"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
--- Robert A. Heinlen
Larry Volz is a renaissance man.
Not in the sense of the time period (although he has spent a lot of time at those kinds of fairs...) but in the sense of fearlessly taking deep dives into growing expertise and innovation in serving others with multiple and varied interests and abilities.
Curious about how life worked Larry took a pre-med track and earned a bachelors in natural science at Radford University but he chose a different path than most young scientists.
He became a magician.
Not your typical birthday party rabbit-pulling kind of magician though... he created illusions amazing enough and with the kind of comedic wit that he won International awards. He spent ten years entertaining at colleges, cruise ships and theaters.
He was the first ever winner of the International Brotherhood of Magicians "People's Choice" Award and was featured on TV with Penn & Teller. For two years he also starred in his own year-round theatrical production in Williamsburg, VA.
Being the curious soul he is he learned hypnosis. At first it was just so that he could entertain with it. Which he did -- winning the International Battle of the Hypnotists in Tokyo Japan and opening for Randy Travis in Virginia before a crowd of 45,000.
But when he realized how much he could really help people with it his career took a big turn towards the healing professions. He immersed himself in one seminar after the next on hypnotherapy.
He even earned a controversial PhD in hypnotherapy.
After years of coursework and a dissertation, he found the institution he was attending had been misleading about its accreditation. Yet Larry maintains it was the most comprehensive education available at the time in this obscure field. As he says "they can take away the title - but they can't take away the knowledge." He now jokes the PhD just stands for "piled higher and deeper."
He has since practiced hypnotherapy successfully for over 20 years helping thousands of people in person and now virtually to quit smoking, get motivated to lose weight and eliminate phobias. He has trained over 200 full-time professional hypnotists including psychologists and M.D.'s.
Radio personality Lori Kelly holding a live tarantula after Doc Volz hypnotized away her life-long fear.
Affectionately nicknamed "Doc" by his peers he even developed an educational program about hypnosis and other effective complimentary therapies that he presents tongue-in-cheek as a snake oil salesman. He has performed it to educate medical practices and just for laughs at convention, fair and festival audiences.
But of course... He couldn't stop there.
Escape Room Creator/Software Developer
Ever-passionate about creating and challenging the way we think -- the moment Larry stepped into an escape room he knew he was hooked.
"An escape room designer thinks just like a magician: Storylines and stumping. The only difference is in the escape rooms I have left them a possible way out." He says with a wink.
School of Wizardry is one of Doc's many creations. Seen here is a table with a secret compartment that rises magically when all 4 talismans are placed correctly.
Software development has been among his many interests throughout his life. He published his very first computer game at the age of 14. Pairing that with the prop-building skills he learned as a magician made it a natural step for him to invent and build the kinds of cool electronic puzzles and secret doors you find in escape rooms.
Larry has designed eight escape rooms to date using custom woodworking, theatrical set design and custom-made electronics (like the laser maze above. He has installed several copies of them in facilities around the country. And prior to Covid-19 he established a team that takes mobile escape rooms to colleges around the countries. They have entertained and challenged students at colleges in every state and have been invited back every season that did not involve a pandemic.
With two teenagers and a country on lockdown now Larry is focusing more on software development for others now and has decided to put his long touring days behind him. He built a CRM for a national hypnosis referral company. He's built web apps for his mobile escape room company. Of course he programmed all of the micro-controller based electronic escape room puzzles. And he's built dozens of responsive websites for his small businesses and for other companies.
One of Larry's puzzles - you can't see the video with the DNA code without the special glasses.
Most people choose a stable job like computer programming and maybe do magic or music or art as a hobby on the side. Up until now Larry's been the opposite. Artist first and programming the hobby.
But finally, after decades, he's finally decided to make an honest woman out of his lifetime love with software design. He is just weeks away from a second degree - this one in computer science. And he is hard at work in the Springboard software engineering boot camp sharpening his skills with the most current technologies.
Where he is going to take those skills next we don't know. But wherever he does we can be sure of one thing. He will do it with passion and excellence.
- A. Larwood, 11/10/20