Lessons Learned as a World Domination Summit Virgin
A week ago I was on the threshold of a new experience. I was told it would change my world, but I didn’t really even know what it was or how it would do that. Many people raved over the cool guy and genius that Chris Guillebeau is, but his name was new to me, so that meant very little. In fact, many of the speakers were new to me. Yet, I trusted when Courtney Carver said last August “you should go to this thing” and as it arrived on my calendar, I got very excited.
The title, World Domination Summit (WDS), scared even some of my most liberal friends. Well, it even scared me. I guess it is a little like sex where people talk about it, but until you experience it, you just don’t know what it will be like. Only, unlike sex, this was good the first time! They have academies which are somewhat like foreplay. They offer a more intimate, deep dive into topics. The summit itself is Friday night through Sunday and it’s like the main act of sex which often includes laughing, crying, some thrusting and hopefully that climax of the standing ovation.
Most folks would stop there, being satisfied, but WDS always seeks to break records and so they also have meetups, which are like talking to your friends about the great sex from last night. And they have parties, which are like loving your partner so much, you’ve got to introduce them to your friends. And it ends up, your friends love your partner too, so you celebrate, play games and dance. Oh, and I almost forgot, they also have this thing called “The Portland Experience” that quite easily would fit into a fun first date in this scenario.
Okay, so if the title didn’t scare you, and my analogy didn’t scare you, and you are still reading this post, here’s what I got out of the 5-day experience that is World Domination Summit:
- Standing in line is fun, when you’re surrounded by open people who extend a hand and ask you an interesting question. With 3,000 people, we did stand in some lines, but that never really mattered. I soon learned it was one of my favorite parts. A line forms randomly, so you just get behind the previous person, they are not someone you seek out. What’s cool is how often they have something to contribute to your life. So, be open to those around you, and ask them what brought them here, what was the coolest thing they’ve learned recently or something unique they’d like to share.
- Crying is good. Many remarked that there was far more crying at this WDS than any other summit in the past. We had Megan Divine share how the pain of grief is one not to be swept under the rug with your clever remark about life lessons, but rather to be witnessed and allowed. Kid President (Robby Novak) and his uncle, Brad Montague, brought tears to my eyes with the innocence and love beaming out of both of them. Brad seeks to share what he would want his kids to know about the world through his videos and it is a message of hope and inspiration at 200%. Jeremy Cowart wowed us with his essay montage of growing up labeled “dumb” until he found art as his calling. I wept when I realized how many feel this way and how we need more people doing things like See University where kids get to know they matter and we each have a skill set to share with the world, no matter where it ranks on the average American’s importance list.
- Hugs are good. After Vani Hari’s talk about how Food Babe has dealt with haters, my only response was to hug her and say thanks for perservering. I was shocked by how graphic and negative those haters can get, but grateful that she did not back down. Knowing what’s in our food is a basic human right, so thank you Vani who has been responsible for getting Chipotle to work on going GMO-free! Now and then a random person would offer a hug and they always felt good. It wasn’t a total hug-fest and for that I am grateful.
- Portland is awesome! Well, okay, so I knew this already, but the culture and architecture of the Rose City offer the perfect playground for such an event. On Saturday at lunch, they sectioned of the South Park blocks to create our own farmers market, food cart pod and crafts opportunities for attendees. I got a luscious bowl from The Whole Bowl and got the option for many crafts projects, all of which had a service theme. Dream Box Project for kids in extended foster care, Brave Bots for kids overcoming challenges and coloring were some of the choices. We used Pioneer Square for registration, Waffles in Bed record-breaking event and our closing party. Access to food carts, restaurants, hotels, etc, make for a great epicenter for such an event.
- Free time and play time is where much of the magic happens! WDS is wise to offer a 4 hour meal break at lunch both days and an opening party and closing party. It is the people you connect with that are the true prize. I met the F*ck 50 lady, Lori Rochino, Patrice Hamilton and Lala at the opening party. I met semi-retired David from Los Angeles who runs a fan blog for Morrisey fans, Vaidy a programmer from Bangalore, India, who traveled more than 8,000 miles to be around other like-minded people, and Preston from San Francisco who’s writing a book, “Gay Explained“, that I can’t wait to read, and all of this while at lunch. This is just a sample of the folks I got to speak with for a few minutes to an hour or so.
- Spontaneity is your friend. I went to a meetup between registration and the opening party on Saturday. It was a mixer for singles happening at the roof of On Deck Sports Bar & Grill. At the gathering I felt a bit old for the crowd, but people were nice and extended a hand and welcomed me into their conversation. I met a gal from New York named Lala who said she was going to see blogger Tonya Leigh who speaks about The French Kissed Life at a happy hour nearby, would I like to join her? That wasn’t part of WDS and it wasn’t in “my plan” but it sounded fun, so I said “yes.” We took Uber on over and got to meet Tonya and spent about 30 minutes talking to her about her business and life.
- Technology makes life easier, don’t say no to all of it. We got this cool app, that while it had it crashes and bugs, allowed us to “friend” people as we met them, providing an easy way to stay connected, ask questions, and create community. It also had the schedule for the various layers I mentioned, including the academies, the main event, meetups and parties.
- Get yourself around people who inspire you! I would say this entire weekend was just that, tons of inspiration from the speakers, attendees and Chris. You always want to hang with those who make you bigger, not those who are hoping to keep you small. This is a great venue to add in some of those inspiring friends.
Here’s to Community, Adventure and Service, the core values of World Domination Summit that delivered well on their promise! So yes, it was great sex, complete with many standing ovations! I will be sharing more about the “wisdom nuggets” shared by the speakers soon, so stay tuned!
All photos (except one) courtesy of Armosa Studios as part of the WDS 2015 team
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