My first World Domination Summit trip started at 4:15 am EST on Friday July 5th 2013. I headed to the Richmond International airport to board first of two trans continental flights. Along the way I had tasks to complete as part of an unconventional race. I took pictures with a flight pilot, a flight attendant and a fellow traveler. These tasks kept me busy, alert and engaged on the long trip.
I landed in Portland at 11:30 am on Friday morning. On the way, I stopped by the Airport information desk and confirmed directions to Downtown with the gentleman present. When he asked why I was in town, I responded that it was for the World Domination Summit. His remark seemed to echo my feelings, “Isn’t it too ambitious to take on the world? I don’t know if I would want that!” I replied that World Domination could mean something completely different to each of us. It seemed that even in Portland there were groups of people that were unaware of the remarkable residents who were challenging the status quo.
Later on, you will see the inspirational messages from the keynote speakers, past attendees and our host. These messages shifted my worldview and gave me the boost I needed to state the words “World Domination Summit” with utter confidence throughout the remainder of my stay.
If I had formed any preconceived notions of who my fellow participants might be, I was forced to let go of them with the very first person I met on board the Portland MAX RAIL. Cristi is a 56 year old teacher, an expert in educating children with special needs. She had started a side business developing an iPad app for special needs kids. She was at WDS looking for inspiration and new ideas to grow her business. We talked about some communication issues she was having with her business partner. Since people receive messages through different means (visual, auditory, kinesthetic), I suggested that she create a video to get her messages through to her partner. I plan to check in with Cristi soon to find out how that is working out for her!
I arrived earlier than expected at the Heathman Hotel. In true hospitable Portland fashion, the hotel allowed me to check in hours ahead of their usual time. I immediately left for Director’s Park where registration was in progress. Since there were many folks in line, I decided to grab a Veggie Burger at Elephants in the Park (what a great name!). If you visit Portland be sure to visit this cute deli and grab a vegetarian sandwich. I highly recommend their Black Bean burger.
The afternoon sun shone gently on the concrete slabs as voices in various dialects greeted each other. Bursts of chartreuse and marigold against the grey background proclaimed that World Domination had taken over Downtown Portland.
Registration went smoothly. The WDS crew impressed me with their organization. They had planned for all our needs, from badges, to directions, booklets and a cool swag bag.
After registration, came a much-anticipated meet up with my Coaching group. In Summer 2012 before quitting my job, I coached with Farnoosh Brock, a corporate employee turned blogger/entrepreneur. Last fall, Farnoosh gathered a group of aspiring cubicle escapees in her course the Smart Exit Blueprint (SEB). This was our first in person SEB meet up. Within the last 8 months, most group members had either launched their own business or successfully negotiated a part time working arrangement while they explored other opportunities. Speaking with this group infused me with energy to put my heart and soul into my consulting business and Red Gram Living upon my return. My transformation weekend was off to a great start!
We headed to The Picnic House for drinks and met with the Live Your Legend group. I didn’t speak with Scott Dinsmore personally, but I did spend a few minutes with Leo Babuata (Zen Habits) and Marc and Angel (Marcandangel.com).
Leo has one of the highest rated blogs in the world. He has been writing about habits, getting things done and minimalism since 2007. I have followed ZenHabits since its inception and had been looking forward to meeting him in person. Leo did not disappoint. He was extremely approachable; it was easy to talk to him about pursuing a dream while raising a family. His advice was to take it one day at a time. We might not all have Leo’s level of success, but we can write just as authentically about topics that evoke our passions.
Marc and Angel are a sweet couple with a passion for inspiring people. Angel was excited about and genuinely grateful for their new book release. They have great presence on camera and I encouraged them to make more videos. Can’t wait to hear about the projects the two of them have lined up in the future!
The day ended with a trip to the Portland Zoo for the Opening Ceremony. While waiting for friends to arrive I spoke with Heather, a WDS ambassador, about her trip to India. After an insulated experience during her first trip to India, Heather hopes to return for an authentic Indian adventure in the future. I could commiserate with her. My first trip back to India in Dec 2012 was a bit of a disappointment. I travelled with my 3 young children and found it hard to explore my native country fully. Next time I will be seeking the untamed version of India and sharing my experiences with others like Heather.
The WDS Opening Party was unlike any other prelude to a conference I had witnessed before. A band of colorful artists and musicians marched around the Oregon Zoo Amphitheater strutting their moves on stilts. Chris Guillebeau took the stage to welcome everyone.
On Friday morning, the early arrivals had participated in a World Float creating the longest chain of floating people on the Willamette River. Chris Guillebeau acknowledged the World Float crew that made this feat possible. The crew told the tale of Willamette suffering from high levels of pollution just a few decades ago. Although pollution continues to be a challenge, a dedicated group of river keepers now advocate for Willamette’s cleanliness and preservation of her natural habitat.
My Friday night ended early due to Jetlag. I decided to leave once the band took center stage. I needed plenty of rest to prepare for my first day of WDS. Little did I know what was in store!
Over the next two days, we listened to speakers from all walks of life – authors, life coaches, photographers, composers and even a mill owner – people who were leading remarkable lives.
As I continue to record this extraordinary experience, I am forced to split my narrative into multiple posts. I want to do justice in recounting the incredible stories and speeches. Meanwhile to give you a taste of everything that transpired, I have included the highlights of the event below.
WDS Day 1
- Nancy Duarte was our keynote speaker. She is a communications expert who emphasizes the power of story telling through analyzing the greatest speeches in history. Nancy’s speech was one of favorite of all times, as she encouraged us to own our story and communicate it with the world.
- Darren Rowse is an entrepreneur who wanted to be Superman when he was younger. He recalled his journey to Problogger and how one small email changed his life.
- Bob Moore is a Portland legend who built one of the country’s largest whole grain empires. He spoke about giving back to everyone who helped achieve his dream.
- Pam Slim taught us “The Art of taking Action” workshop. She questioned us about our big idea, why we wanted to make it happen and coached us through the initial steps.
- Jia Jiang gave a awe inspiring speech about rejection and how it may be our ally and not our enemy
- Chase Jarvis incited us to exercise our creative muscle. His story is proof enough that creativity is the new literacy.
WDS Day 2
- Improv coach, Gary Hirsch had the entire audience (of 3000) collaborate to create the first (fictitious) rock band in history “Sparkling Shields” with our debut album “Moonlight Devices”.
- Gretchen Rubin set the stage for our second day with an interesting session where she questioned our understanding of ourselves. Self-knowledge, she asserted and showed us, is the first step to leading a happy life.
- Andrew Warner warned us to pay no heed to our Counter mind, the negative chatter in our minds that questions and causes fear. He urged us to listen instead to our True mind and allay all doubts.
- Tess Vigeland is a radio personality and journalist who left her job at PBS last year in search of her dreams. She narrated her story of perseverance in the face of self-doubt.
- Unfortunately, I was unable to attend any afternoon workshops. Instead, I obtained autographs from a couple of authors and attended an unofficial writer’s workshop led by Jeff Goins.
- Steve Schalchlin is an award winning composer and lyricist who almost died of AIDS several years ago. He was the lucky recipient of a miracle drug that cured his disease. His story and music had us dissolving in tears and applause.
- Donald Miller is a best selling Christian author who spoke about his journey to an authentic life. He beseeched us to inspect our identity, desires and actions.
What an amazing weekend full of insights and meetings with amazing people! If you read through the entire post (with beautiful images of my time there), thank you! Will you come back to read about the rest of my trip? Which speaker or topic do you find most interesting?