As a teenager, Efim Lavrentievich was given "for training" to an uncle-innkeeper in Nikolaev,but later escaped from him. He worked as a bookseller, as a samovar maker in a hotel.
In 1905, Efim Lavrentievich began active revolutionary activity: he participated in peasant "riots" in the Kherson province. Established relations with the Odessa Council of workers' deputies.
After two arrests in 1906 for revolutionary propaganda among peasants and workers and calls for the overthrow of the autocracy, he was sent from Elizavetgrad to Tobolsk province for three years. After 1909, Efim Lavrentievich worked as a construction technician in Moscow. In 1917, he joined the Bolshevik party. In the days of October - the Commissioner of all Saints-Peter subdistrict, fought with the cadets. Was a member of the Executive Committee of the Moscow Soviet.
During the civil war, Efim Lavrentievich was a military Commissar of the engineering Department of the 3rd army of the Eastern front, managing the Affairs of the Temporary don Executive Committee.