A Conference That Asks How Can You Lead a Remarkable Life In An Ordinary World?
I attended the World Domination Summit (WDS) this past weekend and to calm any nerves, Pinky & Brain do not run it and there is no S&M involved.
The best way to describe WDS is that it is a play conference where people are giving each other permission to live a much bigger, more powerful, adventurous life. It challenges the notion of the standard 9 to 5, as well as believing that life is a mundane experience that you just need to tolerate.
It was started by Chris Guillebeau back in 2010 and supported by many digital nomads before this became a trend. The type of people who attend are ones who’d ask, why can’t I live on a beach and also do my work remotely. Families who wondered, why can’t I take my kids traveling around the world and have that serve as their education instead of them learning about life in a textbook? You meet many people that don’t know what is next, but have grown tired of how their life has been, and are ready to take the leap into some new unknown adventure.
So, how was World Domination Summit for me?
To describe it with adjectives such as perspective shifting and life-affirming would be cliche and fall flat. So taking advice from Gary Hirsch, I’ll show, rather than tell.
Here are my takeaways of WDS 2019 in story form:
- Show The F**k Up
- Just Start
- The Weirdest Parts of You Are Your Super Powers
- If You Want To Play With Me, Raise Your Hand
- Beast, I’m Not Afraid of You
I’ll break them down in detail below, but if one of these messages resonate with you, simply go straight to that header.
Takeaway #1: Show The F**k Up
That theme resonated with me throughout the conference. Whenever I chose that route, amazing adventures occured.
On the first night, I had the choice between going out to dinner with a stranger who I just met or catch up with old friends that I had not seen in a year. I made the decision that both scared and excited me more…and it was completely worth it.
One night, four of us made a pact to only speak in the bar with made up accents. First person to break had to buy drinks. All 4 of us successfully kept it going for 3 HOURS, which bonded this memory to the group for life. It went from simply enjoying a late night drink to one of my most enjoyable nights in a bar ever.
This theme continued to resonate when I saw Nate Staniworth speak, a famous Magician on the Discovery Channel, who attempted to do a trick he had never done before on stage. His hands were shaking and that was the most memorable part. He was willing to take a major risk in front of 1000 people that could have gone horribly wrong and trust that we would catch him if he fell. And we did.
Or Humble the Poet, whose entire talk was about all the ways he messed up in life. I had a whole conversation afterwards with a friend of mine, Marcie Beigel, who said she was so moved because she continues to show up in the world as this perfect person, but she wants to show up fully with all the flaws the way Humble The Poet does. She is tired of holding the perfect facade and simply wants to be her vulnerable self. She has built an entire career on her professional persona. How difficult can it be to leave that identify behind and make yourself vulnerable to criticism for being your full self? Marcie is brave for even considering to take that leap and shed that old identity for a new unknown one.
My friend, Laura Pena, who runs She Is The Universe, won a WDS Foundation Scholarship Award. I remember speaking to her a few months before when she didn’t know if she would apply again after getting rejected. But being that she now had done 50 out of 111 interviews of girls around the world, focused on capturing their story and empowering teenage girls around the world with these stories, she felt confident to try again. And she got it. She chose to fully show up even after getting rejected the year before, and that is one of the bravest things I’ve witnessed here.
I even got to share an Attendee Story in front of the entire WDS Community. If you were asked to share one story about your life to 1000 phenomenally talented and brave people that might benefit them in some way, what would you share? Quite a few times I thought about cancelling, telling them I had contracted the rare disease of Stage-Fright-Test, but thanks to our Speaker Coach Marsha, I found the courage to show the F**k Up.
As my friend Sarah, who I was lucky enough to share the stage with that day, said “Being up there changed my life…” and I have to agree. It did the same for me.
Also, being able to see the Speakers back stage who were doing something far more difficult than us, having to deliver speeches that needed to move such an audience and seeing their preparation, their nerves, their rituals, and seeing first hand that they could both be scared and powerful at the same time was awe-inspiring.
Takeaway #2: Just Start
The speaker, James Victore, theme for his speech was just start. Who knows what may happen, but just start. Because every time you make the choice not to start, to play small, you begin to shrink.
And when you take the brave choice of taking that risk, you expand the possibilities in your life and opportunities you never knew existed begin to take shape. You are rewarded for simply showing up fully in ways you can’t possibly imagine and the ride is so much sweeter than the conventional safe route that many of us have chosen by default.
Or witnessing the power of Nadya Okamato, a 21-year-old, who chose to create a Non-Profit at 16 years old to fight for the Menstrual Movement. At 19, she ran for City Council, and by 21, she had published her own book and had her own Marketing Agency in Times Square helping companies talk to young people, all while going to school at Harvard. As my friend Yvonne captured perfectly, “Nadia’s being is a call to action.” She was able to run for political office in the amount of time I spend binge watching Netflix in a given year. And she never used the excuse of not knowing what to do because if she didn’t know, she would just google it. If she can accomplish in 5 years what most people do in a lifetime, I can choose to show up fully and not play small.
Takeaway #3: The Weirdest Parts of You Are Your Super Powers
Tania Katan stated this and it just clicked. Her whole life she had been told she was weird and that it wasn’t a good thing and now people clamor to have her work with them. She create the #ItWasNeverADress Campaign that was so empowering and started a huge global dialog.
It all came from her weird perspective on how she sees the world and being able to lift the veil of BS. The world is constantly trying to subdue our weirdness, telling us to act “normal,” when choosing to be normal is the craziest thing you can do. When you have these super powers that can change the world, it would be an injustice not to use them for good. Here is her breakdown on how to come up with a job title that has purpose:
Takeaway #4: If You Want To Play With Me, Raise Your Hand
For this conference, I stayed in an AirBnb we called the Play House because many of the people in there played for a living.
One of those phenomenal people in the house was Erin, also known as Queen Connectress. Yup, that is her name. Anyway, she was brought up on stage for an experiment and she was asked to share her favorite song. She made up a song right on the spot and the lyrics, as you guessed it, were “If You Want To Play With Me, Raise Your Hand…”
That idea so encompasses WDS because if you are willing to play and you let people know that, a great adventure will appear. People were game to do anything from dressing up in Wonderland costumes, to creating a high five train in less than a minute, to doing a naked bike ride, to sharing their dream goals in front of 1000 people when asked. If you are simply willing to raise your hand and agree to play, the opportunity will present itself.
Takeaway #5: Beast, I’m Not Afraid You
The phenomenal Marsha Shandur spoke directly to our Beast. That negative voice in your head that constantly reminds you that you are not good enough, you will never be enough, and that you should give up trying to be awesome and play it safe so you don’t get hurt. You have a choice as to how much power you want to give the Beast. You can choose to believe it is your own voice… or see it like a little, whiny kid who at some point was there to protect you, but now is not helpful and downright hurtful.
Each day, with every thought you can decide how much of your day do you want to give the Beast, as that is the difference between living a life-affirming day or a crappy one. When she finally reminded us to tell our Beast that we are not afraid of you, that gave us permission to start, take risks, embrace our weirdness, explore what’s possible, and finally choose to Show The F**k Up!
So now, when someone asks “how was that weird conference you attend every year in Portland,” I’ll either send them this article or just say “you know how you complain about your life being unfulfilling and you are tired of having the same boring groundhog day. Well, this is the exact opposite of that.”