A few years ago, my close friend (and once my boss) Tim told me about The Art of Non-Conformity, Chris Guillebeau‘s first book. And what a gift that telling me was. As I read this empathetic, active manual I learned about Chris, his process, projects and community. I knew that he was one of the people I refer to as an angel in people’s clothing.

And he displays this perfectly just by being who he is at World Domination Summit.

World Domination Summit (aka WDS) is, in brief, an experience rooted in Community, Adventure and Service (capitals intended) for those who already are living and wanting to live a remarkable life in a conventional world. As a sponsor-free, non-commercial event the only agenda is to create a miraculous series of talks, workshops, seminars, fitness activities, meetups, hangouts, and what I call lightups. (A lightup is a moment where something comes to life for you with clarity and truth. Maybe it’s been frustrating you, perhaps you’ve been fogged up. A lightup, via people, music, some sort of sensory experience, literally lights you up and moves you to do what you desire.) Four days in Portland, Oregon is just the start. You get there. And once WDS starts you’re really there.

I attended WDS in 2013 and had a great experience: met amazing people who are and will always be in my life, learned interesting and important things for business, was inspired by loads of folks, enjoyed a city I already loved. And before this year’s Summit, I told Mike Hrostoski that I wanted to have a clearer, more present experience. He helped me to get to a place where my mind was open (as it had been last year) and my heart was open. An open mind and open heart allowed me to, in the words of Regina Brett, get up, dress up, and show up. By showing up completely and wholeheartedly I had one of the most miraculous experiences in my life. It was the ideal 40th birthday present to myself (and it wrapped the celebration I’d begun when I helped behind the scenes in late May at Misfit Con).

I hope you’ll take a minute and read about WDS and some highlights (according to me). The keynote speakers, meetup leaders and attendees I’m referring to and sharing here did something particularly great by letting the attendees know that we are each capable of making miracles in our own ways and on our time. And this is a link to the exceptional Tyler Tervooren‘s article about the world record-setting yoga chain we made on July 11th led by him and some other amazing people.

AJ Jacobs, the really talented writer and Esquire editor, told us to, “Be Bold. Be Experimental. Do it Strategically.” As someone who has researched, explored and lived the rules of the Bible, nutrition and exercise he is at the forefront of something that can have global impact. AJ’s latest project is the Global Family Reunion which will occur on June 6th next year and benefits Alzheimers. This is something that, according to AJ, has scientific value, brings history alive, enhances interconnectedness and if all goes as he intends, makes a kinder world. It turns out that AJ is genealogically connected to George Bush, Pres. Abraham Lincoln, and hundreds more. And as cool as it is to be cousins with Daniel Radcliffe (which AJ is) it’s really righteous to expand and extend our families, thus including people who share our dreams and will stand with us as we live remarkably.

Jadah Sellner is the co-founder of Simple Green Smoothies. Besides being someone who could write a book on how to market effectively via Instagram she is a truth teller and leader who said throughout her talk, “I encounter every lesson in life on purpose.” You read it here: she is an icon in the making. Using your heart underscored everything she said and all that she does. Failures are building blocks, Jadah insisted. This was comforting and reassuring for me. Dream. Do. “Say your dreams out loud.” And this is important because not only does it shift the energy, it makes us accountable to others. When Jadah said that one of the key steps in building your community with heart is to “Choose love over metrics” you could feel the room swell with feelings of, “That’s what I needed to hear.” Jadah was for sure part of our “soul tribe” this year at WDS. Hearing her share how “we all start at zero” I felt something start to percolate for me regarding writing, music, and business.

Gavin Aung Than, artist and founder of Zen Pencils, told the attendees how two of the questions he read in The Art of Non-Conformity prompted him to leave his corporate job and become an artist completely and truly. He brings inspirational quotes to even more life by combining them with his comics.

Ryan Haack, founder of Living One-Handed, was born without a left hand. And he more than makes up for the missing limb with humor, help, and hope. And empathy. And inspiration.

Shannon Galpin told us how the power of voice was the foundation for her work in women’s rights and gender violence. By “listening without judgment” she has helped to refine and redefine the culture of silence in which sexual violence exists. Whether it’s civil rights, racism or another global problem, Shannon unlocked the door for people who’d yet to step into action when she said, “I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that, then I realized I am somebody.” Street art is one of Shannon’s passions and it happens to be a catalyst and an ideal source for messaging. It “makes you think, breaks down classes, is political, and is a movement.” While I’m not an introvert and I never shy away from speaking my mind here are a few topics where I’m quiet. Shannon reminded me that I shouldn’t be when she announced, “Don’t let the voice get chased from your throat. Scream it. Even if you are the only one that will hear.” Thanks for that, Shannon.

There’s a lot of talk about purpose in the entrepreneurial world. Michael Hyatt touched on this with clarity and direction when he talked about The Designed Life where we Do What Matters. What’s rarely said and truly needed is what Michael directly told us to believe that “Out of a rich personal life experience my business will flourish.”  So often we put time and energy into the things that are – or seem! – urgent. Michael reminded everyone, “Don’t let the urgent take more priority than the important.” A Designed Life is one lived with intention, and, as a result, with joy and success.

Saki Mafundikwa, founder of Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts, told us that the Zimbabwean word “harare” in English is “the one that doesn’t sleep.” And that is Saki. He left Random House to open Zimbabwe’s first design school. 18 students are accepted each year to learn about the experience that is multi-sensory design and imperative digital media skills . An award-winning filmmaker, Saki lives his truth as he created a school for vigital – not digital – arts. He knows that risks aren’t necessarily roadblocks and empowered us by saying, “Jump, and the net will appear.”

I’m always inspired by people who take what life gave them, turn it inside out and upside down, and come out of it happier, healthier, and more successful. And Dee Williams is my latest superhero. While a heart attack changes one’s life, it made Dee more aware of, in my observation, her talents. By applying those to what was in her character – growing up on a farm, “living with [her] natural community” – she took her brand new life and “the thing that happened is I had to get comfortable with me.” Dee tackled the construction of a new house for herself, all of 84 square feet, and “seeing humanity up against it” she started a business that teaches people how to build tiny homes. All of her actions are underscored by hope, creation, humility, love, and more. Being present and aware can help to do what Dee now does: “The way I measure success is how I show up.”

What several of the keynote speakers had in common is how they’ve been successful. By this I mean the shared approach to how they think about their businesses: bringing that which is personal to the public.  
Elise Blahn Cripe makes stuff. Those are her words. She likes making stuff and she happens to be great at it. “Just start.” This is the step that leads to all others. “You just do.” When you like a lot of things it’s just right to do a lot of things. When you“believe it completely” it’s all possible.
Known as the Planetwalker, John Francis addressed the 1971 oil spill at the Golden Gate Bridge in a way personal to him. He walked across the country, a 30 year journey, and 17 of those years were walked in silence. His artwork and journaling changed while he maintained his vow of silence. John found ways to communicate with people silently. Because “the environment is about people.” While he did this literally, John reminded us that this is also the case when we do things figuratively:“You’re going to make a difference just by taking a step.”
No one expected to receive anything from the keynote speakers and when John Jantsch gave attendees guitar picks printed with “Make Good Choices” he provided a reminder that what we do every day, be it a big deal or something that seems like nothing, that “The power to change the world is through the choices we make daily.” While “all great businesses serve others,” all of us can make significant differences by what we do – when it’s good – every day.
Author and speaker Scott Berkun reinforced that “consumption does not lead to creation.” We can develop ideas through our vulnerability and when we’re uncomfortable. When we feel those things, our creativity is ignited.

As I trekked from Portland to Costa Mesa, CA on July 14th, I began to process all of this. And starting today (July 22nd) I vow to sing more, become a WordPress master, publish my book chapters, and always work with heart. To be continued. Absolutely.

Thanks to WDS, everyone I talked with and learned from including Jon Giganti, Josh Barad, Gary Ware, and Tanuja Ramchal. See you soon and without question at WDS ’15.
And everyone reading this, I hope to see you next year in Portland on July 9th.

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