged us to get out of our normal routine to experience something different. Nicole introduced us to Summit Series, or as she explained it—Burning Man meets Ted Talks.
Over three days, we hiked to 9430 feet, gazed at the stars with a NASA astronomer and took our meditation practice to a new level while interacting with an eclectic group of entrepreneurs, artists, activists, athletes, musicians and doctors.
Among the most memorable people we met there was Dan Schorr. Dan was a little shorter than average, but projected more strength than most. He walked around with a half-smirk, half-smile on his face. Dan moved with purpose and was really present at every moment. He sported a baseball cap with the letter “V” embroidered on the front.
Dan was the first person I met at registration—however, it was towards the end of our stay when I got to learn about his business.
“What’s the “V” stand for?” I asked.
“Vice Cream,” he replied.
“Vice Cream—what’s that?”
“We make the best-tasting, least-healthy ice cream on the planet.”
Chris chimed in. “The world is obsessed with healthy and you’re going the other direction. Gutsy.”
“Yep,” Dan agreed. He went on to explain, “If we can’t indulge in ice cream, then what the hell is left?”
I had to know. “Where did this inspiration come from?”
Dan took a slight pause and a deep breath. “Well….it came soon after my doctor told me I had about 12 weeks to live.”
Dan recounted the story about the aggressive form of lymphoma the doctors found in his body. He detailed the roller coaster ride of emotions. At first, anger—looking for someone to blame. Next sadness set in. Then there was fear.
After a few weeks and some intense chemotherapy something else came over Dan.
“Eventually, I was peaceful. I was ready for whatever—but not ready to give up. Cancer made me want to live life and dig in like never before.”
And that’s exactly what he did.
Still not cancer free, but out of immediate danger, Dan started Vice Cream—with the intent of creating the most delicious ice cream on the planet. This little company is quickly making a big name in a very competitive market.
Dan Schorr, CEO of Vice Cream
Surviving cancer is a testament to the virtue of resilience—getting up when life knocks you down. But that’s not the only lesson I took from my interaction with Dan. In business we’re constantly being judged, measured and scrutinized. Trying to satisfy everyone’s needs and interests can be exhausting and it’s easy to lose yourself in the process. Dan’s face-off with cancer gave him the courage to live life on his terms.
Follow your gut and be unapologetic about it—that’s the cherry on top.