This weekend I attended the third annual World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon. WDS is the brainchild of Chris Guillebeau and this year’s event was attended by nearly 3,000 people (up from 1,000 last year). It is extremely hard to sum up the whole experience in one concise post, but ultimately what makes WDS so special are the core values that the attendees and speakers demonstrate.
I’ve been to many conferences where the goal is to change the world, build a business and/or make more money. Rather WDS is about expressing who you are at the core, what makes you come alive and using THAT to be of service to the world. Everyone you meet is bound and determined to be the best, most whole person they can be. There is a belief that it’s possible to live your most authentic, joyful life AND do work that creates a better world.
It doesn’t matter whether you are working full-time for an employer, unemployed, self-employed or something in between. What matters is that you are living a remarkable life on your terms. If someone shared that they are the CEO of a multi-million dollar company, I believe they would be met with a question like “So are you truly happy doing this work or do you have some other wild dreams?” That is what makes WDS so special.
At the end of his closing talk, Donald Miller, acknowledged that the WDS community had shown him such graciousness and that we exemplified the qualities his Christian community strives for. Wow!
You meet people like: Benny, who just celebrated 10 years of traveling around the world and helps people learn languages rapidly through his language hacking techniques; Amy, who completed a 30-city tour to raise money for To Write Love On Her Arms through donation-based crossfit classes; Bo, who quit his job to sail around the world and dreams of creating a school curriculum using the lessons he’s learned in his travels.
Equally amazing are the speakers that take the mainstage to share inspiration and teachings.
Create the story you want to tell
- Nancy Duarte showed us that a powerful story is one of transformation. Using examples with Martin Luther King, Jr., Steve Jobs, Jesus and Evita she demonstrated how a transformative narrative is one that alternates between what is and the hope of what could be. What story are you going to tell about your life? Evita was “just an orphan,” Jesus was “just a carpenter,” Martin Luther King, Jr. was “just a minster.” They created extraordinary lives for themselves when they decided to change their story.
- Before Darren Rowse was the Problogger, he dreamt of becoming a photographer and entrepreneur. Somewhere along the way, he stuffed these dreams away. He started taking small steps towards his dream and started blogs and they eventually grew huge followings. He now helps other people nurture their dreams through their online platforms. He posed the question: “What is one step you can take today to get closer to your dream?”
Rejection, failure and what others think of you is just an opinion, not what defines you
- Jia Jiang spent 100 days asking for outrageous things so he could be more resilient to rejection. Surprisingly, people said yes to many of the things he asked. He asked to drive a police officer’s car, to play soccer in a stranger’s backyard and if someone at Krispy Kreme could make donuts in the shape and color of the Olympic rings (see the viral video about it here). He also got resounding ‘no’s’ for many of the things he asked as well. He learned that in the end, rejection doesn’t kill you. It is just another’s opinion.
- Tess Viegland, former host of NPR’s Marketplace, told her story of leaving her dream job, lucrative salary and accoldaes with no idea what is next. She is learning that she is remarkable aside from her identity in her former life. And with that confidence, she knows that what is next will, indeed, be remarkable.
- Donald Miller, Christian author, speaker and entrepreneur spoke about the time he was paralyzed about what to write for his next book after his last books had been successful. He felt consumed and was torn between wanting to please his fans and his critics. He finally let go and focused on being his authentic self and wrote his best work after four years of feeling crippled to write anything. Do work from a place of authenticity and not what others think of you.
Bringing people together creates magic
Whether it’s 621 people coming together to break a Guinness world record for the longest human floating chain, a Bollywood dance party or an improv jam session, magic happens when people jump in and stop looking in from the sidelines. What happens is a powerful feeling of connection and community.
Going into WDS, I felt like I had a good handle on my dreams and the things I wanted to accomplish. But as I reflect now, maybe I’m in fact not dreaming big enough. I haven’t quite connected all the dots yet and drawn all the conclusions, but I’m working on it. I just know that dreams are not impossible, people are amazing and life is worth making remarkable.
*All photos courtesy of Armosa Studios