The World Domination Summit

I didn’t think that I could improve upon last year. Upon arriving in Portland and making my way to the hotel, I didn’t think I could top the experience I had sharing WDS with my son. I was wrong.

For those of you not in the know, the World Domination Summit is a place for those who strive to create a remarkable life in a conventional world with the three stated values of community, adventure, and service. This is the meme that brings thousands to Portland every summer. Where many conferences bring like-minded people together to pursue one topic, WDS brings in thousands of completely different people in order to support the individual pursuit of creating something right for themselves. And, at WDS, there are hundreds of people who will happily help you achieve your goal(s). [For a little history, Chris Guillebeau founded WDS in 2011. ]

When trolling Chris Guillebeau’s website, I found this quote:  “The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you but yourself.” (-Rita Mae Brown) and it summarizes nicely the underlying theme that all of us aspire to do different things in different ways. Well .. THIS is WDS’s special sauce. THIS is the current that pulls us downstream.

Chris Guillebeau's entrance at WDS
Chris Guillebeau’s entrance at WDS

This said, this year’s summit was remarkable. There was loads of emotion, experience, eagerness, and friendship offered to everyone by participants, speakers, and staff. It was profound, especially when one thinks about how 3000 participants at WDS could overwhelm. But this is definitely not the case. In fact, WDS is an experience for everyone. WDS staff go the extra mile to make everyone feel safe so that the focus can be on learning and sharing. There is even an “introvert recovery room” .. just in case the crowds get to be too much!

Speakers and Message

“If we waited until we knew what we were doing, we’d never do anything at all.” –Elise Blaha Cripe

How true is this quote? What holds us back individually or collectively? There are plenty of studies, I’m sure, but let’s just think about what it is you want to do and what it is you’re doing. Therein lies either your happiness or your longing.

For me, the conference began with the world record attempt of eating breakfast in bed. “Worldwide Waffles” was a great opportunity to start meeting other attendees and getting into the spirit of WDS.

Worldwide Waffles
Worldwide Waffles

After registration and the opening party, came the Main Stage. The first speaker was Jon Acuff. His message was simple. Find your voice. “If you’re having a hard time finding your voice, feed it some time.” This is not profound, but it reconnected me to one of my personal goals. When I was younger, I was always writing. Along the way, I quit making time for it. And, how can one deny that “regret has a much longer shelf life than fear” ??!! So, I began WDS by recommitting to making time for the things I’ve always wanted to do, and that includes sharing my message. 

Each of the presenters were notable and shared messages of empowerment, like embracing your haters, allowing grief, choosing to dance, or being a super human. Here are some notable quotes from the weekend.

“Treat everybody like it’s their birthday.” The Kid President (Robby Novak)

“The first and last thing we hear in life is ‘I love you’. We spend our lives forgetting.” –Brad Montague

“Instead of striving to be a superhero, strive to be a super human.” –Lewis Howes

“You can’t fix someone’s pain by trying to take it away from them.” –Megan Devine

“Take a lesson from my experience, risk is really important.” –Tess Vigeland

“What voices have kept you from reaching your potential?” –Jeremy Cowart

“Love yourself because of, not in spite of, who you are!” Jessica Rector

“Self-confidence grows every time you keep a promise to yourself.” –Asha Dornfest

“Ask instead of answer. Learn instead of preach.” –Derek Sivers

Now, picture this environment .. with 2999 other enthusiastic attendees .. and remembering Kid President who said, “There’s always a reason to complain and always a reason to dance. Choose to dance.” .. now add to it Chase Jarvis who gets on stage and proceeds to give out over $400,000 worth of CreateLive educational programming (in individual $150 gift cards). If this doesn’t make you want to dance, then just start by connecting to someone else, write if you want to write (or dance if you want to dance), and remember that everyone has something to say (that means YOU too!). Find your voice !!

Choose to dance - WDS
Choose to dance – WDS

So, now what? I’ve already said that I’m going to make time for writing. And, I am walking the walk by writing on my blog. I will continue to write, but I am also choosing to pursue another dream – to teach (why limit oneself??). Yes, in a few short weeks, I will begin teaching Management Information Systems as an adjunct professor. I was thinking about this and realized that I am fulfilling a lifetime dream. Does it get better? Why, yes, it can. And it will as long as I continue to make the time for the things I want to do and pursue my own remarkable life.

Procrastination and WDS

Yes, it is evident by looking at my blog that I’ve not been meeting my own goals for writing. Although I have two draft posts from February and March, I’ve been relatively inactive lately. This doesn’t mean there aren’t ample topics I want to address. It just means I haven’t prioritized my writing to allow for it. That will change.

I just returned from the 2015 World Domination Summit and it was, again, an amazing weekend. I WILL blog about this very soon, but, for now, let me encourage you to look into this fantastic weekend chock full of goodness. The speakers were amazing and they included (not a full list) … Jon Acuff, Jeremy Cowart, Lewis Howes, Asha Dornfest, Vani Hari, and, of course, the Kid President !

Kid President
The Kid President at WDS 2015

All of the speakers were honest, informative, and moving. But, I have to say, this year the single greatest experience I had was meeting people whose stories, experiences, and goals moved me. For whatever reason this time, and I’ve been to WDS three times previously, I experienced a greater connection to many of the other participants. And, it made for a greater experience for me. So thanks to you who welcomed me back, who asked about my goals/dreams, and who shared your own journey with me.

WDS 2015
WDS 2015 Closing Party

More to come …

Return from WDS

I returned yesterday from Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit (“WDS”), a gathering in Portland, Oregon, of people who want to change the world. It’s basically a long weekend experience focused on community, adventure, and service. It is entrepreneurial. It is creative. It is a community devoted to making both personal and social change.

This year was special, though. It was my second WDS, and I was unsure of how I would perceive the weekend and events. Making it more challenging, but simultaneously more special, was the decision to bring my fifteen year old son with me. By seeing WDS through his eyes and discussing his perceptions, I was hoping to find greater inspiration … and also share it. This decision made my WDS experience much more profound. Let me explain.

At my first WDS, I participated in the events, attended the sessions, looked to feel the blatant enthusiasm that surrounded me, and I kind of did, but it wasn’t genuine. I really didn’t connect with it as much as others. Sure, I was motivated by the speakers. Loved listening to all of them. I was absolutely able to see the gems, but for me they were in the rough. And it was especially odd because some of my most admired colleagues from Asheville were also in attendance. While good, it wasn’t great. Regardless, I registered for WDS 2014.

Upon arriving with my son, we did some obligatory Portland sight-seeing (Voodoo Doughnut, Adidas, and Powell’s Books). Friday morning brought with it a yoga session where, with 807 excited and amazing people, we shattered the world record for the longest yoga chain! I expected to meet people, but I didn’t expect to make my first conference friend because of my t-shirt (I wore a guitar store t-shirt and met a player). My son, who didn’t participate in the yoga, joined me for lunch then registration.

WDS1        WDS2

Our excitement was building but for me it meant more to watch him engage in conversation. They typically went something like, “what do you do and why are you here?” For me, I want my son to craft an extraordinary life. What a better place to start to develop his thoughts on his future than with 3000 independent and creative people? That was exactly what I hoped he would get out of WDS.

When the sessions started both my son and I were enthralled with AJ Jacobs who charged us to not focus on the few things that go wrong when so much is going right. The speakers continued to bring relevant messages. A couple favorites were Jadah Sellner and her charge to “take imperfect action”, and Michael Hyatt with his design-driven life.

We discussed meetups but largely stuck to the concert hall to listen to the speakers. As we struck up conversations with other attendees, we developed a special kind of an elevator speech of what we were doing. More importantly, it allowed him to hear everyone else’s story (~ies). But I was not only watching my son. This year, I was really participating. I was making notes of ideas to follow-up on, concepts I want to explore, and authors I need to make time to read. I was open to more people and they returned this with their own openness. I made connections.

For us the weekend concluded with the closing celebration, but on Sunday night when my son asked me if he could come back, I can’t tell you how proud I felt. Not only did I bond with my son in a way I had not yet experienced, not only was I able to serve my son as a guide, but I was also able to witness a glimpse of the man he is going to be. He was brave to join me for a weekend not truly understanding the purpose. He was open minded to listen and take the many messages to heart. He was smart to take advantage of all the information available to him. And, I was impressed with his ability to choose the events he wanted to participate in. I thought I was giving something to my son by bringing him with me to WDS. But the gift given in return has impacted me profoundly more than I envisioned. This year, I got it .. and I am very excited to return next year.