Sometimes I get caught up in the whirlwind of the weeks that it’s hard for me to find time to sit down and write my posts – it’s been about a week and a half since the epic second rendition of WDS concluded, and I went straight back to work, followed by a weekend spent with the Bold Academy teaching another storytelling workshop; This week I’m traveling to two of our seven SWA offices to interview the partners in a new project recording the oral histories of a 55 year old firm. But more on all of this later–for now, I’m backtracking and catching up on the part two of an epic weekend itself: a weekend called World Domination.
This year, I was picked to lead one of the workshops – an event both terrifying and immensely satisfying; as part of my long-term goals, I want to get more involved in teaching and public speaking again. While I’ve worked for years as a swim coach and teacher, as well as a private instructor, formalizing my experience in the architecture and psychology worlds still feels new to me, and I’m joining toastmasters, taking acting classes and generally nerding up on all things public-speaking in order to continue to get better at it (As with everything I’m doing – I’m sure I’ll have resources coming soon!) For anyone with questions about public speaking or presentations, leave them in the comments – it will help me get better at doing it! But back to last weekend...
WORLD DOMINATION: DAY 2
Chris Guillebeau kicked off the event by reminding everyone that inspiration is nothing without action – everyone who comes to the conference to get inspired must also leave knowing that they are going to do something to make change in the world they see.
Now that a week has passed, I wonder: what are you taking action on this week? Have you taken steps to make shit happen? Have you mapped out a plan to keep yourself accountable? I have one goal for the next three months - and it involves 12 steps (or, once-weekly check-ins every Friday). What about you?
CHRIS BROGAN: OF COURSE I REMEMBER YOU
Chris led off with a wonderful rendition of each of the major comic book characters –from the Hulk to Spiderman to Batman – and asking everyone what their superpower is. What do you have that no one else has? What makes you uniquely, weirdly, fantastically, you? As he said: “You will succeed the weirder you get." Yes.
He also had many more good nuggets:
- Untangle. Stop letting what other people think of you influence who you are or what you do. The positive and the negative comments? Get rid of them all.
- The opposite of fear is not courage or bravery – it’s surrender. It’s giving up. It’s not taking the swim.
- “The more willing you are to look dumb, the better you look.”
- Who is your secret identity? What do people say about you?
- Confidence isn’t about the big things. It’s about figuring it out along the way. Life gets cooler faster. You will succeed the weirder you get.
- DON’T SETTLE. Stop doing the sucky stuff. Stop reading the stupid things. If you’re in a crappy restaurant, leave. Get on the right path. No one is sitting around trying to help. You have to define it, and you have to earn it. If you’re a writer, you write.
Perhaps my favorite part, however, was something he threw in about the need for human connection. When people come up to him and say, "Hey Chris, remember me?" he said it was important for him to say, "Of course I remember you! You're a human! You're important." At that point, I definitely teared up a bit. We get caught up in the flurry of people and things and being busy--and stopping to listen, to pause, to say: hey, yeah. I remember. You're rad. You're important.
DAN NOLL & AUDREY SCOTT: UNCORNERED MARKET
What happens when you travel around the world, married, to as many countries as you can get to? You have stories, resonance, and an in-depth appreciate of the beauty and nuance of culture. And stories about beans, about compassion, and about remembrance. Because across all boundaries, ideals, languages, and weirdnesses—we’re all simply human, and we can relate to each other, even the comical parts. Their talk was full of advice like:
- No decisions is easy.
- Embrace regret avoidance.
- Don’t wait until later – in case later never comes.
- Learn as much as you can about new things.
- When you visit a place, you’ll find it’s filled with wonderful, amazing, ordinary human beings.
- Do things because they are the right thing to do.
- There is no generosity on this planet greater than the generosity of spirit.
- Human connections transcend borders.
In a surprise talk that I think made everyone breathe a sigh of relief – Cal decided to bust open the myth that “passion” is what you need to sustain a happy life. No, he said: this is wrong, and it’s a myth we’ve been fed for a couple of decades that may be making us progressively unhappier. Instead, you need to persist in the effort to get good at something. Find something you’re pretty interested in, and figure out if that will give you interesting options later on, and then work hard to build that into a craft that you can develop and potentially leverage. This is the foundation for a remarkable life—not assuming that somehow you’ll know in advance what your “passion” is. Trying to define what you’re passionate about and then being disappointed in it later is a recipe for an unsatisfied life. Some notes:
- The path to an interesting life is very complex.
- How do you know what you’ll be good at? It’s really hard to get good at things. You need to spend a lot of time in the persistence of getting good at something.
- The idea that you should sit and know what you’ll like before you do it is a very strange idea. And a bad one.
- Get very good at something rare and valuable, and use that as leverage to gain into your life traits that matter to you.
- As soon as you have a chance to take control of your life (through leverage), the pressure comes crashing down.
The criteria for doing something is: “Is it interesting to you?” and “Will this give me skills that I can leverage in the future?” If yes, then that is enough. Work hard to get good at it.
WORKSHOPS + MY TEACHING + TARA GENTILE
After the morning speakers, and after a frazzled lunch (a bit of finagling was required!) – I went on to teach my workshop on storytelling (click the link for all the goodies and resources from my workshop!) and after I attended Tara Gentile’s kick-ass workshop on finances for online business people. More on the workshop I developed -- that's a series of posts in and of itself!--but suffice it to say that I LOVE teaching and can't wait to do it more.
From Tara I learned:
- Money is not the enemy
- Figure out how to do things that make other people’s lives better and richer.
- Making other people richer will make you richer financially
- Serve as many people as possible through scale and leverage;
- Make a statement
ATTENDEE STORIES AND THE CLOSING KEYNOTE:
The two-day adventure closed with a lighting round of thirteen beautiful, moving stories by attendees who shared what they’d been up to, followed by a closing by JD Roth, a friend of mine and the founder of Get Rich Slowly – on changing his life.
The attendee stories were funny, comical, and nearly every one made me laugh, cry, think, or do all three all at once. Some of my favorite tid-bits.
- Brandon Sutton: “The word ‘wait,’ is not in our vocabulary.”
- Nicole Ross: “Big sexy dreams are only accomplished one tiny, unsexy step at a time.” And another one --“You don’t need $200 underwear to go running.” And perhaps my favorite: “There is no cap on the amount of success there can be in the world.”
- Jenny Blake: “Courage is often a hot mess.” And a good one that keeps sticking with me: “Don’t compare your inside to someone else’s outside.”
- Bruny: “There are much bigger issues in the world, I know, but I first have to start with the world I know.”
- Nick: “The timing is never going to be perfect, so just start. And then, keep going.”
- Adam Baker: “Fuck it, let’s do it live.”
And JD Roth:
Remember the power of Yes. Of Focus. And of Action. If you say yes, if you focus on the things that you really want to do, and you take action – you can do anything. There are no promises for it being easy or hard, but go on. Get going.
And in bringing it home:
“Just because it’s possible, doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.”
Coming soon! The Writer's Workshop and Content Strategy for Thought Leaders, as digital self-guided courses. Available in the Fall. Early-bird registration will be shared first to my private email list.