World Domination Summit 2013: The Blog Posts

This past weekend, I attended the third annual World Domination Summit. I am still processing my thoughts, compiling notes, and thinking how I am going to blog about such a big event. In the meantime, however, I thought I’d highlight some of the posts by other conference attendees that resonated with me:

1) Todd Henry’s “It was Beautiful”:

The beauty of WDS isn’t the programming, or the venue (which was amazing), or the “networking” like at most conferences. The beauty is that there are several thousand people all gathered in one place, centered on one ideal. The encouragement could be scooped out of the air with a spoon and swallowed whole. Not “Oh – great! You should go do your thing, and best of luck (because honestly, you’ll need it since you’re about to fall flat on your face!)” encouragement, but the kind that is real, trustworthy, and rooted in deep experience. One of the speakers, Tess Vigeland, shared her story of leaving her “dream job” as host of Marketplace Money to start over, and was honest enough to say that it was difficult, painful, and uncertain. Not the kind of fare you typically get at conferences where the goal is polish rather than gut-level realism.

2) Matt Fangman’s recap of World Domination Summit 2013 (there’s also this great lede: “When people would ask me what WDS was about, I really couldn’t tell them”):

I’ve been to conferences about technology, creativity and community before. Why was this one different? I think it’s simple. Faith. If it’s possible to boil WDS down to one word, it is faith.

Faith in ourselves—That we can and should live a life of meaning and take the risks necessary to walk that path.

Faith in each other—That we can connect with others on their own journey and share and encourage each other along the way.

Faith in the world—That it’s open and receptive to our dreams and not quite as scary as we think it is.

3) “To Those Who Believe” by Joseph Peterson, who attended WDS2013 because his kind friend Anna bought a ticket in his name at the end of WDS2012:

Now I’m reeling from my own WDS weekend, trying to process everything I experienced in Portland. And with the clarity of being on this end of the experience, I see the spark of inspiration Anna saw. She was someone who was in a position to make a difference in the life of someone she believed in, and luckily, she was the kind of person to act on it. Last weekend it felt like I just met 3,000 more of ‘that kind’ of person, and I can gratefully say I am the better for it.

4) Andy Traub’s recap was excellent, and these two points I found most salient:

Diversity is required
When there is no diversity there is no beauty. I spoke with a yoga instructor for an hour about marriage, parenting and faith. I spoke with a man and his life partner about their restaurant winning new restaurant of the year and how they were paying their workers a livable wage and giving full benefits. I struggled to understand a man through his heavy accent as he told his story of wanting to see his poetry published. I love a blue sky but a rainbow beats it every time. (Tweet This) The diversity of experiences, perspectives and origins created a beautiful community. If we are all the same there’s not much to talk about.

There is beauty in weakness and unfulfilled dreams
Some of the speakers were midstream. Their story was not finished. They were in the gray. They were figuring it out. I liked those speakers the most. They were so human, vulnerable and honest. They were so brave to share their struggles with us. We are drawn to one another through our weaknesses much more than our strengths.

5) Rebecca Beaton’s “How To Dominate the World.” I met Rebecca at the tail end of WDS (after-after party), and I like what she has to say about building a tribe:

I had never been in a group of people before where I felt such immediate, deep, genuine connections; and I do not doubt that the difference here was that the majority of people at this conference were living lives of self-expression, passion, purpose, meaning, creativity, adventure & freedom. The amount of self-love and self-acceptance that comes with living your life in this way leads to genuine openness and less judgement towards others.

6) Jackie Lea Shelley shares a post titled “How to Change a Life” where a number of things come together beginning with the inaugural WDS in 2011 for an intimate friendship with authors Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (The Minimalists):

That is the pure truth. Had it not been for @julien‘s tweet, had it not been for @jfm‘s essay, had it not been for @chrisguillebeau deciding to hold the World’s Best Conference, had it not been for @AJLeon and @melissaleon and the Misfits, I would not be the @jackinessity that sits here today, chronicling the journey.

The truth is, Joshua and Ryan didn’t just change my life. They also saved it.

7) One of my favorite stories from last year’s World Domination Summit was Rami’s $100 bet (as profiled in this post). After I read his post, I knew he would be successful in getting his book published within a year. I also knew that had he achieved his goal, he would be on stage at #WDS2013 to claim his $100 prize. And he did just that. This year, Rami’s got another amazing story to tell, to the tune of recruiting some 20 people to write books of their own!

So it looks like by WDS2014, if everyone follows through, there will be 20 more finished books in this world. I’ve never been more proud of my fellow human beings, at taking on such an incredible challenge.

Seriously. It’s going to be a wild ride. I really hope they all win the bets they’ve placed with me. I may end up owing a lot of people some money, but man will it be worth it.

8) One of the most inspiring moments from World Domination Summit was a performance by Steve  Schalchlin, a musician who’s discovered music while as a way of coping with a diagnosis of HIV. When an experimental drug worked for him, he called music his savior. Writing in a blog humbly titled Living in the Bonus Round, he shares his thoughts about World Domination Summit in two posts:

I went to the website, hoping it wasn’t some weird religious thing. (It wasn’t). Well, then, what exactly was it? There were videos and they resembled the TED Talks. Motivational and inspirational speakers talking about self-empowerment, etc. Okay, I like that.
Even more, no commercial sponsors. No corporate donors logos allowed. Double really? He turns down money? In fact, there was a video from last year. A donor insisted on giving him money, anonymously, and rather than keep it, he gave each of the 1000 attendees an envelope with $100 in it. What? He gave away $100,000 that he could have kept for himself?
Who IS this guy? 
I also checked another page: “If you are a manager or agent or a performer and you would like to submit for an appearance, the answer is we don’t take submissions. We will find you.”
Sketch courtesy of @rohdesign.

Sketch courtesy of @rohdesign.

Steve’s performance at WDS was raw, emotional, and beautiful. One of the songs he performed was “Somebody’s Friend,” and it resonated with me deeply. The video from WDS isn’t available yet, but here he is on stage in NYC a week prior, singing this very song.

9) Sarah K. Peck’s excellent post likens WDS not to the college experience, but to an extended family. Her post is well worth the read:

The college metaphor, however, doesn’t quite fit. Because, more than college, the community at WDS is like a family to me. New faces approached me nervously, wondering how they were going to meet everyone and do it all. “You’re not,” I told newcomers, “It’s improbable that you’ll meet all 3,000 people.” But there are so many wonderful souls with “yes” attitudes that meeting a handful of them – five, ten, fifteen – and staying in touch with them over the years is the perfect thing to do at a conference like this. Start a few conversations. Connect with people and tell them you story. Share a lunch. Compare notes on the speakers. Talk about what you’re working on (or struggling with, or proud of). Say hi in person to someone you’ve been listening to online.

For those of you who came for the first time, over the next year I bet you’ll find the magic keeps happening. It doesn’t necessarily happen in the form of a job opening that falls in your email inbox the next day (although perhaps that might happen!)—but sparks start. Seeds are planted. A few months later, as you’re working through more of your world domination plans (or quiet, far-less-glamorous plans to stock your savings or launch a product), you’ll remember someone you met or recall a piece of advice or a story that will hit you and make you smile. You’ll email a friend you met and say, shyly, “Hey, can I bother you to ask a question?” And then you’ll notice that things start happening a little quicker. A little more urgently. With joy.

And then there’s this bit of wisdom: that it’s okay to have a day job, even if the majority of the people you meet at WDS appear to have blazed a path of their own:

Not everyone quits their job. I think this is really important to say. Sometimes WDS feels like a club for job-quitters, and it’s not always the right time for you or the right thing for you to do. Your life is not everyone else’s life. Sometimes it seems so hard to watch everyone quitting their jobs or starting their dreams and you wonder, “when is it going to be my turn?” Something that’s often overlooked in the shiny-internet-spaces is how long it can take to build an idea, a project, a community, a following, or a dream. There can be a distinct separation of time between knowing what you want to do and putting it to reality. It is not a bad thing to be practical and pragmatic (keeping your day job to pay the bills for a while can actually be a smart move, for example)–up to a point.

I’ve been following Sarah’s blog for over a year, and like me, she’s one of the folks who’s come to every WDS since 2011. The conference this year was six times as big as the one in 2011, but I made it a goal to find Sarah and give her a hug at the conference after her incredible effort to raise more than $30,000 for Charity:Water. And she did it!



Note: this post will be updated a few more times until I profile between five and ten blog posts.

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