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What I learnt about World Domination (and it’s probably not what you think)


World Domination Summit

Big thanks to Armosa Studios for the picture.

This weekend we spent 3 days in theatres, auditoriums, workshops, parks and pubs immersing ourselves in the 2012 World Domination Summit. To clarify, this is world domination for good, not evil (I thought that was an important distinction to make). To explain what I personally learnt, I need to go back a little further…..

Since starting out on this ‘lifestyle design’ thing we’ve attended a lot of internet business marketing conferences. Luckily we knew what we had to offer and who our market was. We just weren’t sure how to connect the two together.

Marketing, manipulation and feeling crappy

Although we learnt a massive amount from these it didn’t take long before I became jaded. I’d wander ugly carpeted conference corridors with a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, feeling totally out of step with everyone else. In our room I’d curl up on the bed and Chris would hug and reassure me that I wasn’t a horrible person for not being able to light up with evangelical glee like everyone else. While they were feeling inspired and empowered, I felt manipulated and cynical. I felt jarringly disconnected from everyone else who could embrace what was being offered in a grateful and open hearted way. I couldn’t help but suspect that every word of encouragement, every tearfully relayed story, every raw and emotionally intrusive exercise was just another step in a clever and complicated process to extract money from the flock. Despite the business skills I was learning it was making me feel too crappy about myself.

When we were told about Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit, happening a few days before we were due to arrive in Oregon for a month long home exchange, I was happy to go as it was recommended by someone I like and as wary as I am about any big event, I’m also always thirsty to learn. Plus I figured we should meet plenty of people who ‘get’ what we do (as opposed to regarding the way we live, travel and do business as some sort of circus oddity).

The ‘remarkable life’ summit

‘Living a remarkable life in a conventional world’ is a pretty broad remit and over the weekend the sub themes of ‘community, adventure and service’ were explored by a lot of earnest, funny, successful, clever and inspiring speakers. The event was masterfully executed, and with 1000 people, multiple locations, consecutive workshops and numerous social activities it must have caused at least a few cold sweats and sleepless nights.


Big thanks to Armosa Studios for the picture.

Finding your cluster of attendees

At events like this do you find that you see the same group of individuals again and again? I know there are hundreds of folks I didn’t even lay eyes on, yet I ended up sitting next to the same guy who fell asleep and snored TWICE. I wanted to talk to the lady with the rubber chicken but didn’t see her at all, which seems to be a feat in itself. There were so many people I have connected with on social media but didn’t get to meet in person. And plenty with whom I shared our first interaction, either on a street corner, in the next seat or over a pint who I’m very glad I met.

Body swerving social anxiety

The informal meetups were great for someone like me who tends to find herself loitering alone in breaks while everyone around are hugging and laughing as if they just discovered a long lost sister. Groups with very specific interests were arranged so despite my social deficiencies I did get to have actual conversations with coaches, bloggers and travellers which extended beyond the tentative smiles or overly-enthusiastic and startling hello’s I seem to default to in larger groups.

The grand finale shocker

As the event drew to a close I was tired, talked out and unprepared for what came next. My confidence had ebbed or soared depending on who I was talking to and as much as I know the advice not to compare yourself to others is priceless, I’ve yet to find useful guidance on exactly how to put that into practice (without spending fortune in therapy or somehow affecting some fundamental change in my character).

All the volunteers and unpaid speakers were summoned to the stage for their curtain call. And the cynicism I don’t like began to calculate ‘well if no one was paid and 1000 people spent $500 each to get in, even with all the outlay (and the goody bag WAS spectacular) that’s a healthy chunk of profit’…. And then it all got turned on its head. Mr. Guillebeau built up the suspense, seeming somehow contained yet joyful, like he was keeping a hugely exciting secret which he couldn’t quite believe himself (which I think was probably the case).

He explained again about the power of contribution, of giving to others, of creating trusting communities.

He paced the stage looking quietly gleeful.

And then he gave us each $100.

This came with the simple instruction to ‘put it to good use…start a project, surprise someone or do something entirely different…’

It was class.

And when he gracefully accepted his standing ovation, for the first time that weekend I nearly cried.

What this gesture means

I am genuinely touched by Chris G’s actions, and despite it sounding very trite, I do feel like some of my faith in perhaps not human nature but certainly business and marketing has been restored. To be honest, I’m still not sure how to apply a lot of what I learnt. The world is full of creative types who just want to help others or share their message in some way so but they aren’t making any money. As worthy as this aim is there is a middle ground between altruism and marketing. I think we probably all need to find where the line lies for us personally.


World Domination Summit


What will we do with our unexpected dollars?

So what will we do with our 2 x $100? Well, pay it forward of course. We’ve hit on one idea (within about 30 seconds of leaving the auditorium!) but is the first idea always the best? It’s hard not to fixate on it and we want to really make this count, so watch the video below and let us know what you think! (Sorry about the background noise, we recorded this straight after we all burst excitedly out of the auditorium so there was plenty of chatter going on!)

(P.S See how many Michael Jackson song references you can spot in this clip- Chris is a little mortified! haha)


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20 Responses to “What I learnt about World Domination (and it’s probably not what you think)”

  1. It was so lovely meeting both of you last night. I love the idea for your $100 investment and can’t wait to see what others do also. WDS is truly the a great effort due only to the people that Chris manages to pull together and the collective release of cynicism that we all manage suspend. Keep in touch!
    Gillian @OneGiantStep recently posted..One Foot Here, One Foot…

    • We really enjoyed meeting you too Gillian and it was great to be able to have that conversation with you. Thanks for being so open and willing to share your perspectives. I’m looking forward to hearing how your project goes, and where in the world you end up. I’m sure our paths will cross again, most likely in another country!

      • Hannah and Chris
      • Reply
  2. It sounds like you had a great time! I think your idea of offering intensive mentoring to a wannabe location-independent business person is great. I got a lot of benefit from the programme you ran last year, and I think an intensive session with someone would really help them to translate their ideas into action.
    Julia Barnickle recently posted..Imposter Syndrome

    • We did Julia, you would have loved it! Thanks for your lovely words. It is rewarding to be able to help people get a bit more location independent and/or start earning money a little more flexibly. An intensive, as you say, hopefully would really help someone jump start their ideas and new lifestyle. Take care x

      • Hannah and Chris
      • Reply
    • I forgot to say, well done on completing your 30 day writing challenge! I’m looking forward to reading your last post….

      • Hannah and Chris
      • Reply
  3. Hi Guys, love the video – it sounds amazing to be there! I will definitely keep my eyes peeled for tickets for next year. I think it’s a great idea to offer help to an other. I’ve got an update for you too so I’ll send that separately in an email today. Happy travelling :-)

    • Vanessa Morrow
    • Reply
    • hey Vanessa, ooh you should come, you would like it. And I know you like to travel! Can’t wait for your update, sounds intriguing!

      • Hannah and Chris
      • Reply
  4. I love your video. I am trying my hardest to start my company Kick Ass Chocolate. The mission of my company is to provide one meal through http://www.feedamerica.org for every artisan chocolate bar sold. It is called “feel good squared” and it means that you enjoy the bar that is organic and Free Trade Certified and you feed a family in America.

    I work on it a little each day. I hope to import the cacao liquor from the Dominican Replubic via a Free Trade Co-op and make the bars using healthy ingredients like: acai berries, cherries, almonds, coconut etc. There will be three bars to start: dark chocolate with berries, white chocolate with almonds and coconut, and milk chocolate.

    Wish me luck!!!

    Tamara Field
    Austin, TX

    • hello Tamara! Great to hear from you. I LOVE the idea of Kick Ass chocolate, it’s a great name in itself without the unique charity dimension. Sounds like you are very clear on your values and vision which seem very aligned which is a good start. One day at a time will get you results in no time. Keep us posted on your progress and if you have any questions (sometimes we all get a bit stuck no matter what stage we are at) then just shoot them over

      • Hannah and Chris
      • Reply
  5. This is an awesome idea. I have to admit, I had to fend off the feeling that giving $100 to each participant (most of whom had paid $500 + airfare and lodging to attend the conference) was the most expensive symbolic gesture ever. But if all of the participants put their small windfall to good use like you two plan to do, I’m excited about the impact you all can have. I foresee the effects of Chris Guillebeau’s generosity rippling out to many others.

    Small sidenote: I was a volunteer at the event, so I was one of the people who got to hand out the envelopes as participants exited the theatre. I’ll have to send Chris G. a thank you note just for providing that experience! What a joy it was to hear so many heartfelt thank yous. Though they were misdirected towards me, I benefited from all of the good feeling (I even got a few hugs!) and I’ll not forget that experience. I’m glad that each of the participants will get to share in that feeling of giving away money without any expectation of anything in return.

    p.s. Are you going to publish a list of the MJ references? I don’t think I got them all. :)
    Hannah recently posted..Play Practice: The Art of Pretend Play

    • hey other Hannah!
      We thought about that too, but it seemed like taking that gesture and then making one of our own to increase the effect just seemed the right thing to do. We’ll see how it pans out but it’s exciting. We attended a workshop (Pace and Kylie I think?) about the ripple effect of spreading your message. I guess there is the danger that not much will get done with it after the initial euphoria, but I hope that everyone carries their good intentions through and that there is a session next year showcasing some of the impacts- that would be inspiring! I think that’s so nice that you got to bask in all those positive vibes! And you did volunteer your weekend so it’s not like you didn’t deserve it!
      re the MJ references, it was just funny because Chris was a little embarrassed that he said ‘make that change’ a few times. I was teasing him about it…such a lovely wife!

      • Hannah and Chris
      • Reply
  6. Great write-up. Sorry I missed you guys, and loved being famous in your posts. Can’t wait to connect via the interwebs, and really do want to learn more about home trading – as a single woman, I have my reservations (pardon the pun), but also long for more adventure and travel, and happen to have a fantastic place.

    • Leisa, you are famous in your own right, i saw all those photos on the WDS FB page! If you have any questions or concerns about home exchange fire them over, if we do go ahead with a webinar it would be great to know the sort of reservations people have- and then you can work on making the right kind (ah, see what I did there!) Have a look at home exchange.com, its great for getting excited about all the homes on offer even if you are just window shopping for now. We were hearing last night about one home in a jungle in Costa Rica which gets a lot of visitors ie snakes, monkeys, scorpions… so something for everyone!

      • Hannah and Chris
      • Reply
  7. Sounds like a great event and you’ve had some great ideas. Keep me posted for next year when I can prove once again I’m not a travel phobic!

    Love the article too.

    • We did think you and Jo would have loved it, you will have to keep an eye for tickets though as 80% of the people who went this year have brought tickets to go next year (us included!).

      • Hannah and Chris
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