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