inspiration [inspəˈrāSHən], noun: the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative
A few months ago I was feeling fairly blah in my job. As a statistical analyst in rheumatoid and osteoarthritis research, there’s always something new to learn, but a sense of complacency seemed to seep into my day-to-day work spirit. What if there were other paths to take? If there are many people travelling the world and making a living abroad, or even while doing the 9 to 5, then surely I could work my way toward a similar goal, right? I took to the interwebs, and perhaps I Googled how to not conform because somehow I landed upon a book called The Art of Non-Conformity, by Chris Guillebeau. The premise: don’t live your life the way others expect. It’s something that I know logically, but reading this book re-emphasized that I really could do what my heart desired, even if that meant having to take an unconventional approach. I highly recommend the read! By happenstance, I stumbled upon an event in Portland, Oregon called The World Domination Summit (WDS), also created by Chris. It’s a bold title. I didn’t really know what it was about, but it looked awesome! So I signed up.
So What is The World Domination Summit?
When I told people I was going, there was usually a slight pause and a wince of bafflement, followed by, “So what’s that about?” To be honest, I could never come up with a good response. I generally responded: “There will be entrepreneurs and bloggers and people doing their own thing and inspiring speakers and stuff”. Once I began chatting with other attendees and after picking up my event passport for the weekend, the goal of the weekend became clear: to bring together 3000 people from all walks of life in a spirit of community, service and adventure who want to design their own lives. It would be a weekend of exploration and discovery, with the key question being: “How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world? This would be the 4th year creative types, travellers, solopreneurs and others would descend upon the city with an infectious amount of energy to take over a small country. (Note: no countries were actually taken over).
Why Attend WDS?
If I had to summarize my inaugural World Domination Summit experience in one word, I would have to say “inspirational”. Scheduled events such as the Portland Experience to sample food trucks and wine/beer, or The Great Namaste (which broke the world record for creating the longest yoga chain), or even the craze of the closing party at Zidell Yards added much excitement to the event. There were so many meet-ups about various topics from confidence, to earning passive income, to travel hacking, that I had trouble choosing which ones to attend! And of course, the city of Portland – with its greenery, hipsters, breweries, great foodie scene, wonderful coffee shops, and a crazy bustling farmer’s market – made the weekend feel like a mini getaway. The main venue, the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, housed all 3000 wide-eyed excited participants comfortably throughout the weekend to listen to captivating speakers like Michael Hyatt and Elise Blaha Cripe (more on them in a subsequent post).
I think the best part of the conference, however, was bringing together a community of like-minded individuals and providing such a great environment in which to network. I either heard about attendees or met attendees who were:
- a poem collector, creating anthologies of poetry by collecting them from random individuals on sidewalks and public places
- a techie who created a book for men on building confidence in the dating world
- a traveller writing about people who have travelled in unconventional ways, from biking, to motorcycling, to sailing, from a practical ‘how-to’ perspective
- a scuba diver documenting her dives as she passes through all states in the US
- a woman unlucky in love who finally decided to date herself as a journey of self-discovery
- an adventurer who decided to climb Aconcagua in South America, then move his way to climb North America’s highest peak (I think)… while volunteering in each country/place along the way
- a woman trying to start a revolution against how we tear down others in the media without realizing they are part of the larger human family
There were so many amazing and inspiring people. Or as I looked at it, so many ordinary people doing extraordinary things in unconventional ways. How do you not walk away energized and ready to make things happen?! Also, you never know what happens at WDS. For example, I met another Rick Chin from Gainesville, Florida. It turns out we have some commonalities, such as a love of Beyoncé…
Moving Forward from WDS
After having severe withdrawal symptoms, I’m assuming this will be a thought for many attendees now that the weekend is over. Whether you’re like me, going to WDS for the first time without a plan in mind, or a veteran who is planning how to pitch their next book that’s nearing completion, everyone has a next step in their journey. How do you move forward from the event and take that positive energy with you? How do we keep up the momentum? How do we remain accountable? How do we just start and work toward the next task while throwing fears of failure aside? Now that I’m back in Calgary, I have ideas swirling in my head. WDS was just so motivating! It was like an inspiration punch to the face. A punch hard enough to say “Hey! What amazing things are you going to do with your life?” What if some of those so-called pipe dreams of travelling the world, working remotely and independently, becoming a mountaineer, or creating a life that doesn’t fit the general societal conventions could actually come true? Jadah Sellner, co-founder of Simple Green Smoothies and an amazing speaker on the main stage, said something that resonated with me: Say your dreams out loud, and then take imperfect action. Not just any action… imperfect action. Don’t be afraid to take steps that move you in the direction of your dreams, even when you don’t know the how yet. The path might be a bit staggered with rocks and roots that cause you to stumble, but before you know it, that simple far-off idea in some-day land could actually be realized.