My four-day Fourth of July weekend was unlike what most people would expect. Yes, we worked in the requisite barbecue and backyard fireworks with friends on the holiday, but then we faced three work-free, 85-degree days of leisure. Instead of escaping to Crater Lake National Park or Vancouver, British Columbia, two destinations that top our must-see list, Jeff and I stuck around PDX and attended a conference. Indoors. Focused on world domination.
Um yeah, I can take credit for that ticket-buying decision made in October 2012. The World Domination Summit, in its third year, is hosted by Chris Guillebeau, New York Times bestselling author and a Portland-based, travel-addicted blogger who visited every country in the world over an 11-year period. I read his blog regularly and I thoroughly enjoyed his books, The Art of Non-Conformity and The $100 Startup. When the opportunity came up to attend his two-day gathering of TED-talk style presentations and workshops from authors, photographers, journalists and all-around fun people, I bit.
The party started Friday night, with the nearly 3,000 attendees from 30+ countries converging at the Oregon Zoo. Jeff and I wandered the grounds before Chris’ quick opening address that introduced the entertainment for the night, a ridiculously fun marching band called March Fourth. I spied a familiar face in the rowdy crew, a grease-moustached man on stilts who posed for me at a recent Nike employee carnival. (Is it strange to see grease-moustached men on stilts on a regular basis? Hmm.)
The following day the presentations began at the historic Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, and guess what? The event was fab. Even Jeff agreed. We learned a lot, laughed a lot, felt awkward once in a while, and met some super friendly (and often slightly strange) people.
Here is a glimpse of the parts that especially struck a chord with me:
- As someone who’s written a speech or two for other folks, I was intrigued by presentation expert Nancy Duarte’s insight on the consistent structure of iconic talks, including Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream,” Steve Jobs’ original iPhone unveiling, and Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. The speakers establish what is, and then paint a picture of what could be, then go back to what is, and share what could be – back and forth, punctuated with calls to action to inspire people to jump that gap between the present state to the new bliss. Brilliant! (Check out her TED talk if you’d like to geek out on her findings.)
- “Become obsessed with being useful,” said Darren Rowse, the hilarious founder of ProBlogger and other blog and blog networks. What a simple, helpful statement! It’s such a great lens to view things: Am I adding something useful to this conversation at work? Is this tweet useful? You get the idea.
- Blogger and author Danielle LaPorte delivered another quote, courtesy of singer-songwriter Neil Young: “You need to listen to your muse or she doesn’t show up as much.” If you get your best ideas in the shower or in bed, keep a notebook nearby. (That’s me.) If your creative juices get flowing in nature, get out there and pay attention.
- Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project, posed some interesting questions: Who do you envy and why? What do you lie about? What did you do for fun when you were 10 years old?
- “When you have your dream job, you don’t spend much time dreaming about the future,” said Tess Vigeland, the former host of NPR’s Marketplace Money program. I’m totally guilty of this, which is probably why it’s so hard for me to get my Nike Individual Development Plan in order and figure out what the heck I should do next.
There were plenty of other excellent presenters, such as Bob’s Red Mill founder Bob Moore, photographer Chase Jarvis, and rejection-seeker Jia Jiang. Overall, Jeff and I had a swell time soaking up a little personal development over the weekend. World domination might be a stretch for us, but it’s at least we can dominate our own little worlds. 🙂